The best overall macOS laptop for remote workers is the MacBook M2 Pro or Air. Windows and Linux users will find the Framework as the best option. Read on to learn why I selected these options.
I’ve dealt with several laptops to suit my remote work life. I want to help you find a laptop that fits your workflow best.
You’ll find the following points throughout this piece:
6 Best Laptops for Remote Workers, Digital Nomads, & Expats Compared
|Name||Framework||MacBook M2 Pro||Lenovo ThinkPad X1||Dell XPS 13 9310||Acer Swift 3||Acer Predator Helios 300 300 15 PH315-55|
|Avg. Battery Life *||7 hrs||17–20 hrs||20 hrs||14 hrs||16 hrs||7 hrs|
|Weight||>2.8 lbs||2.8 lbs||2.55 lbs||2.8 lbs||2.65 lbs||5.51 lbs|
|RAM||Varies||16 GB||16 GB||8.0 or 16 GB||8.0 GB||16 GB|
|CPU||12th Gen Intel Core||Apple M2 Pro||Intel Core i7-1165G7||Intel Core i7-1195G7||Intel Core i7-1165G7||Intel i7-8750H|
|OS||Windows or ChromeOS||macOS||Windows||Windows||Windows||Windows|
|Graphics||Iris Xe Graphics||Integrated||Intel Iris Xe Graphics||Intel Iris Xe Graphics||Integrated||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060|
|Storage||Varies||256 GB||1.0 TB||2.0 TB||256 GB||256 GB|
1. Framework Laptop: Best Overall
- Portable & slim
- Easy to assemble & upgrade
- 1-year warranty
- Tailor ports to your workflow
- Keyboard reminds me of Mac keyboards
- Doesn’t ship to many countries
- Not many bezel or keyboard customization options
- Not the most bass in speakers
- Screen hinge isn’t stiff
The Framework laptop is best for non-macOS users who want a long-lasting device they can repair or upgrade whenever.
|Operating System||Windows, ChromeOS, or bring your own|
|Avg. Battery Life *||7 hrs|
|Weight||>2.8 lbs (1.27 kg)|
|Screen Size||13.5” (34 cm)|
|RAM||8.0 GB–64 GB|
|CPU||12th Gen Intel Core|
|Webcam Quality||1080p 60fps|
|Wi-Fi Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 6E w/ vPro|
Instead of buying a new laptop, or paying an excessive amount to repair your current one, why not just replace the parts yourself? Without having to spend hours on YouTube learning how.
Framework offers laptops customers can upgrade and repair themselves. Think of it like building a computer. But with fewer parts. It isn’t as powerful as the new MacBook’s M2 chip, but you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to fix it.
You don’t need tech savvy to build or replace your laptop. Having trouble? Each part inside the computer has a QR code that’ll show you how to install it. Framework doesn’t like to throw customers under the bus.
I recommend getting the DIY edition. It’ll save you around $300.
Instead of coming with pre-installed ports, choose your own ports with Expansion Cards. These expansion cards have ports you’d regularly use (e.g., Ethernet port) built into a card. You’ll install the card into a Thunderbolt port on your laptop.
And laptops can support 4 of these ports at a time. However, you can swap the cards whenever. Say you’re going to a coffee shop. Swap out the Ethernet port for a SD port. You will need to pay for each Expansion Card individually.
The biggest pro with Framework laptop acts as a double-edged sword. If the company were to fall under, you’d have nowhere to get replacement parts. Unless third parties made them.
Just see an example of what it’s like to build a Framework laptop:
Framework is still a new(ish) company. Meaning, they likely don’t have keyboard and bezel customization as their priority. However, it’s something I hope they add later.
2. MacBook Pro M2 Pro: Best Runner-Up
- M2 chip delivers stellar performance
- High-quality webcam
- Retina display: great for design work
- Requires you to buy a dongle or Thunderbolt dock to use more ports
- Notch display design is an eyesore
- Extra $20 for faster charging
The MacBook Pro M2 has exceptional performance with its M2 chip, which has performed better than almost all AMD and Intel processors in some tests .
MacBook Pro specs:
|Avg. Battery Life *||18 hours|
|Weight||3.5 pounds (1.59 kg)|
|Screen Size||14.2” (36 cm)|
|GPU & CPU||Apple M2 Pro|
|Ports||x3 Thunderbolt 4, SDXC, HDMI, & headphone jack|
MacBooks integrate well with people who use other Apple products. For instance, a MacBook could use an iPad as a second monitor using the Sidecar feature. But that doesn’t make up for the lack of ports this device has.
I love ports. And I don’t want to shell out up to an extra $300 on a decent dock that allows Ethernet connectivity and USB 2.0 ports. But I usually work at home and use many peripherals. And prefer Ethernet connectivity.
What’s the notch display design?
Do you see that annoying little box in the upper-center portion of your screen? That’s what I’m talking about. Imagine trying to read browser tabs with that block covering your text.
If you don’t mind a smaller screen and less performance, the MacBook Air M2 costs less, yet gives you fantastic performance compared to most laptops. I’d use the M2 Pro for video editing and other heavy-duty tasks.
Or for games that are optimized for Mac processors.
The MacBook Pro has HDMI, headphone, and 3 Thunderbolt 4 ports. The Air has a 3.5 mm headphone jack and 2 Thunderbolt ports. Regardless, you’ll need a dongle to use USB 2.0 devices, which is most devices.
3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 9th Gen.: Best Lenovo Laptop
- Great battery life
- Fantastic performance
- Poor heat management
- Integrated graphics card isn’t the best for design work
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon has exceptional battery life and specs. Making it ideal for working remotely in almost all fields.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 9th Gen. specifications:
|Avg. Battery Life *||20 hours|
|Weight||2.55 lbs (1.15 kg)|
|Screen Size||14” (35 cm)|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-1165G7|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|Ports||HDMI, x2 USB 3.1, headphone jack, USB-C (USB 4), Thunderbolt 4|
I said “almost.”
The i7 processor will perform most tasks well, but not intensive video editing, 3D modeling, and online gaming.
4. Dell XPS 13 9310: Best Dell Laptop
- Thin & portable
- Lack of ports
- Dark & low-quality webcam
- Bluetooth issues
It doesn’t have the best webcam, or even many ports, but it’s a lightweight laptop that’s good for working away from home.
Dell XPS 13 9310 specs:
|Avg. Battery Life *||14 hrs|
|Weight||2.80 lbs (1.27 kg)|
|Screen Size||13.4” (34 cm)|
|RAM||8.0 GB or 16 GB|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-1195G7|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|Ports||x2 Thunderbolt 4, MicroSD card slow, headset jack|
The laptops I mentioned earlier offer much more value: better performance, more battery life, and decent portability.
I’ve heard of some people dealing with overheating issues on the first day of receiving their laptops. However, your device should run smoother once you download your Windows updates. Many have complained about Bluetooth randomly malfunctioning.
But some have suggested that updating your drivers will fix this issue.
5. Acer Swift 3: Best Budget Laptop
- Plenty of ports
- No SD card reader
The Acer Swift 3 is the best laptop under $1,000 that offers specs good enough for most remote work tasks.
Acer Swift 3 specs:
|Avg. Battery Life *||16 hours|
|Weight||2.65 lbs (1.2 kg)|
|Screen Size||14” (35.5 cm)|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-1165G7|
|Ports||USB 2.0, HDMI, USB 3.2 (gen. 1), Thunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 (gen. 2), audio jack|
The 8.0 GB of RAM isn’t great for video editing or gaming. And the lack of an SD card makes this device unsuitable for photo editing.
The 16 hours of battery life, 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) connectivity, and SSD make it phenomenal for writers, virtual assistants, and other non-intensive computing tasks.
And it has ports. You could connect external keyboards and mice.
6. Acer Predator Helios 300 15 PH315-55: Best Gaming Rig
- Upgradable storage & RAM
- 144 Hz display
- Dedicated GPU
- Plenty of ports
- Noisy fans
- No SD card reader
Choose the Helios 300 for gaming, since it has a dedicated graphics card and 144 Hz refresh rate for monitors. Making gaming smoother. The Ethernet port also gives you a wired internet connection, which is more reliable than gaming (or working) over Wi-Fi.
Acer Predator Helios 300 15 PH315-55 specs:
|Avg. Battery Life *||7 hrs.|
|Weight||5.51 lbs (2.49 kg)|
|Screen Size||15.6” (39.6 cm)|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060|
|Ports||Ethernet, USB 3.1, USB 3.0 MicroSD reader, HDMI 2.0, headphone jack, USB 2.0|
The Helios 300 isn’t portable or energy-efficient.
But it’s your best option if you’re looking for a laptop for gaming and remote work. You’ll need to game with your laptop plugged in at all times. Because of the 144 Hz refresh rate, or intensive graphics and computing tasks will wreak havoc on your battery life.
The vast number of USB 2.0 ports makes it great for connecting peripherals.
Get this laptop if you’re a digital nomad or an expat working remotely. It’s affordable and portable enough to shove in your bags when moving to a new home base.
If you don’t intend on moving often, I recommend building a PC. You’ll get more bang for your buck and have exceptional quality. But you’ll also set your wallet on fire. A 144 Hz monitor could cost you a lot.
Work From Home Laptop Requirements
The specs you’ll need depend on your line of work and the software required.
For instance, if you use Adobe Photoshop all the time, you’d want to aim for 16 GB of RAM, a GPU younger than 7 years old, and other higher-end specs .
Folks that don’t edit videos or deal with 3D modeling should consider these specs:
- RAM: 8.0 GB: I recommend 16 GB if possible
- CPU: Intel Core i5 or higher
- GPU: integrated/Intel Iris Xe Graphics (or Mac M1)
- Storage: SSD hard drive with at least 256 GB of memory
- Webcam: 720p
Aim for these specs IF you’re not also using your device for gaming. Devices that you’d also use for gaming require dedicated graphics cards. Otherwise, you’ll likely have low latency. I tried playing World of Warcraft Dragonflight on my laptop, and had 15 ms of latency.
Remote Work Laptop Buying Guide
Consider these factors when shopping for a laptop for remote work:
- Your workflow
- Battery life
- Webcam quality
I’ll cover each factor in-depth.
1. What Type of Work Will You Do?
Graphic designers, video editors, engineers, and similar fields will require laptops with higher-end specs. Such as dedicated GPUs, top-tier CPUs, more RAM, and better monitor resolutions.
Professionals in these fields are better off building their own computers. Unless they go for Macbooks with M1 Pro or higher processors.
Most other career fields can get away with laptops or less powerful specs. Refer to the “requirements” section above. Whatever specs you’ll need depends on your software’s requirements.
Or your employer’s demands.
2. Battery Life
Those working away from a plug outlet will want a laptop with at least 8 to 10 hours of battery life. To keep you going through the entire workday.
Battery life will vary based on the tasks you perform and screen brightness. Windows users, for instance, would have much more battery life by running their devices in battery saver mode. Otherwise, you’ll want to stream background music and videos at lower quality and have a lower brightness.
If you usually work with background noise, consider offloading running YouTube or Spotify on a phone or tablet. And don’t keep so many tabs open on your laptop.
If you’re working in a coffee shop or cramped coworking space, built-in laptop keyboards will usually work fine. They’re also portable.
I recommend getting an external keyboard. And here’s why:
- Replaceable: replacing laptop keyboards can cost a lot
- Prevents wear-and-tear on your laptop’s keyboard
- Better for ergonomics: move your screen further from your face
- It prevents dandruff & sweat from seeping into your laptop
Consider getting a laptop stand. To raise your device to eye level. This reduces the likelihood of getting tech. neck from looking down at your laptop all day. And may prevent future trips to a doctor.
It’s probably not the best idea to use a laptop keyboard while it’s mounted. Unless you also want to increase your risk for carpal tunnel. That’s why external keyboards also are better.
I wouldn’t go for laptop sizes under 13”. Otherwise, you’ll strain your eyes. Unless you connect a monitor to your laptop, you don’t have many options for large screens.
If you frequently visit coworking spaces, coffee shops, or wherever remote workers go, you’ll want something that could fit in your bags. But when opting for more portable devices, you sacrifice performance and screen size.
And you’ll strain your eyes more with a smaller screen.
Understand all the specs you need for your line of work, then search for a laptop. I recommend buying new devices in any scenario. If that’s out of your reach, consider getting a refurbished model.
Look out for these red flags when shopping:
- No product feedback
- Has a history of recalls
- Super low price
- Missing pieces
- Generic images
Avoid buying laptops from in-person meeting sites like Craigslist. You’ll increase your risk of buying a stolen or broken laptop.
And if laptops are out of your budget, consider building a PC. You could get high-end parts in many scenarios much cheaper than with a laptop. Plus, they’re interchangeable. Meaning, you won’t have to deal with laptop repairs.
But since it’s a tower, you can’t work on a beach in Bali like most digital nomads dream of doing. That doesn’t stop you from trying, though.
Random access memory (RAM) stores your device’s short-term memory. The more RAM you have, the more multitasking you can engage in.
Suppose you’re like me and have a million Google Chrome tabs open at all times. I have 16 GB of ram and use 56% of my memory. And my job is to write blog posts and research. Use that as a benchmark.
You’d probably need 8.0 GB or less as a writer.
Otherwise, here are additional suggestions on how much RAM to get based on your job :
- HD & FHD video editor: 16 GB
- 4K video editor: 32 GB
- CAD/3D renderer: 32 GB
- Online gaming: 16 GB
- Virtual assistants: 8.0 GB
Getting more RAM boosted my productivity a lot. I had 4.0 GB of RAM to work with before and couldn’t have many tabs open without pages slowly loading.
Your employer may tell you how much RAM your device should have. Use that recommendation. Or check out the hardware requirements for software and go for the recommended specs.
8. Processor (CPU)
A central processing unit (CPU) is your brain’s computer. The better your CPU, the faster it can complete tasks. But figuring out a CPU’s power comes from a couple of features:
- Cores: a CPU’s processor that deals with computing tasks
- Aim for at least 4 cores if possible
- Clock speed: measurement for your CPU’s speed
- Aim for at least 4.00 GHz
Avoid laptops that use Celeron or Intel Pentium CPUs. They’re outdated and will result in a slow workflow.
You’ll want to follow this CPU hierarchy:
- Apple: M2 Max > M2 Pro > M2 > M1 Max > M1 Pro > M1
- M1 Pro and above are equal to Intel Core i7 processors
- The M1 offers a bit better performance than the i5
- AMD: Ryzen 9 > Ryzen 7 > Ryzen 5 > Ryzen 3
- Intel: i9 > i7 > i5 > i3
CPU-intensive tasks like video editing, 3D editing, and engineering will require intel i7 (or Ryzen 7) or better CPUs. Intel i5 (Ryzen 5) will work fine with non-CPU-intensive tasks like content writing and data entry.
You could shoot for an i3 or Ryzen 3.
9. Operating System
Here are the operating systems to choose from:
- macOS: operating system you’ll find on Apple laptops
- Best for design work
- Linux: various open-source operating systems
- Best for network engineers
- Windows: default OS for most laptops
- Best for gaming
Some games are optimized for macOS. And Linux offers options for people to play Windows-focused games on their operating systems. But I won’t emphasize further in this guide.
macOS works better for designers since its retina screens present crisp fonts and images. However, you can’t game with it, which is where Windows comes in. It’s also fine for most other uses.
To be honest:
I don’t know much about Linux operating systems. And I don’t want to pretend I know. If you’re a Linux user reading this guide, you likely already know why you need Linux.
10. Webcam Quality
Having a laptop with at least 2.0 megapixels will help ensure employers can clearly see you during your video call. In most cases, 720p web cameras will work well.
Since it’ll still give you high-definition video and not require as much network bandwidth while calling over video conferencing software. Most laptop webcams won’t give you livestreaming-quality video recording.
You’d need to buy a separate camera.
If you’re paranoid like me, I recommend getting a laptop with a built-in webcam cover. Or cut a tiny trip off a sticky note and tape both sides of it to your device. I don’t recommend slapping tape directly over your web camera, though.
Because the adhesive residue may ruin your webcam’s quality.
Check out these FAQs covering laptops for digital nomads and remote workers.
What Are the Most Important Features to Consider When Choosing a Laptop for Remote Work?
The most important features to consider are your remote work laptops specs, warranties, battery life, and repairability.
What Are the Best Laptop Brands for Remote Work?
Most people agree that Apple’s laptops are the best laptop brand for remote work.
Is It Necessary to Have a Laptop with a Large Screen Size for Remote Work?
It is not necessary to have a large laptop screen for remote work. Unless you’re a graphic designer or video editor.
What Type of Processor Is Best for Remote Work & Why?
Intel i5 and i7—or AMD Ryzen 5 and 7—are the best CPUs for remote work. Since they balance power efficiency and computing power.
How Much RAM & Storage Should a Laptop for Remote Work Have?
Most remote workers only need 4.0–8.0 GB of ram. Video editors working with 720p and 1080p videos require 16 GB. Video editors working with 4K UHD video, and those working with 3D rendering, need at least 32 GB.
Are Laptops with Detachable Keyboards Better for Remote Work Than Traditional Laptops?
Detachable keyboards are better for remote work in an ergonomic sense. Since you’ll have to strain your neck by looking down at your laptop.
Is a Dedicated Graphics Card Necessary for Remote Work or Is Integrated Graphics Sufficient?
An integrated graphics card is sufficient unless you need to perform CPU-intensive tasks like video editing, 3D rendering, and gaming.
What Is the Best Operating System for Remote Work: Windows, macOS, or ChromeOS?
macOS is considered the best because of the computing power its M1 and M2 chips offer. It’s also less susceptible to malware, unlike Windows.
Don’t rely on a guide written by a stranger to tell you what type of laptop to get. Use it as a reference. Figure out the hardware requirements your employer or software has and find a laptop that checks off every box.
You should check out other software and hardware I’ve reviewed for digital nomads and remote workers. You may find something that’ll improve your workflow.
* Battery life will vary. Tasks you perform, screen brightness, whether you have animations enabled, and various other factors will impact your performance.