Our list of laptops encompasses a variety of brands, prices, and features. In it, you will find the best laptops money can buy, and no matter what kind of device you are looking for, or your budget, we are confident that you will find the perfect model for you. We know that a large number of choices can be counterproductive, which is why we have correlated it with our buying guide.
Today, everyone owns a smartphone and most people also have a tablet. A laptop will not revolutionize your everyday life as a smartphone does. You can’t pull it out of your pocket to kill time while you wait, use it to take a photo of a stunning view or to pay for your favorite drink. But despite the recent advances in technology, the humble laptop has persevered — and for good reason. When it comes time to work, whether it’s editing photos, writing emails, or composing documents, there is no good replacement for a decent keyboard and a big screen.
It is now difficult to buy a “bad” laptop, but what separates the best from the rest is how they balance power, efficiency, portability, and comfort. But exactly which laptop you should buy depends on how often you will use it, what you will use it for, and (of course) how much money you can afford to spend on it. A good laptop should have a good keyboard and trackpad, after all, these are the two main reasons to use a laptop over a smartphone or tablet. Its display should be comfortable for the eyes, and its processor powerful enough for most tasks. It should also be easy to carry around and should be able to last a full day on a single charge.
Fortunately (or not) there is a wide range of laptops to choose from. There are cheap generic laptops for basic tasks such as web browsing, ultra-portable machines with premium components and eye-catching designs aimed at productivity, and gaming beasts that will allow you to run even the latest AAA titles with aplomb.
As a result, our roundup of best laptops covers different types and use cases, all computing platforms, and a wide range of budgets.
Before getting to our rankings, though, here are some essential tips in order to find the most suitable laptop for you.
The laptop market is constantly evolving, and thanks to Chromebooks, today you can really get a great laptop for the money. Choosing the best one, however, is a question of compromise. If you want a thin and light device that you can easily take with you everywhere you go, then it will most likely not be very powerful or able to run AAA games. If, on the other hand, you want a powerful machine, then it will be bigger, less portable, and with worse battery life.
Another important consideration is which operating system you intend to use: Windows is best for games, macOS is ideal for creatives and Chrome OS is brilliant for students. You must carefully evaluate the pros and cons of each one before deciding.
Also, make sure you know exactly what you want to do with your laptop and the features you require, otherwise, you might find yourself with a good laptop, yes, but one that’s not a good match for you.
Pricing will also be a key factor in your decision-making process; thankfully there are devices for all kinds of budgets.
So, lets go over everything you need to know in detail:
Operating system: Windows, Mac or Chrome?
Most laptops run Windows 10. A Windows laptop will give you access to the widest range of software, including most AAA games, and offer you maximum form factor flexibility (more on that later).
However, thanks to the rapid evolution of Google’s Chrome OS there is now a valid alternative to Windows, especially in the low-end segment of the market. A Chromebook is a solid entry-level laptop for surfing the web, writing and replying to emails, creating basic text documents and excel sheets, and watching videos and movies. If you opt for one, though, make sure it sports a good 1080p screen and a comfortable keyboard, since Google’s cloud services will handle the rest.
Last, for Apple fans who already own an iPhone and an iPad, and have a budget of $1,000 or more, a MacBook will be the obvious choice.
Dimensions and weight
For most users, portability is the key feature of a laptop; therefore, most of you should choose a model that measures about half an inch thick and weighs under three pounds… these are, in fact, the maximum size and weight of an Ultrabook.
This weight and thickness will limit, in most cases, the screen size to 13 or 14 inches, although there are some models with a 15-inch screen that fall into this category.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have 17-inch laptops. They primarily appeal to professionals or gamers who need a bigger screen. A 17-inch laptop can mimic the experience of a desktop PC. Unfortunately, some measure more than an inch thick and weigh over 7.5 lbs.
Laptop screens have become denser with pixels in the past decade. This results in much sharper text and images. The pixel density on the screen is measured in pixels per inch (PPI), but the main spec is a screen’s native resolution.
Most cheap laptops have a screen with a Full HD resolution. Also known as 1080p displays, these panels have a resolution of 1,920×1080 pixels and typically use LCD panels based on IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology. The various IPS screens may vary, but they are known for good image quality even when you look at the screen from an angle. The other type of panel (the type that is most often found in gaming laptops) is TFT (Thin Film Transistor) which unfortunately tends to shift or wash colors if you view it at an angle.
Many high-end laptops now use 4K displays (generally speaking 3,840×2,160 pixels) that can produce even sharper text and images. Most of them still use the same IPS technology as Full HD panels, but the most expensive ones can be OLED, similar to those we find in high-end smartphones.
Whether your screen is OLED, IPS, or TFT if you intend to use your laptop in a bright environment or outdoors you need to make sure that the panel has a brightness of at least 500 nits.
Finally, many mid to high-end gaming laptops sport a high refresh rate panel (usually 120Hz). However, before you pay extra for that, you’ll need to make sure that the included GPU is powerful enough to push your favorite titles at such frame rates.
Processor: AMD or Intel?
The CPU is a PC’s brain and will be made by AMD or Intel. Intel is by far the most popular manufacturer of CPUs for laptops, although we are seeing an increasing number of AMD-powered machines.
As a rule of thumb, Intel processors offer better performance while AMD processors offer better value.
To make things easier, both Intel and AMD number their CPUs to give you an approximate idea of what kind of tasks each processor can perform.
If you want a cheap laptop for basic use, like surfing the web or watching Netflix, then a device with an Intel Core i3 or an AMD Ryzen 3 CPU is more than enough.
The same applies to Chromebooks. These machines run Google’s Chrome OS, a highly efficient operating system that doesn’t need much computing power to run properly.
If you’re looking for something with a little more power — capable of photo and video editing or playing games — then choose a laptop with an Intel Core i5 or an AMD Ryzen 5 processor.
Even more powerful machines, that can run complex computational jobs, are equipped with an Intel Core i7 or an AMD Ryzen 7 processor. These are top-of-the-line laptops that offer excellent performance regardless of the task at hand but be warned that they are accompanied by a hefty price.
Also, keep in mind that higher CPU model numbers typically indicate a unit with more cores, higher clock speeds, and sometimes even multithreading capability – each core can perform two sets of instructions simultaneously, instead of one.
Another thing to consider is how recent the processor is. A newer processor delivers in general better performance and will be more energy-efficient, thus the battery will last longer.
In fact, laptop CPUs are designed to use less power and generate less heat than their desktop counterparts. For example, Intel’s mobile CPUs typically consume 15 watts of power, compared to 45 watts of equivalent desktop models.
Last but not least, gaming laptops are typically equipped with more powerful CPUs, usually denoted with the letter “H” (both AMD and Intel) in their name. These processors run hotter and consume more power, but offer a performance closer to that of their desktop counterparts.
Do I need a graphics card?
The integrated graphics processor (IGP) built into the CPU is more than enough for most users. But if you’re a gamer, you’ll want a discrete GPU. Even a mid-range graphics card, like Nvidia’s GeForce GTX series, will give you a huge advantage over an IGP when it comes to 3D games — low-end dedicated graphics solutions, like Nvidia’s GeForce MX series, are better than an IGP but are hardly enough for serious games. Hardcore gamers, on the other hand, should only look at laptops equipped with Nvidia’s latest GeForce RTX GPUs.
How much RAM do I need?
System memory (or RAM – Random Access Memory) works in tandem with the CPU to run the various apps and helps define a laptop’s multitasking capabilities. It’s the second most important spec (besides the CPU) to look for. You will want at least 4 GB of RAM for a Windows device, although we recommend at least 8 GB. This will ensure that your PC works well for years to come.
The same goes for Chromebooks; although Chrome OS is designed to require as little resources as possible if you are prone to multitasking 4 Gb might prove limiting.
You can also consider buying a 16 GB laptop if you regularly use high-end editing apps like Adobe Photoshop or Premiere if you’re running 3D projects or working in web and app development. Be aware that there are some laptops that can’t be upgraded (by adding more RAM or a second SSD/HDD), so make sure you buy the model with the amount of RAM (and storage space) that you need.
If you are not a content creator or gamer then you will probably see no benefits from having more than 16 GB of RAM.
How much storage space do I need?
Most laptops are now equipped with a solid-state drive (SSD) instead of the classic hard drive since SSDs are faster than traditional HDDs and they are also immune to shocks and drops that could ruin a traditional rotating disc.
Some models, especially those with larger chassis designed for gaming, come with both types: a small SSD for the operating system and essential apps, plus a larger HDD for storing games. This is a good solution if you’re looking to save some money but need plenty of storage space; the ideal setup, however, is dual-SSD.
The minimum amount of storage is 256 GB. Users with large libraries of videos, photos, music, or games should upgrade to at least 512 GB. If that’s not enough, the most convenient way to go about it is to buy a laptop with a 512 GB SSD and add a second internal SSD yourself (or use an external one).
Do I need a USB-C port?
Yes, you should try to buy a laptop with at least one USB-C port. This is the most future-proof connection — and also gives you the ability to connect to legacy devices via adapters. USB-C can provide data transfer, power, and display connections, while USB-C hubs can greatly extend the number of peripherals you can connect to your device. The good news is that the most recent laptops, even cheap ones, include at least one USB-C port.
For the most demanding users among you, the real answer to this question is that you not only need a USB-C port, but you want one that supports the more powerful Thunderbolt 3 standard. Thunderbolt 3 can transfer up to 40Gb/s via a single cable and support multiple 4K displays and external GPUs. Lucky for you, nowadays, even sub-$1,000 laptops can boast a Thunderbolt 3 port.
How long should the battery last?
Modern laptops are fortunately becoming more and more energy-efficient, which has led to longer battery life. The best among them allows you to work for hours on end without having to resort to a wall outlet. Don’t buy a model with autonomy under five hours!
The only exception to this is gaming laptops; most of them have a really short autonomy (a couple of hours).
Keep in mind that the advertised battery life could be largely exaggerated. That’s because manufacturers test their batteries in controlled environments. Thus, always read online reviews to find out the real autonomy of the model you are about to buy.
Which type of laptop is better for me?
General-purpose laptops: these are cheap devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability, or power. These laptops are a good pick if you are looking for an all-around system that is primarily oriented toward work and productivity.
Chromebooks: these laptops run Chrome OS instead of Windows 10 or macOS. They do everything inside the Chrome browser, while recently they also got support for Android apps – for models equipped with a touchscreen. Chrome OS is not as feature-rich as Windows or macOS, but it is a very simple operating system that offers access to all Google G-Suite apps such as Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar. These devices are very cheap and highly portable.
Ultra-portables: Ultrabooks are ultra-slim and lightweight laptops designed for portability. Combined with powerful internal components and long battery life, the best models are also very expensive. These devices are a good choice for professionals working on the go.
Gaming laptops: these laptops feature dedicated graphics cards and are designed for gamers on the go. They allow you to play AAA titles at higher resolutions and/or framerates. Of course, they also cost much more than a basic laptop.
Hybrid laptops: 2-in-1 devices can be used as both a laptop and a tablet. This obviously makes them very versatile and can also be a great way to save money, since you buy one product instead of two. Some have fixed screens that can be rotated 360 degrees, while others use detachable screens. The main advantage of a detachable screen is portability – in tablet form, they are extremely thin, lightweight, and easy to carry around, while their screen is also perfect for drawing and/or taking notes. Those, on the other hand, with a display that rotates 360 degrees are not as practical as tablets, but tend to work better as laptops, especially when using them on your lap, since they are more stable.
How much do I have to spend on a good laptop?
If you don’t care about cutting-edge design and high-end components, you’ll be happy with a budget laptop. The market is flooded with basic models with list prices below $500. And during Black Friday or right before the start of the school year, you can even find them on offer. Most of them can handle most apps easily, but they will struggle with tasks like editing videos and gaming.
With a budget close to $1,000 you’ll have access to almost all state-of-the-art features such as a slim and robust aluminum chassis, brilliant 4K touchscreen displays, powerful CPUs and GPUs, and batteries that can last a full day. The main caveat in this price range is that you will have to choose very carefully which features are more important to you. For example, you can either choose a high-end processor and a beautiful 4K display, perfect for work, or a high-end GPU paired with a Full HD display with a 120Hz refresh rate ideal for gaming.
If you can spend $2,000 or more, you can pick and choose whichever specs you like more. Even the most expensive laptop, however, must obey the laws of physics. For example, if you want the best GPU money can buy, that graphics card will certainly require a bulky cooling solution, so you can’t expect all that to fit into a slim and lightweight chassis. If on the other, you want the most compact ultrabook, you can’t expect it to also house the most powerful GPU.
How long can a laptop last?
Depending on the price and model, a well-cared-for laptop should last from three to five years. A good ultrabook, a business laptop, or a MacBook are more robust, will last longer, and will have a better performance than a general-purpose laptop that costs $500 or less. Finally, a gaming laptop will feel outdated way sooner, as games become more demanding at a faster pace than all other apps.
Buying a good laptop is an exercise of patience. Today’s ultra-competitive market means that even if you have very specific needs, you can almost certainly find a handful of excellent models that will suit you. Now that you know what to look for, continue reading our list of best laptops that separates the grain from the chaff, thus making your choice so much easier. We update our top picks frequently, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter in order to stay in the loop.
These are the best laptops you can buy today
Apple MacBook Air (M1): best Apple laptop
The new MacBook Air (M1) (Check on Amazon) is the best laptop Apple has ever made and perhaps the best laptop you can buy right now, period. It might look the same, but the newest MacBook Air is very different from the Macs of recent years.
[The “new” MacBook Air, featuring Intel’s CPUs, came out during the first half of 2020 and addressed Apple’s Butterfly keyboard issue. The new Magic Keyboard with scissor switches was a huge improvement over the previous switches. However, in November, Apple announced that its M1 SoC (System On a Chip) would replace Intel’s processors in the new MacBook Air. Using its own chips, Apple promised an operating system with better performance and even longer autonomy – up to 18 hours! Models based on Intel processors will still remain on sale, and no matter what chip it uses, the MacBook Air is a little big Mac starting at (Check on Amazon).]
Similar to the new 13” MacBook Pro (Check on Amazon) and Mac mini (Check on Amazon), the new MacBook Air uses Apple’s SoC, the M1 chip (based on ARM). Despite costing the same, the new processor brings some major benefits to the MacBook Air, which makes it the best Apple laptop so far.
Thanks to the revolutionary chip that powers it, the new MacBook Air is a slim and lightweight laptop that delivers much better performance than its predecessors, even rivaling the 13-inch MacBook Pro — it’s also capable of 4K video editing — while offering incredible battery life.
The old MacBook Air (Intel) was hampered by the slow dual-core processor, chosen on purpose because it didn’t need any fans. Apple’s M1 SoC ticks the same boxes but without sacrificing speed. It is, in fact, an eight-core chip, as powerful as the ones you can find in high-end MacBook Pros. Combined with speedy internal memory, this laptop is extremely fast. But since it doesn’t need fans, it is also silent.
During our testing, the MacBook Air (M1) handled photo and video editing workloads better than almost any other Intel-powered laptop we’ve tested so far. It’s even able to run Shadow of the Tomb Raider at almost playable frame rates, which is a real feat for integrated graphics. And with over 11 hours of battery life, it can easily last a full day on a single charge.
Comfort and usability are also top-notch: the keyboard and trackpad are excellent, it has the perfect size and weight to be easily transportable, and its all-aluminum chassis makes it very durable. What’s more, its super crisp and bright screen is a pleasure to use. You will also get better quality from the webcam (this is the same 720p webcam, but is now clearer and has more accurate colors thanks to new signal processing) and a reasonable amount of memory (the base model comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal memory) – things that weren’t always a given with previous MacBook Airs. Last but not least, the sound is louder than you’d expect from such a small laptop and there is support for Dolby Atmos.
Software-wise, MacOS Big Sur is a stunning redesign of Apple’s operating system, and Cupertino has added both iOS and iPadOS apps to the Mac App Store; therefore the new MacBook Air can now run iPhone’s and iPad’s apps, giving you access to hundreds of awesome mobile games and apps.
Unfortunately, MacBooks remain more expensive than Windows Ultrabooks, especially if you want to upgrade your internal memory; prices for an Apple SSD are so high that we usually recommend our readers to buy an external SSD, or invest in Cloud Storage. And like Windows Ultrabooks, the MacBook Air doesn’t have the processing power to run challenging games.
It’s also unfortunate that it comes equipped with just two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports (one of which will be used for charging the device) and that means you’ll need a USB-C hub, dock, or adapter.
Despite these “flaws”, Apple is closer than ever to creating the perfect Ultrabook. The MacBook Air (M1) is a laptop that balances portability and power without compromises. Not only is this the best Apple laptop, but it forces Windows laptops to watch their back.
In fact, with a starting price of (Check on Amazon), it offers the best value for money among all macOS laptops, while its price is also incredibly competitive compared to rival Windows 10 machines – like the Dell XPS 13 (Check on Amazon); if till now you’ve only ever used a Windows laptop, the MacBook Air (M1) should make you consider switching to macOS. Yes, it really is that good.
Dell XPS 13 (9310): best Windows laptop
No laptop in recent years has been more influential than the Dell XPS 13. It was this device, back in 2015, that started the trend of increasingly thin frames, a fashion that has now spread to every gadget that has a screen. In its latest iteration, Dell took things even further. The XPS 13 boasts an even larger display while shaving the lower bezel. The result is a more spacious screen without having to increase the size of the laptop.
At this point, we doubt the Dell XPS line can take the wrong step. Its annual updates are becoming more impressive and have always made it onto our list of best laptops. Dell has been making incremental improvements to the XPS 13 for so long now that it’s hard to find any flaws.
It’s no wonder then, that the XPS 13 (9310) (Check on Amazon) is the ultimate slim and lightweight laptop; this latest version retains all the things we liked about the previous model, such as the smaller chassis, InfinityEdge frames, and larger keyboard. But this update also brings the new 11th generation Intel Tiger Lake processors – that span from a Core i3-1154G4 to a Core i7-1165G7 – and a host of long-promised features, including Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6.
In our tests these processors easily beat their 10th generation predecessors (Intel Ice Lake) in both gaming and multimedia apps: in Geekbench 5, for example, the score of the new XPS 13 rose by about 10% over the previous model; it’s not a big jump, but it’s still the best in the category. And with the new integrated Intel Iris Xe GPU, you can even play certain AAA titles – albeit in low settings. The autonomy, on the other hand, got shorter by a full hour – compared to the XPS 13 (9300) (Check on Amazon).
It also only sports just two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports. We hoped Dell would had equipped it with a USB-A port as well, but at least it comes with a USB-C adapter in the box, and if you need more ports you can always get a USB-C hub or dock.
In summary, if you want a beautiful, powerful, and durable Windows laptop, it’s hard to find a better one than the XPS 13, since it already offers everything that matters: it sports a beautiful, sleek, lightweight, and compact frame, a breathtaking 16:10 display, a one-day autonomy, a great keyboard, a reliable trackpad, and excellent performance. And using the new state-of-the-art Intel Tiger Lake processors helps the XPS 13 (9310) uphold its status as the champion of the Ultraportables!
Just like its predecessor, it’s expensive (Check on Amazon), but XPS has earned its place as a premium brand and that’s not enough reason to discourage all you Ultrabook fans. Ultimately, this is one of the best laptops of 2021 and worth every penny.
Dell XPS 13 (9300): a valid alternative
The Dell XPS 13 (Check on Amazon) is a true workhorse. It is solidly built and is powered by a 10th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, that can easily handle multitasking. And with an autonomy of up to 12 hours, you’ll have plenty of time to finish your work.
In addition, this ultrabook is as beautiful as it is powerful. The company managed to create a smaller, lighter laptop than previous models. Despite its small size, Dell added some major changes, including a 17% bigger trackpad and an “Edge-to-Edge” keyboard. And you also get a 16:10 “Infinity Edge” display, with virtually no frames.
The display is what you’ll probably notice first. It has a screen-to-body ratio of 91.5% and a lower bezel that measures just 4.6mm. You can configure your XPS with an FHD+ display (1,920×1,200 pixels) or a 4K one. Both have a brightness of up to 500 nits (enough to work in a bright room or outdoors) and show accurate, vibrant colors.
The basic model features an Intel Core i5-1035G1, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and an FHD+ display. (We have also found a model sporting an Intel Core i3 and 4GB of RAM, but it’s not listed on Dell’s website so you should avoid it).
The new Ice Lake processors come with the new Intel Iris Plus integrated GPU, that delivers exceptional performance – for an integrated GPU that is. You’ll still need a discreet graphics card for serious gaming, but you’ll have no problem playing titles like Overwatch and Rocket League.
The biggest drawback here is the XPS’s selection of ports. With only two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a headphone jack, and a MicroSD slot, it follows on MacBook’s steps (though it includes a USB-C to USB-A dongle). The 720p webcam is pretty terrible too, however, Dell had to fit this thing into a frame just 2.25mm thick!
If you want the best Windows laptop, this is it. And if you want a bigger screen and more graphics power take a look at the Dell XPS 15 (Check on Amazon).
Acer Swift 3: best budget laptop
Once you go beyond the modest exterior appearance of the Acer Swift 3, you’ll find an excellent laptop that boasts all the power needed for work and study. Swift 3 is a cheap laptop; however, its simple chassis is entirely made of aluminum and it is equipped with high-end components.
Especially the version boasting the AMD Ryzen 7 4700U processor and Radeon graphics, ends up surprisingly close, in terms of performance, to the much more expensive Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, MacBook Pro 13, and Dell XPS 13. And it does so for (Check on Amazon). Of course, there are several configurations available, so you can adapt them to your budget.
This laptop is also very comfortable to use, with its large trackpad and backlit keyboard. If you write a lot on your laptop, this is one of the best you can buy. In addition, it is incredibly lightweight — under 3lb — has an autonomy of more than 11 hours, and comes equipped with a fingerprint reader and a Type-C USB port.
Its only flaw is the display that isn’t as bright as we’d like.
Apple MacBook Pro 16″: the best MacBook yet
Apple decided to eliminate the 15-inch MacBook Pro from its lineup; however, the new 16″ MacBook Pro (Check on Amazon) is just 9mm wider and still manages to keep its weight under 4.5lb.
The 2019 MacBook Pro is the MacBook with the best keyboard yet. The new Magic Keyboard uses scissor switches, rather than Apple’s ridiculous butterfly ones, and the result is a much more reliable and comfortable typing experience. This device also features a bright, crisp 16-inch display with even thinner bezels and powerful performance thanks to the Intel Core i9 processor and solid AMD Radeon 5300M/5500M graphics cards.
Add to that up to 64GB of RAM and up to 8TB of internal memory! Only the Dell XPS 15 (Check on Amazon), which can be equipped with a 4K OLED screen and an even more powerful Nvidia GPU can beat the MacBook Pro on raw specs.
In addition, the display (3,072×1,920 pixels, 226dpi) is perfect for photo editing thanks to its 16:10 aspect ratio that offers more vertical space and a wide range of the most accurate colors you can get in a laptop (100% sRGB, 91% AdobeRGB, and support for the DCI-P3 color standard).
Finally, it also boasts the best speakers we’ve ever seen on a laptop. Apple managed to cram three speakers per side, including two woofers. The result is a balanced sound with audible bass and great stereo separation.
The fact that the system runs the latest version of macOS, Catalina, which offers a plethora of exclusive quality apps, adds a layer of polish that most Windows 10 competitors do not have. And its 11 hours of battery life is another benefit that most Windows systems can’t match.
The MacBook Pro 16″ is expensive, and Apple still doesn’t include full-size USB ports, but overall this is the best laptop for content creators, designers, and other creative professionals.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro (Check on Amazon) costs less, but since it doesn’t come with a dedicated GPU, it can’t be seen as a real alternative.
LG Gram 17 (2021): the lightest 17-inch laptop
We didn’t really think LG could improve on the Gram 17, but it managed to pull it off. The new Gram 17 (2021) (Check on Amazon) once again sports an incredibly lightweight design and comes equipped with some of the best mobile technologies in the world. It’s a streamlined, good-looking machine that boasts a huge 17-inch screen but somehow weighs less than 3 lb (2.97 pounds to be exact, as do most 13.3” devices), and this, along with its small size (15×10.2×0.7 inches) make it incredibly portable.
However, the weight is not its only outstanding feature. It also boasts the best battery life you can get – it easily lasts about 12 hours on a single charge, about two hours longer than its predecessor. What’s more, the 2021 update with Intel’s Tiger Lake processors (11th generation) and Iris Xe graphics — which deliver a dramatic boost in performance and can handle almost any activity — make this one of the best big-screen laptops you can buy today.
The 17″ IPS display (16:10 aspect ratio) remains the star of the show, covering more than 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut with excellent accuracy, while the polarizing layer helps reduce reflections when outdoors.
Add to all this the great keyboard (with numeric keypad), the improved trackpad (our main complaint with the previous model), a solid selection of ports (including two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C), silent fans and, for a laptop, also good sound, and there is very little not to like about this device.
Of course, not everyone needs a 17-inch display, and the people who do are looking for a heavier workstation that probably won’t be moved very often. But if you like having a big screen to carry around at school and work, you’re the target demographic for this machine. It’s a niche device, but very impressive and without much competition on the market.
It’s expensive (Check on Amazon) and its design is a bit simple but it’s worth it if you want the power and portability of an Ultrabook but also need a bigger screen.
And if you want something slightly smaller and cheaper, LG also launched the Gram 16 (Check on Amazon) in 2021!
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4: best Windows laptop for productivity
While Apple surprised us with the new MacBook Air (M1) (Check on Amazon), arch-rival Microsoft also impressed us with its new Surface Laptop 4 (Check on Amazon). As with previous Surface devices, the build quality and design are absolutely top-notch, while its stunning, bright, and colorful PixelSense touchscreen really sets it apart from the competition.
The Surface Laptop 4 shows that small tweaks are sometimes all you need to perfect an otherwise solid product. In fact, our biggest complaints with the previous model, the Surface Laptop 3 (Check on Amazon), regarding its performance and autonomy, were addressed with the advent of the new chips.
The Surface Laptop 4 is available in two sizes, 13″ and 15″, and with two different processors: from AMD or Intel. Both are fine for everyday tasks but if you’re hoping to do some light video editing or gaming, we suggest the Ryzen. The real improvement is battery life, though. In our tests, this laptop easily lasted for a whole day.
It also comes equipped with an excellent keyboard and touchpad, which is a pleasure to use, and runs a clean installation of Windows 10 with no bloatware. The only complaint we have is with its connectivity options since Microsoft insists on a single USB-C port along with an old-fashioned USB-A port.
It may not be as flashy as the hybrid design of previous models that made the Surface brand famous, but the new Laptop 4 (Check on Amazon) is all a laptop should be: slim and lightweight, and boasting an excellent screen and keyboard.
Dell XPS 15: best 15-inch laptop
The new Dell XPS 15 (Check on Amazon) (model number “9500”, to distinguish it from the older “7590”) continues to sit atop the throne, with minor modifications tantamount to major upgrades. The company managed to make this device 5.5% smaller (it weighs just 4lb) than the previous model while making both the keyboard and touchpad significantly larger.
And while the new InfinityEdge bezels (for an incredible 92.9% screen to body ratio) might seem like a minor upgrade, they make it possible for Dell to equip this device with one of the best 4K 16:10 screens we have ever seen on a laptop (you can choose between a stunning OLED display or a touch-screen LED one).
It has a higher resolution than Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro (Check on Amazon) while also supporting 100% of the AdobeRGB color standard. On the other hand, it can only handle 94% of the DCI-P3 standard, so the MacBook Pro still has the advantage when it comes to professional-grade video editing.
The internal specs of this ultrabook are just as exciting. It comes equipped with a 10th-generation Intel CPU paired with an Nvidia GPU. These specifications are excessive for most people but are ideal for anyone who needs to edit videos or do other heavy creative work with Adobe Premiere.
It also features a fast SSD and has excellent audio due to its powerful quad-speakers. It can also last for an average of 8 hours which is good for a 4K display.
The XPS 15 is not a gaming laptop, but the GTX 1650 Ti can handle most games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider or The Witcher 3 at medium settings and 1080p resolution.
If you’re looking for a big premium Windows laptop this is the best.
Google Pixelbook Go: best Chromebook
The Pixelbook Go (Check on Amazon) is the best Chromebook right now, with Google showing all other manufacturers how it’s done. The previous Pixelbook was also brilliant in its own way but cost a small fortune.
Most Chromebooks, in fact, are known as cheap alternatives to Windows laptops. The Pixelbook Go, though, wants to be a true alternative to Windows and Mac notebooks.
This is an affordable Chromebook that retains plenty of the premium features of its predecessor, while adding some brilliant upgrades, including a truly fantastic keyboard. And thanks to its ultralight weight (just over 2lb) and amazing battery life (more than 10 hours), it’s a great option for students and people who take their work with them.
It also features impressive specs – for a Chromebook -, putting Chrome OS performance on par with that of the more expensive laptops from Microsoft and Apple.
You’ll have to deal with the usual limitations of Chrome OS that doesn’t run normal Windows apps. On the other hand with the inclusion of the Google Play Store, you can now fill in some of the software gaps using a multitude of Android apps. The Pixelbook Go is also stingy on ports and doesn’t fold into tablet mode.
If you’re looking for the perfect Chromebook, then look no further than the Pixelbook Go.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet: best 2-in-1 Chromebook
If you’re on a tight budget and you need a basic laptop for work on the go, then the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is perfect for you.
It is a great 10-inch convertible laptop (2-in-1), sporting a keyboard and a kickstand. Its MediaTek processor is not capable of processing heavier loads, but it is perfect for web browsing, office work, Netflix, Android games, and even lightweight photo editing applications.
It’s also built specifically to bring with you everywhere: it weighs just 2,03lbs and its battery lasts well over the 10-hour average of other Chromebooks.
In addition, it features Chrome OS’s new “Tablet Mode”, which supports an Android-inspired gesture navigation system and a unique layout optimized for use as a tablet.
Its true selling point is the price. At (Check on Amazon) it costs hundreds of dollars less than a comparable Windows 10 laptop. It is for all intents and purposes a Chrome version of the Microsoft Surface Go (Check on Amazon). Unlike the Go, however, the Duet comes with a keyboard, despite costing far less.
Ultimately, this is a fantastic first laptop for children and a solid secondary device for more advanced users. Our only concern is its small screen, thus if you intend to use it regularly on your desk, we recommend connecting it to an external monitor (via the USB-C port). You’ll also need a wireless keyboard and mouse.
Asus ZenBook Duo 14 (2021): best dual-screen laptop
The 2021 edition of Asus ZenBook Duo 14 (Check on Amazon) enhances the previous model with a thinner built, more powerful new components, and useful features, even though it still comes down to certain trade-offs due to its unique design.
If all you’ve ever wanted from your slim and lightweight laptop was more screen real estate, your wish has come true. The Asus ZenBook Duo 14 is for those who want a second display but do not wish to use an external monitor. The 12.6-inch secondary touchscreen positioned above the keyboard behaves as an external monitor would, but it is embedded in the laptop’s body. It can function as an extension towards the bottom of the 14-inch main display, or as a secondary monitor where you can place anything you like, from Photoshop’s dialog boxes to Spotify playlists, to social media feeds or any other app that would normally be buried behind what you’re working on.
If this is not enough, it is also enabled for use with a digital stylus (included in the package) so that you can write and draw on it. In addition, Asus’s ScreenXpert software lets you turn it into a giant touchpad, a numeric keypad, or even a collection of tools for creative apps like Adobe Creative Cloud.
But the improvements don’t end there: equipped with the latest 11th generation Intel Core processors, the ZenBook Duo 14 gives you much more power under the hood — its performance is on par with the Dell XPS 13 (Check on Amazon) – although gamers will need more raw power in the GPU department. Last but not least, its battery life is very long, especially when you realize that it has two screens to power.
The only drawback is that the keyboard is small and the touchpad is pushed to the right, thus, without a wrist rest, the ZenBook Duo 14 is ergonomically uncomfortable. But with a wrist rest, the experience improves a lot.
For creative professionals, this is one of the best laptops around. For everyone else, you can probably find a better one, since, let’s be honest, the price is exaggerated if you don’t intend to take advantage of the second screen on a regular basis.
Dell XPS 17: best 17-inch laptop
It weighs 4.65 pounds, almost twice the weight of a standard notebook, but that’s justified by its unparalleled performance. It is a desktop workstation crammed inside the body of a laptop. The XPS 17 scored record points on our video editing and gaming benchmarks while its outstanding 97Wh battery lasted almost for a full day.
Its huge 17″ display has a 4K resolution (3840×2400 pixels) that allows you to work comfortably with multiple tabs and apps, offers almost perfect color reproduction, and is also bright enough to be used outdoors. Even more impressive, despite the 17″ panel, the size of its chassis is smaller than most 15″ laptops, thanks to its tiny frames!
Inside, we find the new 10th generation Intel Core H-series processors combined with a discrete Nvidia GeForce GPU and fast SSD. Luckily, Dell’s updated cooling system, which includes a new vapor chamber, can keep temperatures under control. It also features four Thunderbolt 3 ports and an SD card slot to transfer photos and videos directly from your camera.
If you’re looking for a Windows competitor to the 16-inch MacBook Pro (Check on Amazon), you’ve found it. The Dell XPS 17 can handle any productivity, creativity, and multimedia workload.
LG Gram 17: a valid alternative
You will not find another 17-inch laptop that’s so light (2.95 pounds, less than many 13-inch laptops) and with such a long autonomy (about 12 hours, one more than last year’s model) as the new 2020 version of the LG Gram 17 (Check on Amazon). The performance also improved, thanks to the addition of a 10th generation (Ice Lake) Intel Core processor. This CPU is equipped with the more powerful Iris Plus integrated graphics, which offers a little more speed in the photo and video editing applications, and is also capable of some light gaming. Last but not least it comes equipped with a whole lot of RAM and fast SSD storage.
Built quality is unparalleled and everything from the metal alloy finish to the backlit keys seems well thought out. The Gram 17 also sports a surprisingly robust selection of ports, for such a thin device, including a Thunderbolt 3, two Type-A USB 3.0, an HDMI, a microSD slot, and a headphone jack.
The only concern is the size of the otherwise fantastic 17-inch screen that you may have trouble fitting into bags and backpacks, and which can be inconvenient to use on trains and planes. It’s also quite expensive, and if you absolutely don’t need a 17-inch model, you can get the same performance and even more portability with a smaller screen laptop for a lot less money.
But if you need a big display, you cannot find a better laptop than the LG Gram 17.
Apple MacBook Pro 13″ (M1): best MacBook for most people
Welcome to a new era of Apple computing. The M1 SoC (System On a Chip) marks the first step in decoupling Apple from Intel. This ARM-based 5-nanometer chip has an eight-core CPU with integrated graphics consisting of 16 billion transistors – the maximum that the company ever managed to cram into a chip. The M1 also features a unified memory architecture, an improved image signal processor, and Apple’s Neural Engine and Secure Enclave. The result is a much faster and way more powerful laptop.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 (Check on Amazon) delivers outstanding performance and the longest battery life we’ve ever seen on a MacBook. If that wasn’t enough, coupled with Big Sur, it offers faster web page load times and a better webcam experience, all thanks to the new SoC. In short, the new MacBook Pro 13” is everything that Apple promised.
The MacBook Pro 13” has a slightly different design and appearance than the MacBook Air (Check on Amazon) even though both devices use the same processor. The main difference is that the Pro also includes a fan (the Air doesn’t have one), which means it can withstand heavy workloads for a longer period of time without having to limit its performance. You won’t notice the difference or hear the fan spinning in everyday use, but for intensive tasks like video editing, the MacBook Pro is significantly faster than the MacBook Air.
However, the differences do not stop here. The 13” MacBook Pro beats the Air on battery life – almost 2 hours more autonomy – and boasts the fantastic Magic Keyboard, which allows for comfortable and responsive typing, as well as the additional functions of the Touch Bar. Last but not least, its Retina display is even brighter.
There are, of course, some compromises when compared to its bigger sibling, the 16-inch MacBook Pro (Check on Amazon). First and foremost the obvious larger screen of the latter. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is also configurable with more RAM and internal memory, and offers 4 USB-C ports; the 13” model only has two. On the other hand, the MacBook Pro 13 M1 boasts almost twice the battery life of its Intel-powered sibling, and this makes a huge difference for on-the-go professionals. This is the first MacBook Pro that can really last for a full day on a single charge.
All in all, it’s amazing to see how Apple’s SoC has revolutionized the performance of older Intel MacBooks (Check on Amazon). And all this adds up to why the 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 (Check on Amazon) is the best Apple laptop for most people.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14: best gaming laptop
Asus steps up its efforts when it comes to gaming laptops. Case in point, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (Check on Amazon). Powered by the powerful new AMD Ryzen 4000 processors, this notebook is a multitasking beast. However, since it also boasts an Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, it is considered a gaming laptop.
In addition to the specifications listed above, the ROG Zephyrus G14 is also equipped with a lightning-fast SSD, a bright 14-inch 120Hz display, a comfortable keyboard, powerful speakers and is enclosed in a stunning chassis made of magnesium alloy that is among the thinnest and lightest (3.7lb) in the gaming sector.
But where the Zephyrus G14 really shines is in autonomy. Its battery easily lasts twice as long as other gaming laptops (8 hours vs. 4). And the best part is that you’re getting all this without having to take out a loan.
The Asus Zephyrus G14 isn’t perfect; it is missing a webcam and a Thunderbolt 3 port. However, its CPU and GPU performance and epic autonomy make it not only the best gaming laptop but also one of the best laptops ever, full stop.
HP Envy x360: best mid-range laptop
You don’t need to spend $1,000 to get a laptop that looks and feels premium. The 2020 HP Envy x360 (Check on Amazon) is one of the best mid-range laptops you can buy right now, thanks to its sturdy, compact construction, convertible (2 in 1) design, and excellent performance.
Part of what makes the Envy so great is that it inherits a number of high-end features from HP’s flagship laptop – the Spectre x360 (Check on Amazon) – including its slim, lightweight chassis and beautiful bezel-less display, for a screen to body ratio of 88%.
Thanks to its premium built and sleek design, this laptop is much thinner than you might expect, which is great for when using it in tablet mode. In addition, its touchscreen display – which supports HP’s MPP2.0 pen (Check on Amazon) – is crisp and colorful, while you can choose between a 250, 300, 400, or even 1,000 nit panel.
In addition, HP managed to squeeze a full-sized keyboard into a 13/15-inch chassis and found room for an extra row of convenient hotkeys, including activation/deactivation switches for the microphone and webcam. Moreover, the speakers sound great for such a small device, and it’s also equipped with all the ports and connections you’ll need.
However, the real showstopper is AMD’s new Ryzen 4000 series processors that deliver never-before-seen performance at sub $1,000 prices. They have no difficulty powering through particularly heavy multitasking workloads, while the integrated graphics provide a solid gaming performance, comparable to that of low-end discrete GPUs. And despite all that power, this device can still achieve almost 9 hours of autonomy and can charge from 0 to 100% in about an hour!
The only curious decision here is that HP opted for an SSD and not a hybrid hard drive – like the ASUS VivoBook (Check on Amazon) does – which seems more appropriate for a laptop that can double as a light gaming device.
If you want the best mid-range laptop (especially for a student), there’s no better option than the HP Envy x360!
HP Elite Dragonfly: best business laptop
The HP Elite Dragonfly (Check on Amazon) is, simply put, one of the sleekest and thinnest notebooks (just 0.6 inches thick) you can buy, and it’s also packed with brilliant features and powerful components.
Business notebooks bear the stigma of being cumbersome, unappealing, and full of bloatware. But that’s not always the case, and although the HP Elite Dragonfly is primarily aimed at businessmen, its beautiful design and stunning screen make it one of the best laptops for anyone who can afford it. Battery life is excellent (more than 10 hours), the keyboard is a joy to use, and is even one of the first 5G-enabled ultrabooks.
The 2020 model is also the first Dragonfly featuring HP’s Sure View Reflect technology, which tints the screen so nosy people can’t see what you’re doing while working in public.
The Dragonfly is also the first laptop with an integrated Tile tracker. This means that if you misplace your device, you can use the Tile smartphone app to trigger an alarm (if it’s still in Bluetooth range) or locate it anywhere in the world using Tile’s network. The tracker can even function for a certain period even after the laptop is turned off.
The ideal user of the Dragonfly is someone who takes their work on the road, whether it’s long flights or short train and subway trips. This is where the Dragonfly really comes to life as a highly portable notebook (a 2 in 1 laptop weighing just over 2,5lb).
It’s a splurge but easily one of the best laptops of 2021.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3: best laptop for most people
With the third iteration of the Surface Laptop (Check on Amazon), Microsoft has created its best notebook yet. While not a huge leap forward compared to its predecessor, the Surface Laptop 3 improves on almost every aspect.
It features an exceptional keyboard and touchpad, as well as a sturdy and attractive aluminum chassis that is quite portable. It also boasts great performance and a fast SSD. You also get a gorgeous display. Best of all, you can now choose between Intel or AMD hardware – previously, you were forced to go with Intel.
The 13 (Check on Amazon) and 15-inch (Check on Amazon) Surface Laptop 3 come very close to the 2020 Dell XPS 13 (Check on Amazon) and XPS 15 (Check on Amazon) models as the best laptops for productivity and casual gaming. So why aren’t they higher on this list?
Their mediocre autonomy and absurd exclusion of a Thunderbolt 3 port (they sport a USB-C and a USB-A port) are big enough drawbacks to make them lose the top spot, but for the rest, these are some of the best ultrabooks in the world right now, especially if you’re a fan of Microsoft’s laptops.
Razer Blade 15: best all-rounder
Looking at it from afar you might not notice that the Razer Blade is a gaming laptop. It’s as light and slim as a MacBook Pro (Check on Amazon), with the same excellent build quality, featuring a world-class keyboard and touchpad, a bright, vivid display with thin bezels in addition to the hyper premium interior components and Razer’s signature backlighting system.
The Blade 15 (Check on Amazon) is one of the best 15-inch notebooks for creative work. The fact that it also allows you to game at respectable framerates makes it a sort of a miracle.
The Razer Blade was able to carry out any task from photo to video editing – as long as it wasn’t 4K – and played almost every game (from Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey to Battlefield V) with max settings.
This is the most stylish and beautiful gaming laptop we’ve ever seen. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (Check on Amazon) makes more sense, but if we had the money, we would buy the Blade 15.