Best laptops 2020: Portable computers for work and play, from Acer, Apple, Dell and more

The best notebooks, ultrabooks, and ultraportables around

Abstract image of a laptop on a blue background

Smartphones and tablets may have become ubiquitous, but laptops still have their place, both in business and at home. When there's real work to be done there's no alternative to a physical keyboard and mouse or trackpad - and many modern laptops have touchscreens and convertible designs too, giving you the best of both worlds.

Power is another factor. A laptop may not match the number-crunching might of a desktop workstation, but today's models are equal to any office task, and can even tackle specialist jobs like video editing and database management.

So it's no surprise that the laptop market continues to flourish, with a huge variety of models on offer at various price points. There's something to fit every role and every budget, and here we've rounded up the best laptops for business to help you find the one that's perfect for your needs.

HP EliteBook x360 830 G6

HP's EliteBook is a wonderfully practical convertible with a lovely keyboard, lengthy battery life and extensive connectivity. While not quite as snazzy as the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, it offers a tighter focus on enterprise-friendly security features. 

It also comes with a superb keyboard, Wi-Fi 6 support and an innovative stylus, which is comfortable to hold and highly accurate. In all, the x360 830 G6 is one of the best convertible laptops around - and all for the reasonable price of £1,199. 

CPUIntel Core i5-8365U
Screen13.3in, 1,920 x 1,080
Dimensions215 x 307 x 17mm

Price when reviewed: £1,199 (inc VAT)

Read our full HP EliteBook x360 review for more information.

Lenovo ThinkPad X390

The ThinkPad name has long been synonymous with solid business hardware, and the X390 lives up to that reputation. It balances performance and features - plus an excellent set of connectivity options - to create an ideal all-rounder, with the classic ThinkPad design, for a rather attractive price.

The only thing holding it back from a perfect score is mediocre battery life; if you work on the go a lot then this might not be the ideal companion. Aside from that though it really is an excellent machine.

CPUIntel Core i7-8565U
Screen13.3in, 1,920 x 1,080
Dimensions312 x 217 x 17mm

Price when reviewed: £1,283 (inc VAT)

Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X390 review for more information.

Huawei MateBook X Pro

Huawei hasn't been in the laptop game all that long, but it's built up an impressive roster of models, and the MateBook X Pro is the best of the lot. It looks a little similar to the MacBook Pro (even the names sound the same) and it delivers a classy all-round experience that rivals Apple's iconic device. The display is seriously stunning too, making this a great option for anyone who fancies a taste of the Apple style, but needs to use Windows for work.

CPUIntel Core i7-8565U
Screen13.9in, 3,000 x 2,000
Dimensions304 x 217 x 14.6mm

Price when reviewed: £2,332 (inc VAT)

Read our full Huawei MateBook X Pro review for more information.

Google Pixelbook Go

Google's own-brand lightweight Chromebook is tastefully designed, and at barely more than a kilogram it's supremely portable. Performance doesn't compare to rival Windows systems, but the cloud-based apps that Chrome OS is designed for feel perfectly slick and responsive. Best of all, the Pixelbook Go's amazing 14hr battery life means you can keep on trucking long after other laptops have given up the ghost. Chrome OS won't suit everyone's needs, but if you're in the market for a Chromebook then this is a very likeable option at a terrifically competitive price.

CPUIntel Core i5-8200Y
Screen13.3in, 1,920 x 1,080
Dimensions311 x 206 x 14.5mm

Price when reviewed: £691 (exc VAT)

Read our full Google Pixelbook Go review for more information.

HP Elite Dragonfly G1

The Dragonfly proves that a serious laptop doesn't have to be boring. It boasts a gorgeous midnight blue casing, a fabulous glossy touchscreen and a 360° hinge, so you can easily fold it around into tablet or tent mode. At the same time, it comes with a formidable Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a spacious 512GB SSD, yet somehow weighs less than a kilogram. The Dragonfly G1 isn't quite a budget option, but the price is reasonable for what you get - that being a supremely practical and desirable laptop.

CPUIntel Core i7-8565U
Screen13.3in, 3,840 x 1,080
Dimensions304 x 197.5 x 16.1mm

Price when reviewed: £1,459 (exc VAT)

Read our full HP Elite Dragonfly G1 review for more information.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s

Lenovo's no-frills ThinkBook 13s covers the essentials at a shockingly affordable price. The Core i5 processor provides solid performance, while the bright, anti-glare 1080p screen and serviceable keyboard let you get your work done comfortably, and a good selection of ports ensure you can hook up whatever peripherals you need. Battery life isn't bad either, and Wi-Fi 6 is a welcome bonus. It may not have the cachet of a bona fide ThinkPad, but for less than half the price the ThinkBook 13s could be a very smart buy.

CPUIntel Core i5-8265U
Screen13.3in, 1,920 x 1,080
Dimensions308 x 216 x 16mm

Price when reviewed: £500 (exc VAT)

Read our full Lenovo ThinkBook 13s review for more information.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Dell's XPS 13 is one of the most popular laptops around, and this 2-in-1 version adds a flip-around screen for tablet-style operation. Amazingly, there's almost no compromise involved: you still get the sumptuous "InfinityEdge" display, with its tiny bezels, plus a top-of-the-range mobile Core i7 CPU to ensure there's plenty of power for big workloads. The price isn't hugely different to the regular XPS 13 either, so if you're at all tempted by the idea of a convertible laptop, this one's well worth considering.

CPUIntel Core i7-1065G7
Screen13.4in, 1,920 x 1,200
Dimensions296 x 207 x 13mm

Price when reviewed: £1,266 (exc VAT)

Read our full Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review for more information.

Acer TravelMate X5

The TravelMate justifies its name by weighing a mere 980g; that would be unusually light for a 13in laptop, and here it's even more impressively combined with a 14in panel, which makes everything just a little easier to read. The X5's portable credentials are also boosted by better than average battery life, and that lightweight design doesn't ruin performance: it's not a speed machine, but there's more than enough power here for office apps and internet tasks. If weight and battery life are your priorities then the TravelMate X5 is a great choice at a very fair price.

CPUIntel Core i7-8565U
Screen14in, 1,920 x 1,080
Dimensions329 x 228 x 15mm

Price when reviewed: £916 (exc VAT)

Read our full Acer TravelMate X5 review for more information.

Apple MacBook Pro 13in

You can usually count on Apple to deliver outstanding hardware, and the most recent MacBook Pro is something very special indeed. It looks just the same as its predecessor, but the keyboard has been made quieter (and more dust-resistant), and the display now incorporates Apple's True Tone technology.

The biggest change is under the hood; Apple has upgraded the MacBook Pro to Intel's latest processors, and the Core i7 model we tested goes like a bat out of hell. It's the fastest laptop we've reviewed outside of proper professional workstations - and it even gives some of them a run for their money.

CPUIntel Core i7-8559U 
Screen13.3in, 2,560 x 1,600
Dimensions304 x 212 x 14.9mm

Price when reviewed: 2,999 (exc VAT)

Read our full MacBook Pro 13in review for more information.

Apple MacBook Pro 16in

With its huge 16in screen, Apple's top-end MacBook Pro stretches the definition of "laptop". It also challenges our expectations of what a portable computer can do: the premium model we tested comes with a ridiculously powerful eight-core Core i9 processor, discrete Radeon Pro graphics and a gobsmacking wide gamut display. No two ways about it, the hardware costs a bomb - this configuration comes in at more than three grand before VAT - but it outshines many desktop systems, let alone laptops. For those with exceptional computing needs, this is a truly exceptional computer.

CPUIntel Core i9-9980HK
Screen16in, 3,072 x 1,920
Dimensions358 x 246 x 16.2mm

Price when reviewed: £3,158 (exc VAT)

Read our full Apple MacBook Pro 16in review for more information.

Honor MagicBook 14

The MagicBook 14 is remarkably cheap, yet it doesn't feel it: the slim and smart aluminium chassis opens up to reveal a 14in IPS screen with strong contrast and great viewing angles. The AMD processor delivers a fair turn of speed too, outpacing many pricier laptops, and it's good to see a selection of both full-sized USB and compact USB Type-C connectors. There's a fingerprint sensor for biometric authentication too, making this a great low-cost option for workers on the move.

CPUAMD Ryzen 5 5300U
Screen14in, 1,920 x 1,080
Dimensions323 x 215 x 15.9mm

Price when reviewed: £458 (exc VAT)

Read our full Honor MagicBook 14 review for more information.

Dell XPS 13

Dell's beautifully designed XPS 13 range has long been a favourite for businesses and consumers alike, and the 2018 model is slimmer and lighter than ever - more so, in fact, than the latest MacBook Pro. 

It's a very nippy laptop too, and while it hasn't managed to retain the crown of the fastest ultraportable around, it's still one of the speediest Windows laptops on the market. If you have a lot of legacy peripherals to connect then you might be irked to see that Dell has gone all-in on USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3, but when the rest of the device is this good, that's a gripe you might well be inclined to overlook.

CPUIntel Core i7-8500U 
Screen13.3in, 1,920 x 1,080 
Dimensions302 x 199 x 11.6mm

Price when reviewed: £1,374 (exc VAT)

Read our full Dell XPS 13 review for more information.

Microsoft Surface Pro X

The Surface Pro X looks and feels almost identical to the Surface Pro 7, with the same tablet-plus-type-cover design. Inside though there's one big difference: this is Microsoft's first computer to be based on the company's own ARM-based SQ1 processor, rather than an Intel chip. This gives battery life a big lift, with the Surface Pro X lasting around two hours longer than the Surface Pro 7 in our tests - and it also supports 4G internet for working on the go.

The downside is that the Pro X can only run 32-bit Windows applications, which may be a deal-breaker for some - but if you're a fan of the Surface concept, this innovative offering is well worth checking out.

CPUMicrosoft SQ1 
Screen13in, 2,880 x 1,920
Dimensions287 x 208 x 7.3mm

Price when reviewed: £1,087 (exc VAT)

Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro X review for more information.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

As expensive as the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is, it absolutely delivers on that high-end price tag. This is a top-to-bottom business notebook, with enough powerful for compute-heavy workloads, excellent build quality and plenty of enterprise-friendly features, especially on the security side.

It also fixes and avoids several issues we had with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, making this hands-down our favourite of Lenovo's recent ThinkPads. If the price does put you off, note that it includes a huge 1TB SSD: you can save money by going with a smaller drive and using network storage or an external hard drive if needed.

CPUIntel Core i7-8750H
Screen15.6in, 3,840 x 2,160 
Dimensions362 x 245 x 18.4 mm

Price when reviewed: £2,141 (exc VAT)

Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review for more information.

Microsoft Surface Go

The tiny Surface Go is a deceptively versatile device. Despite its low-end processor, it copes well with day-to-day use, rarely complaining even when subjected to reasonably strenuous workloads. The USB-C support meanwhile conveniently permits one-cable connection to an external monitor and mouse, making the Surface Go a much more versatile laptop than it may at first appear. 

It's not without flaws - notably rather limited battery life - but if you're looking for a highly portable, highly affordable mobile companion, there's a lot to like about the Surface Go.

CPU1.6GHz Intel Pentium  
Screen10in, 1,200 x 1,800 
Dimensions245 x 175 x 8.3 mm

Price when reviewed: £424 (exc VAT)

Read our full Microsoft Surface Go review for more information.

Featured Resources

How to scale your organisation in the cloud

How to overcome common scaling challenges and choose the right scalable cloud service

Download now

The people factor: A critical ingredient for intelligent communications

How to improve communication within your business

Download now

Future of video conferencing

Optimising video conferencing features to achieve business goals

Download now

Improving cyber security for remote working

13 recommendations for security from any location

Download now


Microsoft Surface Pro review: Still worth buying?

Microsoft Surface Pro review: Still worth buying?

24 Feb 2021
Managing a late migration
Microsoft Windows

Managing a late migration

11 Feb 2021
17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

29 Jan 2021
How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update
operating systems

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

29 Jan 2021

Most Popular

Star Alliance passenger data stolen in SITA data breach
data breaches

Star Alliance passenger data stolen in SITA data breach

5 Mar 2021
I went shopping at Amazon’s till-less supermarket so that you don’t have to

I went shopping at Amazon’s till-less supermarket so that you don’t have to

5 Mar 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type

How to find RAM speed, size and type

26 Feb 2021