Best Thunderbolt 3 laptops Windows Central 2021
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 Windows laptops with Thunderbolt 3 available today, including the Dell XPS 13. Our list of the best Thunderbolt 3 laptops has everything from the beautifully designed, to the devices with all-out power.
- Best overall: Dell XPS 13 (9310)
- Best for power users: Dell XPS 15 (9500)
- Best design: HP Spectre x360 14
- Best for Thunderbolt 4: Razer Book 13
- Best for business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Best overall: Dell XPS 13
The latest XPS 13 from Dell is packing the latest in mobile processors, powered by Intel's new 11th generation chips that offer better power efficiency and integrated graphics with extra processing power when you need it. It also features a new design with two Thunderbolt 4 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 to slip into a bag and travel 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. There's also a 2-in-1 version 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
- 11th gen processors
- Excellent design
- Thunderbolt 4 support
- Available only in two colors
Best for power users: Dell XPS 15
The latest Dell XPS 15 is rocking plenty of ports, one of which is a Thunderbolt 3-enabled Type-C USB port. It also has two USB-C 3.1 ports and an SD card reader. It's rocking 10th Gen Intel processors on the inside, a 4K OLED panel option, as well as the newer NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti 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 up to 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 design: HP Spectre 14
The latest HP Spectre 14 is beautiful, featuring a unique gem-cut design with USB-C ports planted in the corners. It has two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports, which makes it perfect for our list. The HP Spectre 14's "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 previous model. It's especially noticeable near the back, where the corners have been lobbed off in favor of hard angles.
The Spectre 14 also features an updated processor to the latest Intel 11th generation Core processors. 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 14's 13.5-inch display is unique with its 3:2 aspect ratio and is available with OLED technology too.
- Handsome, elegant gem-cut design
- Excellent battery life
- Pen included
- Great price point
- No place to store the pen
Best for Thunderbolt 4: Razer Book 13
The new Razer Book features two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a must-have for a gaming laptop as it means you can hook up an external GPU for more hardcore gaming. The new Razer Book shares the design language Razer first brought to the table with its other laptops, but in a more muted, productivity-focused way. That means super-skinny bezels around the up to 4K touch display. There is also a 1080p matte display, and both configurations promise 100% sRGB color space.
The new Razer Blade comes with Intel's latest 11th Gen processors, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, up to 512GB of PCIe SSD storage, a Windows Hello-compatible IR camera. It also has Intel Iris Xe graphics for light gaming and content creation.
- Sleek design
- Lots of power
- Configurable display
- Windows Hello IR camera
Best for business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
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 3.2 ports, there's a lot of room for all your USB-C accessories. It can be configured with a 14-inch 1080p IPS display with HDR and touch, a common trend in laptops this year.
The processor also jumps to a 11th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 series with Iris Xe graphics. Additional features include DDR4 RAM and up to 512GB storage, which can be configured for RAID.
For a business device, Lenovo rates the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 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
- Large display
- Long-lasting battery
- Audio is just okay
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 HP Spectre, or something with all the power and all the ports, like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, there's something for everyone in the world of Thunderbolt 3 laptops.
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.
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