Choosing the right laptop is even more confusing than ever - so we're here to help with our regularly updated guide to the best laptops.

The release of Windows 8.1 has pulled the OS further towards the touch and tablet future, even if the Start menu has returned. This, along with the performance boost Windows 8.1 offers, is a boon for the vast array of laptop-tablet hybrids now flooding the market.

Apple's range of MacBooks still continue to impress and we've even seen Chromebooks gradually emerge as not only affordable laptops but as fashionable coffee-house companions.

Thankfully, cheap laptops are more powerful and capable than ever before as the likes of ARM, AMD, Intel and Nvidia continue to squeeze and integrate both processor and graphics for optimum performance. This has meant that high-end devices are becoming perfectly good replacements for your desktop computer, able to cope with more intensive programs.

Those after a fast boot up time and a lightweight machine to carry might drool over an Intel Ultrabook, which is essentially a marketing name for a thin and light laptop with an Intel Core processor, but there are also plenty of manufacturers pumping out ultraportable equivalents.

Serious gamers will want a machine tailored to their processing needs, which will still generally means discrete graphics, while those after flexibility might fancy a convertible laptop-tablet hybrid.

Here we look at some of the best laptops available around the world from the last six months - those that really excel themselves in our extensive testing processes this year. We've arranged them into categories to help you find the best one to suit your needs, though it should be noted that there are a handful here that aren't readily available in Australia.

All of the machines listed here are laptops. We have also listed the convertible laptop-tablets that fall more on the side of laptop than tablet, and that includes devices, such as Microsoft's Surface Pro.

Similarly, all-in-one touchscreen computers and other desktop PCs are in our PC and Mac desktop reviews page.

Laptop pricing

The prices listed here are for guidance only and aren't guarantees of availability at a certain price. Because of the wildly fluctuating availability of certain models, we often review laptops by series. As a consequence it may be that there are tens of models with similar or the same name, available at various price points.

When considering what to buy, think about your needs and your most important factor, be it laptop battery life or screen size. The most important part is to be honest about what you need, and you could save a fortune on getting the best laptop for you.

Since this article seeks to round up the best laptops available, we are only listing those we have fully tested and reviewed in real life situations. More laptop-tablet hybrids will be reviewed as soon as we get them in for testing, so we expect to add more impressive convertible tablets to this list later.

For now, here are the great machines we have tested and loved so far: