The best laptops you can buy in 2021
Best laptop overallRead reviewBoosted performanceExtra ports
Next best laptopRead reviewGorgeous displaySmart design
Best gaming laptopRead review165Hz refresh rateClean, consistent 60fps
Best MacBook laptopRead reviewM1 ProcessorGreat bang for buck
Best 2-in-1 laptopRead reviewIntegrated soundbarLeather-laced design
While laptops aren’t as versatile as modern 2-in-1 PCs or as lightweight as tablets, they still hit a sweet spot for performance and portability that’s easy to like.
If you grew up in the time before the iPad and iPhones, there’s something familiar and robust about the form-factor and the fact that there’s a physical keyboard in the mix. While tablets and convertibles quickly went from novel to normal for many consumers, there are still plenty who prefer to stick with a more conventional portable computing form-factor.
It doesn’t hurt that the list of typical laptop compromises gets shorter and shorter each year. These days, buying an ultrathin laptop doesn’t involve as big a sacrifice in performance, nor does buying a performance-focused laptop doesn’t involve settling as much when it comes to portability. For those who aren’t power users, using a laptop as a replacement for your desktop is a much more viable course of action than it was previously.
Where tablets and convertibles are sometimes experimental, laptops are a known quantity. You know what you’re buying, and you know what you’re getting. Unfortunately, there are still an overwhelming number of options to choose from if you’re in the market for a new laptop.
For all that recent chip shortages have squeezed the tech supply chain to the breaking point, laptop buyers remain spoiled for choice. And as more and more businesses move towards working from home, it’s become vital to ensure you have the right tools for the job.
If you’re looking to buy a new laptop in 2021, these machines represent the cream of the crop.
What is the best laptop overall?
While it can’t quite match the form-factor or design of the Dell XPS 13 or Apple MacBook Air, the Razer Book 13 finds a way to redeploy Razer’s usual strengths in new contexts. For a small sacrifice in portability, the Razer Book 13 offers a solid boost to performance and a sleek design. It’s for all these reasons and more that the Razer Book 13 is currently our pick for the best laptop you can buy in 2021.
Buying guide: What to look for in a good laptop
- Screen size and type: Unlike upgradeable components like your GPU, RAM and storage, you’re stuck with the display you buy when you purchase a laptop. Is it a comfortable size? Does it offer a wide-viewing angle?
- Resolution: Similarly, you can’t change your display’s resolution after the fact. 1080p (Full HD) is the bare minimum these days and most laptops worth their price tag aim for 1440p at least (QHD or QuadHD) but you can also opt for 4K if you’re willing to spend a little extra.
- Refresh rate: A screen’s refresh rate is the measurement of how frequently it changes. If you play fast-paced multiplayer games like Call of Duty, you know that the difference a few milliseconds that a high refresh rate gets you can count for a lot. The higher the refresh rate, the better. Most conventional laptops offer 60Hz to 90Hz but fancier gaming laptops can offer 144Hz, 165Hz or even 240Hz screens.
- Ports and connections: Like your screen, ports will impact your everyday experience with a laptop, particularly if you use it for work. While you can work around this with USB hubs and adapters, a laptop with fewer ports than you need can quickly become a headache.
- Future-proofing: There are no hard and fast rules here but as a general suggestion, you’ll want to sure you’re laptop has the legs to survive a few years of technology improvements in any way you can. You can overshoot on your desired specs, spending more on a machine that’s more powerful than you currently need, or opt for a model or brand that has support for upgrades down the track. Check which features of the machine are upgradeable. The Dell XPS 15, for example, supports upgradeable RAM, while Apple MacBooks do not.
Check out our dedicated laptop buying guide for more suggestions on shopping for the best laptop for your needs.
Best laptop overall: Razer Book 13
If you’ve got serious money to spend on a laptop, the new Razer Book 13 is one of the best ways you can spend it.
Although the brand behind this laptop is better known for playing in the gaming laptops and peripheral space, they’ve done an excellent job of leveraging that expertise in ways that leave the Razer Book 13 standing tall in a crowded category.
With a mercury-tinted CNC aluminium design, the latest Razer Book is as sleek, stylish and slim as you’d want a premium laptop to be. As with many of its competitors, it’s powered by Intel’s finest crop of 11th-Gen Core Evo silicon, Iris Xe graphics and a generous sum of PCIe SSD storage.
The Razer Book 13 also benefits from a vapour chamber cooling system and a chunky but satisfying keyboard with plenty of press plus per-key RGB customisation. It has a few more ports than the average ultraportable, which lets you cast your ambitions a little wider.
Finally, thanks to Intel’s fast-improving integrated GPU tech, the Razer Book 13 is able to deliver a pretty decent gaming experience in addition to being a productivity powerhouse. It’s no desktop rig, but it’s capable enough to handle popular live services like Overwatch at more than serviceable frame rates.
The Razer Book 13 excels on every front that matters and manages to find a few edges even in the hyper-competitive landscape of modern slim and powerful laptops in 2021.
- Extra ports
- Vapour chamber
- Boosted performance
- Sleek design
- Added heft
- Capped at 16GB RAM
|Model||Razer Book 13|
|Processor||Starts at Intel Core i5-1135G7|
|Memory||Starts at 8GB RAM|
|Display||13.4-inch FHD, 60Hz|
|Storage||Starts at 256GB of SSD storage|
|Ports||2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4), 1x USB Type-A 3.2, Combo audio jack, Micro SD slot, HDMI-out|
|Speakers||2 Speakers + Smart Amp with THX Spatial Audio support|
|Webcam||720p Windows Hello HD webcam|
|Dimensions||15.15 mm x 198.50 mm x 295.60 mm|
Next best laptop: Dell XPS 13
If you’re looking for a sturdy Windows-based alternative to what Apple is selling with the Macbook, Dell’s XPS premium laptop line has been the answer for several years now, and that continues to be the case with the latest Dell XPS 13.
Built around a design that’s robust, reliable and a little left-of-field compared to the rest, the Dell XPS 13 comes kitted out with Intel’s latest 11th-Gen Intel Core i7 processor and Iris Xe graphics, plus up to 32 GB of RAM and up to a terabyte of SSD storage. These guts are put to work behind the scenes, while a gorgeous 13.4-inch “Infinity Edge” display sitting front and centre.
The Dell XPS 13 is the kind of smart-looking and cleverly-optimised laptop that’s easy to recommend to just about everyone. It doesn’t fumble the basics and finds a way to stand out without resorting to gimmicks. It’s gorgeous to behold, snappy in action and refreshingly distinct relative to other Windows laptops.
If you’re in the market for a new laptop in 2021 and the Razer Book 13 is a little out of your price range, the Dell XPS 13 is the next best thing you should be considering.
- Gorgeous display
- Smart design
- Lightweight form-factor
- Limited ports
- Higher-spec models are quite pricey
|Model||Dell XPS 13|
|Processor||Starts at 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7|
|Graphics||Intel Core Iris Xe integrated graphics|
|Memory||Starts at 8GB RAM|
|Display||Starts at 13.4-inch FHD+ InfinityEdge display|
|Storage||Starts at 512GB of M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Storage|
|Ports||2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4), 1x microSD card slot, 1x combo audio jack|
|Speakers||Stereo, 2.5W, tuned by Waves MaxxAudio Pro|
|Dimensions||14.8 mm x 295.7 mm x 198.7 mm|
Best MacBook laptop: Apple MacBook Air
Even if the new MacBook Pro sports a few extra ports and a larger screen, the revamped MacBook Air remains the MacBook to beat. Keeping things as simple as possible, it’s the option that’s most likely to hit the sweet spot for most consumers.
Like most MacBooks, the new MacBook Air doesn’t have a touchscreen, but it does incorporate Apple’s reworked magic keyboard, a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a matching set of Thunderbolt ports for power users.
Powered by Apple’s headlining-grabbing M1 processor, you get the latest version of the macOS operating system and hardware designed to get the most out of it. For those seeking a standout laptop that integrates effort with the rest of the Apple ecosystem, the new MacBook Air is built to deliver.
It’s all wrapped up in a familiar design and a price tag that, even for Apple, rarely feels all that egregious. If you’re the kind of person who can dance to Apple’s tune when it comes to what a modern laptop should look like, the new MacBook Air is the obvious way to go in 2021.
- M1 processor
- Plays nice with Apple ecosystem
- Great bang for buck
- Limited ports
- Thicker bezels than rivals
- Software support
|Model||Apple MacBook Air (M1)|
|Processor||Apple M1 Chip|
|Graphics||Apple M1 GPU|
|Memory||Starts at 8GB unified memory|
|Display||Retina display with True Tone|
|Storage||Starts at 256 GB of SSD storage|
|Ports||2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), combo audio jack|
|Speakers||Wide stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos|
|Webcam||720p FaceTime HD camera|
|Dimensions||30.51 cm x 21.24 cm x 0.41-1.16 cm|
Best gaming laptop: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15
The original ROG Zephyrus broke new ground for thinness without compromising when it came to the high-end performance that ASUS’ gaming laptops are usually known for. The latest ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 lives up to that legacy and then some. It pushes that formula to new heights through smart improvements and a hearty spec-bump.
A cut above the current standard for gaming laptops, the new ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 incorporates a best-in-class AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor, one of Nvidia’s latest GeForce RTX 3000 Series GPUs and a 15.6-inch WQHD display with a 165Hz refresh rate.
Throw in a few everyday ergonomic quality-of-life inclusions such as a larger touch-pad and an ergo-lift hinge that provides a more everyday typing experience, and the fundamental maths here leaves the Zephyrus G15 kitted out to deliver exactly the experience you’d hope and expect of it.
With Dolby Atmos speakers, an intelligent cooling system and a surprisingly large battery, the ROG Zephyrus doesn’t settle for doing more with less. Instead, it just does more. The results delivered by the machine’s internal specs come augmented by practical external features that push the experience just that bit further than the competition.
In 2021, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 is a standout gaming laptop that’s well worth considering for more than just those who want to see just how thin a good gaming laptop can be or how good a thin gaming laptop can be. It’s packed with premium perks, more affordable than earlier models, and the beneficiary of several hardware cycles of savvy iterations. It’s the best version yet of a great product and our pick for the best gaming laptop you can buy in 2021.
- 15.6-inch display with native 1440p
- 165Hz refresh rate
- Fingerprint sensor and larger touchpad
- Clean, consistent 60fps
- Plastic trackpad (instead of last-gen's glass)
- No webcam
- Dolby Atmos-powered speakers struggle to compete with fan noise
|Model||ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060|
|Memory||Starts at 6GB of DDR4-3200 SO-DIMM RAM|
|Display||15.6-inch WQHD display w/ 165Hz refresh rate|
|Storage||512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD|
|Ports||USB 3.2 Gen Type-A (2x), Micro SD, Kensington Security Power, HDMI 2.0b, RJ45 LAN, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (2x), Headphone / Microphone jack|
|Speakers||2x 2W tweeter + 4x 2W woofer with Smart Amp Technology|
|Webcam||No built-in webcam|
|Dimensions||35.5 cm x 24.3 cm x 1.99 cm|
Best 2-in-1 laptop: Lenovo Yoga 9i
If you’re looking to invest in a 2-in-1 convertible or detachable PC that doesn’t just look to perfect the formula but elevate it, then Lenovo’s Yoga 9i is a pricey but premium way to go about it. It hits all the notes you’d expect from a laptop of its class, plus a few new ones you might not expect. It’s as lightweight as these things come but packed with features and flair.
In line with other premium laptops, the Lenovo Yoga 9i comes kitted out with Intel’s latest 11th Gen Core i7 processors, 16 GB of RAM, a 14-inch UHD display and half a terabyte of M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD storage.
These high-end specs are only the beginning of the story. Where other 2-in-1 PCs balance performance and portability through compromise, the Yoga 9i looks to meld the best of both worlds through innovative and tangible value-adds like the garaged stylus, exceptional battery life, an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and a soundbar that’s cleverly integrated with the device’s hinge.
Lenovo has also upped the ante here through sleek material design and a trackpad that sits flush with the palm-rest. These differences and details – both big and small – serve to make the Yoga 9i feel just that bit better than other best-in-convertibles.
If you’re after a dedicated workhorse, it might not be the right fit. But if you’re looking to embrace the versatility of the form-factor then the Lenovo Yoga 9i holds its own as our pick for the best 2-in-1 laptop you can buy in 2021.
- Integrated soundbar
- Leather-laced design
- All-glass trackpad might not be for everyone
- Smaller stylus
|Model||Lenovo Yoga 9i|
|Processor||Up to 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7|
|Graphics||Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|Memory||Starts at 16 GB|
|Display||Up to 14-inch UHD|
|Storage||Up to 1TB SSD M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe|
|Ports||1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Always On), 2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 / Thunderbolt 4 (support data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0, DisplayPort 1.4 and Always On), 1 x combo audio/mic jack|
|Speakers||Stereo speakers, 4 x 2W (2 x woofers, 2 x tweeters), Dolby Atmos|
|Weight||Starting at 1.37kg|
|Dimensions||31.9 cm x 21.6 cm x 1.4-1.5 cm|
Best budget laptop (under $1000): Huawei Matebook D14
Ever since Huawei got its name notched on the US government’s infamous Entity List, the Chinese tech giant has been losing ground in Western markets. However, their desperation can sometimes be to the benefit of consumers looking for a bargain.
This is absolutely the case when it comes to Huawei’s Matebook laptops, and especially the case when it comes to the Matebook D14.
Boasting a sleek design that’s designed to be a dead-ringer for Apple’s MacBook, the Matebook D14 comes powered by AMD’s Ryzen 7 3700U mobile processor and integrated RX Vega 10 graphics. And with up to 512 GB of SSD storage, a 1080p screen with thinner 4.8 mm bezels, fast charging via USB Type-C and a fingerprint sensor for added security, the Huawei Matebook D14 comes with many of the premium perks of a luxury laptop at half the price.
Huawei’s fast depreciation in Western markets might be bad news for them, but it leaves the Matebook D14 looking like a steal for those on the lookout for a budget-friendly Windows laptop in 2021.
- Great price
- 512 GB of SSD storage
- Thin 4.8-mm bezels
- Still hard to recommend Huawei phones in Australia, rendering the smartphone integration features redundant
- No microSD slot
|Model||Huawei Matebook D14|
|Processor||Up to AMD Ryzen 7 3700U|
|Graphics||Up to Radeon RX Vega 10 Graphics|
|Display||14-inches, FHD, IPS|
|Storage||Up to 512GB PCIe SSD storage|
|Ports||2x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C 3.1, HDMI, combo audio jack|
|Speakers||Stereo speakers, 2 x 2W|
|Webcam||720p pop-up camera|
|Weight||Starting at 1.38kg|
|Dimensions||32.2 cm x 21.4 cm x 1.5 cm|
Looking for something specific?
- Best 2-in-1 laptops: Flexible tablet-laptop hybrids have exploded in popularity.
- Best gaming laptops: Gaming laptop sales are at an all-time high. Make sure you’re buying the best.
- Speed up your gaming laptop:: If you just need a little performance boost, you don’t necessarily need to buy a new laptop