Best Windows 8 laptops: all the Windows 8 notebooks we've reviewed
13th Jun 2013 | 09:17
The latest Windows 8 Ultrabooks, notebooks, convertibles and laptops
Microsoft has fundamentally changed the way Windows works with Windows 8, ensuring it works better with touchscreens and tablets.
But what about Windows 8 laptops, Ultrabooks and convertibles? They're all here, too.
One thing Windows 8 has in spades is convergence. A Windows 8 Ultrabook that has a touchscreen? Check. A laptop with a flip-around screen? Check. Tablet PCs that slide up to reveal a keyboard? Check.
It's tough differentiating some of these from tablets at times, but the one stipulation they have to be in this article is that they have a keyboard and also run x86 Intel or AMD processors. None of the machines in this article are ARM-based.
That means they don't run Windows RT, the version of Windows for ARM systems. They do, however, run either Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. Check out our article on the different Windows 8 versions to get your head around which version you'd like.
So here's a rundown of the Windows 8 laptops, notebooks, convertibles and Ultrabooks we've looked at so far, to help you choose the right machine for you. And make sure you read our Windows 8 review, too.
Asus VivoBook S200 - £390/US$430/AU$400
Scoring five stars and an Editor's Choice award in a TechRadar review is pretty special. The 11.6-inch touchscreen Asus VivoBook S200 achieves this by offering good locks and hardware, an impressive performance, easy portability and a great price. The keyboard is faultless, and the trackpad is responsive and works well with Windows 8 touch gestures. An Intel Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM give it the guts to perform without running the battery down too quickly, though the integrated graphics aren't cut out for fancy 3D games. It also comes with a 500GB hard drive, an SD card reader, HDMI port, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, VGA and Ethernet connections. A 5MP webcam is handy for video calls, if you can take your eyes off the brushed metallic finish.
Read our full Asus VivoBook S200 review
HP Pavilion Touchbook Sleekbook - £400/US$650/AU$800
Sporting an AMD A-Series processor, 6GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, the HP Pavilion Touchbook Sleekbook is pretty well specced to run full Windows 8. It also boasts a 15.6-inch touchscreen, which is responsive and works well with the OS, but has a low resolution and dull colours. Its lid is also sparkly and shiny, and the laptop has HDMI, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connections and a webcam. The keyboard doesn't feel that great to use, but the trackpad is great, with a hatched texture that feels nicely different.
Read our Hands on: HP Pavilion Touchbook Sleekbook review
Toshiba Satellite P845 - £475/US$550 (around AU$780)
Built with media people in mind, the Toshiba Satellite P845 has a 14-inch touchscreen that works as a great display for for editing photos and responds very well to Windows 8 gestures, plus a dedicated Nvidia GeForce graphics chip. With third-gen Intel core processors, 6GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive, three USB 3.0 ports, Harmon Kardon speakers and an optional Blu-ray player, the laptop may not be dazzling to look at, but it does pack in some power. There's also a good trackpad, if you'd prefer to use that.
Read our Hands on: Toshiba Satellite P845 review
Asus VivoBook S400C - £500/US$630/AU$675
A dual-core Intel Core i3 processor at 1.8GHz powers the Asus VivoBook S400C, which doesn't sound that impressive but handles every day tasks well. The 14.1-inch touchscreen has edge-to-edge glass, so works well with Windows 8 gestures, though it's not a Full HD resolution. 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive are reasonable, and there's an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, Ethernet, VGA ad HDMI connections. Brushed aluminium on the lid is beautiful, while the keyboard is quite good, but the trackpad's gesture support is lacking. Battery is life isn't great, but sound is better than average, thanks to Asus's SonicMaster technology.
Read our full Asus VivoBook S400 review
Toshiba Satellite U920T - £500/US$760/AU$1,000
Sliding the screen backwards and lifting it up to reveal the keyboard underneath is how the Toshiba Satellite U920T converts from a tablet to a laptop. The 12.5-inch device runs full Windows 8 with its Intel Core i3/i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB/256GB SSD, two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port and one SD card slot. The hybrid device's touchscreen is low res and dull, and not as responsive as others, but Gorilla Glass protects its screen, which is always exposed. Its physical keyboard has short travel on the keys, and the device's general build quality and appearance is uninspiring, but battery life and usability are great.
Read our full Toshiba Satellite U920T review
Lenovo Yoga 11S - US$800 (around £515/AU$840)
Orange isn't everyone's favourite colour, so the silver version of the Lenovo Yoga 11S might be more your thing. Colour aside, the 11.6-inch laptop is a flexible machine that can fold over from a typical laptop stance to a stand position, to a position with the keyboard behind the screen, ready for delivering presentations. It comes with HDMI, SD card and USB ports, and boasts a surprisingly impressive Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for storage. The screen is sharp and bright, though not Full HD, and works well with Windows 8. It's also nicely light and small for portability.
Read our Hands on: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S review
Lenovo IdeaPad U310 - £600/US$650 (around AU$980)
The 13-inch Lenovo IdeaPad U310 comes in a choice of cool metallic finishes and has an Intel Core i3 processor at 1.8GHz, a 500GB hard drive, 24GB SSD, 4GB of RAM and full Windows 8. But it's not a touchscreen laptop, so you'll rely on the spacious trackpad and keyboard for navigation. This would be fine, but the Windows 8 gesture support on the trackpad is confusing and takes some getting used to. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports one USB 2.0, an Ethernet port, an SD/MMC card reader, an HDMI video output and a headphone jack. This Ultrabook looks great, but its performance is average.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad U310 review
HP Envy x2 - £630/US$700/AU$850
The keyboard dock of the HP Envy x2 offers a great selection of connections - including an HDMI port for hooking it up to a monitor - and a second battery, though the tablet on its own doesn't have so much as a single USB port of its own. The 11.6-inch laptop-tablet convertible runs full Windows 8, with a Windows Start button on the bottom of the tablet screen that wakes the whole thing up. As well as a front-facing webcam, the device features an 8MP rear camera with a flash and Beats Audio for your music, though the speakers are weak.
Read our full HP Envy X2 review
Microsoft Surface Pro - £720/US$900/AU$1,000
Microsoft's own full Windows 8 laptop-tablet hybrid, the Surface Pro, has the same look and the same VaporMg coat as the Surface RT, but has a tweaked kickstand and magnetic connectors for power and the two tear-off keyboards. It also has a higher resolution 10.6-inch touchscreen with excellent blacks, a smooth, pressure-sensitive stylus and an Intel Core i5 processor. It can run any application you throw at it, and has USB and DisplayPort connections. The clip-on Touch Cover feels very light, and typing on its flat surface takes some getting used to, or the more expensive Type Cover feels more like a normal laptop keyboard, which we prefer.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro review
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist - £770/US$750/AU$800
Unlike traditional clamshell designed laptops, the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist's screen - as you may have guessed - twists away from its keyboard, transforming into a tablet. The twisting mechanism is elegant but sturdy, holding the screen at the angle you want away from the keyboard and twisting back into laptop position with a nice clunk. It's insides contain a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor at 1.7GHz, HD 4000 integrated graphics, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. Gorilla Glass protects the 12.5-inch touchscreen, which works well with Windows 8 when you don't fancy using the keyboard, or when you want to use the device as a tablet.
Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad Twist review
Dell Inspiron 15z - £800/US$900/AU$1,500
Balancing price, performance and build, the Dell Inspiron 15z is a Windows 8 update to an older model but doesn't come with a touchscreen as standard, though one can be added. Easily upgradeable, it comes with a choice of Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors and the option to add extra RAM and a dedicated graphics chip. Build quality on the 15.6-inch device is sturdy, and features a backlit keyboard with good travel and a responsive trackpad, a DVD drive, four USB ports, an HDMI port, Ethernet and SD card reader, though the screen isn't Full HD. Battery life isn't great, but general performance is reasonable, making it a good all-rounder for the family. We'd splash out on the touchscreen upgrade though.
Read our full Dell Inspiron 15z review
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 - £950/US$1,000 (around AU$1,560)
As the name suggests, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga is extremely flexible. Its special double hinge means its keyboard can flip 360 degrees, so you can use it in typical laptop position, tablet position, tent position or a stand position. The keyboard turns off when it's folded into a position where it won't be needed, so that you can just use the 13-inch screen as a large tablet without worrying about accidental key presses. The Windows 8-toting laptop-tablet hybrid also recognises and can be controlled by hand gestures via the 1MP webcam.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 review
Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro - £950/US$1,100 (around AU$1,560)
Outclassing its smaller brother, the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro runs full Windows 8 with a beefy Intel Core i5 processor and a hinged keyboard dock that turns the tablet element into a device that's almost an Ultrabook. A pen with a clickable right mouse button works well with the 11.6-inch touchscreen, which itself is crisp and colourful. The keyboard is substantial and its hinged lock feels sturdy and more flexible than the Microsoft Surface's kickstand, but the trackpad struggles with gestures.
Read our full Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review
Sony Vaio Duo 11 - £950/US$1,200/AU$1,300
Lifting and sliding the Full HD screen back reveals a keyboard on the 11.6-inch Sony Vaio Duo 11, which is all held together by a weighty hinge, making the screen/tablet and its keyboard inseparable. The full Windows 8 laptop-tablet hybrid also boasts an Intel Core i5 processor and a stylus, offering more for creatives and business people. Swipes through the interface are quick and easy, and the tablet can run full intensity Windows apps such as Photoshop. The keyboard lacks a trackpad though, offering just a nub, so you'll rely on the touchscreen or a separate mouse here. An SD card slot can expand the 128GB SSD storage space, plus there are USB 3.0, Ethernet, HDMI and VGA ports.
Read our full Sony Vaio Duo 11 review
Dell XPS 18 - £1,000/US$1,350 (around AU$1,650)
Essentially an 18-inch Windows 8 tablet crossed with an all-in-one PC, the Dell XPS 18 has a charging stand and Bluetooth mouse and keyboard that turns it into a desktop machine, and touchscreen controls and a kickstand that means it works on its own, though it doesn't offer stylus support. Its screen is Full HD, and the machine packs an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and speedy 32GB SSD into a slim 18mm body. It just offers two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot and an audio jack, with no more connections in the charging dock. The system feels quick, if not the most powerful around, and the keyboard is comfortable to use, though trackpads are better than mice when using Windows 8, so we often tended to navigate with the touchscreen instead of the mouse. Battery life is a little disappointing, largely due to the beautiful big screen sucking it all up.
Read our full Dell XPS 18 review
Acer Aspire S7 - £1,000/US$1,400/AU$1,550
Shockingly thin, the touchscreen Acer Aspire S7's unibody shell is protected by Gorilla Glass on the back. The 13.3-inch display is Full HD and works beautifully with Windows 8 gesture control. They keyboard is fairly small and keys have shallow travel, while the included Bluetooth mouse is fairly flimsy, but the Intel Core i7 processor at 2.4GHz and 4GB of RAM ensure that the Ultrabook has power. Connection-wise, there are two USB 3.0s, a micro HDMI and an SD card port, but not Ethernet or VGA ports, although given its small size this isn't terribly surprising.
Read our full Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook review
Dell XPS 12 - £1,200/US$1,300/AU$1,600
Taking a leaf out of the Dell Inspiron Duo's design book, the Dell XPS 12 is a laptop-tablet hybrid with a swivelling screen that folds back on itself so you can use it like a tablet. Running Windows 8, the 12.5-inch device has a touchscreen and a spacious keyboard and trackpad, so you can choose whether to use on-screen gestures or the trackpad in laptop mode. As a laptop it's powerful, with a fast processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD drive, but as a tablet it's heavy, although it does have a Full HD screen. The tablet functionality is best treated as an added bonus rather than its main purpose.
Read our full Dell XPS Duo 12 review
Dell XPS 13 - £1,200/US$1,300 (around AU$1,965)
A Windows 8 upgrade of the laptop of the same name, the 13-inch Dell XPS 13 looks like a MacBook on first glance, though under the lid is a soft rubber coating and lots of black. An Intel Core i7 processor is top of the line, able to handle picture and video editing and multitasking with ease. 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD also ensure performance is quick, while battery life is seriously impressive. However, the laptop's screen isn't touch-sensitive, so you can't make the most of Windows 8 gestures, and it's not Full HD resolution either. If you don't mind ditching a touchscreen, the keyboard and trackpad are comfortable to use for long periods, and the overall performance is impressive.
Read our full Dell XPS 13 review
Asus Taichi - £1,430/US$1,480/AU$1,500
Uniquely, the Asus Taichi doesn't just have one screen, but two - one on the front and one on the lid. The laptop runs full Windows 8 on both screens, with the lid screen taking over from the main screen when the device is closed or you manually switch between them with a keyboard button. You can also choose to run both screens at once, to do two separate tasks, though this slows the system down. The secondary screen's coating gives extra depth to colours, showing that it's designed for more tablet-like uses such as watching TV shows, while the front laptop screen counters reflections well so you can concentrate on work documents.
Read our full Asus Taichi review
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch - £1,500/US$1,750 (around AU$2,455)
A touchscreen version of last year's excellent Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1, we had high hopes for the Windows 8-toting Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch. Choose an Intel i5 or i7 processor and 4GB or 8GB of SDRAM for power, and there's a 128GB SSD for Ultrabook-quick boot times. The business-focused laptop also has an impressive battery life and 3G connectivity as well as Wi-Fi, though no Ethernet port. Embracing touch tech, as well as the responsive touchscreen there's a sensitive touchpad and a fingerprint scanner. The matt display is a little dull, though it has strong viewing angles, and there are USB ports and an SD card slot, but no display ports.
Read our Hands on: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch review