With the global pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021 having accelerated the shift towards remote working and working from home trends, laptops are becoming more essential than ever as a facilitator of work.
With just a laptop and internet connectivity, professionals and freelancers can perform their work, and business owners can run their businesses from anywhere in the world.
To facilitate remote working, laptops need to be powerful enough to handle the tasks you’re required to accomplish while at the same time being portable enough to maintain your mobility. With that being said, there is a wide variety of remote-working laptops you can choose from according to your needs, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
For example, there are Macs for those who strictly need to use macOS in their workflow. There are two-in-one laptops that can function as both a laptop and a tablet, and there are thin client laptops designed to access virtual machines.
With all these options available at various price points, choosing the right one for you can be quite challenging, but we’ve got you covered.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the best laptops for remote work available in 2023 in various styles, specs, OS, and price points.
Without further ado, let us begin.
Best laptops for working from home
We’ll divide this list into several categories based on several laptop styles to choose from. This way, you can more clearly compare different options based on your needs and budget.
Let us begin.
Best Mac laptops for remote work
If you happen to prefer macOS or the Apple ecosystem, you have several options:
1. MacBook Air M1 (2021)
Despite not being the latest iteration of the MacBook Air (with the recent introduction of the MacBook Air M2 in mid-2022,) the MacBook Air M1 offers the best value for money in 2021, starting from $999 instead of $1,199 with the M2 while still offering pretty decent performance.
The MacBook Air series, as we know, is the entry-level option from Apple, but it also offers another benefit besides affordability from the more expensive MacBook Pros: it’s thin and lightweight, hence the “Air” moniker.
Despite being the most modest option from Apple—performance-wise—the MacBook Air M1 still offers pretty decent performance for remote workers that don’t really need to use power-hungry apps in their day-to-day work. In fact, the MacBook Air M1 offers better performance than any Windows laptop at a similar price range (~$1,000.)
The basic MacBook Air M1 option has 8GB memory and 256 GB SSD, but you can upgrade your memory (16 GB and 24 options), storage (512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB), software options, and power adapter, among other options.
if you want better performance and are willing to pay slightly more, you may opt for the newer MacBook Air M2 instead. The MacBook Air M2 also sports an updated design that might suit your aesthetic preferences better.
MacBook Air M1 13-inch base specs:
- 8-core CPU
- 16GB of unified memory
- 256 GB SSD storage
- 13.3-inch Retina display with True Tone
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
Pros and cons:
- The best price-to-performance ratio at $1,000
- Apple ecosystem and design aesthetics
- Thin, lightweight, and portable
- Excellent battery life and reliable performance thanks to the Apple Silicone M1 chip
- Despite offering a great value $1,000 may be too expensive for some
- Limited storage space and RAM (and expensive upgrades)
- Only two USB-C ports
2. MacBook Pro M1 14-inch and 16-inch (2021)
If you are looking for more performance and want to stick to macOS for some reason, then your option is to go to the more expensive—and much more powerful—MacBook Pros, more specifically, the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
There are 13-inch M1 and M2 MacBook Pro models available, but they are quite similar in performance to the MacBook Air counterparts, and we feel the performance jump isn’t really worth the price difference.
The M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pro will be an ideal choice for power users like graphic designers, video editors, 3D designers, and other creative professionals who need a powerful laptop to use power-hungry applications.
While an M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pro is obviously expensive, they are also some of the most powerful devices available on the market at the moment. If you do have the budget and prefer macOS, these devices will definitely be worth it.
You can customize your MacBook Pro’s RAM (called Unified Memory), SSD, power adapter, and software as you see fit, but there are five basic variants to choose from:
- MacBook Pro 14”. M1 Pro, 8-core CPU, 14-core GPU, 16GB Memory, 512 GB SSD, $ 1,999
- MacBook Pro 14”. M1 Pro, 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1 TB SSD, $ 2,499
- MacBook Pro 16”. M1 Pro. 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16GB Memory, 512 GB SSD, $ 2,499
- MacBook Pro 16”. M1 Pro. 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1 TB SSD, $ 2,699
- MacBook Pro 16”. M1 Max. 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1 TB SSD, $ 3,499
All versions come with three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, MagSafe 3 port
Pros and Cons
- Simply one of, if not the best-performing devices available in the market today
- Great Retina XDR display (Apple’s version of HRD display)
- Considering its powerful GPU/CPU and display quality, its thin and lightweight
- Great build quality and durable, as expected from Apple products
- It’s expensive, starting at $1,999 for the base 14-inch model
- RAMs are soldered in place, so you won’t be able to upgrade them
Best 2-in-1 laptops for remote work
If your remote working task requires you to use both a tablet and a laptop (or you simply can’t decide between the two, then getting a 2-in-1 laptop may be the ideal option for you.
Here are our recommendations for the best 2-in-1 laptops for remote work:
1. Microsoft Surface Pro 9
There are generally two general types of 2-in-1 laptops: the folding/convertible laptops that you can transform into a tablet by folding the keyboard part behind the screen, and the ones with detachable keyboards. Surface Pro 9 is the latter, and at the moment, the best one.
Great performance with Intel 12th-gen CPU and great screen (120Hz option available) on modern, thin-bezel design and large 13-inch display for a 2-in-1. For today’s video conferencing world, the Surface Pro 9 also offers great front-facing and rear cameras. Basically, everything you’re looking for in a 2-in-1 laptop.
Starting at $999 (and you’ll need to pay more for the Surface Pen and keyboard cover,) the Surface Pro 9 isn’t a cheap device. However, if you do like the Surface Pro design but want it to be more affordable, there’s the older Surface Pro 8 (available at $799 or lower.)
- 12th gen Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, $999
- 12th gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, $1,399
- Microsoft SQ 3 (ARM-based) 5G, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, $1,249
Pros and cons
- Intel 12th-gen CPU is a better fit for a portable laptop such as the Surface Pro 9, with a better battery life compared to the 11th-gen CPUs
- 1080p webcam with great-quality picture
- Great color choices (more colors than Surface Pro 8)
- Great 120 Hz screen (optional upgrade)
- Pretty decent keyboard feel and sound for a detachable keyboard
- Impressive Surface Pen performance
- Relatively expensive, starting at $999, not an entry-level laptop
- Small trackpad
- Just two USB-C ports and no headphone jack.
2. Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i (2022)
If the Surface Pro 9 is a detachable 2-in-1, then the Lenovo IdeaPad is a convertible laptop, and we pick this as our recommendation for the budget 2-in-1 laptop, priced under $500.
While it doesn’t offer the best screen and battery life, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i still offers pretty decent performance both as a tablet and a laptop—especially considering the price—and the touch screen is actually pretty decent.
- 12th gen Intel Core i5-1235U
- 16 GB RAM
- 512 GB SS
- 14 inches, 1920x 1200, 60 Hz
- Intel Iris Xe integrated GPU
Pros and Cons
- Decent performance for its price as a tablet or laptop
- Responsive and bright touch
- HDMI and USB-C ports, versatile
- No USB-C charging
- Battery life lower than average
- Pen not included
Best traditional Windows laptops for remote work
For those who are just looking for a traditional laptop experience, here is our recommendation:
1. Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 offers the closest experience to a MacBook in a Windows laptop: thin and compact design with an almost edge-to-edge display, a great and wide keyboard, great performance, and all-day battery life.
If you are looking for a Windows ultrabook for your remote working that has virtually everything from beautiful design, portability, performance, and battery life, the Dell XPS-13 is definitely worth your consideration
The downside? There’s only one: it’s relatively expensive at $849, although the price has gone down a bit since the introduction of the newer DLL XPS 13 Plus (which offers a better design and performance, starting at $1,399.)
Still, if you do have the budget and would like a luxurious Windows laptop experience, the Dell XPS 13 is worth every penny.
- 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-1230U or 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1250U
- Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- 8GB, 16GB, or 32 GB LPDDR5, 5200MHz RAM
- 512 GB or 1 TB SSD
- 13.4″, FHD+ 1920 x 1200, 60Hz (touch or non-touch available), 500 nits, InfinityEdge
- Large, glass touchpad
- 2 Thunderbolt™ 4 ports, 1 headset (headphone and microphone combo) ports
Pros and Cons
- Modern, luxurious design with InfinityEdge bezels
- Great screen, both for the touch and non-touch variants
- Large and responsive touchpad
- One of the best battery performances in a Windows laptop
- Excellent and reliable performance
- Relatively dim display (500 nits) for its price
- Average webcam quality
Best thin client laptops for remote work
Here are some of the best affordable laptop options ideal for running virtual machines as a thin client:
2. ASUS L210
At just above $150, the ASUS L210 is an ideal laptop you can turn into a thin client running your virtual machines.
Despite its low price, it offers modest performance with its Celeron N4020 processor, which works well for its price. It also has built-in 64GB eMMC flash storage and 4GB (DDR4) RAM.
Hardware-wise (including screen), the ASUS L210 is obviously nothing special, but it is pretty durable with its slim and portable design
- 11.6 Inches screen size
- Intel Celeron N4020 CPU
- Ram Memory: 4 GB.
- Hard Disk Size: 64 GB
Pros and Cons
- Durable build
- Portable and lightweight design
- Great processor considering its price
- Stable Windows performance in S Mode
- Low RAM and storage may cause slowdowns
2. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14”
A relatively more expensive option than the ASUS L210, priced at just under $450, the IdeaPad 3 offers better performance with its Ryzen 5 processor and an impressive full HD screen, a pretty rare combination of features for its price.
While there is a wide variety of budget laptops available in the market, the IdeaPad 3 is definitely among the best budget laptops with the most impressive value-to-price ratio. Great 14-inch build and screen with a pretty decent performance considering its price, unlike most budget laptops under $500 that rely on older Pentium or Celeron CPUs.
You also get a fingerprint reader (which is pretty rare for a laptop of this price) as well as a Wi-FI 6 instead of 5 to ensure more reliable network speed. Great overall value for its price, and an ideal option if you are looking for a thin client.
- AMD Ryzen 5 S500U
- 8GB DDR4 RAM
- 256 GB SSD storage
- AMD Radeon 7 graphics
- Wi-Fi 6
- USB-C and HDMI ports
- Fingerprint reader
Pros and Cons
- Great value for its price
- Sturdy and durable body with a nice dark-blue finish
- Great keyboard and touchpad
- Upgradeable RAM
- Fingerprint scanner
- Display colors not very vibrant
- Not very good speakers
Laptop for working from home: buying guide
Factors to consider when choosing your laptop
A laptop, by nature, is built with limitations as its main consideration. We are squeezing a computer that’s normally the size of a desktop PC into a compact size—and in some cases, very compact size—so it’s only natural we’ll only need to make compromises.
With that being said, most, if not all, of the features and benefits offered in a laptop are mutually exclusive. For example, if you need a laptop with a high-performance GPU while maintaining a relatively competitive price, then typically, you’ll need to compromise on thickness, size, and/or weight.
On the other hand, if you’d like a laptop that is both thin/light and powerful in performance, then obviously, it would be expensive.
So, when choosing a laptop and assuming you have a limited budget, it’s about which compromise you are willing to make.
With that being said, here are key questions to ask so you can assess your priorities (and areas you’d like to compromise:
- What’s your laptop’s purpose?
Your occupation and what you need your laptop to do will dictate what kind of specifications you’ll need.
If you are a 3D artist, for example, you’d want a high-performance laptop with a good GPU and CPU, and probably thickness and weight won’t be too much of an issue. On the other hand, if you’re going to travel a lot while you’re only going to use the laptop for basic browsing activities, then you’d want to prioritize size, thickness, and weight over performance.
- How many hours of battery life do you need?
Remember that you can work on your laptop while tethered to a power outlet, so battery life is more about a matter of convenience and mobility.
However, in many cases (with some exceptions,) long battery life equals a thicker and heavier laptop due to the bigger physical size of the battery.
- How important are size/thickness and weight for you?
Do you need a laptop that can fit in your backpack (or purse)? Will you travel a lot with the laptop? While ideally
- How much RAM and storage do you need?
If you are just using your laptop for basic browsing and/or typing tasks, you may not need a lot of storage and RAM space, especially if you are going to use a lot of cloud-based apps (think Canva or Google Docs.)
On the other hand, if you are going to open multiple apps or one resource-heavy app (i.e. AutoCAD or 3D Max), then you’ll need a big RAM supported with a large enough SSD to ensure optimal data transfer rate.
- Will you use the laptop for video conferencing often?
If the answer is yes, then you might want to get one with a decent built-in webcam and microphone. Keep in mind, however, that you can always invest in additional cameras and USB microphones if needed.
- What kind of CPU and GPU powers do you need?
Will you also use the laptop for gaming, video editing, or other power-hungry activities? If you are only going to use the laptop for basic working and browsing activities, then you won’t need a dedicated graphics card or an expensive CPU.
- Which operating system do you need?
Windows 10/11 is obviously the most popular operating system choice; some would prefer macOS (which will limit your laptop choices) and even Linux OS. Also, there are Chromebooks with Chrome OS and thin clients If you are going to rely on virtual desktops.
In general, choose an OS you are already familiar with, so you can stay productive. However, if you need to use specific applications in your work, keep in mind that some applications may only be compatible with a specific type of OS/`
- Would you consider using a virtual desktop?
A viable, cost-effective option to gain access to powerful CPU and GPU processing power without spending too much on an expensive laptop is to use a virtual desktop service while using an inexpensive laptop (thin client).
You can use a cloud PC solution service V2 Cloud to quickly and easily deploy cloud-hosted virtual desktops based on your needs, allowing you to access a full desktop experience with your chosen application at a much more affordable price. With a virtual desktop service like V2 Cloud, you’ll only need a fast and reliable internet connection since resources are run on V2 Cloud’s servers rather than your device.
This allows you to use an inexpensive, low-spec laptop without sacrificing performance and convenience.
For example, you can use a sub- $300 worth of laptop to access Photoshop and other design apps with V2Cloud’s The Doer plan at just $60/month. This will provide you with more flexibility and cost-effectiveness rather than needing to buy a $1,000 laptop to perform similar graphic design work.
- How much are you willing to spend on a laptop?
Last but not least, what’s your available budget? Laptops come at varying price points from under $500 to more than $5,000, so it’s important to find one at a price point that works for you while considering other factors we’ve discussed above.
Again, there’s the option of using an inexpensive laptop to access a virtual desktop like V2 Cloud, which can be a great consideration if you are currently on a limited budget but in need of a high-performance laptop.
Above, we have reviewed together the best laptops available in 2023 for remote work and working from home, as well as a buying guide on how to choose the most ideal laptop for your unique remote working scenario.
As you can see, different laptops offer different advantages and disadvantages, and many of them are mutually exclusive. Thus, it’s important to first identify and understand your needs and requirements for a laptop before purchasing one, not to regret your decision later.
The goal is to find the ideal laptop with everything you need at a price point that works for you.