Updated: A few more rumored details about the Surface Pro 4 have leaked out.
Notebooks once thought to be replaced by tablets are more numerous and diverse than ever thanks to Ultrabooks taking off in popularity. 2-in-1 laptop-tablet hybrids are seeing ever increasing releases. Chromebooks may have stolen the show from budget laptops and netbooks, but Windows-based machines are retaking ground with affordable machines like the HP Pavilion x2. Meanwhile, performance gaming notebooks are on the rise and quickly becoming perfectly good replacements for your desktop computers.
With so many options to chose from picking the best laptop for your needs is getting harder. That's why it's important to start off by figuring out what you want to do with your new notebook.
Those after a fast boot up time and a lightweight machine to carry might drool over an Ultrabook. Serious gamers will gravitate towards machines tailored to their graphical and processing needs, while those after flexibility might fancy a convertible laptop-tablet hybrid.
It might seem overwhelming at first – what with all of the choices – but we're here to help you find the best laptop for you. Believe us when we say that there is a perfect laptop out there for you. With this guide, you'll find not only that, but which is the absolute best.
What does TechRadar recommend?
We're so glad you asked! Below you'll find what we think are the absolute best laptops in a number of categories, always up-to-date.
Best Ultrabook: Dell XPS 13 (2015)
Possibly the best laptop on the planet, Dell's latest is a masterpiece
CPU: Intel Core i5-5200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800 UltraSharp QHD+ touchdisplay | Storage: 256GB 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
The Dell XPS 13 (2015) isn't just an astonishingly thin and light laptop, it's a revolution in design. Fitting a 13.3-inch screen into a 11-inch laptop frame is no small feat, but Dell has pulled off a miracle creating a nearly borderless infinity display. This is also one powerful and long lasting machine, all while coming in at a very affordable starting price. It easily takes the top slot as the best Ultrabook and the best Windows laptop.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 (2015)
Best Chromebook: Google Chromebook Pixel 2015
The end all, be all of Chromebooks
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.85-inch 2,560 x 1,700 IPS touchscreen display | Storage: 32GB SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260; Bluetooth 4.0 LE | Camera: 720p | Weight: 3.3 pounds | Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches
As far as performance and screen resolution, nothing comes even close to rivaling Google's latest Chromebook Pixel. Packing a 2,560 x 1,700 IPS touchscreen, Intel Core i5-5200U CPU and even a USB type-C connector, the Pixel is on the bleeding edge. It's no surprise how Google labels it as a developer device for programmers building the future of Chrome OS. It has more than a few quirks including a square body and 3:2 screen, but if you're looking for the very best Chromebook this is it.
Read the full review: Google Chromebook Pixel 2015
Best gaming laptop: 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 | Connectivity: Intel PRO Wireless AC 7265 + Bluetooth Wireless LAN Combo | Camera: 2MP | Weight: 7.5 pounds | Dimensions: 15.2 x 10.31 x 1.40 inches
In the last few years, gaming laptops have amazing headway in catching up with their desktop gaming counterparts. And so it seems the most logical conclusion of this evolution was to start packing desktop parts inside a gaming laptop. Enter the Origin EON15-X, an unbelievably powerful 15.6-inch laptop rocking out a full-size desktop processor and the highest-end mobile GPU available.
You might think this combo would produce a boat of a laptop, but the EON15-X manages to fit everything into a small, attractive shell. Origin will more than likely update this notebook and the EON17-X with new Skylake processors now that they've hit the Desktop scene.
Read the full review: Origin EON15-X
Best 2-in-1 laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
The best laptop-killing tablet
CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 multi-touch | Storage: 256GB | 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
The Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft's most striking and versatile device to date, and serves as the most convincing poster child for the 2-in-1 hybrid category yet. Through years of refinement, Microsoft's newest tablet-hybrid has seen some significant upgrades including a bigger, higher-res display and sharper exterior.
Even the smallest little things like the hinge and type cover have been re-engineered to make the Surface Pro 3 a much more stable and usable device. This makes it easy to use whether you're at a desk, sitting or even lying down.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Best student laptop: Asus Zenbook UX305
A most affordable and excellent Ultrabook
CPU: 800MHz Intel Core M 5Y10 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD 1,920 x 1,080 (matte) | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 1.2MP | Weight: 2.6 pounds | Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches
The Asus ZenBook UX305 might look like a MacBook Air from every angle, but it's a better machine in almost every way. It's thinner, lighter and even more attractive in some ways with its purple tinged aluminum body. Plus this machine also has a higher-res full HD display with a fanless Intel Core M CPU and 256GB of SSD storage by default. The most amazing thing is you can get all of this for just $699 or £649 (about AU$902), which makes this one of the best deals for a laptop for students around.
Read the full review: Asus Zenbook UX305
Best mobile workstation: Lenovo ThinkPad W550s
This workstation impresses with its long battery life and hi-res screen
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-5600U | Graphics: Nvidia Quadro K2100M, Intel HD Graphics 4600 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.5-inch, 2,880 x 1,620 (3K), multi-touch display | Storage: 512GB SSD | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0; 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi | Camera: value | Weight: 4.92 lbs | Dimensions: 15 x 10.2 x 0.88 inches
The Lenovo ThinkPad W550s is pretty much everything you want a mobile workstation to be with understated aesthetics and a durable design on the outside. At the same time, it offers business users plenty of screen real estate at a sharp resolution, long battery life and strong, reliable performance. Starting at $1,196 (£1,229. AU$1546), the W550s is on the expensive side, but it's well worth the premium as the best mobile workstation.
Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad W550s
Best business laptop: 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina (2015)
The fastest small MacBook Pro yet is a force of nature
CPU: 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 6100 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch IPS, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: 801.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: FaceTime HD | Weight: 3.48 pounds | Dimensions: 12.35 x 8.62 x 0.71-inches
The 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro was arguably Apple's best laptop ever, and the 2015 model is somehow even faster and delivers longer battery life. Aside from an from being an annual refresh, the Retina Screen equipped MacBook Pro has also inherited the newly introduced MacBook's Force Touch trackpad. Apple might not spring up as the leading name for most business applications, but getting Mac is pretty enticing when you stack up the number for freebies including office programs and software upgrades. Check out the rest of our picks for the best business laptops.
Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina (2015)
Best Windows tablet: 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
Starting at $700 (£437 and AU$800), the Venue Pro 7000 offers a nice balance of performance and portability in the perfect balance you'd look for in the best Windows tablet. The Venue 11 Pro is a versatile Windows slate with enterprise features and it can be readily convert to a laptop or desktop with the right accessory add-ons. As a standalone tablet it's also a joy to use with its 10-inch, 1080p display plus the onboard Intel Core M processor to keep things light, thin and above all, fanless.
Read the full review: Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000
Laptops on our radar for 2015
You've checked out the best laptops out there and now you're hungry for more. Don't worry: so are we, which is why we want to give you a glimpse of some of the hottest devices set to launch soon. Whether you're thinking about picking up a new 2-in-1 to test Windows 10's Continuum feature or intend to replace your ageing gaming laptop in a few months' time, we're keeping an eye on tomorrow's technology so that you can start saving those pennies today.
Surface Pro 4
With the Windows 10 finally being here, it seems high time that Microsoft finally announce a new Surface Pro tablet. It's long overdue after all the Surface Pro 3 was first announced back in May 20, 2014.
Although there's been a long lead time between releases, we don't expect Microsoft's next tablet will be all too different from the series' last iteration. Word on the Internet says the Surface Pro 4 could come in the same 12-inch form factor to be fully compatible with last generation accessories. Internally the Surface Pro 4 may feature a Skylake Core M chip, though, its other specs will be relatively the same.
There have also been some more shaky rumors of a 14-inch variant. This model would supposedly be a larger, high-end model will reportedly cost around $1,300 (about £830, AU$1762), boasting a 4K resolution screen and up to 16GB of RAM.
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 11
Chromebooks better watch out, Acer has introduced a new and extremely affordable Aspire One Cloudbook 11. While this 11-inch Windows 10 notebook only comes with 2Gb of RAM and 32GB, Acer also includes a year-long subscription for Office 365 and 1TB OneDrive online storage. With a starting price of $169 (about £108, AU$232), the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 11 should give Chromebooks a run for their money.
Intel's new family of 6th generation Skylake processors are finally here and while only desktop chips have been announced so far, we're hoping Origin's EON17-X will be upgraded with the new CPUs soon. Unlike most 17-inch gaming laptops, this big boy comes equipped with a desktop processor alongside a top end mobile graphics card. Despite packing so many components, the EON17-X isn't a giant brick, measuring only 1.5-inches thick.
Lenovo Yoga 4 Pro
Similar to the Surface Pro 3, we're expecting Lenovo to pull out all the stop for a new and improved Yoga tablet. The Yoga 3 Pro impressed as one of world's the thinnest and most premium 2-in-1 laptop. However, this attractive machine was not without some flaws including poor battery life and a disappointing level of performance. We're hoping the next iteration will be just as wonderful to use as it is to look at.
HP Pavilion x2
HP has introduced a new plastic and fantastic 10.1-inch laptop-tablet hybrid just in time for Windows 10. How quaint! Although the HP Pavilion x2 comes rocking only a 1,280 x 800 resolution display it has plenty to offer on the audio front with Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers. Amazingly, this small 2-in-1 comes priced at $300 or £250 (about AU$383), given HP's reputation to break new ground in the affordable Windows laptop space this convertible follow up could be a resounding success.