1. 13-inch MacBook Air

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Like most recent MacBook Air refreshes, the mid-2013 update brings us four new models; two with 11-inch screens and two with 13-inch displays. All use Haswell 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core processors, replete with Intel HD Graphics 5000, the latest version of Intel's integrated graphics chipset.

The cheaper model in each of the two screen sizes has 128GB of solid state storage, the more expensive version has 256GB, and all offer 4GB of RAM.

The benchmarks weren't as great as we hoped but the newest MacBook Air is a definite step up from last year's release. The battery life is little short of incredible - business travelers taking long flights and students who need it all day for lectures, and then throughout the evening for writing an essay will love its all-day power.

2. Samsung Series 7 Chronos

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The Samsung Series 7 Chronos model is an update to Samsung's premium 15.6-inch performance laptop, which adds a touchscreen to the existing sleek, brushed metal body. It's for anyone who needs true computing power, for running multiple programs and being creative, but who still wants to take advantage of all Windows 8's super new touchscreen features.

So what's under the hood of this Korean-made beast? Well, the specs are impressive indeed. Firstly, there's an Intel Core i7 3635QM processor chip, which is one of the fastest you'll find out there, clocked at an impressive 2.4GHz. This will handle pretty much anything you throw at it, and is perfect for power-hungry users who want to edit video, images and run rich websites all at the same time.

Back that up with the 8GB of RAM that comes as standard and you have one nifty laptop.

3. Asus N56V

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Beneath the stylish exterior of the Asus N56V, there lies a sleeping beast - a brand new Intel Core i7-3720QM 2.6GHz processor. This new hardware means staggeringly fast load and response times, unfaltered HD video playback, seamless photo editing and even high frame rate gaming.

It features dedicated graphics and a strong battery life compared to its rivals, along with clear Bang & Olufsen speakers and easy to use input options. An impressive high-end machine that handles multitasking well.

4. Sony Vaio S Series 13P

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The features of this laptop, not to mention the asking price, establish the Sony Vaio S Series 13P in the top tier of ultra-portable, ultra-premium notebooks. The boxy, executive design might not appeal to all, but usability and portability are enviable.

If you need a powerful, portable business machine, the Sony Vaio S Series 13P should be topping your list. But if you want a media machine for streaming movies and so on, look elsewhere.

5. MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina display

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Best laptops US

The new Apple MacBook Pro's most exciting feature is, of course, its Retina display. With a 2880 x 1800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch, it crams over 5.1 million pixels into its 15.4-inch screen. That's over three million more than an HD TV.

However, it does mean that after-market upgrades are almost impossible, and sacrifices have been made, such as the lack of a hard drive, optical drive and Ethernet or FireWire 800 ports. Clearly aimed at video editors, photographers and graphics professionals, the Retina screen is beautiful, but the laptop's high price tag will put some off.