Welcome to our pick of the best laptops 2021 has to offer. Throughout this year, we've seen some brilliant new laptops from brands such as Apple, Dell and HP, and on this page, we've gathered together the absolute cream of the crop.
You won't just find the most powerful (and expensive) laptops in this list, either. We've also got amazing budget laptops, top Chromebooks and brilliant gaming laptops as well, covering all kinds of budgets.
With Black Friday 2021 now here, we're seeing a lot of offers for items on this page. We saw the Black Friday laptop deals continue to ramp up throughout November, so now is the perfect time to start researching the best laptops to see which is best for you.
In our view, the best laptop overall remains the MacBook Air (M1, 2020). This is a powerful and stylish thin and light laptop from Apple, and it offers great value for money as well.
However, if you want a more affordable device, then 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.
All the laptops in this list have been thoroughly reviewed by us, and only the best are included here. Along with our built-in price comparison tool, you can buy in confidence knowing you've got the best deal for the best laptop for you.
In addition, you might also want to check out the best 15-inch laptop.
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.
Today's best laptop Black Friday deals
We're starting to see some great deals in the US and UK for the laptops in this buying guide, so we've highlighted the best offers here to help save you money.
MacBook Air (M1, 2020), 8GB RAM, 256GB:
$999 $899 at B&H Photo
Save $100: With this Black Friday MacBook Air deal, you're getting the best laptop in the world for just $899, which is one of the best prices we've seen. If you want a thin and light laptop, this is the one to get.
Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 chip, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD:
£999 £899 at Amazon
Save £100: Amazon also has a great deal on this brilliant laptop. It comes with Apple’s M1 chip which has an 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine (for advanced machine learning); 8GB of unified RAM and a 256GB SSD.
Dell XPS 13, Core 15, 8GB RAM, 256GB:
$949.99 $649.99 at Dell
Save $300 - From its impressive battery life, to its high build quality and gorgeous design, the Dell XPS 13 is a champion of small laptops, perfect for use at home, in school or at work. It's equipped with an Intel i5 processor and some seriously speedy RAM to eat through everyday tasks with ease.
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD:
$1,319.99 $969.99 at Dell
Save $350 on this brilliant Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop. It's thin, stylish, and can be used as a tablet-like device, and comes with an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM.
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, Core i5, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD:
$1,519.99 $1,219.99 at Dell
Save $300 - This powerful new 2-in-1 version of the XPS 13 comes with 16GB of RAM and the 11th generation Intel Core i5 CPU, along with large 512GB SSD and touchscreen.
Dell XPS 13, Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD:
£1,149 £999 at Dell
This is simply one of the best laptops you can buy right now, it comes with an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 2.1 and a beautiful 13.3 inch HD display.
Best laptops 2021
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)
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
The brand-new MacBook Pro 14-inch is easily the best productivity laptop you can buy in 2021. For creative professionals such as photographers, video editors and music producers, the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is a dream to use, thanks to a choice between powerful new M1 Pro or M1 Max chips that can handle even the most intensive workloads with ease.
Not only that, but its Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED technology is absolutely stunning, and the best screen you can get on a laptop right now. Add in a 1080p webcam and boosted port selection, and you have a brilliant business and productivity laptop. It won't be for everyone – the price and power will be too much for most people's needs – but if you want a killer laptop to do creative work on, this is the laptop to get. For everyone else, check out the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) instead.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
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)
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)
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
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)
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