September 13, 2018
When buying a laptop, you want it to do everything you need, and last for years, too. That means, buying from a laptop brand you can trust. There are several key factors to consider, including your budget, what you actually want to use the laptop for, and of course the brand’s reputation. We take a look at some of the best laptop brands on the market and explain what they offer.
If you’re after a laptop for business, you’ll find that your needs will be vastly different to one you might need at home, for example. Whereas one might reside mainly on your desk and have several peripherals attached to it at any time, the other might reside more in your bag, making the need for a better battery and light body all the more important.
Do consider your needs when buying a laptop, and make sure that the one you pick is best suited to your tasks.
Looking for a laptop today? Check our list of the Best Laptops to Buy
Which are the Best Laptop Brands?
Check the laptop section of any store, and you’ll see many brands vying for your dollar. Each makes similar claims – the fastest, the lightest, the most powerful. So, which deserves your buck? We’ve pulled out the ones below that we think you should be prioritising, and will offer years of excellent service.
- Apple – Expensive, yes, but powerful, user-friendly, high quality and reliable
- Dell – A huge range of models for every budget, and offers the superb XPS range
- Acer – Offers some well-priced and compelling ChromeBooks, as well as standard models.
- Lenovo – A wide array of models, some with unique features
- Asus – Excellent line up with some great value models available
- Microsoft – Just one laptop (to date), but a superb option for Windows fans
- HP – The everyman of the laptop world, unexciting but solid
Best Laptop Brands Compared
Each laptop brand has its own vices and virtues. Where Apple may have a reputation for brilliant screens and slim designs, it’s also well-known as the priciest brand to buy into. Meanwhile, Acer may stand out as a great budget brand, but it has some fancier high-end models, too. Let’s take a closer look at the ranges available from each brand:
Apple’s reputation in the hardware space for innovation and quality is well deserved and its laptop line-up is no exception. It may not offer a huge range, and value for money isn’t a factor here, but the MacBook series is widely acknowledged as being one of the best.
- MacBook Air – The cheapest MacBook, and one that until recently had been slightly ignored by Apple. However, the MacBook Air was given an update in 2018, with a more powerful processor and Retina screen making it a real contender.
- MacBook – Treading on the Air’s toes, the 12-inch MacBook is even thinner and lighter, making it an ideal companion for coffee-shop typists. This is the most stylish MacBook around, though not ideal for heavier design tasks.
- MacBook Pro – The headline MacBook, the Pro seamlessly combines power and style, making it a must have for designers. There are a number of Pro models, ranging up to $2,500 models with a Touch Bar along the top of the keyboard.
Got your heart set on a MacBook? See our guide to Which MacBook You Should Buy
Dell has a long and rich history in computing, and it offers a good selection of laptops for every pocket. The XPS series is arguably a viable MacBook Windows alternative, but its Inspiron range offers laptops to those with smaller budgets but who don’t want to compromise on specs.
- Dell Inspiron 3000 – 7000 series – Dell’s standard consumer range. There’s nothing too fancy within this series, though it does include 2-in-1 models with touchscreens. These are dependable workhorse laptops, but nothing you’d show off about.
- Dell XPS series – These are Dell’s MacBook competitors, and they’re fabulous Windows laptops. You’ll get high performance from the XPS machines, but they also have a stylish, light and slim profile
- Dell G Series – These are gaming laptops with dedicated graphics card and high end processors
Lenovo is a Chinese brand that shows no sign of slowing down, and its laptop business was accelerated significantly in 2005 when it purchased the personal computing arm of IBM, hence why it sells the iconic ThinkPad range. Lenovo shows a degree of innovation in its products, such as the early implementation of the Yoga range, with its dual laptop/hybrid functionality.
- Lenovo Thinkpad – Mainly aimed at business users, these are robust laptops with solid specs that should be perfect for day-to-day spreadsheet, document and web work.
- Lenovo IdeaPad – Lenovo’s ‘standard’ laptop range, starting with budget models, up to fully decked out laptops. If you’re keeping to a lower budget, these are dependable, but not especially fancy models to choose.
- Lenovo Yoga – A range of laptops with rotating touchscreens that can be positioned in multiple ways
A Taiwanese brand, Asus has shown some innovation in recent years, most notable its ScreenPad, that replaces the touchpad of the ZenBook with a screen, similar to Apple’s TouchBar. It has also become known for its very competitively priced Chromebook range in recent years.
- Asus ZenBook – Asus’ premium laptop range, slim, light and portable but still packing plenty of power.
- Asus VivoBook – Everyday laptops for aimed at users of all levels, available as entry-level models, or with the latest generation i7 processors.
- Asus Chromebook – A range of inexpensive Google Chrome OS-based laptops that are light and portable. They’re also seriously cheap, with models starting from under $250.
Acer, a Chinese company of over forty years, offers a compelling line up of laptops that are competitively priced, especially its Aspire range. Like Asus, it has created a range of low cost Chromebooks which have proven popular low-cost alternatives to full Windows laptops.
- Acer Chromebook – Excellent value Chromebooks that offer a cheap alternative to traditional Windows-based laptops
- Acer Aspire – Acer’s everyday range of laptops, these are robust machines designed for use rather than style.
- Acer Swift – High-end laptops with a sleek design and a focus on technical ability, aimed at demanding users
- Acer Spin – A range of laptops with a rotating touchscreen that can be twisted around be set up in a number of ways.
HP is a stalwart of personal computing. The huge range of laptops it offers means that there is an HP for everyone out there, although trying to work out which one to go for can be daunting. Its Spectre models are brilliantly crafted and designed, offering a true high-end product.
- HP Spectre – HP’s premium laptop, designed to be fast and powerful and with a price tag that reflects this.
- HP Envy – Lacks some of the more desirable features and ports of the Spectre range, but still a competent laptop series.
- HP Pavilion – Chunkier, less portable laptops that are more designed for casual users and families.
Perhaps not that well known for hardware, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is a premium model that aims to satisfy users after a high end experience. Although Microsoft’s Surface tablets are compatible with a keyboard, the Surface Laptop is its only true laptop offering.
- Surface Laptop – A high end laptop with plenty of power, pitched as a MacBook killer. This is a seriously slim and stylish laptop, and one of the best Windows models you can buy.
- Surface / Surface Pro Tablets – Not quite an iPad-style tablet, but not quite a laptop, either. These hybrid models run Windows 10, but to get the best out of them, you really need to purchase the additional keyboard cover.
Best Cheap Laptop Brands
A laptop needn’t cost you a huge chunk of cash, and the competition between brands means great prices for the consumer.
Despite this, don’t be tempted by brands you don’t recognise, as these are likely to offer poor after-sales support and could let you down. Stick with the brands mentioned on this page and you’ll be set.
In terms of value, most brands offer entry-level laptops, but we think that Acer and Asus offer the best low-cost models with their Aspire and VivoBook ranges. The cheaper laptops won’t be powerhouses, but will get the bulk of daily tasks done.
Another option is a Chromebook. These are notably cheaper than a traditional Windows laptop, though they function a little differently. Think of them as the Chrome web browser, with a keyboard! They’re great for web browsing, emailing, and streaming video.
They may not be as flexible and offer the range of abilities of a Windows machine, but the average web user and social media fanatic won’t mind, and the Google office suite offers everything that Microsoft Office does, and is fully compatible with those programs.
Best Laptops for All Budgets
If you’re spending under $300
If your budget is under $300, then your options are limited. At this price, you’ll mainly be looking at Chromebooks. Pick one of these up and you could even have change to spare, although be aware that it won’t offer the full range of features that you’d expect from a Windows or Apple laptop. For those looking to browser the web, stream video and send emails, a Chromebook will more than do the job.
Check out the Chromebooks offered by Asus and Acer for a good option.
If you’re spending up to $500
$500 won’t net you the laptop of your dreams, but it will get you a decent starter. You should be aiming for an i3 Intel processor at this price, which will prove powerful enough for the casual user and should be future-proof for a few years.
Consider something from the Acer Aspire or Lenovo ThinkPad ranges. Not head-turners by any means, but they will get the job done.
If you’re spending up to $750
With a budget of $750, you’ll be able to grab a laptop that will serve you well and be able to complete most of the tasks you throw at it. Serious gaming and heavy duty video editing will be out, but it’ll cope with anything else. Aim for an i5 processor from the 8th generation of chips, and go for a model with a solid state drive so that it’s speedy to boot and start programs. At this price range you can bag yourself a great laptop for work or pleasure.
Consider something from the Acer Swift or Spin ranges, or a Lenovo Yoga if you find the the idea of a laptop/tablet hybrid appealing.
If you’re spending up and over $1,000
If you have a budget of $1,000 and up, people will tell you to get a MacBook, and honestly, they’re not wrong. The Air, Apple’s entry level laptop, starts at $849, and is an excellent all-rounder that can still pack a punch despite not being the top-end Apple model.
If you’re looking for something that can run more demanding software, such as an graphics intense programs, consider the MacBook Pro instead.
If you’re after a Windows machine, Dell’s XPS range is an excellent alternative to the MacBook, and can be purchased with a dedicated graphics card at the high end. The Microsoft Surface laptop is another serious contender, and one of the best Windows laptops you can buy if you’re spending over $1,000.
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