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(Pocket-lint) - If you're looking for a new laptop, you've come to the right place.

Whether you're searching for an ultra-portable device that you can take between home and the office, or perhaps one that can be shared across multiple family members, we've tested all the top options for this guide.

Below, we've remained platform-agnostic, covering all systems that qualify, and every device on our list has been thoroughly tested in order to check that it lives up not only to its manufacturer's claims, but also our own expectations. 

We've got a separate guide to the best Chromebooks, as well as the best gaming laptops and also the top 2-in-1 choices, too. For all the top choices for every type of user, so let's dive into the picks below.


What is the best laptop?

  1. Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) 
  2. Acer Swift 5 (2022)
  3. LG Gram 16 (2022)
  4. Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
  5. Dell XPS 13 Plus

Our Top Pick: Best Laptop

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Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022)

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For

  • Excellent performance with the M2 chip
  • Silent, fanless design
  • Fantastic bright display

Against

  • More expensive than predecessors
  • No face ID login
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Apple's latest MacBook Air has a lighter and more refined design, coupled with serious performance gains from its new M2 processor.

For most people, there's plenty of power here and it comes with all the luxuries we expect from Apple's laptop lineup. Namely, class-leading build quality, a lovely keyboard and a stunning display.

For all but the most demanding professional users (such as video editors) the MacBook Air is the most appealing option in Apple's roster, and easily worthy of our top spot.

Laptops we also recommend

The Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is currently our favourite laptop to recommend - and we believe it should be on the consideration list for most people hunting down a laptop. It's not necessarily the right pick for everyone, though, which is why we'd also suggest checking out the following four devices.

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Acer Swift 5 (2022)

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For

  • Beautiful design
  • Great performance and IO
  • Superb keyboard

Against

  • Bloatware pre-installed
  • The speakers aren't too impressive

If you're looking for a laptop that's as attractive as it is powerful, the Acer Swift might be the machine for the job. It has a unique finish with brushed metallic gold accents and solid build quality that's up there with the best on the market.

With a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor onboard it's a performer, too, easily able to cope with serious workloads like video and photo editing. This power, combined with an excellent keyboard and great webcam, makes it an ideal work companion.

What's more, it's lightweight and compact, so it's easy to carry with you. There's no chunky power adapter to worry about, either, a nice compact USB-C charger comes in the box, and you can use it to charge your phone in a pinch.

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LG Gram 16 (2022)

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For

  • Lightweight portability
  • Solid battery life
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad

Against

  • Doesn't look or feel very premium
  • Speakers could be improved

The LG Gram 16 has a fairly large footprint due to its 16-inch display, but despite its size, it's incredibly lightweight, making it very convenient to take with you.

The size of the screen makes it a delight for getting work done on the go, while an excellent keyboard and touchpad add to the experience. Privacy features like the ability to lock the laptop automatically when you walk away are also fantastic for remote workers.

The only downsides are that it doesn't feel very premium, due to the lightweight and hollow feeling build. And the speakers aren't the most impressive. If you can get past these niggles, you've got an amazingly capable lightweight machine.

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Apple MacBook Pro (2021)

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For

  • Unreal processing power
  • Plenty of ports
  • Beautiful display

Against

  • Can get very expensive
  • Chunky design may not be for everyone

The MacBook Pro got a full redesign in late 2021, with a minimal-bezel display (featuring a notch akin to the iPhone), the return of many lost ports (like the SD card reader and HDMI slot) and a huge amount of power.

There has been a more recent release, with the M2 processor on board, in the older touch-bar chassis. But, in our view, this is still the model to get in 2022.

It's an absolute beast of a laptop, thanks to Apple's own M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, which pretty much corrects all the things we quibbled about in previous reviews. Chief among those fixes was Apple's decision to ditch the Touch Bar and return to physical function keys.

It's certainly not designed for the casual laptop user - if the price wasn't already an indicator - and is instead better suited to heavy-use professional platforms, or for those who plan to use their laptop day-in and day-out for the next few years, at least.

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Dell XPS 13 Plus

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For

  • Gorgeous design
  • Excellent keyboard and display
  • Powerful and portable

Against

  • Port selection is limiting
  • Battery life needs improving

The XPS 13 Plus is a real head-turner of a laptop. It has a unique design, with an invisible trackpad, tiny bezels and almost no gap between its large keyboard keys. There's an illuminated capacitive-touch function row, too, which aids in cooling and works quite well.

We very much enjoyed typing on the spacious keyboard and were impressed by the power squeezed into such a thin and lightweight chassis.

It's not all sunshine and roses, though, we were much less impressed by the battery life and noticed that it got pretty hot under load. There are also only two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the chassis, so you'll have to be ok with carrying a dongle with you at all times.

Other products we considered

When initially putting together this list of the best laptops on the market, we spent hours testing and researching. We always consider a number of factors when it comes to recommending laptops - and apply the same criteria when a new device is being considered for inclusion. It's not all judged on our testing, either - we also try to factor in consumer reviews, brand quality and value.

In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.

How to choose a laptop

Choosing a laptop isn't that simple a process, but, with the help of these questions, you can hopefully try to narrow down your options.

What screen size is right for you?

Perhaps the biggest variable between different models of laptops, even from the same manufacturers, is how big they are. The size of a laptop's display tends to dictate the size of its body overall, so it's worth working out what size is going to be best for you.

13-inch models have become the standard size for many people, since they marry useability with real portability, but a bigger screen could be better if you're planning to use it for work - letting you multitask and have multiple windows open more easily.

What's the laptop for primarily?

Figuring out what you actually need a laptop for is essential - and also ties into figuring out what size laptop is best for you, as well as what other components you should prioritise.  Are you looking for a laptop to take notes at college with? Or perhaps one to curl up in bed and watch TV and movies on? If you're looking to game on it, that'll change your needs as well.

This can help you narrow down whether you need a bigger display, more processing power or a graphics card in your laptop, or whether a simple and less powerful machine will do the job just as well.

What's your budget?

As important for a laptop as it is for any other tech purchase is knowing how much you want to spend - between upgradeable components and different versions, many popular laptops can easily become frighteningly expensive as you customise them, so it'll help in the long run if you have a clear idea of your budget ahead of time.

Do you need a 2-in-1?

While some people might say they're not laptops, a 2-in-1 device that lets you use it as a normal laptop or flip it up and use it like a tablet is becoming a more and more normal sight. We think these devices are really great, adaptable and interesting, but do keep in mind that the novelty may wear off for you after a few months.

So, before you get too tempted by a 2-in-1, think about whether you're actually liable to use it in its folded-up forms.

Have you used a Mac before?

Finally, there's still a big divide in the laptop market, between Apple and everyone else. If you're taken by the design of the MacBook line, it's worth heading into an Apple store or seeing if anyone you know has one you can try out, because the change from Windows to macOS (and vice versa) is one that can derail some people.

We think both operating systems are great, but, to some people, they're like water and oil, so it's worth test-driving either one if you're not familiar with it, as this could steer you in the right direction.

More about this story

Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.

Laptops are key parts of our working routines, as is the case for so many people the world over, so we test them rigorously to make sure they hold up to constant use, and can bring enough power to bear to crunch through most common work tasks.

Of course, build quality and design are just as important as the specs under a laptop's hood, and we're also interested in how portable they are, and how easily they can connect to other devices like displays, cameras and accessories.

In all of our buyer's guides, including this one, we tend to skip over the spec comparisons and marketing spiel; we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use.

Our verdicts are concise, but this is in the interest of brevity - rest assured all the things on this list have been fully tested. You can also check out our reviews section for more in-depth coverage of all the top devices. 

Writing by Max Freeman-Mills and Luke Baker.