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The best 4K laptops in 2021

Included in this guide:

best 4K laptops
(Image credit: Future)

The best 4K laptops are beautiful enough to make your jaw drop. Yes, you can watch movies and TV shows all in 1080p if you want, but with a sharper resolution, at 3840 × 2160, 4K panels are typically brighter and even more colorful than 1080p screens. And since there's an increasing number of games that support this resolution, the best gaming laptops are stacked to deliver the best experience possible.

There's a huge selection of the best 4K laptops, and you'll find these super-sharp displays on the best laptops you can buy, including the best 2-in-1 laptops and workstations. And the best 4K laptops can double as video editing laptops and the best photo editing laptops as well. However, keep in mind that 4K laptops typically don’t have the best battery life around, so there are some compromises you’ll have to make. Looking for something on the creative front? -- Check out our Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 review. Also, see our recent Apple MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch) review. If you're looking for something portable and affordable, check out our HP Chromebook x2 11 review.

We determined which were the best 4K laptops by measuring the nits of brightness and the percentage of sRGB that their panels cover. When (not if) 8K laptops arrive, we'll be ready for a whole new page for you.

What are the best 4K laptops? 

If you’re looking for the best 4K laptop ever, that would be the Dell XPS 15. Not only does it have the brightest 4K screen around, but it also totes some impressive battery life, so you won’t be making the one compromise that you typically would on most 4K laptops. This also marks the first time the XPS 15 gets an OLED display, which is in itself monumental. But the system also packs an overclockable Core i9 processor and pairs it with a discrete Nvidia GTX 1650 GPU, making for one beautiful beast. If you’re looking to get into video editing or some light to medium taxing games, this laptop is perfect for you.

But, if you’re a full fledged gamer, the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR is the best 4K gaming laptop that you can buy. You get all the bells and whistles, including a gorgeous 17.3-inch, 4K HDR display, a super-comfortable keyboard, solid battery life and strong overall performance, all packed into a sleek design. You’ll even get an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU, and while it’s not as good as competitors, it’ll still net you high frames in your favorite games.

People who need a machine for professional creative work like 3D modelling and video editing 4K content, you’ll probably want the MSI WS65 9TM, which is the best 4K workstation available right now. The WS65 packs a powerful 9th-Gen Core i7 processor and Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 Max-Q GPU into a superslim, durable chassis. Top that off with solid battery life and a gorgeous 15.6-inch, 4K display.

The best 4K laptops you can buy today

Dell XPS 13 (Model 9310, 4K) review best 4K laptops

The Dell XPS 13 bundles a stunning 4K display, great performance and a comfortable keyboard into a svelte, premium chassis. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

1. Dell XPS 13 (Model 9310, 4K)

The best overall 4K laptop you can buy

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB
Storage: 1TB HDD or 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD
Display: 13.4-inch (1080p/4K/4K OLED)
Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Elegant, lightweight design+Bright, vibrant 4K display+Good performance+Comfortable keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Below-average battery life

At this point in the game, Dell has the premium ultraportable thing down to a science. The Dell XPS 13 has undergone a number of small tweaks, including a smaller frame, thinner bezels all around, and a bigger keyboard and touchpad. Pair that with one of Intel’s latest 11th Gen processors and new integrated GPUs and you’ve got a laptop that looks good and works hard. Plus, you’ve got a lovely super high-resolution screen to gaze into. 

While it’s really hard to find any faults in the XPS 13, there are a couple –– namely below-average battery life and a lack of ports. Despite this, the Dell XPS 13 retains its spot on our best laptops and best 13-inch laptops pages and is a top pick for anyone looking for a premium ultraportable.

See our full Dell XPS 13 (Model 9310, 4K) review.

Alienware m17 R3 review

The Alienware m17 R3 serves up plenty of beauty and performance, but it costs a pretty penny. It's the best 4K laptop for gaming. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

2. Alienware m17 R3

The best gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7/Core i9
GPU: AMD Radeon RX 5500M/Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super/RTX 2080 Super
RAM: 16GB/32GB
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch (1080p/4K/4K OLED)
Size: 15.7 x 11.8 x 0.7~0.8 inches
Weight: 6.6 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Attractive, lightweight design for a desktop replacement+Great graphics and overall performance+Beautiful 4K display+Comfortable keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Seriously expensive

The third iteration of the Alienware m17 is here and it’s even better than the previous models. Sporting Intel’s new 10th Gen H-Series processor and an Nvidia Super GPU, the Alienware m17 R3 is a formidable force in the gaming laptop arena. Not only is the laptop powerful, but it’s got an intergalactic elegance that’s a bonafide headturner. It’s also one of the lightest desktop replacements on the market.

Watching the trailer for Miss Virginia, actress Uzo Aduba’s bronze skin looked great on the 17.3-inch display, especially when set against her cranberry blouse with its blood-red embossed flower pattern. And while Trials of Mana is already a beautiful game, playing it on the m17 R3’s screen just seemed to elevate the visuals. In line with Alienware’s characteristic vividness, the m17 R3 reproduced 166% of the sRGB color gamut. The m17 R3’s screen is also seriously bright, averaging 591 nits.

See our full Alienware m17 R3 review.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR Best 4K laptops

Coming in near the top for best 4K laptop is the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR, which is a powerful gaming laptop that offers good battery life and a comfortable keyboard.

3. Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR

The best HDR gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9
GPU: Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512 SSD
Display: 17.3-inch (4K)
Size: 15.6 x 10.6 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 5.8 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Sleek aluminum design+Bright, 4K display+Good battery life+Comfortable keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Bottom-bezel webcam

While the Gigabyte Aero 17 doesn't have an OLED display, its HDR replacement is kick-ass, nailing 575 nits of brightness and 165% of the sRGB color gamut. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the lush greenery popped in contrast to the red, green and yellow shanty houses that surrounded us. When we dove into a swamp, we could see the details in the rocks around the darkest corners. And the cracks on the wood houses were incredibly sharp, even at several feet away.

Now combine that with a slim aluminum chassis packed with an RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU that can still last a wild 5 hours and 30 minutes on a single charge. The Aero 17 is an excellent choice for video editors and gamers alike.

See our full Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR review.

Dell XPS 17 Best 4K laptops

The Dell XPS 17 is a seamless combination of power, endurance and beauty that can handle just about anything you can throw at it. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

4. Dell XPS 17

The best 17-inch 4K laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-10875H
GPU: Nvidia RTX 2060
RAM: 32GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: 17.3-inch (4K)
Size: 14.7 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 5.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Attractive, compact chassis+Powerful overall and graphics performance+Great battery life+Excellent audio
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

The Dell XPS 17 wields a magnificent 17-inch, 4K panel in a chassis that is smaller than most 15-inch systems. And if that isn’t impressive enough, the performance of its 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU should be. And let’s not forget the speedy SSD, bumping sound, and highly efficient thermal system. However, the $3,049 ($1,449 starting) price is going to give a lot of consumers pause.

The laptop has a 93.7% screen-to-body ratio with a 16:10 aspect ratio, which means instead of your normal 4K panel (3840 x 2160), the XPS 17’s panel has a resolution of 3820 x 2400. Measuring for color reproduction, the XPS 17 hit 172% of the sRGB color gamut, and the screen is also extremely bright, averaging 505 nits of brightness. And despite that glossy display, the XPS 17 has an anti-reflective coating that allowed us to see clearly from every angle.

See our full Dell XPS 17 review.

HP Spectre 360 (15 inch) Best 4K laptops

The HP Spectre 360 placed near the top for best 4K laptops and the best 2-in-1 laptop on here, offering a discrete GPU, a comfortable keyboard and a luxurious design.

5. HP Spectre x360 (15 inch, OLED)

The best 2-in-1 laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7
GPU: Nvidia GTX MX150
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 256GB/1TB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch (4K)
Size: 14.2 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 4.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Sexy design+Solid performance and graphics+Vivid 4K OLED display
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be better-Non-configurable

Need a relatively affordably 2-in-1 laptop with a lovely 4K OLED display? The HP Spectre x360 returns with its gorgeous copper-accented chassis, a comfortable keyboard and powerful Bang & Olufsen speakers. It also ramps up its panel with 483 nits of brightness and 258% of the sRGB color spectrum. 

We could see each strand of hair on the crazy old woman's head, and when James McAvoy took the stage, his green-and-brown flannel shirt popped on the Spectre x360's display. The panel was bright enough to make us forget that the glare was even there, and when Pennywise revealed himself in a pitch black space, we could still see a structure in the background as well as some of his costume. Now combine that with a Intel Core i7-8565U processor, an Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card and the uber-flexible design for a versatile multimedia experience.

See our full HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, OLED) review.

Razer Blade 15 Best 4K laptops

The Razer Blade 15 offers great overall gaming and performance as well as good battery life. It's easily one of the best 4K laptops

6. Razer Blade 15 (OLED)

The best 4K OLED gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti/RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 128GB NVMe SSD with 1TB HDD/512GB NVMe SSD
Display: 15.6-inch display
Size: 13.9 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 4.9 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Sleek, gorgeous design+4K OLED display is extremely bright and vivid+Great overall gaming and overall performance+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

Besides boasting a stunning 4K display with G-Sync technology, the Razer Blade 15 is the slimmest desktop replacement around. It clocked in 438 nits of brightness and 243% of the sRGB color spectrum. You'll be wowed by its Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU. Not to mention that it lasted more than 4 hours on our battery test.

Gaming is a feast for the eyes on the Blade 15. Playing through Far Cry New Dawn, we were impressed with the golden yucca plants and the bluish-green hummingbird buzzing about it, trying to feed. The verdant pastures were dotted with neon pink flowers. Details were clear enough that we noticed the bark on each tree. Some had the usual textured surface you'd expect, while others were stripped bare due to grazing by local fauna and others were covered in moss.

See our full Razer Blade 15 (OLED) review.

HP Spectre x360 13-inch OLED Best 4K laptops

The HP Spectre x360 is one of the first to don a 4K OLED panel on a 13-inch screen, and thanks to how good it is, it's one of the best 4K laptops around. (Image credit: Future)

7. HP Spectre x360 (13-inch, OLED)

The best 13-inch 4K OLED laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7
GPU: Intel Iris Plus
RAM: 8GB/16GB
Storage: 512GB/1TB SSD
Display: 13.3-inch (1080p/4K)
Size: 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Elegant design with small footprint+Vivid 4K OLED display+Strong performance+Lightning-fast SSD
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life

OLED displays are finally breaking out into 13-inch laptops and the HP Spectre x360 is among the first to get one. The Spectre x360's 13.3-inch, 3840 x 2160 OLED display is feverishly colorful and bright enough to replace the sun at the crack of dawn. It clocks in at 414 nits of brightness and covers 218% of the sRGB color gamut In the Jungle Cruise trailer, the exotic pink flowers that bloomed on the mystical tree jumped off the screen as if I was standing right there in the river.

The machine also comes with an Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD with 32GB of Intel Optane memory. However, even for a laptop with 4K display, especially an OLED one (which tends to consume less energy), the Spectre x360's battery life is dismal. The Spectre x360's battery died after 6 hours and 31 minutes, which pales in comparison to the 8:47 premium laptop average.

See our full HP Spectre x360 (13-inch, OLED) review.

MSI WS65 9TM Best 4K laptops

If you're itching for a workstation, the best 4K laptop you can buy is the MSI WS65 9TM, as it offers a military-durable design and a powerful GPU. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

8. MSI WS65 9TM

The best workstation

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7/Core i9
GPU: Nvidia Quadro T2000/RTX 5000 Max-Q
RAM: 16GB/32GB
Storage: 512GB/1TB SSD
Display: 17.3-inch (1080p/4K)
Size: 14.1 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 4.3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Slim, lightweight design+Gorgeous 4K display+Strong performance and graphics+Military-durable and secure
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

The MSI WS65 9TM's stellar 17.3-inch, 4K display covers 251% of the sRGB color gamut and emits 393 nits of brightness. Jack Black's green-and-brown bow tie in the Jumanji: Next Level trailer might've been glossed over on another panel because of the darker shades, but it popped on the MSI WS65's panel. When Dwayne “The Rock" Johnson was about to get choke-slammed by Rory "The Hound" McCann, we could make out the cracks in the walls of the dimly lit space around them.

It not only keeps up to par with badass workstations, but it is the best workstation around right now, pumped with an Intel Core i7-9750H processor and an Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 Max-Q GPU. Top that off with a superslim design and a battery life that outlasts the average workstation. Despite being light and thin, the MSI WS65 can take a punch thanks to its mil-spec chassis.

See our full MSI WS65 9TM review.

Alienware m15 R4 (RTX 3070) review

The Alienware m15 OLED came in the top ten for best 4K laptop, but it's still a badass gaming laptop that offers a ton of power. (Image credit: Rami Tabari)

9. Alienware m15 R4 (RTX 3070)

Our favorite Alienware laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-10870H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch display
Size: 14.2 x 10.9 x 0.7~0.8 inches
Weight: 5.3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Awesome performance and graphics+Gorgeous 4K OLED display+Stylish design+Punchy keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life

Are you thirsting for some Nvidia 30-series badassery? Well, look no further than the brand spankin’ new Alienware m15 R4. This baby has it all. Power, beauty (on the inside and out) and a soft touch. For a hefty $2,499, the Alienware m15 R4 will grace you with its intense Intel Core i7-10870H processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, a poppin’ 15.6-inch, 4K OLED display and a punchy keyboard wrapped in a familiar but stylish design.

According to our colorimeter, the Alienware m15 covered a whopping 149.5% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, sailing well past the average premium gaming laptop (89.9%). At 362 nits, the Alienware m15 exemplifies what a premium gaming laptop should look like, toppling the 346-nit category average. In the trailer for Another Round, Mads Mikkelsen’s maroon shirt was so vibrant and bold, I thought I was watching Hannibal for a second. In the same scene, the panel was so bright that it detailed the carpet in the background of the dimly-lit restaurant. Mikkelsen’s hair was also as sharp as ever, literally and figuratively.

See our full Alienware m15 R4 (RTX 3070) review.

MSI GT76 Titan Best 4K laptops

If you're looking for the best 4K laptop with the most powerful gaming performance, look no further than the MSI GT76 Titan.

10. MSI GT76 Titan

Strongest gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7/Core i9
GPU: Nvidia RTX 2070/2080
RAM: 32GB/64GB
Storage: 256GB SSD/ 512GB SSD 1TB HDD
Display: 17.3-inch (1080p/4K)
Size: 15.6 x 12.9 x 1.3~1.7 inches
Weight: 10 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Attractive design+Excellent graphics and overall performance+Bright, colorful 4K panel+Comfortable keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

The MSI GT76 Titan looks as dazzling as it has ever been, especially on the inside. Its 4K panel blasted us with 376 nits of brightness and 157% of the sRGB color spectrum. The gorgeous color cavalcade continued as we played Far Cry New Dawn, where a crimson and black rattlesnake coiled, ready to strike with thin yellow lines accentuating the black diamond patterns on the reptile's taut body. The full moon overhead helped bring attention to the delicate scales making up the transfixing pattern.

And thanks to its RTX 2080 GPU, the MSI GT76 Titan maxed out the SteamVR Performance Test. Although it's a pretty thick boy, at 10 pounds and 1.3~1.7 inches thick, its keyboard was generously spaced and offered bouncy feedback without a hint of bottoming out.

See our full MSI GT76 Titan review.

How to choose the best 4K laptops for you 

Choosing the best 4K laptops for you really depends on what you’re using the laptop for. Do you just want to watch movies on a pretty screen? Are you into gaming and want to experience high frames all in 4K? Or are you a professional creator that needs a 4K laptop for video editing and 3D modelling?

If you just want something nice to look at, your best bet is picking up the HP Spectre x360, which will net you a vibrant 15-inch, OLED display for a relatively affordable price. If you’re a hardcore gamer that what’s the best gaming laptop around with a 4K display, go with the MSI GT76 Titan -- it’ll straight up rip and tear through the best PC games. However, if you’re looking for a workstation, take a look at either the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition or even HP ZBook 17 G5.

How we test the best 4K laptops 

We put each laptop through extensive benchmark testing — both synthetic and real-world — before they end up in the hands of our reviewers. We evaluate each aspect of the laptop, including its performance, battery life, display, speakers and heat management.

In our benchmark testing, we use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and sRGB color gamut of the laptop's display. For performance testing, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests. 

To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 4.97GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics test is the Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings at 1080p resolution.

We also run heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in different areas of the laptop. Last but not least, our battery test consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. For MacBooks and premium Windows 10 laptops, a runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise. 

These tests are complemented with extensive hands-on testing from our reviewers who critique everything from the laptop's materials to the feel of its touchpad.

Rami Tabari

Rami Tabari is a Senior Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.