Are you a freelancer, remote worker or digital nomad looking to get a laptop?
Getting a laptop is an exciting period but more importantly, it's also the most important purchase decision you'll make.
But not all laptops are created equal, especially considering freelancers have extremely different needs. Some want a laptop for writing, while others want a laptop for graphic design, etc. etc.
Bottom line? If you're looking to pick a laptop for freelancing you need to narrow down what exactly you need it for before you even start researching.
For those in a hurry, here's a comparison table of the best laptops for remote workers categorized based on use case scenario 👇
(I've reviewed all the above laptops in detail, so keep reading on for more information.)
Best Laptop for Freelancing, Remote Work and Digital Nomads 2020
Meh, yet another laptop review? 🤔
I get it. There's a ton of laptop review guides, and this covers the same topic. But here's the real kicker.
If you search online for “best laptop for freelancers” you will find short articles that barely scratch the surface….
That's a screenshot taken from the #1 ranking article for best laptops for freelancers in 2020 — and what's wrong with it?
- It assumes every freelancer uses the same laptop
- It does not provide enough information about the recommended laptops
Let me ask you a question:
If you're a freelancer looking for a compatible laptop will a general one-size-fits-all article like that help?
Articles like that have little to no regard as to which laptop is best for a specific type of freelancing (think: GFX, web design, writing, etc).
For this reason, I decided to fill in the gap and write this article:
- I factor in different budgets and ensure you get the best value for your money
- I segment the best laptop based on different types of freelancers (Think: cinematography, graphic design, writing, etc.)
More importantly, I am a freelancer!
Quick Answer: What is the best laptop for freelancing?
Best Laptops for Cinematographers & Graphic designers:
These laptops are great for freelancers that perform medium to high-intensity tasks on their laptop:
✔️ Video editing
✔️ Photo editing
✔️ Cloud-based programming
An affordable performance Windows laptop for high-intensity freelancing requirements. Also, I personally use this laptop and have had a great experience with it (see review below).
✅ Powerful 8th Generation Intel Core i5
✅ Cheapest laptop with NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPU
✅ Lightweight 3.7lbs body with a thin 0.8-inch profile
✅ Affordable pricing
❌ The lightweight body is not as robust as other models making it vulnerable when dropped.
Most powerful Macbook for high-intensity freelancers that prefer MAC OS over Windows. What's more, the MBP is known as being one of the most user-friendly laptops.
✅ 2.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 Processor
✅ Brilliant Retina Display
✅ Up to 10 hours of battery life
✅ Ultrafast SSD for quick multi-tasking
❌ Quite expensive in comparison to Windows alternatives
Dell's flagship laptop that sports some of the best features in a Windows performance laptop. From innovative design to powerful specifications, this laptop has it all making it one of the most powerful Windows laptops in this list.
✅ Ultralight and compact body
✅UltraSharp 4k Display (great for video/photo editing)
✅ Powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
❌ Expensive price
Best Laptops for blogging, writers and online marketers
These laptops are perfect for remote workers that perform low to medium-intensity tasks on their laptop:
✔️ Intensive Chrome multi-tasking (think: gazillion tabs)
✔️ WordPress-related tasks
✔️ Cloud-based marketing tools (think: Ahrefs, SEMRush, etc).
An ultra-light Mac perfect for those that want something capable of handling medium intensity usage.
✅ Retaina display with excellant color vibrancy
✅Dual-core 8th-Generation Intel Core i5 Processor
✅ Fast SSD Storage
❌ Expensive for the specifications
An excellent lightweight Windows laptop that strikes the perfect balance between powerful specifications, user-friendliness and pricing. In fact, this is the most well-balanced laptop for this price.
✅ Excellent value for money
✅ Powerful specifications
✅ The longlasting battery that can last up to 13.5 hours
❌ Not as robust and vulnerable to external damage. Just don't drop it!
Why I'm writing this article (for Context)
You need to take everything you read on the internet with a grain of salt especially for something like a laptop review.
So, why should you read this and take my word for it?
Firstly, I'm a digital nomad freelancer who's been traveling and working remotely from his laptop for the past 7 months.
After spending 2 months I had earned and saved enough money to buy my laptop but this was going to be my biggest financial decision — and thus I spent countless hours researching the best laptop for my digital nomad lifestyle.
In fact, here's what I working with before I purchased my first laptop:
Everyone starts somewhere right? 😉
Bottom line? I am a freelancer who worked his way (through nightmare work-weeks) to a laptop that's now perfect for his digital nomad remote work lifestyle. I have been traveling the world since October 2018 and confidently say I made the right decision.
I ended up purchasing the ASUS VivoBook Pro:
Why did I buy it?
I was on a budget but still wanted something that was lightweight and could still perform pretty darn well.
I instantly saw a huge boost to my workflow and a HUGE relief to my back as the ASUS VivoBook Pro was only 1.7Kg!
Furthermore, the great battery life allowed me to keep working without being chained down to a powerpoint (which is a real blessing in public spaces like cafes and airports!)
Qs to Ask Before Buying a Laptop for Remote Work
When buying my freelancing laptop I had to make sure it had nailed two things:
- Affordable price
- Features that work for my freelancing needs
It took me two whole months to save enough money to buy this laptop — I couldn't afford to make a mistake!
So what did I do?
I used Google first researched what I really need in a laptop.
Why? because for me buying a laptop was a huge investment. I had spent over 2 months saving enough money to buy a laptop. So, I couldn't just buy it on a whim, I had to buy something that worked for my freelancing lifestyle.
Now, Instead of going on a rant, here's a list of key features every freelancer should look for in their laptop:
Do you want a laptop that's bulky and heavy?
Or do you prefer a lightweight laptop that's portable and easy to carry around?
Obviously — The latter right?!
After all, the last thing you want is to be lugging around with a heavy laptop in your backpack. Especially when you're like me (a digital nomad) who's constantly on the move from one cafe to the other.
So, the first thing you need to look for in your laptop is good ol' portability. Also, when I mean portable, I don't just mean light-weight but also the design and ergonomics of the laptop.
Here's an example of where portability really saved my day —
To meet a tight deadline, I had to finish work while in commute (think: a cramped up minivan in Bali). This is where my compact Asus Vivobook Pro saved my life (and my client) and helped me get work done despite all odds.
Now, this may be an extreme situation but should make my case of benefits of portability.
In such situations, a compact and lightweight compact laptop comes in handy and saves the day!
2. Long lasting battery life
You go to a client meeting and find your battery dead. So you spend over five minutes haphazardly setting it up and charging it.
Nothing screams unprepared (and unprofessional) as coming to meeting with a dead laptop.
Moreover, if you're like me and switch from one cafe to another, you don't want to be chained down to a charging point!
Cue: A laptop with a long-lasting battery life that will really give you that feeling of independence.
Unfortunately, due to high-intensity workflows of freelancers, it's quite difficult for laptops that will last long enough the entire work sessions. However, the gold standard is about 7-8 hours which is long enough to get enough work done to take a break and leave your laptop to charge.
3. Do you prefer Mac or Windows?
This is the real game changer as the two are very different in nature and of course price.
I've used windows all my life and still continue to do so as the price to value is a no-brainer as compared to Apples more premium-priced MacBooks.
However, the OS is why most Mac users decide to continue using MacBooks as once you get the hang of it you'll soon find that it's the most user-friend operating system in the world.
Without getting into a Mac vs Windows debate I’ll say the following:
- You choose Windows if you want to save money and want more high-end specification to think i7 and NVIDIA titan graphic cards
- You choose Mac if you're looking for a laptop with a medium specification and want a more user-friendly operating system.
4. Capacity to handle freelancing requirements
This one's a biggie!
After all, as a freelancer, your laptop is your life.
Without it, you can't work, and without work — you won't make that moolah!
Now, I understand that every freelancer has different requirements; but the key is to get a laptop that's compatible with your work.
- Content Writer — a compact laptop with an excellent keyboard.
- Graphic designer — a laptop with an excellent and crisp display and great hardware capable of running powerful software
- Cinematographer —a powerful laptop with high-end specifications to handle high-intensity video editing
- Travel blogger — a laptop that's light but also capable of handling multi-tasking
5. Recommended Add-ons:
The reason I mention these as add-ons is that the laptops that have them are overpriced and thus makes better sense to purchase from a reliable third-party.
Add on #1: 8GB Ram:
If you use highly intensive software along with chrome you'll notice a lot of your ram allocated being used up and slowing down your processes. Having that extra ram will prevent this
Add on #2: Solid Disk Drive (or SSD)
SSDs are a great addition to any laptop as they significantly increase the write/read speed of the laptop and make pretty much everything super fast. This reduces boot time and ultimate increases battery life.
To summarize, these are the factors to prioritize when picking a laptop for remote work:
- Good Portability
- Long-lasting Battery life
- Compatible Specifications (GPU/CPU)
- Operating System (OS)
- Add Ons: Ram, SSD
Best Laptops for Remote Work in 2020
Now, if you are ready and are at a point where you can afford to buy a laptop, keep reading.
Now, before I dive deep into this review, I want to make clear that every recommendation is segmented into two factors:
- Workload: High/low-intensity tasks
- Budget: High-budget or low-budget
Also, this list is not in any particular order
- Powerful 8th Generation Intel Core i5 8250U 1.6GHz (Turbo up to 3.4GHz) processor
- 14.2 Inches Wide, 0.8 Inches Thin and portable footprint with 0.3 Inches Nano edge bezel for a stunning 80% screen to body ratio
- 15.6 inches Anti glare full HD display with ASUS splendid software enhancement
- 8GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB HDD
- Ergonomic chiclet keyboard with fingerprint sensor, Windows 10 Home
- 2.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 Processor
- Brilliant Retina Display
- Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
- Ultrafast SSD
- Up to 10 hours of battery life
- The virtually border less display maximizes screen space by accommodating a 15.6 Inches Display inside a laptop closer to the size of a 14 inches, thanks to a bezel measuring just 5.7 millimeters
- Beautiful from any angle: The anti reflective screen combined with superior 400 nit brightness frees you to enjoy your entertainment outdoors. Plus, the IPS panel provides a wider viewing angle, so you can share your screen without missing a thing
- With the UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD display (3840 x 2160), you can see each detail of every pixel without needing to zoom in. You can edit images with pinpoint accuracy without worrying about blurriness or jagged lines
- The latest Microsoft Surface Pro Features a 7th generation Intel Core i5 Processor, 128 GB of storage, 8 GB RAM, and up to 13.5 hours of video playback
- Our fastest Surface Pro ever* thanks to a powerful Intel Core laptop-grade processor. Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope sensors are available
- Go all day with up to 13.5 hours of battery life. * 50% more battery life than the previous generation
- Our lightest Surface Pro yet*, starting at 1.69 lbs (m3 model).
- Surface Pro Signature Type cover and Microsoft Surface Pen sold separately
- Stunning 13.3-Inch Retina Display with True Tone
- Touch ID
- Dual-core 8th-Generation Intel Core i5 Processor
- Intel UHD Graphics 617
- Fast SSD Storage
High Workload Freelancers
Who are these laptops for?
These laptops are specifically for digital nomads like Cinematographers, Photographers, and Graphic designers. They feature high-end specifications (think 16GB Ram, GPUs) that enable you to run intensive powerful photo/video editing software while working remote..
|High Budget Freelancers||Low Budget Freelancers|
#High Budget: Dell XPS 15
Reasons to NOT get this:
- You are on a tight budget
- You need a laptop for basic tasks like content writing, surfing the internet, etc.
Why should freelancers get the Dell XPS 15?
Reason 1: Well balanced specifications
The Dell XPS is perhaps one of the most recommended windows laptops due to its well-balanced specifications. Yes, it is a bit more expensive, but its well-rounded specifications justify the premium pricing.
Reason 2: Excellent 4k display
This laptop features an excellent 4k display that makes it life easy for cinematographers and GFX artists. It is important to note that the Dell XPS 15 is known to have one of the best displays on a windows laptop.
Verdict: is Dell XPS 15 right for you?
If you love Windows and want the most well rounded laptop for high-intensity taks, then the Dell XPS is your best bet! It strikes a perfect balance between weight, portability, and performance. So, if you can afford it go for it!
#General Pick: Apple MacBook Pro
Reasons to NOT get this:
- You are on a tight budget
- You don't like MAC OS
Why should freelancers get an Apple MacBook Pro?
Reason 1: Top-notch specifications
The MacBook Pro is one of the most powerful MacBooks on the market. It is perfect for professionals and freelancers who are into high-intensity tasks like video-editing, GFX, etc. This laptop houses a crisp retina display, 2.5GHz Intel Core i7 processor and excellent battery life.
Reason #2 Minimalist & portable design
Apple is known for its simple and effective design and this is perfectly implemented into the MacBook Pro. Many professionals recommend this laptop solely because of its simplicity that works great for an efficient workflow.
Final Verdict: is the Apple MacBook Pro right for you?
The Apple MacBook Pro is perfect for any freelancer willing to pay a premium for excellent MAC experience. So, if you love Apple you really cannot go wrong with this one.
However, if you're looking to get something that is going to give you more value for your money I'd look into some of the windows alternatives.
#Budget Pick: ASUS Vivobook S510
Reasons to NOT get this:
- You want something basic for low-intensity tasks like content writing, blogging, etc
- You have a high budget and don't really care about value for money
Why should freelancers get the Asus Vivobook S510
Reason 1: Well-balanced features and specifications
The Asus Vivobook S15 strikes the perfect balance between specifications and price. For under 1000 bucks you get 8th generation i5 processor, Maxwell 150MX GPU, and 8GB ram. These are specifications are essential to handle high-intensity tasks like video-editing and photography.
Reason #1: Affordable pricing
If you can't afford to shell out thousands of dollars on a laptop consider the Vivobook. For under a $1000 you get a beast laptop with top-notch specifications that enable you to of run intensive video and photo editing software.
Verdict: is the ASUS Vivobook S510 right for you?
I have personally used this laptop for over 8 months and can confidently recommend this to anyone looking for an affordable laptop. I use this laptop for writing and sometimes website development. Till now, it has not given me any problems.
Medium Workload Freelancing
Who are these laptops for?
The laptops under this section are perfect for digital nomads like travel bloggers, content writers, and website developers. The tasks include content writing, occasional photo editing, and general multi-tasking while working remotely.
#General Pick: ASUS Zenbook
This is NOT for you if you:
- You are on a budget
- You need a laptop for basic intensity tasks
Why Should freelancers buy the Asus ZenBook
Reason #1: Commute Friendly Laptop
The Asus Zenbook sports an excellent minimalist design right from the ports to the hinges. It is compact, lightweight and made specifically for working on the go. This is especially useful for freelancers that are constantly working in coffee shops and cramped spaces #thehustleisreal
Reason #2: Well balanced specifications
This laptop features top-notch hardware that makes it easy to handle high-intensity tasks and more. You get the option of choosing between 8th generation i5 and i7 processor that helps you pick the most compatible laptop.
Reason #3: Long lasting battery life (up to 8 hours)
The ASUS Zenbook has a pretty long battery life of 8 hours that’s good enough to last through an entire work session. This is great for freelancers as the last thing you want is to disrupt workflow by getting up and charging your laptop.
Final Verdict: Is this freelancing laptop for you?
The Asus zenbook is perfect for any freelancer looking for a light-weight , compact laptop that's easy to carry around and at the same time powerful enough for high-intensity tasks.
#General Pick: Microsoft Surface Book 4
Why Should freelancers buy the Microsoft Surface Book 4
Reason #1: Available with LTE and eSIM (great for traveling freelancers)
If you are a digital nomad you’ll find a great use for the LTE connectivity due to eSIM functionality. An international SIM card can easily cost upwards of $10 a month. So, if you’re traveling full time and constantly use the internet his laptop you're looking at a potential savings of USD$120/year.
Reason #2: Great Portability
The Microsoft Surface Pro is a thin laptop that's barely a few inches in width. Additionally, it's a two-in-one that lets you conveniently convert it into a tablet when not in use. These features make it possible to whip out and use this laptop wherever you go!
Reason #3: Lightweight body
Weight in at just 1.7 lbs makes this laptop super lightweight. This is especially useful if you're constantly on the move and carry your laptop around in your backpack.
Final Verdict: Is the Microsoft Surface Book 4 for you?
Microsoft Surface Book 4 is a perfect fit if you're big on traveling and still want to get some serious work done. It strikes a fine balance between portability and specifications that make it an absolute gem.
#General Pick: Apple MacBook Air
This is NOT for you if you:
- You are on a budget
- Need something that can handle high-intensity freelancing tasks like video-editing as this is not for that
Why Should freelancers buy the Apple MacBook Air
Reason #1 Relatively Cheaper option from Apple:
The MacBook Air is the most reasonable MacBook. So, if you love the MAC OS but don't want to shell out thousands of dollars on a MacBook Pro — give the MacBook Air a short.
Reason #2 Extremely lightweight body
The MacBook Air weighs less than a pound, just like air! (pun intended). So, if you're all into ease-of-use and lightweight laptops then the MacBook Air is going to check all the boxes.
Final Verdict: Is the Apple MacBook Air for you?
If you're on a budget and want to buy a MacBook for medium to low-intensity freelancing needs like content marketing then you should definitely look at getting the Apple MacBook Air that's the most recommended laptop for Freelancers on a budget.
#Budget pick: Microsoft Surface Book
This is NOT for you if:
- You are a cinematographer or graphics designer) and need something for high-intensity tasks
Why Should freelancers buy the Microsoft Surface Book
Reason #1 Extremely portable 2-in-one laptops
The Surface book is one of the most versatile laptops on this list. It features a 360-degree hinge that makes it easy to switch between different modes. You can use the table mode during client presentations to show off your concepts and features in an efficient manner.
Reason #2 Highly customizable and user-friend Interface
If you love Windows, you will love the surface pro as it is one of the most user-friendly windows laptops on the market. This laptop is fully optimized for Windows 10 and aims to get you one of the most out of the OS.
Reason #3: Super lightweight laptop
Weighing in at 1.7 pounds makes the surface book pro one of the lightest laptops on this list. This is particularly useful if you're a digital nomad who's constantly packing his laptop in his backpack
Final Verdict: Is the Microsoft Surface Book for you?
The Microsoft Surface Book is a versatile two-in-one laptop that perfectly balances features versus usability. It is a great option for low-intensity tasks like writing.
So, What's the best laptop for remote workers in 2020?
Now, that I've now come towards the end of my article — I hope you understand what you need to actually look for in remote work laptop. Remember, don't fall for fancy branding and sleek marketing tactics.
Instead, pick something that works for your freelancing requirements as you always want to pick a product that's ‘right' for YOU!
Are you a freelancer, digital nomad or someone who works remotely? What do you do and what laptop do you use? Let me know in the comments below!