Choosing the best laptop to buy can be an incredibly difficult task! There are so many choices out there to suit every need you might have, from 2-in-1 laptops that convert into tablets to gaming laptops with top-notch graphics cards. Should you just pick the laptop with the ‘best’ specs and call it a day? Depending on what you’ll primarily be using your laptop for, the ‘best’ laptop for you will differ.
That’s why we’ve put together a laptop buying guide to help you out. We’ve listed out our recommended laptop models based on specs, features, design, and price, so you can choose the best laptop for your needs.
Here are our first 10 picks, in no particular order.
1. Dell XPS 13 (2019)
The Dell XPS 13 is one of the most popular Windows laptops in the world for good reason. It is sleek, affordable, and an incredibly powerful machine. The base model boasts an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD, with a bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display. Depending on what you want out of your laptop, you can easily upgrade the XPS 13 to have more RAM or more storage.
What’s more, the 2019 model fixes some gripes that consumers had, so it now has the webcam at the top of the screen, as well as longer battery life. While this isn’t the cheapest laptop on our list, it is easily the most value-for-money if you want a laptop that can handle a variety of tasks, including light gaming, photo rendering, and more.
2. Apple Macbook Pro (2019)
Love them or hate them, Apple knows how to do branding. One of the many reasons people enjoy using Macbooks is due to the Apple ecosystem, which makes working across multiple Apple devices seamless. So, if you already have an iPhone or iPad, a Macbook might be the right choice for you. A caveat, of course, is that they are expensive, especially if you’re looking to customize components.
That said, the Macbook Pro 2019 is probably Apple’s best Macbook yet. The base model is powerful all on its own, coming with an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 5GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD. Apple has also completely leaned into the touch bar, which is now included in all their new models. All in all, while an expensive machine, the Macbook Pro is a fantastic (and very gorgeous!) ultraportable for those who can afford it.
3. Razer Blade 15
We get it, college is not just for work, it’s also for play. But, we’ve found that many gaming laptops out there are optimized for you to only have the best gaming experience. While they’re beastly machines, they’re also heavy and tend to have rather horrendous battery lives. That’s where the Razer Blade 15 comes in. At just slightly over 2kg and only 17.8mm thick, it’s one of the lightest gaming-specific laptops you’re going to get.
If you think that having a more compact machine will affect your gaming experience, think again. The new and improved Blade 15 comes with RTX Max-Q graphics and a redesigned thermal system that plays some pretty heavy games (think: Battlefield V) with ease. Throw in a 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD in the base model and you’ve got a great gaming laptop that won’t break your bank, and will double-up as a terrific laptop to lug around for college.
4. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
There are many reasons why you might consider a 2-in-1 for university, especially if you use your laptop for mostly simpler tasks that don’t require as much processing (e.g. gaming, video editing). The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 may be tiny, but formidable, with an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. These can also be easily customised if you want to up the ante.
Our favourite part of the Surface Pro 6 is that while most other 2-in-1 laptops come with a foldable display, this has a detachable keyboard (that you have to buy separately). What that means is the Surface can essentially be a very powerful tablet for all your daily tasks. For its price, this is a versatile machine we can’t recommend enough.
5. Acer Aspire E15
Not everyone has a giant budget when it comes to buying a laptop, much less a university student. That’s why we love the Acer Aspire E15, which is a hardy laptop for those on a budget.
Sure, it won’t win any design awards, but with an 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage, it doesn’t need to. It also includes a bevvy of ports (including USB-C, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and HDMI), as well as a DVD drive.
With all those ports and the DVD drive, the laptop is a bit bulkier than we’d prefer for lugging around campus, but it’s not a deal-breaker. If you’re looking for a budget laptop that can perform most tasks with no problems, this might just be the one for you.
6. Lenovo Yoga C930
As far as 2-in-1 laptops go, the Lenovo Yoga C930 is one of our favourites. It is stylish, lightweight, and packs a punch. The base configuration comes with very impressive specs, including an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The Yoga’s hinge allows you to fold it 360°, converting it into a tablet that you can easily draw or write on with the included stylus.
The coolest thing though is that every hinge is actually a rotating soundbar. What this means for you is that whether you’re using the Yoga C930 in laptop or tablet mode, you get clear, crisp sound. This is easily one of the better 2-in-1 laptops on the market, and a terrific choice for someone looking for a versatile machine.
7. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
You might be surprised to learn that Microsoft’s Surface range of laptops doesn’t just include 2-in-1s, especially since that’s where the branding really is. In fact, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 2 is a solid ultraportable that delivers an incredible Windows 10 experience. In the base model, it comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD -- all customizable depending on what you need out of your laptop.
But, the best thing about this laptop is really how well Windows 10 runs on it, which is really the main reason why Microsoft started making laptops in the first place. If you really enjoy using PCs and are keen on a Windows laptop, but don’t quite enjoy tablets, this is a solid option for you.
8. Asus Chromebook Flip
Chromebooks are gaining in popularity, especially as work laptops for business professionals and university students, especially because premium features are now coming in more affordable models. The Asus Chromebook Flip C302 is one such option, combining power, versatility and affordability in a sleek laptop. It comes with an Intel Core m5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.
The specs may not seem very impressive compared to a lot of the other laptops on this list, but Chromebooks run on Chrome OS, which is a pretty lightweight operating system. It’s important to note, though, that this does mean you might have limited functionality, so make sure you can perform all the tasks you need to do on the Chrome OS before investing in a Chromebook.
9. HP Envy 13 (2019)
The HP Envy 13 combines some very powerful components into easily one of the prettiest laptops on this list. It boasts an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD in its base configuration, all of which can be customized. If you want, there is even a 4K option, though battery life is greatly reduced for those machines.
As far as ultraportables go, this is probably one of the cheaper laptops you can get if you want something versatile for light gaming and video-editing, but can’t shell out for the Dell XPS 13 or a Macbook Pro.
10. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7
Lenovo ThinkPads are made for productivity. Sure, they’re not the best-looking laptops out there, but that matters less when you consider what it offers. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7’s base model comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, but these can be upgraded to a more premium model. What makes it excellent, however, is the long battery life, durability, and security features.
While not cheap, we think the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is worth every penny. It’s been thoroughly tested so it withstands extreme temperatures and even spills, and comes with a bevvy of ports including Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1, and HDMI. This isn’t the laptop for gaming or graphic design, but it’s certainly the best laptop for work.