What’s the best laptop in 2021?
We’ve assembled a list of the very best laptop options we’ve reviewed in the past 12 months, ranging from ultra-portable notebooks to gaming systems that can run the likes of Apex Legends and Fortnite.
We’re including as much variety as possible, with Windows 10 laptops, Chromebooks and MacBooks all making an appearance. And if you can’t find a laptop to your liking right now, keep this page bookmarked and check back soon, as we’ll soon be reviewing the likes of the Razer Book 13 and LG Gram 2021.
So without further ado, here are the best laptops you can buy in 2021.
1. Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) – Best Windows Laptop
The best all-round Windows 10 laptop you can buy
Display: 13.4in FHD/4K | CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core | RAM: 8/16GB
GPU: Intel Iris Xe | Storage: 512GB/1TB | Weight: From 1.2kg
- Best performance seen in a Windows Ultrabook
- Improved battery life
- Drop-dead gorgeous design
- Bright and colourful screen
- More expensive than rivals
- Still stingy on ports
- Not as powerful as MacBook Air
The Dell XPS 13 (Intel 11th Gen) is our favourite all-round laptop that’s currently available, boasting the best performance we’ve seen in a Windows ultrabook while also flaunting unrivalled looks thanks to the gorgeous 16:10 InfintyEdge screen.
The introduction of the Intel 11th gen processors (aka Tiger Lake) has given this laptop a big performance boost compared to its Dell XPS 13 (2020) predecessor, although is more expensive as a result. We reckon the extra cost is worth it if you want to make use of the integrated graphics and play games such as Apex Legends and Fortnite, but its cheaper predecessor is still plenty powerful enough for day-to-day tasks.
There are some slight niggles here including the stingy number of ports, but that’s nothing an adaptor can’t fix. And if you want a larger and more powerful alternative, it’s worth considering the Dell XPS 15 2020 instead.
2. MacBook Air M1 – Best Apple Laptop
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 Silicon.
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. But if you do care about the looks, you may want to wait it out for the rumoured MacBook Air 2021 that could arrive before the end of the year.
3. Surface Laptop Go – Best Value Laptop
Our top recommended laptop for those on a budget
Display: 12.4in (1536 x 1024) | CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core | RAM: 4/8GB
GPU: Intel UHD | Storage: Up to 256GB | Weight: 1.11kg
- Incredible value
- Small and classy design
- Excellent performance
- Comfortable keyboard
- Low-resolution display
- No keyboard backlight
- No fingerprint scanner on base configuration
The Surface Laptop Go is one of the smallest laptops on this list, and lags behind the rest when performance is concerned, but it’s also far more affordable than its rivals.
With a starting price of just £549, the Surface Laptop Go is almost half the price of competitors from the likes of Apple and Dell. And while it’s not the most powerful machine here, it can still breeze through day-to-day productivity tasks without a hitch. The keyboard is also very comfortable to type on, making it a good option for student and office workers.
There are of course compromises here. The screen resolution falls below the standard 1920 x 1080 mark, and you don’t get a fingerprint scanner with the entry model, but these are small issues considering the incredible value on offer. If you like Surface laptops but want something more powerful, keep an eye out for the Surface Laptop 4.
4. Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 – Best mid-range laptop
Our favourite mid-range laptop
Display: 14in (1920×1080) | CPU: Ryzen 7 4700U | RAM: Up to 16GB
GPU: Radeon graphics | Storage: 512GB | Weight: From 1.4kg
- Great value price
- Fantastic battery life
- Speedy performance
- Nice Full HD screen
- Basic design
- No Thunderbolt
- No fingerprint scanner on select models
The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 isn’t quite as flashy as Dell XPS 13 and is a few hundred quid more expensive than the Surface Laptop Go, but we think it’s a fantastic middle-ground option that perfectly balances performance with price.
Packing a Ryzen 4000 chip, the Yoga Slim 7 doesn’t just have a solid productivity performance, but also has a stellar battery life, lasting over 14 hours on a single charge during our benchmark tests. A lovely Full HD display also makes it a good laptop for video streaming.
However, its bland design may convince some to pay extra for an Apple or Dell machine, while the omission of Thunderbolt 3 and a fingerprint scanner on select models can be irksome too. But if you’re not looking for a high-end laptop with all of the trimmings, the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 has every right to be on your shortlist.
5. MacBook Pro 16-inch – Best Creative Laptop
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. The 16-inch MacBook Pro 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.
6. Honor MagicBook 14 (2020) – Best Budget Laptop
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, we think 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 one of the best laptops for you. Better quality can be had by spending more, but few other laptops offers better value.
7. Acer Swift 5 (2020) – Best Lightweight Laptop
An impressive ultrabook that’s shockingly lightweight
Display: 14in FHD | CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core | RAM: 8/16GB
GPU: Nvidia MX350 | Storage: Up to 1TB | Weight: 1.05kg
- Lightweight design
- Superb battery life
- Competitive performance
- Plenty of ports onboard
- Concerning build quality
- Reflective screen could be an issue outdoors
- Lack of Caps Lock indicator
The Acer Swift 5 (2020) aims to challenge the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Air with one fairly unique skill: it’s incredibly light, weighing just 1kg. This makes this laptop a worthy option for those who like to travel around, as it’s barely noticeable when tucked away in a rucksack.
A competitive performance (thanks to 11th Gen Intel Core) and a stellar battery life also ensure this laptop can stream roll through day-to-day tasks when out of reach of a power supply. The option of a Nvidia MX350 also makes it possible to dabble with entry-level gaming and content creation, providing this portable with oodles of versatility.
So why can’t it knock the Dell off its perch? Well, aside from the lovely Mist Green and Safari Gold colour options, it has a rather bland aesthetic. And build quality is questionable, so it may not survive a couple of heavy knocks on your travels. Still, if you prioritize portability over build quality, then the Acer Swift 5 is an outstanding laptop option.
8. Asus ZenBook Flip S (UX371)
Our favourite convertible laptop
Display: 13.3in 4K | CPU: 11th Gen Intel | RAM: 16GB
GPU: Intel Iris Xe | Storage: 1TB | Weight: 1.2kg
- Great high-end design
- Superb screen quality
- Satisfying, speedy keyboard
- Cheaper than rivals
- Not quite as powerful as rivals
- Underside becomes hot
- Middling battery life
Most of the laptops on this list have a conventional clamshell form factor, so the Asus ZenBook Flip S offers a refreshing twist in that it can be folded up into a tablet mode, or flipped back like a tent. A bundled stylus and 4K OLED touchscreen also ensure this is one of the best ultra-portable laptops for entry-level content creation.
With an Intel 11th Gen processor under the hood, it’s an accomplished performer that can handle any every-day task you throw at it. It’s of course no MacBook Pro, so don’t expect it to handle 4K video editing and animation, but it remains competitive with the likes of the Dell XPS 13.
Such creative flair comes at a cost though, with the Flip S costing a few hundred quid more than most of the laptops on this list. If you’re not going to make the most out of the convertible form factor or bundled stylus, you may as well save your money and look elsewhere. But if you want a convertible laptop with doodling credentials, the Asus ZenBook Flip S (UX371) is a very good shout.
9. LG Gram 17 (2020) – Best 17 inch Laptop
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.
10. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 – Best Gaming Laptop
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.
Best Laptop Videos
Best Laptop Details
|Best Laptop Details||Release Date||RRP UK||Trusted Reviews Star Rating|
|Dell XPS 13 (2020)||01/10/2020||From £1069||5 / 5|
|MacBook Air M1||17/11/2020||From £999||5 / 5|
|Surface Laptop Go||13/10/2020||From £549||4.5 / 5|
|Lenovo Yoga Slim 7||2020||From £849.99||4.5 / 5|
|MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019)||November 2019||From £2399||4.5 / 5|
|Honor MagicBook 14 (2020)||2020||From £549.99||4.5 / 5|
|Acer Swift 5
|2020||From £999||4 / 5|
|Asus ZenBook Flip S (UX371)||2020||From £1499||4 / 5|
|LG Gram 17 (2020)||2020||From £1399.99||4.5 / 5|
|April 2020||From £899||5 / 5|
Best Laptop Manufacturer Specifications
|Best Laptop Specifications||Display||CPU||RAM||GPU||Storage||Weight|
|Dell XPS 13 (2020)||13.4in FHD/4K||11th Gen Intel Core||8/16GB||Intel Iris Xe||512GB/1TB||From 1.2kg|
|MacBook Air M1||13.4in
(2560 x 1600)
|Apple M1||8/16GB||Apple M1||Up to 2TB||From 1.29kg|
|Surface Laptop Go||12.4in
(1536 x 1024)
|10th Gen Intel Core||4/8GB||Intel UHD||Up to 256GB||1.11kg|
|Lenovo Yoga Slim 7||14in FHD||Ryzen 4000||Up to 16B||Radeon graphics||512GB||1.4kg|
|MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019)||16in
(3072 x 1920)
|9th Gen Intel Core||8GB||Radeon Pro 5300M/5500M||Up to 8TB||2kg|
|Honor MagicBook 14 (2020)||14in FHD||Ryzen 3000||8GB||Intel UHD||256GB||1.4kg|
|Acer Swift 5 (Late 2020)||14in FHD||11th Gen Intel Core||16GB||Optional Nvidia MX350||Up to 1TB||1.05kg|
|Asus ZenBook Flip S (UX371)||13.3in 4K||11th Gen Intel Core||16GB||Intel Iris Xe||1TB||1.2kg|
|LG Gram 17 (2020)||17in QHD||10th Gen Intel Core||16GB||Intel Iris Plus||512GB||1.4kg|
|14in FHD||Ryzen 4000||16GB||Up to Nvidia RTX 2060||1TB||1.7kg|
Best Laptop Benchmark Testing – Performance
|Best Laptop Specifications||PCMark 10||Geekbench 5 (single/multi core)||3DMark TimeSpy||Read speed||Write speed||Battery life|
|Dell XPS 13 (2020)||4802||1548 / 5687||1657||3290 MB/s||2926 MB/s||9hrs 52mins|
|MacBook Air M1||NA||1731 / 7308||NA||–||–||12 hours|
|Surface Laptop Go||3296||1205 / 3386||507||1956 MB/s||706 MB/s||8hrs 44mins|
|Lenovo Yoga Slim 7||5159||1142 / 6757||1364||3448 MB/s||2182 MB/s||14hrs 39mins|
|MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019)||NA||1211 / 6631||NA||2884 MB/s||2730 MB/s||9hrs 30mins|
|Honor MagicBook 14 (2020)||3301||792 / 3035||–||3450 MB/s||1650 MB/s||9 hours|
|Acer Swift 5 (Late 2020)||4697||1414 / 5378||1504||2298 MB/s||1027 MB/s||15hrs 21mins|
|Asus ZenBook Flip S (UX371)||–||1538 / 4899||1440||3200 MB/s||2836 MB/s||11hrs 40mins|
|LG Gram 17 (2020)||4177||1284 / 3541||745||3391 MB/s||1981 MB/s||10 hours|
|5513||1219 / 3549||6129||1927 MB/s||1770 MB/s||6hrs 30mins|
*Please note that some benchmark data is missing. This is either because the laptop’s OS was incompatible with the benchmark tool, the review preceded the latest version of the benchmark software, or the reviewer didn’t have the necessary equipment at the time for unforeseen circumstances.
Looking for something else?
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: