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The most powerful laptops in 2021

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

You're here to find the most powerful laptops, and below we've put together exactly that. These fantastic mobile workstations boast massive amounts of power into slim and light designs, and they are ideal for handling high workloads. Unsurprisingly, the most powerful translates into the fastest laptops too.

The most powerful laptops were never going to be suitable for all users. These fastest laptops below are high-powered machines that can cope with a lot of work thrown at them. They're ideal for creatives that work with big files, moving a lot of data around, and the price point reflects that. If you're looking for something a little slower paced at a lower price point, check out our round up of the best cheap laptop deals.

The latest generation of processors with up to 12 CPU cores means the most powerful laptops can perform every bit as well as desktops. The best graphics cards you can get in laptops are now on another level as well. 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.

Screens are getting better too. Laptops now come with high-DPI colour accurate displays that look simply amazing, such as Apple’s DCI-P3 Retina displays and the 4K screens on some Windows laptops. 

We’ve listed some of the most powerful laptops on the market today, but be warned, though, as these high performance laptops do come at a (high) price. However, our price comparison tool will help you save a decent amount of money.

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 has knocked it out the park with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, making it one of the fastest laptops out there. It's made one of the most powerful laptops money can buy right now, while keeping the thin, light and stylish design that has made its MacBook Pro range so iconic. The fact that Apple has 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 in 2020. 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 EditionCB endorsed

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition was designed with photographers, video editors and even game designers in mind. (Image credit: Razer)

03. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

A seriously powerful pro laptop

CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q – NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 Studio Edition | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 15.6" OLED 4K Touch 60Hz, factory calibrated | Storage: 1TB SSD

Beautiful screen

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. 

This 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. 

The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, M1

(Image credit: Apple)

04. 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
Beautiful design
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. 

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

(Image credit: Apple)

05. 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro (2019)

Currently one of the only laptops to offer eight CPU cores

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 is the second most powerful laptop the company has ever made. Earlier this year, Apple began offering a new model 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.

The most powerful laptops: HP ZBook Studio G5

(Image credit: HP)

06. HP ZBook Studio G5

The best display in a mobile workstation

CPU: 4-6 core 8th generation Intel Core i5 / i7 / i9 Xeon | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics, Nvidia Quadro P1000 / P2000) | RAM: 8-64GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FullHD / 4K display | Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD x2, additional HDD / SSD

Great screen
Lashings of storage available
Up to 64GB of memory
Slightly chunkier than others

The futuristic looking angled edges on the lid and case of HP’s professional-grade ZBook Studio laptop befit an equally forward-thinking internal specification that features four or six-core Intel processors, up to 4TB of SSD storage (across dual SSDs) and Nvidia Quadro graphics.

While other high-end mobile workstations have fantastic screens, the 15.6-inch 4K HP DreamColor display on the ZBook studio is possibly the best on any laptop. It offers 100% AdobeRGB coverage and 10-bit colour accuracy, which means visibly better colours, in addition to particularly high brightness levels with up to 600nits.

Configurable with up to 64GB of memory, should you need to add some extra speed, this may not be the thinnest or lightest laptop on the market, but it’s certainly one of the most high-end.

The most powerful laptops: Lenovo ThinkPad P1

(Image credit: Lenovo)

07. 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.

The most powerful laptops: Asus Zenbook Pro 14 UX480

(Image credit: Asus)

08. Asus Zenbook Pro 14 UX480

The Zenbook remains a brilliant laptop

CPU: 4 cores 8th generation Intel Core i5 / i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (Max-Q) | RAM: 8-16GB | Screen: 14-inch FullHD | Storage: 128GB-1TB SSD

Looks great
No six-core option
No option of a 4K display

Sporting a lovely royal blue chassis, the slim and portable 14-inch Zenbook Pro stands out as both attractive and highly capable, with processor and graphics performance in spades. And it has an interesting second display, a 5.5-inch screen built into the touchpad that can run special Asus-designed apps.

Weighing just 1.6kg, it comes with a quad-core processor and discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics that will give it a leg up in both creative software and gaming, with up to 16GB of memory and a 1TB SSD. Good specifications for the price that will certainly power any software you might run on it.

The most powerful laptops: MSI P65 Creator Edition

(Image credit: MSI)

09. MSI P65 Creator Edition

Lightweight graphics powerhouse

CPU: 4-6 cores 8th generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (Max-Q) | RAM: 8-16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display | Storage: 128GB-1.5TB SSD

Looks great
Powerful gaming graphics card
Comparatively poor colour accuracy
Slightly wobbly screen

The 13.3-inch MSI Prestige P65 is a slightly different class of mobile workstation to the high-end laptops listed above. It’s definitely a powerhouse, with Nvidia GeForce graphics and optional six-core processor. But rather than ultimate colour accuracy, MSI has bestowed the display with a 144Hz refresh rate which is indeed a lovely feature, but is particularly better for gaming on.

The design is great too. The design is one of the most lightweight in a laptop, and the chamfered edges complete an overall premium look and feel that does MSI proud indeed.

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