The Swift 3 is an inexpensive laptop; however, that plain chassis is all-aluminum and packed with beefy components. Read our WIRED Recommends guide to the best laptops for work more fully featured, pricier options. Chrome OS aside, the speakers are fine for watching movies but fairly lacklustre for music.
There is enough travel that you shouldn’t get typing fatigue after any long writing sessions. The port selection is a bit odd, if best described as behind the times, with one USB-C, a USB-A 3.1 and USB-A 2.0 flanked by an HDMI port, DisplayPort and headphone jack. Laptops like the Acer Swift 3 (£650) are proof you don’t have to spend close to £1000 to get a high-performing productivity device. The Swift 3 provides a strong counterpoint to the Surface Laptop Go, a similarly priced device that offers up a bit more style. In contrast, Acer’s sub-£600 device is all about value for money and convenience.
Laptops can be dauntingly expensive, but you don’t need to spend big to get a great portable. We’ve rounded up the best budget laptop options you can buy right now to prevent your bank balance getting a hammering. To make things more simple, both Intel and AMD have numbered their processors to give you a rough idea of what sort of tasks a laptop with that processor can perform. The Asus VivoBook S15 combines a thin and light design with great performance and an excellent price. It also comes with a brilliant keyboard that’s a joy to type on, and some pretty great specs as well, which ensures that Windows 10, and all your favorite apps, run extremely well.
If video output matters to you, check for a dedicated port like an HDMI connector, especially if you plan to connect your laptop to your TV, desktop monitor, or a lecture hall A/V system. Sometimes video outputs are implemented on laptops as micro HDMI or mini DisplayPort connectors to save space. You’ll need a special cable to use these, which may or may not be included in the box. Laptop screens have grown denser over the past decade, packing more pixels into the same area.
Windows 10 is the most popular OS in the world running on any type of computer from a large desktop to a thin and light laptop. Windows 10 Home is this laptops’ choice of OS for the Aspire 5 and carries all the features and capabilities that most users need. A fingerprint reader adds extra security, and convenience when logging into your laptop. Bluetooth 5.0 is also standard, coming in with up to 2x the speeds, and 4x the range compared to older Bluetooth 4.2.
PCMag.com is a leading authority on technology, delivering lab-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology. Whether the screen is OLED, IPS, or TFT, people who plan to use their laptops in brightly lit rooms or outdoors will want to make sure that the panel has a maximum brightness level of at least 500 nits. Buying a laptop is a complicated and potentially daunting process when you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for.
If you’re working with an inflexible budget, don’t sweat it, we’ve included Chromebooks and a few other affordable options. Every single one of these laptops has been tested and personally vetted by the crew at PCWorld as well. It will also pay to make a list of a few laptops you’d be interested in. That way, when the deals start rolling in, you already know what it is you want and don’t get tempted in by other deals on models you aren’t familiar with.