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Best Laptops for Gamers, Editing, Movies – The Hollywood Reporter


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After a year (or two) of working from home and slamming the keyboard, now might be time to upgrade your worn-out laptop. Whether you love gaming, need a lightweight device for travel, or a solid machine for everyday use and streaming, we’ve rounded up some of the best laptops of 2021. 

These laptops take performance to the next level, offering touch screen features, tools and bonus software trials with purchase. These selections include the best priced under $1,000 and the best laptops for students, photo and video editing, gaming, travel and streaming. From devices with supercharged processors that allow for multi-tasking (think editing 8K video to TK) to options with impressive battery life, see which ones you can gift for the savvy laptop user in your life or take home for you. Many of our top picks also happen to be on sale during Cyber Monday, so don’t miss offers on these game-changers.

1. 2021 Apple MacBook Pro with M1 chip

BEST OVERALL

  • Screen size: 14 or 16 inches
  • Operating system: iOS
  • Processor: Apple M1 Pro (14 and 16 inch) or M1 Max chip (16 inch)
  • Memory: 8 or 16 GB 
  • Storage: 512 GB or 1 TB
  • Camera: 1080p HD FaceTime camera
  • Security: Touch ID
  • Battery life: Up to 17 hours (14-inch) or up to 21 hours (16-inch)
  • Port: Three Thunderbolt 4 ports

Buy 2021 Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro for $1,849+: Amazon | Apple | Best Buy

Buy 2021 Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro for $2,229+: Amazon | Apple | Best Buy

Boasting the lightning-fast M1 Pro or Max chip and stunning Liquid Retina XDR display, Apple’s recently-released 2021 MacBook Pro is powerful enough to edit 8K video or rendering 3D scenes, so you know it can easily handle streaming movies and checking emails. Cinemaphiles and gamers will be delighted with the six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers (which deliver immersive audio) and the incredible graphics and range in details (such as deeper blacks and super-vibrant colors), all thanks to the upgraded CPU (8- or 10-core, depending on your configuration) and GPU (14- to 32-core) that offer faster performance and machine learning.

This model does away with the Touchbar bar but keeps the Touch ID,  and it’s also equipped with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera that delivers sharper video calls. It’s rounded out with three Thunderbolt 4 ports, and HDMI port, and SDXC card slot and a MagSafe 3 port, so you can plug in up to three Pro Display XDRs and an Apple TV. The laptop is also available in the 13.3-inch version from 2020, and that model is still a worthy choice with its M1 chip, stunning Retina display and up to 21 hours of battery life.

2021 Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch Laptop

2021 Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch Laptop

$2,049.00

on Amazon.com


Buy now

2. 2020 Apple MacBook Air with M1 chip

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT

  • Screen size: 13.3 inches
  • Operating system: Mac OS Monterey
  • Processor: Apple M1 chip
  • Memory: 8 or 16 GB 
  • Storage: 256 or 512 GB, 1 or 2 TB
  • Camera: Built-in FaceTime camera
  • Security: Touch ID
  • Battery life: Up to 18 hours
  • Port: Two Thunderbolt 4 ports

Buy 2020 Apple MacBook Air for $999+: Amazon | Apple | Best Buy

The MacBook Air is Apple’s lightest, thinnest notebook to date — and the most ideal for doing everything from watching movies and creating documents to editing photos on the go.  One of the big perks is Apple’s M1 processor, supercharged by eight cores that make the machine lightning fast, even when multi-tasking with several apps. It has a quiet, fanless design and the longest battery life of any Mac Book Air model with 18 hours. Expect smooth sailing with a crisp, Retina display with True Tone, which automatically adjusts the brightness and contrast based on the lighting in your environment.

It comes in space gray, gold and silver, and features a FaceTime HD camera, Touch ID, force touchpad and magic keyboard. It starts at $999, or $899 for students. And, if you plan on upgrading your old Mac, then you can also trade in an eligible computer at an Apple or Best Buy store for a new model — credit toward your purchase could await you.

Apple MacBook Air Laptop

2020 Macbook Air Laptop

on Amazon.com


Buy now

HP Envy x360 Convertible Laptop

BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY LAPTOP

  • Screen size: 15.6 inches
  • Operating system: Windows 11 Home
  • Processor: 
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM (also available in 12 and 16 GB) 
  • Storage: 256 GB (also available in 512 GB and 1 TB)
  • Camera: HP Wide Vision HD Camera with camera shutter, integrated dual array digital microphone
  • Security: Security software trial
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours
  • Port: microSD slot, two USB-A, and a USB-C (no Thunderbolt 3)

Buy HP Envy x360 Laptop for $700+: Amazon | Best Buy | HP

If you want a great deal and a multitouch-enabled display, then this two-in-one laptop could be a great option for you. The 2021 HP Envy x360 gives you premium performance, speed and high-definition displays perfect for gaming starting at the sale price of $700 (regularly $1,000 and up).

This high-value laptop features a U-series Core i5, Intel Iris Xe Graphics and up to 10 hours of battery life. It’s perfect for streaming, browsing and everyday use. It even comes with a stylus (HP Rechargeable MPP2.0 Tilt Pen in Natural Silver). 

This powerful machine has an edge-to-edge glass display and a full-size island-style backlit keyboard in natural silver. The laptop also gives customers a one-month free trial of Adobe, perfect for editing images. This offer is included in the price, with options to extend for a year under a contract (rates vary based on the software suite and begin at $103 for the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan). 

HP Envy x360 Convertible Laptop

 

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Laptop, 128 GB

BEST LAPTOP-TABLET HYBRID

  • Screen size: 11.3 inches
  • Operating system: Windows 11 
  • Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
  • Memory: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB
  • Storage: 128GB or 256GB removable solid-state drives (also available with 512GB or 1TB)
  • Cameras: 5 MP front-facing camera with 1080p full HD video (10 MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD and 4K video)
  • Security: Windows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing)
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours
  • Port: Two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports

Buy Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Laptop for $1,100+: Amazon | Best Buy | Microsoft

Touch is a huge trend for students and people who need to capture information with speed. The good news is Microsoft Surface Pro 8, 128 GB can deliver on these impressive functions. The bonus? It’s lightweight. It runs on an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and ranges from $1,100 , depending the memory, storage and speed you need.

This machine has a virtually edge-to-edge PixelSense Flow touch display, with up to 120Hz refresh rate — in other words, you can go fast. The note-taking friendly tablet can be paired with a Surface Slim Pen 2 ($130), which is sold separately can be stored and charged in the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard ($160, regularly $180), which is available in poppy red and ice blue. The Surface Slim Pen gives you the natural feeling of pen on paper, but with the extra convenience and style. 

It has Wi-Fi 6 for ultra-fast bandwidth, Bluetooth and a dedicated charging port that includes two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports. It weighs just under two pounds and has a built-in kickstand to adjust your screen to 180 degrees, and it transforms into a a laptop when you add the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard, which lets you type in comfort and features backlit keys with a large glass touchpad. The device also has an incredible sound system perfect for music lovers, or anytime you have to log on Zoom with 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos and dual far-field Studio Mics. It also comes with a one-year limited hardware warranty.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Tablet

ASUS ROG Zephyrus 15.6″ QHD Gaming Laptop

BEST FOR GAMING

  • Screen size: 15.6 inches 
  • Operating system: Windows 11
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 processor
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Camera: None
  • Security: Windows 10, built-in fingerprint reader
  • Battery life: Up to 8 hours, 6 minutes
  • Port: 4-cell battery, power adapter; Headphone/microphone combo jack

Buy the ASUS ROG Zephyrus QHD Gaming Laptop for $1,550 (reg. $1,850): Amazon | Best Buy

This favorite gaming laptop is virtual reality-ready and delivers on function. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus 15.6-inch QHD Gaming Laptop gives gamers an affordable, quick, powerful machine with an AMD Ryzen 9 processor. Right now, you can save $300 and pay $1,550 for the powerful machine, normally priced 17 percent more at $1,850. This is the lowest price yet for the popular gaming laptop and one of the lightest gaming devices on the market, weighing just over four pounds.

Expect quick load times with the notebook PC’s 1 TB solid-state drive (SSD). You can run graphics-heavy games with no problems and check out high-quality visuals on the speedy 15.6-inch 165hz QHD display. It has an energy-efficient LED backlight and comes in Eclipse Grey. It also features six speakers powered by immersive Dolby Atmos technology, plus two-way AI noise cancelation clarifies upstream and downstream audio, filtering out unwanted noise to make voice communication clearer. 

You also get a free Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 1 Month Token with purchase, which includes more than 100 high-quality games on Windows 10, console and mobile, plus a ​​30-day trial of Microsoft Office 365. Users can opt for a Windows 11 upgrade, which will be delivered to qualifying devices starting in late 2021 and into 2022.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus QHD Gaming Laptop

ASUS ROG Zephyrus QHD Gaming Laptop (reg. $1,850) at Best Buy

$1,550


Buy now

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano 13-Inch Laptop

BEST FOR TRAVEL

  • Screen size: 13 inches
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Pro (Lenovo recommends Windows 11 Pro for business)
  • Processor: 
  • Memory: Up to 16GB LPDDR4x 4266MHz 
  • Storage: 256GB SSD storage (also available in 512GB SSD storage)
  • Cameras: None
  • Security: Built-in ThinkShield security solutions
  • Battery life: 10 hours
  • Port: USB4 / Thunderbolt 4

Buy the Thinkpad X1 Nano 13-Inch Laptop for $1,240+: Amazon | Lenovo

It might be time to invest in a new, compact device as you begin making travel or business plans. Lenovo’s lightweight powerhouse ThinkPad X1 Nano Intel laptop weighs in at just two pounds, has a 13-inch display and a 16:10 aspect ratio for even more screen.

This sturdy machine gives users business security and management features, including a suite of built-in ThinkShield security solutions. The ThinkPad also has innovative AI and biometric security features ranging from the discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM), which encrypts data—making it more difficult to hack—to the extra-secure match-on-chip fingerprint reader. Any time you move away, the human-presence detection automatically locks the device with the IR camera, which enables zero-touch login even from sleep.

It’s powered by Intel Iris Xe graphics, the 2160 x 1350 resolution display with 100 percent sRGB ensures picture clarity and color accuracy. It is available with and without touch display options. The touch screen is ​​anti-reflective, anti-smudge with Dolby Vision. The operating system is Windows 10 Home, Windows 11 Home, Windows 10 Pro — although Lenovo recommends Windows 11 Pro for business. 

It has all day battery life and when it’s time for more juice the Rapid Charge delivers zero to 80 percent in just an hour  — talk about convenience. ThinkPad laptops can also handle extreme climates, and are tested against 12 military-grade requirements and more than 200 quality checks.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Nano Laptop

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Nano 13-Inch Laptop

$1,240+


Buy now

LG Gram 17-Inch Laptop

BEST FOR STREAMING

  • Screen size: 17 inches 
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Processor: 11th gen Intel core i7
  • Memory: 16GB 
  • Storage: 1 or 2 TB
  • Cameras: HD webcam
  • Security: Fingerprint ID
  • Battery life: Up to 19.5 hours
  • Port: Thunderbolt, HDMI, USB-A and headphones

Buy the LG Gram 17-Inch Laptop for $1,497+: Amazon | LG

The LG gram ($1,500) is extremely light and designed for people who want to experience the big screen. Experience your favorite streaming shows and movies with this lightweight laptop. It has a long battery life, clear display at 17 inches and weighs just under three pounds — perfect for carrying to different locations.

This design gives people a great keyboard, one Thunderbolt port, plus security. You can also connect from your phone to the computer with Virtoo by LG. This gives you a chance to mirror your Android smartphone screen directly on your laptop. You can respond to text messages, answer calls and run your favorite Android apps wirelessly with the LG Gram.

LG Gram 17-Inch Laptop

LG Gram 17-Inch Laptop

$1,758.88

on Amazon.com


Buy now




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