There are currently about 281,300 people employed as authors, writers, and editors. On average, they make around $60,000 annually – so when it comes to tech, they need a reliable computer that they can depend on to get the job done, but won’t break the bank.
As writers, we know that the struggle to find a new computer (particularly if you’re stressed about the demise of your old one) is real. We all have different needs to be met so we can deliver articles and assignments at top quality, and this list of the best laptops for writers will enable you to do that. It’s been compiled to reflect the latest machines, and despite publishing towards the end of 2019, we’ll keep it current to reflect new releases as we go through 2020.
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What Writers Should Think About Before Buying
There are hundreds of models on the market, but some features are more important to a writer. Here are a few things to take into consideration before buying the best option.
Being on a tight budget doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get a good machine. There are several good models on the market so you can find an affordable laptop that doesn’t break the bank.
The good news is that as a writer, you don’t need an extremely powerful processor to support demanding software programs. Programmers, gamers, and photo editors might be interested in a high processor and RAM. Most writers can settle for middle-class laptops that they can use for browsing and writing.
While you’re busy attending meetings, working while commuting, and making a few edits before sending the final version of your article or novel, you need a reliable battery that won’t disappoint you. Having a long battery life is a big plus when you’re shopping for a laptop.
Finding a power outlet isn’t always easy and as a writer, as you might get your inspiration on the beach or while you’re on a plane. You won’t want to submit your work after the deadline just because you ran out of battery. You should make sure that spare batteries are easy to find so you can install a new one when needed.
Between getting inspired while enjoying your favorite cup of coffee and moving from your office to a quiet spot so you can write, you need a portable laptop that doesn’t strain your shoulders or back while carrying it around.
Laptops are either carried in backpacks or in laptop bags. This means that the weight of your laptop plays a crucial role while weighing various options so you can find the most practical one. We’ve included some tablets in our picks below, but there is always a portability tradeoff. In the case of tablets, it’s often with functionality – expect less support for popular programs.
A very heavyweight laptop that comes with several impressive features might be tempting, but it won’t suit your lifestyle as an author. As a matter of fact, you don’t need to buy a high-end laptop if it’s difficult to carry. Remember that you’ll go out of town and may often travel with your laptop. This means that it shouldn’t weigh you down.
With all the enthusiasm, you might press too hard on the keyboard. This means that you should stay away from a flimsy keyboard, even if the computer seems attractive.
You need to make sure that the keyboard is well-built so it can handle everyday writing. Moreover, the layout should be appropriate and intuitive so you won’t spend time trying to find the right letters. Backlit keyboards are practical because they can be used in various light conditions – there’s nothing worse than waking up your partner in the middle of the night when you have midnight inspiration and simply have to get those words down somewhere!
If you’re in the market for an external keyboard to go with your new laptop, check out our roundup here (though note that our top picks all have great keyboards).
To a writer, a computer is an investment that should provide value for a very long time (don’t forget it may also be tax deductible!). With very limited maintenance, a laptop should work for years delivering the same performance.
When it comes to reliability, laptops should excel at both physical reliability and software wise. This means that you need a durable and well-built laptop that can withstand everyday use. You’re going to take care of your laptop and you won’t throw it around. Nevertheless, you won’t always be around it so it must have a robust body. The hinges and the screen should be made of high-quality materials that don’t show any signs of wear and tear after a short period.
As one example, Apple products like the MacBook and MacBook Air are extremely reliable yet lightweight, so they’re quite practical. These machines feature a robust frame that doesn’t feel heavy or restricting.
As for the software, you have several options to consider depending on your personal preferences. Apple products use IOS, which allows the user to browse the internet effortlessly. You can download your favorite writing software to explore the full potential of the laptop.
Windows operating systems are the most popular choices for most users. While IOS might be more professional and polished, Windows is user-friendly and easier to explore. However, with Windows, regular updates to your antivirus software program are necessary. Otherwise, your laptop would be at continuous risk.
Chromebooks use the Chrome operating system that suits writers who browse the net regularly. The cloud-based storage system means that your data will be safe but you’ll need a reliable internet connection to access your memory. However, you won’t need to install a virus scanner so your laptop will be properly protected.
Best Screen Display
You don’t need a very professional display the way a gamer does. However, you need a reliable display that you can easily use while reading and writing.
The display should be clear and safe so you won’t feel strained after spending long hours working. Moreover, you have various options regarding the size so you can feel comfortable while writing. A small display means that your laptop will be compact and portable. However, it might not be the best option to consider if you get headaches or your eyes hurt after writing for a long time.
The Best Laptop for Writers in 2020: The Shortlist
Finding the right laptop might not be easy – we’re not all technical people, and the laptop selection process can be a minefield of jargon! This is why we have prepared a list of 10 of the best laptops for writers to consider. Check out these top picks, which offer decent keyboards, on-the-go qualities (including battery life and portability) and enough processing power to cope with what most journalists, editors, novelists and copywriters need to get done in the average day.
1. Acer Chromebook (Best Budget Pick)
Explore the full potential of a Chromebook in this practical laptop. It features a Celeron processor that allows you to use various software programs to embark on your path as a successful writer. Chromebooks aren’t for everyone (you can’t install standard software packages, for example), but everyone else seems to be moving to the cloud, and this is a fairly future-proof machine with which to do so.
This is a decent choice for a beginner thanks to the cloud-based storage system, so you can rest assured knowing that all your data is safe and accessible. Moreover, it’s what you can to consider if you’re on a tight budget since it costs less than $300.
The aluminum cover is robust yet looks polished and doesn’t show any fingerprints. It comes with an 11.6-inch HD IPS screen that might not be the best if you like to watch movies, but it’s definitely the best choice for someone who likes to travel and work away from home. Note that it doesn’t have a backlit keyboard – if this is a dealbreaker, the Acer may not be for you.
It comes with a built-in SD reader and features several ports, and the 3-cell lithium-ion battery lasts for up to 9 hours.
With only 2GB RAM storage, this computer might not support high-quality games. Nevertheless, it’s a good choice for freelance or professional writers because it weighs 2.43 pounds (1.1kg). Screen size isn’t incredible, but this is probably the best small laptop for writing, as it’s incredibly compact, measuring just 8.03 x 11.57 x 0.73 in for the 11.6″ version.
With pricing from a little over $200, the Acer Chromebook is one of the best laptops for writers who are on a budget.
What We Like
- Lightweight and affordable
- Easy-to-understand Chrome OS
- Built-in SD reader
- High-quality audio speakers and webcam
- Backlit keyboard
What We Don’t Like
- Processor isn’t very fast
- Display is small and quality isn’t that impressive
Best Budget Pick for Writers
It’s time to embrace the cloud. If you have a good internet connection and want a solid machine which won’t break the bank, consider switching to Google’s Chrome OS with this machine.
2. Acer Aspire E 15 (Our Overall Pick)
We think that the price, features and the portability of the Acer Aspire E15 make it the best laptop for writers, 2020.
You can (in theory) work for up to 15 hours on a single battery charge with this laptop, which makes it an excellent choice for busy writers who like to travel or work on the go. It comes with Windows 10 so it’s easy and straightforward to use even if you’re a beginner.
The i5 processor is fast enough to help you explore the full potential of the laptop without being too restricting. It’s not the fastest processor on the market, but the laptop is a decent choice for someone looking for a good choice for less than $1,000.
It features a 15.6-inch full HD display that doesn’t strain your eyes and delivers good image quality. The laptop looks smooth and streamlined to accentuate your professional look. Moreover, you can easily access it to upgrade the hard drive and memory when needed.
Work in any light condition with the help of the backlit keyboard. While working, you can still listen to your favorite songs thanks to the TrueHarmony feature. Watch your movies in exceptional visual quality and enjoy a sound that fills the room. You can also enjoy the NVIDIA GeForce MX150 Graphics to play some games in your free time.
If you’re looking for a lightweight computer, this might not be the right one for you as it weighs 5.27 pounds. Therefore, it might be be the best laptop for travel bloggers or photographers, or anyone else who needs to travel with their machine regularly (in fact we’d probably recommend a tablet to most people who need that). Nevertheless, it has a DVD reader and many USB ports that allow you to access various types of media files.
Note: There is a newer version of this model, the Acer Aspire 5. Unlike the E15, it doesn’t feature a DVD drive and it doesn’t have as much RAM, but it’s lighter and features a faster processor. If you don’t need a DVD drive and can afford the extra cost, it would be our recommendation.
What We Like
- Almost everything – price + functionality make this the best laptop for writers, in our opinion.
- Long battery life
- Professional look
- System components can be accessed and upgraded
- Plenty of ports
- DVD reader
What We Don’t Like
- Heavy weight
- Can’t adjust the brightness of the backlit display
Best Overall Pick for Writers
With a good keyboard, extremely long battery life, strong ungradeability and a competitive price tag, we believe the Acer Aspire E15 is a workhorse most writers should consider. It might not be the prettiest machine, but it’ll last.
3. Apple iPad Pro (Our On-The-Go Pick)
If you’re always on the go, you need a reliable and lightweight device that doesn’t need much maintenance. The Apple iPad Pro is effortless to use so you can access and edit files wherever you are (in fact, this post was largely edited using an iPad Pro).
It features a 10.2-inch or 12.1″ retina display that shows high-quality details in all light conditions. With Face ID on the Pro models, you know that your data is safe because no one can access your device without your permission (Touch ID works well too, so there’s no need to opt for these models purely over security concerns).
There are stereo speakers that allow you to enjoy impressive audio wherever you are. You can also take photos and make video calls thanks to the 8 megapixel (MP) camera and 1.2 MP front camera. There are limited ports compared to other devices, but it’s more compact and portable than most of the other laptops on the market.
Since this is an Apple product, you can access FaceTime and other iOS writing applications with no issues. The battery is built to last for up to 10 hours. The iPad weighs about 1 pound and connects quickly to WiFi – it often feels much more like an iPhone than a computer.
The smart keyboard design allows you to write, draw, and edit whenever you like. When not needed, it transforms into a cover for a compact and polished look. However, it might not be everyone’s favorite because it’s not quite ergonomic, and it’s not a backlit keyboard, unlike many of our other picks.
What We Like
- Lightweight iPad
- High-quality Retina display
- Hours of battery life
- Smart keyboard that transforms into a cover
What We Don’t
- Restrictive operating system – more of an iPhone than a computer
- Limited ports
- No backlit keyboard
4. Apple MacBook Air (Our Top End Pick)
Slightly heavier than an iPad, the MacBook Air is our top-end option for writers who like to work on the go – if you can afford one, we believe you simply won’t find a better laptop for writers.
It weighs 2.96 pounds so it won’t strain your shoulder or back if you choose to carry it all day long.
A backlit keyboard is standard, and although many users have complained about unpleasant experiences with other MacBook keyboards (most notably those built into the MacBook Pro), the MacBook Air’s keyboard record is unblemished.
If you’re an Apple user, this laptop will synchronize beautifully with your Apple Watch and iPhone to provide a seamless Apple experience. In general, Mac OSX is a better operating system than Windows, with fewer bugs and an easier-to-understand interface.
It features a 13.3-inch LED, backlit widescreen display that allows you to explore all the potentials of the laptop comfortably. It also comes with a fast i5 processor so you can access all your files and programs in no time.
The battery life is estimated to be around 13 hours, which is enough to last you for a full day away from your office. However, you may need to consider the limited memory of this device. The internal memory of the base MacBook Air is 128 GB, which might not be enough to store very large folders. Nevertheless, you can always save your important data to Apple’s iCloud, freeing up more space on your MacBook Air.
A sidenote on other Apple laptops for writers
Sadly, there’s no getting around it – Apple’s products are expensive. If you can afford them, great – we’d recommend this model without hesitation. But we chose this one for a reason so please bear the following in mind if you’re considering other Apple laptops:
- There’s a new 2019 MacBook Air model with a high-end display available, but we’re comfortable recommending the previous generation machine for writers, and it’s currently available at a discount. We don’t believe the improved display is worth the extra cash, for most writers
- We know the MacBook Pro is a popular choice (in fact, it’s our main workhorse). But it’s considerably more expensive than the MacBook Air, and comes with “pro” level features such as an improved graphics card and increased processing power. We don’t believe these are required for most writers or journalists (a blogger doing video editing is a different story)
- The 12″ MacBook was a popular choice, but has now been discontinued. Although it’s impossibly light and thin, it lacks useful ports and has a high price point considering the performance it offers – we can’t recommend it over the MacBook Air
- Apple’s popular iPad tablet range could be a viable laptop alternative for some writers – read our full review here – although we believe the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a better tablet pick for most writers
What We Like About the MacBook Air
- Reliable Mac product – arguably the best laptop for writers this year
- Compact and lightweight laptop
- Fast processor
- Synchronizes with several Apple products
What We Don’t Like About the MacBook Air
- Display quality isn’t exceptional on the previous-gen model
- Limited memory
Best High-End Pick for Writers
If you can afford a MacBook Air, you should get one. Apple’s quality means this machine should last for years, and the operating system is unrivalled in terms of stability and simplicity. It’s a breath of fresh air, especially if you’re moving from a cranking Windows machine. Blows most competitors out of the water.
This Chromebook from Asus can be flipped and used in various angles to cater to the needs of all users. It features a 14-inch full HD display with ultra-narrow bezels so it can fit in the footprint of a 13-inch laptop.
You can use this versatile computer in a tent, tablet, and stand mode to read and write comfortably. It features the Intel Core m3-8100y processor that supports various applications and tabs. This guarantees that your laptop won’t freeze even if you’re using several programs at the same time.
Using this laptop is easy as it comes with a backlit LCD. There are several ports that you can use to access media files. It features an aluminum body that weighs 3 pounds so it’s sturdy yet lightweight. It’s 0.6 inches thin so you can easily hold it in your hand. However, you should be careful while handling it because it’s not as robust as other models.
If you suffer from wrist pain, this will be an excellent choice due to the improved typing position. There’s a large touchpad with palm-rejection and multi-touch gesture support. The battery will last for up to 10 hours. The keyboard is difficult to read in very bright light but you can adjust it.
What We Like
- Adjustable positions to suit different needs
- Thin design that fits into any laptop bag
- Backlit LCD and keyboard
What We Don’t Like
- Keyboard is difficult to read in very bright light
- Some users might find it too thin
Nothing beats this model from Dell if you need a fast, reliable laptop. It features the quick i7 processor that handles tens of tabs and apps without jeopardizing its performance. You can also work for long hours thanks to the anti-glare, 15.6-inch LED-backlit non-touch narrow border IPS display.
The backlit keyboard can be seen easily in all light conditions so you can work wherever you like. Moreover, this practical laptop features several USB ports and an SD reader.
When you’re not working, you can enjoy cinema-quality audio while listening to songs or watching movies thanks to the 3D sound. It’s designed to eliminate buffering while streaming videos for the best experience.
Because it uses Windows 10, it’s an excellent choice for a beginner writer as it’s straightforward to use. This laptop can handle hot and cold temperatures so it’s a reliable choice if you travel a lot. If you have a Dell mobile, you can synchronize it with your laptop for an impressive experience.
It’s a heavy thing to carry around as it weighs around 6.25 pounds. The battery will last for up to 7 hours so you’ll need to recharge it if you’re spending the whole day away from the office.
What We Like
- Fast and reliable
- Anti-glare display
- Impressive visual quality
- Suitable for a beginner
What We Don’t Like
- Battery doesn’t last for long
You can rotate the laptop 180 degrees to find the most suitable position to write and read wherever you go. The dual speakers provide an immersive experience so you also can listen to songs while working.
This is a budget-friendly option with AMD Dual-Core. It’s reliable enough, so you can work or play all day long. It comes with a 14-inch anti-glare backlit display that allows you to see the tiniest details in all light conditions.
On a single charge, your battery will last up to 8 hours and 30 minutes. This might not be impressive enough but it’s a good choice given the price of the laptop.
Since it’s a Chromebook, all your data will be safe on the cloud and the storage requirements aren’t so burdensome. You can use different Android apps and enjoy a secure online experience. The laptop weighs 3 pounds so it’s suitable for busy writers who like to work away from home.
The keyboard isn’t backlit so it might not be easily visible in low light conditions. This is a basic laptop that doesn’t support some of the most advanced software programs.
What We Like
- Easy access for beginners
- Reliable processor and anti-glare display
- Cloud-based memory and compatibility with Android apps
What We Don’t Like
- Keyboard isn’t backlit
- Basic, with limited features
8. Lenovo Flex
This practical laptop is a reliable mid-range option featuring a 14-inch touchscreen for easy access. It comes with an active pen that you can use to write or draw wherever you are.
Equipped with the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Mobile processor, this laptop can stream videos and display photos and files in excellent quality. It comes with several ports and supports photo editing so you can have fun after you’re done working.
Windows 10 is installed and is automatically updated so you can browse the Internet safely. For maximum privacy, you can close the shutter of the webcam thanks to the TrueBlock feature. You’ll enjoy up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge. The battery charges up to 80% in a single hour.
Using the Lenovo is multiple modes is possible. You can use it in standard laptop mode, tent or tablet mode. It weighs 3.52 pounds. That said, there are some design flaws – the pen holder isn’t very impressive, and the SD card sticks out of the slot, so you should be careful while using it.
What We Like
- Touchscreen display with a pen
- Easy to use out of the box
- Privacy mode to shut off the webcam
- Multiple viewing positions
What We Don’t Like
- Pen holder isn’t impressive
- SD card is exposed when put into the slot
Weighing 2.76 pounds, this is a portable 2-in-1 device that can easily fit into your backpack. It’s elegant, thin, and lightweight so you can easily pack it if you like to work away from home. It’s one of the best options in our list, but it’s expensive.
The i5 processor is fast enough to support several programs and tabs, providing the user with the best experience. The battery is designed to last for up to 14.5 hours so you can spend the whole day away from the office.
Enjoying movies and media is possible, thanks to the 13.5-inch PixelSense display. It features a sharp resolution on the touchscreen. Even if you’re a beginner, you can easily use this laptop, as it comes equipped with Windows 10.
Although well-hidden, the speakers are designed to provide impressive sound quality. The palm rest will reduce strain so you can type for long hours, and there’s a pen that you can use to take notes and edit pictures conveniently if you get sick of typing.
Downsides? The power adapter feels flimsy, which is a bit disappointing given the price of the laptop (replacing it isn’t cheap). Also, the surface of the laptop scratches easily so you need to be careful while handling it.
What We Like
- Lightweight and thin laptop
- Interactive touchscreen with a pen
- Hidden speakers for impressive audio quality
- Battery lasts for 14.5 hours
What We Don’t Like
- Surface scratches easily
- The power adapter isn’t durable
Write, edit photos, and watch movies on the 10-inch PixelSense Display. This 2-in-1 hybrid is more of a tablet (much like the iPad Pro), but it is lightweight and portable, weighing 1.3 pounds, so it’s an excellent choice for a freelancer or a busy writer who likes to work away from the office. It features the Intel Pentium Gold that provides reliable performance while you’re using a few tabs and apps.
The laptop comes with Windows 10 in S mode so you can use it out of the box. There is a Windows Defender and parental control to optimize your performance while browsing the Internet and using several applications.
With fast charging, you know that your laptop will always be ready for use. The battery is designed to last for up to 9 hours. You can use this in tablet, studio, or laptop mode for more convenience.
You can customize the look of your laptop with different colored keyboards. It comes with a surface pen and Microsoft Office 365 so it’s a suitable option for a beginner.
You can’t use this for gaming or more advanced software programs, and it gets slow when you’re using a few too many tabs. Furthermore, the screen feels small compared to our other picks – after an hour or two, you’ll be squinting, which means we’d caution against picking this as your main machine. That said, as a useful companion for when you’re on the go, the Microsoft Surface Go is a strong pick and has already received some excellent reviews.
What We Like
- Comes with several options to support your work
- Fast charging
- Can be used in multiple modes
What We Don’t Like
- Too small for everyday work, more suited to light editing on the go
- Basic, and can’t be used for gaming
- Gets slow when you’re using too many tabs
Our Editors’ Picks: Laptops You Should Choose in 2020
Here is a quick summary of our top picks for writers in 2020.
Best laptop for writers on a budget: Acer Chromebook
A solid laptop which is easily our pick of the best laptops for writers under $300. If you need a larger screen, consider the 14-inch version, available from Amazon here. Chrome OS isn’t as powerful as Windows or Mac OS X, but it’s secure, stable and perfect if your budget won’t go any higher.
Best high-end pick: Apple MacBook Air
We’ve no hesitation in recommending the MacBook Air for writers, if you can afford it. A backlit keyboard and set of solid specs make this machine a dependable workhorse, even if you don’t plump for the latest generation, which features a better screen. Many writers will make the comparison to the high-spec MacBook Pro (more suited to video editing and photography, because of its higher processing power), but we’d still recommend the Air as the best Mac for writers today.
Best overall: Acer Aspire E 15
Easily one of the best laptops for writing, whether you’re working on a book, you’re a freelance writer on a budget or you just want a dependable machine that gets the job done.
Which laptop has the best keyboard for typing?
We recommend the Dell Inspiron or the MacBook Air, due to the attractive key travel distance and keyboard backlights.
Which laptop is best for freelancing?
The Asus Chromebook Flip is a lightweight yet robust option that won’t disappoint you if you like to move around.
What is the easiest laptop to use?
The Lenovo Flex is practical and comes equipped with Windows 10 so it can be used right out of the box. You should also consider the Asus Chromebook Flip, though it’s more expensive.
Is Chromebook good for writers?
Chromebooks run Chrome’s proprietary OS, which means they don’t need virus protection and don’t slow down with bloated software like Windows machines. They’re fully cloud-based, which means you don’t need to worry about losing work and they boot almost instantly. However, they require an internet connection to function fully, which can make them a pain when writing on the go.
Which MacBook is best for writers?
The MacBook Air offers a solid feature set at a reasonable price point, in our opinion. The MacBook Pro is more high-powered (and heavier), but for writers it’s probably overkill.
What does 2-in-1 laptop mean?
These are tablet/laptop hybrids, usually with a detachable or rotatable keyboard. This means you can use the screen as a touchscreen independently of the laptop itself.
We believe most of our picks offer the options to cater to the needs of all writers. Whether you’re a professional author or a new freelancer, you can find a suitable laptop that won’t disappoint.
Take a look at the several features, and you’ll definitely find a laptop that suits your budgetbest lapto. You can enjoy these laptops in or away from the office to pursue your passion as a talented writer.
Bethany McKay is a multiplatform writer, editor, and social media manager. She has more than a decade of newspaper experience and subsequent work in publishing, editing and organizing a variety of publications, such as reports, college textbooks, and science, law, and business books.