5 Laptops That Will Help You Work from Anywhere

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Although studies show that remote work is beneficial to employees and employers, there are definitely some challenges involved. How do I set up my virtual office? What are some best practices for maintaining productivity? What kind of computer equipment do I need? To answer that last one, we’ve put together a list of our favorite work-from-anywhere laptops.

These computers will help you get the most out of working remotely, no matter what you’re working on or where you’re working from.

MacBook Air (Late 2020)

The MacBook Air is an obvious choice for remote workers. Featuring Apple's new ARM-based M1 processor, the most recent MacBook Air is dramatically faster and more powerful than any other iteration. We’re talking CPU performance that is up to 3.5x faster than the previous generation. SSD performance that is up to 2x faster. In other words, it’s the most capable MacBook Air ever produced.

MacBook Air

Combine that robust architecture with the hallmark portability and gorgeous display the MacBook Air is known for and you basically have a near-perfect work-from-anywhere laptop. It’s super-fast and can handle most workloads. Its battery life extends well past 10 hours, so your entire remote workday should be covered. And, again, the display is drop-dead gorgeous. That isn’t exactly a remote-work requirement, but it’s very nice to look at.

If there is one issue we had with MacBook Air, it’s that the webcam isn’t the best. Normally, we wouldn’t rank it as that big of a deal, but remote workers do spend a lot of time in virtual meetings, so the quality of the webcam can be important.

HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8

Ever since it was announced at this year's CES, we've been dying to get our hands on the new 14" EliteBook 840 Aero G8 from HP. Billed as one of the lightest business laptops in the world, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 still manages to pack an incredible amount of power in its ultralight frame. Featuring your choice of 11th Generation Intel® Core™ processor and customizable memory options that include up to 2TB of storage and 64GB of RAM, HP's newest business laptop is a true powerhouse that can accommodate even the most demanding workflows.

14" HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8

Along with its power and portability, another reason why the 14" EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is such a great work-from-anywhere laptop is because it offers true peace of mind. With customizable security options and sophisticated software safeguards, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 promises to protect your PC from threats, to secure your data, and make sure all your private information remains private.

MSI Creator 15

Not all work is the same. Different jobs require different tasks, which require different tools. That’s why a laptop that might be great for a trial lawyer is only so-so for a videographer or creative professional. Luckily, for those in a creative field, MSI’s line of Creator Series laptops makes working from anywhere possible.

Looking at spec sheets alone, one could be forgiven for thinking the Creator Series laptops are intended for gamers—especially its maxed-out Creator 15 model. Its massive 15.6-inch display and beastlike performance seem right out of a PC gamer’s wish list. But even though it does, in fact, work very well for gaming, the Creator Series’ powerful architecture is primarily intended for creative professionals who work with color-critical content, heavy video editing, and other graphic-intense endeavors. The Creator 15 is available in multiple GPU configurations, allowing you to choose the rig that best suits your needs. One thing to keep in mind when shopping this kind of laptop: extreme power often means extreme temperatures. The thermals on the Creator 15 are surprisingly good, all things considered. It's not totally immune to the heat its powerful architecture puts out, but it doesn't run as hot as other laptops with similar builds. 

Microsoft Surface Pro X

One of the obvious criteria for making our list was that each laptop had to enable you to work from anywhere, whether that’s in the office, at home, or on the go. The Microsoft Surface Pro X not only fully meets that prerequisite, but goes well beyond, thanks to its portability, gorgeous hybrid design, bolstered performance, and solid battery life.

Microsoft 13" Multi-Touch Surface Pro X

Although the previous generation of the Surface Pro X was a decent laptop, it didn’t feel anywhere near as polished as the 2020 model. On paper, the design and hardware were there, but the user experience was a bit spotty at times, especially when it came to running certain apps. This new Surface Pro X, however, delivers a vastly improved user experience, one that is especially beneficial to remote workers.

What makes it so good? For starters, all of the apps on the new Surface Pro X run a lot smoother, and with virtually no lag—including the newly included Chromium Edge browser. That performance boost seems, in part, to be the result of Microsoft’s new SQ2 processor, which also plays a role in improving the new Surface Pro X’s battery life.

Putting fast, reliable performance and good battery life aside, what really makes the Surface Pro X such a capable work-from-anywhere laptop is how well rounded it is. As a hybrid, the Surface Pro X is able to function both as a laptop and a tablet, depending on your needs. This versatility, combined with its powerful ARM-based architecture, means the Surface Pro X really is a machine that can help you do almost any job, anywhere.

MacBook Pro (Late 2020)

As good as the MacBook Air is for most remote workers, it’s not going to be perfect for everyone. Some remote users are going to need a laptop that can handle heavier, more extreme workloads. For remote workers who require a tremendous amount of power, we recommend Apple’s ARM-based 13" MacBook Pro.

MacBook Pro

Like the latest MacBook Air, the most recent MacBook Pro features Apple’s new M1 processor. The new chip upgrades the MacBook Pro to absolute performance monster, one that somehow manages to outpace its predecessor in nearly every category—a ridiculous feat when you consider the previous generation of the MacBook Pro was one of the most powerful laptop series in the world.

In fact, the MacBook Pro is so powerful, it might actually be too much laptop for a lot of users. If, for example, you are not someone who does a lot of heavy video editing or file rendering, you likely won’t get to see the MacBook Pro’s full potential. It can handle general and even creative workflows (including photo, video, and audio editing applications) without breaking a sweat. That’s not a bad thing. It just means that you might be better served by something with a little less horsepower—the MacBook Air, for example. However, even if you don’t need all that power right now, the MacBook Pro will not disappoint. And the fact that it is such a capable machine means it will continue to serve you well for years to come.

This wraps up our list of five laptops that can help you work from anywhere. If you have questions about any of these computers, or if you need help selecting a different device, please drop us a comment or question below.

8 Comments

I have several question I would like some assistance with. I'm torn between a Macbook Pro and a Mackbook air. I'm starting college and I would like to have something that have the power to manage various task and some light editing. I'm also thinking about the longevity of the device as well as the durable because I don't want something that won't give me a bang for my buck. What about the Swift 3/5 and the XPS line, aren't they some top contenders?

If you don't need to run software that's only available for Windows like many CAD applications, I suggest you to get the MacBook Pro with the M1 chip, 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage. It has better features than the Air; like active cooling, larger battery, wide-range speakers, studio-quality microphones, and a brighter display.

Either one will get at least 5 years of software updates, like basically every Apple device. Final Cut Pro and Lightroom already run natively on Apple Silicon, as well as the greatest alternatives to Adobe's subscription-based software; Affinity Photo, Affinity Design and Affinity Publisher.

Microsoft Office apps are also optimized for the M1 chip, but remember Apple's iWork apps come free with every device.

While Dell's XPS lineup is great, it isn't a good idea to buy any Windows entry-level laptop right now, not until the commonly come with AMD processors or ARM-based chips; just like it isn't a good idea either to buy an Intel-based Mac if you don't really need it, like the current 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Youtube channel Max Tech explains it better on its latest video "Why buying a Windows Laptop is a HUGE Mistake in 2021".

P.S. Remember you can get any Mac with an educational discount and the Pro Apps Bundle for Education that includes Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, Motion, Compressor and MainStage for just 200 bucks; for reference, Final Cut Pro costs $300 and Logic Pro $200 alone.

Antonio Z (below) makes a lot of really great points. As someone who has tested (or owned) both machines, I can tell you that MacBook Pro is really, really powerful. For me, it's probably more power than I need. The most taxing work I do is in Photoshop, which the MacBook Air handles very easily. So, if you're talking about what you "need" to do some light editing, the MacBook Air is my vote for the more fiscally responsible choice. That being said: I'm one of the few people on the planet who doesn't love the "airiness" of the MacBook Air. It's too light. I feel like I'm going to drop it and break it. Give me the added horsepower and added weight of the MacBook Pro any day. Now, as far as the Acer Swift and Dell XPS go. The Acer Swift 3 is a great midrange laptop, with better bang for your back than the Swift 5. If you're talking about last year's Dell XPS 13: well, that's one of the most powerful laptops you can buy. It's also super expensive, and rightfully so - that thing is a monster. Honestly, it's probably more than you need. If I was starting college again, I would go with the MacBook Air (if it didn't stress my wallet too much) or the Acer Swift 3.

This list is not good.  There are so many better options out there.  The fact that this is bhphoto and you left off things like the new Acer ConceptD Ezel line is just ridiculous.  I don't go anywhere without my ConceptD 7 Ezel with 8 core processor and RTX2080 Super running Studio drivers.  Nueral filters in lightroom and photoshop and AI in Black Magic Resolve can only be run on an RTX Studio driver right now.  Also one of the few powerful full touch laptops that is both Pantone validated, 100% Adobe RGB, and comes with a Wacom pen. That is just one example.  I could name several more that should be on the list before most of the systems listed here. Also, for photo and video work, you need something with a lot of hard drive space and memory.  Several you have listed here are severely lacking in that regard. 

Sir, this is a list of laptops for office work, not high-end ones for creative work.

Neutral filters in Lightroom and Photoshop work on any computer, specially on Apple devices, since they have Neural Engines built-in, the new MacBooks with the M1 chips have 16-core Neural Engines alone. The same applies to DaVinci Resolve, all running natively on Apple Silicon already.

Regarding the ConceptD 7 Ezel, while it is a good device and supports 100% of the Adobe RGB color gamut, it only displays 76.7% of the more robust and accurate DCI-P3 gamut and tops at 360 nits of brightness; while every Mac covers 97% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and brights at 500 nits (except for the MacBook Air, which tops at 400 nits). Not to mention the iPad Pro, which not only covers the DCI-P3 gamut as well, it also has less latency than most Wacom tablets thanks to its Pro Motion (120Hz) display and Apple Pencil integration.

So for light home office work the list is fine; however, for professional creative work the conversation is longer and more complicated.

Hi, Porfirio! I appreciate you commenting on our list. I don't disagree with your assertion that the Acer ConceptD is excellent. In fact, the ConceptD series was included in last year's list for several of the reasons you mentioned. The reason it wasn't included this time around has nothing to do with quality - it's still an excellent line of laptops, especially for creatives. These are just the five that really stood out for me - either the ones I use personally, or the ones I'm most excited about. Personally, I would still put a kitted out MacBook Pro against anything out there. I also think that even though it's torn between being a gaming laptop and creative tool, the MSI Creator 15 is a really solid rig. Again, though, that's my subjective take. You'll never hear me say one bad word about the ConceptD series - it's a great line of creative laptops and I'm sure the latest model serves you well. 

These might be cleanly styled and light, but it seems an oversight not to mention how many or what kind of ports each has. Remote work is often collaborative, with disk-sharing. Also, creatives also often need unusual hardware peripherals, sometimes more than one. Can each of these laptops load from a DVD handed to you by the remote client with it's built-in DVD or Blu-ray burner? If one can but the others can't, that's an important difference.

Optical units were left out of laptops over 5 years ago. Compact disks aren't the way to share files in this era, when one can simply and conveniently share a link to cloud-stored folder; that's precisely what remote work is about, how can it be 'remote' if you have to physically exchange physical-media devices? That's why different platforms offer integrated solutions for collaborative work, like Microsoft Teams + OneDrive or Google Meet + Drive.

Creative professionals use external storage such as SD cards and SSDs during production, and NAS HDDs to archive files. The laptops mentioned aren't intended for that kind of work anyway.

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