Home News Best laptops for 2021: Dell, HP, Microsoft, Apple, Acer, Lenovo and more

Best laptops for 2021: Dell, HP, Microsoft, Apple, Acer, Lenovo and more

If, like many of us, you’re working from home or doing remote learning, this list can help you find the perfect new laptop to meet your needs. Whether you’re looking for a laptop for work, school, gaming or entertainment, you’ll find our top picks from the best laptop brands on the market: Apple, Dell, HP, Microsoft, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and more.  

We review a lot of laptops, so obviously not all of them are on this list. You can also read our recommendations for the best gaming laptops15-inch laptopstwo-in-one and Chromebooks, as well as the best laptop for college students, the best laptop for creatives and the best MacBook Pro alternatives for the Windows set. Plus, if you just want pure power or a long battery life, our rankings of performance and battery life are for you. Need to stay as low as possible on the price of a new laptop computer? Check out our picks for budget laptops and budget gaming laptops or see all of CNET’s laptop reviews. This list was originally published last year and updated periodically.

Best Small Laptop

Dell XPS 13 2020

$1000 AT DELL

The Dell XPS 13 is a perennial favorite for its size, weight and performance and just overall good looks. In 2020, Dell made the laptop even smaller, while making the laptop screen larger and increasing performance for both CPU and graphics-intensive tasks. It’s not a huge leap, but this Dell XPS is still the best in the category. And for those who want the latest and greatest Intel processors, the Dell XPS 13, as well as the company’s XPS 13 2-in-1 (also a great pick), are available with the chip-maker’s 11th-gen Core processors.

Best Small Laptops under

$1000

ASUS ZenBook 13

$900 At B & H

The Asus ZenBook 13 is a stylish but not showy 13.3-inch ultraportable with the perfect footprint for squeezing onto a tiny table. You’ll get 12-plus hours of battery life depending on your configuration — it’s available with 10th- or 11th-gen Intel processors — and plenty of performance to make quick work of daily office or school tasks. Plus, like many of Asus‘ laptops, the ZenBook adds a few gadgety extras to hopefully make your life easier while you’re out and about.

BEST SMALL 2-in-1
HP Envy 360 13 (2020)

$900 AT HP $900 AT WALMART

The HP Envy x360 13 is a great pick for an older high school or college student or anyone looking for a small, stylish two-in-one to travel with. This HP laptop is light at just less than 3 pounds (1.3 kg) and battery life is long despite the size. It’s also available with a choice of AMD Ryzen 5-4500U or Intel 11th-gen Core processors. Essentially, you’re getting a speedy little two-in-one that’s ready for working from home or remote learning but is also ready for your backpack.

Best MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook Pro( 16 inches)

$2,199 AT AMAZON. $2,399 AT APPLE. $2,200 AT BEST BUY

The combination of the larger MacBook Pro’s hardware and MacOS extracts the maximum performance from the components while delivering class-leading battery life in a way the Windows operating system never seems to do, and the high-resolution display screen remains terrific. Plus, this powerful laptop model’s keyboard uses scissor-style switches under the keycaps, rather than the much-derided butterfly-style switch. You pay for it, though — base price for the 16-inch model of this premium laptop is $2,399. 

Best MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air 2020

$929 AT AMAZON. $950 AT BRAT BUY. $910 AT ADORAMA

This is our go-to recommendation for those in search of a MacOS laptop for everyday basic use. The MacBook Air was updated in the first half of 2020 with new Intel processors and, most importantly, a new keyboard. However, in November, Apple announced its new homegrown M1 processors would be replacing Intel’s CPUs in the Air. Using Apple’s M1, the company promises an operating system with better performance and longer battery life — up to 18 hours. The Intel-based models will still be around, though, and regardless of which chip is running the Air, you’re getting a great little Mac laptop starting at $999. 

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