Discover some of the best laptops for working from home, plus tips for knowing what to look for to find the perfect machine.
More employees are working remotely than ever before, and the number of people freelancing is growing exponentially. So it’s no surprise that a large percentage of Independents have subscribed to the WFH life.
But remote work involves a lot of preparation. The vast majority of people working from home rely on a good internet connection and a computer that can handle video calls, design software, and whatever other work a project entails. We’ve curated a list of the best laptops for working from home to help you make a smooth and successful transition to WFH.
Choosing the right equipment 🛒
The most popular type of computer for working from home is the laptop, thanks to its portability. With a good laptop, remote workers can access important computer programs and work documents, answer emails, and scour LinkedIn or Twitter for job opportunities from anywhere with a webcam and a strong Wi-Fi signal.
But while many laptops are versatile, they’re not interchangeable. Finding the perfect tech partner for your Independent career starts with understanding the specs your line of work requires.
Work-from-home laptops: What to consider 🧐
When researching the best laptops for remote work, it’s vital to understand how the features of individual models will either help or hinder your work. Here are some of the basics to keep in mind when choosing a device:
- Size. An easily portable laptop is ideal for jobs requiring travel to different sites. Look for slimmer, lightweight models if your freelance career involves frequent trips outside the home office.
- Processor. Core processors determine how fast a laptop runs and how much multitasking it can do. A laptop’s central processing unit, or CPU, has a variable number of these processors — the more processors, the faster and more efficiently the computer will function.
- RAM. Random access memory (RAM) is crucial for the smooth functioning of a laptop. Computers use RAM to perform complex tasks like graphic design or sound design. For roles that require more than a web browser, make sure your home office laptop has enough gigabytes (GB) of RAM.
- Display. Even if your laptop won’t be handling intricate graphics, having an adequate screen size is important. Independent graphic designers, photographers, and others working with visual media will require a laptop with a high-quality graphics card.
- Power source. Unless you’ll always be within reach of a power outlet, reliable battery life is essential. Laptop specs include the number of hours the machine can stay powered without being plugged in, so look for one with a long battery life to get you through your workday.
- Connection ports. Having a machine that can easily connect to other devices saves time (and a lot of headaches!). Standard USB ports and headphone jacks may be enough for some Independents. For others, card readers and ports that can accommodate HDMI cords, portable solid-state drives, or ethernet cables may make life a lot easier.
- Price. Last but certainly not least is price. Determine a realistic budget before you start shopping. The best laptop will get the job done without breaking the bank. You can always upgrade as your Independent career takes off!
6 top laptops for remote work 🥇
Now that we’ve covered the general specs to look for in a laptop, here are some of the best laptops for WFH Independents:
1. Apple MacBook Pro
Boasting an SD slot, HDMI port, a mic/headphone jack, three USB-C ports, a long-lasting battery, a fingerprint reader, and a high-definition display, the MacBook Pro is a robust and reliable machine. This powerful laptop can handle detailed video editing or musical scores and is a preferred multitasking device for many creative professionals.
Some possible downsides? There’s no way to upgrade RAM after purchase, and the MacBook Pro is one of the higher-priced options, which might put it out of reach of beginning Independents.
2. Apple MacBook Air
A slightly less powerful version of Apple’s premier laptop, the MacBook Air is lighter-weight and more affordable than the Pro but has fewer features and less computing power. The Air boasts an impressive display, though freelancers needing a machine for graphic design may find the tools and computing power underwhelming.
The MacBook Air only offers USB-C ports, but adapters exist for other connections. The relatively high price may deter some freelancers from choosing this laptop, but as with most Apple products, it’s a reliable and useful device.
3. HP Pavilion 15
More reasonably priced than its Apple counterparts, the HP Pavilion 15 is a good all-around laptop, suitable for performing daily tasks as well as some simple editing and streaming functionality. The Pavilion 15 features a one-terabyte (TB) drive, which is more than enough space to store important documents.
Many reviewers note that the Pavilion’s cooling fan is noisy. This machine also has a shorter battery life than some of its competitors.
4. Google PixelBook Go
The PixelBook Go is the latest in Google’s Chromebook series of laptops. It’s a lightweight, sturdy, and not-too-expensive option for freelancers who need a reliable machine.
The downside of the PixelBook is that, like all Chromebooks, it needs a steady internet connection to really shine. Independents looking for a laptop with good functionality both on and offline may want to consider another option.
5. Samsung Galaxy Book S
With up to 23 hours of battery life and a speedy 4G LTE connection, this high-end laptop is a desirable option for Independents on the go. It also features a touchscreen and stylus, merging the flexibility of a tablet with the power and reliability of a WFH computer.
But these features come at a premium — some Independents may find the $999 starting price (at the time of writing) cost-prohibitive.
6. Acer Aspire 5
One of the least expensive options on the list, the Aspire 5 still has a remarkable array of features that make it one of the best budget laptops for working from home. This machine boasts various connector ports, an 8-hour battery life, and a built-in Amazon Alexa. The included 4GB of RAM can be boosted with slots for additional sticks.
The Acer Aspire is configured to use Windows 11 S, a secure operating system that only uses apps from the Microsoft store. This may be limiting for some Independents, though the feature can be temporarily disabled.
Get started with Contra 🚀
These are just a few of the best laptops to work from home with, but the market is vast. If none of these suggestions hit the mark, keep researching and investigating — there’s a good laptop out there that’s perfect for your journey as an Independent.
And if you need a little more help, join Contra! Our commission-free platform for Independent workers features numerous tips and tricks to make your remote, freelance journey stress-free and exciting. Contra’s Slack community is a perfect venue to ask laptop questions and find like-minded Independents with enthusiasm and information to share.