Our laptop tests are underpinned by rigorous tests to determine quality, performance and battery life.
We begin by examining a laptop's design to see how strong it feels to the touch and whether it fulfils the role it was designed for.
The overall build quality is important, so we go to great lengths to test the overall strength and durability of each system. We also assess the functionality of all ports, switches and latches. The quality of thescreen is also considered, with checks for brightness, evenness of tone, as well as any dead pixels identified.
The final part of our initial tests deals with the weight of the machine and its relative portability of the laptop.
Next, we assess the overall usability of the machine, including the quality of the keyboard, touchpad and user interface.
As every laptop is tested on a level playing field, once it has been benchmarked it can easily be compared against its peers. Each review is accompanied by the test results for that machine, along with our own standard benchmark laptop.
Our reference machine is a typical £739 (inc. VAT) system that we feel best typifies a midrange laptop.
Once the hands-on part of our testing has been dealt with, the laptop will spend up to 72 hours in our test labs being run through a series of benchmarks to check overall performance.
Each machine is set at the same mid-performance level, with even the screen being set to its mid-point. This way, we can judge how effectively it will run in most situations.
BapCo MobileMark 2007
This software tests mobile performance and battery life, using popular office applications in real world situations.
Firstly, all laptops are optimised for peak performance, which includes conditioning the hard drive and battery. With the laptop's battery fully charged, the mains power is then disconnected.
MobileMark then simulates day-to-day use until the battery runs dry. On reboot, a performance score is generated, along with the exact time in minutes the battery lasted before dying.
Futuremark 3DMark 2003
3DMark 2003 represents our default benchmark, as this is capable of running on high-end dedicated GPUs, as well as low-level integrated solutions.
Specialised tests, such as Gaming group tests, receive further testing with 3DMark 2006. With each laptop optimised for peak performance, we then run the relevant 3DMark tests. Unlike MobileMark, graphics tests are run on mains power to give a reflection of how you are most likely to use the GPU when gaming.
100–150: Suitable for basic office tasks, such as email and internet use
151–200: Ideal for day-to-day use, including multitasking
201–250+: High performance with comprehensive abilities for all tasks
3D Mark scores
0–1000: Basic ability for light multimedia tasks
1001–3000: Mid-level graphics capable of mild gaming
3001–5000: Strong performance for some 3D games
5001–7000: Excellent graphics for all multimedia use
7001–10,000+: Outstanding graphics to rival desktop PCs