Which is the best laptop that you can get for yourself? There are just so many of them. Picking the best from the available options is never a simple task. There is the sleek business notebook, a powerful gaming laptop, an affordable college laptop, and the lovable Chromebook. We know the sheer number of available options can be overwhelming, but with this list, we’ll try to narrow down to the absolute best in every category.
In this handy-guide, we provide insights into your prospective systems to help you make the decision before you commit those dollars. We provide advice on choosing the best screen size, choosing between SSD and HDD, the latest hardware and components (whether they are worth the price or not), and insider advice on where to score the best prices on laptops. Overall, we provide some essential tips to finding the right system for your needs.
Over the course of the year, we review over 130 laptops covering every niche and price points. Whether you’re in the market for a productivity workhorse, a renegade gaming system, or a reeling multimedia device to sit back and enjoy a movie, in this short list you’ll certainly find a match.
For a machine to make it to our Best Laptop of 2021 list, the system should have a score of at least 4 out of 5 starts on reviews and offer the features that shoppers care about most. In our selection, we emphasize on design, comfort, performance, battery life, keyboard and touchpad, display quality and overall value.
Which is the best laptop right now?
The Dell XPS 13 is our all-time favorite – for Windows laptops. This new model is powered by an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, making it a perfect choice for work, play and enthusiast content creation. Plus, it rocks a bright, vivid display that’s great for binge watching movies. Also, its thin and light profile make it an ideal laptop for mobile professionals who need something to use on the go.
Apart from the XPS 13, early into 2021 we’ve seen some impressive Windows 10 laptops, so if you Windows 10, or want something affordable like a Chromebook, there are plenty of options to explore.
For the Apple fans, 2021 brings new must-haves in the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air M1 laptops. The new ARM-based chips manage to offer best in class performance, along with unprecedented slim and light design, and a reasonably affordable price tag as well.
So, let’s get right into it. Our latest and greatest laptops are drawn from the likes of Acer, Apple, Dell, HP and Lenovo, our best laptops guide will surely have a perfect device for your needs. Here are our top laptop picks.
The best laptops you can buy today
1. Dell XPS 13 (2020)
The best Windows laptop in the market
Specs – CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD | Display: 13.4-inch, 1200 | Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Fast performance
- Lovable, premium design
- Great battery life
- Lackluster audio
When you want to see what it truly means to have a great laptop, look no further than the Dell XPS 13 (2020). What you get on Dell’s latest offering is one of Intel’s new Tiger Lake processor, a smaller frame and an exciting InfinityEdge bezels on the bright 13-inch display.
This new refresh brings on board some enticing features, including a more powerful CPU, better graphics performance and longer battery life. Yu also get Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6, something we’ve not seen before at this price point.
The new Intel Iris Xe GPU will let you play certain AAA games on an integrated graphics card, albeit on low settings. Performance on about everything else is top-notch, and the XPS 13’s battery life surpasses Intel’s new Evo standards by around two hours.
For anyone looking for a laptop that’s well balanced on beauty, power and longevity, the Dell XPS 13 (2020) is the best laptop around.
2. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
The best MacBook money can buy
Specs – CPU: Apple M1 | GPU: Apple M1 GPU | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB | Display: 13.3-inches, 1600 | Size: 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3 pounds
- Stellar overall performance
- Excellent battery life
- Super-fast SSD
- Thick screen bezels
- Limited ports
Apple’s new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is the best laptop money can buy right now. It is the first time a MacBook tops our best laptop list, but the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) deserves this award. It features the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M1 chip that powers the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (Apple has ditched Intel chips for all its new laptops), a remarkable achievement going forward.
The result is a thin and light laptop that packs great all-round performance, allowing users to edit even 4K videos, while at the same time offering incredible battery life. The Apple Air doesn’t struggle to clock over 11 hours on a single charge, making it a laptop that you can carry around on a cross country business flight, a day at the work or college.
Its price is very competitive compared to Windows 10 rivals like the Dell XPS 13; and, it can run both new and old Mac apps, as well as iOS apps for iPhone and iPads. Even if you’re coming from a Windows 10 laptop, the Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is well worth getting and making the switch to macOS.
3. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
The best gaming laptop in 2021
Specs – CPU: AMD 4th Generation Ryzen 9 3.0 GHz 8 Core – 16 Thread Processor| Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q w/ 6 GB GDDR6| RAM: 24GB 2666MHz| Screen: 14″ FHD 120Hz IPS-Level Display | Storage: 2 TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD
- Solid AMD and Nvidia performance
- Class-leading battery life
- Sleek, ultra-thin design
- No webcam
- No Thunderbolt 3
The Asus Zephyrus G14 may not be perfect (lacking a webcam and a Thunderbolt 3 port), but it’s an absolute beast, garnering our coveted five-star rating, something that makes it one of the best laptops in 2021, and our Editors’ Choice gaming laptop overall.
This is a competition killer, delivering incredible performance thanks to its AMD Ryzen 4000 processors and Nvidia’s RTX 2060 graphics card while boasting best-in-class battery life, that can last all day. In addition to these niceties, it adds a display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a premium, ultra-thin design.
The best part is that you’re getting the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 at an affordable price that won’t create a home in your wallet. Don’t get us wrong, it isn’t cheap, but for the components it packs, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 represents killer value.
4. Acer Swift 3 (2020, AMD Ryzen 7-4700U)
The best budget laptop in the market
Specs – CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4700U | GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.7 x. 8.6 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.7 pounds
- Excellent keyboard and trackpad
- Superb performance
- Reasonable price
- Middling exterior design
Beyond the Acer Swift 3’s simple exterior, the internals represent an excellent laptop that delivers unlimited power for work and study. The Acer Swift 3 (AMD model) is an inexpensive laptop, with a plain chassis – though all-aluminum, packs a solid feature set for the money you’re paying.
Performance-wise, this laptop comes really close to far more expensive laptops, including the MacBook Air and the Dell XPS, though its display is a little low-res, but it still looks bright and has good color quality.
The Acer Swift 3 is incredible to use, has a roomy trackpad and the backlit keyboard offers a comfortable typing experience with decent key travel. If you’re going to be writing a lot – whether travelling or at the office. This is one of the best budget laptops 2021 has to offer.
Read our full Acer Swift 3 (2020) Review
5. Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA
Still one of the best ultraportables
Specs – CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB M.2 PCI 3.0 SSD | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 11.9 x 8 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds
- Sleek, lightweight design
- Powerful overall and gaming performance
- Excellent battery life
- No headphone jack
The Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA threads on the thin line between business and premium. It’s a gadget of beauty, rocking the looks of Asus’ top-tier models with all the durability and security features in place, especially those available on the ExpertBook, the company’s new business laptops line.
In addition to the sleek design and looks, you get the added muscle of Intel’s new 11th Gen chips and all the features Intel’s Evo initiative brings, top in the list being over 13 hours of battery life. And you can get away with gameplay at low settings.
The new Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA easily triumphs over its competitors, some priced almost double, making it a handy machine for work and play. Plus, it’s one of the few laptops to boast a good integrated webcam thanks to a new camera module and Asus’ camera algorithm.
Read our full Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA Review
6. HP Envy x360 13 (2020)
The best convertible laptop around
Specs – CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U | GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 2.9 pounds
- Stellar performance
- Long battery life
- Slim and sleek for a 2-in-1
- Mediocre gaming performance
The new HP Envy x360 is much leaner than you expected, it is a very thin 2-in-1, and that works in your favor when using it in laptop mode. Apart from the svelte design, performance is another compelling reason why the Envy x360 is worth considering when looking around for the best laptops, especially in the 2-in-1 form factor.
This time around, HP smartly opted for AMD’s new 4000-series CPU, which deliver real performance muscle for just under one grand. It has a decent selection of ports, a bright, vivid display and a luxurious aluminum chassis. Whether you’re a student looking for the best college laptop or just looking for portable 13-inch laptop, you can’t get a better option than the HP Envy x360 13.
7. Alienware m17 R4
All the power you need…plus some more
Specs – CPU: Intel Core i9-10980H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 | RAM: 32GB | Storage: dual 1TB PCI m.2 SSDs | Display: 17.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 15.7 x 11.6 x 0.7~0.9 inches | Weight: 6.6 pounds
- Excellent gaming and graphics performance
- Splendid, customizable keyboard
- Super-bright display, with high refresh rate
- Poor battery life
- Quite expensive
The Alienware m17 R4 delivers out more power than you can handle. It rocks Nvidia’s latest RTX 3080 GPU with its ridiculous 16GB VRAM that will tear through any game you throw at it. Ans the 10th generation Intel Core i9 processor makes light of your work and multitasking loads. All these functions are executed on a splendid display with a 360Hz refresh rate and high-quality color reproduction.
Currently, the RTX 3080 is the new king of mobile graphics, and it brings along a host of new improvements, including Ray Tracing 2.0 and Advanced Optimus. To match the RTX 30 series, Alienware improved its Cryo-Tech cooling solution and this is the first laptop to feature a display with a 300Hz refresh rate.
Add some updated ports and an overclockable Intel Core i9 processor to the Alienware m17 R4 and you’ve got a formidable beast cut for pro-gamers and professional creatives.
8. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook
The best affordable Chromebook
Specs – CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T | GPU: ARM G72 MP3 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Display: 10.1-inch, 1200p | Size: 9.6 x 6.7 x 0.7 | Weight: 2 pounds
- Lightweight and portable
- Long battery life
- Very affordable
- Tiny keyboard and middling trackpad
- No headphone jack
We’re used to Lenovo’s best business laptops, but the company’s little know Chromebooks are some of the best around as well. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook just proves how good these Chrome OS-powered laptops really are. You can use it as a laptop or a tablet, and it packs some very impressive specs around.
Is this a Chromebook or a tablet? Well, you may never have t decide with the awesome Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook. True to its name, it delivers two form factors in one, while making use of the versatility of Chrome OS and setting you back much less than even the most affordable Windows tablets in the market.
Which One – Windows, Mac Or A Chromebook?
It all depends on what you want to do with that machine, and the kind of tasks that are important to you. For that, we advise that you first identify the tasks at hand, any available programs/apps that you’ll be using on your device, then identify compatibility.
Chances are that if you’re sticking to the sub-$1,000 price range, you won’t get a Mac, unless you’re willing to do with an older model. That leaves a choice of Windows and Chrome OS, and in that case, it gets down to the question of what software you need to run.
If you need a wider selection of software across various categories, Windows is your best bet. However, if all you need to is browse the web, run simple productivity apps and leverage Android equivalents, the Chrome OS is a safe buy.