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Laptop Buying Advice 2014

   

 

'What is the best laptop?' is a question we get asked all the time, so in an attempt to answer that question, here is our list of the best laptops available to buy in 2014. (Read more laptops buying advice here - you may also want to read our piece about the most reliable laptop makers). 

Buying a laptop is a personal decision. Although we've ranked our list of the best laptops available to buy in 2014 below, the best laptop for you will depend on your priorities: there is no one-size-fits-all. See also: Best budget laptops 2014

Some people want a large screen, other people want the ultimate portability, while performance is the key ingredient for yet others.

There's even the choice of operating system. Windows 8 is now the default OS on new laptops (you can use it just like Windows 7, so don't let the new interface put you off ' see our guide on making Windows 8 work for you).

If money is no object, you'll also have the choice of Mac OS on an Apple MacBook. Some say MacBooks aren't laptops, but that's nonsense. You'll pay a lot less for the equivalent Windows laptop, but you won't get a stylish and sturdy aluminium body, nor the great-quality screen ' few Windows laptops use top-quality IPS displays, instead saving money by compromising on TN-based screens, which have narrower viewing angles and, in general, poorer colour accuracy.

The 20 best laptops 2014: Screen

Screen sizes range from around 11 inches up to 17 inches. If you're replacing an older PC with a laptop to use at home, you might benefit from the bigger screen, keyboard and trackpad.

Don't overlook resolution. Most laptops have a screen with 1366x768 pixels, with only a few offering Full HD 1920x1080, or higher resolutions. More pixels is almost always better, but on smaller screen sizes, more pixels means everything looks smaller, including Windows text and icons.

The 20 best laptops 2014: Storage

It's easy to confuse memory with the hard drive. Documents, programs and other files are stored on the hard drive (or SSD), so look for at least 500GB if you want to carry around with you your photos, music and video libraries.

Memory is where programs and files are stored only while you're using them, and more is better. Consider 3GB an absolute minimum.
SSDs are solid-state drives. They're faster than hard drives and make any laptop feel a lot faster. The bad news is that they're much more expensive, so you'll typically find 128GB or 256GB instead of 500GB or 1TB (1,000GB). Most laptops don't have space for both an SSD and hard drive, so you'll have to choose between the two types. A compromise is a small amount of on-board solid-state storage and large hard drive, but we've found you need at least a 32GB SSD to make a difference in Windows.

The 20 best laptops 2014: Processor

Unless you're planning to run very demanding software, you won't need the latest and greatest processor. It is wise, however, to shop around and get good value. We recommend an Intel Core i5 as the best compromise between cost and performance. Some may find a Core i3 too slow, but a Core i7 is usually overkill.

AMD processors tend to be found on budget laptops and are fine as long as you're not expecting earth-shattering speed.
If you want to play 3D games, look for a laptop with an Nvidia or AMD graphics card. You will have to pay extra, and don't expect a budget laptop (anything under '500-600) to be able to run the latest 3D games.

The good news is that all the laptops here are models we recommend: there isn't a duff one among them. It's important to read through the full review before spending your hard-earned cash, too, because no laptop is perfect in every respect. Whether any flaws are acceptable compromises or not will depend on your priorities. Our reviews detail the quality of each laptop's screen, keyboard and touchpad as well as listing the specifications.

Finally, don't forget about battery life and warranty cover: they do vary from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer. Some retailers provide extra warranty cover, so it might be worth shopping at, say, John Lewis, rather than saving a few quid buy choosing the cheapest price you can find online.

It's also worth considering whether a laptop is indeed what you want. You can get some great bargains on desktop PCs these days, and some tablets offer similar functionality to basic laptops. See our piece about choosing between a laptop and an iPad, for instance.


By | PC Advisor | 06 August 14