Thunderbolt 4 laptops
If you’re planning on hooking up several peripheral accessories to a new device, you’re going to want one of the best Thunderbolt 4 laptops. Shaped like a USB-C slot, Thunderbolt 4 ports give you the freedom to attach valuable peripherals like docking stations, external displays, and even the best eGPU enclosures to your laptop, thanks to Thunderbolt 4’s 40Gb/s bandwidth. Thankfully you don’t have to make any compromises for Thunderbolt 4, either, as most of the best laptops on the market now come with Thunderbolt 4 support. This includes the Dell XPS 13, which is Dell’s flagship Ultrabook and one of our absolute favorite laptops available.
Best overall: Dell XPS 13 (9310)
The Dell XPS 13 is often considered to be the best overall laptop available, and between its cutting-edge specs and impeccable design, it’s easy to see why. It’s got powerful Intel 11th Gen CPUs, Intel’s impressive Xe integrated graphics, up to 32GB of memory, and up to 2TB of SSD space (there’s a microSD slot for expandable storage as well). The display is nothing short of gorgeous, with anti-reflective HD and 4K options that sport up to 500 nits peak brightness and industry-leading color accuracy. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 round things out with some of the best connectivity options available, and the laptop has no problem lasting for up to 14 hours thanks to its 52WHr battery.
Design-wise, the Dell XPS 13’s large keycaps and trackpad make are superb, as they’re easy to use and don’t have any kind of wobble, looseness, or mushiness to speak of. The keyboard’s backlighting is also pretty bright, making the laptop easy to use in low-light conditions. Of course, we can’t forget about its dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, which you can use Dell’s included USB-C to USB-A converter on if you need to connect a USB-A accessory in a pinch. It doesn’t come cheap and the webcam isn’t the best, but ultimately, the Dell XPS 13 is nothing short of incredible and we can’t recommend it enough.
- Top-notch specs
- Superb display
- Great battery life
- Outstanding design
- Webcam could look better
Best 2-in-1: HP Spectre x360 14
If you’re in the market for a Thunderbolt 4 laptop that can convert into a tablet, look no further than the HP Spectre x360 14. Between its 11th Gen Intel i7 processor, Xe graphics, 16GB of memory, and 1TB of SSD storage, this is easily one of the most powerful convertible laptops available, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a 2-in-1 that’s more impressive. Other highlights include its stunning 3:2 HD or 3K2K display with inking support, an anti-reflective coating, and stellar color accuracy, 720 webcam with a privacy shutter, quad Bang & Olufsen speakers, large 66WHr battery, and the inclusion of Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
The HP Spectre x360 14 also features a unique gem-cut style design with sleek, angular edges, helping it stand out from the crowd. The keyboard is enjoyable to use thanks to the large size and satisfying travel of the keycaps, and the backlighting is plenty bright for low-light use cases too. Port-wise, the device features dual Thunderbolt 4 as well as a USB-A port. Overall, the HP Spectre x360 14 is simply the best 2-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 laptop on the market, though it’s a little expensive and doesn’t have an option for LTE.
- Excellent specs
- Incredible 3:2 display
- Webcam privacy shutter
- Quad speakers
Best workstation: Surface Laptop Studio
Looking for a versatile device with more power under the hood than what you’ll get with Ultrabooks? The Surface Laptop Studio will be right up your alley. Specs-wise, it’s a heavy-duty machine that can be equipped with up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H, NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti or A2000 graphics, up to 32GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of SSD storage. The 14.4-inch 2400×1600 display is fantastic, too, as it comes with full touch support and a 120Hz refresh rate, though we do wish it was less reflective. Other notable specs include the 56.3WHr battery, front-facing HD webcam, quad speakers with Dolby Atmos, dual mics, and both Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.
What truly makes the Surface Laptop Studio special, though, is its design. In addition to the standard laptop mode, you can also tilt the display forward and rest it in front of the keyboard for “stage mode” or fold everything down for a tablet-like “studio mode” that’s ideal for use with a stylus. Switching between these postures can often be a little tricky, but it’s worth it for the unrivaled flexibility offered by this design. The keyboard is great, too, and the haptic trackpad is pleasant to use as well. Like with many of the laptops in this roundup, the Surface Laptop Studio also comes with dual Thunderbolt 4 (as well as a Surface Connect port).
At the end of the day, there’s simply nothing else that blends power and versatility together like the Surface Laptop Studio does, making it our favorite workstation laptop.
- Excellent workstation-grade specs
- Tons of storage
- Quad speakers with Dolby Atmos
- Awesome display that can tilt and fold
- Display could be less reflective
- Switching postures is a little awkward
Best business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano
Business laptops need to be thin, light, and designed with mobile use in mind. Enter the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano, which ticks all three of those boxes while also offering excellent Ultrabook performance that you can rely on. Between 11th Gen Intel CPUs, Intel Xe graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of SSD storage, this laptop has all the power you could need from a business-focused laptop. Additionally, the 13-inch 2160×1350 display has awesome color accuracy, an option for touch support, and a satisfying peak brightness of 450 nits. Business-oriented features include options for 4G LTE and 5G, a fingerprint reader, an IR camera with human presence detection, and Lenovo’s ThinkShutter camera cover.
Compared to other Ultrabooks, the ThinkPad X1 Nano has smaller dimensions and a lower weight, coming in at 11.5 x 8.15 x 0.55 inches (292.8mm x 208mm x 13.87mm) and 1.98 to 2.17 pounds (898 to 984 grams) respectively. This makes it even easier to carry around in a sleeve or bag, which is ideal for travel situations. The keyboard and trackpad are great, too, and dual Thunderbolt 4 ports ensure that you’ll always have the peripheral connectivity you need. The webcam could look better, and the 7-10-hour battery life isn’t the best out there, but overall, you won’t find a better business laptop on the market than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano.
- Fantastic business-oriented design
- Excellent specs
- Mobile connectivity options
- Very thin and light
- Webcam could look better
- Battery life is just OK
Best for gaming: Razer Blade 15
The Razer Blade 15 has remained the king of gaming laptops ever since Razer introduced the “Advanced” model in 2019, thanks to consistent refreshes from Razer that include cutting-edge hardware, and we don’t expect that to change anytime soon. With up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900H, up to an NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti, up to 32GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of SSD space, the Razer Blade 15 is unrivaled when it comes to raw gaming performance.
There are a wide variety of excellent displays available, too, ranging from simple 144Hz HD panels all the way up to 4K OLED ones. You can also get HD displays with up to 360Hz for maximum FPS support, or you can opt for a jack-of-all-trades QHD display with 240Hz. Razer also includes Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 for top-notch connectivity.
The Razer Blade 15’s keyboard could be better, but the trackpad is excellent, and the laptop also comes with a superb collection of ports. This includes one or two Thunderbolt 4 slots as well as up to three USB-A ports (ports vary depending on which model and configuration you opt for). Ultimately, the Razer Blade 15 may be far from affordable, but it’s nevertheless the best gaming laptop available.
- Superb gaming performance
- Wide variety of excellent displays
- Great trackpad
- Strong port selection
- Very expensive
- Keyboard isn’t the best
Best budget: Acer Swift 3 (SF314)
Thunderbolt 4 laptops don’t come cheap, but the Acer Swift 3 comes cheaper than most. It’s got a surprisingly strong specs lineup for the price — an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7, Intel Xe graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage — but the display is a basic FHD panel that’s just OK, and the webcam has a very grainy look to it as well. Still, for people who simply need a competent device for productivity and general computing, the Acer Swift 3’s specs don’t disappoint overall, especially since you get Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 support too.
A bigger problem is the Acer Swift 3’s keyboard and trackpad, both of which could be better. The keyboard’s keys are small, and the white-on-silver backlighting makes it difficult to identify the keyboard font in normal lighting conditions, while the trackpad feels hollow and rattles a bit when clicked. The laptop does include a Thunderbolt 4 port as well as dual USB-A ones, though, which is awesome. All in all, this is far from the best Thunderbolt 4 laptop out there, but it is the best one for people looking for a more budget-friendly option.
- Great specs
- Strong connectivity
- Great port selection
- Display is just OK
- Keyboard and trackpad could be better
Laptops with Thunderbolt 4 represent some of the best devices available on the market, and out of all of the superb laptops we featured in this roundup, our favorite is the Dell XPS 13. With its premium specs lineup, industry-leading display technology, great battery life, and outstanding design, the Dell XPS 13 represents the best of what a Thunderbolt 4 device can be. It’s easily one of the best Windows laptops out there, and we can’t sing its praises loudly enough.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he’s been an avid fan since childhood. You’ll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.
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