How to Pick the Best Laptop for Working From Home
For many, working remotely from home is the best office experience. In fact, 45% of full-time employees are working remotely, either fully remote or partially remote, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.
That means many of today’s remote workers will stay remote workers. At most, they may be required to go into the office occasionally or travel for work.
The traditional office is a thing of the past. Today’s workers need to be mobile, productive, and quick. That’s why a good laptop is so important – it’s the best way of being able to work remotely while still getting things done.
Maybe you’re new to remote work, or maybe you’re looking to upgrade existing hardware. Either way, you want the best laptop for working from home.
That’s where our guide comes in. Keep reading to find out what you need to look for when searching for a new laptop computer.
Decide How You Will Use Your Laptop
First, you need to decide how you will be using your laptop. The type of work you will be doing will determine how you will use your laptop, which in turn determines your laptop needs.
Light use: light use is for web browsing, email, social media, and organizing photos and files.
Moderate use: moderate use would be spreadsheet and document creation, web browsing, and streaming some audio and video.
Heavy use: heavy use would be for video and photo editing, creating graphics, and using complex programs.
Most employees working remotely will require moderate use of their laptops. However, freelancers or those who are using intensive programs like photo or video editing software will be using their laptops for heavy use.
Pick an Operating System
Next, you need to choose your operating system. The operating system is the program that manages and runs all of the other programs on your device. Without an operating system or OS, your device is useless.
There are 4 major types of operating systems:
For many, Windows is the defacto operating system. If you plan on using Microsoft apps like Outlook, Excel, or Word, Windows is a good choice. It’s also widely available for many laptops – more than any other operating system, and is widely supported by commercial software.
However, Windows can be pricier than other operating systems. Also, hackers often target Windows products because of how many users its has.
MacOS is Apple’s operating system. As a result, it’s only available for Apple products like MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads.
MacOS can be more beginner-friendly for those who are less tech-savvy. However, the fact that it is exclusive to Apple’s own products means it limits you in your hardware choices.
Chrome OS is a newer operating system, first released by Google in 2011. Chrome OS can be found on Chromebooks, which are laptops that operate on Chrome.
Chrome OS is very affordable. The devices that run Chrome are usually low-end devices. So while you can spend a small fortune on a high-end Chromebook, you don’t have to.
The downside is that Chrome OS is not supported by many programs. Some apps do have Android versions that can work on Chrome OS, but they don’t always work as intended.
Linux is an open-source operating system. That means the copyright holder allows anyone to distribute or change the software. Linux is free to use and install, which is a big benefit.
However, Linux has its drawbacks. Many software programs don’t support Linux, included popular commercial applications that you may require for work.
There are also many different distributions of Linux available. While this provides freedom of choice, it can be overwhelming deciding which one to install. In total, there are over 300 Linux distributions.
The processor acts as your computer’s brain. The more powerful your processor, the more complex software you can run. Most laptops feature either an Intel or AMD processor.
Intel is a very popular line of processors. Their Core series is their best series of processors. They are designed for power.
Lower-end laptops may use Pentium or Celeron processors, which are fine for basic tasks but lack the oomph needed for more demanding tasks.
Finding the right Intel processor can be confusing. To make it easier, they have released the Intel Evo platform, a defined hardware environment that is designed for performance.
AMD’s high-end line of processors is the Ryzen series. Like the Intel Core series, they are designed for power.
The AMD A-series is their value line of processors. For everyday tasks, they will get the job done.
What Processor Should I Choose?
So which processor is right for you? For most users doing everyday office work, the difference is nominal. But if you want to break it down, you can check out a guide comparing the two.
Next, you need to consider the memory you will need. Random-access memory, or RAM, allows your computer to run multiple tasks at once.
Most newer laptops will have at least 8 GB of RAM. Mid-tier and higher laptops will have 16 GB or more. With RAM, more is better – especially if you are doing intensive tasks like photo or video editing.
You also need to consider your internal storage needs. If your work is primarily online or stored in the cloud, you won’t need as much internal storage as someone working locally. Chromebooks, for example, often don’t have much internal storage, since users will primarily be using online services like Google Workspace.
Hard drives come in two flavors: traditional hard disk drives and solid-state drives. Traditional hard disk drives are affordable storage options. However, they add weight and create more noise than the alternative of solid-state drives.
Solid-state drives, or SSDs, are more expensive than traditional hard drives. However, they are lighter and faster. If you desire speed and can get by with a little less internal storage, you can find an SSD that’s affordable.
Form Factor and Ports
Are you only needing a laptop, or do you desire a tablet as well? If so, a 2-in-1 laptop, or a convertible, may be a better purchase. Convertibles often come standard with a touch screen, hence the tablet-like functionality.
However, a touch screen will also affect your battery life. If you don’t plan on transforming your laptop into a tablet, it’s better to avoid touch screens and get a little extra battery life.
You should also think about how you will use your laptop. If your working space will remain the same, the size and weight of your laptop won’t matter much. But if your work involves a lot of traveling, or if you plan on working in different rooms of your house, having a lighter laptop will be a bonus.
You may also want a laptop with lots of ports. An HDMI port will allow you to connect an external display, which is essential if you want to use a second monitor.
An audio jack will allow for connecting headphones or a microphone, which you may need, especially if you intend on having a lot of virtual meetings. Of course, a webcam would also be useful, so either look for a laptop with a good quality integrated webcam or purchase an external one that can be plugged in.
An integrated SD card slot will allow you to use SD and microSD cards. For most workers, this isn’t necessary, but if your job involves digital photo editing, having an SD card slot is essential.
Aside from those ports, you will want USB ports. USB-A ports are good for older, legacy devices. USB-C ports will allow newer storage and connectivity options.
Last but not least, consider your budget. Ultimately, this will be the deciding factor in your purchase choice.
You can buy an affordable entry-level laptop for basic purposes, or spend more on a more powerful machine that should last several years with minimal laptop issues. That means spending a few hundred, or even thousands, depending on your needs.
If you are a small business owner, you can budget computer equipment into your small business expenses. Save the receipts and deduct the costs during tax filing time. Whether you are an existing business or a startup, equipment and inventory are common expenses.
The Best Laptop for Working from Home
The best laptop for working from home is whichever one meets your needs. Consider what kind of work you will be doing, the operating system you need, and your budget. From there, you can look at other factors and determine which new laptop suits you best.
If you like this article, check out more in our Technology section.