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Best laptop 2021: Top 10 laptops you can buy

We rank all your best laptop and notebook options, with Apple, Microsoft, Dell and Samsung models all included

Introduction

Are you looking for the best laptop available, but not sure which type you actually need? Whether it be for browsing the internet, working from home or editing videos, there is a laptop for everyone, and this list will help you find out which one you need.

This list covers the best laptops in general, but if you’re after something a little more specific, you can check out our Best Gaming Laptop, Best Student Laptop and Best Budget Laptop lists as well.

And if nothing here really catches your eye, make sure you keep this page bookmarked, since we’ll be updating it every time a new laptop is good enough. With all our bases covered, here are the best laptops out right now in 2021.

How we test

Learn more about how we test laptops

Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life. 

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps. 

We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.

Dell XPS 13 OLED

The best overall Windows laptop
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Pros

  • The absolute best laptop screen for the price
  • Speedy productivity performance
  • Class-leading laptop design
  • Lots of configuration options

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Stingy port offering

The Dell XPS 13 is the holy grail of laptops right now, especially if you prefer Windows devices to MacBooks.

The 13-inch display lends itself to portability, with the OLED screen giving you clear and crisp visuals, making it a great choice if you’re looking to watch media on your laptop. Though it’s worth noting that the 3.5K display will wear down your battery quicker than a few other laptops out there.

The XPS 13 also features the latest 11th-Generation Intel chipset, offering high-speed productivity. Unless you’re planning on doing intense video editing or 3D renders, this laptop will have you covered in all areas. Plus, you can check out the Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) if you’re not too bothered about the OLED display.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Dell XPS 13 OLED review

MacBook Air (M1)

The most powerful ultra-portable laptop
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Pros

  • It’s so fast thanks to M1
  • Exceptional battery life
  • Strong app support
  • Great keyboard

Cons

  • Poor webcam
  • Same design as before
  • Poorly positioned (and only two) USB ports

The MacBook Air M1 offers better CPU speeds than the majority of laptops on this list, and by quite a distance. Its integrated GPU is even powerful enough for 4K video editing and animation, despite the laptop’s lightweight design.

We’re still disappointed that Apple hasn’t introduced a more cutting-edge design to compete with the Dell XPS, but this is still a decent-looking laptop. If you do care about the looks, you may want to wait it out for the rumoured MacBook Air 2022 that could arrive midway through next year.

It’s also worth checking out the new 14-inch MacBook Pro if you’re craving an even faster performance.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: MacBook Air M1 Review

Surface Laptop Go

Best value laptop
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Pros

  • Incredible value
  • Small and classy design
  • Excellent performance
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • Low-resolution display
  • No keyboard backlight
  • No fingerprint scanner on base configuration

The Surface Laptop Go is on the smaller side with a 12.4-inch display, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile if you’re looking for portability.

The Laptop Go is also one of the most affordable laptops on this list. With a starting price of just £549 it’s half the price of the Apple and Dell laptops. It won’t be able to handle as much as other models, but it will breeze through day-to-day productivity tasks, making it a great laptop for anyone who needs to head into the office.

There are some downsides; the screen resolution fails to hit the standard 1920 x 1080 mark, and small omissions like a lack of fingerprint scanner on the entry model are noteworthy. But these are very small issues when you consider how inexpensive this laptop is.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Surface Laptop Go Review

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7

Best mid-range laptop
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Pros

  • Great value price
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Speedy performance
  • Nice Full HD screen

Cons

  • Basic design
  • No Thunderbolt
  • No fingerprint scanner on select models

This is one of the best mid-range laptops you can buy. Packing in a Ryzen 4000 chip this laptop boasts excellent performance, alongside a stellar battery life that can last over 14 hours on a single charge during our benchmark tests.

The 14-inch display is also Full HD, making this a good laptop for video streaming. It also has a comfortable keyboard and will easily manage most office-based tasks, like web browsing or creating documents, meaning it has everything you need if you’re a student or a professional.

The design here is a little uninspired and could be better, with no Thunderbolt support or fingerprint scanners on some of the models, it can be a little annoying if you’re wanting a more premium experience. But for anyone with a tight budget, the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 is a great laptop to consider.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 Review

LG Gram 16 (2021)

Best lightweight 16-inch laptop
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Pros

  • Incredibly light design
  • Big and detailed display
  • Speedy productivity performance
  • Generous port selection

Cons

  • Questionable build quality
  • Glossy screen
  • Not as powerful as rivals

The LG Gram 16 (2021) is a noteworthy laptop, mainly on the basis that it clocks in at just 1199g, which is lighter than a fair few of the 13-inch laptops listed here.

The lighter design does mean there are a couple of compromises here, as this won’t rival some of the more powerful laptops in terms of processing speeds.

However, these flaws aren’t the end of the world, and anyone wanting a larger screen that’s also portable will struggle to find another laptop that does it better than the LG Gram 16.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: LG Gram 16 (2021) Review

Acer Chromebook Spin 513

Best budget Chromebook
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Pros

  • Super-light and portable design
  • Sharp display with decent colours
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Whisper-quiet performance

Cons

  • Flat speakers
  • Mediocre performance
  • No keyboard backlight

The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 is a great example of a good-quality Chromebook and shows how far the range has come in recent years. And while it won’t rival Apple in terms of power, it’s a perfectly good computer for speeding through office tasks or browsing the web.

The mid-range performance is also cancelled out by the bargain price, which is even cheaper than the Surface Laptop Go. ChromeOS will limit you in terms of downloads and what you can do on the laptop, but unless you need to access video editing software most regular consumers should be covered.

It’s worth mentioning that the keyboard isn’t backlit and the speakers are not the best quality, but in terms of a cheap laptop for day-to-day tasks, the Chromebook Spin 513 knocks it out of the park.

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch

Best high-end laptop for creative tasks
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Pros

  • Incredibly powerful
  • Bigger display still looks stunning
  • Scissor keyboard a huge improvement
  • More stylish with smaller bezel

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Stingy port offering
  • Lack of Wi-Fi 6

The MacBook Pro offers processing and GPU speeds that dominate all the other laptops on this list, but this laptop isn’t just for anyone. You’ll have to pay a little more to blast through creative tasks.

The MacBook Pro 2021 also came out very recently; the newest addition to the Pro family features the immensely powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max chipsets, which will allow for a speedy performance during high-intensity tasks like 3D rendering.

Any creatives would do great with the latest Pro, with the ability to edit videos in 4K, you just need to be willing to pay up for all that processing power. We’ll be reviewing the latest edition of the MacBook Pro very soon, so expect this list to change in the near future.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: 16-inch MacBook Pro Review

HP Spectre x360 13 (2021)

Best 2-in-1 laptop
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Pros

  • Great keyboard
  • Excellent build quality
  • Bright, high-contrast screen
  • Sturdy 360-degree hinge

Cons

  • Max speaker volume is just OK
  • Not as powerful as a MacBook Air

The HP Spectre x360 13 (2021) is the best convertible laptop that Trusted Reviews has tested. It hit 12 hours in our battery benchmark test and offers an incredibly comfortable keyboard, alongside the option of a 4K OLED touchscreen that is ideal for artwork.

There are a few missing features: 5G is absent and there is no slot-in stylus, which you will find on the Galaxy Book Flex2 5G, but it’s very forgivable when the laptop nails the fundamentals so well.

One of the main issues is the performance, you won’t get as much power as the standard clamshell laptop, but if you’re looking for a convertible laptop that also functions as a tablet, this is our top pick.

Reviewer: Andrew Williams
Full review: HP Spectre x360 13 (2021) Review

Honor MagicBook 14 (2020)

Best budget 14-inch laptop
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Pros

  • Student-friendly premium style
  • Superb value
  • Pleasant typing experience
  • More than capable productivity performance

Cons

  • Webcam positioned on keyboard
  • Below average display

Another one for the people that don’t want to spend upwards of a grand on a laptop, the Honor MagicBook 14 is a great price and still has an all-around great performance.

Some elements here aren’t great; the matte display is below average and the webcam is underneath the screen, but we feel it makes up for it with its decent productivity performance, ultra-portable design and fantastic battery life.

Anyone on a tight budget should consider the MagicBook 14. Better laptops can be found, but for the price, this is a no-brainer.

Reviewer: Adam Speight
Full review: Honor MagicBook 14 Review

Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel Pro

Best laptop for artists
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Pros

  • Deep-action keyboard
  • Quality glass touchpad
  • Well-designed two-way hinge
  • Slot-in stylus

Cons

  • Cheaper gaming PCs offer better rendering performance
  • Last-generation CPU
  • 1080p resolution is arguably low for this type of laptop

The Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel is a great laptop if you’re looking for both a normal computer but also a drawing and design tool; the hinged screen design makes it easy to doodle and draw, and the added stylus (with 4096 pressure levels) is an extra bonus.

The keyboard has a deep action as well, so it should feel pretty satisfying if you need to type up a quick report, with a performance that won’t rival other high-end laptops but will get the job done with Intel’s 10th-Generation chip and an Nvidia Quadro T1000 GPU.

If you’re after more rendering power, there are other options for a similar price, but you are getting a unique screen hinge as a compromise that’s ideal for doodlers and sketchers.

Reviewer: Andrew Williams
Full Review: Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel Pro Review

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FAQs

What is an SSD?

The SSD (solid state drive) is essentially the component that determines how much storage your laptop has. A 512GB SSD is the norm these days, with anything less making storage space feel cramped if you download a lot of music, photos and videos.

What is a 2 in 1 laptop?

A 2 in 1 laptop is a device that has a flexible hinge, allowing it to be folded up into a tablet form. These laptops often have stylus support too, making them good options for doodlers and creatives.

What is RAM?

RAM (Random Access Memory) is computer memory that helps the processor offer a smooth performance. 8GB seems to be the default for laptops these days, with anything less potentially seeing noticeable slowdowns for your computer.

What is Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt is a port technology that is typically found through USB-C connections. Thunderbolt is signalled with a small lightning bolt icon, and can allow for multi-purpose functions such as power delivery, display output and data transfer for an all-in-one solution.

Specs compared

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Trusted Reviews test data

PCMark 10
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
3DMark Time Spy
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed
Brightness
Black level
Contrast
White Visual Colour Temperature
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3
PCMark Battery (office)
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Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

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