Best Laptops of 2021

Whether you're looking for portability, performance, or a low price, one of these computers should fit the bill

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laptop testing
Artur Pietruch, a Consumer Reports tester, measures the glare on laptop screens in our lab.
Brian Finke

If you’re looking for a new laptop for school, work, or play, you’ll find lots of interesting options. Over the past few months, manufacturers like Dell, LG, and Lenovo have released a handful of models that scored well in our labs, exhibiting the muscle for not only routine productivity tasks but also hi-res video editing and cutting-edge gaming.

Due to ongoing chip shortages, though, you may have to wait a little longer than usual for your purchase to arrive. The Lenovo Yoga 7, a solid performing 14-inch 2-in-1 model, won’t ship until 11 days after you place the order on Best Buy, for example.

More on Laptops

If you’re an Apple fan, the M1-based MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are great choices. There’s a chance we may even see new 14- and 16-inch models before year’s end.

PC people should keep in mind that Windows 11 will be released later this year. The new operating system—which will be available via update—promises a host of improvements, including a refreshed, more modern user interface; tighter integration with OneDrive cloud storage; and the ability to install Android apps. We recently tried a preview edition and liked what we saw.

The aforementioned chip shortage is expected to affect computer availability through at least the first part of next year, so you’ll want to make sure the laptop you buy is the right one for your needs, lest you waste precious time trying to return something you don’t like.

And that’s where we come in.

We test dozens of new laptops every year, evaluating them for ergonomics, battery life, display quality, and portability so that you don’t waste your money on a clunker. We buy all the products we test—from headphones to SUVs—at retail, because samples sent directly from a manufacturer may be tweaked to perform better in a reviewer’s tests.

We also incorporate brand reliability and owner satisfaction data collected from surveys of our members into each laptop’s Overall Score.

Below are some of the best laptops covering the five screen-size categories we track, ranging from highly portable 10- to 11-inch models to hulking desktop replacements that are between 17 and 18 inches.

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We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.