Best laptop 2022: Top-rated brands for every budget

·17-min read
Working remotely? It might be time to upgrade your hardware (iStock/The Independent)
Working remotely? It might be time to upgrade your hardware (iStock/The Independent)

The best laptop is the one that does everything you need it to and nothing more. Luckily, in 2022 you have the widest ever selection of brands, styles, prices and form factors to choose from, including MacBooks, Chromebooks, and laptops from Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and HP.

Maybe you’re working from home and you’ve decided you need a fast, reliable and long-lasting laptop for tackling emails, working remotely, and hosting virtual meetings without outdated hardware slowing you down.

Perhaps your faithful old laptop has gone to the big blue screen in the sky and you’re finally ready to move on to something new. Or you might be a student in search of the perfect two-in-one laptop for work, media and gaming.

Competition between the top brands is so fierce now that you could throw a dart in a Currys store and find a perfectly decent laptop to handle most everyday tasks. But if you’d rather some expert guidance – and don’t want to be banned from your local Currys – we’ve assembled a list of the best laptops in 2022 to help you choose the device that’s right for you.

However you use your laptop, the breadth of options out there can make purchasing a new one can feel like an overwhelming prospect. To take some of the stress out of the process, we’ve put together a short guide on what to look for in a laptop. If you’d rather we take care of the hard part, you can continue reading below for our recommendations.

How we tested

These are laptops we’ve thoroughly tested and can recommend, from MacBooks and Windows models to convertible two-in-one devices. We’ve included both budget laptops and high-end machines capable of handling the most demanding applications and playing games on the go.

Most of the laptops featured here can be configured to have more RAM, a bigger hard drive or a faster processor. You can also find a bargain by searching for earlier models of the laptops we’ve picked, though be aware that some of the features we mention might not appear in previous generations.

If you’re not sure what type of laptop you want, head over to our comprehensive guide to choosing the best laptop for your needs, where we break down some of the basic components, functions and features to look out for.

The best laptops for 2022 are:

  • Best overall laptop – Dell XPS 15: £1,549.65, Dell.com

  • Best laptop for gaming – Razer blade 15: £1,943.48, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best laptop for students and writers – Microsoft surface laptop 4: £1,269, Currys.co.uk

  • Best laptop for creatives – Apple MacBook pro: £1,899, Apple.com

  • Best affordable laptop – Lenovo yoga slim 7: £549.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best Apple laptop – Apple MacBook air: £949, Currys.co.uk

  • Best Windows laptop – Microsoft surface studio: £1,449, Currys.co.uk

  • Best laptop for working from home – Huawei matebook x pro: £1,499.97, Laptopsdirect.co.uk

  • Best business laptop – HP spectre x360: £1,059, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best laptop for travel – Asus zenbook 13: £599.99, Asus.com

Dell XPS 15 laptop (2022)

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

  • CPU: 12th gen Intel Core i5 / i7 / i9

  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 / 3050 Ti

  • RAM: 16GB-64GB

  • Screen: 15.6in 1920 x 1200p touchscreen

  • Storage: 512GB-2TB SSD

  • Pros: Incredibly fast. Stylish design

  • Cons: Expensive. Low-quality webcam.

This is Dell’s flagship laptop for 2022, a showcase of everything the manufacturer can reasonably pack into a single machine without the entire thing melting into a hot puddle of silicone and plastic. The Dell XPS 15 is one of the best Windows laptops you can buy and pairs a minimalist, no-fuss design with top-level functionality and performance.

Our full review of this year’s model is in progress, but in our review of the 2021 OLED model we were left thoroughly impressed. “If you’re in the market for a high-performance and productivity-focused Windows laptop with a spectacular next-generation display, the new Dell XPS 15 is the best you’ll find. This is about as close to perfect as laptops get,” our reviewer wrote.

The bright, crisp touchscreen is one of the best displays on any laptop, while under the hood, the 12th generation Intel processor packs more performance than the average desktop computer.

Read the full Dell XPS 15 2021 review

Buy now £1549.65, Dell.com

Razer blade 15 laptop

Best: For gaming

Rating: 10/10

  • CPU: 11th gen Intel Core i7 to 12th gen Intel Core i9

  • Graphics: GeForce 3070 to 3080 Ti

  • RAM: 16GB / 32GB

  • Screen: 15in, Full HD to 4K

  • Storage: 1TB SSD

  • Pros: Subtle design, excellent cooling, unmatched performance

  • Cons: Runs hot, expensive

A blisteringly fast gaming laptop that delivers desktop-grade performance, the Razer blade 15 is the best gaming laptop we’ve tested. Highly configurable, our test model ran the latest 12th generation Core i7 processor with 32GB of memory, Nvidia’s 3080 Ti GPU and a ridiculously fast 360Hz display (£3,899.99, Razer.com).

The configuration we’ve linked to here is a little more modest and backs away from the bleeding-edge specs, but splits the difference nicely with an 11th gen CPU and the marginally less powerful 3070 Ti.

Both configuations will happily run every new PC game with the graphics settings dialled way up and – unlike so many gaming laptops that resemble Fisher Price toys – the Razer blade 15 has a subtle, minimalist design you could take into important business meetings without raising too many eyebrows.

Buy now £1943.48, Amazon.co.uk

Microsoft Surface laptop 4

Best: For students and writers

Rating: 8/10

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4680U through to Intel Core i7 1185G7

  • Graphics: Radeon/ Intel iris xe

  • RAM: 8GB through to 32GB DDR4

  • Screen: 13.5in, 2256p x 1504p

  • Storage: 256GB through to 1TB SSD

  • Pros: Streamlined Windows experience, thin design

  • Cons: Thick bezels

The Surface range showcases Windows 11 at its absolute best, allowing Microsoft to take control of both the hardware and software to create tablets and laptops that feel unified, streamlined and uncompromised. Whereas most other Windows laptops come preloaded with sketchy third-party apps and anti-virus bloatware, Microsoft’s Surface laptops are much closer to the Apple-style user experience. Clean, tidy, and simple to use.

In this analogy, the surface laptop 4 is the MacBook air of Windows machines. This is a fast and thin touchscreen laptop, with even the slowest and cheapest configuration running on a decently powerful AMD Ryzen 5 processor. The laptop is unlocked with facial recognition, the keyboard is a delight to type on for hours, and it’s finished in a fine faux-suede alcantara material.

Read the full Microsoft Surface laptop 4 review

Buy now £1269.00, Currys.co.uk

Apple MacBook pro laptop (14in, 2021)

Best: For creatives

Rating: 9/10

  • CPU: Apple M1 pro

  • Graphics: Integrated

  • RAM: 16GB unified memory

  • Screen: 14.2in, 3024 x 1694p

  • Storage: 512GB SSD

  • Pros: Top performance, great screen

  • Cons: Expensive

The performance gap between the MacBook air (from £999, Apple.com) and the smaller MacBook pro has been shrinking lately. But Apple’s premium laptop is still the go-to machine for specialist users and editors who need every last bit of processing power. Though both are powered by Apple’s new proprietary M1 chip, the MacBook pro can handle tasks that would have its slimmer cousin wheezing into a brown paper bag. Like the MacBook air, the power button has a built-in fingerprint sensor, the keyboard is comfortable and the trackpad is big and responsive.

The best laptop for productivity and creative tasks – and the only laptop that can reasonably claim to have fashion credibility – the MacBook pro 14in is a masterpiece of design.

Read the full MacBook pro 2021 review

Buy now £1899.00, Apple.com

Lenovo yoga slim 7 laptop

Best: Budget laptop

Rating: 8/10

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 1135G7 through to Intel Core i7 1165G7

  • Graphics: Intel iris xe

  • RAM: 8GB DDR4

  • Screen: 14in, 1920p x 1080p

  • Storage: 256GB through to 512GB SSD

  • Pros: Powerful laptop for this price

  • Cons: 1080p display is a little dated

A premium ultrabook without the premium price tag, right now, the Lenovo yoga slim 7 is the best laptop you can buy for under £600. For the last few years, Lenovo has been quietly turning out laptops and tablets that offer smart design and decent specs without costing the earth, and this model is the culmination of the Chinese manufacturer’s best work.

This super-thin laptop is powered by a Core i5 processor tuned for laptops, giving you enough grunt to handle CPU-intensive tasks like photo and video editing and even some lower-end games. To bring costs down, Lenovo has plumped for a standard HD, 1080p display, but it’s a good quality panel with excellent colour reproduction and contrast.

Read the full Lenovo yoga slim 7 review

Buy now £549.99, Amazon.co.uk

Apple MacBook air laptop (M1, 2020)

Best: Apple laptop

Rating: 9/10

  • CPU: Apple M1 chip

  • Graphics: Integrated M1 GPU

  • RAM: 8GB DDR4

  • Screen: 13.3in, 2560p x 1600p

  • Storage: 512GB through to 1TB SSD

  • Pros: Thin, light, very fast performance

  • Cons: Only two ports

Apple’s thinnest, lightest MacBook transcended the tech world to become an instantly recognisable design icon, the profile of which many rival laptops have since followed. If you’ve ever held one, you’ll understand why it’s such an alluring device: the MacBook air is an elegant piece of engineering, weighing just 1.29kg and measuring 4.1mm at its thinnest point.

The 2020 model is powered by Apple’s new M1 processor, an ARM-based chip that unlocks notable performance boosts and better battery efficiency over the older Intel CPU seen in previous generations. A 2022 version of the MacBook air powered by the M2 chip just launched (£1,249, Apple.co.uk), if you need even more performance.

Read our full MacBook air M2 review

Buy now £949.00, Apple.com

Microsoft Surface laptop studio

Best: Windows laptop

Rating: 9/10

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 / Intel Core i7

  • Graphics: Intel iris X / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti

  • RAM: 16GB / 32GB

  • Screen: 14.4in, 2400 x 1600, 120Hz

  • Storage: 256GB to 2TB SSD

  • Pros: Beautiful screen, clever design, powerful performance

  • Cons: Only has USB C ports, battery life could be better

Microsoft’s range of Surface devices have always been exceptionally good-looking. Whereas most Windows laptops are built by third-party manufacturers and littered with holographic Intel stickers and various bits of corporate branding, the Surface range stands alone as Microsoft’s shining example of what the ideal Windows 11 laptop could look like.

The Surface laptop studio has a clever articulated design that solves a problem that’s plagued the Surface range for years, by placing the laptop’s touchscreen somewhere it can be used comfortably, and all without having to completely detach it from the keyboard. It’s as powerful and capable as a MacBook pro (£1,899, Apple.com) in everything but battery life, and when coupled with the Microsoft slim pen 2 (£119, Currys.co.uk) it can do more than the rival Apple machine. The fluid 120Hz display is also one of the best screens on any Windows laptop you can buy.

Read the full Surface laptop studio review

Buy now £1449.00, Currys.co.uk

Huawei MateBook X pro laptop (2021)

Best: For working from home

Rating: 9/10

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 1165G7

  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe

  • RAM: 16GB DDR4

  • Screen: 13.9in, 3000p x 2000p

  • Storage: 1TB SSD

  • Pros: Impressive screen, stylish design, powerful

  • Cons: Strangely positioned webcam

Huawei’s latest flagship lifts the best design elements from both the Surface laptop 4 (£968, Amazon.co.uk) and the MacBook air (£999, Apple.com), resulting in a device that looks so smart that it’s hard to begrudge Huawei for copying its rivals’ homework. The matebook x pro has a bright and colourful 3:2 ratio display bordered by a vanishingly small bezel. The display is also a multi-point touchscreen, so don’t forget to pack some wet wipes in your laptop bag.

This configuration of the Huawei device is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of memory and a generous 1TB hard drive. A fingerprint scanner rounds off a quality piece of hardware, though one notable downside is the awkward position of the webcam, which is hidden beneath one of the function keys. The angle is less-than-flattering in video calls.

Read the full Huawei matebook x pro review

Buy now £1499.97, Laptopsdirect.co.uk

HP spectre x360 laptop (14in, 2021)

Best: For business

Rating: 8/10

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 1165G7

  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe graphics

  • RAM: 16GB DDR4

  • Screen: 13.5in, 3,000 x 2,000px

  • Storage: 512GB SSD

  • Pros: Vivid OLED display, great battery life

  • Cons: Expensive

Full credit to HP for designing a laptop that doesn’t look like yet another MacBook air (£949, Currys.co.uk). The HP spectre x360 is a high-performance machine with a display that can be folded back in on itself to transform into a tablet, albeit a slightly chunky one when compared with two-in-ones that can be fully snapped in half.

Every inch of this device feels premium. The 14in high-definition display is responsive and vivid. The fingerprint sensor is fast, and the physical cut-off switch for the webcam is a nice addition for the security-conscious.

Under the bonnet you’ve got top-end components. We tested the 2021 model with its do-everything Core i7 processor and generous 16GB of memory, a version that doesn’t tinker too much with the exterior but improves on the specs with an even faster Intel CPU, Intel Evo certification and a wider range of configuration options.

Read the full HP spectre x360 14 review

Buy now £1059.00, Amazon.co.uk

Asus zenbook 13 laptop (UX325)

Best: For travel

Rating: 8/10

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 1135G7 through to Intel Core i7 1165G7

  • Graphics: Intel iris xe

  • RAM: 8GB DDR4

  • Screen: 13.3in, 1920p x 1080p

  • Storage: 512GB through to 1TB SSD

  • Pros: Smart ergonomic design, sharp OLED screen

  • Cons: 1080p display is a little dated

The zenbook 13 is littered with interesting little design touches that make this coffee shop ultrabook stand out from the crowd. For a start, where other laptops have whittled down their ports to one or two USB-C connections, this one proudly keeps its USB-A port alongside an HDMI out and a MicroSD card slot, all without sacrificing thinness.

When opened, the hinge is designed to lift the keyboard slightly for more ergonomic typing and better airflow. The touchpad can display a number pad or calculator app, while the infrared camera can be used to unlock Windows. An all-day battery life, vibrant edge-to-edge screen and stylish finish round off one of the best 13in laptops you can buy.

Read our review of the Asus zenbook pro duo 15

Buy now £599.99, Asus.com

Laptop FAQs

Which is the best processor for a laptop?

The range of CPUs on offer can seem bewildering, but don’t sweat it. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you don’t to worry too much about the differences between the two main brands. These are AMD and Intel, and they both make roughly similar versions of one another’s CPUs.

What’s the difference between AMD and Intel?

Intel’s most popular range is called Core series. These include the affordable Core i3, the mid-range Core i5, the high-end Core i7, and the specialist Core i9. The bigger the number, the faster the processor. For most users, the Core i3 is more than enough power. For gaming and processor-intensive tasks such as rendering large files and video editing, the Core i5 or Core i7 can be a useful upgrade.

Mirroring this, AMD has the Ryzen range. These include the Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, and Ryzen 9 processors. They’ll offer similar levels of performance to their Intel counterparts, and while the underlying hardware is different you’ll notice no difference in how your laptop actually functions.

Apple MacBooks are another kettle of fish entirely. Until recently Apple used Intel processors, before it upgraded its entire range to Apple’s own M1 and M2 CPUs. These are least a little easier to think about: M2 is faster than M1.

What does generation mean in processors?

As newer processors are always improving, these four simple tiers don’t change in number. They’ll always refer to the most and least powerful processors each CPU brand manufactures. What changes are the digits following the CPU name, with the first two digits referring to the CPU’s generation.

For instance, the Intel Core i5-1135 is an 11th generation Intel processor. The AMD Ryzen 5 5600 is a fifth generation AMD processor. The higher the generation, the more recently the CPU was developed and the faster it is. Intel is currently on its 12th generation processors, while AMD is on its sixth.

What is Celeron?

There are other Intel CPUs on the market, such as the Celeron series. Celeron is designed to be super affordable and low-end, for users that really don’t need much processing power. You’ll find them in budget laptops.

How much RAM does a laptop need?

The average user needs 8GB of RAM (or memory). RAM is storage that your laptop is constantly using to juggle data, so it’s essentially a measure of how many things your device can do at once before it starts to slow down. This gives you enough memory to load Windows smoothly, and run a few demanding apps.

As software becomes more complex, it starts to demand more memory. Though, 8GB should future-proof your laptop against this for a few years to come. If your current laptop already has 8GB of RAM and you’re experiencing slow-down, consider stepping up to 16GB.

MacBooks work a little differently. Because the M1 or M2 chip is handling a lot of the data-juggling itself, the device needs less dedicated RAM, which means your 8GB goes a little further than it does on a Windows laptop.

What is the best laptop to buy?

There is no single best laptop we can recommend. Rather, the best laptop to buy is the one that meets your needs.

Like all electronics, laptops become obsolete over time, so there are diminishing returns when you invest in the most expensive, high-spec and powerful devices. Instead, consider what you might use your laptop for – will it be for gaming, emailing, spreadsheets or photo editing. And also where you might want to use it – at a desk, on a train, on the sofa – and choose a laptop that fits those criteria.

Check out our laptop buying guide for helpful advice on choosing a laptop that suits your needs.

What is the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?

Most laptops use Microsoft’s Windows operating system, while MacBooks use Apple’s macOS operating system.

Chromebooks are different. They run on Chrome OS, an operating system designed by Google. Anyone can license this operating system, so you’ll see Chromebooks manufactured by a wide range of brands and available in various styles.

Google’s operating system doesn’t run traditional desktop programs. Instead, it behaves more like the Chrome web browser, using online apps such as Google Docs and some Android apps.

This sounds limiting – and for most users, it is – but there are upsides. Because most of the processing is happening over the internet, Chromebooks don’t need to be so powerful. This means they generally have a longer battery life, are much cheaper, far more secure and boot up faster than regular laptops.

If you do most of your work inside a browser, a Chromebook makes sense. Designed to showcase what a Chromebook is capable of, the Pixelbook go (£629, Google.com) is our recommended laptop in this category.

The verdict: Laptops

If you’re looking for a high-performance, do-it-all Windows machine that can run rings around most desktop computers, the Dell XPS 15 is your laptop. For gaming, our pick is the Razer Blade 15. It will break the bank, but it’s worth every penny. Consider shopping for older models or the smaller Razer Blade 14 if you can’t stomach the pricetag.

Most shoppers won’t need that much power, so we’d recommend the Lenovo yoga slim 7 for those who want a laptop that can handle everyday tasks without leaving a giant hole in your bank account. Apple users have an easier choice, but the latest 2021 model of the MacBook pro 14in is our favourite Apple laptop right now.

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