Choosing a laptop: what’s best for you?

To say it’s tough to choose a laptop: our expert guide to laptops is here to help.


by Ryan Houghton |

To say it’s tough to choose a laptop these days is nothing short of an understatement. Whether it’s battery life, displays, or even a brand that sways your decision, we think it’s better to inform you of what you should look out for in your hunt for the top laptops within your price range.

The gap between PCs and laptops begins to narrow at a daily rate as chipsets become smaller and more efficient, displays become sharper and batteries become more powerful. Laptops are the complete package and are ready out of the box like most smart-tech, so their appeal is pretty obvious.

Whatever you’re planning on using your laptop for; working, gaming or editing, most modern laptops should be able to handle whatever you throw at them.

But not all laptops are suited to each task - some may have more graphical power, others may be slimmer and boot quicker, we’re going to run through some different qualities in laptops, some selected products, and who they’re perfect for.

We've compiled a list of the best laptops for gaming, editing, and office work, explaining what qualities are desirable for each purpose, and what may be the most important qualities to look out for.

We've also compiled a great FAQ section below where we aim to answer your burning questions.

But first, here's a shortlist of our top laptop picks;

Our laptop picks

Best gaming laptops:

Best editing laptops:

Best office laptops:

Jump to: FAQ's

Gaming

Gaming is a rapidly increasing cornerstone of the laptop market. It’s only become increasingly regular that gaming laptops have been able to effectively run some AAA games, without costing you an arm and a leg.

Gaming laptops are, generally speaking, much bulkier than your traditional modern laptop. They’ve got heavy hardware packed in; huge GPUs, great displays, big batteries, lots of RAM and more besides. While this bridge between compact size and graphical power is slowly being crossed, and hardware is becoming more powerful as well as the smaller year, by year, gaming laptops remain a little bulkier to this day.

Another disadvantage of a gaming laptop is also its power requirements; the power to play AAA games such as Red Dead Redemption 2 on the go doesn’t come cheap, and while gaming on the go, battery life is often quite subpar.

These cons, in our opinion, are severely outweighed by the ability to play these incredibly graphically demanding titles wherever you please, but they’re important to consider!

If, for example, you wanted to use this laptop for an office job, where you’d need to commute with it or work on the go, a gaming laptop might not be a great choice for you. They can often be very heavy for laptops, so having to slog a colossal bit of tech around every day while commuting isn’t going to be fun.

Specifications
Dimensions: 456 x 362 x 107 mm
Display size: 15.6"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080p, 144 Hz
Web camera: 720 p
Average battery life: 8 hours
RAM: 16GB
Memory: 512GB
Graphics card: NVIDIA RTX 2070
CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H
Weight: 2.09 kg
Additional feature(s): Chroma RGB lighting keyboard
Pros Cons
• One of the most powerful laptops available • Very expensive
• Despite being powerful, it remains very thin • Battery life isn't exceptional while gaming
• Incredible build quality

Overview

Despite what we’ve mentioned regarding weight and battery life, there are some gaming laptops that successfully manage to be both light and powerful. The Razer Blade 15 is no exception to this.

If you’ve been a PC gamer for any amount of time, you’re probably familiar with Razer - either for their terrific headphones or for their incredible laptops.

The Razer Blade 15 is a truly cutting-edge laptop; a fully HD 1920 X 1080p 15.6” display with 144Hz refresh rate, an Intel i7-10750H CPU, and the pièce de resistance; an NVIDIA RTX 2070 in an ultra-compact 0.78” body, what more can be said?

Of course, it’s pricey, but how much might you have paid for a desktop along with all the added peripherals?

The Razer Blade 15 isn’t only great for gaming, getting a respectable 50-60 fps on Red Dead Redemption 2 on ultra-settings (something even resident PC aficionado Ryan Houghtan's build struggles to reach), but it’s also great for editing, with plenty of power to crush practically anything you throw at it.

Related: The best Nanoleaf RGB lights for gamers

Specifications
Dimensions: 399 x 269 x 24.8 mm
Display size: 17.3"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080p, 144 Hz
Web camera: 720 p
Average battery life: 6 hours
RAM: 16GB (upgradeable to 32GB)
Memory: 1TB
Graphics card: NVIDIA RTX 3060
CPU: Intel Core i7-11800H
Weight: 2.6 kg
Additional feature(s): RGB Backlit membrane keyboard, upgradeable motherboard
Pros Cons
• Incredibly powerful • Expensive, but a great price for hardware
• Built well • Terrible battery life
• Upgradeable motherboard

Overview

We frankly find the pricing of the ASUS TUF F17 Gaming Laptop to be unfathomable: an RTX 3060 GPU, 1TB of SSD storage, and the icing on the cake, an upgradeable motherboard. This laptop shouldn't be as cheap as it is, especially with recent GPU price-gouging.

There isn't a game out right now that this laptop would struggle to run, NVIDIA's RTX 3060, while not being the most powerful graphics card on the market, is leagues above most competitors, especially in a laptop. This colossal graphics card, paired with Intel's Core i7-11800H processor is enough to make our heads spin; if you have the money, we cannot recommend the ASUS TUF F17 enough.

Our only noticeable drawbacks with it are its weaker battery life, lasting up to six hours (you'll need a decent power source for any long-term gameplay), and its sheer bulky design that rides with ASUS's modern, militaristic aesthetic that isn't for everyone, but we still think it looks pretty awesome.

Related: The best PC games

Editing

Editing laptops share a lot in common with gaming laptops; you want lots of processing power, a big screen, and plenty of storage. But there are some essential differences that you should consider if you're looking for a laptop to edit with.

The biggest distinction, in our opinion, is probably the need for some top-tier resolutions; a regular 1080p may look fine while gaming, and is great for reducing performance and power costs, for editing you'll need to utilise the finest screens available in your price range for true colour-correction, among other factors.

A graphics card is critical to successfully rendering a ton of footage, so you'll want to invest in a laptop with a proper GPU, but it isn't so much as big a deal as it is when considering gaming, instead your focus should lean towards your RAM, your CPU and your storage type. RAM is absolutely critical as your computer is going to handle a lot of information at a time while you're editing.

Related: The best monitors for photo editing

Specifications
Dimensions: 252 x 360 x 199 mm
Display size: 15.6"
Resolution: 1920 x 1080p, 144 Hz
Web camera: N/A
Average battery life: 16.6 hours
RAM: 8GB (upgradeable to 32GB)
Memory: 512GB
Graphics card: NVIDIA RTX 3060
CPU: Intel Core i7-11370H
Weight: 2.0 kg
Additional feature(s): Backlit chiclet keyboard (single light), upgradeable motherboard
Pros Cons
• Very powerful • Standard 1080p screen that isn't the best for editing
• Nice build quality • Weaker RAM than expected
• Upgradeable motherboard • No webcam
• Great battery
• Lightweight and compact

Overview

While a great GPU isn't totally essential, it certainly doesn't hurt, and the ASUS TUF has a little bit of everything that makes up for a terrific editing laptop, the icing on the cake being its unbeatable price point.

Yet another entry from the ASUS TUF line-up, they're well-built, they're customisable and they give you ample power for an unshakeable price. Unlike the pricier TUF F-17, the TUF Dash is significantly lighter, with a significantly improved battery life that is perfect for an editor on the go.

The TUF Dash F15's GPU is an NVIDIA 3060 that will crush any video rendering and editing with ease, in addition to the top Intel i7 CPU alongside it, ASUS has made a true competitor to Razer, and the desktop PC alike.

Of course, it's not without its weaknesses, and our primary issue with it is definitely a make-or-break factor. Unlike the ASUS TUF Gaming F-17, the Dash F-15 only has 8GB of RAM, which is definitely a bit of a let-down. But 8GB of RAM isn't completely unacceptable and should be perfect for smaller projects such as YouTube videos.

Our final gripe is the rather lack-lustre screen, which is perfect for gaming at 1080p but isn't going to display an amazing array of colours, which may affect your colouring process while video editing

Related: Best Razer headsets for every budget

Specifications
Dimensions: 199 x 301.8 x 11.7 mm
Display size: 13.3"
Resolution: 3840 x 2160p, 60 Hz
Web camera: 720p
Average battery life: 9 1/2 hours
RAM: 16GB
Memory: 512GB
Graphics card: Integrated
CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7
Weight: 1.23 kg
Additional feature(s): Backlit qwerty keyboard (single light), touchscreen
Pros Cons
• Very powerful • Not the best GPU
• Nice build quality • Pricier than our other picks
• UHD touchscreen is perfect for editing
• Good battery life
• Incredibly light and well-built

Overview

One of our pricier picks, but if money is no object, there's not a better choice for editing in our mind than the Dell XPS 13. You may be wondering why we didn't pick one of the pricier options, like the Dell XPS 15. For our money, the Dell XPS 13 is everything you'll need to get stuck into editing without costing you significantly more with little to no difference in our opinion.

A beautiful 4K display (with touchscreen functionality), 16 GB of RAM and a great Intel 11th generation i7 CPU, it's lightweight, stunning and above all, incredibly good with video editing.

Of course, the largest downside is its integrated GPU, which is a solid Intel Iris Xe card, perfectly capable of handling your editing requirements. This isn't just a great laptop for editing, it's great for some decent gaming, and is more than capable of handling basic office tasks.

Related: Everything you need to start streaming on Twitch

Office Tasks

Computers for the office, despite not requiring a lot of power, have to be reliable. In our opinion, you can get away with a great budget option, but it must be pleasant to use, you'll be using it for hours every day for the foreseeable future, so it has to last a good while!

It's important to have a solid CPU and RAM for office work. If your work involves a decent amount of research, you're going to have a lot of programs and applications simultaneously open, and it's definitely in your best interest to not have them crash at an unfortunate time.

Of course, the GPU or the screen isn't particularly important, instead, your interest should be towards comfortability; a nice keyboard, a good screen size to avoid cramped-looking documents, and even some touchscreen options are always a plus.

Specifications
Dimensions: 238.5 x 363.4 x 17.9 mm
Display size: 15.6"
Resolution: 1920 X 1080 p, 60 Hz
Web camera: 720p
Average battery life: 8.5 hours
RAM: 8GB
Memory: 1TB
Graphics card: Integrated
CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7
Weight: 2.48 kg
Additional feature(s): Backlit chiclet keyboard, fingerprint reader
Pros Cons
• Great storage • Integrated GPU is a little weak
• Nice build quality • Web camera could be better
• Good screen quality
• Decent battery life
• Lightweight
• Incredible value

Overview

The perfect accompaniment to the office, the Acer Aspire 5 is well-built, with plenty of SSD storage for instantaneous file transfer and access, and a great amount of RAM for multitasking, you cannot go wrong. It's also perfect for casual use, such as streaming, and web-surfing, so it'd make a solid choice for your home too.

This, of course, isn't the most exciting pick of the bunch, it doesn't have an incredible integrated graphics card or a top-of-the-line CPU at that, but for lightweight tasks such as office work, it's everything you'll ever need. It's light and sturdy, and the backlit chiclet keyboard feels great, we cannot recommend it enough.

Related: The best motherboards for your gaming PC build

Specifications
Dimensions: 235 x 360 x 199 mm
Display size: 15.6"
Resolution: 1920 X 1080 p, 60 Hz
Web camera: 720p
Average battery life: 8.5 hours
RAM: 16GB
Memory: 512TB
Graphics card: Integrated
CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7
Weight: 1.8 kg
Additional feature(s): N/A
Pros Cons
• Incredible CPU • Slightly weak storage, but still enough
• Great RAM for the price • Build quality is a slightly weak
• Fully HD screen
• Decent battery life
• Very Lightweight
• Great value

Overview

Last, but certainly not least, the ASUS VivoBook 15 is an excellent value laptop with some serious power for its price. Packed with 16 GB of RAM, the tenth generation i7 CPU, and some decent SSD storage options, the VivoBook 15 is a perfect choice for work or home.

Our gripes with the ASUS VivoBook 15, however, are largely with the build quality and the amount of storage you get. The laptop is, first and foremost, very light. This is great for on-the-go working, if you commute or just like your tech to not weigh you down, this is a major plus. The cost of this is the overall build quality, which feels admittedly cheap.

The keyboard is plastic-y (for lack of a better term), it feels a little lacking compared to our other picks, this puts into question the durability of the VivoBook, which may be tested with constant use for years to come in a busy office environment.

Despite this minor gripe, we still think the ASUS VivoBook is a worthy choice for your office, is a great price, and is perfect for home use too.

Related: The best budget keyboards for PCs and laptops

FAQ's

What's RAM and why is it important?

RAM, or Random Access Memory, is a form of temporary storage for your laptop, whatever you're actively using on your laptop, such as a program, its data is stored on the RAM temporarily while it's being used.

Of course, the more demanding the program, the more data it must process, so for processes such as editing, or gaming, a lot of RAM is essential for smooth running.

What's the CPU?

The CPU is the Central Processing Unit, acting as the 'brain' of the PC. The CPU receives data directs it to other components and processes it, it is potentially the most important of all components in a laptop.

We've got a ton of incredible CPU picks in our comprehensive guide.

What's the GPU?

The GPU is the Graphical Processing Unit, it does what it says on the tin; it processes data into a graphical output for you to interact with.

While an incredible GPU isn't particularly necessary for day-to-day tasks and office work, they're vital in gaming laptops. You'll find many laptops list their GPU as integrated, that is to say, its GPU is built into the CPU, they're a singular unit that is made especially for that laptop model.

If you're looking to build the mother of all PCs, we've got a killer GPU guide that'll give you everything you need to know.

What's better: PCs or laptops?

While there's no definitive answer to this, PCs have far greater options for hardware expansion in general, allowing for consistent future-proofing for years to come. PCs also have bigger and better hardware in general, made capable by their sheer size.

But this does not stop laptops from being viable for gaming, or other larger tasks; there are a plethora of amazing modern laptops that are actively reducing the barrier between PC and laptop capabilities day-by-day.

If you're looking to get into the PC gaming scene, pick yourself up a solid gaming PC for under £1000, you won't regret it.

Why is my laptop fan so loud?

As laptops age, they begin to accumulate dust, and their hardware begins to be less effective at transferring heat. As such, fans have to work harder to keep your system cooler, and your once quiet laptop begins to sound like a jet engine.

The trouble with laptops, however, is that they're notoriously difficult to thoroughly clean as they're generally not designed to be meddled with internally (with a few exceptions), so your can of spray duster isn't going to do as thorough a job as it would in a PC.

You can take your laptop to a repair shop where they're equipped to dismantle your laptop, but it can be a little pricey. Alternatively, you can pick up a laptop cooling pad, which not only keeps the base of the laptop at a stable temperature but is designed to allow sufficient airflow to the laptop's vents, preventing any overheating.

Leaving this problem can be fatal for your laptop as the cooling fans become less capable of maintaining stable temperatures, often leading to a destroyed CPU, which isn't going to be cheap to fix.

Our advice; keep your laptop aerated or on a flat surface as much as possible, if all else fails, it might be time to grab yourself a new laptop.

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Ryan is a tech writer and reviewer for What's The Best, specialising in PCs and gaming. He is a keen PC gamer and an avid reader.

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