In Depth

Best laptops 2015: the top five models on the market

From the Apple MacBook Pro to Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, tech critics heap praise on today's top laptops

Apple's Macbook

Between Mac and Windows, big screens and small, and hybrid tablets and powerful 'ultrabooks', the laptop market offers a huge variety of choice. Here are five of the most popular among tech critics.

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Apple upped the game with last year's MacBook Pro, adding a Retina display (2560 x 1600 pixels resolution on the 13-inch model, 2880 x 1800 on the 15-inch laptop), a slimmer frame, an improved keyboard and a more powerful processor. It became slightly cheaper too, with the top model coming in at under £1,000.

The latest MacBook Pro is not perfect – there are limitations especially with USB connectivity – but the high-resolution display, ample storage and striking graphics make it one of the best laptops on the market.

"With a large SSD, powerful hardware and improved graphics performance, the 13-inch MacBook Pro stands head and shoulders above every other ultraportable available today," says Expert Reviews.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Pro 3

Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga Pro 3 is arguably the best of the 'hybrid' devices, trying to be both a laptop and a tablet.

The laptop promises a sleek yet sturdy design, a PC-like Intel Core i5 processor and up to 512GB of SSD storage as well as a respectable eight-hour battery life. It is also very light at 1.19kg (2.62lbs).

The main features though are the 13.3-inch 3200 x 1800 resolution display, and the innovative flexible hinge that lets you twist the screen and use it in four different positions, including 'laptop' and 'tablet'.

"As it stands, the Yoga remains the most versatile ultrabook on the market, with a sturdy 360-degree hinge, brilliant screen and zippy performance," says Engadget.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Microsoft's latest Surface Pro actually threatens to deliver on the firm's marketing promise that this is the device that can replace both your laptop and tablet.

Offering a 12-inch 2160 x 1440 resolution display, Windows 8.1, and up to 512GB of SSD storage, it can be used with the Kickstand and Type Cover as a laptop, or on its own like a tablet.

"The Surface Pro 3 represents a confident step towards the best-possible hybrid device," says PC Pro. "It's new 3:2 display, in combination with the lighter chassis, makes it a better tablet than its predecessors, while the new Kickstand and Type Cover make it a more convincing alternative to a regular laptop.”

Dell XPS 15

Dell's XPS 15 is a lightweight, versatile and high-performance laptop, which could well be used to replace or compliment a laptop or desktop.

The laptop's 15.6-inch 3200 x 1800 resolution IPS display offers excellent viewing angles and bright colours, while the aluminium and carbon fibre body is slim (17mm) and light enough to carry around.

The XPS15 runs Windows 8.1, and battery life is quoted at a very good 12 hours. There is a cheaper version of the XPS 15, with a smaller battery and standard display.

"Dell's luxurious XPS 15 has a superlative screen and physical design that's the match of Apple's MacBook, and it's got high-end components on the inside too," says Trusted Reviews. "It's one of the best premium Windows machines on the market, but Apple's MacBook Pro has better storage, a longer battery and better value for money. If you need a powerful, premium Windows machine, this is top-notch.”

Apple MacBook Air

Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air is similar internally to the Pro, although it comes without the latest Intel processor and Retina display. The Air's 1366 x 768 resolution display is disappointing given the price (starting from £749), but the laptop still excels with a powerful Intel processor, up to 8GB of RAM and the Yosemite operating system.

"If a portable road warrior is what you're after, this is still a great choice," says Stuff. "Yes, the new MacBook is slimmer and lighter, but the Air remains pretty skinny, offers superb stamina and, if you get the 8GB upgrade, has enough power for some pretty serious on-the-go duties."

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