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The 14 best laptops of 2014: what’s the best laptop you can buy in the UK right now?

Posted on 11 Jun 2014 at 14:54

Knowing exactly what is the best laptop to buy isn't easy, so here is a list of the 14 best laptops of 2014 to help you decide which one is right for you and your budget.

If you’re in the market for a new laptop and haven’t been keeping up to date with all of the latest launches, then working out which machine is right for you might seem a daunting task. To aid you with your decision, we've put together a list of the 14 best laptops you can buy in 2014.

The best laptops of 2014

The best way to set about making that tricky decision is to first work out what type of laptop you want or need, then consult our best laptop list below for the most appropriate machine in that category. Thanks to the explosion of different form factors, though, that isn’t the simple job it once was.

For a simple, effective laptop, there’s still nothing to beat the traditional clamshell laptop design for value. A standard laptop will do most things more expensive models can, and prices can be very reasonable. You’ll have to sacrifice weight, looks and (usually) display quality, though.

Up your spend, and you’ll be able to consider an Ultrabook – thin and light machines that look as good as they perform – or a touchscreen laptop. A touchscreen isn’t essential, but it is nice to be able to pinch, flick and swipe your way through the Windows 8 touch UI and around web pages. Plus, it gives your fingers a bit of respite from tiresome touchpad prodding.

If you want to take it to the next level, a hybrid could be the way to go. These machines allow you to stow or fold away the keyboard so you can use your laptop just like an iPad or Android tablet.

Don’t expect any of these fancy features on a business-focused laptop, though. They generally do away with such luxuries, concentrating instead on providing office-friendly features such as Ethernet sockets, fingerprint or smart card readers, and upgradeable components to give you more practical bang for your buck.

Whatever you decide, the list below will have you covered. It represents the cream of the laptop crop in every category, and every machine on it has been tested to within an inch of its life. For the very best laptops available to buy right now, read on.

The best laptops of 2014

1. Apple Macbook Pro 13in with Retina Display

Price when reviewed: £1,499 inc VAT

The best laptops of 2014: Apple Macbook Pro 13in with Retina Display

Apple's latest update to its Retina-equipped MacBook Pro 13in is perhaps the finest laptop that money can buy. It's not as slender as the best Ultrabooks - the newly slimmed-down model still weighs 1.55kg and measures 18mm thick – but, gram for gram, it crams in more power and all-round quality than any other laptop you care to mention. The arrival of Intel's Haswell CPUs gives graphics performance a much needed boost (a notable weakness of the previous generation), and battery life now soars over 11 hours.

Elsewhere, the Macbook Pro oozes class: the Retina display is stunning, and increased application support finally allows it to start delivering on its potential. Factor in a very welcome price cut, and it strides straight the top of our wish list.

2. Asus X552C

Price when reviewed: £450 inc VAT

Asus X552C

Asus knows how to build a brilliant cut-price laptop – take a look at its 11.6in VivoBook X200CA and 10.1in Transformer Book T100 if you don’t believe us. But its X552CL takes on the challenge of putting together a more powerful 15.6in system while still managing to keep down the cost.

With a Core i5 processor, Nvidia graphics and a sensible range of features for £400, it looks like Asus has got it right yet again.

3. Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro

Price when reviewed: £1,000 inc VAT

The best laptops of 2014: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga range was the first to nail the hybrid formula, and the IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro is the best of the lot. This Ultrabook shares the Yoga family's ability to contort from laptop to tablet and adopt a range of poses in between, but ups the ante with a high-DPI touchscreen and an Intel Haswell CPU.

Physically, the Yoga 2 Pro is prettier than ever, with a slender, more curvy design, and although it has lost weight, it feels stiffer and sturdier. Performance from the Core i5 CPU and 256GB SSD is spritely. Battery life is decent at a touch short of eight hours.

The 13.3in, 3,200 x 1,800 display is unbelievably crisp, too, as well as bright and bold, but the high resolution can cause issues with some software. Such quibbles are easy to overlook, however. At £999 inc VAT, the Yoga 2 Pro delivers cutting-edge hardware for less than any of its rivals – it's a formidable Ultrabook.

4. Asus Transformer Book T100

Price when reviewed: £349 inc VAT

The best laptops of 2014 Asus Transformer Book T100

Fusing a 10.1in tablet with a docking keyboard, the Transformer Book T100 swaps the Android OS of its stablemates for full Windows 8.1 and puts Intel's new Atom platform, Bay Trail, at the helm. Intel's quad-core Atom is twice as fast as the previous generation, and even has a little gaming power at its disposal. The T100 feels nothing like the netbooks of old.

The 1,366 x 768 IPS display isn't the brightest out there, but it's great for the money; the compact keyboard turns it into a usable netbook hybrid with nine hours of battery life; and there's even a copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 thrown in for free. If ever there was a bargain to be had, the Asus Transformer Book T100 is it.

5. Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 (11 inch)

Price when reviewed: £500 inc VAT

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 (11 inch)

Lenovo was one of the first manufacturers to produce a convincing Windows 8 hybrid with its folding Yoga concept, and the IdeaPad Yoga 2 is its cheapest model yet.

With a 11.6in touchscreen, it reprises the design of the £1,099 IdeaPad Yoga 11S, but slashes the price with a quad-core Pentium processor.

It's a superbly crafted 11.6in hybrid with a gorgeous display and a well-judged specification – for a very reasonable price.

6. Dell Precision M3800

Price when reviewed: £1,799 inc VAT

Dell Precision M3800

Workstation laptops aren’t meant to be sexy or attractive, but the new Dell Precision M3800 turns convention on its head. It packs a quad-core CPU, Nvidia Quadro graphics and solid-state storage into a slim, stylish chassis that makes it look more like a super-sized Ultrabook.

7. Gigabyte P34G v2

Price when reviewed: £989 inc VAT

Gigabyte P34G v2

Look at the name and the photos and you'll see nothing remarkable, but the Gigabyte P34G v2 is a gaming laptop that flies in the face of convention.

It packs giant-slaying performance into a compact, portable 14in laptop with decent battery life. The price is reasonable as well.

8. Acer Aspire E1 review

Price when reviewed: £350 inc VAT

Acer Aspire E1 review

Budget laptops rarely set the pulse racing, but the Acer Aspire E1 excites purely by virtue of its price. For a mere £350, this 15.6in laptop touts a Core i3 CPU, 750GB hard disk and all the essential trimmings.

It's an unshowy 15.6in laptop with good build quality and a great specification for the money – a bona fide bargain.

9. Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Price when reviewed: 64GB, £599; 512GB, £1,199 inc VAT

The best laptops of 2014: Microsoft Surface Pro 2

The successor to the first Surface Pro made some essential changes to the formula. Physically, the 10.8in tablet hasn't changed a jot: the 920g all-metal body remains as strikingly chiselled and as weighty as it ever was, but the addition of a new two-position kickstand makes it far more usable on a desk, or on a lap.

Inside, a CPU upgrade - to Intel's Haswell tech - keeps performance spritely, while dramatically increasing battery life, and Microsoft has calibrated the Full HD touchscreen for better colour accuracy. Pressure-sensitive stylus input still comes as standard, and the range of optional accessories, such as the Touch and Type Covers, and the docking station, allow the Surface Pro 2 to masquerade as a laptop, tablet or desktop PC. All-in-all, a serious tablet, and a classy hybrid, for sensible money.

10. Dell XPS 12

Price when reviewed: £1,279 inc VAT

The best laptops of 2014: Dell XPS 12

With the XPS 12, Dell's engineers have managed to splice the carbon-fibre XPS range with the ingenious spinning hinge of the Inspiron Duo, to produce a hybrid like no other.

The Gorilla Glass-clad Full HD touchscreen drips with vivid, saturated colour, and the range-topping model we tested delivered scorching performance thanks to a Core i7 CPU and nippy SSD. The arrival of Intel Haswell swells battery life to stunning levels: the XPS 12 lasted nearly 13 hours in our light use test.

If the asking price is too much, fear not - the cheaper Core i5 model with its smaller 128GB SSD delivers the XPS 12 experience for a touch under £1,000.

11. HP ZBook 17

Price when reviewed: £3,598 inc VAT

HP ZBook 17

The biggest model in our line-up is the ZBook 17, and it partners a huge 17.3in display with a burly, upgradeable chassis, a truckload of connectivity and a slew of high-end componentry.

HP’s mobile workstation is powerful, well-equipped and the optional DreamColor display is stupendous. Unfortunately, so is the price.

12. Toshiba Kira-101

Price when reviewed: £1,298 inc VAT

Toshiba Kira-101

We weren't sure what to make of the announcement of Toshiba's brand new Kirabook line of Ultrabooks, considering the last Ultrabook-like Toshiba product we reviewed was the underwhelming Portégé Z10t. However, one look at the specification, build and ergonomics of the Kira-101 put our fears to rest; compared to Toshiba's previous effort, the Kirabook is a very different animal.

Toshiba's consumer Ultrabook packs in a powerful Core i7 Haswell processor, a glorious display and beautiful design, rivalling the very best the Ultrabook world has to offer.

13. MSI GE70 2PE Apache Pro

Price when reviewed: £1,300 inc VAT

MSI GE70 2PE Apache Pro

MSI's bombastically titled GE70 2PE Apache Pro serves up serious gaming power in a hefty 17.3in chassis. With a quad-core Core i7 processor taking the reins alongside one of Nvidia's latest GTX 800 Series GPUs and twin SSDs in RAID, the Apache Pro promises, and delivers, blindingly quick performance.

This power-packed 17.3in gaming laptop and capable desktop replacement, provides plenty of bang for your buck.

14. Dell Precision M4800

Price when reviewed: £2,210 inc VAT

Dell Precision M4800

High-DPI displays are the flavour of the moment, but the Dell Precision M4800 marks the first time we’ve seen such a screen on a business-class machine. That isn’t this monster of a workstation laptop’s only talent though.

The Dell Precision M4800's chunky chassis crams in a stupendous amount of tech, providing just the right blend of comfort, power, and portability for those seeking the ultimate in laptop oomph.

The best laptop of 2014: How we test?

For those of you who are wondering how we come up with the individual ranking for each laptop in this best laptop chart, here’s a quick guide for how we test each laptop.

Every device here is put through our rigorous suite of benchmarks and battery tests. First, we use our own Real World Benchmarks, which run applications including Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Sony Vegas Pro and Apple iTunes to give an indication of all-round computing performance. Click on the any laptop in this list to be taken to the device's full review, where you can see all these scores.

We test the quality of each laptop’s display with a colorimeter, measuring the brightness, contrast ratio and colour accuracy, and use a selection of test images and videos to look for issues such as poor viewing angles or slow response times.

Features & Design

Each device is also evaluated for the quality of its features, build and design. The range of connectivity is taken into account, including network capabilities and hard disk capacity, as well as features such as styluses, docking keyboards, and physical switches to disable wireless networking or temporarily disable touchpads while typing.

For all that can’t be measured objectively, such as the build quality, touchscreen sensitivity, speakers and keyboard, we use our experience to assess these factors objectively, and use this, in combination with a totting up of features, to produce each review’s Features & Design score.

Value for Money and Overall

Our Value for Money score doesn't simply indicate how much each laptop costs, but reflects how much you get for the price paid. The Overall rating is an average of the Performance, Features & Design and Value for Money score, but it may be higher or lower than you'd expect due to rounding.

Author: Sasha Muller

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User comments

Whats missing?

I'd nbe interested to hear what the pool was this lot were chosen from? For example, I have a MSI 17" laptop, which I think is the bee's knee's and cost less than £1000, but you rarely, if ever, see such a machine being included in lists like this. How wide does PCPro spread its net when assembling an article such as this?

By KIrvy on 7 Apr 2014

Whats missing?

I'd nbe interested to hear what the pool was this lot were chosen from? For example, I have a MSI 17" laptop, which I think is the bee's knee's and cost less than £1000, but you rarely, if ever, see such a machine being included in lists like this. How wide does PCPro spread its net when assembling an article such as this?

By KIrvy on 7 Apr 2014

I've given up looking for a Windows laptop. Summarising the list, it has 4 'Porsches' (£1000-£2000), two 'Ferraris' (> £2000), two 'BMWs' (£900-£1000), a couple of 'Kias' (£300-£500), and a Surface Pro 2 (last generation). I haven't seen any 'Volkswagens' (£600-£800) for the two years I've been looking that are half as well-specified as the car marque.

I think the PC manufacturers all want us to buy 'Porches', but truth be told it's only Apple that can command those prices. I'm investigating the Macbook Airs these days, start at £800, Haswell CPUs, 802.11ac and PCI-e SSDs, the PC builders can't really compete any more.

By c6ten on 11 Jun 2014

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For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

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