Since Windows 10 first launched in 2015, there’s never really been a bad time to buy a new laptop or PC.
It’s worth timing your purchase to coincide with a sales event like Black Friday and watching out for new models around the corner, but you probably won’t regret it at any time of the year.
However, the announcement of Windows 11 muddies the waters. Microsoft’s new desktop OS brings about significant visual and functionality changes to the Windows experience, and it’s something most of the 1.3bn+ Windows 10 users can upgrade to.
Some high-profile companies have already announced Windows 11 devices. Microsoft's Surface Pro 8, Go 3, Pro X (2021) and brand-new Surface Laptop Studio all come with the new OS pre-installed. Acer's updated Vero, Nitro 5 and Swift 5 laptops do too, as well as the Honor MagicBook V 14. Look out for plenty more over the coming weeks and months.
With that in mind, is there any value in buying a new device running what is now outdated software? Or should you just wait for your favourite brand to update its laptops? Here’s what you need to know.
Should I still buy a Windows 10 laptop or PC?
If you’re in the market for a new device and can afford it, yes. All compatible Windows 10 hardware is be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 11, and everyone can install the new OS on their device now.
However, Microsoft has updated its hardware requirements for Windows 11, so not all Windows 10 devices are eligible.
To qualify, you'll need recent Intel, AMD or ARM-based processor, at least 4GB RAM/64GB of storage and a 720p display that’s 9in or larger. With even the more affordable Atom, Celeron, Pentium and Xeon ranges of Intel chips supported, almost every new laptop you buy now will be compatible with Windows 11.
On desktop you’ll also need a compatible motherboard, but most manufacturers have released lists of those which will be supported
Learn more in our separate guide: Will my PC run Windows 11?
Aside from the potential for updated specs (which is worth considering whenever you’re buying a new PC), the only advantage of waiting is that the new device will come with Windows 11 pre-installed. That’ll save a bit of time when compared to the free upgrade, but you’ll still have to go through the full setup process. All eligible devices can be updated to Windows 11 without losing existing apps, files and settings, although a full backup is still highly recommended.
Indeed, Microsoft is now making it even easier to buy a Windows 10 device. As GSMArena reports, you're now prompted to install Windows 11 when setting up a device that has Windows 10 pre-installed for the first time. It's still optional, but an easy alternative to the other methods of installing Windows 11 now.
Which Windows 10 laptop should I buy?
This is where things get difficult. There’s a wealth of great Windows 10 laptops to choose from, with new devices being released all the time. Narrowing the list down yourself would be almost impossible, so that’s where we come in. Across seven dedicated roundups, we chart the best laptops within specific categories, as well as overall:
- Best laptops overall – The absolute finest Windows 10 PCs you can buy, plus a MacBook Air for good measure. The 15 devices here provide the best all-round experience for most people – they're not all ultra-high-end laptops with hefty price tags.
- Best budget laptops – The same criteria as above applies here, but there is an upper price limit. Most of the devices here retail for under £500/US$500, but we’ve made a couple of exceptions for particularly noteworthy PCs.
- Best 2-in-1 laptops – Aside from being great laptops, the only other criteria here is that devices need to have some 2-in-1 functionality. That means there’s a healthy mix of convertible laptops and tablets with detachable keyboards.
- Best Microsoft Surface – Even if you’re set on Microsoft hardware, there’s still plenty of choice. This guide runs through the best from the Pro, Go and Laptop lines.
- Best gaming laptops - Gaming on a laptop is becoming increasingly popular. Devices here are extremely powerful and have advanced cooling systems, but still remain portable enough to take anywhere with you.
- Best business laptops – Business can be conducted from anywhere these days, so you need a laptop that’s up to the task. Many of these devices aren’t specifically designed for business, but offer everything most companies and entrepreneurs are looking for.
- Best laptops for students – Being suitable for students doesn’t just mean it needs to be cheap. We’ve prioritised devices that fit the bill for those in education at all ages, whether you need something lightweight and portable or a full day's usage.
As you’d expect, there is some overlap between charts – many high-profile Windows laptops excel across many different use cases.
However, if you’re just looking for a great device at a great price, we can also help. Our regularly updated round-up of laptop deals in the UK shows you some of the best discounts available right now. Check out some of the offers below:
1. Huawei MateBook 14 (2020)
Now: £599 (£150 off)
The superb MateBook 14 is currently the best laptop you can buy. It was great value for money at full price, but this £150 discount makes it even more tempting.
2. LG Gram 17 (2021)
Now: £1,249 (£300 off)
This is a tidy saving on the best 17in laptop around. Get this powerful Gram 17 with a £300 discount via Amazon - in exchange, you get an 11th-gen i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
3. Asus Zenbook Flip S
Now: £1,499.99 (£300 off)
The ZenBook is a powerful touchscreen convertible with a stunning 4K OLED display. It might have been hard to justify at full price, but this £300 discount makes it much more tempting.
4. Apple MacBook Air M1 (2020)
Now: £1,099.97 (£149.03 off)
Get a better price than Prime Day on the MacBook Air with the latest M1 chip, with effectively £150 off.
This means you can get the 512GB MacBook Air for the price Apple sells the 256GB model for! Note that the discount only applies to some colours. You can also save £72 on the 256GB model in Gold.
5. Huawei MateBook D 15
Now: £459 (£140.99 off)
This is an amazing price for a laptop with a Core i3 processor, 256GB SSD, fingerprint scanner and plenty of ports. There's also the MateBook D 14, if you want something slightly.
6. Microsoft Surface Laptop Go (i5, 8GB, 256GB)
Now: £764.69 (£134.31 off)
This is an excellent deal on the Surface Laptop Go, a great laptop for students. Save £170 on the top-spec Intel Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD - down to a much more appealing £729. It's available for £764 at Amazon if you'd prefer.
7. Acer Swift 5 (2020)
From: Currys PC World
Now: £899 (£100 off)
We scored the Swift 5 an excellent 9/10 in our review and gave it the Tech Advisor Recommended award, and that's without factoring in an extra £100 off the RRP of £999.
It's an excellent all-rounder laptop that will cope with almost any task wherever you take it.
8. Asus ZenBook 14
From: Currys PC World
Now: £599 (£100 off)
Asus has been making great laptops for a long time and the ZenBook 14 is yet another affordable all-rounder. As well as an attractive design, it's got an Intel Core i5 processor and 256GB SSD.
9. Asus C523NA Chromebook
Now: £229 (£70.99 off)
This Chromebook has basic specs, but it's a bargain if you only have less than £250 to spend on a laptop.