Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (2023)


Our top picks include the very best in laptop technology, from new CPUs and GPUs to the latest displays, keyboards, webcams, I/O ports, and more.

VonSam SingletonInAshley Biancuzzo

PC WeltAug 23, 2023 at 10:04am PDT

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (1)

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (2)

Image: Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

In our endless search for the best laptops, we've scoured the market for the best picks in every category: from premium laptops to budget laptops to gaming laptops and everything in between. Check out the list below for our top picks for August 2023.

Why you should trust us:Hey, it's in our name! PCWorld prides itself on its laptop experience and expertise. We have been working with PCs since 1983 and now inspect more than 70 laptops per year. All the tips below have been personally tested and verified by our experts, applying not only performance benchmarks but also strict usability standards. We also strive to review PC laptops across all price ranges, so you can find a device that fits your budget.

It's school time again. So if you're looking for a good deal, be sure to check out our overviewThe best deals for back to schoolas well as our running summary ofThe best laptop dealsupdated daily.

Updated on 8/23/2023:We're including the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 as our pick for the best Chromebook. Read our review below to see how this powerful, well-built 2-in-1 stands out in the ChromeOS pack.

Acer Aspire 3 – Best budget laptop

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (3)


  • Spacious keyboard with numeric keypad
  • HD-webcam
  • Solid video playback performance
  • Decent performance of the business app
  • Battery life for the entire working day


  • Poor graphics performance in gaming
  • Simple 1080p display
  • Small 128 GB storage drive

The best prices today:$299.99 at Amazon

With its affordable price, decent performance, and sturdy construction, the Acer Aspire 3 is a good budget option for most people. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing notebook, but the construction is surprisingly sturdy. It feels solid and durable, reminiscent of laptops with significantly higher prices. The full keyboard is also nice. It features a spacious layout that is perfect for longer typing sessions. You'll have to sacrifice performance for a budget laptop, but the Aspire 3 is fast enough for common tasks like typing emails and browsing the web. If you're looking for a solid laptop for everyday use that doesn't cost a lot of money, the Aspire 3 offers a lot of performance for a relatively small price.

Read our fullReview of the Acer Aspire 3 (2022).

Dell XPS 13 Plus – Best Ultraportable

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (4)


  • Fast CPU
  • Beautiful 3.5K OLED
  • Great tone


  • Only two USB-C ports
  • Mediocre battery performance
  • No headphone jack

The best prices today:$1303.99 at Best Buy$1349.00 at Dell Small Business$1,425.00 at Amazon

Not only is the Dell XPS an excellent ultraportable laptop, it also boasts top performance and a stunning OLED panel. Thanks to the 14-core Intel Core i7-1280P CPU, there is also no loss of computing power. Not only is it great for general use, but it can also perform photo editing tasks with ease. This device is also equipped with Intel Xe graphics card, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD storage.

Although the OLED touchscreen is only 13.4 inches in size, it is absolutely beautiful. With a resolution of 3456×2160, the image is sharp and vibrant. Unfortunately, because the design is so compact, it lacks some connectivity options and the battery life is only mediocre. If you can forgive these limitations, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a good option for most people who need a laptop for travel.

Read our fullDell XPS 13 Plus 9320 Review Van

HP Dragonfly Pro – Best MacBook Alternative

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (5)


  • High-quality materials
  • Powerful AMD Ryzen chip
  • Surprising setup with four loudspeakers
  • Good battery life
  • Great value for the dollar


  • All myHP keyboard keys should be reassigned
  • No user upgradeable components
  • No headphone jack
  • Only 2 fast USB-C ports

Want the attractive design, high efficiency, and powerful performance of a MacBook Pro, but in a Windows device? Then you should definitely consider the HP Dragonfly Pro. It's the closest thing to Apple's premium laptop line. HP has teamed up with AMD to equip this laptop with a next-generation Ryzen 7 processor with powerful eight cores and a Radeon 680M graphics card, making it much more powerful than its slim 0.7-inch thick model would suggest.

It convinces with an attractive design and a high-quality appearance, made of aluminum and polycarbonate. You'll even notice that HP has followed the MacBook's minimalistic approach to ports, as there are only two USB 4 Type-C ports and one USB-C 3.2 port. This makes for a clean look, but users may not like this as it makes connecting many accessories a bit difficult. And while the display is good enough, it sadly falls short of Apple's. Still, for a laptop that's significantly cheaper than current MacBook Pro models, this Dragonfly Pro laptop from HP is a more than worthy competitor - plus you have the flexibility of Windows and the ability to play games during your downtime.

Read our fullReview van de HP Dragonfly Pro

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 – Best 2-in-1

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (6)


  • Attractive slim design
  • Excellent OLED display
  • All USB-C ports support display and power delivery
  • Touch screen with included active pen


  • Disappointing graphics performance
  • Only one USB-A port
  • More expensive than the 2022 model

The best prices today:$1399.99 at Best Buy

The Lenovo Yoga laptops have always been great 2-in-1s, but the latest Gen 8 version has outdone itself. Lenovo's new Yoga 9i not only remains one of our favorite convertibles, but also exceeds the high standards of previous versions. There are plenty of solid performance specs under the hood, such as a 13th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, and a 512GB SSD. The Yoga 9i also has a slim design, measuring just over half an inch thick and weighing about 3 pounds. And if that wasn't enough, it also comes with some great extras, such as the 1080p webcam and an excellent 2880x1880p OLED touchscreen.

Sure, it's a bit pricier than the previous Yoga versions, but the performance and features mean it's value for money. If you're looking for a 2-in-1, the Yoga 9i should be at the top of your list.

Read our fullLenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 review

Acer Chromebook Spin 514 – Beste Chromebook

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (7)


  • Great processor performance
  • Robust, high-quality design
  • Top keyboard and touchpad
  • Two USB-C ports with Power Delivery
  • Long battery life


  • A bit heavy for a 2-in-1
  • Screen could be brighter
  • Android game performance is unreliable
  • Expensive compared to Windows alternatives

For people who enjoy the simplicity and convenience of cloud-based ChromeOS over Windows, the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 is a worthwhile option. With its sleek and rugged design, punchy CPU performance, and spectacular keyboard and touchpad, it certainly defies the stereotype that Chromebooks are smaller laptops. It also has two USB-C ports with Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alternate Mode - meaning you can use either port to power and charge the device or play video on a second USB-C monitor.

The Spin 514 is equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 5625C CPU, AMD Radeon graphics, 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage. The display, which can be folded 360 degrees thanks to the 2-in-1 form factor, has a resolution of 1920x1080 and is touch-sensitive. Of course, this level of capability and versatility comes at a higher price point than other more understated Chromebook variants. But if you can stomach the $699.99 price tag, this device won't disappoint.

Read our fullReview van de Acer Chromebook Spin 514

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) – Beste gaming-laptop

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (8)


  • Strong CPU and GPU performance in a very compact design
  • AniMe Matrix screams unique
  • It has a webcam


  • Semi-permanent RAM memory
  • The keyboard backlight is below average

The best prices today:$1,349.00 at Amazon$1899.99 at Best Buy

The ROG Zephyrus G14 is both light and powerful - a very rare combination. It weighs just over three pounds, making it a powerful travel laptop. Between the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and AMD Radeon RX6800S GPU, you can also expect strong performance. The only weak point is the keyboard. It feels a bit soft and the backlight is rather impressive. However, if you're looking for a portable laptop with punchy performance, the Zephyrus G14 is a solid choice.

Read our fullROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) review

ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED ultraslanke laptop – Beste budget-gaminglaptop

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (9)


  • Good productivity performance
  • Excellent presentation
  • Robust design
  • Great battery life


  • Boring aesthetic
  • Modest 720p webcam
  • Unreliable fingerprint scanner
  • Bad port selection

The best prices today:$919.99 at Asus$919.99 at Best Buy$929.99 at Adorama

Are you looking for a reliable, affordable gaming laptop? The ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED is a fantastic option. According to our tester, this laptop is great for "gaming, streaming, and everyday productivity". Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800HCPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (4 GB GDDR6) GPU, we were able to hit 60 frames per second at 1080p during the high-end graphicsShadow of the Tomb Raiderbenchmark. Plus, the OLED display is absolutely gorgeous and the battery life is surprisingly good. However, there are a few minor flaws.

The overall design is a bit basic and the port choices are limited, and strenuous modern AAA games on the RTX 3050 will require you to fall back on medium or high graphics. If you're looking for reliable performance on a beautiful OLED display, the VivoBook Pro 15 has you covered. If you don't mind sacrificing the luscious OLED graphics for a bit more graphics power, you might want to check out the Acer Swift X, our next entry.

Read our fullReview van de ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim-laptop

MSI Titan GT77 HX 13V – Beste premium gaming-laptop

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (10)


  • Excellent mechanical keyboard
  • Leading mini LED display in its class
  • Incredible CPU and GPU performance
  • 2 TB solid state storage with PCIe Gen5 support


  • Einfallsverliest design
  • Short battery life

The MSI Titan GT77 HX 13V is the ultimate gaming notebook when it comes to pure performance. It has almost everything you could dream of in a gaming machine, including the latest generation Core i9 processor, a Monster RTX 4090 graphics card, 64GB of DDR5 RAM, and a 2TB PCIe Gen5 M.2 SSD. As if that weren't enough, it also features a beautiful, industry-leading 4K IPS Mini-LED display with a 144Hz refresh rate. There's also plenty of connectivity options and a fantastic Steelseries mechanical keyboard with integrated Cherry MX switches. If we were picky, we'd say the only drawbacks are a mediocre 720p webcam and short battery life (when using power-hungry 3D games or intensive workloads).

However, all this high-end hardware comes at a price, and MSI's best hardware comes at a premium. At such a high price, this laptop isn't a practical choice for most people. However, if you want the best performance and want to spend a lot of money, there's currently nothing that can match the MSI Titan.

Read our fullMSI Titan GT77 HX 13V review

Asus ROG Strix G16 – Best keyboard for gaming

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (11)


  • The cyberpunk style looks very attractive
  • The notebook makes excellent use of its powerful hardware
  • The display looks great and handles gestures well


  • A cluster of ports on the left is not suitable for left-handers
  • The battery life is mediocre
  • The housing contains more plastic than some competitors

The best prices today:$1,325.00 at Amazon$1599.99 at Asus

It may seem like something out of a cyberpunk dream, but the Asus ROG Strix G16 features our most popular gaming keyboard on any laptop yet. A variety of programmable hotkeys, a creative hidden number pad in the trackpad, and sprung keys with generous 2mm of travel make this full-size keyboard and trackpad ideal for competitive gaming.

The Asus ROG Strix G16 backs up its style with substance, too. You get a ton of power by combining the latest generation Core i7-13650HX processor with an Nvidia RTX 4060 GPU. We were also impressed by the vibrant 16-inch display with 2560 x 1600p and a 240Hz refresh rate. Sure, the case is a little more plastic than we'd like and the battery life is well within the average category, but those quirks are forgotten once you fire up this neon-lit beauty.

Read our fullAsus ROG Strix G16 review

Asus ROG Strix 18 - Best 18-inch Gaming Laptop

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (12)


  • CPU and GPU produce impressive performance
  • The 18-inch QHD+ display is large and brilliantly colorful
  • Aura Sync RGB light bars add lightness


  • The battery life is only average
  • The trackpad is too sturdy for all-day use
  • A 1080p webcam would have been more suitable for YouTubers

The best prices today:$2099.99 at Best Buy3899.99 at Asus

Do you want a huge 18-inch screen on your laptop? What if that massive screen was a QHD+ display with a 240Hz refresh rate? Well, you already had us on the 18-inch screen. The Asus ROG Strix 18 comes as close to a true desktop replacement as possible. This laptop is packed with great features including a Core i9-13980HX processor, RTX 4090 GPU, 32 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD. But that's not even the best part: ROG Strix 18 features a delightful 18-inch QHD+ ROG Nebula panel (2560 x 1600) with 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB coverage and an excellent 240Hz refresh rate

At first glance, the price of the Asus ROG Strix 18 might put some people off, but it can be found significantly cheaper than some competing models such as Razer and MSI with the same configuration. The size can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on what you expect from a laptop. However, if you want a desktop replacement with an excellent display, there's currently none better than the Asus ROG Strix 18.

Read our fullAsus ROG Strix Scar 18 review

Dell XPS 17 (2022) – Best laptop for content creation

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (13)


  • Large 17 inch display in 16:10 format
  • Thin case
  • Incredible battery life


  • High price without OLED display
  • A low power GPU limits 3D performance
  • Low resolution 720p webcam

The best prices today:$3199.99 at Best Buy

Dell's updated XPS 17 has a huge 17-inch screen, a 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H CPU and a GeForce RTX 4070 GPU. Not only is that enough power to swipe through all your content projects in no time, but it also comes with a 1 TB SSD that also gives you enough storage space for all the projects. Packing its 4K touchscreen into such a compact laptop, and equipping the notebook itself with all the features professionals want (hello, SD card reader and plenty of Thunderbolt 4 ports), the XPS 17 is the flagship for the content creation workhorse. laptop should be.

The only real downside is that the XPS 17 weighs just under five and a half pounds, so it's a real beast. The webcam is also only 720p, which can be a drawback if you need to attend online classes or video conferences. Buy if you can live with these minor imperfections. The latest XPS 17 is a phenomenal choice for all content creators.

Read our fullReview goes to Dell XPS 17 9730

Acer Swift 3 – Best laptop for students

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (14)


  • Solid chassis and build quality
  • Large attractive 16 inch 1080p screen
  • Nice keyboard and touchpad
  • USB-C with charging and DisplayPort


  • Webcam, microphone and speakers are not convincing
  • Intel processor lags behind AMD alternatives
  • Disappointing battery life
  • Lots of bloatware

The best prices today:$926.51 at Amazon

If you're looking for a big screen on a modest budget, the Acer Swift 3 is a fantastic option. It features an attractive 16-inch 1080p display, a solid body and a comfortable keyboard and touchpad. However, the battery life is below average, so you should have the charger handy. That's a shame, because the Swift 3's slim profile makes it a good laptop to take with you on the go. If you don't mind battery life, this is a great laptop for watching movies and streaming shows.

Read our fullReview van de Acer Swift 3 SF316-51

Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip – Best battery life

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (15)


  • Spectacular battery life
  • Spacious touchpad
  • 1080p-webcam
  • Beautiful rendering


  • Heavier than expected
  • The display is too reflective in outdoor environments
  • Mediocre performance

The best prices today:$299.00 at Best Buy

If you're aiming for long battery life, the Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip is the way to go. This Chromebook's fantastic battery never seems to run out. In fact, in our test, it lasted a whopping 19 hours on a single charge, to make sure we actually ran the benchmark twice. For most laptops, being able to last 10 hours on a single charge is impressive - the CM34 Flip nearly doubles that number.

Despite the affordable price, it's no slouch in terms of performance either. It is equipped with an AMD Ryzen 3 7320C processor and 16 GB of RAM. This 2-in-1 also features a colorful touchscreen display, a comfortable touchpad and a high-quality 1080p webcam. However, at just over 4 pounds, it's not the most portable device. However, if you're looking for a durable machine for everyday use that doesn't cost a lot of money, you can't beat the CM34 Flip.

Read our fullReview van de Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best Detachable Laptop

Best laptops 2021: reviews and buying advice (16)


  • Superior screen: bigger, higher resolution, higher refresh rate
  • Tattooing is fun
  • Good sound, with louder speakers
  • The new optional Type Cover integrates the pen well


  • The webcam may need some adjustments
  • Pen and keyboard still cost extra
  • Still expensive

The best prices today:$980.99 at Amazon

Microsoft's Surface tablets were already high on our list of the best 2-in-1 laptops, but Microsoft has refreshed the Surface Pro 8 in many ways, adding a larger, faster, higher-resolution screen and a pair of Thunderbolt Added ports that include the old Surface Connector and a new hands-free experience.

Even if this generation of Surface Pro tablet does without an Always Connect LTE option and the choice of a cheap Core i3, the performance has still risen to the top. Also benefits like improving the inking with the higher refresh rate are subtle improvements that matter. It's the most dramatic Surface overhaul in years, and all for the better.

Read our fullReview of the Surface Pro 8

As we tested

The PCWorld team puts each Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and more. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it to other devices we've tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn't be fair, nor would it be possible, to run the same tests on a Chromebook, since they're Chrome OS-based devices. Below is an overview of each test and why we perform it.


  • PCMark 10: We use PCMark 10 to determine how well the laptop performs lighter tasks such as web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, etc.
  • handbrake: HandBrake is more intense than PCMark 10. It actually measures how long it takes a laptop's CPU to encode a huge 30GB file.
  • Cinebench: Cinebench is a short stress test of the CPU cores. This is done by displaying a 2D scene in a short period of time.
  • 3DMark: 3DMark verifies that 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphically intensive clips.
  • Video overview test: To gauge battery life, we looped a 4K video using the Windows 10 Movies & TV app until the laptop died.


  • CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests the battery life of a Chromebook.
  • Tachometer 2.0: This test measures the performance of a Chromebook's web browser. This is simulated by adding, completing and deleting a task list.
  • Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark measures how well a Chromebook handles web-based applications.
  • Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark.
  • Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a great way to gauge how well a Chromebook handles demanding workloads.


Ah, here we are at the billion dollar question. Are you going for a simple Chromebook or a Windows laptop with more features? Well, it really depends on your personal lifestyle and what you want to use your laptop for. For example, Chromebooks are a great affordable option for those who only want the bare essentials. I use a Chromebook as my main work laptop because it has everything I need for both editing and writing. If you travel a lot for work, it's probably a good idea to invest in a laptop with solid battery life. If you're still not sure, don't worry. Below I've put together a list of quick tips.

What kind of laptop should I get?

The first question to ask yourself is what kind of laptop you want. There are traditional clamshells, 2-in-1s, Chromebooks and more. For example, the displays of convertible laptops (also known as 2-in-1 models) can be rotated 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop as a tablet. They can also be set up as a tent to watch movies or participate in video calls. Chromebooks, on the other hand, run exclusively on Google's web-based Chrome OS and are generally used for everyday tasks. All you need is a Gmail account and you're good to go. Each of them has advantages and disadvantages. Chromebooks are affordable and generally have good battery life, while convertibles tend to be light and portable.

How much computing power do I need?

When looking for CPU performance, look for processors with higher numerical names. A Core i7 is more suitable for gaming and more intensive work than for everyday tasks. Intel processors are available in Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 and Core i9 versions. The higher the number, the more powerful the CPU. If you don't need a lot of performance, Intel Core i5 processors are the best choice as they offer good performance at a reasonable price. Simple office and web work can easily be done on a Core i3. As far as AMD options go, the Ryzen 3 does well in basic productivity and web browsing, while the Ryzen 5 chips compete against Intel's Core i5 as solid all-rounders. If you need more power, the Ryzen 7 chip is good for content creation like video editing. Finally, if you're dealing with 4K videos, you should go for a Ryzen 9.

What is the difference between discrete graphics and integrated graphics?

For hardcore gaming or video editing, you'll need a dedicated graphics card. Because it is separate from the processor, you can expect higher performance from it. Integrated graphics, on the other hand, are connected to the CPU and therefore consume less power. That's fine for day-to-day tasks, especially if you're not doing anything graphically intensive.

What about memory?

8 GB of RAM is fast enough for general use. If you own a gaming laptop, 16 GB of RAM is the way to go, and content creators will want even more.

How big should my screen be?

If you are a video editor or if you do a lot of multimedia work, you need a screen between 15 and 17 inches. However, the sweet spot is really somewhere between 13 and 14 inches. The larger the screen, the heavier your laptop will be. A 13 or 14 inch screen is best when it comes to portability and value for money.

How long should my laptop last on one battery charge?

If you plan on taking your laptop with you everywhere, look for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single battery charge. That's more than a full day's work, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of class. Of course, more is always better. However, keep in mind that the larger the battery, the heavier the laptop. Read our summarybest laptop chargers.

How much should I spend?

TThe price really depends on your budget. If you're tight on cash (believe me, you already know that), grab a Chromebook or an entry-level business laptop. These laptops are a good choice for students or young professionals. If you can afford to spend more, the versatility of a 2-in-1 laptop is well worth it.

What about connectivity?

A wide variety of connectors is always a plus in my opinion as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I would recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is also good. This is especially useful if you want to connect an external monitor.


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