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The laptop with the best battery 2021: Work longer

Laptops have become more essential than ever for remote access to work, school, and web-based apps. Maximizing battery life becomes an even greater priority to make sure we remain connected to the rest of the world without interruption. These laptops can keep you online and working longer when you need to be unplugged.

As life slowly begins to return to normal after a year-plus of pandemic lockdown, people can begin venturing out in the world again with their laptops, whether to do work at an outside café or use them to watch movies on a long plane ride. More students than ever use notebooks for their classwork, whether remotely or during in-person instructions. The boom in portable computing owes a lot of its success to ever-improving battery life, as the ability to use laptops away from an outlet for hours at a time gives them a versatility that desktop PCs can never offer.  

A laptop with good battery life used to be mean a skinny, under-powered notebook that sacrificed performance to squeeze every extra minute out of a charge. Obviously, the more powerful a system is, the more power it draws, and the less time a battery can handle supplying that power. 

But research into extending battery life -- not to mention work from processor manufacturers -- has yielded huge dividends over recent years, and while the super-svelte portables and the laptops designed for basic productivity tasks (think Chromebooks) still provide the most time between charges, there are far more systems that boast solid battery life without sacrificing nearly as much performance as they once did. Here are a handful of our picks if you're looking for the best battery life from a Chromebook, MacBook, or a Windows laptop.

Dell Latitude 9510 2-in-1

17-hour battery life

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Tech specs:

  • Intel 10th-generation Core i5 or i7 processor
  • 16GB RAM
  • 128GB-1TB storage
  • 15-inch 1080p display (optional touchscreen)
  • 17-hour battery life

Dell's business line of convertible laptops have earned a reputation for excellent battery life (not to mention high price tags), and the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 is no exception. While laptop review sites have varying methods of battery testing, top reviewers are getting at least 17 hours of juice from the system. ZDNet's own Sandra Vogel came to a similar conclusion in her review of the 9510.

Though its tenth-generation Core processors options aren't Intel's latest, they're still powerful Core i5 and i7 options. You do get 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of solid-state storage, and a full 1,920x1,080 15-inch display, though touchscreen capabilities are an additional $100 or so. Regardless of configuration, once you do reach the end of your charge, Dell claims the ExpressCharge feature provides an 80% battery recharge in a just an hour.

$1,944 at Amazon

Apple MacBook Pro (M1 version)

16-hour battery life

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Tech specs:

  • M1 processor
  • 8GB or 16GB RAM
  • 256GB or 512GB storage
  • 13.3-inch Retina display
  • 16-hour battery life

With the introduction of its new M1 processors late last year, Apple has invigorated its MacBook and Mac mini lineups, as the M1's unique architecture provides surprising power compared to its Intel predecessors, not to mention superior battery life.

Given the hardware similarities between the M1 versions of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, it's no surprise that their battery life numbers have been found to be similar as well -- and those numbers are excellent. We choose the Pro here as review sites have found it lasts a bit longer than the Air -- Laptop Mag, for instance, gets over 16 hours of battery life from the Pro, whereas the Air lasted a bit under 15 hours. Either way, the M1 MacBooks are more efficient than their predecessors, as well as most of their Windows competition.

$1,150 at Adorama

Asus ExpertBook B9450

16-hour battery life

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Tech specs:

  • Intel Core i7-10510U processor
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB storage
  • 14-inch 1080p display
  • 16-hour battery life

The only Windows holdover from our 2020 list, the ExpertBook B9450 might not deliver the 24 hours of battery life it promised in real-life settings, but it comes close enough to have wowed reviewers. For instance, CNET has the business laptop at the top of its battery life list with an impressive 16 hours and 29 minutes of plug-free power.

To go up against the likes of the Lenovo ThinkPads of the world, a full day's battery life definitely helps, as does its meeting of MIL-STD 810G durability standards. Other cool features include a LED number pad that's built into the trackpad area of the keyboard and, like the Dell Latitiude 7400, a quick-charging mode that recharges the battery up to 60 percent in just 40 minutes. Designed around the principles of Intel's Project Athena initiative, the ExpertBook B9450's combination of insane battery life and design-savvy make it a business laptop worth considering compared to the more traditional players in the market.

$1,700 at Best Buy $1,279 at Walmart

Google PixelBook Go

12-hour battery life

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Tech specs:

  • Intel Core processor
  • 8GB or 16GB RAM
  • 64GB-256GB storage
  • 13.3-inch 1080p HD touchscreen display
  • 12-hour battery life

While Google has succeeded wildly with its original concept of the Chromebook as a cheap laptop with minimal specs using its Chrome OS and cloud-based apps, its own forays into Chromebook systems have taken a different tact, emphasizing higher specs and a higher price tag. The top result of the strategy is the PixelBook Go, which ZDNet recently dubbed the "best Chromebook money can buy."

Though it costs more than many mainstream Windows laptops, thanks to specs like Intel Core processors, superior keyboard, and a full HD 13.3-inch touchscreen display. the PixelBook Go is also one of the increasing number of Chromebooks that offers Google Play store integration for access to Android apps. In terms of battery hours, Google claims 12 hours between charges, but ZDNet's own Matthew Miller has said he's squeezed roughly 10 hours of battery life from the PixelBook Go, more than enough juice to get through a workday.

$1,207 at Amazon $849 at Best Buy $1,244 at Walmart

LG Gram 14 2-in-1

16-hour battery life

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Tech specs:

  • Intel Core i7-10510U processor
  • 16GB RAM
  • 1TB storage
  • 14-inch 1080p touchscreen display
  • 16-hour battery life

LG's Gram laptop family is know for its featherweight chassis and sleek design. As the smallest of the Gram lineup, the Gram 14 might be the tops when it comes to battery life -- the 2-in-1 version managed to last just over 16 hours in CNET's testing.

While tipping the scales at just 2.5 pounds no doubt contributes to the stellar battery life of the Gram 14 2-in-1, it certainly doesn't hurt that it includes a sizable 72wh battery. Its size doesn't mean it's lightweight when it comes to performance, however, as it includes a Core  i7-10710U processor, 16GB of RAM, a pair of 512GB solid-state drives, and a 14-inch full HD touchscreen. It's even a bit of a tough guy, passing several ruggedness tests to meet  MIL-STD-810G standards.

$1,360 at Walmart

Also consider

You don't need to choose one of the above systems to obtain all-day battery life from a laptop. Lighter designs and more efficient components have filtered throughout every genre of notebook, which means you have many viable options, such as the following.