Best Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft, Apple, Asus, HP, and more laptops and notebooks 2021 to work from home. Factors to keep in mind looking for that laptop or notebook to work from home.
Battery Life – Battery life isn’t a big deal if you leave your laptop permanently plugged into a 120V power point at home. But if you take your work on the road or spend hours tapping away at trendy cafes, you’ll need plenty of juice to make it through a full workday.
Manufacturers advertise battery life under ideal conditions. If a brand boasts eight hours, that only rings true when the screen is dimmed down, WiFi is disabled, and you’re doing low processor-intensive tasks. Under real-world working conditions, an “eight-hour” battery will last four or five hours tops.
Portability – Size, weight, and sturdiness are key considerations when working in multiple locations.
The average WFH user can get away with a big bulky 17-inch screen as they’ll rarely need to move it around. But should you regularly lug your laptop between work meetings or exotic locales, a compact device is ideal. A 15-inch screen offers a nice balance between size and portability, although you might be more content with a nimble 13 or 14-inch model.
If both power and portability are essential for you, consider investing in an uber-light but somewhat pricey Ultrabook.
Brightness and Glare – The brilliant thing about remote work is you can do it anywhere there’s an internet connection, be that a park, playground, or pristine beach. But the downside to working outdoors is glare, so factor that in if you fancy clocking work hours in the open air.
A super bright screen can reduce UV glare at the cost of battery life, and some models come with specially designed anti-glare screens. Aftermarket glare protectors offer a viable alternative.
Keyboard – Typing-intensive tasks become tiresome when you’re tapping away on a tiny keyboard. Aim for a bigger keyboard if you tend to write frequently. If you’re a numbers guy (or gal), then a numeric keyboard is essential, or consider getting a standalone keypad instead.
Another key factor is the keys themselves. Top-of-the-line laptops come with spring-loaded mechanical switches to provide optimal tactile feedback and a soothing ‘clickety-clack’ sound. Cheap devices, on the other hand, may have inferior silicone dome switches that require a firm press and degrade with time.
Camera / Microphone – Zoom meetings are the new normal in the post COVID era, so it pays to invest in a device with a high-quality camera and mic. These components are tough to gauge from the specs alone. Take the time to pour through a few independent reviews.
Budget – Laptops cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand, so seek out something suitable for your current situation. Consider that a laptop is a long-term investment that may last for several years– and it pays the bills.
Best Budget Windows Laptops for Remote Work
If you’re after an affordable Windows-based workhorse, then check out the following four budget-friendly laptops from the biggest brands in the game. If the given specs aren’t right for you, you can upgrade or downgrade to find the sweet spot.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3
General-Purpose Budget Laptop
The sleek Lenovo IdeaPad 3 packs a punch considering the low price point at play. For under 500 bucks, you’ll get a reliable and portable device capable of most standard work tasks. A speedy 256 solid-state drive minimizes load times, and you’ll enjoy crystal clear resolution on the 1920 x 1080 screen. The in-built microphone and webcam make video conferencing a breeze. It’s a good standard laptop for working online.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000
Stylish Budget Laptop
The Inspiron series is the most popular line of laptops from Dell, and the cost-effective Dell Inspiron 15 3000 model is perfect for remote workers with low processing requirements. Although its i3 processor and 8GB of RAM won’t power you through modern games or video editing and the like, it’s easily sufficient for everyday tasks. If you’d rather sacrifice disk space for a speedier SSD, you can upgrade for an extra $30 or so.
HP Pavillion 15
Long Battery Life Budget Laptop
While HP Pavillion 15 makes a wide range of laptops to suit every budget and taste, the no-nonsense Notebook series is your best bet for low-cost computing. Boasting an incredible 10 hours of battery life, you can easily take this one on the road. This latest 2021 model has a respectable dual-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and a zippy SSD to load files without long wait times.
Acer Swift 3
Lightweight Budget Laptop
Acer is famous for pumping out affordable laptops with plenty of power, and the popular Swift series is no exception. The latest edition, the Acer Swift 3 is a superb option for budget-conscious remote workers after a lightweight device. Coming in at a meager 2.65 pounds, this featherlight 14-inch laptop is a cinch to lug around town.
High-end Laptops and Notebooks to work from home.
Best Overall: MacBook Air – For most people, in most working situations, the decision is actually quite simple. The 2020 13-inch MacBook Air is probably the best laptop option. Period. Yes, there are exceptions, and that’s why there are six more choices on this list.
For most users, however, the new Macbook Air which now comes with 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, the Magic Keyboard, Retina display, and 10th-generation Intel Core dual, or quad-core processors is really the best lightweight portable device that can keep up with most people’s daily use.
Best for Power Users: MacBook Pro
Ah, yes, the MacBook Pro. Specifically, I’m recommending the 13-inch here, though clearly, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the king of power portables. The 2020 13-inch version, however, is mighty powerful in its own right, at least if you buy the models with the 10th-generation Intel Quad-core processors.
MacBook Pro comes with at least 256GB of storage, which can expand to 4TB. They also start with 16GB of RAM, though you can opt for 32GB if you really need the memory. Now that the Magic Keyboard is back (along with a physical escape-key), the 13-inch MacBook Pro is my overall favorite choice. In fact, it would be the best overall if not for its higher starting price tag.
Best for Windows Users: Dell XPS 13-inch
The new XPS 13-inch is for PCs. It combines a slim form factor with the power you need to get work done. It’s a little pricier than a few of the options on this list (Coming with a 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with 256GB of storage), but if you’re a Windows user and you want the very best laptop you can get, dollar for dollar, this is it. The 4K touch-display, though more expensive, also happens to be very nice.
Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Book 3
The Surface Book 3 isn’t the most powerful device on this list, though it’ll get work done. It does, however, have a trick that really none of the other devices can do (save the iPad Pro, which we’ll get to in a minute): a detachable display. Generally, if you want a solid laptop that you can occasionally use as a tablet (a large tablet at that), this is a great option. It’s also the best option if you’re a creative type who wants to stick with a PC.
Best of Both Worlds: 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard
I can’t quite call this a 2-in-1 because that doesn’t describe this combo. Instead, the iPad Pro with Apple’s brand-new Magic Keyboard case is a super-portable, flexible, high-powered option that really is the best of both worlds.
It’s also worth mentioning that the iPad Pro is faster than pretty much everything else on this list, save the MacBook Pro (and maybe the XPS depending on how you configure it). It also happens to have a better front-facing camera than any laptop you can buy right now. That’s a big deal if you spend a lot of time on Zoom meetings.
Best for Battery Life: Samsung Galaxy Book S
The Galaxy Book S took a while to show up, despite its being introduced last summer. It also sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8CX, which happens to be a smartphone processor. That’s what makes it so lightweight, but it has reportedly had some trouble with some Windows apps. That said, it’s plenty fast and the Galaxy Book’s battery life is ridiculously long.
Samsung says it should get 23 hours of use. With 256GB of storage along with LTE cellular wireless, which is great for when you’re finally able to work somewhere other than home.
Best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go
It’s the least expensive option on this list, though that’s deceiving because it also has far fewer tricks than anything else. Actually, it’s really only inexpensive compared with the other choices on this list. Compared with Chromebooks, it’s on the high end. That said, it is the best Chromebook you can get, and if that’s the world you work in, this is your best option.