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The most powerful laptops in 2021

The most powerful laptops in 2021
(Image credit: Andrew Brookes on Getty Images)
Top 5 most powerful laptops

If you're on the hunt for the most powerful laptops to do your creative work on, then you've come to the right place. On this page you'll find mobile workstations that are capable of the kind of performance you'd expect from a big and bulky desktop PC into a thin and light laptop body, thanks to some of the best - and most powerful - mobile components on the market today.

Not only are these laptops packing a lot of power, which makes them fantastic tools for creatives who need something to handle heavy workloads, they are also thin and light enough to carry around with you. That means they are ideal for digital creatives who work a lot on the road.

So, who should buy one of these powerful laptops? They won't be for everyone, because their cutting-edge components mean they can also be very expensive. If you don't need the kind of performance they offer, you'll be spending money you don't need to. However, if you often work with big files, like to multitask, and require a laptop that can do things like render high resolution videos and 3D graphics, then the most powerful laptops on this page are for you.

The best graphics cards you can get in laptops are now more impressive than ever, and some laptops will now offer full-fat desktop cards, not the weaker mobile versions that were once the only option. If you want to compare, take a look at our guide to the best computers for graphic design. And if you're a student, look at our best student laptops.

Here, we've listed some of the most powerful laptops on the market today. Our price comparison tool will also help you save a decent amount of money. Once you've made your choice, you'll also want to look at the best laptop bags.

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)CB

(Image credit: Apple)

01. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The most powerful MacBook ever

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M | RAM: 16GB – 64GB | Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone | Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD

Stunning 16-inch screen
New and improved keyboard
Limited to four Thunderbolt 3 ports

Apple knocked it out the park with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is one of the fastest laptops out there. It's one of the most powerful laptops money can buy right now, and keeps the thin, light and stylish design that made the MacBook Pro range so iconic. The fact that Apple also included a larger 16-inch screen, while keeping the overall size and weight of the new MacBook Pro similar to the 15-inch version is truly impressive.

When it comes to performance, not much can beat the MacBook Pro 16-inch, even despite Apple's latest machines with their M1 chips (see below). With the 16-inch model, you get some of the best mobile hardware ever made, including a 9th-generation Intel Core processor and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M graphics card, as well as up to 64GB of memory. This is the ultimate laptop for media editing and creation, and one of the best laptops ever made – by Apple or anyone.

The most powerful laptops: Dell Precision 5530CB endorsed

(Image credit: Dell)

02. Dell Precision 3540

This powerful laptop is great value and portable too

CPU: 4-6 core 8th generation Intel Core i5 / i7 / i9 / Xeon | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics / Nvidia Quadro P1000 / P2000 | RAM: 8-32GB | Screen: 15.6-inch UltraSharp FullHD / 4K | Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD, 500GB-2TB HDD

Looks brilliant
Nvidia Quadro graphics
SSD + HDD combo
Configurable model limited to Intel graphics only

Dell describes its Precision 3540 as its thinnest, lightest and smallest 15-inch mobile workstation ever, and we’d agree. Available in 'bright onyx' or 'platinum silver', it’s a lovely machine with a brilliant specification.

The two-piece silver and black chassis looks great, and inside there’s a choice of Core i5, i7 or i9 Intel processors with four or six cores. Up to 2TB of fast NVMe storage is available and unlike many other slim and light laptops, you can add a second hard disk to give you both a fast system drive with additional internal storage for media.

Topping off the specification is an Nvidia Quadro 1000 or 2000 graphics card and an optional 4K touch-sensitive display to offer a premium computing experience.

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020)CB endorsed

(Image credit: Razer)

03. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020)

A powerful laptop for digital creatives

CPU: Intel Core i7-10875H | Graphics: Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 | RAM: 32GB DDR4-2933MHz | Screen: 15.6" OLED 4K Touch 60Hz, 100% DCI-P3, factory calibrated | Storage: 1TB SSD

Very powerful
Excellent design
Very expensive
Perhaps too powerful for some

While the regular Razer Blade laptop is a gaming laptop, Razer has taken its sheer power and turned the whole thing into one of the best (and most powerful) mobile workstations for creatives. 

The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition is a brilliant laptop aimed at photographers, graphic designers and video editors in particular, with a choice of powerful graphics cards, along with a stunning, factory-calibrated 4K display. Combined with the sleek design and excellent build quality, the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition proves that the most powerful laptops in the world can also be some of the most stylish as well. 

Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

04. Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)

Made for creatives

CPU: Intel Core i9-10980HK | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Max-Q | RAM: 64GB | Screen: 17.3-inch UHD 4K OLED | Storage: 2 x 1TB SSD

Excellent performance
Gorgeous display
Runs hot
Battery life isn't great

Gigabyte is a Taiwanese company that makes some amazingly powerful laptops, and the Gigabyte Aero 17 is one of its very best. New of 2021, it packs some of the latest mobile technology money can buy, making it a brilliant mobile workstation of digital creatives.

It comes with plenty of ports, which means you can easily plug in your trusted peripherals without having to use a dongle, and its screen is one of the best we've seen in a laptop. It's also priced very competitively. None of the laptops on our most powerful laptops list are budget devices, but the Gigabyte Aero 17 offers much better value than many of the other devices here, considering the raw performance it offers. The only complaint we have is that its battery life isn't the best.

The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, M1

(Image credit: Apple)

05. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Powerful things come in (not so) small sizes

CPU: Apple M1 (8-core) | Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display | Storage: 256GB SSD

Competitively priced
No new design 

The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020) is the first Apple Silicon of its class, sporting a M1 chip with a whopping 8-core CPU and an 8-Core GPU, making it more than twice as fast as the previous generation.

It was released in November 2020, along with the MacBook Air (M1), and the Mac mini (M1) – all of them no longer using Intel processors, and instead going for Apple's own 5nm M1 chip. 

As you'd expect, the chip works perfectly with this Apple MacBook Pro, extending battery life by some way, as well as optimising speed and power. And it doesn't cost the earth! All things considered, this new, spangly MacBook Pro actually undercuts the competing Dell XPS 13 (2020) by around $100/£100. And since Apple is boasting that it's three times quicker than its Windows rivals, this new 13-incher becomes a really fantastic option for creatives looking for a compact laptop that can handle huge workloads. 

MSI Creator 17

(Image credit: MSI)

06. MSI Creator 17

Large and powerful

CPU: up to 10th-generation Intel Core i9 Processor | Graphics: up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER with Max-Q | RAM: up to 64GB | Screen: 17.3" UHD (3840x2160), IPS-Level – 17.3" UHD (3840x2160), MiniLED, HDR 1000, 60Hz, IPS-Level | Storage: 512GB – 2TB NVMe SSD

Very powerful
4K screen

As a digital creative, you're not just looking for a powerful laptop that can chew through tasks with ease - you also want something with a brilliant display that can show off your work in style. That's why the MSI Creator 17 is a brilliant choice - it comes with a mini LED display, offering vibrant and accurate colours and 1000 nits of brightness.

It's also supremely powerful, with 10th-generation Intel Core processors and Nvidia RTX graphics cards. This makes it an incredibly powerful laptop for video editing and 3D modelling.

The most powerful laptops: 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

07. 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro (2019)

Still a powerful laptop

CPU: 6-8 core 9th-generation Intel Core i7 / i9 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics / AMD Radeon Pro 555X / 560X / Vega 16 | RAM: 16-32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch 2880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 256GB-4TB SSD

6 or 8-core 9th-gen processor
Retina display
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
One of the priciest high-end laptops
Storage and memory upgrades expensive

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro remains a very powerful laptop, even after all this time. Although it is officially discontinued by Apple, you can still buy it from other stores, and there's plenty of reasons why you should. It comes with an eight-core 9th generation Intel processor, which is guaranteed to fly through any computing task there is. Whether it’s video editing, 3D design or photo editing, the top-end MacBook Pro will chew through it effortlessly, no matter if you choose the six or eight-core model.

Bump up the graphics card to an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16, add more storage and boost the memory to 32GB and the MacBook Pro admittedly becomes a seriously pricey proposition. But alongside the fantastic display, excellent trackpad and fantastic battery life, the MacBook Pro is one of the best laptops on the market. Not only that, but due to its age, it's also possible to find some excellent deals on this MacBook.

Dell XPS 15

(Image credit: Dell)

08. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

A powerful and premium laptop from Dell

CPU: up to 10th Generation Intel Core i9 | Graphics: up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 32GB DDR4-2933MHz | Screen: 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) – 15.6" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display | Storage: 256GB – 1TB M.2 PCIe

Fast performance
Beautiful display
GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak

The Dell XPS range of laptops are some of the finest notebooks ever made, and the new Dell XPS 15 continues that fine tradition with an impeccable thin and light design, solid build quality and some of the latest mobile components around.

Unlike many other thin and light laptops, the Dell XPS 15 comes with a dedicated graphics card. Although the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti isn’t the most powerful GPU out there, it still offers plenty of performance for digital creatives, without increasing the overall price of the Dell XPS 15 too high. Pair it with a 10th generation Intel Core i processor, and you've got a seriously powerful laptop that can be easily carried around with you.

Another highlight is the gorgeous 15-inch screen that offers bright and vibrant images, making it a joy to work on.

The most powerful laptops: Lenovo ThinkPad P1

(Image credit: Lenovo)

09. Lenovo ThinkPad P1

A great display and really portable

CPU: 4-6 cores 8th generation Intel Core i5 / i7 / i9 / Xeon | Graphics: Nvidia Quadro P1000 / P2000 | RAM: 8-64GB | Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD / 4K colour-accurate display | Storage: 256GB-4TB SSD

Six core processor
Colour-accurate 4K display
Upgrades are pricey
Discrete Quadro P2000 graphics slightly limited

The ThinkPad P1 is the real star of Lenovo's ThinkPad laptop range. It has plenty of CPU power, with up to 6-core Intel Xeon or Core i7 processor, and is considerably thinner, lighter (1.7kg) and more portable that any of the other ThinkPads.

Delve into the optional extras, and you’ll find the killer feature of the ThinkPad P1, a colour-accurate 4K display that looks particularly bright and vibrant, and doesn’t add too much to the price over the standard FullHD display, making it an upgrade we’d recommend.

Lenovo has more than one ultra-powerful laptop in its ThinkPad range. It's also worth considering the P72, which is one of the most powerful laptops around. This 17-inch 4K mega workstation comes with up to 128GB of memory, 6TB of storage and a mega powerful Nvidia Quadro P5200 graphics card.

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