Thinking of buying a new laptop, PC or iMac in 2022? Want to find the best value MacBook or desktop computor this year? The possibilities for Windows and Mac laptops and PCs are endless. This is because of the various brands, features and combinations of specifications. You could end up spending entire days researching the best one – I know have! Even the comparison sites can feel overwhelming with choices.
Here in this blog (taken from my latest laptop and PC recommendations) I try and cut through the noise. I pick just one to suit each budget scenario (£300, £500, £1000, £unlimited), as something to aim for or get a similar spec. I’m sharing both my extensive recent research and perspective as an experienced user of Windows and Mac.
Important Background on PCs & Laptops
Here’s the holy trinity for all-round good general performance for office and business work. Additionally, this will provide you several years of future-proofing: Ideally at least 8GB RAM (the computer’s working memory); 256GB SSD (solid-state drive, total storage capacity); a decent i3 or i5 Intel processor (or higher). In turn, all else will fall in to place when you reach this level. The rest is about aesthetics and your personal preferences. In conclusion, you’ll need to budget around £500 to achieve this. However, reasonable and affordable alternatives exist.
In terms of costs and expectations, a good rule of thumb for new laptops and PCs is ‘250/500/1000’:
- £250 will buy you a half-decent Windows laptop: You’ll get most basic specs that’ll last you 3-4 years. That’s currently around 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and i3 (or alternative) processor.
- £500 will buy you a decent Windows laptop. Accordingly, the specs will last 4-6 years, or until you want a better one! Currently, that’s 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and an i5 or higher Intel processor. Note: Add £500 for MacBooks!
- £1000+ will buy you an excellent Windows laptop. Double again the RAM, SSD, plus the best processors and displays. The only thing stopping you will be the practical battery life (6+ years depending on usage). Note: Again, add £500+ for Mac. My MacBook Pro for example has lasted 8 years and counting.
If you can afford it, I’d recommend avoiding the cheap, weird-sounding brands and things like ‘eMMC’ (poor man’s SSD) memory; this means sticking to the ‘holy trinity’ above for reliable business work. Choose what suits your style of working between laptop and desktop PC. However, I personally think laptops are the best all-rounder and of course, portable. Go for trusted brands like Dell, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, ASUS, and HP. I would advise first researching the ideal model you want, then finding the best variation, setup and price. For laptops, 13-15 inch screens are a nice size to work with and on. For desktops, 21-24 inch is plenty. Don’t be scared to go for a ‘refurbished’ option from a trusted supplier, which normally includes same 1-year warranty. This could save you £hundreds and/or achieve a higher spec for your money.
Oh, and to clear up confusion: Microsoft Office applications are no longer wildly different or a pain to use on the Mac operating system. I use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams and Outlook on both a Windows PC and MacBook Pro. The difference is minimal, and performance on both exceptional for what I need.
Laptops: Best Windows and Mac Options
After extensive research, the below are what I would buy based on several budget scenarios: Under £300, £500, £1000, plus just for drools, ‘God mode‘…
My best choice laptop for Windows: There are literally endless possibilities and options. I have concluded from extensive research you need to spend around £500. This will get you the critical holy trinity (memory, storage, processor) of specs. This Dell Inspiron 3511 model fits the bill and is a great all-round workhorse in a pleasing package. It’s currently available at £529.
The best value MacBook in 2022: A relatively high-spec MacBook Air with 13″ Retina display would be ideal. Yes, it’s double the price of Windows-based laptops like Samsung, Lenovo, and Dell, but they’re lovely to work with. You also get the best of both worlds in that Office 365 apps are almost identical to work with, while the world is your oyster with the range of elegant and innovative apps on the App Store available to you. A good target price is around £1,100 and has a decent 512GB SSD memory, providing plenty of room for videos.
If money was no object: I would choose this beautiful new high-spec, powerful 2021 model MacBook Pro. It has a stunning 16 inch ‘Retina’ display, superb storage, memory, and a surprisingly high battery life. I could do all my MS Office work, photography, design, video creation, and all at once. Plus, I just find Macs a pleasure to work on. At £2,200 it’s not for the faint-hearted!
A laptop on a <£300 budget: If you are strapped for cash, a reliable brand and half-decent spec model might be the Acer Swift 1 14 inch laptop. This laptop comes with an OK processor, 128GB SSD, and 4GB RAM. Therefore, it’ll be fine for general office tasks like writing, reports, emails, and spreadsheets. 14 inches is a nice size screen, it has a decent battery life and is very portable. It is currently a snip at £289 (RRP £399). Alternatively, consider a refurbished higher grade model for more memory- and graphics-hungry tasks; for instance, video editing and higher-end design software.
Desktop Computers: PCs and Mac
Here’s a similar synthesis of research on the best available desktop computers in 2022, for both PC and Mac. As the name suggests, consider these only if you like working at a desk or table! A couple of other notable differences are that you generally get a better spec for your money with desktop base units. This is because there’s more physical room to build it in the machine. However and conversely for most desktop PCs (except the ‘all-in-one’ types) and the ‘Mac Mini’: You’ll need to buy a separate monitor to see what you’re doing! Swings and roundabouts I guess… I provide options below again for budgets of £300, £500, £1000. In addition, I share my dream desktop for those with greater financial scope.
A Windows desktop on a £300 budget: This renewed/refurbished Dell Optiplex i7 Quad Core is likely the best deal going with a very high spec. It boasts 16GB RAM, over 1TB storage, and is backed by a 1-year Amazon ‘renewed guarantee’. Currently at around just £190, this affords money for an associated Logitech keyboard and mouse (£22) plus a smart Dell 24 inch Full HD monitor if you need one for £120. Therefore, £332 in total, but a fantastic set up for the money.
Best Windows desktop for under £500: The HP ‘All-in-one’ 21 inch PC comes with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD storage. Additionally, it looks stylish (emulating the iMac) and will set you back a very affordable £399. No separate base unit also means fewer cables and no additional monitor costs. The reviews look great too.
My best choice for iMac desktop: Although the Mac Mini might seem an appealing option, it still requires a separate screen and accessories, so can get expensive. I’ve always used iMacs for my desktop computors, because I just like working on them. The 2021 Apple iMac 24 inch model has a generous display, strong processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. For £1149 on Amazon, it’s a spec that will more than serve most people’s business and creative needs, while standing the test of time. I don’t think it’s necessary to spend several £hundred more on a higher-spec 24 inch model; nor indeed at least £500 more on the 27 inch range, unless…
A desktop for the dreamers: If you dream big and have the cash, then why not splash out over £3,200 on the iMac Pro 27 inch all-in-one beast of a desktop. The processing power, memory, and graphics capabilities are simply astronomical. The Retina 5k display and the machine itself is quite simply a thing of beauty. One can indeed dream I suppose!
I hope you found this blog helpful to your own research on new computers for the year ahead. In the meantime, keep a look-out on this site for more tools and support to help you ‘excel at the office’, including MS Office tutorials, blogs, and report-writing skills.
Kind Regards, Adrian