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 9500 is our top overall pick and one of the best Windows laptop options available today. It's available with two 15.6-inch display options, up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10885H processor (CPU), 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti dedicated graphics card (GPU) with 4GB of VRAM. That's some serious power, and it's all wrapped up in a beautiful chassis. 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 9500
- Best Gaming: Razer Blade 15
- Best Design: Surface Laptop 3 15 (Intel)
- Best Convertible: HP Spectre x360 15t
- Best Modular: Surface Book 3 15
- Dual Displays: ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo
- Best for Media: Samsung Galaxy Book Flex
- Best Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3)
Best Overall: Dell XPS 15 9500
The refreshed XPS 15 is an all-around impressive Ultrabook, complete with a number of changes between the 9500 and 9570 versions. The Precision touchpad has been blown up to an enormous size, keycaps are larger for easier typing, and audio is boosted thanks to two top-firing speakers and two down-firing speakers.
The real draw is undoubtedly the XPS 15'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 just 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 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10300H and Core i7-10750H CPUs are workhorses with four and six cores, respectively, but you can opt for a Core i7-10875H CPU with eight cores and a clock speed up to 5.1GHz or a Core i9-10885H CPU with eight cores and a clock speed up to 5.3GHz. That's a lot of power. Add in a dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM, and you have a laptop that can handle some specialized design and editing work.
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
- Powerful Intel 10th Gen CPU options
- Dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti GPU
- Premium aluminum chassis
- Huge 86Wh battery
- Not as versatile as a convertible
- Less expensive options available
Best Gaming: Razer Blade 15
For those who love PC gaming, the Razer Blade 15 should not leave you wanting in the Base and Advanced models. 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.
Depending on the performance hardware you opt for — up to an NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q GPU, 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875 CPU, and 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM — you'll get access to up to a 4K OLED display option. You can also opt for the FHD and QHD displays mentioned above.
The 4K OLED touch display comes with 100% sRGB color reproduction, 60Hz refresh rate, and HDR400 certification. If you're a designer or editor, this would no doubt also make a stellar system, especially now that Razer is offering an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU in the Studio version. Top-firing quad speakers provide loud audio, and you might be tempted to use them instead of even the best gaming headset.
All this is contained in a symmetrical metal chassis with squared edges, available in either black or Mercury White colors. 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 3 15 (Intel)
AMD variants of the 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 — the more common option offered to customers — are somewhat underwhelming. Surface Laptop 3 "Business" models available with 10th Gen Intel hardware are much more appealing. You get Instant-On and excellent battery life, Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and rock-solid performance, especially from the Core i7 option. Best part? They're available to anyone who wants them.
In any case, whether you go with AMD or Intel, the real appeal of the Surface Laptop 3 is its design. Like the smaller 13.5-inch Laptop 3, it has a premium all-metal design with smooth lines. It's available in two colors (without Alcantara fabric). The keyboard and Precision touchpad are some of the best around, and those typing all day should have no issues. The laptop remains relatively thin and light despite its 15-inch form.
The 15-inch touch display has a boxy 3:2 aspect ratio with 2496x1664 resolution, and it works with the Surface Pen for a satisfying inking experience. Color accuracy hits 96% sRGB and 72% AdobeRGB, and you can expect peak brightness to reach just less than 400 nits. Ports have been updated for the third-generation; expect USB-C, USB-A, 3.5mm audio, and Surface Connect.
If you're seriously considering this device, be sure to read our Surface Laptop 3 15 review for way more information.
- Stunning design and craftsmanship
- Wi-Fi 6 and Instant-On
- Comfy keyboard and touchpad
- 10th Gen Intel CPUs
- High-res touch display with inking
- No Alcantara finish
- Ports still limited
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 different 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 killswitch
- No FHD option
- Still using 16:9 aspect ratio
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 for Media: Samsung Galaxy Book Flex
The best convertible laptops are great for watching and creating content, but some just do it better than others. The 15.6-inch Samsung Galaxy Book Flex sports a QLED display that delivers color differently from a traditional LED. Colors are more vibrant, and brightness can get up to more than 600 nits. It manages 100% sRGB, 88% AdobeRGB, and 100% DCI-P3, which are quite impressive color reproduction numbers. The only downside here is that there's no 4K option; displays are capped at 1080p.
An S-Pen is built right into the side of the laptop with a silo for charging. It's sized like a stylus rather than a full-size pen, but it's still accurate and smooth. Samsung's proprietary software makes the pen even better, taking it beyond the stock Windows Ink experience you get with most inking-compatible laptops. Myriad other Samsung apps are also a definite bonus that will help with productivity and organization.
It's all contained in a sleek metal chassis with squared edges. It feels premium, and the convertible function works without a hitch. The keyboard is a bit shallow, but the enormous Precision touchpad helps make up for it. For hardware, get up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU, 12GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Ports include two Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, 3.5mm audio, and a microSD card reader. Wi-Fi 6 connectivity is also available.
For more information, check out our Samsung Galaxy Book Flex review.
- Beautiful convertible design
- Slim, light, and flexible
- Bright, colorful display
- Good battery life
- S-Pen included for inking
- No 4K display option
- Keyboard is a bit shallow
Best Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3)
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme has moved into a third generation, and it's 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.
- 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. It's a great 15-inch laptop, and it's also one of the overall best Windows laptop options available today.
Its displays now have a 16:10 aspect ratio with almost no bezel at all, available in FHD+ non-touch or UHD+ touch options. These displays offer plenty of brightness and precise color reproduction, making them ideal for a variety of work. Add up to a 10th Gen Intel Core H-series Core i9 CPU, 64GB of RAM, and 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD, as well as an NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti GPU for awesome performance. It won't quite measure the best graphics cards, but it's still a good power boost.
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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