If you’ve got the cash to splash on a high-end laptop, MacBooks aren’t the only game in town. We’ve tested Windows 10 machines that have the power, portability and panache to keep pace with Apple’s powerhouse.
£1,749 – that’s the cost of the latest MacBook Pro. Complete with a Retina screen, expansive Touchpad, impressive processing and brand new Touch Bar, some would argue that Apple is giving you plenty for your money.
Our latest test results include premium laptops from Lenovo, Asus and Dell. Read on to see what we made of these laptops, as well as Microsoft’s own Surface Book.
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Most £1,000+ laptops have a few things in common. Models in this range tend to be called ultrabooks. Since they’re designed to be portable, the screen size sticks to around 13- to 14-inches, and most now feature Intel’s seventh generation Core processor chip for pacy startup and rapid switching between programs.
We sum up what you’ll get for your money below. Be sure to check our full reviews to see how these models rank against each other.
The latest incarnation of Dell’s flagship ultrabook, the XPS 13, was released to great plaudits late last year. But without a touchscreen and tablet capabilities, it felt like it was trailing behind the likes of Lenovo’s Yoga series and HP Spectre x360 when it came to versatility.
The XPS 13 2-in-1 – announced in the first few days of 2017 – rights that wrong. It’s kitted out with Intel’s latest seventh-generation core processor – either an i5 or i7, depending on how much you want to spend. You can go for 4GB, 8GB or 16GB Ram and a solid-state drive (SSD) between 128GB and a mighty 1TB.
You can choose between a 1080p Full HD screen or, for an even sharper picture, 3,200×1,800-resolution Quad HD+ display. That’s a lot of pixels for a 13-inch screen. It tips the scales at a featherweight 1.24kg and utilises the InfinityEdge display, which pretty much does away with the bezel around the screen completely. It’s a mere 15.3mm in depth, making this one of the most portable ultrabooks around.
While that all sounds impressive, you’ll want to be sure it’s definitely worth the massive expense – to get hold of that Quad HD+ screen with i5 chip, 8GB Ram and 256GB SSD, you’ll need to pay £1,500. Click to read our full Dell XPS 13 2-in1 review.
According to Lenovo, the Yoga 910 has been ‘designed to turn heads’. It’s not the only thing that will turn – the touchscreen rotates around a hinge, so you can use the whole thing as a large tablet.
At 13.9 inches diagonally, it’s larger than many rivals. It’s just about as slim (15.7mm) as most of its competitors, but it feels just a tad more cumbersome. The 4K 3,840×2,160 pixels display is brilliantly sharp and beautifully vibrant. There’s a fingerprint reader as well, for added security.
Despite the bigger screen, you’ll pay less for this than you will the XPS 13 – for an Intel Core i5 processor, with 8GB of Ram and a 256GB SSD it’s £1,300. Check out our full Lenovo Yoga 910 review.
The Asus ZenBook 3 is one of the smallest ultrabooks you can buy. With a 12.5-inch display, it weighs a mere 0.9kg and it’s just 12mm thick, making it one of the most portable laptops on the market.
That makes it smaller and lighter than even the littlest MacBook. What it lacks in stature, it more than makes up for in strength – even the least costly model crams in a seventh generation i5 processor, 8GB of Ram and a bountiful 512GB SSD. There’s a fingerprint reader (great) but not a huge number of ports for plugging in your peripherals (not so great).
Coming in a little cheaper than our other options – a ‘snip’ at £1,100 – you can read our full Asus ZenBook 3 review for more details.
Compared to the laptops above, the Surface Book is now a veritable old timer – it hit UK shelves over a year ago. But despite Microsoft’s recent price hike, the Surface Book is still well worth a mention.
The feature that sets it apart from the rest is the removable screen. Unlike many of the laptop-tablet hybrids on the market (including the Dell and Lenovo above), the Surface Book’s screen detaches completely from the keyboard allowing you to use it as a true tablet. That’s remarkable versatility for such a powerful machine. So that you can use it to its full potential, a Surface Pen – Microsoft’s own stylus – is thrown.
You have a choice of Intel Core processors (only sixth generation, mind) and memory, ranging between i5 and 8GB to i7 and 16GB.
All of this comes at a cost, of course. Prices start from £1,449, with the top-spec model (i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD storage) setting you back a staggering £3,049. See how it scored in our Microsoft Surface Book review.
Do I really need a £1,000+ laptop?
For this kind of cash, you’ll be sure to get a high-powered machine ideal for processor-straining jobs, such as heavy graphics work, video editing and complex programs.
These laptops are usually marketed as aspirational items – it’s no coincidence that this bracket has long been the preserve of Apple’s line-up.
- Ram 8GB+ – run multiple programs simultaneously, at a buttery-smooth pace
- Storage Guaranteed SSD, with an additional 1TB+ hard drive on some models
- Processor The latest top-end Intel i5 or i7 processors
- Screen Ultra-high-definition displays offering almost lifelike clarity
As well as giving you confidence that you’ll have the best kit under the casing, these premium models have the most modern features, too. Expect to see backlit keyboards, fingerprint readers and USB-C ports, the soon-to-be standard smaller port size for faster file transfers.
They’re not for everyone, though – a certain clique might like having the slickest laptop in the coffee shop, but few will use them to their full potential. If all you need your PC for is to browse the web, catch up with friends and family via email and watch the odd film, you can spend far less.
And if you’re really watching the pennies, it’s worth taking a look at our pick of the best cheap laptops under £500 before you buy.