The best laptop of 2021: The best recommendations for every kind of user and every price range
Greetings and welcome to our selection of the finest laptops available for purchase in 2021. Everything on this page has been hand-picked and extensively tested by us to guarantee that they reflect the absolute best of the best in their respective categories.
So, what is the greatest laptop for the year 2021 in terms of overall performance? In our opinion, the MacBook Air is still the best laptop available (M1, 2020). Despite being released last year, it has yet to be surpassed in terms of design, performance, value, and battery life.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something cheaper, the Acer Swift 3 is our top pick for the best budget laptop you can purchase right now since it strikes the ideal mix between cost and performance.
It doesn’t matter how much money you have to spend or what type of laptop you want; we have the best notebooks for you, ranging from low-cost Chromebooks to powerful gaming laptops and everything in between.
Looking for guidance on what to look for when purchasing the finest laptop for your requirements? Check out our guide on what to look for when purchasing a new laptop at the bottom of this page for more in-depth information on purchasing a laptop.
1. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
In addition to being the greatest laptop Apple has ever produced, the new Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) also happens to be the best notebook money can buy right now. This is the first time a MacBook has taken the top position in our list, but the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is deserving of this distinction. This is a remarkable achievement, made possible by the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M1 chip that powers the new MacBook Air (Apple has ditched Intel for these new laptops). The result is a thin and light laptop that provides excellent performance, even when editing 4K video, while also providing incredible battery life.
With a battery life of up to 11 hours on a single charge, this is a laptop that you can easily take with you to work or school, and its pricing is very reasonable compared to Windows 10 competitors such as the Dell XPS 15. (below). The new MacBook Air is capable of running both new and old Mac programs. It can now run iOS applications for iPhones and iPads, giving it access to hundreds of fantastic mobile applications and games.
You should consider purchasing the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) even if you’ve only ever used Windows laptops in the past. The transition to macOS will be a smooth one. Yes, it is that wonderful. I promise you that. Before making a purchase, be sure to compare all of the top MacBook Air discounts and offers currently available.
2. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
While Apple wowed us with its new MacBook Air (seen above), Microsoft’s archrival astonished us with its new Surface Laptop 4, which we immediately ranked as the second-best laptop on the market. In the same vein as past Surface products, the build quality and design are absolutely first-rate, and the stunning PixelSense touchscreen truly sets it apart from the competition (a touchscreen is something we have yet to see on an Apple laptop, as Microsoft loves to point out).
It also comes with an excellent keyboard that is a pleasure to type on, as well as some excellent specifications that guarantee that Windows 10, as well as all of your favorite applications, operate at peak performance. The battery life is also quite good, lasting more than 13 hours in our testing, and the pricing is very reasonable, making this a beautiful option.
3. Dell XPS 15 (2020)
It checks almost every box when it comes to what we want in a laptop, and the Dell XPS 15 is no exception. Ultimately, the Dell XPS 15 (2020) is as nearly flawless as a laptop can be, and it is one of the finest Dell laptops to date; there isn’t much we can say about it that isn’t positive. It’s equipped with some of Intel’s most up-to-date and finest mobile technology, and it can even be customized with a separate GPU, making it capable of handling image and video editing applications, as well as a little light gaming on the side.
According to our poll, it also has one of the most beautiful looks we’ve seen on a laptop, and it’s probably the most attractive Windows 10 laptop available in 2021. The battery life is also exceptional, and although the price is high, it isn’t too terrible when you consider what you receive for your money. If the 15-inch screen is a bit too large for you, the Dell XPS 13 (which is also on this list) and the MacBook Air (which is at the top of this page) are also excellent options.
4. HP Spectre x360 (2021)
Because it is now equipped with 11th-generation Intel Core CPUs, which provide a significant speed increase and improved integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, the HP Pavilion Spectre x360 (2021) is even better than before.
It retains the exquisite 2-in-1 design and flawless gem-cut chassis that these laptops are renowned for, making the HP Spectre x360 (2021) one of the best-looking 2-in-1 laptops ever produced. When it comes to building quality, it’s only rivaled by the superb MacBook Air (which costs a little more) (M1, 2020).
You get many valuable bonuses in exchange for the high price, such as strong security features and Bang & Olufsen speakers, which are worth the money. This is the laptop for you if you are concerned with the appearance of your laptop as much as you are with performance and general quality.
5. Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020)
At this time, we don’t believe that the Dell XPS series can make a mistake. Its annual upgrades have regularly landed it on our list of the best laptops, and the quality of those updates is just getting better. The Dell XPS 13 (2020) is not only a beautiful piece of technology, but it is also a powerful one. It also has several additional features, like great performance, a beautiful display, and long battery life, to name a few.
It is, like its predecessor, a significant financial commitment – but that is hardly a sufficient reason for us to dissuade Ultrabook enthusiasts. Dell has once again created an extremely accomplished small and light laptop that is a pleasure to use and well worth the investment if you have the means.
6. Razer Blade 14
Designed to be portable, this luxury thin and light gaming laptop from Razer exudes sophistication. It is the perfect laptop for those who want a gaming computer that they can carry with them wherever they go. As a result, you won’t have to worry about it being damaged while traveling, and it has one of the best-looking contemporary gaming laptop designs we’ve seen.
It’s not just about the aesthetics, however, as the Razer Blade 14 is equipped with cutting-edge components as well, including the incredible AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU and graphics cards up to an RTX 3080. Essentially, this implies that you’ll be able to play any AAA game you choose in its entirety. It is, without a doubt, the finest gaming laptop you can purchase in 2021, but it comes at a high financial cost.
7. LG Gram 17 (2021)
As with the previous LG Gram 17, the new LG Gram 17 has an extremely light design and is equipped with some of the most advanced mobile technology available.
This laptop is equipped with Intel’s latest 11th generation CPUs and Iris Xe graphics, as well as two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C connections, and when combined with up to 16GB of RAM and fast SSDs, it makes for an excellent day-to-day computer. The battery life is likewise exceptional, with a single charge easily providing approximately 12 hours of use.
As a result, it’s a fantastic option for transporting to and from school and work. It is, however, prohibitively costly, and the design is a touch spartan.
The extended battery life and eye-catching screen are still back, but the high price tag is still there as well. It is, however, worthwhile if you need the power and mobility of Ultrabooks while simultaneously requiring a larger screen.
What characteristics should you look for when purchasing a new laptop?
In the year 2021, there are a few things you should keep an eye out for when purchasing a new laptop to guarantee that you receive the finest laptop for your money.
Take the time to go through the specs of a laptop before making a purchasing decision. For those who know what they’re searching for, this is an excellent method of determining how powerful a laptop is and what it is capable of in a short amount of time.
The CPU is the first and most important component. Laptops are often equipped with a processor (also known as a CPU) manufactured by either Intel or AMD, which serves as the computer’s central processing unit (CPU). Intel is by far the most popular manufacturer in terms of laptop CPUs, but we see a growing number of AMD-powered laptops on the market as well.
According to popular consensus, Intel CPUs provide superior performance, while AMD processors offer superior value.
To make things easier to understand, both Intel and AMD have assigned numbers to their processors to give you a general sense of the kind of tasks that a laptop equipped with that CPU can do.
If you’re looking for a budget laptop that can handle simple tasks like browsing the web or watching Netflix, a laptop with an Intel Pentium, Intel Core i3, or AMD Ryzen 3 processor will do the job without costing too much money. Intel Pentium, Intel Core i3, and AMD Ryzen 3 processors are all good choices for this purpose.
To get the most out of your laptop, go for one with an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU at the very least. This will allow you to do more complicated tasks such as editing home movies or playing video games.
The finest laptops for media production and other more difficult activities are equipped with an Intel Core i7 or Core i9 CPU, or an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, depending on the manufacturer. Laptops with these CPUs are top-of-the-line machines that will provide excellent performance no matter what you put them through – but be aware that they are often found in the most costly laptops available on the market.
At the end of the day, keep an eye on how new the processor is. Intel conveniently assigns generations to their CPUs, with the higher the generation number indicating that the processor is newer. The most current iteration is the 10th generation, but Intel Core CPUs from the 9th generation is still quite recent.
A modern CPU works better and consumes less power, allowing the battery to survive for a longer period of time. The downside is that they are more costly.
There isn’t much to be concerned about since laptop CPUs are equipped with built-in (integrated) graphics capabilities when it comes to graphics. If, on the other hand, you want to use your laptop to play PC games, you’ll need a gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics processing unit (GPU) from either Nvidia or AMD.
What is the minimum RAM need for a laptop?
A laptop’s RAM (Random Access Memory) is an essential feature to look for. For a Windows laptop, you’ll need at least 4GB, but many individuals would benefit from 8GB. This will guarantee that the laptop works smoothly for many years. Chromebooks on a budget may get by with less RAM, such as 1GB or 2GB.
Considerations for battery life
Finally, there’s the issue of battery life. This is going to be one of the essential factors to consider when deciding on a laptop. The finest laptops must be able to work – and play – for extended periods of time without the need for a power adapter. Modern computers are becoming more power-efficient, resulting in longer battery life. A laptop must have a battery life of five hours or more to be included in our list of the best laptops.
Keep in mind that the battery life claimed by laptop manufacturers may vary significantly from what you really experience. This is because many laptop manufacturers test their batteries in very controlled settings, with the laptop being used in ways that you may not necessarily utilize. So, although a laptop’s battery life may be stated to be 10 hours, you may discover that while doing specific activities, such as streaming high-definition video, your battery life may run out sooner.
That’s where our in-depth evaluations come in, as we conduct a battery life test on each laptop in our best laptops list to discover how long it lasts under various circumstances. We’ll let you know whether a laptop’s battery is absurdly short (or amazingly long).
Which laptop is right for you?
General computers: These are the finest inexpensive laptops, emphasizing functionality rather than style, mobility, or power. That isn’t to say they can’t be fast, but a non-Ultrabook clamshell laptop with an HD screen and spinning drive-based storage will usually cost less than $600 or £400.
Ultrabooks: These are thin-and-light laptop computers with SSD storage and display resolutions that surpass 1080p. The finest Ultrabooks will cost a fair coin – $700 or £500 to $2,000 or £1,800 – when equipped with strong yet mobile-centric components and particularly extended battery life.
2-in-1 laptops: These are notebooks that also function as tablets. The Surface Book 2 may be a while away, but several of the finest 2-in-1 laptops are already available. These hybrids, which include detachable and 360-degree rotating hinges, are the most flexible way to enjoy Windows 10 (or Chrome OS) on a touchscreen.
Chromebooks: This is where you’ll discover the finest Chromebooks that run Chrome OS. These perform most of what Windows and macOS can do in the browser, emphasizing cloud storage over local, and have just received Android app compatibility for touchscreen versions. They are often less than $300 or £200, and some may even survive a minor scuffle.
Gaming laptops: Looking for a laptop that can play games (nearly) as well as a gleaming desktop PC? Then you’ll want one of the finest gaming laptops on the market. These machines typically range in price from $800 or £600 to upwards of $3,000 or £2,800, and they will most likely be the first to benefit from AMD’s laptop-grade Ryzen CPUs. If you’re truly tight on cash, look into the best inexpensive gaming laptop offers.
Laptop-tablet hybrids: Designed with a tablet-first approach to laptop-tablet hybrids, the finest Windows tablets include beyond-HD touchscreens, often with built-in kickstands or through keyboard coverings. These are usually shined with a stylus and vary in price from low to high.
How laptops are tested
We understand that purchasing a new laptop may be a significant commitment. Therefore every laptop on this list has been thoroughly evaluated by us. We utilize laptops in our daily lives to observe how they function when we test them. We consider their design, such as how attractive they are, thin and light enough to take about, and how comfortable they are to work on.
In terms of performance, we utilize a combination of real-world and synthetic benchmarks to determine how powerful (or not) these laptops are. This entails running different applications in Windows 10 (or Chrome OS on Chromebooks and macOS on MacBooks) and documenting any issues that arise.
These days, the camera and microphone on a laptop are also very essential. Therefore we evaluate these as well. When it comes to gaming laptops, we’ll conduct additional benchmark tests and play games on them (that’s a tough job, isn’t it?).
Battery life is also essential, so we’ll note how long we can use the laptop before charging it. We also conduct our own battery life test, which loops a 1080p video until the battery dies. We also perform the PC Mark 10 battery life test, which simulates real-world activities like online surfing and document production. These tests provide us with a good indication of how long the batteries in these laptops will last.
We next compare what we’ve learned about the laptop to its pricing to determine whether it provides the greatest value to consumers.