A laptop is a digital nomad's lifeblood. I mean, how are they supposed to be digital if they don't have a digital device? That wouldn't make any sense. If you want to become a digital nomad, you'll need a laptop to create an income stream online.
The laptop puts the digital in digital nomad. It is how they make their living, and it empowers them to travel the world while working remotely. Any full-time traveler worth their salt will make sure they have the best laptop available to keep them on the road.
We've purposefully kept this list short. We want to help you eliminate options so you can find the best laptop to travel with, not give you more options, and have you settle on a mediocre laptop.
These are the best laptops for digital nomads that we've found that are lightweight, have a long battery life, and have the computing power for most remote work tasks.
If you are going to be working remotely while traveling full-time, there are certain things you'll need in a laptop.
You'll need something lightweight but powerful. While you want a powerful laptop, you also want it to have long battery life. You will also want your laptop to be portable but large enough to be usable.
You can find a few cheap laptops out there that are lightweight but will hardly open a web browser (I know because I've had a few of these.) Or, you'll find a powerful laptop, but the battery life is so horrible you might as well have bought a desktop because you're constantly connected to the wall anyway.
My wife once bought a cute little laptop that had a 9" screen because she wanted something portable to travel with. (Ok, maybe I was the one that bought it for her, but I am trying to forget that fact.) It was handy to carry around and not be cumbersome, but when you went to use it, you couldn't see anything on the screen. After the address bar and toolbars filled the screen, all you could see was about 3" of the webpage at a time. It was useless.
These are the best laptops for digital nomads that are powerful, lightweight, portable, and have long battery life. They will be able to accomplish most tasks that remote workers will need their computers to do.
MacBooks are a great choice for nomads because people are familiar with them around the world. People love them and enjoy using them. Also, if you need one repaired it won't be hard to find someone with the ability to repair it no matter where you are.
If you're looking for a MacBook, the MacBook Air makes it to the top of our list. It is lightweight and powerful - plus it has an astonishing 18-hour battery life! That is impressive, I mean, I can hardly stay up for 18 hours!
It features Apple's new M1 system which essentially integrates all of the processor and graphics components into one tiny chip that is faster than previous MacBooks. Basically, that's Greek for "this is one fast machine".
Personally, I would like to see the MacBook Air have a little more memory, but at 8 GB of memory, it is about average. However, with the M1 Chip, the memory is unified with the CPU and GPU which increases performance. So that is a plus.
In the past, I've always seemed to max the memory out when I only have 8 GB. Then again, I'm the type of guy who has 40 browser tabs open, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, and Microsoft Excel all running at the same time.
It comes with a 256 GB hard drive which should be more than sufficient. If you need more than 256 GB, all of your important documents and photos should be backed up either on an external hard drive or uploaded to the cloud anyway. If you wanted a larger hard drive, you can get the Air with a 512 GB hard drive.
It also features a 13.3" Retina screen which is plenty big enough to make the screen usable yet small enough to make it portable. It's also lightweight at 2.8 pounds.
Display: 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2560-by-1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch
Processor: System on Chip (SoC) Apple M1 chip; 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores; 16-core Neural Engine
Graphics: Apple 8-core GPU
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Hard Drive: 256 GB
Weight: 2.8 Pounds
Dimensions: 11.97" x 8.36" x 0.63"
Battery Life: 18 Hours
If you're looking for longer battery life (you know, in case 18 hours doesn't cut it for you), the MacBook Pro boasts of 20 hours. This is great for those long layovers or flights from the UK to Australia.
The system is about the same as the MacBook Air's specifications. The only real difference is the battery life, and the MacBook Pro has a touch bar and touch ID.
Looking for the maximum portability yet with all the power of a laptop? The Surface Pro 7 is a great choice. The keyboard is detachable and it has a touch screen so you can use this laptop as a tablet if the need arises.
With an Intel Core i5, it has the power and speed to meet the requirements of most of the work digital nomads do. It has 8 GB of memory which is on par with most laptops and computers of this grade - it is neither impressive nor lacking.
It has a decent battery life of 10.5 hours and, importantly, a fast charge rate. It only takes a little over an hour to charge the battery to 80%. That's an important feature for digital nomads as you often don't know when or how long you'll have power when you're traveling from one location to the next.
At only 1.7 pounds, the Surface is the lightest laptop on our list and is probably the most travel friendly of them all. It can do most tasks and is a very capable machine. I highly recommend it for digital nomads.
Display: 12.3-inch (diagonal) touch screen, 2736 x 1824 resolution
Processor: Intel Core i5
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Hard Drive: 256 GB
Weight: 1.7 pounds
Dimensions: 12.8" x 2.68" x 9.21"
Battery Life: 10.5 Hours
If you're going to use your Surface Pro for photography or video editing, or other similar tasks that require a bit more computing power, I'd recommend upgrading. You can get the Surface Pro 7 with a larger processor and more memory.
I'm always a fan of faster computers, so even if you're not going to use it for video editing, getting a faster computer isn't a bad idea.
You can get the Surface Pro 7 with 16 GB of memory and an Intel Core i7, which is a great performing laptop. Even with those additions, it is still the lightest laptop on our list.
The hands-down best laptop for digital nomads looking for a windows operating system is the Dell XPS 13. Personally, this is my preference for a laptop. I prefer Windows over other operating systems and I've used Dell computers for a long time and have never had an issue with them.
The Dell XPS 13 has a spacious, yet still compact, 13.4" touch screen. While a touch screen isn't going to make or break a laptop, it does add a nice touch (pun intended). They also say that it has an Eyesafe display, meaning it reduces harmful blue light - it might reduce it, but it doesn't eliminate it.
They built this laptop tough. It is designed to take a beating (not literally, so don't try that). The screen is made from integrated Gorilla Glass and is damage-resistant, while the body is made of aluminum and carbon - not plastic. All in all, it is a durable laptop.
The processor on this machine is also robust with an Intel Core i7 10 generation processor with speeds up to 3.9 GHz. It also has great graphics with Intel Iris Plus.
It has an excellent memory capacity of 16 GB and also has a 512 GB SSD hard drive.
You should be able to accomplish any task you'd need to as a remote worker. From video and photo editing to blogging and web design, this laptop will easily complete those tasks.
While one of the heaviest laptops on this list, but on par with the MacBook, it is still light at 2.8 pounds. It also has a battery life of a little over 12 hours.
Display: 13.4-inch (diagonal) touch screen, 1900 x 1200 resolution
Processor: Intel Core i7, 3.9 GHz
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus
Memory: 16 GB RAM
Hard Drive: 512 GB
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
Battery Life: 12 Hours
The Dell XPS 13 has an option for a 2-in-1 screen that folds back so you can use it as a tablet, which could be handy for digital nomads. That option comes with 32 GB of memory.
If your business is all online and you only need limited offline out of the Chrome browser capability, then you could consider a Chromebook. To get the most out of a Chromebook you will need to be connected to the internet. If you're always in a place that has an internet connection, it shouldn't be a problem.
The Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook for digital nomads. They are made by Google with Chrome OS in mind and they seem to run better than other Chromebooks made by other companies.
The basic M3 Pixelbook comes with a 13.3" touch screen display. A touch screen on a Chromebook is a huge bonus because you can download almost any app that you could on an Android device.
The processor isn't as fast as other computers on this list, but it is still a decent processor considering you're really only browsing the internet. It has an 8th Generation Intel Core m3 processor and 8 GB of memory.
The hard drives are small on Chromebooks and the Pixelbook is no exception, with only 64 GB of storage space.
All in all, for the price, if you just need a laptop to blog or use internet applications, the Google Pixelbook Go is a great affordable choice for remote workers.
Display: 13.3-inch (diagonal) LCD touch screen, 1920 x 1080 resolution
Processor: Intel Core m3
Graphics: Integrated into the processor
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Hard Drive: 64 GB
Weight: 2.3 pounds
Dimensions: 12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches
Battery Life: 12 Hours
You can upgrade to the Pixelbook i5 if you are looking for a faster computer. It comes with an Intel Core i5 and 16 GB of memory. It also has a larger hard drive at 128 GB instead of the 64 GB on the m3.
Choosing the best laptop as a digital nomad is more than just selecting the one that suits your fancy. While there is a little user preference involved, you should look at what you're going to be doing with it and how you're going to travel. Determine what your nomadic lifestyle is and take that into consideration when you purchase a laptop.
This list should cover the best laptop for just about every use you will have while working abroad.
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Until next time, Happy Coddiwompling!