Updated: Dec 11, 2021
To keep our Best Laptops of 2021 simple, we’ll just have three categories, which are gaming and productivity, best value and most innovative. And of course, the winner of them all, the best laptop of 2021. Let’s get started.
To begin, we’re talking about the best for gaming and productivity. First up, we have the Razer Blade 15 Advanced Edition, which probably comes as no surprise. It’s available in a variety of configurations, ranging from high refresh rate Full HD screens all the way up to a 4K OLED and graphics options from an RTX 3060 to the RTX 3080.
All of that in a really handsome and thin chassis that’s really minimalistic. It's arguably still one of my favourite gaming laptops out there that I would personally choose to daily drive.
For the second shortlisted, we have the Lenovo Legion 7 and this is honestly a gaming laptop that really brings performance to the table. It can be equipped with up to a Ryzen 9 and an RTX 3080 with 165W of GPU power. Arguably the highest in its class, and it really shows.
In any of the games that we threw at it, it basically performed superbly with great temperatures to boot. And if you’re interested in ray-traced gaming, it’s more than capable as well. All in all, if you’re simply looking for the best of the best in terms of performance, this is probably it.
And for the third, this is something relatively new and it’s the Acer Predator Triton 300. In my opinion, this sits somewhere in between the Razer Blade 15 Advanced Edition and the Lenovo Legion 7. It hits a happy middle ground but is still fully capable of being equipped with up to an 11th-Gen Core i7 and an RTX 3070 in a relatively thin chassis.
The design might be slightly more gamer-ish in comparison to the other two, but all in all, it still definitely performs, be it for games or creative work like photo or video editing. Personally, I do also like the blue accents, it’s quite unique.
So those are the three laptops for contention. On to the next category!
We now come to the best value laptop and this is definitely very subjective, but the key here would be affordability.
First, we have the Asus TUF Dash F15 and this is a laptop that’s really kind of a jack of all trades, master of none. To be fair, it can be equipped with up to an RTX 3070 for the graphics side of things but we won’t be focusing on that. The RTX 3050 and 3050Ti variants are far more interesting options.
Honestly, it’s a laptop that just does everything pretty well, be it general usage for school or work, or some hardcore gaming and productivity. The design isn’t too flamboyant either and you do get quite a healthy amount of ports.
Next, we have the Acer Swift X in its AMD variant and this was quite an interesting laptop back when I reviewed it. Equipped with a Ryzen 5 and an RTX 3050, it’s targeted towards the mainstream sector and it does perform very well in that very sector.
It can definitely handle games well at 1080p with decent settings and you still get great performance in creative tasks like DaVinci Resolve.
The colour options are also quite interesting, which makes for a more unique look that you might fancy.
Lastly, we have the Huawei Matebook X Pro and this is probably the most ultrabook-like laptop of the bunch. The main highlight of this laptop is that high-res display which sports a 3K by 2K resolution in a 3:2 aspect ratio.
It’s just great for any kind of daily work and especially documents, for you’ll appreciate the extra vertical space. Not to mention, it’s lightweight as well at just about 1.33kg, which makes it easy for your everyday commute.
And now to the final category!
This category might be a little tough to justify any sort of angle, but it’s the stuff that surprised us the most.
It wasn’t that long ago that Asus showed us something unique. A dial in a laptop. The Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED is arguably one of the more unique laptops in recent years, all thanks to that physical dial.
I honestly never thought I needed one, but this laptop proved me otherwise. It’s pretty intuitive, instantly syncing up with most of your favourite applications such as Adobe Photoshop. More importantly, it uses the same protocols as the Microsoft Surface Dial and thus you can be assured support is here to stay and there’s more to come.
Coupled with the gorgeous OLED display which covers 100% DCI-P3 and is even Pantone Validated and Calman Calibrated, working with creative software is just downright great.
We then have yet another surprise from Asus, and it’s the Vivobook 13 Slate OLED.
This is a rather unique piece of tech. It’s basically a tablet PC, or you can call it a 2-in-1, or a detachable laptop. The best thing about it is that display, that OLED display.
Watching content is just bliss and you can really appreciate the more vibrant colours and deep blacks. Despite that, battery life is still pretty great at over seven hours and you get a decent amount of ports as well.
Now yes, performance isn’t great. Check out our full review to know more about that. But despite that, it certainly is unique, we’ll give it that.
Lastly, we have the Acer Vero and this is a laptop made from recycled plastic. It’s part of Acer’s ongoing efforts with sustainability and the Vero one such product to show their commitment.
About 30% of the chassis is made from Post-Consumer Recycled materials and 50% of the keycaps are made from the same materials as well. In essence, it’s able to save around 21% in CO2 emissions compared to a comparably sized standard laptop.
I have to say that the Vero simply feels very different but in a very good way. It’s just kind of unique and it’s something people would definitely notice. If we can all even help save the Earth even just a little, it’s a good thing.
So now, we’ve got to choose what we think is the best from the list in each category. So if we’re talking about gaming, our choice goes to the Lenovo Legion 7.
It really is a fantastic gaming laptop that offers a properly good gaming experience unlike any other. Now both the Razer and the Acer are fantastic choices as well, but we would give the edge to the Lenovo as it really is packing so much more performance thanks to the 165W RTX 3080. There’s just no comparison.
So now, talking about the Best Value and our top pick would be the Huawei Matebook X Pro.
Now yes, it’s been a while since I’ve tried the Matebook X Pro, but even till today, I would say it holds up very well. Huawei has fixed the thermal issues on this generation, and that high resolution 3K by 2K display is definitely a lot better than the other two. Couple with great everyday performance and good battery life, all in a reasonably priced package? Thus, it’s our choice.
Moving on to Most Innovative, this is a tough one, but our choice would be the Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED. For one, the OLED display is gorgeous, no doubt. But that physical dial implementation has got to be the most interesting thing thus far, across laptops in general.
You might think it’s a gimmick, but it really isn’t. It does add that little extra versatility for productivity and it’s great. Moreover, even without the dial, the laptop boasts impressive specs and is just great all around. Thus, it’s our pick.
So is that all? No, not quite.
We now come to our final pick, as the best laptop in 2021, by far. You guys probably saw this coming from a mile away, but it’s of course, the new MacBook Pro 14 and 16-inch.
Now yes, you can argue about the notch, talk about the issues, cry about the price, all that stuff. But even so, you have to admit that the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips from Apple are just out of this world.
I could render a 10 minute 4K video in just five minutes, and it’s able to dish out that level of performance on battery. If you’re dealing with Apple ProRes, the results are even more insane. It’s even capable of gaming now, with the M1 Pro achieving a solid 50+ frames per second at 1080p for Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
But of course, the best thing is the Liquid Retina XDR Display with ProMotion. It really is amazing, especially for HDR content.
Oh and how can we forget ports. We get actual ports now. But yes, the best laptop in 2021 thus far, has got to be the new MacBook Pro 14 and 16-inch. There’s just no comparison.