Need a new laptop? Assuming you're not a raving MacBook fan, the recent release of Windows 10 means it's the perfect time to upgrade your notebook. And every newly-purchased Windows laptop, no matter the version of Windows on board, will be able to get hold of the new OS.
Finding the right laptop to buy can be tricky, though. Do you want something cheap? Something slim? Or a laptop with a killer gaming brain under the hood?
Whatever you need, we’ve rounded-up some of our favourite laptops of the moment. We’ll cover ones that are just the thing to use every day for casual bits out and about, a true aspirational Ultrabook and something a bit more powerful for the hardcore gamers out there.
Best for gamers: Asus ROG G751 (From £899)
What does a gaming laptop need? Well, top of the list is a beast of a graphics card. Gaming performance rests on this more than anything else. But the Asus ROG G751’s GTX 980M has demands of its own.
If you’re wondering why gaming laptops are often so big and bulky, it’s because they need to pack in big cooling systems to avoid a) melting and b) sounding like a helicopter taking off. The Asus ROG G751 aces both of these elements thanks to giant heat vents hanging out the back.
It’s not for those who want a wallflower of a PC, with red flashes all over the shop and a big brushed metal plate on the back. It’s very heavy too, at between 3.8-5kg depending on the spec.
This ain’t for casual gaming on the train. For the hardcore crowd it’s fantastic, though, with a deep and responsive keyboard and a reflection-proof 1080p 17.3in screen that really pops. The only thing is, Asus has already unveiled the G752 sequel. It won’t be out for a while (at the time of writing), but gets you Intel’s next-generation "Skylake" CPUs and the option of a 4K screen. You can bet it won’t come cheap, though.
Best for portability: Dell XPS 13 (From £849)
If you want an ultra-portable laptop that doesn’t scrimp on power, the Dell XPS 13 needs to be near the top of your list. Rather than having a dinky little Core M processor like Apple’s 12in MacBook, it uses a full-on Intel Core i5 (or i7 if you can afford it).
Despite that, the Dell XPS 13 lasts absolutely ages off a charge. Dell’s own figure says 15 hours, but even when hit with the reality hammer it only goes down to 12 hours. That’s amazing stamina for any laptop, let alone one that weighs just 1.2kg.
We don’t really know how Dell has managed it, especially when the thing has a super-sharp 13in 3200 x 1800 touchscreen. Oh, and did we mention it looks ultra-classy too?
It’s a little bit more "business" than a MacBook, with a black interior and plain silvery metal exterior, but just look how skinny its screen surround is. This is a true ultra-modern laptop. The only thing that might put you off is the price. It starts at £849, but to get the spec that really does it justice you’re looking at £1,049 or above. Better start saving.
Best for students and budget buyers: Asus ZenBook UX305 (From £649)
Find the Dell XPS 13 a bit too expensive? The Asus ZenBook UX305 is one of our favourite affordable laptops. If you want something to use on-the-go, every day, you can’t do any better. Not at this price.
For £649 you get an expensive-feeling aluminium laptop that’s super-skinny and light, yet also lasts for absolutely ages. Asus says 11 hours, but even the eight hours we get out of it is still great.
Aside from the flashy design, this is a no-nonsense computer, though. There’s no touchscreen, so it gets you that traditional laptop feel rather than something that dresses up as a tablet on the weekends.
It’s not meant to be a powerhouse either. The UX305 uses one of Intel’s Core M processors, designed to take up almost no space and use as little power as possible. It feels snappy, but is going to struggle if you want to do something like edit video.
For general computer work, it’s amazing, though. You can even head out to the park to use it on a sunny day, as it uses a reflection-blasting matt screen rather than the usual glossy one. It has to be one of the most stylish workhorses out there.
Best for hybrid fans: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (From £639 without keyboard)
It may have been around for a little while, but we still have a big old soft spot for the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It simply works much better than you expect it to. I mean, just look at that keyboard: it’s a couple of millimetres thick, but somehow we can type just as fast as ever on it.
For the uninitiated, the main part of the Surface Pro 3 could pass for a chunky tablet on its own, but it has the specs of a proper laptop. Various versions are available, but they all use Intel Core-series processors. Granted, they have the older Haswell 4th-gen kind, but that gives you enough power for about anything you’d ask of a hybrid.
The bit that really separates it from other hybrids is the kickstand on the back, letting it stand up by itself even when being used as a tablet rather than a laptop. We’d strongly recommend getting hold of the Type Cover too, though. It’s dead neat, and even has a keyboard backlight.
Best desktop replacement: Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition (From £999) (17in)
If you’re looking for a laptop that’ll challenge a desktop PC for pure power, it’s easy to get sucked down the black hole of gaming laptops. But what if you don’t really care about games, and don’t want something that looks like it belongs in a teenager’s bedroom?
Sounds like you? Check out the Acer Aspire V Nitro. It offers game-ready spec options if you want ‘em, but also offers much more affordable configs that leave out the flashy GPU in favour of something a bit more modest. All of them feature a muscular CPU, though: perfect if you’re going to ask a lot of your laptop, and want to use it as you main PC.
With soft-touch black inner and outer panels, it’s not too showy either. It doesn’t show off its guns like so many brash high-end laptops. This is the perfect choice if you want something that can act all professional and polite in the day, before showing its true colours when it needs to.