Best Laptop for freelancers, Remote Workers and Digital Nomad in 2020

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 👇

Table could not be displayed.

(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….

Note: I say freelancer but this can be anyone who works remote (digital nomads), travel bloggers, writers, and even a GFX/cinematography artists.

Best Laptops for freelancers in 2020

That's a screenshot taken from the #1 ranking article for best laptops for freelancers in 2020 — and what's wrong with it?

  1. It assumes every freelancer uses the same laptop
  2. 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?

Obviously not!

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:

  1. I factor in different budgets and ensure you get the best value for your money
  2. 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?

Note: There is no one-size-fits-all solution as every freelancer has a different requirement.

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

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I recommend getting an extra 8GB Ram and SSD drive to maximize performance for super high-intensity tasks like photo-editing and video-editing.

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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).

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Why I'm writing this article (for Context)

Digital Nomad laptop funny picture

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:

Technical Specifications:

  • Ram: 8GB DDR4
  • Weight: 1.7Kg
  • CPU: i5 8th generation

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:

  1. Affordable price
  2. 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?

what should freelancers look for in a laptop

I used Google first researched what I really need in a laptop.

Remember: Functionality > Branding.

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:

Portability of best lightweight digital nomad laptops

1. Portability

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

best lightweight laptops for freelancers-min

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!

Note: Pay attention to the weight of the battery as some cheaper laptops have extremely bulky batteries.

Battery life of digital nomad laptops

2. Long lasting battery life

Imagine this:

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.

Factors that make a good digital nomad laptop

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.
Note: Chrome-OS is gaining popularity due to it’s extremely lightweight and minimalist nature but it’s not compatible to perform high-intensity tasks.

Specifications of best laptops for digital nomad

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.

For example:

  • 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:

8 GB 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:

  1. Workload: High/low-intensity tasks
  2. Budget: High-budget or low-budget

Also, this list is not in any particular order

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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..

Side Note
If you're a photographer, I recommend reading my detailed article on the best laptops for photo editing.
High Budget FreelancersLow Budget Freelancers

#High Budget: Dell XPS 15

Windows laptop for Cinematography and GFX freelancers

See Customer Feedback>>

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.
  • Vibrant 4k Display
  • Innovative compact, lightweight design
  • Extremely thin and lightweight
  • Infinity edge display
  • Affordable pricing for the specifications
  • Bad Battery Life
  • Gets heated after extended use

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.

Note:  It comes in 13” and 15” the latter is more suitable for freelancers into cinematography, graphic design, etc.

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

See Customer Feedback>>

Reasons to NOT get this:

  • You are on a tight budget
  • You don't like MAC OS
  • Extremely Light and intuitive design
  • User-friendly Mac OS
  • Long lasting battery life
  • Great specifications
  • Expensive price tag as compared to Windows alternatives

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

See Customer Feedback>>

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
  • Affordable pricing for premium features and specifications
  • Compact and portable design
  • Decent display
  • Required additional ram

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.

Note: I personally use the i5 variant but I recommend the i7 variant for cinematographers.

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.

Note: If you are a cinematographer or video-editor I’d fit in an extra 8GB ram as the default 8GB.

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

Windows laptop for Cinematography and GFX freelancers-min

See Customer Feedback>>

This is NOT for you if you:

  • You are on a budget
  • You need a laptop for basic intensity tasks


  • Vivid 4k Display
  • Innovative Hinge system
  • Comfortable and intuitive keyboard
  • Thin and lightweight design
  • Competitive pricing
  • The battery is pretty below average
  • Heating issues after prolonged use

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.

Note: I would pick the i7 variant if you need this laptop for cinematography and GFX tasks.

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

Micrsoft surface pro

See Customer Feedback>>

  • Best lightweight laptop for traveling freelancers
  • Crisp, detailed display
  • eSIM and LTE connectivity good for traveling freelancers
  • The keyboard needs to be bought separately ($120 add-on)
  • Not ideal for high-intensity tasks

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

Macbook Air for bloggers

See Customer Feedback>>

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
  • Crisp and vivid retina display
  • Good battery life
  • Extremely lightweight and compact design
  • User-friendly MAC is
  • Expensive for the specifications

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

Micrsoft surface pro

See Customer Feedback>>

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!

See also:

Mark Quadros is a Content Marketer for SaaS and Online-business. He also runs 'The Real Mark', a blog about travel, remote work, and online marketing.Affiliate Disclosure.

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