If you’re looking for the best laptop for working remotely, you’ll put into consideration aspects such as the battery life, screen size, RAM, processor speed, internal storage, GPU, software support, security, and the price point. You will, however, start with the type of work you need the laptop for.
Whether it’s through the pandemic that you’re required to work from home or your work entails having a home office, choosing the right laptop can be difficult especially given the many options available. Lucky for you, we did the hard work bringing you a list of the best laptops to pick from.
Best Laptops for Working from Home
Keeping the type of work you do in consideration, the best laptops for remote work are as follows:
The best laptop in all categories is the new MacBook Pro 16-Inch from Apple. This is the laptop to beat whether you do light writing work or are a heavy graphics user running graphic-intense software. It has a gorgeous 16-inch Retina display (3072×1920) with thin bezels and the most color-accurate screen in a laptop.
1. MacBook Pro 16”
Available in silver and space gray colors, this laptop starts at 2.6GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 and can be configured to a 2.4GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 with Turbo Boost to 5.0GHz. The base model has 16GB of DDR4 RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. You can configure it to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of SSD storage.
For the graphics, you get an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory and automatic graphics switching and Intel UHD Graphics 630. You can configure this to AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory, or AMD Radeon Pro 5600M with 8GB of HBM2 memory as per your needs.
Other great features include a strong aluminum unibody, 4 USB-C ports for everything, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, Touch Bar, Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a 720p camera, and an incredible 11 hours of battery life. It runs the latest macOS operating system and will be supported for at least 7 years. You can even install Windows on a partition of the computer if you so wish.
- 16-Inch retina display at 3072×1920 resolution.
- Processor: 2.6GHz 6-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost to 4.5GHz configurable to 2.4GHz 8-core Intel Core i9, Turbo Boost to 5.0GHz.
- 16GB RAM configurable to 64GB.
- 512GB SSD storage configurable to 8TB SSD storage.
- AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB GDDR6 memory configurable to AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory, or AMD Radeon Pro 5600M with 8GB of HBM2 memory.
- 4 USB-C ports for charging and all peripherals.
- Touch ID and Touch Bar.
- 11 hours battery life.
- Aluminum unibody.
- Runs macOS with the ability to install Windows.
- 4.3 pounds in weight.
While slightly on the costly side, you get the very best of work experience with this laptop.
2. Dell XPS 15
In a close second is the Dell XPS 15: a 15.6-inch laptop with a beautiful display with the thinnest of bezels. The screen is a 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) touchscreen making it a joy to use no matter your work. The base model comes with an 8th generation Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of DDR4 2666MHz RAM.
For those seeking something sleek, powerful and a touchscreen to work from anywhere they want, the latest iteration of the Dell XPS 15 is up there with the very best. It comes with Windows home and we can’t praise the clarity of the 4K display enough.
- 15.6-inch 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) touchscreen.
- 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor at 4.1GHz.
- 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM.
- 512GB SSD.
- Wide viewing angles.
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU.
- Runs Windows 10.
- Weighs 4.50 lbs.
A great choice if you want a Windows computer with the best specs for your work.
3. MacBook Air
If the MacBook Pro 16” and Dell XPS 15 are a bit of an overkill for you and you still need a light, beautiful and reliable machine for your work, few options can beat the latest MacBook Air. Available in gold, space gray and silver finishes, the Air has a stunning 13.3-Inch screen with a native resolution of 2560×1600.
It comes with a dual-core Intel Core i3 processor at 1.1GHz which can be boosted to 3.2GHz but can be upgraded to a Core i5 or i7. The base model comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. A battery life of up to 12 hours will take you through the day without needing a charge.
- 13.3” retina display at 2560×1600 resolution.
- Touch ID for security.
- 1.1GHZ dual-core Intel Core i3 to 1.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7.
- 256GB SSD storage to 2TB SSD.
- 8GB LPDDR4X RAM to 16GB.
- Up to 12 hours battery life.
- Weighs 2.8 pounds (1.29 kg).
- Intel Iris Plus graphics.
- Runs macOS with the ability to install Windows.
- Only 2 USB C ports included.
For most people doing light to medium work, the latest iteration of the MacBook Air is more than enough for their work. Everything about this notebook is great.
4. Microsoft Surface Book 3
While the Mac line is the best of Apple, the Surface line is for Microsoft and the Surface Book 3 is the best of the bunch. It comes in 13.5 or 15 inches and is a full-on laptop with the ability to pluck off the screen and use it as a tablet.
It uses the 10th generation Intel i5 and i7 processors with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM. They start off at 256GB all the way to 2TB of SSD storage. One of the most impressive aspects they have is the battery life. As laptops, the 13.5” and 15” have battery life up to 15.5 and 17.5 hours respectively.
- Best Windows 2-in-1.
- 13.5” and 15” touchscreens at 3000×2000 and 3240×2160 resolutions.
- 8GB to 32GB RAM.
- 10th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.
- Battery life as laptop up to 17.5 hours.
- Storage from 256GB to 2TB.
- Built-in Xbox wireless.
- A bit heavy.
If you’re looking to use your laptop as a tablet as well, few can beat this Microsoft entry.
5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen)
It’s tough listing the best laptops and leaving out one from Lenovo given their great history with design and other features. The latest iteration of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with. 14-inch FHD IPS screen at 1920×1080 resolution. It has an anti-glare film for one of the best experiences even in bright light.
The base model comes with 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 256GB of storage. You can configure these to higher specs if you need to. We love the fact that, even in a small frame weighing only 2.60 lbs., you get lots of ports including 2 USB 3.1, 2 USB-C, HDMI and even a MicroSD.
- 14-inch FHD (1920×1080) screen.
- 8GB RAM, 256GB storage.
- Intel UHD Graphics 620.
- 2 USB 3.1, 2 USB-C, MicroSD and HDMI ports.
- A bit heavy (2.6 lbs.) for its size.
For a 14-inch screen-size, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 packs some great features and a great design.
6. Microsoft Surface Pro 5th Gen Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB
If you’re in for a good 2-in-1 on a budget, then nothing beats the Microsoft Surface Pro 5th generation. Crafted by the same people who create the Windows operating system, the Surface Pro attains a great synergy between the software and the hardware that’s it’s such a joy to use.
While it comes in many different configurations, the i7 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage is the sweet spot as it strikes a great balance power and price. It has a 1.35-hour battery life, weighs only 1.69 lbs. and has a beautiful 12.3-inch touchscreen. You can use it as a tablet (with a stylus) and convert it to a full-on laptop in no time.
- 2-in-1 form factor with a tablet and laptop mode.
- 12.3” touchscreen (2736×1824).
- Available in many different configurations.
- 13.5 hours battery life.
- Configurable to 16GB RAM and 1TB storage.
- Best Windows experience.
- Has an optional stylus.
- LTE version available.
- Only 1.69 lbs.
- Only the Core i5 variants and upwards are reliable.
This is one of Windows’ best touchscreen in a small convenient package.
7. ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop 13.3”
Completing our list is the ASUS ZenBook 13.3-inch laptop. It’s a great budget laptop with some premium features from the gorgeous screen to the internals. It comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for the base model.
It also comes with an array of ports including HDMI, USB-C, USB, MicroSD card reader and others. At 2.5 pounds of weight, it packs a punch and can be a great companion no matter the type of work you do. It adds a fingerprint sensor to save you time when it comes to logging into the computer.
- 13.3” FHD screen.
- 8GB RAM, 521GB Storage.
- Comes with HDMI, USB C, USB, MicroSD card reader and other ports.
- Quick charging with 60% capacity in 49 minutes.
- Harman Kardon Certified Audio.
- A bit heavy (2.5 pounds).
For its features and the price-point, it’s the best affordable laptop for your work.
Buyers’ Guide: What to Look for in a Laptop for Remote Work
The aspects to focus on include the following:
1. Processor (CPU)
The best processors for your laptop for the home office start from Intel Core i3 upwards. Depending on how much power you need, you can go all the way to the most powerful Core i7 for your laptop. If you’re not sure how much power you’ll need, go for the mid-level Intel Core i5.
The RAM (Random Access Memory) determines how much of a load the computer can handle without lagging. For this purpose, the lowest amount of RAM you should go for is 4GB. Most laptops on our list actually come with at least 8GB of RAM which can be increased as per your needs. If you do a lot of multitasking, go for higher RAM from 16GB upwards.
Depending on how much stuff you store on your computer, you’ll need a minimum of 128GB of storage on your laptop. As the size of files and programs grows, most laptops are coming with at least 256GB of storage. If you want a bigger storage, you have the freedom to get up to 2TB or even more.
4. Battery life
Working from home or the office requires that your laptop be able to work without power supply for a while. Maybe you just need to work from the patio and there’s no power outlet there.
A good laptop needs to have a battery life of at least 8 hours. This way, you can complete your work even when the power gets cut for some reason. You can also quickly take out the laptop and finish the urgent stuff without worrying about the battery running out and not saving your work.
If you use two programs at the same time, you should at least have a laptop with 12 inches of screen size. On the upper side, 17 inches is what we advise since too big of a screen makes the laptop too big and heavy to freely carry it around.
The display also needs to have at least HD (high definition) resolution for ease of visibility and to avoid straining the eyes. You can go for a screen with up to 4K resolution if your work needs such high clarity.
Touchscreens aren’t a must for most types of jobs. As such, you can only get one if you like using the laptop as a tablet or touch input makes you work faster.
6. Software and support
The two main operating systems are Windows and macOS. On both Macs and Windows laptops, you can install Linux operating systems for those who use the likes of Ubuntu and other Linux variants.
Unknown to many people, you can install Windows on Mac computers as a separate partition or as a Parallels program to run within macOS as an app.
If you plan on staying with your laptop for long, go for a Mac rather than a Windows laptop. While both receive updates for years on end, Macs tend to handle work better even more than 5 years since you bought them.
Connectivity in this case refers to the ports and wireless protocols the laptop can afford. While a good number of people use HDMI, LAN, USB and other ports, all these ports are moving to USB C with one cable to rule them all. That’s why MacBooks and others only come with USB C ports and maybe an audio port.
For wireless connectivity, look for Bluetooth 5 and WiFi 6 (802.11ax) for the fastest connectivity speeds. Some computers even come with mobile connectivity such as LTE. This allows you access the internet in places without fiber or WiFi connections.
The GPU is the graphics processing unit; a part of the computer tasked with running onscreen graphics. It works with the CPU to power graphics-intense tasks such as films, games and others for the best responsiveness.
If you’re mostly using word processing software such as Office and browsing the web, basic graphics cards such as those bundled with Intel processors like the Intel HD and UHD are enough. If you need more graphics power, you’ll need the entries from NVIDIA and others. Always check what your work needs then choose a laptop with the right graphics card to avoid incompatibilities.
For video conferencing and other similar tasks, a good quality camera is needed. Most laptops have at least 720p cameras which provide a clear video feedback during your conference calls. You actually don’t need a clearer camera than 720p as video conferencing apps such as Zoom and FaceTime often compress the video feed to manage the bandwidth for clarity.
Some computers with 2-in-1 capabilities such as the Microsoft Surface Book 3 have secondary cameras on the back you can take pictures and videos with like you do on a smartphone. If your work needs such capabilities, consider this.
A laptop needs to be as lightweight as possible. Apple makes some of the lightest laptops especially their Air series. Other brands such as Lenovo also have great options which you can easily carry around with you in backpack or in your hands without getting fatigued. The best of the lot would be laptops not more than 4.5 pounds.
Always balance the weight with the features as more features mean a higher weight for most laptops.
With these features in mind, you can be sure you’ll get the best laptop for working from home or generally away from the office.