Best 15-Inch Laptops Windows Central 2021
The best 15-inch laptops are perfectly sized and configured for those who want a bit of extra screen real estate and some extra performance. The Dell XPS 15 is our top overall pick and one of the best Windows laptop options available today. It was recently refreshed to a 9510 model with 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs, NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti GPU, and OLED display, plus there are still 9500 models available for less money. If you'd like something a bit different, we've rounded up a bunch of other great 15-inch laptops right here.
- Best overall: Dell XPS 15
- Best gaming: Razer Blade 15
- Best design: Surface Laptop 4 15
- Best for media: Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360
- Best modular: Surface Book 3 15
- Dual displays: ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo
- Best convertible: HP Spectre x360 15t
- Best business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3)
Best overall: Dell XPS 15
Dell recently launched its XPS 15 9510 model, refreshed for 2021. Though its design is essentially the same (much like the XPS 13 9300 and 9310 models), it has new internal performance hardware, screen, and ports. You can now get it with 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400H, i7-11800H, and i9-11900H CPUs and NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti discrete GPU with 4GB of VRAM. Still available is up to 64GB of DDR4-3200MHz RAM and 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. The XPS 15 now has ray tracing and DLSS capabilities thanks to the new GPU, but you'll still want to check out the best gaming laptops for a true gaming machine.
The two Thunderbolt 3 ports have been upgraded to Thunderbolt 4, and there's a new 3.5K OLED touch display option with anti-reflective finish and 400 nits brightness. You can still also get it with the FHD+ non-touch or UHD+ touch displays. Check out our comparison if you'd like to see some of the major design changes between the 9500 and 9570 versions that have carried over to the latest 9510 model.
If you're more interested in the 9500 model, it's still for sale at a cheaper starting price. The real draw is undoubtedly the XPS 15 9500's IGZO display options, now using a 16:10 aspect ratio. Almost all bezel is gone, with the screen reaching from top to bottom and side to side. The 1920x1200 (FHD+) version is non-touch with an anti-glare finish and up to 500 nits brightness. Color reproduction focuses on sRGB, hitting 100%. It's a fine display, but if you need touch or want the boost up to 4K, the 3840x2400 resolution is the better choice. It costs more and draws more power, but it hits about 500 nits brightness and offers 100% AdobeRGB and 94% DCI-P3 color reproduction.
The slim aluminum and carbon fiber chassis includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports, USB-C, an SD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The power button includes a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, and the webcam is back above the display where it belongs. It also has an IR sensor for facial recognition. A massive 86Wh battery inside gives you a workday of life without needing to find a plug.
Check out our Dell XPS 15 (9500) review for a deep dive into what makes this laptop so great.
- 16:10 aspect ratio displays, now with OLED
- Powerful Intel 11th Gen CPU options
- Dedicated NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti GPU
- Premium aluminum chassis
- Huge 86Wh battery
- Not as versatile as a convertible
- Less expensive options available
Best gaming: Razer Blade 15
The Razer Blade 15 should not leave you wanting in the Base and Advanced models for those who love PC gaming. Razer upgraded the Blade 15 at CES 2021, bringing a QHD display with a 240Hz refresh rate and an FHD display with 360Hz refresh rate to the table. It also further refreshed models with 11th Gen Intel Core H-series CPUs, PCIe 4.0 storage, and Thunderbolt 4, and FHD webcam.
Depending on the performance hardware you opt for — up to an NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q GPU, 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900H CPU, and 32GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200MHz RAM — you'll get access to up to a 4K OLED touch display option. You can also opt for the FHD and QHD displays mentioned above.
All this is contained in a symmetrical metal chassis with squared edges and overall thin design. It's one of the best-looking laptops out there, and it's built to withstand daily use. The keyboard has RGB lighting, and the enormous Precision touchpad is ideal when not using one of the best PC gaming mice plugged into one of the many ports.
Have a look at our 2019 Razer Blade 15 Advanced review for more information about this gaming laptop.
- Unreal FHD, QHD, and UHD displays
- Outstanding audio
- Excellent gaming performance
- Premium build quality
- RGB keyboard
- Keyboard has short travel
- Very expensive
Best design: Surface Laptop 4 15
Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4 was announced a few months ago and is now available in a 15-inch form factor with either AMD or Intel hardware working behind the scenes. This is a rather mild refresh, focusing on internal performance rather than design changes.
The Surface Laptop 4 moves up to Intel 11th Gen or AMD Ryzen 4000 Mobile CPUs, as well as Iris Xe or Radeon graphics. There's no more 128GB SSD option, with models starting instead at 256GB. New Dolby Atmos spatial audio improves the laptop's speakers, ideal for those who don't often use a headset. Battery life has also been improved.
Like the Laptop 3, there's no Alcantara finish option for the 15-inch version. You're looking at either Platinum or Matte Black colors. As always, the 15-inch touch display has a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2496x1664 resolution with Surface Pen compatibility. Check out our Surface Laptop 4 15 review for more information.
- Stunning design and craftsmanship
- Wi-Fi 6 and Instant-On
- Comfy keyboard and touchpad
- 11th Gen Intel and Ryzen 4000 CPUs
- High-res touch display with inking
- No Alcantara finish
- Ports still limited
Best for media: Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 fills a gap in the convertible market. It's super lightweight and thin, but it has a larger 15.6-inch display, super performance, and good battery life. Not only that, but the AMOLED screen is also absolutely stunning, with 100% sRGB, 85% AdobeRGB, and 96% DCI-P3 color reproduction and VESA DisplayHDR 500. However, it could be brighter and the 16:9 aspect ratio is stale when a lot of competitors are moving to 16:10. An included Samsung S Pen makes for a quality inking experience, and Samsung's suite of apps only helps on this front.
You can expect strong performance from 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and Intel Evo certification, plus the battery is going to last more than 10 hours with regular use. The camera and speakers could be a lot better, but the keyboard and touchpad are solid. If you'd like to move up to a 15-inch convertible but don't want any of the associated weight, this is a great pick.
- Outstanding AMOLED display
- Excellent inking experience
- Thin and light with top performance
- Decent battery life
- Bad webcam and speakers
- Still using 16:9 aspect ratio
- Display could be brighter
Best modular: Surface Book 3 15
The 15-inch Surface Book 3 has been refreshed, now for its third generation. Some changes compared to the Surface Book 2 include Wi-Fi 6 connectivity with Intel chip, 16GB of RAM in base models, storage up to 2TB, NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q or NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 dedicated GPUs, and 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs. Ports and cameras have otherwise remained the same, as has the display.
The display portion can still be removed from the base to act as a standalone tablet, complete with battery, CPU, RAM, and storage. Connected to the base, you get a full battery and access to a dedicated GPU. This adds quite a bit of versatility, especially when you add a Surface Pen for inking. The touch display has a boxy 3:2 aspect ratio and hits a stunning 3240x2160 resolution.
The magnesium chassis is as good as ever, and though the design is unchanged, it is still unique. The keyboard is excellent for long days of typing, and the touchpad uses Precision drivers. The only complaint is the size, which is relatively small compared to most manufacturers' huge touchpads.
Our Microsoft Surface Book 3 15 review is full of details about what makes this laptop so great.
- Excellent build quality
- Unique design
- All-day battery life
- Good performance
- Quite versatile
- Design is a bit stale
- Touchpad is small
Dual displays: ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo
Professional creators who want to shake things up by adding a second display to this 15-inch laptop should check out the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo. It's quite expensive, but it's unlike just about any other laptop out there. The main 15.6-inch OLED touch display has a 3840x2160 resolution and full DCI-P3 color gamut coverage that is stunning in its own right, but just below it, where the keyboard on most laptops is placed, is a secondary 14-inch touch display with 3840x1100 resolution. It's known as a ScreenPad Plus, and it gives users a whole new way to use the device, especially with the included active pen.
Below the two displays is a physical keyboard with a touchpad off to the right, giving you the full laptop experience. The touchpad can even turn into a number pad thanks to embedded LED illumination. Don't worry … an attachable palm rest is included to keep your hands comfortable during long typing periods. It's all built on an attractive chassis that includes Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, USB-A 3.1, and 3.5mm audio. Unfortunately, there's no SD card reader.
Up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU is available, alongside an NVIDIA RTX 2060 dedicated GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB SSD. You'll get the performance needed for specialized work, and it even has Wi-Fi 6 for breakneck wireless speeds. An IR camera for Windows Hello adds security. These are expensive devices, but they're also unique and offer a glimpse at the future of high-performance laptops.
- Dual 4K displays
- Dedicated NVIDIA RTX graphics
- Active pen and palm rest included
- 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs
- Premium, unique design
- Steep price
- Small touchpad
- No SD card slot
Best convertible: HP Spectre x360 15t
The 15-inch HP Spectre x360 recently received a mid-gen refresh for Intel's new 11th Gen hardware. It comes with a Core i7-1165G7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, and three display options. You can still get models with 10th Gen Intel CPUs, and NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti dedicated GPU; 11th Gen configs seem to be sticking only with integrated graphics. It's still a beautiful convertible laptop that can be used in stand, tablet, tent, and notebook modes.
Three 4K touch displays are available no matter the CPU. Two IPS options differ in brightness (340 nits compared to 400 nits), while the AMOLED option brings BrightView tech and 400 nits. AMOLED costs the most, but it's the right choice for anyone who wants the best picture possible. All displays are compatible with the included active pen. The bezel has been shrunk down considerably, but you're still getting a 16:9 aspect ratio.
A sizable Precision touchpad makes productivity a breeze, and the full keyboard includes a number pad. The chassis has the same gem-cut design as the smaller 13-inch Spectre x360, and it makes for an ornate laptop.
The latest 11th Gen Intel model includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports, USB-A, 3.5mm audio, and a microSD card reader. Ports on the older model include Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, USB-A, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack. An IR camera for Windows Hello sits above the display, and there's a webcam kill switch if you're worried about anyone looking in on you. Wi-Fi 6 connectivity is included.
Go ahead and have a look at our HP Spectre x360 15 review for more details about performance, design, and display.
- Wi-Fi 6 compatibility
- Awesome 4K display options
- Powerful hardware configurations
- Ornate gem-cut chassis
- IR camera and camera kill switch
- No FHD option
- Still using 16:9 aspect ratio
Best business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3)
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3) is now sporting up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10885H vPro. This chip puts out some serious performance, and it only gets better with an NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU with 4GB of VRAM. Add up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 4TB M.2 PCIe SSD, and you have a laptop ready for a heavy workload. Like all ThinkPads, it's designed and tested to ensure it'll put up with a hard life.
You can get the 15.6-inch display in a few different versions; standard FHD, FHD with Dolby Vision HDR, 4K with Dolby Vision HDR400, and 4K OLED with HDR500 and an anti-reflective finish to cut down on glare. A webcam with a privacy shutter sits above the screen, and you can add an IR camera for extra security. You also get a fingerprint reader, FIDO authentication, and a Kensington lock slot for further security.
The body measures just 0.72 inches thin, weighing in at about 3.75 pounds (1.7kg). It has a lot of power, but it remains relatively portable. Ports include two Thunderbolt 3, SD card reader, HDMI 2.0, two USB-A 3.2, SIM slot, and 3.5mm audio jack. Wi-Fi 6 is included, and you can add an LTE adapter for wireless connectivity everywhere.
Lenovo has announced the X1 Extreme (Gen 4) with a number of major improvements that should make it the best Extreme yet. It's expected to release August 2021, so you might want to hold out for the new model.
- Powerful hardware options, including dedicated GPU
- 4K OLED display is a knockout
- Plenty of ports
- Durable ThinkPad chassis
- Keyboard is perfect
- Very expensive
- Battery life suffers with 4K
Smaller 13- and 14-inch laptops might be more popular, but that doesn't mean there aren't many great 15-inch laptops available right now. Any of the options rounded up above should please, but if you're looking for a well-rounded option for any task, we recommend checking out the Dell XPS 15 9500 and 9510. It's a great 15-inch laptop, and it's also one of the overall best Windows laptop options available today.
The new models have been upgraded with 11th Gen Intel Core H-series CPUs, NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti discrete GPU, Thunderbolt 4 ports, and there's a new 3.5K OLED touch display option. It's all wrapped up in a compact, light chassis made from aluminum and carbon fiber, making it easy to take with you wherever you go. An enormous 86Wh battery keeps going through a day, and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity allows for fast wireless speeds.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, accessory coverage, and the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Daniel Rubino is the executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.
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