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Best Thunderbolt laptops 2020: top notebooks with Thunderbolt 3 ports

(Image credit: Intel)

In this guide to the best Thunderbolt laptops, we've gathered together the top notebooks from a range of manufacturers which come with at least one Thunderbolt port.

There are loads of reasons why you'd want to buy a laptop with a Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt ports are incredibly flexible - they can be used for the best external hard drives, plugging in mice and keyboards and even USB-C monitors.

Thunderbolt ports are also incredibly fast. Thunderbolt 3 is the latest version that's found in most modern laptops, and offers speeds of up to 40Gbps - four times the speed of USB 3.1. This means if you have a Thunderbolt 3-enabled storage device, it makes it incredibly fast to move over large amounts of files - making it ideal for photographers, video editors and other creative professionals.

It can also power two 4K monitors, making it ideal for multi-monitor setups.

Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C connector, which means you can plug in any USB-C peripheral and it'll work. However, you should be aware that not all USB-C ports on a laptop are Thunderbolt 3, so check the specs of the laptop you're going to buy first to make sure its USB-C port is also Thunderbolt 3-enabled. 

That's why this guide can help, as every laptop here has Thunderbolt 3.

We should also see Thunderbolt 4 coming later in 2020, but it will take a while before that new port is found in laptops.

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

1. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The best Thunderbolt laptop yet

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M | RAM: 16GB – 64GB | Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone | Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD

Stunning 16-inch screen
New and improved keyboard
Expensive
Limited to four Thunderbolt 3 ports

Apple's MacBook laptops were some of the first to make use of Thunderbolt ports - in fact, the Cupertino company's support of the connection means that it's the only data port you'll find in modern MacBooks. So, it's no surprise that Apple makes some of the best Thunderbolt laptops, and that's why its best laptop, the MacBook Pro 16-inch, is our pick for the very best Thunderbolt laptop. As thin, light and sleek as ever, this doesn’t feel like a 16-inch behemoth. If you’re worried that this was going to be bulky and awkward to use, don’t be. Yet, despite its svelte frame, you’re still getting that extra real estate on that stunning display, as well as the latest and greatest components behind it. Apple then rounds those out with amazing (and loud) speakers and a much, much better keyboard.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

Dell XPS 15

(Image credit: Dell)

2. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

The best Windows Thunderbolt laptop

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics - Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Screen: 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS - UHD+ (3840 x 2400) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Fast performance
Eye-catching design
GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak
15-inch screen might be too large for some

If you want the best Thunderbolt laptop that runs Windows 10, then the Dell XPS 15 is for you. In fact, it's our pick for the best laptop of 2020 as well. The only reason why the MacBook Pro 16-inch pips it in this lineup is because all of its ports are Thunderbolt 3, while 'only' two of the three USB-C ports in the Dell XPS 15 are Thunderbolt 3. However, that should be more than enough for most people.  Also, Dell's 2020 update to its 15-inch flagship ticks pretty much every box when it comes to what we want from a laptop. The end result is that the Dell XPS 15 (2020) is about as close to perfect as a laptop can get and one of the best Dell laptops to date; there's really not a lot we can fault it for. It's got some of the latest, and best, mobile tech from Intel, and can even be configured with a discrete GPU, making it adept at image and video editing, and even a spot of light gaming.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 (2020)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

3. MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

Another great Thunderbolt laptop from Apple

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – 10th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 | RAM: up to 32GB | Screen: 13-inch Retina display with True Tone | Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD

Improved specs (on some models)
Larger capacity SSD for starting model
New keyboard is great
Entry-level model still has 8th gen Intel CPU
You still only get Thunderbolt 3 ports

The MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020) comes with new (and powerful) Intel processors and improved RAM speeds for better performance, all packed in the 13-inch incredibly svelte body. Apple rounds it all out with that incredible Magic Keyboard from the new 16-inch, finally getting rid of that problematic keyboard. Even if you don’t go for the 10th-generation Intel Core configurations, you might still appreciate the fact that all models come with more storage capacity for the same price as their predecessors. And, they come packed with Thunderbolt 3 ports as well.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

best hp spectre deals prices sales cheap

(Image credit: HP)

4. HP Spectre x360 (2020)

An amazing Thunderbolt 3 laptop

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch – 13.3" diagonal 4K (3840 x 2160) UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Stylish and high-quality finish
Great all-around performance
Battery life takes a hit
Can run hot at times

The HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 laptop has had a big refresh for 2020, and the boost in specs, with 10th-generation Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Plus graphics, along with the impeccable 2-in-1 design and pristine gem-cut chassis. While it's certainly pricey, you're getting some excellent extras, such as formidable security features and Bang & Olufsen speakers. If you care about aesthetics as much as you do performance and overall quality, this is the Thunderbolt laptop for you.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2020) 

MacBook Air (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

5. MacBook Air (2020)

The most affordable MacBook

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe-based SSD | Dimensions: 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61 cm

Lower price of entry
New 10th generation processors
Improved keyboard
Screen colors a little muted
Battery life only OK
Webcam still just 720p

Apple’s thinnest and lightest MacBook is back in 2020 with a vengeance. Not only has it fixed a lot of the complaints with its predecessors – namely, that problematic keyboard is now gone, replaced by a drastically improved keyboard. But it also comes with new and more powerful internal components, even more storage space options, and a lower price of entry. The MacBook Air is Apple's most affordable laptop, but it still comes with Thunderbolt 3 ports, which makes it a great choice if you want a laptop with Thunderbolt ports, but don't want to spend a fortune.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (2020) 

Acer Swift 3 2020 Intel

(Image credit: Acer)

6. Acer Swift 3 (2020)

The best budget Thunderbolt laptop

CPU: up to Intel Core i7-8565U | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150, Intel HD Graphics 620 or AMD Radeon Vega 8 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) ComfyView IPS – 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) | Storage: 128GB – 1 TB HDD, 16 GB Intel Optane Memory

Superb keyboard and trackpad
Excellent performance
Very reasonably priced
Looks a little plain

Beyond the Acer Swift 3's modest exterior, you'll find an excellent laptop that boasts plenty of power for work and study. The Swift 3 (not to be confused with the Switch 3 another laptop from Acer) is an inexpensive laptop; however, that plain chassis is all-aluminum and packed with beefy components - and that includes a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port. This laptop is incredible to use as well, with its roomy trackpad as well as its backlit keyboard that offers a comfortable typing experience with decent travel. Thanks to the relatively low price, this is easily one of the best Thunderbolt laptops you can buy in 2020.

Read the full review: Acer Swift 3

7. Dell XPS 13

Another brilliant Thunderbolt laptop from Dell

CPU: 10th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4k (3840 x 2160) | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Gorgeous design
Excellent battery life
Lackluster audio
Expensive

The Dell XPS 13 now rocks 10th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and a bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, which means the Dell XPS 13 (2020) is a brilliant performer, while remaining thin and light. What’s more, there’s a wide range of customization options, so you can really make the Dell XPS 13 the best Thunderbolt laptop for your needs. The 2020 model refines the already-brilliant design of the XPS 13, but it does come at a high cost. While this is easily  one of the best laptops in the world right now, it's also one of the most expensive as well.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Gigabyte Aorus 17X

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

8. Gigabyte Aorus 17X

The best gaming laptop with Thunderbolt 3

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 16 series – RTX 20 Super series | RAM: up to 64GB | Screen: 1‎7.3" Thin Bezel FHD 1920x1080 240Hz Anti-Glare Display | Storage: 1TB SSD (PCIe), 2TB HDD

Dominating all-around performance
Gorgeous display
Mechanical keyboard is a dream
Very, very heavy
RTX 2080 model needs two power adapters

The Gigabyte Aorus 17X is a gaming laptop with a Thunderbolt 3 port. While Thunderbolt 3 isn't going to be too high up in the list of priorities for many gamers, it means you can quickly move large files, such as game footage, game saves or even whole games, to an external hard drive. Sure, it's very expensive, but you're looking for a laptop that can pretty much slay anything in its path, this one’s got that face-melting performance you’re looking for, with 10th-generation Intel Core processors and Nvidia’s most powerful GPUs for gaming. Besides its performance, it’s got a few other things going for it including a display that is a complete stunner, a mechanical keyboard (nothing short of that is good for gaming) that’s incredible to use and build quality that’s designed to last.

Read the full review: Gigabyte Aorus 17X

HP Elite Dragonfly

(Image credit: HP)

9. HP Elite Dragonfly

Another stunning Thunderbolt laptop from HP

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB - 16GB | Screen: 13.3" diagonal Full HD touch display – Full HD touch Sure View display | Storage: 256 GB SSD

Impeccable design
Excellent battery life
Pretty expensive

This laptop from HP is one of the most stylish and slimline laptops you'll ever see, and it's also packed with some brilliant features and powerful components.

While the HP Elite Dragonfly is primarily aimed at business users, don't let that put you off. Its incredible design and gorgeous screen makes this the best laptop for anyone who can afford it. Battery life is excellent, the keyboard is a joy to type on, and it also has LTE connectivity. This lets you plug in a SIM card and access mobile internet wherever you are, without having to connect to slow (and potentially compromised) Wi-Fi hotspots.

It's expensive, but if you can afford it, it's easily one of the best Thunderbolt laptops of 2020.

Read the full review: HP Elite Dragonfly

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

10. MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

Still a great Thunderbolt laptop

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X – 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 512GB – 4TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 34.93 x 24.07 x 1.55cm

Powerful
Decent configuration options
Expensive
Lack of ports

If you want the most performance you can get in a MacBook without needing to pull off a heist, you’ll want to look into the MacBook Pro 15-inch. Now refreshed with hexa-core 9th-generation processors and up to 32GB of RAM, you won’t be held back by anything you throw at it – especially now that you can get Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics. With that kind of performance, and plenty of Thunderbolt 3 ports, this laptop is well worth getting if you're an Apple fan.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)