The laptops of 2017 weren’t as exciting as we were hoping. This year saw evolutionary design updates, the loss of more useful USB ports and slimmer and lighter laptops that are lasting ever longer.
A surprise showing was our budget Ultrabook pick (check out the winners below), which only goes to show how important prioritisation of hardware and optimisation of software are.
While these are our best picks for 2017, we’d like to offer a word of advice. If you can hold off for six to eight months, do so. There are some exciting new developments in the works that just might change our expectations from a laptop in 2018.
Laptops are set to get much faster, more capable, offer incredible battery life and offer permanent cellular connectivity.
Best Ultrabook: ASUS ZenBook UX430UQ
We’d normally hand this title to the likes of the Dell XPS 13, MacBook Pro or HP Spectre 13. The title of best Ultrabook this year goes to the ZenBook UX430UQ simply because it epitomises exactly what a premium Ultrabook should be. It’s fast and light and unlike Apple, offers all the essential connectivity options that you’d need. The onboard GPU from Nvidia is a bonus as it’ll help speed up light photo editing workloads. If you’re looking for an alternative, the Dell XPS 13 offers you a different design, but much of the same functionality at a similar price. If you’re firmly in the Apple camp, you can’t go wrong with a MacBook Pro 13, though be sure to save some cash for a bunch of dongles.
Price: Rs 94,000 onwards
Best gaming laptop: MSI GE73VR 7RF Raider
Appearing in the tail end of 2017, the GE73VR 7RF Raider snuck in by the skin of its teeth. If you’re buying a gaming laptop this year, this is where you start and then work your way down, depending on your budget. It’s big and expensive to be sure, but it’s packing in some stellar hardware that’s capable of running literally any game you throw at it.
A high-performance Intel CPU (i7 7700 HQ), 16 GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 means that you’ll never be wanting for performance. The real highlight, however, is that massive 17-inch screen. Why? Because it supports a 120 Hz refresh rate, making it perfect for high-intensity gaming sessions. The laptop is massive and definitely not meant for your lap, but that bulk means that the performance isn’t compromised.
You can get cheaper and more expensive gaming laptops, but the former are a compromise and the latter are way overpriced.
Price: Rs 1,85,990 onwards
Best entry-level gaming laptop: Lenovo Legion Y520
Gaming laptops are seen as loud, brash and wasteful, and many of them are. Thankfully, there are a few exceptions and the Lenovo Legion Y520 is one of them. The price tag of around Rs 90,000 is on the lower side for a gaming laptop, but the internals haven’t been compromised. The hardware is perfectly capable of handling all games at medium-high settings, and that should be enough for most gamers. A blazing-fast SSD storage option rounds out the package.
It’s well designed, so the laptop doesn’t get too hot, and the plethora of connectivity options means that you’re never left wanting for ports.
Price: Rs 88,000 onwards
Best budget Ultrabook: MacBook Air 13
On the surface, this might seem like an odd addition. However, for the price, Apple’s aging MacBook Air is still the best Ultrabook in its price bracket. Available for around Rs 50,000, the Air offers unmatched build quality in its class, all the connectivity you’ll need (USB-A, Thunderbolt 2, SD card reader, etc.) and stellar battery life. Better yet, you get the performance benefits of an SSD — it’s way faster than regular hard disks, over nine hours of battery life and a colour-corrected HD display.
Compared to Apple’s other laptops, the Air is an ancient, aging monster from a bygone era. Compared to Windows laptops in the same price range, it’s more than competitive.
Price: Rs 52,000 onwards
Best workhorse laptop: Lenovo Ideapad 520S
If it’s a plain, sensible, Windows laptop that you want, you can’t go wrong with the Lenovo’s Ideapad 520S. It’s a workhorse of a laptop with some concessions for aesthetics. It’s not particularly exciting, but I don’t think workhorses are meant to be exciting. It’s got a decent keyboard, all the essential connectivity options and a decent hardware combination.
Personally, I would have preferred an SSD to an HDD, but it’s a trade-off between storage space and performance that only you can decide on. It’s also quite light and the build quality is decent.
Price: Rs 48,000 onwards