It wasn't that long ago that you'd be forced to pay at least £1000 to buy a mainstream laptop that was as capable as a family machine as it was in the office or on daily commute.

Thankfully, cheap laptops are now a reality - prices have tumbled massively over the past two years and we're confident that for most regular users there's now simply no need to pay any more than £599.

That's why we've gathered 12 of the best and most affordable laptops currently available from the world's biggest manufacturers, and are certain we have all the bases covered, whatever your needs.

Within this group test, you'll find widescreen notebooks with dedicated graphics cards that are ideal for home multimedia use,tiny ultraportables for the daily traveller, and robust conservative machines ideal for the corporate user.

You will even find high-end features such as Blu-ray optical drives in place, along with the latest and fastest wireless connections and high-capacity hard drives, and there is more than enough performance on offer for all types of user, with up to 4096MB of memory making it easy to smoothly multi-task.

You'll also find the latest cutting-edge dual-core processors, including top-of-the-range chips, that prove you don't have to make compromises even at this truly affordable price point. Whatever your cheap laptop needs, read on to find your perfect portable.