The best sub-£1,000 laptops 2018: get great performance without breaking the bank

You can't go wrong with these Windows 10 and macOS laptops for under £1,000

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Are you looking for a new laptop? Of course you are, that's why you're here. And we've got ten of the best models you can buy right now. Each one is below £1,000 in price, but that doesn't mean any of them are 'budget' machines. We've scoured the market for the best portable beasts you can find south of a grand.

However, if you just want to know what's best and aren't interested in looking further, then we'd like to direct you to the rather impressive MacBook Air.

Apple's ultraportable might seem like it's ageing, but it's still a superb machine and is available for well below £1,000. Fast, reliable and worth every penny.

The 13-inch MacBook Air measures 1.7cm at its deepest point and weighs an astonishingly light 1.35kg making it ideal to take with you wherever you need to go. And there's 128GB of fast flash storage on board, too!

How to buy the right sub-£1,000 laptop for you

Buying a laptop has become something of a maze in 2018. 

Products with almost identical names are put out at different prices and with wildly different performance, and fighting your way through the nomenclature to the raw specifications is tough.

And then you have to work out what the specifications mean. What's the difference between an i5 and and i7? Between various integrated graphics chips? Well, worry no more.

What you can do with a £500 laptop has now changed drastically. And if you're willing to spend up to £1,000 then you're looking at getting a pretty powerful machine for your money. 

If you're willing to spend that much, there's plenty of new thin and light laptops that aren't so interested in offering value. 

But they often sport all-metal construction, wafer-thin designs and internal guts that can chew through demanding tasks. So what's best?

The best laptops for under £1,000 that you can buy today

For under a £1,000, these are the best notebooks to buy, in order of preference.

Best sub-£1,000 laptops

1. 13-inch MacBook Air (2015)

Sterling battery life and fast storage

Specifications
CPU: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy display (1440 x 900)
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent battery life+Nippy storage
Reasons to avoid
-Dated design-Low-res display

The Asus ZenBook UX305 may have stolen the MacBook Air's thunder, but this is still a delightfully slim machine with good performance from a powerful CPU – if you must buy Mac, then this isn't a bad choice.

The display isn't brilliant and the design is a bit dated, but its touted 13 hours of battery life and fast storage are killer features for some. While we love the Air, it's in severe need of a redesign.

Read the full review: MacBook Air 13-inch

Best sub-£1,000 laptops

2. Dell XPS 13

Probably the best sub-£1,000 laptop ever made

Specifications
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800 UltraSharp QHD+ touch display
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous display+Super lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-No Ethernet port-Off-centre webcam

There are plenty of thin and light laptops around, but few as well designed as Dell's XPS range. The XPS 13 has a nearly borderless touch display that runs at QHD resolution and somehow crams 13.3-inches into an 11-inch laptop frame.

Despite the grunt required to drive that screen, it runs smoothly and stably, for as long as you need it to – and this notebook doesn't break the bank either. We think it's the best Windows laptop, the best Ultrabook and probably the best overall laptop for the money.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Best sub-£1,000 laptops

3. Dell Inspiron 13 7000

A smart and nicely priced well-built hybrid

Specifications
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 IPS touchscreen
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Attractive and sturdy design+Speedy powerful performance
Reasons to avoid
-Lacklustre battery life-A little hefty

For an all-round more traditional laptop, you can always trust Dell, even when you're looking at a laptop-tablet hybrid. Away from the sometimes scarily thin Ultrabook market, this Inspiron 13 has a metal chassis coated in soft-touch rubber for a non-bank-breaking price.

And it also turns into a perfectly serviceable 1080p tablet when you flip the screen back, without any worries about anything breaking – it feels very solid. This machine's only flaws are its weight – 1.67kg – and its rather poor battery life.

Best sub-£1,000 laptops

4. HP Spectre x360

A nifty 2-in-1 offering great performance and battery life

Specifications
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 Radiance LED-backlit touchscreen
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Superbly thin+Excellent performance and battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Too heavy for easy tablet usage-Weirdly wide trackpad

The Spectre is a pleasant 2-in-1 laptop with an excellent 1080p screen, solid performance, good battery life and sturdy build quality. Oh, and it also turns into a tablet, should that feature be on your wish-list.

Its specifications are almost identical to those of the Dell above, though it's 200g lighter and has much better battery life – and that's the difference in cost in a nutshell. This HP offering also has its own flaws, though – that weirdly wide trackpad – but that's pretty much it. If that's about all we can find to complain about, then it must be pretty good...

Best sub-£1,000 laptops

5. Microsoft Surface Pro 3

An excellent hybrid offering plenty of power

Specifications
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 12.3-inch 2,736 x 1,824 pixels
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Sharp display+Perfect as laptop and tablet
Reasons to avoid
-Mediocre battery life-Runs hot at times

Microsoft's poster child for the hybrid laptop, this device is cheaper than an iPad Air and MacBook Air combined, though more expensive than many other mid-range laptop-tablet combos.

That said, it's also more powerful than most other mid-range laptop-tablets, not to mention being delightfully light at just 800g, and the best device that Microsoft has ever made.

It honestly does work well as both a laptop and tablet, except for the four hour battery life which is no good for either. Finally, we still think it's mad that they sell the Type Cover separately.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

6. Asus Zenbook UX310UA

An all-round value for money laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ - i7-7700HQ
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5
RAM: 8GB - 16GB DDR4
Screen: Up to 15.6-inch Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touchscreen
Storage: 1TB HDD - 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+7th-gen Kaby Lake processor+Impressively light and thin design

There aren't many laptops below £1,000 will tick most of the boxes found in devices above that price tag, but this version of the Asus Zenbook does so with gusto. You can impressive and fast performance thanks to its 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor - available in i5 and i7 flavours, depending on your budget - and a lovely. 3,200 x 1,800-pixel, QHD+ screen. It’s also only 1.45kg in weight svelty slim at just 18.33mm. It’s not got the greatest battery, so always have your charger handy, but it’s a brilliant little package nonetheless.

7. Dell XPS 15 (2017)

A gorgeous display and impeccable performance

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ - i7-7700HQ
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5
RAM: 8GB - 16GB DDR4
Screen: Up to 15.6-inch Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touchscreen
Storage: 1TB HDD - 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous InfinityEdge touchscreen+Great specs for price

While the middle and top-tier versions of the Dell XPS 15 will set you back over the £1,000 mark, the low-end model will keep you on budget and pulls in an impressive set of specs to booy. For a start, you’re getting a 15.6-inch Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touchscreen with the 2017 version, a Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card. It promises close to 20 hours of use on a single charge, although it’s closer to 15 if you’re using it consistently.

8. Asus Chromebook Flip

Premium features at an affordable price

Specifications
CPU: Intel Pentium 4405Y – Intel Core m3-6Y30
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 12.5-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED backlit anti-glare
Storage: 32GB – 64GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+LED backlit anti-glare display+Great keyboard

Coming in at less than £500, the low-end Asus Chromebook Flip C302 offers a price point that won’t break the bank and a laptop that boasts some surprisingly robust specs, despite a few expected concessions. Its Intel 6th Generation Core M3 processor isn’t the most powerful CPU you can get, but it’ll support light multitasking, word processing and basic surfing. Its 1920 x 1080 Full HD 12.5-inch display is also a lot better than you’d expect with a price tag like this. If you’re looking for a decent little laptop with a handful of premium features, this is a steal.

9. Acer Swift 3

A basic yet reliable 2-in-1

Specifications
CPU: 1.10GHz Intel Pentium Quad Core N4200 - Intel Core i3 7100U
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 12.2-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD touchscreen
Storage: 64GB - 128GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+12.2-inch Full HD display+Ace build quality

The further you go down the budget spectrum, the more 2-in-1 devices you encounter, but that doesn’t mean you're getting a bargain bin device. In fact, despite the Acer Swift 3 costing less than £450 you’re getting 65GB of storage (you can even double that and still stay under £500), a decent IPS LCD display and a reliable Intel Core i3 7100U CPU. Sure, it’s not going to overclock anytime soon, but for basic surfing and word processing it’s an ideal way to stay connected (and productive) at home, at work or your daily commute.

10. Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

A beast of a gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ (quad core 3.5GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti + Intel HD Graphics 630
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6-inch, Full HD
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050+Full HD 1080p Anti-glare Screen

Dell’s current Inspiron 15 7000 range goes from sub-£1,000 models to those north of £1,500, and even the machines in the lower end of the spectrum pack some serious CPU and GPU gaming chops. The £900 model boasts 128GB of SSD memory, as well as a lovely 7th Gen Intel Core i5 Processor as standard (along with that tasty NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 for good measure). Its Waves MaxxAudio Pro-powered speakers won’t blow you away, but pop in a decent headset and you’re good to go. In other words, you’re getting a gaming powerhouse that can handle most games in your Steam library for less than a grand.