The 5 best 2-in-1 laptops in 2021

  • The best 2-in-1 laptops have sharp displays, good performance, and a classy design.
  • That’s why we’ve chosen the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 as our top pick.
  • Check out our guide to the best laptops for more buying advice.

It’s not a laptop; it’s not a tablet, either. It’s both! The 2-in-1 laptop has grown a whole lot better over the past few years, reaching the point where choosing a hybrid device over a traditional laptop has become a no-brainer for many buyers. 

There are two main types of 2-in-1 laptops — detachables and convertibles. With a detachable, you can completely remove the screen from the keyboard to turn your laptop into a real tablet. Convertibles, meanwhile, have a flexible hinge that allows you to bend the display backward and flip it around so that it can be used in different modes.

Shopping for a 2-in-1 is a lot like picking out a regular laptop.  That means taking factors like the operating system, processor, memory, overall size, and display quality into account.

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But since 2-in-1 laptops are ideal for creatives thanks to their flexible designs, you’ll also want to consider whether they have any extra features that may be beneficial for your workflow. Some 2-in-1 laptops, for example, come with styluses for sketching or different screen ratios for watching movies.  

Here’s a look at the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy based on our testing and research.

Here are the best 2-in-1 laptops:

  • Best overall: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
  • Best detachable 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
  • Best 15-inch 2-in-1 laptop: Microsoft Surface Book 3
  • Best 2-in-1 Chromebook: Acer Chromebook Spin 713
  • Best budget 2-in-1: Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

Updated on 3/24/21 by Lisa Eadicicco: Added the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 as our best budget 2-in-1 pick. Added more detail to the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 and Microsoft Surface Book 3 sections based on our usage. 

The best 2-in-1 laptop overall

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 offers a beautiful design, plus it’s powerful, and the display can fully rotate around the body for 2-in-1 use.

  • Screen: 13.4-inch 1,900 x 1,200
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Design: Convertible
  • Processor: Starts at 11th-generation Intel Core i3
  • Check out our guide to the best laptops.

Dell has long made one of the best laptops in the Dell XPS 13 — but it turns out, the company makes a 2-in-1 version of that laptop, too. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop is our top pick for 2-in-1 laptops, thanks to its stunning design, powerful performance, and more.

Let’s start with the design. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a convertible 2-in-1, basically meaning that you can rotate the display fully around the device to use it in tablet mode. It also means that you can stand the device up in tent mode, which is perfect for things like watching movies on planes, or using the touchscreen without having to physically hold the device. 

The Dell XPS 13 has a high quality 13.4 inch- screen, with a 1,900 x 1,200 resolution. The laptop is thin, too — it’s only 0.56 inches thick, meaning that it’s easy to slide into a bag. 

Of course, it’s what’s under the hood that makes this device among the best. The base model offers an Intel Core i3 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. 

But, it can also be upgraded to offer up to an 11th-generation Intel Core i7 chip with 32GB of RAM and a hefty 1TB solid-state drive (SSD). In other words, while the device isn’t necessarily the best gaming or video editing machine, thanks to the lack of discrete graphics card, it will easily handle everything else, including heavy multitasking, productivity apps, and so on.

Dell has scaled the port selection down a little for the XPS 13 2-in-1 series, and you’ll get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. That’s not a huge selection, but it should be enough for most basic use, and those that need more can use a dongle or hub.

The best detachable 2-in-1 laptop

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is sleek and portable with excellent performance for on-the-go use — making it still the most premium 2-in-1 tablet to date.

  • Screen: 12.3-inch 2,736 x 1,824 
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Design: Detachable
  • Processor: Starts at 10th-generation dual-core Intel Core i3
  • Check out our guide to the best laptop deals happening now.

Pros: Portable build, relatively powerful, USB-C connectivity

Cons: Starting to look dated, still-aging ports

The Microsoft Surface Pro series has been a go-to for Windows fans for years now. Now on its seventh generation, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the most powerful in the series yet, offering a very portable design, and a detachable build. That means that you fully use it as a tablet, if you so choose.

The Surface Pro 7 is built for versatility. It comes with a high-end keyboard cover and offers a great typing experience. But when you want to use it in tablet mode, simply detach the main body of the device and you’re good to go. The base model isn’t necessarily the most powerful device out there, but it’s not bad, with its 10th-gen Intel Core i3, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. 

But it can be updated all the way to a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. In other words, it’s a productivity machine, and will work great for everything except the most demanding gaming and video editing.

This device is built for ultra portability, and as such its thin build doesn’t allow for tons of ports. But, it’s not bad in that respect either, offering a USB-C port, a USB-A port, a headphone jack, a MicroSD card slot, and the Microsoft Connect port for charging. 

Most reviewers love the Surface Pro 7. PCMag gave the device an impressive 4/5, while The Verge scored it an equivalent 8/10. The main downsides are that the ports are a little dated, considering they’re not Thunderbolt 3, and that the design is aging a little compared to the Surface Pro X.

The best 15-inch 2-in-1 laptop

If you want a big-screen experience with ultra powerful specs, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 is absolutely the way to go.

  • Screen: 15-inch 3,240 x 2,160
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Design: Detachable
  • Processor: 10th-generation quad-core Intel Core i7
  • Check out our guide to the best USB-C hubs of 2021.

Pros: Very powerful, beautiful big screen, excellent keyboard

Cons: Expensive, aging design

Like the big-screen experience but still want a powerful 2-in-1? The Microsoft Surface Book 3 is a workhorse that continues to remain so in tablet mode — after you fully detach the display from the keyboard.

The design of the Surface Book 3 is pretty groundbreaking. It has a hinge design that allows the device to fold like a laptop, while still detaching from the main body with the press of a button. Then, you can use the device as a nice big tablet. 

Like Microsoft’s other Surface devices, the Surface Book 3 has an elegant metal build that gives it a premium feel. The keyboard and touchpad are also top notch; the keys provide the perfect amount of feedback to make typing a breeze, and the trackpad is super responsive without being overly sensitive. 

The display on the Surface Book 3 is also pretty stunning. It has a 3,240 x 2,160 resolution, at least on the 15-inch model. That’s not bad at all.  

Even better is what’s under the hood. The 15-inch model has a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, with either 16GB or 32GB of RAM and between 256GB and up to 2TB of storage. And, it has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti graphics card, so you can use the device for gaming and video editing if you so choose.

The downside is that it’s pricey since the 15-inch model starts at $2,299.99, although that’s not unheard of for a high-end laptop of this size. The 15-inch display can also feel a bit unwieldy to use in tablet mode.

The best 2-in-1 Chromebook

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is more than powerful enough to handle Google’s lightweight ChromeOS, plus it has a beautiful display and plenty of ports.

  • Screen: 13.5-inch 2,256 x 1,504
  • Operating system: Chrome OS
  • Design: Convertible
  • Processor: Starts at dual core 10th-generation Intel Core i3
  • Check out our guide to the best Chromebooks in 2021

Pros: Great performance, good selection of ports, great display, inexpensive

Cons: Speakers aren’t the best

If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 that’s plugged into Google’s ecosystem, then the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is the Chromebook to beat. The device isn’t the most stylish out there, but it is pretty powerful, has a decent keyboard, and works great with Google’s cloud-based services.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a convertible 2-in-1, so the display swivels around the keyboard for use in tablet mode. Around the edges of the device, there’s a good port selection, including an HDMI port, three USB ports, and a USB-C port. That should be more than enough for the majority of users. 

Google’s ChromeOS isn’t known for needing high-end specs, but as far as Chromebooks go, the specs on offer by the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 aren’t bad at all. You’ll get either an Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processor, with 8GB or 16GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. That’s not bad at all — and as a result of those specs, the device should easily be able to handle everything you can throw at it.

One of the best features of the device is the display — which offers vibrant colors and a 2,256 x 1,504 resolution. It also has a taller 3:2 aspect ratio that makes it great for reading and watching movies. 

I’ve been using the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 sporadically for work and personal use over the past several days, and I’ve been impressed with its spacious and vibrant display and solid battery life. 

The speakers can sound a little shallow since they’re located on the bottom of the notebook, meaning they’re usually covered while in use. But otherwise, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a solid laptop.

The best budget 2-in-1 laptop

Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5 packages reliable performance and useful features into an affordable machine that’s a joy to use.

  • Screen: 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080
  • Operating system: Windows 10 
  • Design: Convertible
  • Processor: 10th-generation Intel Core i3
  • Check out our guide to the best cheap laptops in 2021

Pros: Great price, excellent keyboard and trackpad, decent performance

Cons: Fans can get noisy 

If you’re looking for an affordable yet reliable laptop that can double as a tablet, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex is tough to beat. For hundreds of dollars below the $1,000 threshold, you’re getting a recent processor that has plenty of power, a spacious 14-inch touchscreen, and 128GB of storage.

Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5 is currently on sale for $437, down from its usual price of $560, which makes it an even more compelling reason to name it our best budget pick. That configuration comes with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor — which is just one generation behind Intel’s current chips — a 1080p touchscreen, and 4GB of RAM. 

Those aren’t top-of-the-line specifications, but they’re more than enough for anyone that spends most of their time on laptops browsing the web, writing emails, streaming Netflix, taking notes, and managing spreadsheets. There’s also a physical webcam shutter to block your camera when it’s not in use.

The configuration I’ve been testing runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 processor and also comes with a fingerprint reader and digital stylus. However, that configuration costs a bit more at $719 and we’ve only been able to find it via third party sellers on Amazon.

Other than the excellent value, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 stands out for its comfortable keyboard and smooth trackpad, which are consistent no matter what configuration you go with. But don’t push it too hard: the fans can get a little noisy if you have too many tabs open.

Essential buying advice for new laptop buyers

With all of the various makes, models, and product types out there, buying the best laptop that suits your needs has become an awfully involved process. After all, laptops are complex machines, with differences even within the same line of product. So, here are the three key aspects to consider when buying that best laptop — that is, after you’ve decided on whether your 2-in-1 laptop of choice uses a hybrid (attached) or tablet-first (keyboard cover) design:

  • Operating system: A laptop’s operating system (OS) is the interface through which you access everything in the computer, from work apps to games and more. The most popular OS worldwide is Windows 10, found in hundreds of different laptops from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and more. It’s a widely adaptable OS and most supported by third-party app makers. Apple’s macOS is exclusive to MacBooks, and is the most compatible with Apple’s other products, like iPhones, but it is a popular and full-featured OS in itself. Finally, all Chromebooks run Chrome OS — the newest of the three — Google’s Chrome browser-focused OS that works mainly off the cloud (online), particularly through Google’s own suite of apps and services, like Google Drive and Gmail.
  • Hardware (specs): The internal hardware that powers a laptop is considered the “specs,” and will dictate how effective your laptop is at various tasks. The processor (CPU) and memory (RAM) impact the laptop’s raw power or speed and multitasking capacity, respectively. The storage (hard disk drive or HDD, or solid-state drive or SSD) will determine how much space for files the laptop has. The graphics processor (GPU) dictates how effective the laptop is at rendering video and 3D visuals for games; many laptops, particularly in the low-to-midrange, utilize what’s called internal graphics, which shares RAM with the CPU rather than a dedicated GPU. The laptop’s display sharpness is determined by pixel density, with 1080p (or Full HD) being the generally desirable target. Finally, all of these factors contribute to the laptop’s battery life, with eight hours generally being the minimum acceptable number — unless it’s a gaming laptop.
  • Size: Another thing you’ll want to think about is how big the laptop is. A smaller laptop will ultimately be more portable, but a larger one will have a larger display, which is better for watching movies, photo editing, video production, and playing games. Common sizes for laptops are 13 inches and 15 inches, though 11 inches and 17 inches also appear every now and then.

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