The BEST laptops of 2015/2016: The ultimate UK guide for buying a laptop

The pick of the UK's best laptops 2015/2016 – with prices starting from £200

Looking for a laptop? Then allow Alphr to give you a helping hand. From budget laptops that are ideal for the back-to-school rush, to the finest Ultrabooks, gaming laptops, and cutting-edge hybrids, this is the ultimate list of the BEST laptops you can buy in 2015/2016.

The 12 BEST laptops in the UK 2015/2016:

1. Apple MacBook Pro 13in with Retina Display (2015)

Price: £999 Rating: 5/5 Key specs: 13.3in 2,560 x 1,600 display | Intel Core i5/i7 | 128-512GB SSD | 1.58kg 

2015 sees the MacBook Pro mature into something beautifully well-rounded. It’s light, and the arrival of Intel's Broadwell processor technology provides a fine balance between power and stamina. The high-DPI display and all-round quality alone are enough to make us wonder why we’d spend £1,000 on any other laptop, and the innovative Force Touch trackpad simply adds to the attraction.

2. Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Best laptops - Surface Pro 3

Price: £639 (64GB) Rating: 4/5 Key specs: 12in 2,160 x 1,440 display | Intel Core i3/i5/i7 | 64-512GB SSD | 800g (tablet only)

The Surface Pro 3 represents a confident step towards the perfect hybrid device. The new 3:2 display makes it a far more agreeable tablet than its predecessors, while the new kickstand and Type Cover make it a more convincing alternative to a regular laptop. It still isn’t perfect, but it feels considerably less compromised than the previous generations. The only real stumbling point is pricing.

3. HP Stream 11

Best laptops - HP Stream 11

Price: £180 Rating: 5/5 Key specs: 11.6in 1,366 x 768 display | Intel Celeron N2840 | 32GB eMMC | 1.29kg

HP’s Windows 8.1 with Bing budget laptop comes in a choice of vibrant blue or magenta finishes, with a slim, lightweight chassis. It's a little more versatile than a Chromebook, working brilliantly with online apps, but it's still able to run more conventional Windows software if you’re sensible about your requirements or pair it with an external USB 3 hard disk (the 32GB of storage is an ever-present limitation).

4. Asus Zenbook UX303LA

Best laptops - Asus Zenbook UX303LA

Price: £700 Rating: 5/5 Key specs: 13.3in 1,920 x 1,080 display | Intel Core i7 | 128GB SSD | 1.4kg

The Asus Zenbook UX303LA was one of the first laptops to sport Intel's Broadwell CPUs when it first landed - and it remains an excellent buy. It delivers a taste of premium Ultrabook performance for around £700, it's something of a bargain. While performance isn't a huge leap forward over the previous generation, the efficiency of the new chip is supreme. It also has an excellent 13.3in Full HD screen and a decent keyboard, a lovely design and a very tempting price. Not many other laptops can match this machine's all-round appeal and value for money.

5. Toshiba Chromebook 2

Best laptops - Toshiba Chromebook 2

Price: £280 Rating: 4/5 Key specs: 13.3in 1,920 x 1,080 display | Intel Celeron N2840 | 32GB SSD | 1.35kg

The fact that this laptop doesn't run Windows will leave some people running for the hills, but Toshiba has done a superb job with the Chromebook 2. This is a Chromebook with a top-quality screen, that's better than many displays on laptops at three times the price. Right now, this is the Chromebook we’d buy - and it offers a fine alternative to the likes of HP's bargain-priced Stream 11.

6. Microsoft Surface 3

Best laptops - Microsoft Surface 3

Price: £419 Rating: 4/5 Key specs: 10.8in 1,920 x 1,280 display | Intel Atom x7 | 64/128GB SSD | 622g (tablet only)

At £419, the Surface 3 is significantly cheaper than the £649 Surface Pro 3, although it's worth bearing in mind that the Type keyboard inflates the price by £119, and the Surface Pen adds another £45. Of course, the Atom processor does mean that the Surface 3 is a tad underpowered, but if you don't need to chomp through Photoshop edits on a regular basis, it's a capable little hybrid - and as classy as Windows devices get.

7. Toshiba Satellite C40-C 

Best laptops - Toshiba Satellite C40-C

Price: £200 Rating: 4/5 Key specs: 13.3in 3,200 x 1,800 display | Intel Core i5/i7 | 128-512GB SSD | 1.27kg

Not so long ago, buying a super-cheap laptop would have left you looking at Chromebooks and not a whole lot else. Now, however, Windows is fighting back. Toshiba's 14in Satellite C40-C is a solid all-rounder which brings Windows 10 to the table for only £200. It's not especially exciting, but the 14in display strikes a good balance between portability and all-day usability, and though the Celeron CPU is pretty slow, it's good enough for basic use. Battery life is good, too – over 7 hours of video playback bodes well for a full day's worth of lighter usage.

8. Dell XPS 13

Best laptops - Dell XPS 13

Price: £200 Rating: 4/5 Key specs: 14in 1,366 x 768 display | Intel Celeron N3050 | 32GB eMMC storage | 1.7kg

Dell's XPS 13 has all the hallmarks of a no-compromise, high-end Ultrabook. Intel's Broadwell processors join forces with a speedy SSD and high-DPI display, and the XPS 13 looks and feels just like a flagship laptop should. There are a few aggravating niggles – the high-DPI display has an aggressive dynamic contrast feature that constantly adjusts the brightness, for starters – but it's impossible not to retain a soft spot for the XPS 13.

9. Apple MacBook (12in)

Price: £1,049 Rating: 4/5 Key specs: 12in 2,304 x 1,440 display | Intel Core M | 256/512GB SSD | 923g

There's no denying it, the MacBook is one seriously gorgeous machine. Yet this minimalist, ultra-light portable won't be for everyone. It isn't powerful enough to do the same jobs a MacBook Pro 13in with Retina Display can, it's expensive and connectivity - limited to a single Type-C USB port - isn't ideal for a work machine, either. Still, if light weight and desirability matter more to you than all-out practicality, there's nothing else that comes close.

10. Toshiba Satellite CL10-B

Best laptops - Toshiba Satellite CL10-B

Price: £180 Rating: 4/5 Key specs: 11.6in 1,366 x 768 display | Intel Celeron N2840 | 32GB eMMC | 1.1kg

When is a Chromebook not a Chromebook? When it runs Windows 8.1 with Bing. Toshiba's £199 laptop is no powerhouse, and just like Google's Chromebook fleet it's equipped with a mere 32GB of eMMC (similar to an SSD, but slower) storage, but it also comes bundled with a two-year subscription to 100GB of OneDrive cloud storage. As a basic laptop for everyday use, it's an attractive proposition. The all-plastic chassis feels sturdy, and while the display is hardly the last word in quality, it's bright enough, and battery life is good, too.

11. Acer Aspire E1 review

Price: £350 Rating: 5/5 Key specs: 15.6in 1,366 x 768 display | Intel Core i3 | 500GB HDD | 2.2kg

Budget laptops rarely set the pulse racing, but the Acer Aspire E1 excites purely by virtue of its price. For a mere £350, this 15.6in laptop touts a Core i3 CPU, 750GB hard disk and all the essential trimmings. There are no exciting design flourishes to thrill the eye, nor even the slightest hint of high-end technology, but then this is an unshowy 15.6in laptop with good build quality and a great specification for the money.

12. Asus Transformer Book Chi T300

Price: £799 Rating: 4/5 Key specs: 12.5in 2,560 x 1,440 display | Intel Core M-5Y71 | 128GB SSD | 1.43kg (tablet 720g) 

The Transformer Book Chi T300 is a great little hybrid. The high-DPI display is superb, the design attractive and, crucially, this is a hybrid that manages to perform well in both tablet and laptop roles. If you’ve been looking for a more affordable, more flexible alternative to the Surface Pro 3, the Asus Transformer Book Chi T300 is well worth considering.

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