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Best laptop 2021: top picks for every user and every budget

Included in this guide:

Apple MacBook Air against red background saying 'best laptop'
(Image credit: Apple / Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best laptops in 2021 come in all shapes and sizes, and that means no matter what kind of device you're after (or what budget you have), they'll be a great laptop for you.

To make buying a new laptop as easy as possible, we've listed the very best laptops, notebooks, Chromebooks and more on this page. Each one has been rigorously tested by us, and we take into account every aspect of the laptop, including their value of money, which means this list isn't just packed with the most powerful laptops out there.

Instead, we have a range of laptops for all kinds of budgets and use cases. This guide is always being updated as well, so you have the most up-to-date laptop buying advice.

If you're after the best laptop overall, then our pick remains the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), as it's yet to be beaten when it comes to design, performance, value and battery life.

Meanwhile, the Acer Swift 3 is our choice for the best budget laptop you can buy right now, offering a perfect balance of affordability and performance. If that doesn't take your fancy then we have a rundown of the best cheap laptop deals to help you pick a device that won't hurt your wallet.

How to pick the best laptop for you

So, what makes a laptop worth buying? First, it needs to offer excellent value for money. That means budget laptops below the $400/£400 price point need to still offer good performance and build quality.

Meanwhile, ultra-expensive devices need to justify their high price tags with best-in-class performance, premium build quality and lengthy battery lives.

If you want something to work on, a laptop with a modern processor, at least 8GB of RAM and a large screen (and comfortable keyboard) are worth considering.

For gaming, you'll want a gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card and fast and responsive screen.

Check out our guide on what you should look for when buying a new laptop at the end of this page for more in-depth advice on buying a laptop.

Best laptops 2021

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MacBook Air on white background with screen open

(Image credit: Apple)
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MacBook Air (M1, 2020) shot from above

(Image credit: Apple)
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A side view of the MacBook Air partially open on a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

The best laptop of 2021

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1
Graphics: Integrated 7-core /8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) 2,560 x 1,600 LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61cm; W x D x H)
Reasons to buy
+Silent to use+Amazing battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No new design-Fanless design could impact performance

The new Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) isn't just the best laptop Apple has ever made, it's the best laptop money can buy right now. This is the first time a MacBook has topped our list, but the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is worthy of this spot. Thanks to the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M1 chip that powers the new MacBook Air (Apple has ditched Intel for these new laptops), this is a stunning achievement: a thin and light laptop that offers great performance, even with 4K video editing, while also offering incredible battery life. 

Easily managing over 11 hours on a single charge, this is a laptop you can easily carry around with you at work or school, and its price is incredibly competitive compared to Windows 10 rivals like the Dell XPS 15 (below). Running both new and old Mac apps, the new MacBook Air can now also run iOS apps for iPhone and iPads, giving it access to hundreds of brilliant mobile applications and games as well.

Even if you've only ever used Windows laptops before, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is well worth getting and making the jump to macOS. Yes, it really is that good. Make sure you check out all the best MacBook Air deals and sales available now before you buy.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

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Surface Laptop 4 on white background with the Windows 10 desktop showing on the screen

(Image credit: Microsoft)
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Front shot of the Surface Laptop 4 on white background

(Image credit: Microsoft)
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side image of the Surface Laptop 4

(Image credit: Microsoft)
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The rear shot of the Surface Laptop 4

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The best Windows laptop

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 /AMD Ryzen 5 - 7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe / AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) touch
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable keyboard+Beautiful screen
Reasons to avoid
-Not enough ports-Alcantara fabric might get gross over time

While Apple blew us away with the new MacBook Air (above), arch rival Microsoft has also impressed us with its new Surface Laptop 4, landing straight in at number 2. As with previous Surface devices, build quality and design is absolutely top-notch here, and its gorgeous PixelSense touchscreen really sets it apart from the competition (a touchscreen is something we've yet to see on an Apple laptop, as Microsoft likes to remind us).

It also comes with a brilliant keyboard that's a joy to type on, and some pretty great specs as well, which ensures that Windows 10, and all your favorite apps, run extremely well. Battery life is also very impressive – lasting over 13 hours in our tests – and the price is impressively competitive as well.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

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Image of the Dell XPS 15 from an angle with the screen open

(Image credit: Dell)
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Image of two Dell XPS 15 laptops on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

The best laptop in 2021 for productivity

Specifications
CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics - Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Screen: 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS - UHD+ (3840 x 2400)
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Fast performance for the price+Eye-catching design
Reasons to avoid
-GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak, and not enough for gaming-15-inch screen might be too large for some

The Dell XPS 15 ticks pretty much every box when it comes to what we want from a laptop. The end result is that the Dell XPS 15 (2020) is about as close to perfect as a laptop can get and one of the best Dell laptops to date; there's really not a lot we can fault it for. It's got some of the latest, and best, mobile tech from Intel, and can even be configured with a discrete GPU, making it adept at images and as for video editing software, and even a spot of light gaming.

It also features one of the finest designs we've seen in a laptop, and is arguably the most stylish Windows 10 laptop in 2021. Battery life is also phenomenal, and the price, while high, isn't that bad considering what you get. If the 15-inch screen is a little too big, then the Dell XPS 13 (also on this list) is worth considering, as is the MacBook Air at the top of this page.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 (2020)

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The HP Spectre x360 with screen open on a white background

(Image credit: HP)
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Image of the back of the HP Spectre x360 laptop with the HP logo showing

(Image credit: HP)
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Image of the HP Spectre x360 folded in tent mode

(Image credit: HP)

This year's model is a brilliant 13-inch laptop

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch – 13.3" diagonal 4K (3840 x 2160) UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous design+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Fans can get noisy-Expensive compared to some competitors

Now coming with 11th-generation Intel Core processors, which offer a decent performance boost, and feature better integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is better than ever.

It still features the impeccable 2-in-1 design and pristine gem-cut chassis that these laptops are known for, meaning that the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is one of the best looking 2-in-1 laptops ever made, and when it comes to build quality, it's rivalled only by the excellent MacBook Air (M1, 2020).

While it's certainly pricey, you're getting some excellent extras, such as formidable security features and Bang & Olufsen speakers. If you care about aesthetics as much as you do performance and overall quality, this is the laptop for you.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2021)

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Image of the Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) laptop on a white background with the screen open and showing the Windows 10 desktop

(Image credit: Dell)
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Top-down view of the Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) laptop

(Image credit: Dell)
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Side view of the Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) laptop

(Image credit: Dell)
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Front view of the Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020)

(Image credit: Dell)
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Image of the Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) laptop in black

(Image credit: Dell)

Dell does it again

Specifications
CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1165G7
Graphics: Up to Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: Up to 32GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x
Screen: 13.4" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 13.4" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Stunning design+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Sound quality is just OK-There are cheaper laptops out there

At this point, we doubt that the Dell XPS line can do anything wrong. Its yearly updates have consistently made it into our best laptops list, and they’re only getting better. The Dell XPS 13 (2020) is not only a gorgeous piece of kit. It also comes, as expected, with excellent performance, a stunning display and long battery life, alongside a few others.

Much like its predecessor, it’s a pricey investment – but that is barely reason enough for us to discourage Ultrabook fans. Once again, Dell has produced an incredibly accomplished thin and light notebook that's a joy to use, and well worth investing in, if you have the budget.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 (2020) 

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Razer Blade 14 laptop open showing desktop wallpaper

(Image credit: Razer)
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Razer Blade 14 laptop partially opened and shot from behind

(Image credit: Razer)
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Razer Blade 14 laptop closed on white background

(Image credit: Razer)

The top laptop for gaming in 2021

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 - RTX 3080
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 14-inch 144Hz Full HD – 14-inch 165Hz QHD
Storage: 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful chassis+Thin and light
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive despite its performance-Not the most powerful gaming laptop

This luxurious thin and light gaming laptop from Razer just oozes class, and is an ideal laptop for people who want a gaming device they can take around with them. It's solidly built, so you won't worry about it getting damaged during your travels, and it's one of the nicest looking modern gaming laptops we've seen.

It's not all about looks, however, as the Razer Blade 14 comes with cutting edge components as well, including the awesome AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and up to an RTX 3080 graphics card. This means you'll be able to play any AAA game you want in all its glory. It's by far the best gaming laptop you can buy in in 2021, but it does cost a lot of money.

Read the full review: Razer Blade 14

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Image of the LG Gram 16 (2021) laptop from the front with Windows 10 desktop on the screen and the Start menu showing

(Image credit: LG)
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Angled image of the LG Gram 16 (2021) laptop with the Windows 10 desktop and Start menu on the screen

(Image credit: LG)
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Image of the LG Gram 16 (2021) from another angle with the Windows 10 desktop and Start menu on the screen

(Image credit: LG)
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Image of the LG Gram 16 (2021) laptop with lid partially closed

(Image credit: LG)

A great new super-light laptop for 2021

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 16GB LPDDR4X
Screen: 17-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS LCD
Storage: up to 2TB NVMe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent battery life+Large, high-quality display
Reasons to avoid
-You're paying a premium for the design-Subject to screen glare

The new LG Gram 17 once again features an incredibly light design, and comes with some of the best mobile tech in the world.

That includes Intel's new 11th generation processors and Iris Xe graphics as well as two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, and coupled with up to 16GB of RAM and speedy SSDs, means this is a laptop that is brilliant for day-to-day tasks. Battery life is also phenomenal, easily lasting around 12 hours on a single charge.

It's a great choice for carrying around for school and work, then. However, it is expensive, and the design is a little plain.

The long battery life and stunner of a screen are back, though so too is its steep price tag. It’s worth it though if you want the power and portability of Ultrabooks yet also need a bigger screen.

Read the full review: LG Gram 17 (2021) 

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Image of the Acer Swift 3 laptop front the front

(Image credit: Acer)
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Acer Swift 3 from a slight angle with lid open and screen showing Windows 10 background

(Image credit: Acer)
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Acer Swift 3 in silver with screen open

(Image credit: Acer)
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Image of the back of the Acer Swift 3 laptop

(Image credit: Acer)

The best budget laptop in the world

Specifications
CPU: up to Intel Core i7-8565U
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150, Intel HD Graphics 620 or AMD Radeon Vega 8
RAM: 4GB – 8GB
Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) ComfyView IPS – 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080)
Storage: 128GB – 1 TB HDD, 16 GB Intel Optane Memory
Reasons to buy
+Superb keyboard and trackpad+Excellent performance
Reasons to avoid
-Looks a little plain

Beyond the Acer Swift 3's modest exterior, you'll find an excellent laptop that boasts plenty of power for work and study. The Swift 3 (not to be confused with the Switch 3 another laptop from Acer) is an inexpensive laptop; however, that plain chassis is all-aluminum and packed with beefy components. 

In terms of performance, it gets surprisingly close to the far more expensive Microsoft Surface Laptop. Its display is a little lower-res, but the two are otherwise strikingly similar - other than the price. 

This laptop is incredible to use as well, with its roomy trackpad as well as its backlit keyboard that offers a comfortable typing experience with decent travel. If you're going to be writing a lot – whether you’re traveling or at the office, this is one of the best budget laptops 2021 has on offer.

Read the full review: Acer Swift 3

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Asus ZenBook 13 (2021) laptop with screen open on white background

(Image credit: Asus)
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Asus ZenBook 13 (2021) laptop with screen open on white background

(Image credit: Asus)
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Back shot of Asus ZenBook 13 (2021) laptop with screen open on white background

(Image credit: Asus)

A stunning Ultrabook from Asus

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i3 – i7 / AMD Ryzen 5000
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics / AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB - 32GB
Screen: 13.3-inch, OLED 1080p, 400 nits
Storage: 256GB - 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous OLED display+Phenomenal battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No headphone jack-Radeon graphics underperform

The Asus ZenBook 13 is a brilliant laptop, and the 2021 model comes with some of the best mobile tech you'll find in a modern notebook. So, it packs a choice of an AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor, or Intel 11th gen CPU. It also has an absolutely stunning 13.3-inch OLED screen and one of the best battery lives around.

There's also up to 32GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage, which makes this a brilliant laptop for working on.

It's also supremely thin and light, as well as stylishly designed, which makes it a joy to carry around and use. It's also pretty respectably priced compared to competitors like the Dell XPS 13. The only downsides are that there's no headphone jack – which is a bit of a shame, but likely a result of its ultra-thin design, and during our time testing the Asus ZenBook 13, we found that the integrated AMD Ryzen graphics weren't quite as good as Intel's offering. Despite that, this is still a brilliant ultra-thin laptop that's well worth considering.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook 13 (2021)

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Image of the Asus TUF Dash F15 laptop from the front with the screen open. The laptop is white

(Image credit: Asus)
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Image of the Asus TUF Dash F15 from above with the WASD keys on the keyboard colored in blue

(Image credit: Asus)
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Asus TUF Dash F15 from behind

(Image credit: Asus)
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Asus TUF Dash F15 from behind at an angle

(Image credit: Asus)

The best affordable gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-11375H
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
RAM: Up to 16GB DDR4-3200
Screen: Up to 15.6-inch WQHD anti-glare 165Hz IPS-level display with Adaptive Sync