Best Thunderbolt 3 Laptops Windows Central 2020
Are you looking for a new laptop that has Thunderbolt 3 ports? Well, you're in luck, as we've rounded up what we think are the best Thunderbolt 3 enabled laptops available to buy today, including the Dell XPS 13. We've got everything from the beautifully designed, to the devices with all-out power. And as more of us are working from home, now's a great time to upgrade.
- Best Overall: Dell XPS 13 (9300)
- Best for Power Users: Dell XPS 15
- Best Design: HP Spectre x360 13t
- Best Portability: Huawei Matebook X Pro
- Best for Gaming: Razer Blade Stealth
- Best for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Best Overall: Dell XPS 13
The latest XPS 13 from Dell is packing the latest in mobile processors, powered by Intel's new 10th generation chips that offer better power efficiency, and AI that provides you with extra processing power when you need it. It also features a new design with two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports for the fastest file transfers and the ability to power external accessories such as an eGPU.
It's super thin and weighs only 2.9 pounds (1.33 kg), so it's great for slipping into a bag and traveling with. It has a beautiful 13.4-inch display, available in either 1080p or 4K configurations (if you're battery conscious, you can grab the 1080p one for extended battery life). It also features Windows Hello for quick biometric authentication too.
Other specs include up to 32GB RAM, 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD, and integrated Intel Iris Graphics for graphical processing. It's an excellent portable laptop, with a 360-degree hinge that lets you turn it into a tablet, which also supports pen input in case you need it.
- Super thin.
- 10th gen processors.
- Excellent design
- Thunderbolt 3 support.
- Only available in two colors.
Get more done with the latest hardware
This refresh has two Thunderbolt 3-enabled USB-C ports for super-fast file transfer and power to external USB-C accessories such as eGPU's.
Best for Power Users: Dell XPS 15
The latest Dell XPS 15 is rocking plenty ports, one of which is a Thunderbolt 3-enabled Type-C USB port. It also has two USB-C 3.1 ports, a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, and an SD card reader. It's rocking newer 9th Gen Intel processors on the inside (up to i9), a 4K OLED panel option, as well as the newer NVIDIA GTX 1650 dedicated GPU.
This is the laptop you want if you're all about raw power. If you need to do video editing or heavy Photoshop work, you simply can't go wrong with the Dell XPS 15. You can configure it with an Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB RAM, a dedicated GPU (or an external one with the Thunderbolt 3 port), and a 2TB PCIe SSD drive. That's a super expensive configuration, of course, but it's possible.
It also has a sizeable 97WHr battery that should keep you from running out of power all day. The 15.6-inch display also doesn't feel that big thanks to the InfinityEdge display first pioneered by Dell. It feels more like a 14-inch laptop, which means it fits into your bag much easier than other 15-inch laptops.
- Raw power
- Powerful GPU
- 4K option
- Touch available
- Thunderbolt 3 support
Best for Power Users
Get everything done
This laptop should be able to do everything you need. It also features a Thunderbolt 3 enabled USB-C port for fast file transfer.
Best Design: HP Spectre x360t
The latest HP Spectre x360 is beautiful, featuring a unique gem-cut design that has USB-C ports planted in the corners. It has two Thunderbolt 3 Type-C ports, which makes it perfect for our list. The HP Spectre x360 13t's all-new "gem-cut" design brings sharp, angular edges to the metal chassis. The design is an abrupt departure from the more rounded hinge area from the last model. It's especially noticeable near the back where the corners have been lopped off in favor of hard angles.
The Spectre x360t also features an updated processor to the latest Intel 10th Generation 15-watt Core i7 processor, offers optional 4G LTE support, Gigabit Wi-Fi, and the company moved the fingerprint reader from the side to the top deck. The display bezels are now 5.7% thinner than the last model (though they're still rather large on the top and bottom).
The Spectre x360 13t's 13.3-inch full HD or 4K display is one of the better ones we've tested. With around 320 nits of brightness and 98 percent, sRGB color accuracy, the tones, and balance look great. Like other HP models, there are options for a 4K panel – which, while looking great, is likely overkill for many – and HP's new privacy screen dubbed Sure View.
- Handsome, elegant gem-cut design
- Excellent battery life
- Pen included
- Great price point
- Thick top and bottom bezels
- No place to store the pen
This 2-in-1 features two USB-C 3.1 ports and two Thunderbolt 3 ports so you can plug in an external GPU if you want an extra boost in power.
Best portability: Huawei Matebook X Pro
The Huawei Matebook X Pro is the best-for-portability laptop on our list, featuring an excellent design, portability, and internals that give you the power to get work done. It features one USB-A port, and two Two-C ports, both of which are Thunderbolt 3 enabled, so you can use an external GPU and transfer files at a much faster rate.
On the inside, you've got an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) storage, and either 8GB or 16GB RAM. It's no slouch and should be more than enough for most people throughout the day.
Stand out features include the 3:2 display aspect, which is what Microsoft uses in its Surface line. That display also has a 91% screen-to-body ratio, which is exceptional. Of course, that means you also get the industry's only pop-up web camera that is housed in the keyboard deck. Likewise, you get the NVIDIA GeForce MX250 for graphics, which should be great for light Photoshop and video editing, along with light gaming.
The MateBook X Pro has an all-metal unibody design that is not damaged easily. That metal adds up, though, and while the MateBook X Pro is far from heavy at under three pounds, it does feel more substantial and denser than that. There's minimal flex to the chassis making this a very sturdy and solid-feeling laptop.
- Amazing 3:2 "3K" display
- Outstanding performance
- Exceptional value
- Optional GPU and i7 CPU
- Stylish but understated
- No 4K display
- More expensive
- Weird webcam placement
Excellent design combined with power
This sexy device has two USB-C ports: one Thunderbolt 3 enabled USB-C port for external power or graphics and a standard USB-A 3.0 port for good measure.
Best for Gaming: Razer Blade Stealth
The latest Razer Blade Stealth features a single Thunderbolt 3 port, which is a must-have for a gaming laptop as it means you can hook up an external GPU for more hardcore gaming. The new Blade Stealth shares the design language Razer first brought to the table in the Blade 15. That means super-skinny bezels around the up to 4K touch display, a drop of 60% over the previous Blade Stealth. There is also a 1080p matte display, and both configurations promise 100% sRGB color space.
The new Blade Stealth comes with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U quad-core processor, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, up to 512GB of PCIe SSD storage, a Windows Hello compatible IR camera, and a 53.1Wh battery good for up to 13 hours of use. It also has NVIDIA MX150 graphics, a first for the Stealth lineup, which until now has only ever had Intel integrated GPUs. It's also the 25W 4GB variant of the MX150, so while you're unlikely to be getting max frames on Battlefield V, you will be able to do some kind of gaming on it. And for creators, it's a definite win.
- Sleek design
- Lots of power
- Configurable display
- Windows Hello IR camera
Best for Gaming
Game for (a lot) of the day
This laptop has a Thunderbolt 3-powered USB-C port, one USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, and two USB 3.1 Type-A ports. Attach an external GPU for a gaming session.
Best for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
If you're looking for something for the workplace, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is your best buy. Featuring two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and two USB-C 3.1 ports, there's a lot of room for all your USB-C accessories. It can be configured with up to a 15.6-inch 4K OLED display with HDR and touch, which is a common trend in laptops this year. That display also has X-Rite Pantone color calibration, making it perfect for graphics professionals.
The processor also jumps to a 9th Generation Intel H series configurable up to a Core i9. For graphics, users get an all-new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q graphics a jump from the previous NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti. Additional features include DDR4 RAM and dual 2TB PCIe SSD, which can be configured for RAID.
For a business device, Lenovo rates the ThinkPad X1 Extreme with 14 hours of battery life, which should easily get you through a workday. It's also relatively light at 3.76 pounds, making it a great choice if you need to commute to work.
- Business in the front
- Super powerful
- Large display
- Optional 4K
- Long-lasting battery
- Audio is just okay
Best for Business
The X1 Extreme is all about portable performance
To enjoy extreme levels of performance, Lenovo decided to throw everything into the X1 Extreme Gen 2 without going overboard.
Thunderbolt 3 is a hardware capability upgrade for USB-C ports that delivers more power thanks to an increased amount of PCIe lanes. Thunderbolt 3 ports come with four PCIe lanes, allowing for more data to be parsed at any given time. This enables unique use cases like faster file transfers, power delivery, and even the use of external GPUs.
Whether you're looking for a Thunderbolt 3-enabled laptop that puts emphasis on design like the Huawei Matebook X Pro, or something with all the power and all the ports, like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, there's something for everyone in the world of Thunderbolt 3 laptops.
I personally love the Huawei Matebook X as it's so beautifully designed yet doesn't skimp out on power. It's powerful, slim, and has that vital Thunderbolt 3 port we're all here for. It also has that beautiful Infinity Edge display with minimal bezel, making a 15-inch laptop feel like a 13-inch one.
Zac Bowden is a senior editor at Windows Central, which means he covers a wide array of software and hardware here at Windows Central. Joining Mobile Nations in 2016, you can usually find him playing with new Windows 10 builds or secret unreleased prototype devices. Hit him up on Twitter: @zacbowden.
Cale Hunt is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing mainly on PC hardware and VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and when he has some free time, you can usually find him practicing guitar or reorganizing his ever-growing library. If you hear him say, "Sorry!" it's only because he's Canadian.
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