Laptops. There are just so many of them. But what’s the best laptop for you? Is it a business notebook, a powerful gaming laptop, or a Chromebook? We know the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming, which is why we made this list.
We’ve created this handy, dandy guide so you’ll know all the ins and outs of your prospective system before you make the decision to hit the buy button. From advice on choosing screen size, to selecting between an SSD and HDD, to insider scoops on where to find the best prices on laptops, here are some essential tips for finding the right system for you.
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Over the course of a year, we review over 150 laptops covering every price point and use case. Whether you’re looking for a productivity workhorse, a badass gaming system or a multimedia machine to kick back and watch a movie or two, we can help you find your ideal match.
In order to make our Best Laptop of 2021 list, the system needs to score at least 4 out of 5 stars on our reviews and deliver on the things shoppers care about most. In our evaluations, we focus on design and comfort, display quality, the keyboard and touchpad, performance, battery life and especially value.
- Here are the best gaming laptop available right now
- Our picks for the best business laptop
- Check out our best laptop under $500
What are the best laptops right now?
The Dell XPS 13 is currently our top overall pick for best laptop of 2021. Powered by a 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, the 1080p version of the laptop is ideal for work, play and light content creation. And with it’s bright, vivid display, the laptop is also great for watching videos. Plus, it’s also incredibly slim and light making it an ideal laptop for mobile professionals.
Those in the market for a convertible should give the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 a look. If 13-inches is too small, we suggest the Dell XPS 17, which also earned a spot on this list thanks to its powerful performance that makes it ideal for students, mobile and creative professionals.
For our Apple aficionados, the new must-haves are the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air m1 laptops. Apple’s new silicone marks a new chapter in Apple computing, and computers as a whole. The ARM-based chips bring an unprecedented amount of power and endurance, the likes of which that places the typically underpowered Air on a par with major ultraportables.
And if you’re in the market for an extra-large Chromebook, check our review of the Acer Chromebook 317, the world’s first 17-inch Chrome OS laptop.
See our picks for best laptops below.
The best laptops you can buy today
What do you get when you put one of Intel’s new Tiger Lake processors into a Dell XPS 13? Even more awesome. The latest Dell XPS 13 keeps all the things we loved about this year’s previous model, such as a smaller frame, four-sided InfinityEdge bezels and a larger keyboard. But this refresh brings Intel’s 11th Gen Tiger Lake processor and a host of promised features, including better CPU and graphics performance and longer battery life. You also get Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6.
But does Tiger Lake live up to the hype? Absolutely. With the new Intel Iris Xe GPU you can play certain AAA games on an integrated GPU, albeit on low settings. And in many cases, the overall performance is top-notch as well. The battery life even surpasses Intel’s new Evo standards by two hours. Those looking for a laptop with equal parts beauty, power and longevity, the Dell XPS 13 is the laptop for you.
See our full Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.
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Welcome to the new era of Apple computing. Apple’s M1 custom SoC marks the first step in Apple’s conscious uncoupling from Intel. The ARM-based 5-nanometer chip has 16 billion transistors, which is the most the company has ever put into a chip. In addition to all those transistors, the SoC features an eight-core processor, integrated graphics, a unified memory architecture, Apple’s Neural Engine, an improved image signal processor and Apple’s Secure Enclave. The result is a faster, more powerful laptop that’s a force to be reckoned with.
The MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 delivers impressive performance and has the longest battery life we’ve ever seen on a Mac. If that’s not enough, paired with Big Sur, you get blistering webpage load times and a better webcam experience – all thanks to Apple Silicon. In short, the new MacBook Pro is everything Apple said and more.
See our full Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020) review.
The Acer Swift 3 is an ultra-thin, sleek, silver, peppy performer meant to help college-bound students transition to the next level of their education and make life much smoother. It has a nice design with some cool chrome accents that give a touch of flair. You get decent performance out of the 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and solid rendering from the Intel Iris Xe GPU.
The Swift 3 is a solid, budget-friendly ultra-thin laptop and travel partner that won’t slow you down. It’s a tiny workhorse that performed well on a number of our benchmarks. Plus, it has staying power with over 10 hours of battery life. Plus, it’s got premium good looks and a rather comfortable keyboard. The laptop does have one flaw however, its display which isn’t as bright as we would like. But for the price, it’s a minor quibble for a sub-$1,000 laptop.
See our full Acer Swift 3 review.
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Talk about breathing new life into a laptop. The Midas of processors, everything Apple’s M1 SoC touches turns to gold. With its new engine, the MacBook Air goes from an underpowered laptop that barely makes the cut to one of the fastest notebooks around — not just in its portable segment but compared to everything else on the market. And with 14+ hours of battery life, you can easily get through a day, if not two, one a single charge.
Along with record-setting performance, Apple Silicon adds iOS and iPadOS apps to the Mac App Store. You also get better webcam quality, and macOS Big Sur is a gorgeous redesign of Apple’s desktop OS. The new MacBook Air may have a few faults, but it’s the closest Apple has ever been to crafting the perfect laptop.
See our full Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review.
The new XPS 13 2-in-1 is without question among the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Dell smartly used the XPS 13 as a blueprint for the XPS 13 2-in-1, an almost identical laptop, but with the ability to transform into a tablet.
New features to this year’s edition make the XPS 13 2-in-1 more appealing than before. Intel’s 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs with Iris Xe Graphics deliver a solid performance and graphics boost from the previous chips. The XPS 13 2-in-1 also received a quality-of-life improvement in the way of an IR camera, so you can stop typing in passwords. And although the design is unchanged, a new Frost lid matches the white color option.
It’s a great choice for those looking for versatility along with performance and endurance.
See our full Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2020) review.
The Chromebook Spin 713 carves a nice niche for itself with the enthusiast or professional crowd, as well as students and mobile professionals. Its powerful processor makes it great for running heavier Android or Linux apps. It also has an ample selection of ports and a bright and vivid display. The Spin 713 proved to be a great performer with its 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD and Intel Iris Xe graphics. Plus, it has above-average battery life, coming in at 10 hours and 35 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test.
There’s an awful lot to like about the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, no matter what you’re using it for. Avid writers will love the keyboard and extra screen real estate, while multimedia mavens will love the streaming capabilities of Google OS. The notebook offers a brilliant 2-in-1 form factor that feels much more high-end than its price tag would have you believe. It’s durable enough for daily use, and powerful enough to replace the functionality of many full-fledged laptops. Plus, the battery life is top-notch.
See our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2021) review.
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The ZenBook 13 is proof of Asus’ continued commitment to solving snags and making our lives easier. It crushed the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 13 on the graphics and file-transfer tests. It also blew all of its rivals out of the water with its extremely colorful OLED display. The clicky keyboard is impressive, too — especially for such a compact, portable laptop. Laptops with 13-inch displays typically feel cramped, but I felt comfortable typing on the ZenBook 13.
The Numberpad 2.0 is another stellar feature. You may think that it would only benefit accountants or other math-oriented professionals, but trust me, you likely type numbers more than you think. Plus, the ZenBook 13 lasts more than 13 hours on a charge. The ZenBook 13 has certainly earned a spot as one of the best laptops and proves you don’t need to sacrifice battery life when opting for an OLED display.
See our full Asus Zenbook 13 (UX325) OLED review.
The HP Envy 13 continues its long reign as the king of sub-$1,000 laptops. The latest iteration of the laptop keeps all of the things we love about it, including its premium design, surprisingly powerful performance and serious battery life. What’s new is the addition of Intel’s 11th Gen processors and integrated graphics. Everything else about the Envy 13 is either better or as good as it was before. The 1080p display is bright and vivid, the keyboard is a joy to type on, and you still get a Thunderbolt 4 input along with two USB Type-A ports for connecting mice, keyboards or webcams.
HP addressed almost every shortcoming of the previous Envy 13, a laptop that already had very few faults. Bringing an 11th Gen Intel CPU onboard has improved a winning formula. Our Core i5 model impressed in real-world and benchmark tests, and the Envy 13 lasted for almost 11 hours on a charge.
See our full HP Envy 13 (2021) review.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is an excellent choice for creative professionals. It can be transformed into a digital drawing board, but it does so without compromising the standard laptop mode. This flexibility, along with excellent performance and long battery life, makes the Surface Laptop Studio a compelling option for creative professionals. Add in a fantastic keyboard/touchpad combo, powerful speakers, and a 1080p webcam, and the Surface Laptop Studio finds its place as one of the best laptops for creatives and anyone else searching for an extra-versatile laptop.
With its Core i7-11370H CPU and RTX 3050 Ti graphics, the Surface Laptop Studio can handle the most demanding tasks and even play some recent AAA games. Despite having so much power under the hood, the Laptop Studio lasts a full day on a charge, and its 14.4-inch display is excellent, with the 120Hz refresh rate giving it an edge over the competition. Microsoft didn’t just get the big things right — it put care into each element of this laptop. The keyboard and touchpad are fantastic, the speakers are crisp and powerful, and even the webcam is decent.
See our full Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review.
If you need a portable 2-in-1 laptop — for business or otherwise — and aren’t on a tight budget, the X1 Yoga Gen 6 is one to consider. There simply aren’t many weaknesses to this convertible. The 11th Gen Intel CPUs provide fast performance and epic endurance, while the sleek chassis is slim enough to take on a business trip or to the cafe when you’re working remotely. The X1 Yoga separates itself from others in the field with a bounty of extra features, from the IR camera and fingerprint sensor to the garaged stylus and webcam cover.
If you’re a business user who wants a portable 2-in-1 laptop, or an IT admin setting your team up with the very best hardware, then the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a first-rate choice. It even lasts for nearly 15 hours on a charge. These perks are packaged in a sleek aluminum chassis with a convenient 2-in-1 design and a handy stylus slot.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) review.
The Zephyrus G15 offers amazing performance from its AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. It even boasts a similarly long-lasting battery life, a clicky keyboard, a 15.6-inch, 1440p display and a set of powerful speakers wrapped up in an even more elegant Moonlight White design.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 (GA503Q) totes around some of the most powerful components you can get right now. Almost every part of this machine is surprisingly great and well worth the money you’ll be paying. Plus, it lasted 8 hours and 6 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test, crushing the premium gaming laptop average. Regardless, the Zephyrus G15 is one of the few best gaming laptops that you can buy with an RTX 3080 GPU
Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 review.
We love a beautiful laptop. So we are infatuated with the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15. With its royal blue aluminum frame, the Flex 15 is drop-dead gorgeous. And thanks to its 360-degree hinges and bundled S-Pen, its incredibly versatile transforming from a traditional clamshell into a powerful note-taking machine. And Samsung didn’t stop there, the Flex 15 is also the first laptop to feature a QLED screen that’s incredibly bright and vivid.
With its 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, the Flex 15 is a powerful workhorse, able to handle most productivity tasks with ease. And with its discrete Nvidia graphics card, the laptop can also do some light gaming. And despite its beautiful display, the Flex 15 still managed to last over 15 hours on our battery test, making it one of our longest lasting systems.
See our full Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 review.
The XPS 15 OLED is the best Windows laptop for power users who need to take their work (or play) on the road. Its attractive design screams luxe, the OLED display is stunning, and the oversized touchpad would impress even a MacBook user. Combine those XPS staples with excellent performance from 11th Gen Intel and Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti chips and it’s easy to recommend this machine to students, business users or content creators, like photographers, videographers or graphics designers
The Dell XPS 15 continues to sit atop the throne by instituting small tweaks that amount to big changes. The highlight of this particular configuration is the stunning 3.5K OLED display with its jaw-dropping colors, contrast and brightness. It’s a panel befitting of the XPS 15’s stylish and portable design that blends a machined aluminum exterior with a woven pattern on the inside. On the deck are a gargantuan touchpad, spacious keyboard and powerful speakers.
If you want a powerhouse with a gorgeous display, excellent audio and a host of other premium features, the Dell XPS 15 is the absolute way to go.
See our full Dell XPS 15 OLED (2021) review.
HP’s Spectre models have always stood out against uninspired competitors, but the new Spectre x360 14 is downright luxurious. The newest edition to HP’s premium 2-in-1 lineup combines a startlingly attractive chassis with gorgeous display options, fast performance and long battery life. It separates itself with a unique 3:2 aspect ratio and OLED panel option, a pair of features capable of enhancing work and play.
Not only does the Spectre x360 14 nail the basics, but it also comes with a USB-C rechargeable stylus and offers a decent selection of ports (USB Type-A and microSD included). Add to that a clicky keyboard and a large, silky touchpad and the Spectre x360 14 is one of the most impressive laptops we’ve ever reviewed.
See our full HP Spectre x360 14-inch review.
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