If you like to write, browse, game, or work in different parts of your home or office, a good laptop in 2021 is a necessity. There are many to choose from, but you can narrow down your options by looking at laptops from the most established and respected brands first.
Here’s a list of the best laptop brands in 2021 to get you started.
Dell’s work, particularly in the ultrabook field, has yielded an incredible new crop of ultraportable laptops that are powerful and have excellent battery life. If you need a PC for work or school and want it to last for as long as possible, Dell’s machines are a great choice. And Dell has arguably one of the best business laptops in its Latitude 7400 2-in-1, which offers a solid design and multiday battery life.
This is especially true with its latest XPS models, which do everything to a high standard. They have the latest high-resolution screens, connections, software, and innovative materials. The latest 2021 XPS 13 is no exception, staying on top as the compact laptop to compare everything else to. The newer versions even have the webcam back on the top bezel, like a more traditional laptop, and can be configured with up to a six-core Intel 11th-generation Tiger Lake processor. For those who like larger screens, the 17-inch XPS 17 was one of our favorite reviewed models last year.
And Dell isn’t resting on its laurels. The latest Tiger Lake release has seen new gains for general processor performance and entry-level gaming power. Existing XPS 13 and XPS 15 models are some of our favorites laptops ever, ticking just about every box you can think of. Additionally, if you want to update to the very latest 11th-gen Intel processors, Dell models like theare some of the most affordable options.
Dell’s laptops look great, offer decent internal hardware, and have heaps of style (and they have some of the best ruggedized options on the market). They’re made with premium materials, sport a solid battery life, and are light and portable. Some of Dell’s budget or business-oriented laptops can be a little lackluster, but in the XPS line, it’s hit after hit.
If there’s one thing that nearly everyone agrees on, it’s that Apple laptops are reliable and predictably high-quality, and they last a long time with updates that support older laptops long past some other brands have bit the dust. When you buy a MacBook, you know what to expect. You’ll get a fantastic screen, solid battery life, and a beautiful chassis with thin bezels. They do tend to be a little more expensive than their Windows counterparts, and sometimes the hardware doesn’t always quite measure up, but when it comes to style, ease of use, and reliability, Apple laptops are top-notch.
Apple previously updated the MacBook line with faster CPUs in the Pro family, along with an added Touch Bar to all MacBook Pros — all without raising prices — but its latest work is even more ambitious. From fixing long-acknowledged problems with its keyboard design to shifting its laptops over to its own internal ARM M1 chip for both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro (with more on the way), it’s a great time to be an Apple fan.
HP may not have always had the best laptop reputation, but the latest HP laptops have taken some design cues from their contemporaries and have really raised the bar. Their current notebooks are fast, powerful, and easier for consumers to adopt for their personal projects. They’re also quite lovely, with the new gem-cut design adorning the Spectre line and a sleek, modern look to the latest Envy 15. Through it all, HP has earned a reputation for reliable laptops with very competent customer service.
Today, HP regularly goes head-to-head with some of the best laptop manufacturers in the world. Its Spectre x360 stole the show against the Surface Laptop in our head-to-head and continues to impress with HP’s consistent model upgrade philosophy. There are even AMOLED versions of the Spectre x360 15 and Spectre x360 13 that provide incredibly bright and vibrant displays that will please creative types and Netflix binge-watchers alike. Those more interested in performance will be glad to know that the latest crop of HP laptops has also upgraded to Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake chips, and options like the Spectre x360 14 2-in-1 remain perfect choices for a portable business laptop.
Customer support options place HP in the top five of all manufacturers. With options for up to three years of comprehensive warranty, you can net yourself some serious protection for your new laptop, too.
HP’s laptops may not always steal the show, but its lineup of hardware is stronger today than it’s ever been and well worth considering if you want an alternative to some of the above offerings.
A decade ago, no one would have thought that Microsoft would be one of the best laptop brands in the world, but today it has a well-earned spot on this list. After a few iterations of Surface tablets with some reliability issues, Microsoft claimed a 99.999% reliability in 2017 on its new Surface devices and offers hardware that is often class-leading in its own way.
The Surface Book 3 has excellent battery life like its predecessor and adds even more power, and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 is one of our favorite 2-in-1s right now. Even more midrange devices like the Surface Laptop 3 (now with a 15-inch version) and a budget tablet like the Surface Go 2 help bolster Microsoft as one of the best laptop brands today.
The company also offers a standard one-year warranty for Surface products should new owners run into trouble, with 90 days of free technical support. If you are more interested in a tablet-like 2-in-1 for professional purposes, Microsoft has also updated, which is an alternative to the iPad Pro with more connection options and Windows 10 on an AMD chip.
Not all the Surface devices are fantastic, and their prices tend to escalate very fast as you choose higher specs, but they’re still some of the best task-oriented laptops on the market.
Asus laptops might not often take the top spot in our best-of lists, but they usually warrant a medal placing due to their fantastic all-around capabilities. The current crop of its laptops includes thin and light Zenbooks, affordable Chromebooks, and powerful gaming machines like the incredible 2020 ROG Zephyrus G14. And as much as anyone, Asus is leading the movement to tiny bezels that pack as much laptop as possible into the smallest chassis.
For the savvy consumer who favors attractive and distinct-looking tech, look no further than the Asus Zenbook 13. The latest version of this laptop features a beautiful OLED screen and a battery life that keeps up with your busy day. Or, if you’re looking for an XPS alternative, we found that the Asus ZenBook S held its own with a design made to maximize the screen-to-body ratio. There are other stellar choices in the Asus family, including the Asus Zenbook 15 UX534FN and the Zenbook 14 UX425. Both of those laptops feature slim bezels, powerful performance, and a small and light framework.
Asus strongly resembles David in the story of David and Goliath. The lesser-known company continues to stack up against giants like Dell, HP, and Apple. It makes reliable laptops at genuinely affordable prices — and the company takes it a step further by adding a year of accident- and spill-protection warranties for free.
Razer is well-known for its flashy gaming accessories, but the brand also offers a powerful line of gaming laptops designed to take even demanding games on the go or support a more versatile virtual reality (VR) experience that doesn’t chain you to a desktop space. Razer laptops are built well and they last forever — at least until they’re no longer able to run the latest title at acceptable frame rates.
Just how good are we talking? The 2020 Razer Blade 15 introduced an incredible 300Hz refresh rate display, and the Blade line regularly makes our lists for the best gaming computers, offering the power, RAM, display, and cooling capacity that gamers need for the best results. And with the news that the Blades are getting support for AMD Ryzen 5000 chips, the future looks very bright.
However, Razer doesn’t only impress with gaming laptops. The Razer Book 13, essentially a powerhouse stripped of gaming flair, impressed us so much we wondered if it was “nearly the perfect laptop.”
Lenovo is a brand that we have long associated with reliability, as its long-lived line of workhorse ThinkPad/IdeaPad computers have shown up in offices and classrooms year after year. They may not always look like much, but they’re durable and more than ready to get the job done. It’s something that the brand has become increasingly skilled at.
In recent years, Lenovo has made a push for extra-portable laptops and 2-in-1s without compromising on specs, and the results have been particularly impressive. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon line continues to be one of the best business laptops available, and the 8th generation’s updates and USB-C additions have been very welcome.
We also thought the IdeaPad Slim 7 was one of the best AMD Ryzen laptops available in 2020, while the latest ThinkPad X1 Nano is one of the best choices for an ultra-portable laptop under 2 pounds. Meanwhile, the ThinkPad X12 with its detachable screen is a worthy alternative to Surface Pro and Surface Book computers.
You’ll find Acer laptops and accessories frequently show up on our recommendations for affordable or budget computing. And while the brand does have a respectable reputation for producing competent budget models like the Acer Aspire 5, Acer also has other specializations that help it stand out in the right situations.
Take the Acer Swift 5 2020, which we found to be one of the best showcases of Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors outside of Dell’s models, an ideal choice for a slim laptop that still packs a punch. Or the Acer Spin 3 2020, a 2-in-1 model with a beautiful 16:10 QHD+ display to handle serious work.
Then there are more ambitious laptops that manage to be the perfect solution for specific needs, like the Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel with a unique design (allowing six different positions) meant specifically for creative professionals and performance that wowed us. There’s a reason the ConceptD 7 Ezel won our Editor’s Choice Award upon review, and every artist should give Acer a look when upgrading to a new laptop.
Start looking for gaming laptops, and it won’t be too long before you’re looking at some of MSI’s creations. MSI has a reputation for producing extra-solid gaming machines without the flair and RGB add-ons. They’re no-nonsense laptops that get you playing fast and can put in a solid day’s work when needed.
Recent years have also seen a more streamlined focus from MSI that has produced good results and improved the brand’s products. The MSI Prestige 14 Evo, for example, is a strong choice if you are looking for a more affordable 14-inch laptop that can still handle gaming, while the MSI GS66 Stealth is a reasonable option if Razer’s Blade laptops are looking a little too pricey for you. We also found the 2021 version of the Stealth is one of the best options for 1440p resolution gaming at 240Hz. That’s certainly an achievement for a 15-inch laptop!
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