Choosing one of the most powerful laptops is a game-changer if you run a lot of resource-intensive software as part of your job. Whether you're rendering complex 3D scenes, editing 8K video, retouching hi-res photos or any other demanding tasks, the heavyweight devices on our list won't let you down. And guess what? Once you've clocked off for the day, they can pull double duty as capable gaming laptops.
There was a time when only desktops would do for creative tasks, not to mention after-hours gaming. But nowadays, laptops are increasingly powerful and so you don't have to be chained to your desk, but can work anywhere around your home or office, or even when you're on the move.
We've road-tested many of the laptops on this list in great and rigorous detail, so we have a strong idea of the capabilities and drawbacks of each one (see our guide to how we test laptops can tell you more).
That said, if you don't quite need all that power, we have other guides that may suit you better. See our round-ups of the best computers for graphic design and the best laptops for architects, as well as our guide to how to the best laptops for writers for more ideas.
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If you like MacBooks, then here's the most powerful right now. The 2023 MacBook Pro comes in both 14-inch and 16-inch versions, and each of these comes with a choice of an M2 Pro or M2 Max chip.
The first of these features a 10- or 12-core CPU with up to eight high-performance and four high-efficiency cores, which Apple claims delivers 20 per cent greater performance over its predecessor, the M1 Pro. The M2 Max chip has a GPU with up to 38 cores and, Apple say, offers 30 per cent better graphics than the M1 Max.
So what does that all mean in practice? Well, we road-tested the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2023), with M2 Pro chip, 32GB RAM and 2TB SSD, and its performance was blisteringly fast. Our benchmark tests kicked up some really impressive numbers too, confirming that this performance boost wasn't just in our minds. That means for anyone needing to do video and image editing, 3D rendering or modelling, or any other resource-intensive tasks, you won't have any worries at all with this powerhouse of a machine.
The surfeit of built-in ports – one HDMI, three Thunderbolt 4, an SDXC card slot, an audio jack and one MagSafe 3 – was also welcome, making the MacBook Pro easy to slot in with whatever your device ecosystem happens to look like. The 14.3-inch display is also gorgeous and capable of delivering top-notch colour accuracy, as well as up to 1,000 nits of sustained, full-screen brightness, and 1,600 nits of peak brightness.
Finally, note that there's also 16-inch version (opens in new tab) of the MacBook Pro (M2, 2023). With that, you won't just get a bigger screen, but also a bigger battery. And that means up to 22 hours of battery life: four hours more than the 14-inch model. You will, of course, pay more for this version, so for most people we'd still recommend the 14-inch for overall value.
For more details, read our Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2, 2023) review.
If you want a smaller, more portable laptop and a lower price, but still a ton of power, then the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) has a lot to recommend it. Most notably its shiny new M2 chip, which features 8-core CPU with four efficiency and four performance cores, plus a 10-core GPU.
That's two more cores than the GPU in the M1 powering the previous MacBook Pro 13-inch, and crucially it's more than the M2 chip in the base model of the new and frankly better-looking MacBook Air.
Its base configuration is pretty decent, although with only 256GB SSD storage in the base model you may want to upgrade that from the get-go. Either way, both performance and battery life are a marked improvement over the previous model; we found it great at multi-tasking, and we could even edit 4K video with various sources playing simultaneously, and we hardly ever heard the fans spin. In short, this is a powerful laptop that more than does the job.
For more details, see our full MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review.
The most powerful laptops aren't all Macs. So if you'd prefer to use Windows, the best Dell laptops have a lot to offer. Most powerful of all is the Dell XPS 17 (2022), which proves that macOS devices are far from the only option available for creatives who need a portable workstation. And it also shows that a laptop with a big, big screen doesn't have to be bulky and impractical to carry.
While hiding some seriously impressive components and fitting in a giant 17-inch 4K display, the XPS 17 remains an impressively thin and light device, which means you can comfortably carry it around with you. This makes it an ideal powerful laptop for people who want to work out and about.
In our review of its predecessor, the Dell XPS 17 (2021), we appreciated the power and performance of this laptop, and its ability to handle even processor-intensive tasks without any slowdown or lag. The 2022 version looks and feels much the same, but with the benefit of Intel’s latest 12 Gen CPUs ramping up performance a further notch.
In practice, that means this laptop will allow you quickly and efficiently perform even the most graphically-intensive tasks, like exporting high-resolution images, or rendering video, which keeping cool, literally and metaphorically. Battery life has also had a boost, and you can expect up to 10 hours of life with light use: pretty impressive for such a powerful computer.
Dell is well known for making top-quality laptops, and the XPS line is no different. If you're looking for a powerful and reliable laptop for your creative needs, and you don't much care for macOS, consider one of these beauties for yourself.
One of Asus' portfolio of high-end gaming laptops, the Asus TUF Gaming F15 has been refreshed for 2022 with some of the latest tech. This includes Intel's latest 12th Gen CPU, as well Nvidia RTX 30 Series graphics, and on the display side of things, you get a 15.6-inch screen with a meaty 165Hz refresh rate and full coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut. Not too shabby – that last feature makes it a good choice for content creation tasks like video editing, as well as gaming.
In our full review of the Asus TUF Gaming F15, we were continually impressed with how much it was able to handle. You can load up that processor with tasks and it just keeps on chugging with barely a stutter, and the battery life holds up really well too. Slim bezels on the side of the screen mean the laptop isn't too large to be practical, though it does have a fairly sizeable chin when you open it up. At least this means it has a nice big trackpad.
Connectivity is good too, as the Asus TUF Gaming F15 has a real-deal Thunderbolt 4 socket with 40Gbps of bandwidth. That can make it much easier to transfer large volumes of data to or from a hard drive. You do also have the built-in Samsung SSD, though its slightly sluggish 30MB/s read and 67MB/s write speeds are a little underwhelming for day-to-day responsiveness.
We also felt the screen could be better; while it's very well specced on paper, in person it lacks a little vibrancy, not to mention brightness. Still, this is a really high-performing laptop, and if your work and play habits require a fast-performing computer, it's a really solid choice.
Our Asus TUF Gaming F15 (2022) review goes into more detail.
The Razer Blade 17 bears the well-regarded Nvidia Studio laptop badge, thanks to its top-of-the-line graphics card. Even in its slimmest configuration, this is not a cheap laptop – but you didn't come to our most powerful laptops guide looking for a cheap option, now did you?
In our review, we were dazzled by the Razer Blade 17's ability to handle complex tasks with ease, with barely a whisper of noise, and without any overheating, all thanks to its 32GB of DDR5 RAM. Its ability to complete the Blender Benchmark in just 7 minutes and 47 seconds was comparable to the power of desktop systems. Any creative app you could care to name will run like a dream on the Razer Blade 17, as will even the most intensive games, including VR.
But the Razer Blade 17 does have one major Achilles heel, and that's its battery life. It is frankly abysmal, even by the standards of high-performance laptops, which tend to be power-hungry at the best of times. In our testing, we found the Razer Blade 17 able to manage 3 hours and 12 minutes of general browsing on a single charge, but this went down to 1 hour and 17 minutes when sculpting in Blender. And when playing Cyberpunk 2077? Just 57 minutes.
It does come bundled with a 280W power brick, which softens the blow a bit, and it's worth remembering that the Razer Blade 17 has a lot going for it, including its sublime QHD display and its excellent keyboard. If you can cope with the battery limitation, this will be a tempting option. (Also note that a successor, the Razor Blade 18 (opens in new tab) has just been launched, but as it's not available everywhere yet, we've left that off our list for the moment.)
Our Razer Blade 17 review goes into detail.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) may no longer be the newest kid on the block. But it's still a very capable computer, and the price is now starting to come down as attention shifts to its 2023 successor.
With a mini-LED display that has a resolution of 3456 x 2234 pixels, not to mention P3 wide colour support, this is a gorgeous piece of kit for displaying your content. If you're a visual creative of any kind, you'll revel in seeing your projects take shape with crystal-clear fidelity. As with the MacBook Pro 14 below, it comes with a choice of Apple's powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max chips. These ensure that the latest version of macOS runs incredibly smoothly, and that software launches and loads rapidly.
Our reviewer was pretty swept away by the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021). The battery did really well, even with that big display draining it – we were able to browse for about 17 hours before needing to charge (we did take breaks). The laptop also didn't suffer any perceptible loss in performance when it's on battery – we edited 8K video with the power cable nowhere in sight, with no issues.
See our MacBook Pro 16-inch review for more.
Like its bigger sibling (above), the MacBook Pro (2021) offers a great balance between power, portability and affordability. It features Apple's own M1 processing chips, which may not quite as well-specced as the latest M2 silicon, but are still blisteringly fast in the grand scheme of things.
There are further customisation options on the inside – you can choose between an M1 Pro chip, or the M1 Max SoC (system-on-a-chip), which combines a CPU and GPU into a single unit. The latter is the more powerful choice – by quite a bit – but in either case, you're getting a hell of a laptop. Whether you want to use it for graphic design, video editing, or some high-end gaming (yes, really), the MacBook Pro (14-inch, 2021) will handle its tasks with aplomb.
When we took the MacBook Pro in for testing, we couldn't find much to fault. Battery life was great, better than previous versions, so the laptop is useful for working on the go, rather than nominally so. The surfeit of built-in ports – one HDMI, three Thunderbolt 4, an SDXC card slot and one MagSafe 3 – was also welcome. And we found the 14.3-inch 120 Hz mini-LED display capable of delivering top-notch colour accuracy, as well as up to 1,000 nits of sustained, full-screen brightness, and 1,600 nits of peak brightness.
For more details, read our MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) review (opens in new tab).
Gigabyte is likely another name more recognized for its gaming-optimised creations, but its range of creative workstation laptops has absolutely knocked it out of the park, with our favourite being the Gigabyte Aero 17.
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. Despite all those features and power under the hood, the Gigabyte Aero 17 offers much better value than many of the other devices on our list, considering the raw performance it offers. The only complaint we have is that its battery life isn't the best, so make sure you don't stray too far from a power outlet.
If you can look past the battery life though, you're getting an absolute beast of a workstation, equipped with the latest components and a glorious 4K OLED display, all features that will help tasks like video editing and 3D rendering, at a relatively affordable budget when compared to the competition.(opens in new tab)
The Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro is a great choice for any creative looking for a powerful Windows device that was designed from the ground up to eat through any task you can throw at it, from rendering to 4K video editing.
It's got some seriously powerful hardware packaged up in a stylish design, configurable with a choice of powerful Intel processors, Nvidia graphics cards and bags of RAM, which means it's great for 3D animation and video editing.
Not only can it run just about every application you throw at it, but it looks incredibly stylish to boot, with a fancy all-white chassis that stands out against the sea of grey and black options currently dominating the market. It's pretty safe to say that Acer is giving Apple a run for its money with this design.
Perhaps its biggest selling point, however, is its stunning Pantone-validated 4K IPS display. It's one of the nicest screens we've seen on a laptop, and it makes it a brilliant choice for people who want accurate colours and top-notch image quality alongside powerful components.
For more details, see our full Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro review.
The Dell XPS 15 is another favourite from the current generation of Dell XPS laptops. It's still one of the best and most powerful laptops around, not just for creatives, but anyway seeking the best of everything with very little compromise. It's equipped with the latest 11th generation of Intel processors, a powerful Nvidia RTX graphics card and plenty of RAM configurations to cater the device to your needs.
There are a few issues specific to users' needs though, as you're losing the standard USB-A port from the previous generation of the laptop, which might make hooking up any peripherals like a graphics drawing tablet tricky for digital illustrators and sculptors, and many creative types like a larger display to work on. For those needs, you might have to get an external dock (opens in new tab). Plus, if you prefer a larger screen, the Dell XPS 17 (number 3 on our list) is a great alternative.
The most powerful laptops: frequent questions
Which laptops are the fastest?
Usually, when looking at performance, we're talking about the speed of a laptop's processor, or CPU, which means that if you're looking for one of the most powerful laptops, you'll be looking for a device with one of the latest Intel or AMD processors – or Apple's M2 range if you use a Mac.
But the CPU isn't everything. Performance is also determined by a computer's random access memory, or RAM, which is the short-term memory used to handle active tasks and apps. You'll want at least 16GB, but note that some portable workstations let you expand on the base memory, allowing you to cram more in if you need to run memory-hungry tasks. Meanwhile, a new generation of RAM, DDR5 is set to replace the current standard, DDR4, and laptop makers are scrambling to put this super-fast RAM into their devices, although it's likely to remain very expensive for now.
If you work in anything visual, you'll also want a good graphics card, or at least impressive integrated graphics. The best graphics cards now offer features like raytracing for impressive light effects and graphics upscaling.
What is the most powerful laptop in the world?
This isn't as easy to answer as you might think, despite benchmarks being published for almost every laptop and 2-in-1 device on the market to compare hardware. It all boils down to what you need the laptop for, and how well it's optimized for that task.
The Dell XPS range leads the way for Windows-based mobile workstations, while the latest generation of MacBook Pro are beloved by fans of macOS, equipped that that powerful Apple silicon M1.
If you need something for gaming then consider laptops equipped with the latest Ryzen 9 5900X processor and an RTX 3080 graphics cards, such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15.
A powerful laptop is nothing without also having a decent amount of RAM too, with gaming laptops sometimes offering 32GB (you only really need 16GB to enjoy even the most demanding games) and workstations from Apple and Dell configurable up to a whopping 64GB.
What should I look for when buying a powerful laptop?
A powerful laptop comes in many shapes and sizes depending on what would best suit your needs. Right off the bat, you should look at naming conventions. Workstations are available as both desktop and mobile devices and are typically optimised for technical, demanding applications. If something is advertised as a workstation then it's usually been creative for people who need the full power of a desktop PC condensed into a portable machine.
Similarly, gaming laptops and 2-in-1 devices also have their merits, with gaming portables packing fast processors, an abundance of RAM (compared to traditional laptops) and of course, a beefy graphics card, all of which make them well suited for tasks like 3D rendering and video editing.
2-in-1 devices are usually less powerful, but things have come a long way, and the ability to edit high-resolution images using a stylus directly on a convertible laptop shouldn't be sniffed at. To pick the right device, you should consider what you need it for: are you always in the field, therefore need a lightweight device, combined with great battery life? Or are you happy to drag around a bigger, heavier laptop if you get a 17-inch display and some seriously beefy graphics?
Picking anything on our list is likely going to serve your needs well, but only you know what area you should be paying attention to when buying a new laptop. Photographers and video editors will want to prioritize the display, as well as ports (nobody wants to keep a dongle safe) and a new, capable processor.
3D artists and game designers however might need to make sure the graphics card is capable of running demanding rendering software, and have enough RAM to cope with multiple applications at once.
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