Find out the best performance laptops to buy in 2021. The best laptops for you, from ultraportables to high-powered editing machines.
It’s getting harder to buy a bad laptop, but what separates the best performance laptop of 2021 from good laptops is how they balance power, efficiency, portability, and comfort
The best performance laptops of 2021 can come with a variety of brands, prices, and features. Our current pick for the best laptop of 2021 is the MacBook Pro. While it’s certainly not a perfect device, there are no major flaws. It’s a great pick for productivity, browsing, and even light gaming.
The best graphics cards you can get in laptops are now more impressive than ever, and some laptops will now offer full-fat desktop cards, not the weaker mobile versions that were once the only option.
Here, we’ve listed some of the most powerful and best performance laptops to buy today.
MacBook Pro – The most powerful MacBook ever
- CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9
- Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M
- RAM: 16GB – 64GB
- Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
- Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD
Apple knocked it out of the park with the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019), which is one of the fastest laptops out there. It’s one of the most powerful laptops money can buy right now and keeps the thin, light, and stylish design that made the MacBook Pro range so iconic. The fact that Apple also included a larger 16-inch screen, while keeping the overall size and weight of the new MacBook Pro similar to the 15-inch version is truly impressive.
When it comes to performance, not much can beat the MacBook Pro 16-inch, even despite Apple’s latest machines with their M1 chips. With the 16-inch model, you get some of the best mobile hardware ever made, including a 9th-generation Intel Core processor and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M graphics card, as well as up to 64GB of memory. This is the ultimate laptop for media editing and creation, and one of the best laptops ever made – by Apple or anyone.
Dell Precision 3540 – Portable Powerful Laptop
- CPU: 4-6 core 8th generation Intel Core i5 / i7 / i9 / Xeon
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics / Nvidia Quadro P1000 / P2000
- RAM: 8-32GB
- Screen: 15.6-inch UltraSharp FullHD / 4K
- Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD, 500GB-2TB HDD
Dell describes its Dell Precision 3540 as its thinnest, lightest and smallest 15-inch mobile workstation ever, and we’d agree. Available in ‘bright onyx’ or ‘platinum silver’, it’s a lovely machine with a brilliant specifications.
The two-piece silver and black chassis look great, and inside there’s a choice of Core i5, i7, or i9 Intel processors with four or six cores. Up to 2TB of fast NVMe storage is available and unlike many other slim and light laptops, you can add a second hard disk to give you both a fast system drive with additional internal storage for media.
Topping off the specification is an Nvidia Quadro 1000 or 2000 graphics card and an optional 4K touch-sensitive display to offer a premium computing experience.
Dell XPS 15 – Best Gaming laptop
- CPU: Intel Core i5 10300H through to Intel Core i9 10885H
- Graphics: Intel UHD graphics/Nvidia geforce GTX 1650 Ti
- RAM: 8GB through to 64GB DDR4
- Screen: 15.6in, 1920p x 1200p/3840p x 2400p
- Storage: 512GB through to 1TB SSD
This is Dell’s flagship laptop, a showcase of everything the manufacturer can reasonably pack into a single machine without the entire thing melting into a hot puddle of silicon and plastic. The Dell XPS 15 is one of the best Windows laptops you can buy, and pairs a minimalist, no-fuss design with top-level functionality and performance.
The bright, crisp 4K touchscreen stands head and shoulders above most other laptops we’ve tested, while under the hood the 10th generation Intel processor packs more performance than the average desktop computer. Those looking for a more portable laptop might want to look elsewhere. At 15 inches the Dell XPS 15 is a hefty load, and battery life is middling, lasting about a full working day if you don’t tax it too much.
Microsoft Surface book 3 – Best Windows laptop
- CPU: Intel Core i5 1035G7 through to Intel Core i7 1065G7
- Graphics: Intel iris plus
- RAM: 8GB through to 32GB DDR4
- Screen: 13.5in, 3000p x 2000p
- Storage: 128GB through to 1TB SSD
- Pros: Detachable touchscreen, great performance
The Surface Book 3 is an imposing-looking machine. The flagship laptop in the Surface range is designed to showcase everything a portable Windows device is capable of and appears to have been hewn from a single block of brushed metal. The neat unibody chassis is unblemished by anything so tacky as a holographic Intel sticker, brandishing only the minimalist Microsoft logo on the back of the display. This is Microsoft at its most Apple.
The Surface Book 3 has the performance to back up its looks, powered by the newest Intel Core i7 processor and a modest 32GB of memory. The keyboard is comfortable to work on and the 3:2 ratio screen is a natural fit for web browsing and document editing. At the touch of a button, the screen comes away and can be used as a fully mobile Windows tablet.
Lenovo yoga 7 slim – Best Budget laptop
- CPU: Intel Core i5 1135G7 through to Intel Core i7 1165G7
- Graphics: Intel iris xe
- RAM: 8GB DDR4
- Screen: 14in, 1920p x 1080p
- Storage: 256GB through to 512GB SSD
A premium ultrabook without the premium price tag, right now the Lenovo yoga 7 slim is one of the best laptops you can buy in 2021. For the last few years Lenovo has been quietly turning out laptops and tablets that offer smart design and decent specs without costing the earth, and this model is the culmination of the Chinese manufacturer’s best work.
This super-thin laptop is powered by a Core i5 processor tuned for laptops, giving you enough grunt to handle CPU-intensive tasks like photo and video editing, and even some lower-end games. To bring costs down Lenovo has plumped for a standard HD, 1080p display, but it’s a good quality panel with excellent color reproduction and contrast.
Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition – powerful laptop for digital creatives
- CPU: Intel Core i7-10875H
- Graphics: Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000
- RAM: 32GB DDR4-2933MHz
- Screen: 15.6″ OLED 4K Touch 60Hz, 100% DCI-P3, factory calibrated
- Storage: 1TB SSD
While the regular Razer Blade laptop is a gaming laptop, Razer has taken its sheer power and turned the whole thing into one of the best (and most powerful) mobile workstations for creatives.
The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition is a brilliant laptop aimed at photographers, graphic designers, and video editors in particular, with a choice of powerful graphics cards, along with a stunning, factory-calibrated 4K display. Combined with the sleek design and excellent build quality, the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition proves that the most powerful laptops in the world can also be some of the most stylish as well.
MSI Creator 17 – Large and high-performance laptop
- CPU: up to 10th-generation Intel Core i9 Processor
- Graphics: up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER with Max-Q
- RAM: up to 64GB
- Screen: 17.3″ UHD (3840×2160), IPS-Level – 17.3″ UHD (3840×2160), MiniLED, HDR 1000, 60Hz, IPS-Level
- Storage: 512GB – 2TB NVMe SSD
As a digital creative, you’re not just looking for a powerful laptop that can chew through tasks with ease – you also want something with a brilliant display that can show off your work in style. That’s why the MSI Creator 17 is a brilliant choice – it comes with a mini LED display, offering vibrant and accurate colors and 1000 nits of brightness.
It’s also supremely powerful, with 10th-generation Intel Core processors and Nvidia RTX graphics cards. This makes it an incredibly powerful laptop for video editing and 3D modeling.