What’s the best laptop in 2021?
If you want to start the new year by buying the best laptop possible, then you’re in the right place. We’ve reviewed the latest and greatest portable PCs available for purchase right now, ranking our top ten picks below.
We’ve included laptops for all budgets, whether that’s a cheap system for basic office work or an all-powerful machine that can breeze through demanding multimedia tasks. We’re also included as much variety as possible, with Windows 10 laptops, Chromebooks and MacBooks all making an appearance.
So without further ado, here are the best laptops you can buy in 2021.
Related: Best Laptop Deals
1. Dell XPS 13 (2020)
The best all-round Windows 10 laptop you can buy
Display: 13.4in FHD/4K | CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core | RAM: 8/16GB
GPU: Intel Iris Plus | Storage: 512GB/1TB | Weight: From 1.2kg
- Ideal 16:10 InfinityEdge display
- Comfortable and clicky keyboard
- Remarkably thin and compact
- Productivity performance perfection
- Short on ports
- Keyboard can get a tad warm
The Dell XPS 13 2020 is the best laptop you can buy right now, delivering stellar all-round performance with very few flaws. If you’re looking for a 13-inch Ultrabook that can blast through productivity tasks, then this has to be on your shortlist.
The new InfinityEdge display makes this is one of the most gorgeous laptops available, while a 16:10 aspect ratio ensures this device is well suited to social media and web browsing. Plus, the inclusion of the Ice Lake chip not only aids efficient multitasking, but will also allow you to dabble with gaming and creative applications. Bear in mind, though, that we’ll be reviewing the Dell XPS 13 with a Tiger Lake processor very soon.
Is there any reason that you shouldn’t buy a Dell XPS 13? Well, it’s more expensive than its rivals – but it absolutely justifies the extra outlay. If you fancy a bit more size and graphical horsepower, then you may want to consider the new Dell XPS 15 2020 instead.
- Read our full Dell XPS 13 2020 review
2. MacBook Air M1
The best MacBook Ultrabook you can buy
Display: 13.4in, 2560 x 1600 | CPU: Apple M1 | RAM: 8/16GB
GPU: Apple M1 | Storage: Up to 2TB | Weight: From 1.29kg
- It’s so fast thanks to M1
- Exceptional battery life
- Strong app support
- Great keyboard
- Poor webcam
- Same design as before
- Poorly positioned (and only two) USB ports
The MacBook Air has arguably been lagging behind the rest of the laptop pack over the past few years – but that changes with the introduction of Apple’s M1 chip.
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’re looking for an Ultrabook running on macOS, this laptop is a no-brainer.
- Read our full MacBook Air M1 review
3. Honor MagicBook 14 (2020)
An incredibly affordable budget laptop
Display: 14in FHD | CPU: Ryzen 5 3500U | RAM: 8GB
GPU: Intel UHD | Storage: 256GB | Weight: 1.4kg
- Student-friendly premium style
- Superb value
- Pleasant typing experience
- More than capable productivity performance
- Webcam position on keyboard
- Below average display
Most decent Windows laptops cost upwards of £1000 these days, which is a serious lump of cash if you only want a system for web browsing and streaming video. The Honor MagicBook 14 is a fantastic exception to the rule, since its all-round performance is astonishingly good considering its £549.99 price.
Being half the price of some of other laptops inevitably means there are compromises; the MagicBook 14’s matte display is below average and the webcam is bizarrely located underneath the screen. However, the MagicBook more than makes up for its adequate screen with decent productivity performance, ultraportable design and fantastic battery life.
If you’re a student, or someone on a tight budget, then we reckon the Honor MagicBook 14 is the best laptop for you. Better quality can be had by spending more, but no other laptop offers better value.
- Read our full Honor MagicBook 14 review
4. MacBook Pro 16-inch
Best high-end laptop for creative tasks
Display: 16in (3072 x 1920) | CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core | RAM: 8GB
GPU: Radeon Pro 5300M/5500M | Storage: Up to 8TB | Weight: 2kg
- Incredibly powerful
- Bigger display still looks stunning
- Scissor keyboard a huge improvement
- More stylish with smaller bezel
- Very expensive
- Stingy port offering
- Lack of Wi-Fi 6
The performance of the 16-inch MacBook Pro is as you’d expect, offering processing speeds and GPU grunt that far exceeds the other laptops on this list. To be fair, Apple’s laptop is far more expensive than the other portable PCs here – but that’s the price you have to pay to blast through media tasks.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 is available now, too, but since that lacks a dedicated GPU, the smaller Pro can’t realistically be seen as a genuine alternative to this powerhouse portable. This is the best choice for animation and editing 4K video.
However, there’s a big issue with recommending Intel-powered Apple laptops right now, especially with the MacBook Pro 2021 launching this year. Apple has confirmed Intel MacBooks will still be supported via software updates for the foreseeable future, but the upcoming Apple-powered MacBook laptops are clearly the better option going forward.
- Read our full MacBook Pro 16-inch review
5. Surface Laptop 3 (13-inch)
One of the best value laptops available
Display: 13.5in (2256 x 1504) | CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core | RAM: 8/16GB
GPU: Intel Iris Plus | Storage: Up to 1TB | Weight: From 1.3kg
- Classy, ultraportable design
- Excellent performance
- Stunning 3:2 display
- Available in four colours
- Average battery life
- Lack of Thunderbolt 3
The Surface Laptop 3 13-inch comes closest to challenging the Dell XPS 13 2020 as the best quality Windows Ultrabook. It packs great components including Intel’s 10th-generation Ice Lake processor, which also features integrated graphics for casual gaming and Photoshop work.
One area where Microsoft is arguably better than Dell is in the looks department. The Surface Laptop 3 is available in four colours, and looks drop-dead gorgeous; the iconic Alcantara design is optional this time round.
So, why isn’t the Surface Laptop 3 at the top of rankings? Underwhelming battery life and the frankly absurd exclusion of a Thunderbolt 3 port are big enough flaws to make this Ultrabook miss out on the top spot. Also worth noting is that the Surface Laptop Go is available at a more affordable price.
- Read our full Surface Laptop 3 13-inch review
6. Acer Swift 5 (2019)
A great value ultraportable laptop
Display: 14in FHD | CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core | RAM: 8/16GB
GPU: Intel Iris Plus | Storage: Up to 1TB | Weight: 990g
- Solid performance, quiet running
- Pleasingly slim and light
- Incredibly good value
- Great port offering
- Couple of keyboard issues
The Acer Swift 5 (2019) has no right to challenge the Dell XPS 13 considering its price, yet it offers similar high-end specs including Intel’s 10th Generation processor, up to 16GB of RAM and SSD storage maxing out at 1TB.
Acer’s Ultrabook even offers some added benefits, such as a lighter frame (just 990g) and the option of an Nvidia MX250 GPU. So why does the Swift 5 miss out? Its keyboard isn’t quite good enough to challenge the very best, and its design isn’t as jaw-dropping.
- Read our full Acer Swift Swift 5 (2019) review
7. HP Envy 13 (2020)
A great, affordable laptop for the office and home workers
Display: 13.3in FHD | CPU: 10th Gen Intel | RAM: 8GB
GPU: Intel Iris Plus | Storage: 512GB | Weight: 1.3kg
- Great privacy features
- Relatively cheap price
- Great performance
- Ultra-portable design
- Loud fans
- Reflective screen
- Not as stylish as more expensive laptops
The HP Envy 13 (2020) is a similar device to the Acer Swift 5 above; they both offer great all-round performance, are available at a relatively low price, and sport solid (albeit unremarkable) designs. But while the Swift’s unique feature is its light design, the HP Envy 13 excels at privacy and security.
The Envy allows you to cut power to the webcam with a press of a key, while the screen can restrict the peripheral view of nosy snoopers thanks to the SureView feature. Such features make this an excellent business laptop, especially if you’re dealing with sensitive data.
The Envy 13 also has all the required specs to compete with the likes of Dell and Microsoft, even if it doesn’t look quite as fancy. While issues such as a glossy screen and loud fans are slightly irritating, they’re not significant enough to prevent this laptop from being a worthwhile device for work and leisure.
- Read our full HP Envy 13 (2020) review
8. LG Gram 17 (2020)
An incredibly lightweight 17-inch laptop
Display: 17in QHD | CPU: 10th Gen Intel | RAM: 16GB
GPU: Intel Iris Plus | Storage: 512GB | Weight: 1.4kg
- Unbelievably lightweight
- Superb 17-inch display
- Great battery life
- Improved processor performance
- Gaming performance with Ice Lake is disappointing
- Bland design compared to rivals
- Annoyingly reflective screen
The 17-inch form factor seemed to be as dead as the dodo a couple years back, especially in terms of productivity focused laptops. That was no major surprise since such devices were large and heavy – but the LG Gram 17 (2020) looks to change that.
This 17-inch laptop weighs just 1350g, which isn’t too far off the smaller Dell XPS 13. This allows users to watch the likes of Disney Plus on a generously sized screen without having to suffer back cramps on the work commute as a consequence. For the 2020 iteration, LG has also fitted Intel’s 10th Gen Ice Lake processor. This ensures nippy multitasking performance, although gaming and creative talents are still lacking here.
The LG Gram 17 (2020) is our favourite 17-inch laptop you can buy, and one of the best laptops in general if video streaming is a top priority. We will be reviewing the Dell XPS 17 (2020) shortly, though, which may displace the Gram as the best large laptop.
- Read our full LG Gram 17 (2020) review
9. Samsung Galaxy Book Flex
Our top-rated 2-in-1 laptop comes bundled with a S-Pen stylus
Display: 15.6in FHD | CPU: 10th Gen Intel | RAM: 8GB
GPU: Up to Nvidia MX250 | Storage: 512GB | Weight: 1.2kg
- Gorgeous QLED display
- Bundled S-Pen stylus
- Stylish blue design
- Excellent battery life
- Shallow keyboard
- Flimsy hinge
- Squashed down Shift key
The Samsung Galaxy Book Flex is our favourite 2-in-1 laptop, with the included S-Pen stylus proving a great accessory for scribbling and sketching. The gorgeous QLED screen can be flipped at a 360-degree angle, turning the laptop into a makeshift tablet. Such Windows 10 “tablet” modes are never as user-friendly as you’d find on a Apple or Android tablet, but it still gives the Flex spades of versatility.
The Flex also offers up a respectable performance and a great battery life, lasting around 10 hours when ploughing through basic tasks. It also flaunts a lovely blue design, standing out from the majority of other laptops in this list.
It isn’t a perfect device, with a wobbly hinge and a shallow keyboard proving mild inconveniences. It’s also rather expensive, with the 13-inch model costing £1349. That’s a couple hundred quid more than the likes of the Surface Laptop 3, so you really need to make the most of the “tablet” mode and stylus to make it a worthwhile purchase.
- Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book Flex review
10. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
A fantastic gaming laptop adept at day-to-say tasks
Display: 14in FHD | CPU: Ryzen 9 4900HS | RAM: 16GB
GPU: Up to Nvidia RTX 2060 | Storage: 1TB | Weight: 1.7kg
- Incredible CPU performance
- Great for Full HD gaming
- Ultraportable design
- Impressive battery life
- Lack of RGB lighting
- No integrated webcam
- Underwhelming SSD speeds
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 feels like the odd one out in this list of laptops, since it prioritises gaming performance above all else. But unlike previous gaming laptops, the Zephyrus G14 is an ultraportable machine that can double up as a productivity powerhouse thanks to its insane CPU speeds, comparatively dinky 1.69kg weight and superb battery life.
The Zephyrus G14 is currently our top recommended gaming laptop and, with a reasonable £1100 starting price, it’s a genuinely worthwhile alternative to the likes of a Dell XPS and Surface Laptop. You’ll need to be into your gaming to make the most of it, but if you fancy playing a bit of Fortnite, Civilization or Sims on your lunch break, then there is no better choice.
- Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review
Still can’t find the best laptop for you?
If you’ve had a look at our best laptop list and still can’t find the perfect system for you, why not try one of the following lists below? These are more specialised rankings, and so focus on specific features such as portability, gaming performance or price. Check it out below:
- Best Student Laptop – Best laptops for college and school goers
- Best Ultrabook – For those who prioritise portability
- Best Budget Laptop – Our top recommended laptops for around £500
- Best Gaming Laptop – The top laptops optimised for gaming
- Best MacBook – The best Apple laptops you can buy
- Best Dell Laptop – The best Dell laptops you can buy