The portable computer landscape has recently undergone radical changes. With touch screens and the ditching of optical drives, your typical notebook looks quite different from just a few years ago.
From expensive machines to portable, budget-friendly laptops for reading ebooks, an unbelievable range of different options are readily available. We’ve looked through them all and found you the best laptop in 2021 (or what will be anyway)!
If this is your new laptop for a while, be sure to read this in-depth laptop buying guide first.
Recommendation for September 2020
Top 10 Best laptops for 2021
Acer Aspire 7 – Best Laptop For The Money
Different versions of the Aspire 7 are available in varying configurations, and they often beat the competition in terms of overall specs.
For the best overall laptop, our favorite pick is all about the processor. Capable of reaching up to 4.5GHZ, the i7-9750H is one of the best 9th gen processors on the market right now.
With a solid-state drive and a dedicated graphics card, you are covered on anything from school projects to gaming as well.
Keep in mind that other models in this price range will typically come with 12 – 16GB of RAM. Unless you are using very specific memory-intensive programs, however, that amount isn’t usually needed.
Some of the most frequently mentioned features brought up by reviewers are the IPS display and the ability to add another drive for more storage space.
One potential downside that is often referenced is the positioning of the power cable, which is in the way on the right side.
Recommended configuration for Acer Aspire 7
CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6″ 1920×1080 IPS HD Display| Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 8 hours | Weight: 3.31 pounds
HP Spectre x360 – Convertible Pick
The current Cadillac of 2-in-1 laptops for work or school is easily the HP Spectre. This one isn’t just great for a hybrid machine, it has flat out great specs for any style of notebook.
As a hybrid, you can use this model as a full work laptop or fold it to use as a touch style tablet. Even with that dual functionality, you don’t lose out on the extras.
Two Thunderbolt USB ports, a fully backlit keyboard, and a discrete fingerprint scanner are all included.
Buyers don’t often have a lot of negative feedback on this model. There is one potential issue often brought up when using the keyboard instead of the stylus or touch display, however.
The Spectre’s touchpad is located directly beneath the keyboard and offset to the right. This means you may accidentally end up clicking the top edge of the touchpad while typing.
As with the VivoBook Flip listed below, this isn’t a machine meant for running games at high graphics settings. For that functionality, take a look at our best gaming machines listed below.
Recommended configuration for HP Spectre x360
CPU: Intel Core i7-8550U | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3″ 1920×1080 Corning Gorilla IPS Touch HD Display| Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 22 hours | Weight: 2.78 pounds
Google Pixelbook – Best Chromebook Choice
Most users spend the majority of their time on a web browser, rather than using any particular executable program.
If you’re in that boat, a Chromebook can be a better option than a full Windows laptop. Surprisingly, the Pixelbook actually has still better specs than many other full notebook computers.
With a Chromebook, you typically get 16 – 64GB of storage space at a maximum. Here, you get a full 128GB SSD just like with a normal laptop.
Since the bloated Windows 10 OS isn’t eating up the drive space, that’s a bigger deal than you might think. Now that you can use Android apps on Chrome OS, you don’t actually lose much functionality by ditching Windows entirely.
The overall design is the feature most frequently referenced by buyers. They consistently praise the silicone palm rests, an incredibly responsive touchpad, and thin style.
One potential downside could mar this as your choice, though — it takes time to get used to the different form factors. This 12-inch display is a 4:3 screen instead of the normal 16:9, which makes some apps (like YouTube videos) look slightly more cramped.
Recommended configuration for Google Pixelbook
CPU: Intel Core i5-7th Gen | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.3″ 2400×1600 Corning Gorilla IPS HD Display| Storage: 128GB SSD | Operating System: Chrome OS | Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 2.45 pounds
Dell XPS 15 – Best Ultrabook
Normally going the ultraportable route means giving up higher end specs. That’s not the case here, as Dell managed to cram some top shelf components into a tiny space.
At under three pounds, you get both a 9th gen processor and a full 16GB of RAM. Throw in the screen and you’ve got a killer laptop that’s still easy to carry around to school or work.
Of course you’ll pay a premium for those high-end specs in such a small package. Keep in mind this model also isn’t intended to be upgraded, as the slim design prevents access to internal components.
Most users don’t ever crack open their laptop cases anyway, so that may not be a problem for you. If you are a power user who loves to upgrade components, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Love the style and specs but want something more like a tablet instead? For an extra $100, you can get the XPS in a 2-in-1 flipbook version.
For another look at a very light machine, be sure to take a look at the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon listed below.
Recommended configuration for Dell XPS 15
CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6″ 1920×1080 InfinityEdge IPS HD Display| Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 8 hours | Weight: 5.39 pounds
Acer Aspire 5 – Best Budget Laptop In 2021
When the Acer Aspire 5’s lid is open, you’re greeted with a 15.6-inch full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) display, with an LED backlight and in-plane switching (IPS) technology.
Screen quality is excellent, with crisp text and vivid colors when the backlight is set to its maximum level.
So what’s the downside here? This is the price point where solid-state drives aren’t quite standard yet.
Powered by the latest Core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM, this laptop is pretty fast and affordable at the same time.
So if you are on a tight budget and want something powerful but won’t break the bank this laptop is simply one of your best choices.
Recommended configuration for Acer Aspire 5
CPU: Intel Core i5-10210U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6″ 1920×1080 IPS HD Display| Storage: 256GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 5 hours | Weight: 5.74 pounds
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – Best Business Notebook
For a business operation — large or small — you want the absolute most bang for your buck when it comes to a laptop.
Your investment needs to be worthwhile, and that’s what you get with the Thinkpad X1 carbon. If you need to buy a bunch of machines for a group of employees, you can’t go wrong here.
With these high end specs, your work laptop won’t be out of date anytime soon. Best of all, the Carbon has a full 1TB drive that also happen to be solid state, rather than the older HDD design.
What you get here is thin, portable, durable, fast, and has a staggering amount of storage space. When you need files to stay confidential, you also get a fingerprint reader for security.
Since this model is aimed at business rather than gaming, the lack of a dedicated graphics card means it stays cooler and runs quieter.
With the HDMI port, you can also hook up to an external display for presentations during meetings.
Recommended configuration for Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
CPU: Intel Core i5-10210U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6″ 1920×1080 IPS HD Display| Storage: 256GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 5 hours | Weight: 5.74 pounds
Asus Zenbook Flip – Best Laptop For School
The ZenBook Flip delivers on nearly all fronts, offering a lot of power in a tiny package. This model is extremely thin in comparison to your average laptop, but without sacrificing much screen size.
It also stays cool and quiet, and comes with a fingerprint lock for the security-minded. You want have to worry about noisy fans in class or lugging around a heavy machine.
There is one potential downside here — this is very much intended for the actual school projects, and not the extracurricular stuff after class. This simply isn’t meant to be a gaming machine.
With no dedicated graphics card, that’s just not the focus of this particular model. You will still be able to play games like League Of Legends or Fortnite, but AAA games with high graphics requirements aren’t going to work here.
When reviewing their Zenbook Flip, buyers often bring up the excellent battery life and fast speeds. The shiny touch display attracts fingerprints easily however, so get yourself a nice cleaning cloth or a screen protector.
Recommended configuration for Asus Zenbook Flip
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14″ 1920×1080 Touchscreen HD Display| Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 3.08 pounds
MSI GE75 Raider – Best For Gaming
For gamers, it doesn’t really get more high end than this. Until the new GeForce 2080 series makes into mobile form next year, this laptop features the best graphics card you can buy.
For a gaming rig, that should be your main deciding factor. A RTX 2070 will chew up and spit out absolutely any game you throw at it and still ask for more!
Gamers typically want extras besides just high specs, and you get that as well with the mechanical, per-key RGB. Yes, you can literally change the color of every individual key on the keyboard.
If you want a truly absurd amount of power, you can manually upgrade from 32GB to 64GB of RAM. With that amount of memory you get a beast of a machine that will still play anything at ultra settings for years (and years) to come.
With that much power under the hood, the Raider drains battery life at an astonishing speed, which is the biggest complaint from most buyers. You should expect to be plugged in for any sort of extended gaming session.
Be aware that as a desktop replacement, this thing weighs almost 6 pounds, which is more than twice the weight of your average business laptop.
Recommended configuration for MSI GE75 Raider
CPU: Intel Core i9-10980HK | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 17.3″ 1920×1080 300Hz 3ms HD Display| Storage: 1TB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 3 hours | Weight: 5.25 pounds
Apple MacBook Pro 16 – Amazing All Around
The Apple MacBook Pro 16 is simply spectacular. Having new and improved features from its predecessors, this version of Macbook is hitting the market and customers are very eager to buy one.
One of the most anticipated changes so far has been the removal of the butterfly keyboard and replacing it with the more popular and more practical magic keyboards. Now users will enjoy easier typing and a more intuitive design for their keyboards.
What we like about the Macbook Pro 16 is that it’s highly configurable meaning that you can choose its initial specs depending on your budget. Now you can go for as little as 16 GB RAM if you want to save money but if you have the cash you can go up to 64 GB RAM if you want.
Recommended Configuration For Apple MacBook Pro 16
CPU: Intel Core i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5500M, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: Configurable: from 16 GB to 64 GB RAM | Screen: 3072×1920 native resolution, 16.0-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology | Storage: Configurable: from 512 GB to 8TB | Operating System: macOS Catalina | Battery Life: 11 hours | Weight: 4.3 lbs
LG Gram – Ultraportable Option
When you need to stick to a mid-sized machine instead of going ultra portable, LG’s Gram is the reigning king. While still having a touch display, you get the full 15” screen and some amazing specs.
With a 10th gen process and 8GB of RAM, this LG can run pretty much anything you care to install without skipping a beat.
With a fingerprint scanner and an incredibly slim profile, there’s not many downsides to this machine.
Only two concerns are often brought up by buyers when reviewing the Gram. You get the full 10 key here, but due to the layout of the keyboard it can feel a bit cramped compared to other laptops.
Second, the memory is arranged as two 8GB sticks of RAM, and one is soldered directly to the motherboard. Essentially, that means this laptop isn’t ideal for upgrading the memory in the future.
Recommended configuration for LG Gram
CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6″ 1920×1080 Full HD IPS Display| Storage: 256GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 17 hours | Weight: 4.34 pounds
Picking The Best Laptop In 2020
The very first criteria that we gave importance is the budget, as we all know not all of the people can simply buy anything so we list out a different laptop with a different budget range in order for anyone to pick their best laptop.
We’ve listed the cheapest laptop available that we can say the best laptop in terms of performance, looks, and specs to price ratio.
We also listed some expensive laptops that are oozing in power for people who liked it powerful and had some spare cash sitting around their couches (pun intended). We’ve divided the budget factor into three categories in this listing, the budget best laptop, the mid-range best laptop, and the high-end best laptops.
The specs are based on a budget so we can’t really find a very powerful laptop and at the same time cheap, but the expensive ones are truly beasts in terms of power so it is up for you to decide whether to go cheap or go all out.
Screen Size & Display Quality
You can never say a laptop is best if it has a mediocre display so finding the one’s with dest display possible in their different price range is a bit hefty task, the cheapest we could find has an IPS display so it is really worth the spot on the list while the most expensive features a 4K resolution that most visual people prefer.
Screen sizes really depend on your use-cases, most students need a more portable laptop to go with so an 11” screen is a plausible fit for them while other professionals want to have a big screen so 15 to 17” inch is what they needed, for gamers they mostly needed display with a fast refresh rate in order to have an instant reflex while playing games without a frame drops. We picked different screen sizes but all with great display quality to ensure an immersive viewing experience, regardless of budget and preference.
As you can see, there are no Mac laptops in the listing and the reason is that for a laptop to be best it should have enough power and should be constantly updated. Mac laptops are slim and compact but lack power while Windows computers are constantly updated with new specs when they become available.
Mac OS is very restrictive so you can’t really use it for almost anything, while Windows is very diverse and you can use it any way you wanted though mac OS is more secure and optimized. Best laptops should be diverse enough to make you do what you gotta do without any restrictions or limitations.
Though it is really up to your use cases and preference, you can always opt for Mac laptops if you think they are the best for you, what we’ve listed are suggestions from people who knows what the best laptop should be in terms of overall quality.
When buying for any laptop, the RAM size is a crucial criterion as it decides whether you can use it for multitasking or not, most laptops in this list have at least 8GB of RAM which is more than enough for everyday use while the high-end laptops feature 16 to 32GB of RAM for more extensive use cases.
If you are just looking for the best laptop for everyday use, an 8GB of RAM is more than enough for you and bigger than that is unnecessary as you won’t use them anyway. While gamers needed more RAM for better gaming experience and most professional needed at least 12GB to ensure they can do more without compromises.
Graphics cards are responsible for rendering an image to your monitor so having a quality graphics card is a must for most people who’s into visuals, especially those who are working as an artist or any other profession that requires high-quality images.
Each category of laptops has different graphics quality, the budget category may don’t have a dedicated graphics card but in this case, we manage to find a cheap best laptop that has its own dedicated graphics card though it is not as powerful as the high-end laptop on the list, it is better than nothing.
Most high-end laptops come with a dedicated graphics card and are fitted with those powerful graphics cards that could render high-quality graphics with ease. We recommend having a dedicated graphics card especially for people who are into visual work or gaming as it is more convenient.
While most people don’t need a powerful graphics card for everyday usage, you can still opt for laptops that have it for future proof purposes.
CPU decides how fast your laptop’s computing speed is so having the latest and powerful processor is a must for most people while processors differ in terms of versions and generations, one should keep in mind that the powerful the processor is the higher the price would be.
In this list, we made sure we got the latest processor as possible in every category. The cheapest is equipped with AMD Ryzen processor which is more than enough to take on everyday computing and light gaming needs.
The high-end laptop has very powerful processors that can take on heavy tasks with ease, while mid-range laptops have a decent processor that could suffice almost every task. The processing power is also dependent on GPU in terms of CADs and games so make sure both will complement each other to make sure you have a powerful laptop.
The amount of storage in a laptop is important so as what type of storage it is. In most cases SSD is more convenient and has faster booting and transfer rate, though HDD is the traditional storage that is still widely used.
In this list, we made sure that every laptop is fitted with SSD to ensure it far more superior to others. The lowest SSD on this list is 128GB that is fitted on our budget best laptop but don’t worry because you can always use cloud-based storage to maximize the internal storage capacity.
The other high-end laptops have both SSD and HDD this is for people who need enormous storage though the price is higher than others. It is fitted with SSD as the main storage and for faster booting while the HDD is the secondary storage where you can store a large amount of data as it typically comes with 1TB capacity.
How many USB ports do you need? Do you need a DVD-RW? A micro SD slot? We’ve considered every possibility that a user may need something out of the best laptop that we’ve gathered so we made sure each laptop has distinct features that you may need.
We got touchscreens, we got 2-in-1 and we got some very portable laptops on this list depending on your preference, others are fitted with DVD-RW for those who need it and others have many USB ports if you opt to have it while others are ultraportable in case you need a laptop on the go.
The keyboard and trackpad on these laptops are awesomely genuine and precise at the same time os you can expect some quality built keyboard and trackpad, while each of these laptops has different features that you could choose from.
It is really up to you what other features you may need, we’ve feathered the best possible laptops with the best possible features that you may want or need so you can decide wheter you need something like this or that.
What Do I Really Need From A New Laptop?
Are your main tasks with a laptop simply word processing, sending emails, and watching YouTube vids? In many cases, a budget machine with 4GB of RAM will more than fit your needs.
When you expect to run dozens of tabs at a time and use higher end software, that’s when it’s time to more closely check the specs.
8GB of RAM is becoming the norm for business operations, and a 7th or 8th gen processor will keep your laptop running smoothly.
When possible, go with a solid state drive or a hybrid SSHD over the standard HDD. The speed and extremely quiet operation are well worth the reduced storage space.
After considering those specs, check to see what extra features a laptop offers that appeal to you.
Want a fingerprint scanner for security? Are you planning upgrading the memory later on? Do you need an SD card reader?
These options can vary wildly between models, so pay close attention to the fine print!
Should I Pick A Touch Screen?
The traditional concept of a laptop is rapidly changing. What was once thought of as a bulky machine to sit directly on your lap is now becoming much thinner and lighter.
Although it’s not quite industry standard yet, nearly every manufacturer is putting out touch screen models.
These hybrid laptops let you operate the normal keyboard and touchpad, or instead use your finger like with a tablet. Not everyone needs this functionality, however, and in some cases it may not be worth the cost.
Are you used to typing on a keyboard, or do you have a toddler who likes to tap the screen? A touch display probably shouldn’t be high on your list of priorities in those cases.
Do I Want A Laptop With An Optical Drive?
Much like with the touch screen option, another previously standard piece of hardware is changing in new laptops. Most devices these days simply don’t have an optical drive for reading or burning DVDs.
Due to the prevalence of cloud-based backup services and cheap USB storage, DVD-RW drives aren’t as necessary.
Do you still have a large collection of installation discs sitting around? Do you prefer CDs over digital media?
In those cases, going out of your way to find a laptop with a built-in optical drive is worth the hassle. If the programs you use for school or work are all available to download however, then save yourself the money and space by ditching the optical drive.
From first time college students to professionals who need a machine for trading stocks all day, one of these laptops will perfectly fit your needs and budget!
What did you think of our picks for the best laptop in 2020? Let us know what styles and features you prefer, and be sure to leave a comment if you plan on buying any of these computers!