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The most powerful laptops in 2022: the fastest, speediest notebooks in the world

A person using a laptop and phone against a sepia background.
(Image credit: Pexels)

If you are looking for the fastest, most powerful laptops to buy in 2022, you’ve come to the place. Whether you need a mobile workstation beast for your ultra-high resolution pictures, to edit 16K videos on the move or to crunch through some serious CFD calculations, we’ve put together the ultimate list of notebooks that will appeal to those looking for the speediest laptops regardless of weight, price and, ahem, size. Some of them are true luggables.

Powerful laptops come in many shapes and sizes but almost always carry a hefty price tag because they contain top of the range components - often derived from the desktop world. Their CPUs often have cores by the dozen with flagship GPUs that can handle even the highest resolutions (for non gaming purposes of course).

Scroll further down to find out the most powerful Mac laptop, the most powerful compact laptop, the most powerful Windows laptop, the most powerful cheap laptop and more. Our pick of the most powerful laptops in the world will also include a comparison of strengths and weaknesses plus the top spec available (we’re in the realm of the speediest here).

For anything a bit more niche, please make your way to our best laptops for engineering students, our best laptops for video editing or our best laptops for photoshop. Just bear in mind as well that in an ever evolving market and despite our efforts to deliver the best list of powerful laptops on the market, some might have slipped through the cracks. If that’s the case, then please do let us know by emailing us on pro@techradar.com

How did we choose the most powerful laptops in the world? 

Solely on the performance of their processors based on Geekbench which provides an adequate but not perfect comparison of performances especially across diverse architectures (ARM/Apple, x86). Since we’re talking exclusively about compute power, other characteristics fade in the background: battery life, graphics, connectivity, expansion capacity etc. 

MacBook Pro 16-inch

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch, 2021

Fastest MacBook to date

Specifications

Processor: M1 Max, 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16-core Neural
Storage: 64GB Unified, 8TB SSD
Price: $6,099

Reasons to buy

+
Massive battery life 
+
Market-leading performance 
+
Stunning design 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive when compared to Windows 
-
Niche apps may not be fully supported 
-
Doesn’t support 4K resolution natively 

All hail the master of the PC universe. The Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is probably the best laptop creative pros can buy right (should budget and software support allow), thanks to its mind-blowing performance, brilliant screen and huge battery life as we found out in our review. 

It is large and hefty (33% heavier than its little sibling), which is why the 14-inch MacBook Pro may be a better buy, unless you want the larger display real estate (with a higher screen resolution) and a bigger battery and a more powerful processor. We’d rather go for a bigger battery especially one that can last almost 19 hours looping a 1080p video. Apple also brought back some of the ports that were previously omitted, like a HDMI port and a full size card reader, both dearly missed by creatives. 

The most expensive version of the 16-inch MacBook Pro offers an 8TB SSD with 64GB of unified memory, a 32-core GPU and a 10-core CPU which should surpass the overwhelming majority of systems - both laptops and desktops - out there, especially if the apps and plug-ins are optimized for the M1 architecture. This is the case for the entire suite of Adobe products and favorite brands like Blackmagic and Affinity.

Check out our review of the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch, 2021 

HP Pavilion Aero Laptop

(Image credit: HP)

2. HP Pavilion Aero

Best value for money/Lightest powerful laptop

Specifications

Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5800U
Storate: 16GB, 512GB SSD
GPU: Integrated Radeon

Reasons to buy

+
Remarkably powerful for its price 
+
Very cheap 
+
Extremely light 

Reasons to avoid

-
No GPU 
-
Small battery 
-
Soldered memory 

You may be surprised to see the HP Pavilion Aero 13.3 in this list, after all, it belongs to HP’s mainstream consumer laptop line but we feel that it deserves this spot at number two for a couple of reasons. 

Not all powerful laptops have to be expensive and not all powerful laptops have to be heavy. At the time of writing, this sub-1Kg laptop cost less than $730 with an 8-core, 16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor, one that can easily take on Intel’s finest mobile CPUs. Yes you can get lighter laptops but they will be more expensive and slower. 

This is the perfect combo for those who want something reasonably fast as long as you can live with its shortcomings. The battery is small (43WHr), the memory is soldered onboard (and therefore not upgradable) and limited at 16GB; that precludes resource heavy tasks that also require loads of memory (e.g. Adobe Photoshop). It doesn’t have a dedicated GPU unlike other laptops on this list which may hamper its performance in 3D animation and video editing.

We haven’t reviewed it yet.

Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2

(Image credit: Lenovo )

3. Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2

Most powerful with 128GB RAM

Specifications

Processor: Intel Xeon W-11955M
Storate: 128GB, 6TB RAID-0
GPU: Nvidia RTX A5000
Price: $6,400

Reasons to buy

+
Tons of memory 
+
ECC as an option 
+
Absurdly affordable for what it offers 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 2TB SSDs available 

All 12th generation Intel Core processors support up to 64GB memory so if you want to get a bit more should your applications require it, then you will need to move to the Intel Xeon family. 

As such the ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 is ideal for engineering students, creatives, CAD and industrial professionals that require ISV certifications (this particular laptop supports 13 companies including Avid, Adobe and Bentley). Out of the big players, Lenovo is the only one that sells a laptop with the most powerful mobile Xeon processor (11955M) with 128GB of RAM and one of Nvidia’s most powerful mobile professional GPUs, the A5000 Max-Q with 16GB GDDR6 memory, for less than $10,000.

We haven’t tested it yet but this 8-core/16-thread behemoth should whizz through benchmarks with ease, especially those that can make good use of its 128GB RAM, the most on any laptop on the market. The ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 is also the only true professional Windows workstation in this list which means that you will get access to Lenovo’s premier next-business day onsite support services for up to five years with optional accidental damage protection for the same period. A ridiculously good and affordable way of ensuring that your investment is secure for years to come.

We haven’t reviewed it yet.

Razer Blade 14

(Image credit: Razer)

4. Razer Blade 14

Fastest AMD laptop

Specifications

Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX
Storate: 16GB, 1TB
GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 3080Ti
Price: $3,500

Reasons to buy

+
QHD panel 
+
14-inch form factor 
+
Powerful AMD processor 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Soldered memory 
-
 Smaller than expected battery 
-
 No Thunderbolt 4 

A gamer’s favorite, the Razer Blade 14, gets a spot on our list of the most powerful laptops because of the presence of an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor at its heart.

It is the fastest mobile processor from team Red that has shipped in commercial products. Razer engineers paired it with a gorgeous 14-inch QHD panel, an Nvidia Geforce RTX 3080 Ti with 16GB GDDR6 memory, 16GB DDR5 (sadly soldered on the board) and an array of features that sets it apart from other laptops based on the same AMD processor. That includes a individually factory calibrated display and a Qualcomm Wi-Fi chip. 

As this is an AMD platform though, you will not get Thunderbolt 4 technology; on the other hand, there’s no excuse for not having a bigger battery even if it means bumping the weight of the laptop from 1.78Kg to nearly 2Kg. As noted above, the memory is soldered so you won’t be able to upgrade it and the RTX 3080 Ti GPU is one with a lower TDP compared to its desktop brethren. 

This is still the fastest mobile GPU that money can buy. Altogether, this package is ideal for those who want to play hard and work hard; requiring both compute and graphic capabilities (e.g. CUDA) on the move, in a form factor that is comfortable to carry around all day. It will be equally at ease with Blender or with Cyberpunk 2077.

Check out our review of the Razer Blade 14 with an Intel processor

Dell Alienware x15 R2

(Image credit: Dell)

5. Dell Alienware x15 R2

Most powerful Intel-based laptop

Specifications

Processor: Intel Core i9-12900HK
Storate: 64GB, 4TB RAID-0
GPU: RTX3080 Ti
Price: $4,499

Reasons to buy

+
Ridiculously fast 
+
Superb design 
+
Windows 11 Pro option 

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life is poor 
-
No 2.5GbE LAN
-
Only one Thunderbolt 4 

Alienware is Dell’s dedicated gaming range of laptops but it works well as a creative powerhouse as well, great for those who embrace hybrid working, a fact underlined by a Windows 11 Pro option. 

This is a relatively new laptop and features the best of what Intel has to offer when it comes to mobile processors; the Core i9-12900HK is the fastest laptop CPU available from its range. Teamed with the fastest laptop GPU currently available from Nvidia, the Geforce RTX 3080 Ti, 64GB of DDR5 memory and two 2TB SSD in RAID-0, it should munch through any 3D modeling, rendering or computational job without much sweat. 

Speaking of which, you may need to sweat a bit when carrying it as it weighs over 3Kg because of its 17-inch display and large 87WHr battery. Don’t expect it to last long as the combination of big display and power thirsty parts (up to 235W just for the CPU and GPU) will reduce battery life to less than a couple of hours. 

For the price, we’d also expect a 2.5GbE LAN port plus at least one extra Thunderbolt 4 port. Like the Razer Blade 14, this is a laptop that will be equally at ease with Blender or Battlefield 1942.

We haven’t reviewed it yet.

XMG Apex 15 Max E22

(Image credit: XMG)

6. XMG Apex 15 Max E22

Most powerful desktop replacement laptop

Specifications

Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Storate: 64GB, 16TB
CPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
Price: 5600 Euros

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely powerful 
+
Upgradable CPU 
+
Up to 16TB of storage 

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy and large 
-
Very poor battery life 
-
Aftersales will be problematic 

Last on the least is the most powerful laptop we have encountered to date; the XMG Apex 15 Max E22 is no ordinary laptop though. It is a portable device that uses a desktop processor inside a Clevo chassis. 

We haven’t been able to source it only in Europe; none of the usual US Clevo resellers (Xoticpc/Sager, OriginPC) stock it. We reviewed an earlier model in July 2020 and noted that while its battery life was measured in minutes, its performance was outstanding for a laptop (or luggable or desktop replacement). Portability was not (and is still not) high on the agenda. 

What XMG managed to deliver is a 16-core monster with 16TB of SSD storage (in RAID-0); the AMD processor that powers it, the Ryzen 9 5950X is socketed, not soldered and can be replaced. Since it uses 88W, it requires a significant amount of cooling which makes it loud and explains why it weighs more than 3.5Kg with the 230W power supply unit and why it doesn’t offer the more power hungry RTX3080 GPU as an option. 

A great option as long as you plan to keep it connected to the mains most of the time. Just bear in mind that XMG cannot match the likes of Dell or Lenovo when it comes to its after sales network.

See our review of the XMG Apex 15 from 2020

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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.