The days of pen and paper and manual typewriters are long behind us. If you’re a writer, your best friend is going to be your laptop. It provides you with the ability to get your writing done anywhere in the world, and it has liberated writers from being tethered to their desks. But it may seem like the laptop you choose isn’t that important. After all, the only fundamentals that a writer needs on the surface are a keyboard and a screen.
But with tons of new software and cloud tools at a writer’s disposal, there are some qualities you should absolutely look for when looking to invest in a laptop. That’s why we’ve identified 10 contenders for the best laptop for writers in 2020.
- 10 Best Laptops for Writers
- Laptop For Writers Buyer’s Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Laptops for Writers
1. Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
Acer has managed to deliver a petite and moderately powerful laptop that's tailored specifically towards productivity with their Aspire 5 Slim. It doesn't deliver the best performance you'd find from a quad core processor, but it offers far beefier results than what you could reasonably hope to find from a $300 laptop. If you find yourself needing to do photo or video editing as part of your tasks as a writer, this model will certainly be up to the task.
The IPS display looks good from a wide variety of angles, and the inclusion of a "ComfyFit" view reduces glare, a necessity if you find yourself putting long and late hours in front of the computer screen. The build quality is lightweight but sports a slick aluminum frame that looks more luxurious than most budget laptops, and the keyboard has a satisfying sense of responsiveness with each key stroke.
2. Apple MacBook Air
The MacBook Air is far from the most powerful MacBook that Apple offers, but it should offer more than enough performance and features for even the most research intensive writers around. And while you can expect to spend a grand to get the advantages that come from these laptops for writers, you can count on them to last you for years to come. That makes it one of the best laptops we're featuring for long term investment.
The 2020 edition sports a sleek frame that's still excellently built, making this laptop one of the best choices for writers who find themselves on the road regularly. As is often the case with Macs, the touchpad and the keyboard are both top of the line, and the presence of a fingerprint reader will help keep your private information safe even when you're out and about traveling.
3. ASUS Chromebook
Chromebooks are taking the world by storm, and they make an especially good choice for writers. If you're working on a tight budget, the $200 ASUS Chromebook will offer everything you need to fulfill the fundamental demands of a writer, and it manages to look good doing it. Of course, don't come in expecting big and meaningful specs. This is still a browser-based OS through and through, but it's protected well from viruses and requires little in the way of maintenance. And the modular design means that if anything ever does go wrong, fixing it is cheap and easy.
This is a laptop that was designed primarily for kids, but the durability that comes with those intents make this a remarkable reliable choice for writers too. The rubberized grip keeps it from slipping and also protects it from drops, and the keyboard is incredibly resistant to spills.
4. Lenovo Chromebook
The C330 may cost a bit more than ASUS' comparable laptop, but it comes with a whole range of cool features to accommodate that jump in price. The most obvious is its convertible design and touchscreen interface that allows it to functionally work as a tablet in addition to a laptop. Combine that with the lightweight design and you're left with a laptop that lets you handle research with simple swipes of your fingers to the touchscreen.
Apart from this, the specs are largely on scale with the ASUS, but that includes the exceptionally long battery life. You can run this laptop for a solid 10 hours of battery life before you'll have to recharge it. And while the display isn't going to match a more traditional laptop, it's easily one of the best for a ChIf romebook. It's also arguably the laptop with best keyboard within this price range.
5. Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible Laptop
Acer has contributed their own entry into the budget level Chromebook market with the R11, and this convertible model is definitely one of the best laptops for writers operating on a budget. The convertible design is a bit clumsy at times, but that's perfectly okay when you have a laptop that works so well in its traditional configuration.
Acer has stuck the landing with every major metric you should look for when shopping for laptops with writers. The colorful display is easy to read even in bright lighting, and the keyboard is comfortable and responsive despite its relatively small size. Just bear in mind that the touchscreen can be a bit more finicky. And while 4 GB might not seem like a lot of RAM, the Acer makes the most of it and offers a pretty respectable amount of power when running multiple browser tabs at the same time.
6. Lenovo Ideapad 15.6″ HD High Performance Laptop
There are certainly reasons to be wary about the minimal specs and the limited operating system of a Chromebook, and if that's the case with you, you'll want to take a look at the Lenovo Ideapad. It may cost a little more, but it offers some significantly bulkier specs and the far more open architecture of Windows 10.
The quad core processor is great if you find yourself running more high end software or juggling multiple research tabs at the same time, and the Ideapad makes use of the latest Wi-Fi iteration to ensure faster speeds even when you're running on a coffee shop network. The one terabyte hard drive isn't the fastest or highest capacity hard drive you'll find in a laptop, but it should be more than enough to meet the needs of most writers looking for a laptop that emphasizes productivity above all else.
7. ASUS VivoBook 15 Laptop
Ramping up to slightly more expensive models is the ASUS VivoBook 15 - a respectably fast machine that's also one of the best laptops for writers. And despite its relatively large screen, it's incredibly lightweight and super thin, so it can fit easily in your travel bag or briefcase. Part of that is due to the innovative NanoEdge display that results in a razor thin bezel and helps maximize the actual real estate of your laptop display.
And while the screen can become remarkably bright, it's got great endurance at lower energy settings, potentially capable of offering 12 hours of battery life on a single charge. Every possible iteration of USB is supported by the ports along with an HDMI cable so you can hook it up easily to a larger display for work in the office and transfer data from practically any external storage device you can imagine.
8. Microsoft Surface Pro
The Microsoft Surface Pro is easily one of the coolest looking convertible laptops available, and it's also one of the best laptops for writers. The ability to convert it into three different configurations makes the process of shifting comfortably between research, leisure, and writing modes a seamless affair, and while it may look as much like a tablet as it does a laptop, there's a decent amount of power behind the Surface Pro.
The eighth generation Intel Core i5 processor will be up to any task that writers need to put it through, while the presence of 8GB RAM can really help out when you're trying to multitask a heavy workload. And the battery life here is simply phenomenal. Even when running high power tasks, it can last for 13 and a half hours on a single battery charge.
9. HP Pavilion 15.6 HD 2020
For its $350 tag, the HP Pavilion offers all of the specs you'd expect for a laptop in the price range without much in the way of surprises, but there's something to be said for a reliable workhorse that checks all the right boxes, and that's why this is one of the best laptops for writers in 2020. The AMD processor 8GB offers a respectable speed of 2.6 GHz, and the 1 TB hard drive isn't exactly going to thrill, but it's a comfortable amount of space for most writers.
One fairly rare inclusion is the DVD-RW drive, a good choice if you find yourself regularly trying to burn DVDs, and a solid webcam eases the process of staying in touch with clients for remote freelance writers. It's also one of the most thin and lightweight laptops we're featuring in our review list.
10. Dell Inspiron 15 15.6″ Full HD Laptop
Dell may not be the industry leading name that it was in the laptop field a few decades ago, but they still produce some of the best consumer laptops around. The Inspiron 15 may sport a mid-range price tag of about $600, but it's an investment that will pay off dividends for you in the long run. The 8th generation Intel processor constitutes a significant jump in power over Intel's prior line of CPUs, and the display supports Full HD resolution.
The keyboard itself is a little shallow, but it responds well to key strokes, and in a surprising change from most laptops on our review list, it actually comes with 12 GB of RAM. That provides you with an unprecedented amount of speed when multitasking across multiple software platforms.
Laptop For Writers Buyer’s Guide
So what constitutes the qualities you should look for in the best laptops for writers? That really depends on your style of writing and the demands of your job. We won’t get too technical with our guide to the best laptops for writers. Instead, we’ll just highlight the features that are going to be most important to writers. If you’re looking for a more detailed understanding of the specs that go into a good laptop, feel free to peruse our guide to the best gaming laptops of 2020. Following our guide to the important specs, you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we hear regarding the best laptops for writers.
Many writers have the convenience of working from home, while many journalists will find themselves having to travel regularly chasing scoops. In either case, the ability to conveniently carry your laptop with you wherever you go is one of the best qualities to look for in a laptop for writing. A 13.3 inch or 14 inch display is going to be ideal, but screen size isn’t the most important quality to look for. There are many larger screened laptops that sport a comparably slim frame and lightweight body as a 14 inch laptop for writing, so consider all those factors when you’re looking for the best portable model for your needs.
The simple fact of the matter is that you don’t need a beast of a machine to handle most writing tasks, but the CPU and RAM is a bit more important than you might think. An Intel i5 processor is going to be a perfectly reasonable choice for most writers, but even the best Chromebooks tend to offer an Intel Celeron at best. This probably won’t be a deal breaker (especially because the lightweight ChromeOS allows you to get a lot more out of a Celeron processor), but it should definitely be a consideration if you regularly find yourself navigating multiple browser tabs for research.
RAM (random access memory) refers to what’s essentially the short term memory of your computer, and a decent amount of RAM is a necessity if you want your laptop to run fast even when you’re juggling multiple tabs. We think 8GB RAM is the best middle zone here. Anything beyond processor 8GB is likely going to be overcall for many writers, but if you want to invest in something heavier, it can’t hurt. That’s especially true if you want to use your laptop for other tasks like photo and video editing or playing games.
Battery life essentially represents the other half of the coin to portability. If you find yourself working regularly in the coffee shop, on a plane, or even on the comfort of your couch, a battery that lasts a good long time is one of the best advantages when look for a laptop. 12 hours is the holy grail users should be looking for, and that should be more than enough for most writers, but keep in mind that the battery life can vary significantly based off the intensity of the tasks that you’re performing.
If you’re looking to use your laptop exclusively for writing, storage capacity probably isn’t going to be that big of a deal. Traditional documents don’t take up a whole lot of space, and the best writers know they can take advantage of cloud storage to help lighten the load on their local storage. But writers who want to use their laptop for more than just writing might consider storage more important.
None of the computers on our review list include an SSD drive. While an SSD is largely considered the best type of hard drive around – due both to its higher speeds and its incredible durability – they can also raise the price of a laptop. An HDD should serve you perfectly fine, and a terabyte of storage should easily be enough for the sort of tasks a writer will need to perform.
If you’re a writer, the vast majority of your time with your laptop is going to be spent hammering away at the keyboard, and that’s why getting the best keyboard possible should be a very high priority. There are two factors you should look for when evaluating a laptop: responsiveness and durability. A full sized keyboard is always going to be an ideal choice for writers, but that might be hard to find if you’re evaluating a 13 inch model. Make sure to balance the portability of your laptop against what you’ll be sacrificing in terms of keyboard quality.
For many writers checking out our list, price is going to be the most important metric, but it’s important to remember that your laptop is a long term investment in your career (and many writers will be able to write off their purchase on their taxes if they think ahead). Whatever your price point, we’ve tried to include a computer that will work for you. You can find an affordable laptop for as little as $150, but we’ve also included a couple of laptops around $1000. Consider your needs not just now but years in the future. Making the right investment now will ensure that you don’t have to make an upgrade a couple of years down the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Chromebook Good For Writers?
While there’s some controversy as to whether Chromebooks are generally a good deal, we find that they’re an exceptional choice for a lot of writers. The closed ecosystem means that they require little upkeep, and the cloud applications Google offers provide all the essentials you should need. Combine that with their portability and their affordable prices, and a Chromebook measures up as one of the best laptop choices available.
What is the Best Tablet For Writers?
We actually don’t recommend writers invest in a tablet for serious writing because of their lack of a dedicated keyboard. But there are a number of convertible options that are an exceptional choice for writing. The Microsoft Surface Pro allows you to actually detach the screen so it can function as a standalone tablet, and both the Lenovo and Acer Chromebook we reviewed are lightweight and can flip into a tablet mode without having to sacrifice the availability of a keyboard.
What is the Best Mac For Writers?
Macs are some of the most expensive laptops around, and the fact that the demands for a laptop for writers is fairly low, we’re hesitant to suggest getting someone. But the simple fact is that Apple makes some great machines, and the Macbook is a long term investment with a slick interface, reliable built, and great features that help justify the premium price point. We recommend the 13.3 inch MacBook Air Pro from our list. It’s one of the most inexpensive models around, but it sports most of the important qualities a writer could want from an Apple, including a Retina display.
What is the Best Laptop For Journalists?
If you’re a dedicated journalist, you’re probably going to want something a bit more versatile than a run of the mill Chromebook. We think the best options for the money as far as journalists are concerned is either the Microsoft Surface Pro or the 13.3 inch MacBook Air. They’re the two most expensive models we provide a review for, but they’re also some of the best models around. A more budget friendly alternative is the Lenovo Ideapad.
If you’re looking for the best laptop for writers in 2020, you can be confident with any review on our list, but we’ve tried hard to cast our net wide. The fact that writing is such a broad profession means that the best option is going to be variable for everyone, and different writers are going to have different budget limitations. Prioritize the best features for your needs and let that be your guiding principle as you peruse our reviews.