10 Best Windows laptop: the top Windows 8.1 notebooks we've reviewed

The latest Windows 8.1 Ultrabooks, notebooks, convertibles and laptops

Best Windows laptop

Chromebooks are great lightweight and long lasting machines. MacBooks are celebrated by creatives for their fashionable engineering and ease of use with memorable keyboard shortcuts. But when it gets down to brass tacks computing nothing beats a good Windows laptop.

Windows laptops are reliable, much more expandable and Windows still has the lead with many more business applications while being a substantially stronger platform for gaming. More recently, Microsoft has fundamentally changed (and arguably broke) the way its desktop OS works with Windows 8.1, ushering in a new age of touchscreens and tablets.

Windows 10 looks to refine the touch-based formula further while bringing some major desktop improvements including better multitasking and a new voice-controlled digital assistant called Cortana. With a mix of tablet PC, laptops with flip-around screens, Ultrabooks with touchscreen, gaming notebooks big as tanks and everything in between, there's plenty of variety in the Windows laptop space.

While it might seem overwhelming, here's a rundown of the best Windows laptops, notebooks, convertibles and Ultrabooks we've ever reviewed to help you choose the right machine for you.\

Best Windows laptop

1. Dell XPS 13

Possibly the best laptop on the planet, Dell's latest is a masterpiece

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: 230GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11 AC and Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Dimensions: 11.98 x 7.88 x 0.6 inches

Gorgeous display
Super lightweight
No Ethernet port
Off-center webcam

The new Dell XPS 13 might be a 13.3-inch laptop on paper, but it has the smaller footprint of an 11-inch machine. Packing the full-sized screen in a smaller body isn't just a feat, it's a revolution in the design of notebook. Fortunately for us, the XPS 13 short on horsepower to make work and play enjoyable. It also has just enough battery life to not leave you in hanging after a long day.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Best Windows laptop

2. Asus ZenBook UX305

A truly excellent Ultrabook for an outstanding price

CPU: 800MHz Intel Core M 5Y10 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080| Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.6 pounds | Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches (W x D x H)

Very thin and light
Incredible performance
Wonky video driver
Tinny speakers

Intel's new fanless processor technology has paved the way for thinner and lighter laptops and one the best models to come out yet is the Asus ZenBook UX305. Packing a more than adequate Intel Core M chip, Full HD display and 256GB SSD, the UX305 is a full featured Ultrabook in a compact package. Of course, the most striking thing it its $699 or £649 (about AU$902) price point. This would be a steal for any mobile notebook, but in this case you're getting a premium, full-metal Ultrabook. While it isn't exactly a shining symbol of innovation in the Ultrabook space, it is the most affordable Ultrabook out today and it won't disappoint you.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305

Best Windows laptop

3. Origin EON15-X

A desktop-grade CPU in an unbeatable gaming laptop

CPU: 4GHz Intel Core i7-4790K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (8GB GDDR5 RAM), Intel HD Graphics 4600 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 LED Backlit Matte Display | Storage: 240GB SSD; 1TB HDD (5,400 RPM) | Connectivity: Intel PRO Wireless AC 7265 + Bluetooth Wireless LAN Combo| Camera: 2MP Video Camera | Weight: 7.5 pounds | Dimensions: 15.2 x 10.31 x 1.40 inches (W x D x H)

Great value
Desktop-grade performance
Razor thin viewing angles

If power is what you seek, look no farther than the Origin EON15-X. It packs a desktop processor into a fairly compact 15.6-inch laptop that, while smaller, offers even more performance compared to other, bigger hardcore gaming rigs. The extra CPU power does not only come in handy for intensive gaming, it's also a necessity for processor-intensive applications like video editing and other tasks.

Read the full review: Origin EON15-X

Best Windows laptop

4. HP Spectre x360

Sublime and nearly-perfect in every way

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD Radiance LED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth 4.0 combo | Camera: HP TrueVision Full HD WVA Webcam | Weight: 3.26 pounds | Dimensions: 12.79 x 8.6 x 0.63 inches (W x D x H)

Superbly thin
Vibrant, bright display
Too heavy to use as a tablet
Weird, wide trackpad

It's rare to find a 2-in-1 laptop that perfectly tows the line between being a tablet and notebook, but the HP Spectre x360 is one of the machines that comes close to perfectly meeting that balance. It easily comes as one of our most recommended machines, with an excellent 1080p screen, solid performance, good battery life, and sturdy build quality; all for an excellent deal at $999 (£899, AU$1,899).

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

Best Windows laptop

5. Microsoft Surface Pro 3

The poster child for all hybrid laptop tablets

CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 multi-touch | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: Two 5MP webcams | Weight: 1.76 pounds | Dimensions: 7.93 x 11.5 x 0.36 inches (W x D x H)

Sharp display
Perfect as laptop and tablet
Mediocre battery life
Runs hot at times

This is not only Microsoft's most striking and versatile device to date, but the most convincing poster child for the hybrid category yet. The Surface Pro 3 is, without question, the most attractive and capable device that Microsoft has ever produced. Thanks to a heady processor and decent battery life, this thing can honestly serve as both your tablet and laptop in nearly equal measure.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Best Windows laptop

6. MSI GT80 Titan

An outrageously sized and powerful gaming laptop

CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ | Graphics: 2 x Nvidia GTX 980M SLI (16 GB GDDR5); Intel HD Graphics 4600 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 18.4-inch WLED FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare Display | Storage: 256GB SSD; 1TB HDD (7,200 RPM) | Optical drive: Blu-Ray Burner | Connectivity: Killer DoubleShot Pro 11ac + Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: Full HD type (30 fps, 1080p) | Weight: 9.9 pounds | Dimensions: 17.95 x 13.02 x 1.93 inches (W x D x H)

Authentic mechanical keyboard
Easily upgraded
H-E-A-V-Y
Impossible to use on your lap

The MSI GT80 Titan goes above and beyond to give gamers a desktop experience in a notebook with a complement of high-performance parts to a built-in mechanical keyboard. However, weighing in at nearly 10 pounds and measuring roughly two-inches thick, this laptop is seriously pushing the limits of what you can call portable. Though, for all the strain it'll put on your back and wallet this 18.4-inch gaming laptop will absolutely plow through almost any graphically intense game you try to run.

Read the full review: MSI GT80 Titan

Best Windows laptop

7. Alienware 17

The gaming laptop-desktop hybrid done right

CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (4GB GDDR5 RAM), Intel HD Graphics 4600 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 17.3 inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS anti-glare display | Storage: 256 GB M.2 SATA SSD + 1TB HDD (7,200 RPM)| Connectivity: Killer 1525 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: 2MP Full HD webcam | Weight: 8.33 pounds | Dimensions: 16.93 x 11.49 x 1.35 inches (W x D x H)

Flexible desktop mode
Excellent large screen
Still quite expensive
Restricted Amplifier boost

Although you're looking at spending $3,049 (£2,581, AU$4,547) for the full experience, the Alienware 17 is one of those few outrageously priced gaming laptops that's actually worth it. The notebook is a fully capable gaming machine by itself. Stack the added power of an Nvidia GTX 980 inside the optional GPU Amplifier, and you won't run into a game you can't play on Ultra settings for a long time. Alienware has done the gaming laptop-desktop hybrid right with the ability to use the built-in screen, plus not needing to plug in a keyboard and mouse makes it a much more sensible solution than the MSI GS30 Shadow.

Read the full review: Alienware 17

Best Windows laptop

8. Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

A workstation you can also enjoy

CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-5600U | Graphics: Nvidia Quadro K2100M | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.5-inch, 2,880 x 1,620 (3K), multi-touch display | Storage: 512GB SSD | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0; 802.11ac (B/G/N), dual-band Wi-Fi | Camera: 720p webcam | Weight: 5.47-pound | Dimensions: 15 x 10.2 x 0.92 inches (W x D x H)

Long battery life
Strong performance
Thick, boxy body
Bulky extended battery

The Lenovo W550s offers impressive performance with the added bonus of long battery life. For a business laptop, this machine comes with a lighter, thinner body than most others. Compromising slightly in the processing department, the W550s delivers double the battery life of last year's model in a slightly more travel-friendly package.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

Best Windows laptop

9. Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000

A powerful, small tablet that wants to play in the big leagues

Weight: 1.6 pounds | Dimensions: 11.01 x 6.95 x .42 inches | OS: Windows 8.1 | Screen size: 10.8-inch | Resolution: 1,920 X 1,080 | CPU: Intel Core M-5Y71 vPro | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB SSD | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Performance
Compact design
Cramped screen
Ergonomics

The Dell Venue Pro 7000 offers a nice balance of performance and portability in a travel-friendly size thanks to it's Intel Core M processor. The 10.8-inch IPS display with full HD resolution is awesome, and on maximum brightness it is even usable outdoors. In daily use, the Venue 11 Pro could become a relatively affordable tablet that replaces a laptop, tablet, and desktop. Enterprises, meanwhile, have a load of business options including special cases for healthcare and a retail case to read credit cards.

Read the full review: Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000

Best Windows laptop

10. Asus ZenBook UX501

An attractive alternative to a certain fruit-flavored laptop

CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 IPS Display | Storage: 512GB PCIe x4 SSD | Connectivity: Intel PRO Wireless AC 7260 + BT Wireless LAN Combo | Camera: Built-in 720P Video Camera | Weight: 5.0 pounds | Dimensions: 15.08 x 10.04 x 0.84 inches (W x D x H)

Bright, vibrant screen
Excellent performance
Feels heavy
Mediocre battery life

If you're looking for a laptop with a little more meat on its bones but don't want to break the bank, the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 is a stylish contender. It features a bright, vibrant 4K display and packs a capacious, highly responsive storage drive that flies. What's more this machine comes rocking an Intel Core-i7 chip inside and discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics for gaming and graphics work.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX501

Originally contributed by Dan Grabham.

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