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The best laptops in 2021

Included in this guide:

best laptops
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The best laptops are the ones that help you stay on top of all your different projects and gadgets. Once you've equipped yourself with the right one, you've acquired the speed to power you through all of your assignments, and the battery life to make it through a day of work without worrying about the nearest power outlet. 

Finding the best laptop for you can be tricky, because you've never had more choices. There are top rated laptops for basic web surfing, mainstream machines with premium components and attractive designs, and beastly gaming laptops that will let you play the hottest PC games the way they were meant to be played.

What are the best laptops?

Our pick for the best laptop overall is the Dell XPS 13, which packs speedy performance and a gorgeous bezel-less display into an incredibly slim and lightweight design with long battery life. And thanks to Black Friday deals, you can currently get the Dell XPS 13 for a bargain price. If you can afford the more expensive model with an OLED touchscreen, it's well worth the expense. 

If you love the idea of an OLED laptop but want something a bit more affordable, Asus has an OLED-equipped Zenbook 13 that packs great power and amazing battery life, and it's usually a few hundred bucks cheaper than the XPS 13.

Windows 11 is out now, but even eligible Windows 10 machines may not receive an upgrade offer until 2022. Many of the laptops on this list can now be bought with Windows 11 pre-installed, but not all of them. If you want a laptop right now that's guaranteed to run Windows 11 and show it off to full effect, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is a great choice. It's a powerful, well-built 2-in-1 that (when you splurge for the discrete Nvidia 3050 Ti GPU) can do some decent gaming or video editing. The optional $129 Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus is a bit pricey, but it pairs nicely with the Studio and works well on the convertible's 120 Hz touchscreen.

If Mac is more your thing, the new MacBook Air with M1 is our recommendation for the best MacBook for most people, as it offer fantastic performance and long battery life. That said, if you spend (a bit) more, you can get a whole lot more, as the M1 Pro and M1 Max push the MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch to new heights of performance, and their 120Hz Liquid Retina displays are gorgeous. These are also the Macs for all the pros out there who want HDMI out and an SD card reader without having to use a USB-C adapter.

The Acer Swift 3 is the best budget laptop for shoppers watching their wallets. If you need more ideas for a high-quality budget laptop. For our full recommendations, check out our picks for the best laptops below.

The best laptops you can buy today

Dell XPS 13 OLED on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

1. Dell XPS 13

The best all-around laptop

Display: 13.4 inches; 1920x1080, 3840x2160, or 3.5K OLED
CPU: 11th-Generation Intel Core i3-i7
GPU: Intel UHD to Intel Iris Xe
Storage: 256GB-2TBGB SSD
Weight: 2.64 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous, immersive display -- especially if you spring for the 3.5K OLED option+Comfortable keyboard+Great overall performance+Slim, attractive chassis
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be better-Slim port selection-Grainy 720p webcam

The Dell XPS 13 is one of our favorite laptops thanks to its excellent performance, beautiful display, and svelte design. While the battery life isn't as good as some other laptops of similar price, it's usually more than enough to get you through a day of work without scrambling for a charger.

Plus, in 2021 Dell began offering the XPS 13 with a 3.5K OLED touchscreen option. If you can afford it (it's usually a couple hundred bucks extra, around the same price as the non-OLED 4K screen configuration) it's well worth the investment, as the OLED's deep, inky blacks, vibrant colors, and high contrast ratios really shine when mounted in the XPS 13's thin-bezelled InfinityEdge design. As mentioned earlier, it's so good that it won the awards for best laptop display and best laptop overall in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

Read our full Dell XPS 13 OLED review.

Not interested in OLED? Don't miss our Dell XPS 13 (2020, 11th Gen) review.

macbook air with m1 on a desk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Apple MacBook Air with M1

The best MacBook

Display: 13.3 inches; 2560x1600
CPU: Apple M1
GPU: Integrated 8-core GPU
Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Remarkably fast performance+Strong legacy app support+Amazingly long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Still has thick bezels-Light on ports

Apple has revolutionized its laptops, thanks to its own Apple silicon processors, which are replacing the Intel chips it's previously used. This chip delivers faster speeds than the Air's ever seen, and the longest battery life in any MacBook either: it lasted 14 hours and 41 minutes on the Tom's Guide battery test. Not since 2015 has a MacBook come close to that. Not only does the M1 chip make the MacBook Air a multi-tasking fiend, but it also enabled me to play Rise of the Tomb Raider smoothly, and that's even with Rosetta 2 conversion of that Intel app.

Apple's move to ARM-based processors look to reap massive benefits, and that includes the ability to run iOS and iPadOS apps on your Mac. Plus, the MacBook Air's webcam is clearer and more color-accurate than ever, thanks to signal processing. We're also still happy to see the Magic Keyboard, a great upgrade from the Butterfly-style keyboard of the previous MacBooks. 

On top of that, you get stronger sound than you'd expect from a laptop this small, which support Dolby Atmos audio, for better-sounding movies and TV. Not only is this the best laptop for many if not most Apple users, it's a laptop that should have the PC world looking over its shoulders. It's so good it won recommendations for best laptop and longest-lasting laptop in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

Read our full Apple MacBook Air M1 (late 2020) review

The MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch), one of the best laptopsEditor's Choice

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

3. MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch)

Best laptop for image editing

Display: 14.2 inches; 3024x1964 pixels
CPU: Apple M1 Pro or Max with 10-core CPU
GPU: 16-core to 32-core integrated GPU
RAM: 16GB to 64GB
Storage: 512GB to 8TB SSD
Weight: 3.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Amazingly fast+Beautiful mini-LED display+Fantastic battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No USB-A port-$1,299 model goes without update

If you see the Liquid Retina XDR display in the 14-inch MacBook Pro, you may not be able to stop yourself from buying one. This mini-LED panel features improved contrast and strong brightness that will have you reaching for your credit card. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, as the new M1 Pro processors are gobsmackingly fast and enable long battery life. But the story of the 2021 MacBook Pro models isn't just about their speediness and gorgeous display, it's about all the small things Apple changed along the way. 

While the 2020 MacBook Pro and Air marked the start of the Apple Silicon era, the 2021 MacBook Pro is a demarcator of its own. Apple's bringing many beloved ports back to the Pro, for everyone who's been tired of bringing a USB-C dongle everywhere they go. That means HDMI-out and an SD card reader for when you need to expand your display or use external memory. Also, MagSafe charging is back, though it doesn't displace USB-C charging either. What is gone, though is the Touch Bar, that little touch screen that sat above the keyboard. It's been replaced for full-sized function (F1-F12) keys, which we're happy to see back. 

Apple's also upgraded its internal webcam to 1080p (from 720p), as we're all spending far more time on video conferencing calls than ever before. Combined with that fantastic display, improved internal mics and a six-speaker setup that produces stellar sound, the new MacBook Pro will have everything looking and sounding better than before.

Read our full MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch) review.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio on table

(Image credit: Future)

4. Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

The best Windows 11 laptop

Display: 14.4-inch 120 Hz touchscreen (2400 x 1600 pixels)
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 | Intel Core i7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics | Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU
RAM: 16GB | 32 GB
Storage: 256 GB - 1 TB SSD
Weight: 3.8 - 4.0 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Versatile sliding hinged display+Great speakers+Bright, vibrant screen+Slim Pen 2 stylus works well+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Performance could be better-Ports are sparse and inconveniently placed

Microsoft's Surface Laptop Studio is a reimagined Surface Book with a more MacBook Pro-like design and an eye-catching hinged display. This is Microsoft’s flagship device for Windows 11, which promises to make Windows a more inviting place for both work and play. Like Windows 11, the Surface Laptop Studio is advertised as a one-stop shop for productivity, entertainment and creative work.

And for the most part, it is all that: its 11th Gen Intel CPU and 16+ GB of RAM gives you enough power to tackle most work, and if you splurge for a model with the discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU the Surface Laptop Studio also doubles as a decent machine for gaming or video editing on the go. 

However, it's a bit pricey when you kit it out, and despite its great components the Surface Laptop Studio delivers subpar performance compared to similarly-priced machines. But few other laptops can match its intriguing sliding hinged display, which can be tented over the keys like an easel or slid all the way flat to turn the Studio into a heavy tablet.

Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review.

Framework Laptop

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5. Framework Laptop

Best laptop for DIYers

Display: 13.5-inch 3:2 (2,256 x 1,504 pixels)
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 - i7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics
RAM: 8GB - 16GB
Storage: 256GB - 1TB SSD
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Slim and portable+Tall 3:2 screen looks great+Excellent keyboard+Unprecedented access to modify and repair
Reasons to avoid
-Unimpressive speakers with weak bass-Fan is loud and unpredictable

The Framework Laptop is the anti-MacBook, a modular laptop that promises to let you customize, repair, and upgrade it to an unprecedented degree, all while remaining affordable and ultraportable. Each laptop Framework ships comes with a screwdriver so you can crack open the case and swap out parts yourself, and everything from the memory to the screen bezel to the mainboard is user-replaceable.

It's not for everyone, but if you're the DIY type and love the idea of being able to tinker with your laptop's innards this is the best laptop for you. The Framework laptop is currently only available for purchase from the Framework website, and the price tag starts at $999 — though you can pay as low as $749 for the DIY Edition if you're willing to assemble your laptop yourself and provide your own memory, storage, operating system, and Wi-Fi card.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

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6. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Best laptop for productivity

Display: 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 touchscreen
CPU: 11-Gen Intel Core i5/i7 | Ryzen 5/7 4000-series
GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Xe or Radeon graphics
RAM: 8GB to 32GB
Storage: 256GB to 1TB SSD
Weight: 2.79 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Light, slim design+Very comfy keyboard+Great speakers+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Needs more ports-Thick bezels are an eyesore-Needs a better webcam

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is the closest thing the company makes to a flagship Windows laptop. This 2021 addition to the Surface Laptop line packs premium components into a svelte chassis, and it comes with a clean Windows 10 install that's bloatware-free.

If you're looking for a premium Windows laptop to work from anywhere, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is the way to go. It has a comfy keyboard with well-sized, satisfying keys and a nice Alcantara deck option that gives your wrists a little more comfort than a typical all-metal laptop. Factor in the respectable 10+ hour battery life and the screen's tall 3:2 display ratio, which can help you read and edit documents more comfortably, and you have a great notebook for getting things done on the go. Plus, it won a recommendation for best-sounding laptop in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review.

Acer Swift 3 (AMD)

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7. Acer Swift 3 (AMD)

Best budget laptop

Display: 14 inches; 1920x1080
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4700U
GPU: AMD Radeon graphics
Storage: 512GB SSD
Weight: 2.7 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Amazing battery life+Powerful performance+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Display is a little dim-Speakers aren't great

When you want the best bang for your buck, the Acer Swift 3 proves that you can get great performance at a surprisingly low price. Running on the AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU, this laptop offers exceptionally long battery life (11:09) in a lightweight design. It's got more ports than some of the laptops listed above it here: a USB Type-C, HDMI, and a USB-A. Plus, you get a fingerprint reader too. 

Its keyboard makes for a solid typing experience, with quiet, clicky keys. We just wish its display had more brightness and color, and that its speakers had a little more kick. But if you're looking to get things done on a budget, it's hard to argue with the AMD-based Acer Swift 3, which gives you plenty of reasons to ask about AMD-based versions when you're looking around.

Read our full Acer Swift 3 (AMD) review.

Surface Pro 8 on a desk

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8. Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Another great Windows 11 2-in-1

Display: 13-inch screen (2880 x 1920)
CPU: Intel i5-1135G7 | Intel i7-1185G7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB | 16GB | 32GB
Storage: 512GB | 1TB (128GB or 256GB removable SSD options)
Weight: 1.96 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Large, vibrant display+Tailor-made for Windows 11+Supports external devices+Sharp webcam
Reasons to avoid
-Underwhelming gaming performance-Slim Pen 2 and Signature keyboard sold separately

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is the latest in the company’s line of 2-in-1 Surface Pro tablets. This iteration includes an 11th generation Intel CPU, a 13-inch 120Hz display, two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a removable SSD. Just as important, you'll get Windows 11 right out of the box with this 2-in-1. 

Its small size and lightweight design make the Surface Pro 8 ideal to use at home or on the road. The front-facing and rear cameras are also fantastic, providing clean detailed images. Unfortunately, the Surface Pro 8 disappoints as a gaming device and didn't live up to the promised 16 hours of battery life in our testing. Despite some of those qualms, the Surface 8 Pro is arguably the best Surface Pro yet.

Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review.

Dell XPS 15 OLED

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9. Dell XPS 15 OLED

Best laptop for home use

Display: 15.6 inches; 3.5K
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i7
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
RAM: 16 GB
Storage: 512 GB SSD
Weight: 4.2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+3.5K OLED display impresses with beautiful contrasts+Remarkable performance+Spacious, comfy keyboard+Svelte chassis still looks great
Reasons to avoid
-Disappointing battery life-720p webcam delivers grainy, washed-out images

The Dell XPS 15 is one of our favorite laptops here at Tom's Guide because it's powerful, portable, and easy on the eyes. We especially love its immersive 15.6-inch InfinityEdge display, which ditches the bottom bezel for a stunning 92.9% screen to body ratio. The new XPS 15 is also made better by some smart design tweaks, such as bigger keycaps and a responsive touchpad that’s more than 60% larger than that of the previous generation.

Plus, in 2021 Dell began offering the XPS 15 with a 3.5K OLED touchscreen option. If you can afford the extra $1k or so it costs (though you get a few upgraded components bundled in with that, in addition to the OLED screen) it's well worth the investment, as the OLED's deep, inky blacks, vibrant colors, and high contrast ratios really shine when mounted in the XPS 15's eye-catching InfinityEdge design.

Read our full Dell XPS 15 OLED review.

Not interested in OLED? Don't miss our Dell XPS 15 (2020) review.

MacBook Pro 2021 (16-inch), one of the best laptopsEditor's Choice

(Image credit: Future)

10. MacBook Pro 2021 (16-inch)

Best MacBook for graphics-heavy use

Display: 16.2 inches; 3456x2244 pixels
CPU: M1 Pro (10-core CPU) | M1 Max (10-core CPU)
GPU: Integrated 16-core GPU
RAM: 16GB to 64GB
Storage: 512GB to 8TB
Weight: 4.7 pounds (M1 Pro) | 4.8 pounds (M1 Max)
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful Liquid Retina XDR display+Incredible performance trounces competition+Finally, more than USB-C ports
Reasons to avoid
-Display is sub-4K-Expensive, especially with M1 Max

The new 16-inch MacBook is a speedy beast, thanks to the M1 Max chip, which pushes graphics performance on the Mac to a whole new level. On top of that, its amazing redesign helps improve its display (everyone will get over the notch, trust us), with thinner bezels than ever, catching up to the Dell XPS InfinityEdge display (except for that notch, of course). That screen, too, is better than ever, with mini-LED technology and improved picture quality thanks to fantastic contrast and a 120Hz refresh rate for excellent smoothness.

And that's just the start of the story. The 2021 MacBook Pros see a realignment on ports for MacBooks, moving back from the "USB-C or bust" situation of the past 5 years. Now, you've got HDMI-out for connecting to displays and an SD memory reader for pros with real cameras. Apple's basically put the "pro" back in MacBook Pro. Oh, and that Touch Bar? The little OLED strip of a touch screen? It's been ripped out, likely because it never got to the point where the simple physical function keys (F1-F12) would be better. 

Check out our full MacBook Pro 2021 (16-inch) review.

Lenovo Yoga 9i

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11. Lenovo Yoga 9i

The best 2-in-1 laptop

Display: 14-inch, 1080p
Processor: Intel Core i7-1185G7
Memory: 16GB of RAM
Storage: 512GB SSD
Size: 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 3 pounds
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-A, headphone jack
Reasons to buy
+Long battery life+Colorful 1080p display+Hundreds less than competitors
Reasons to avoid
-Limited ports-No IR webcam

The Lenovo Yoga 9i entered a crowded field of 2-in-1s and made a splash with a competitive price. Not only does it have latest 11th Gen Core i7 processor, a built-in stylus and long battery life, but its display is plenty colorful and its neat rotating speaker packs a ton of punch. 

And, yes, its port selection may be a little thin, and its display could stand to be slightly brighter. But when it's $650 less than a similar Dell XPS 2-in-1 and $430 less than the a HP Spectre x360 with the same parts, the Lenovo Yoga 9i is a serious competitor for your investment. Talk about bang for your buck. Oh, and if you pay $600 more? You can get the Shadow Black edition that ups the style, puts the fingerprint reader in a more convenient location and has a glass palm rest that covers the entire deck.

Read our full Lenovo Yoga 9i review.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

12. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

The best ultraportable laptop

Display: 13 inches; 2K
CPU: Intel Core i5-1130G7 | Intel Core i7-1160G7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB - 16GB
Storage: 256 - 1TB SSD
Weight: 2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Great battery life+Lightweight+2K, anti-glare display
Reasons to avoid
-Limited ports-Dull sound

When we hear a laptop is incredibly thin and light, it makes us worry about how long it will last on a single charge. That's not the case here, as the 2-pound Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano lasted 12 hours on our battery test, which puts it up there against some of the very best laptops on the market today. And that's quite impressive when you remember that the 2.9-pound XPS 13 is almost a whole pound heavier. 

Lenovo didn't sacrifice on performance or usability either. The Nano's Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors provide the speed you need for tons of productivity — and its keyboard provides a snappy and comfortable typing experience that lives up to the ThinkPad brand. You just might need to pack a USB-C hub, though, as it's a little light on ports.

Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review.

Alienware m15 R4 2021

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13. Alienware m15 R4 (2021)

The best laptop for gaming

Display: 15 inches, 4K OLED
CPU: Intel Core i7-10870H CPU @ 2.20GHz, 2.21 GHz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
Storage: 1TB SSD
Weight: 5.3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Sleek design+Strong performance+Decent keyboard and touchpad+Highly customizable
Reasons to avoid
-Fan gets very loud-Short battery life

The Alienware m15 R4 is more than the best gaming laptop on the market, it's what other gaming laptops should aspire to be (for the most part). It's got a ton of power for running all of the games you could want, even in full UHD 4K. Speaking of 4K, its screen is vibrant and gorgeous, so everything you play will look as great as it runs. Its design is also impeccable, with a beautiful white chassis (that's also pretty portable). And when it's time to get productive, it's got an excellent keyboard for a comfortable typing experience. 

That's not to say we wish there were some changes. Most notably, its battery life is on the short side (which will leave you hunting for wall outlets). But that's not exactly surprising, as gaming notebooks aren't known for their endurance on their internal power supply.  The fan can get pretty loud, and its price is on the high end of the spectrum. But for those who want to game, and do it with speed and style, this is the machine you need to check out.

Read our full Alienware m15 R4 review.

HP Elite Dragonfly

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

14. HP Elite Dragonfly

Best business laptop

Display: 13.3 inches; 1920x1200 or 3840x2160
CPU: 8th-Gen Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB / 16GB / 32GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB SSD
Weight: 2.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful, eye-catching design+Epic battery life (with optional upgrade)+Bright and colorful screen+Comfortable keyboard
Reasons to avoid

The HP Elite Dragonfly is the rare laptop that comes along and sets a new standard for the entire category. This 2-in-1 laptop's design is one of the most stunning we've ever seen on a laptop, with an incredibly thin edges that measure just 0.6 inches in thickness and a deep blue coat of paint that looks refreshing, mesmerizing and classy all at once. And while the Dragonfly is wonderfully light at 2.5 pounds, it also feels impressively sturdy, has an oleophobic coating to prevent fingerprints and uses recycled ocean-bound plastics to help the environment.

Performance and features-wise, this beauty is a beast. Its stunning 13.3-inch display looks gorgeous for movies and TV shows and crushed our color and brightness tests. Its 8th-gen Intel CPU can handle everyday workloads without issues, and its keyboard is one of the most pleasant we've ever typed on. There's also its incredibly epic battery life of more than 12 hours, which beats favorites such as the MacBook Air and XPS 13. The Dragonfly is on the expensive side with a starting price of $1,629, but those who are willing to pay a premium will be rewarded with one of the best laptops on the market.

Read our full HP Elite Dragonfly review.

Asus ZenBook Duo 14

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

15. Asus ZenBook Duo 14

The best two-screen laptop

Display: 13.4‑inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5, i7
Memory: 8GB to 32GB
Storage: 512GB to 1TB
Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 3.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Useful ScreenPad Plus display+Snappy overall performance +Solid battery life+Accurate main display
Reasons to avoid
-Ergonomically difficult-Display could be brighter

The Asus ZenBook Duo 14 is for anyone who wants a second screen but doesn't want an external display. And it pulls off this feat by putting a 12-inch touch screen above the keyboard. This screen is great for your secondary windows, such as Spotify, Slack, Discord and more. It can also be used by creative apps from the likes of Adobe, who put touch controls there.

On top of that, its performance is speedy, and competitive with the XPS 13, which it trades rounds with in head-to-head comparison. Plus, its battery life is long — especially when you realize it's got two screens to light up. The big downside, though, is that without a wrist-rest, the ZenBook Duo 14 is a bit ergonomically unfriendly. But if you've got an external wrist rest, you should be good.

Read our full Asus ZenBook Duo 14 review.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

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16. Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The best cheap Chromebook

Display: 10.1 inches, 1920x1200
CPU: 2.0GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P60T
Storage: 64GB eMMC, 128GB eMMC
Dimensions: 9.64 x 6.66 x 0.71 inches (docked)
Weight: 2 pounds (docked)
Reasons to buy
+Epic battery life+Colorful Full HD screen+Keyboard is included
Reasons to avoid
-That keyboard is also kinda cramped-Hinge is a little weak

This one doesn't really make sense — that's how good of a deal it is. At $279, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet storms into the front of the conversation when it comes to value. Not only is it a tablet Chromebook, but its keyboard comes free — something that we don't expect to see from the iPad or any Surface, even the more-affordable Go. Oh, and it's also a solid tablet too, thanks to strong color output and a sharp resolution that you rarely see at this price point. We like it so much we awarded it best budget laptop in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

The Chromebook Duet also sees ChromeOS gain some touchscreen tablet optimizations that it's needed for a while, making it easier to navigate all of your tabs. Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, it's got amazing battery life, lasting 12 hours and 47 minutes, nearly 13 hours, on our web-surfing test. The only knock against it? Its keyboard might take some getting used to for larger handed-folks. 

Read our full Lenovo Chromebook Duet review.

Google Pixelbook Go

(Image credit: Future)

17. Google Pixelbook Go

The best laptop for students

Display: 13.3 inches; 1080p or 4K
CPU: Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7
GPU: Intel UHD 615 GPU
RAM: 8GB / 16GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Weight: 2.3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Sleek, minimalist design+Bright, colorful panel+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No USB-A ports-So-so audio

The Google Pixelbook Go isn't just more affordable than the original Pixelbook -- it's also better in almost every way. This highly portable Chromebook stands out with a slim, lightweight design that weighs in at just over 2 pounds, as well as a rubberized, easy-to-grip chassis that comes in sleek Just Black and Not Pink variations. The quiet, comfortable keyboard doesn't hurt either. 

The Pixelbook Go stands out with its long battery life, as we saw it last well over 11 hours on our test. Couple that with solid performance, a bright and colorful display and a responsive touchscreen, and you've got one of the best Chromebooks yet for those willing to dip into the premium range. Just be aware that the Pixelbook Go is a bit short on ports, and doesn't fold into tablet mode like its bigger Pixelbook brother does. 

Read our full Google Pixelbook Go review. 

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 on a desk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

18. Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Best 2-in-1 chromebook

Display: 13.5 inches; 2256x1504
CPU: Intel Core i5-10210U
GPU: Intel UHD
Storage: 128GB
Weight: 3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Great battery life+Affordable+Bright and colorful display
Reasons to avoid
-Speakers aren't perfect

Fast, long-lasting and affordable. Typically, you'll be able to get at least two out of three, but it's rare that you get the trifecta that Acer nailed with the Chromebook Spin 713. And it's all packaged together in a sleek silver laptop that's just three pounds. One of the best laptops for those looking for a low-maintenance alternative to Windows 10 or macOS, the Chromebook Spin 713 is also a convertible with a touch screen display, which you'll want for Chrome OS' support of Android apps via the Google Play store. 

We'd rank it higher were its speakers a bit stronger, or its keyboard a little larger. Still, the Chromebook Spin 713 is more than deserving of a spot on this list of the best laptops around. Because this is a great offer at $629 — and it often gets put on sale at lower prices. It's so good it won a recommendation for best Chromebook in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review.

Best laptops: Asus Zenbook 13 OLED

(Image credit: Future)

19. Asus Zenbook 13 OLED

Best laptop for the money

Display: 13.3-inch 1080p OLED
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U
GPU: Integrated Radeon graphics
Storage: 512 GB
Weight: 2.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Stellar battery life+Beautiful 1080p OLED display+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-Middling sound quality-Inconsistent webcam-No headphone jack

The AMD-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 OLED is an excellent value, offering an eye-catching 1080p OLED display and exceptional battery life in a slim, lightweight package for less than a thousand bucks.

Sure, the speakers aren't amazing, the webcam leaves something to be desired, and there's no headphone jack, but these are stumbling blocks you can work around. If you need a zippy little ultraportable with a great screen that will last you all day long, you can't do better than the OLED-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 at this price.

Read our full Asus Zenbook 13 OLED review.

How to choose the best laptop for you

Performance: If you only need something basic for surfing the web, consider a Chromebook or a cheap Windows laptop with an Intel Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM. If you plan on getting more intensive work done, consider starting specs such as a Core i5 CPU, 8 to 16GB of RAM and a 256GB to 512GB SSD.

Graphics and gaming: Most mainstream laptops feature integrated graphics, which can handle lightweight titles such as Minecraft and Overwatch but aren't ideal for intensive AAA games or heavy visual work. For that, you'll want a laptop with a discrete graphics card, such as an Nvidia GTX 3000-series on the higher end.

Size: Consider how mobile you want your laptop to be. Machines such as the Dell XPS 13 and HP Elite Dragonfly are feather light with slim designs, while gaming notebooks such as the Alienware m15 R4 have more heft to them (but offer big power in exchange).

Operating system: Laptops typically come in three flavors: Windows 10 (most mainstream PCs), macOS (MacBooks) and Chrome OS (Chromebooks).  Windows 10 is the most common operating system, while macOS is more ideal for folks already tied into Apple's ecosystem. Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system built to allow for cheap, fast systems, though it has gotten a bit more robust over the years with support for full Android apps.

Whichever system you decide on, you may also want to pick up the best mouse for your particular work situation.

How we test the best laptops

To find the best laptop, we run every machine through a rigorous suite of benchmarks and real-world tests to gauge how it will perform during everyday use. 

We measure the average brightness and color quality of each laptop's display using our in-house light meter and colorimeter. For general performance, we run our machines through tests that include Geekbench 5 (CPU performance), as well as various 3DMark tests to measure graphics capabilities. We also run a file transfer test to measure how fast a machine's hard drive is, and a custom battery test that has the machine browse the internet over Wi-Fi until it runs out of juice.

When testing dedicated gaming laptops, we run benchmarks for popular games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Hitman 2 and Far Cry: New Dawn.

Alex Wawro

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. He currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.