Best Laptops for Writers in 2021: Our Top Picks

Best Laptops for Writers in 2021: Our Top Picks

It may be fun to wax nostalgic about the days of click-clacking away at a typewriter or scrawling your novel into a leather-bound journal, but those romantic ideals are impractical for the modern-day writer.

Nowadays, a writer’s laptop is her best friend.

Like any best friend, a good laptop should be there for you through thick and thin, from bustling airports to cozy coffee shops, from the triumph of a strong WiFi signal to the heartbreak of no available outlets.

A reliable laptop lets you take your writing anywhere, whether you’re researching a freelance article or drafting your latest novel idea.

What’s the best laptop for writers?

If you’re wondering, which laptop should I buy? We’re here to help.

We rounded up the best laptops for writers based on categories that matter most to wordsmiths: affordability, reliability, portability, keyboards and more.

Most links to the laptops recommended below will take you directly to Amazon for easy shopping; that’s also a good place to read more reviews. But don’t underestimate the manufacturers’ websites if you want more information. You might also check the price there before you buy, since each laptop model comes with a wide range of options and Amazon’s prices vary from day to day.

Here are our picks for the best laptops for writers.

Most affordable laptop

Most of us are on a budget, especially if we’re just starting our freelance writing career or working on creative writing on the side of a day job. Laptops aren’t exactly known for being cheap, but you can find budget-friendly options if you’re willing to compromise on storage space and fancy add-ons.

Starting at $249.93, the HP Chromebook can’t be beat for affordability.

Writers will appreciate a processor that supports more speed for streaming and editing, plus the near 13-hour battery life. Although Chromebooks have small storage capacity and limited functionality without an internet connection, many users find the two years of access to 100 GB of Google Drive storage is good enough to make this laptop a stellar deal. (Oh, and offline functionality of Google Docs isn’t too shabby either.)

Up until recently, Chromebook couldn’t run Microsoft Word — while you still can’t download the traditional software, Microsoft’s Office apps for Android devices can now run on the newer Chromebook models that have the ability to download, install and run apps from the Google Play store.

Laptop with the best battery life

You’re at your favorite coffee shop making huge progress on your latest writing project. Of course, that’s the exact moment when your laptop’s battery indicator turns red, warning that you only have a few precious minutes before your computer shuts down.

Avoid the scramble for an open outlet at coffee shops, libraries and airports.

Instead, go with the full HD version of the Dell XPS 13 (starting at $899.99). With up to 19 hours and 24 minutes of continuous run-time, this versatile touch laptop will never leave you stranded with a dying battery.

Most portable laptop

Whether you’re a digital nomad who’s constantly on the move to the next freelancer-friendly city or a hometown writer who enjoys working from coffee shops, laptop portability is an important factor for many writers.

There’s no need to schlep a heavy laptop around when you have options like the Acer Swift 7 (starting at $1,499). Weighing under three pounds and nine millimeters thick, the ultraportable Swift 7 is ready to take your writing wherever the wind blows you.

Laptop with the best keyboard

Most people probably don’t think twice about their keyboard. Writers, on the other hand, can be obsessed with them.

A responsive, ergonomic keyboard is essential for writers, and not all laptops deliver.

For those who are picky and truly want the best laptop keyboard, it’s probably best to test-drive a few models in-store to get a feel for what you do and don’t like.

If you need a place to start, look no further than the HP Spectre x360 (starting at $959.99). The smooth, softly backlit keyboard gets rave reviews from users, who appreciate its deep and spacious keys amid the compact design. The trackpad also beats out many of its competitors with a wide touch area and satisfyingly firm click. And with two useful levels of backlighting, writers can create their next masterpiece from anywhere.

Most reliable laptop

A laptop isn’t something you want to upgrade every other year.

In most cases, the brand of laptop you choose has more impact on reliability than which specific model you go with. Overall durability, customer support and warranty options all come into play in this category.

Apple is well known for its excellent support staff, especially since the bountiful presence of brick-and-mortar Apple stores often means you won’t need to ship your computer to the manufacturer for servicing.

Try the classic MacBook Air (starting at $899) for a laptop that’s stood the test of time.

A strong PC brand is Asus, with helpful customer service reps and plenty of warranty options, including hardware repair and accidental damage protection, where users can make up to one claim per year for accidents caused by a drop, spill or liquid damage.

Their ASUS ZenBook 13 (starting at $975.32) meets the rigid MIL-STD-810G military standards for durability and reliability, so you know it’s tough. On top of that, the laptop was tested in harsh environments, extreme altitudes, extreme temperatures and humidity, and it passed all with flying colors.

In the market for a new computer? We’ve rounded up the best laptops for writers.

Laptop with the best screen display

No one likes squinting at tiny text on a screen they can barely see. A larger screen is particularly important for writers who need multiple documents open side-by-side or who are working through tedious revisions.

The best in show for top-of-the-line screen displays goes to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7 (starting at $899.99). Whether you’re watching webinars, Zooming across the world, or writing the next Great American Novel, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 7 lets you choose from several displays, including a full HD touchscreen or one with PrivacyGuard for screen security. The cinematic 4K Dolby Vision™ panel has high dynamic range technology that makes shadows and textures become richer on the 14-inch screen, which is a pro for any writer who’s tired of endlessly fiddling with brightness settings.

If you need a laptop with a stellar display that travels well, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (starting at $899.99) is your best bet. This laptop boasts a 15.6-inch display with vibrant and crisp optional 4K resolution that makes the anti-glare wide viewing angle a pleasure to use.

Best 2-in-1 laptop

Versatile 2-in-1 laptops give you the flexibility to interview a source with a lightweight tablet in the morning, then type up your notes on a full-sized keyboard in the afternoon.

Frequent travelers and journalists will especially appreciate how quickly a 2-in-1 laptop can transform to meet their needs at any moment.

The HP Elite Dragonfly (starting at $1,399.99) is an easy option for writers whose busy schedules require versatility. It’s not the cheapest 2-in-1 laptop out there, but the HP Elite Dragonfly doesn’t skimp on high-quality features that make it just as powerful as a traditional laptop. The powerful, yet thin and light design is complete with incredible speakers, a smooth keyboard and an optional 4K display

If you’re looking for a two-in-one that can pull its weight without breaking the bank, check out the Lenovo Yoga Book C930 (starting at $619) with a 360-degree hinge that allows for both conventional laptop and tablet-style operation.

Best laptop for entrepreneurs

Many writers consider themselves small business owners. We tap into our inner entrepreneur to find freelance clients, market our books and keep our business finances in order.

Entrepreneurial writers need a laptop that can keep up with whatever task they’re tackling, whether it’s creating a promotional video, researching a story or recording a podcast episode.

Apple lovers can’t go wrong with the MacBook Pro (starting at $1,299.99). This cult-favorite has been the top pick for entrepreneurs for years, and for good reason. The high-quality performance, Retina display in a variety of screen sizes (13 or 16 inches!) and excellent customer support make the MacBook Pro a classic choice for business-minded writers — especially with the radically improved backlit Magic Keyboard.

If you’re in the market for a PC, consider the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (starting at $649). This well-rounded laptop boasts the versatility of a studio and tablet, so you can type, touch, draw, write and work more naturally. Plus, the high-speed memory and performance can help entrepreneurial writers manage all their job duties.

Now you’ve got all the info you need to choose the perfect laptop for your writing life, no matter which features are most important to you.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

The original version of this story was written by Ashley Brooks. We updated the post so it’s more useful for our readers.

Photo via Jacob Lund / Shutterstock 

Filed Under: Blogging


  • Rupesh H says:

    Hi Ashley Brooks,

    You have added all the essential points which every buyer need to consider when they are going to buy a laptop for writing.

    The first thing which every writer should have to check in a laptop is its keyboard and then check its battery life, portability etc.

    Because for every writers and blogger need a keyboard which is comfortable and responsive.

    Thank you so much for sharing this tips. which is really helpful for laptop buyers.

  • I swear by my ThinkPad X220. I got it for $100, and I’m in love. The battery life is stellar – on this old stock battery that came with it, I get about 3 to 4 hours, and then another 6 or 7 on a refurbished 6-cell battery I got for $60. On the whole, it’s enough to get me through a work day for Android Headlines and give me a good hour or so to work on my songs and books.

    The highlight of the thing is the classic ThinkPad keyboard, perfected herein. I’ve laid hands on a range of older ThinkPads, and nowhere is the keyboard quite as divine as on the X220. It’s not backlit, but there’s always the ThinkLight for finding the function keys, and what kind of modern writer can’t touch type?

    The one drawback is the Wi-Fi. Jar the poor laptop around just a bit, like taking it off of your lap and putting it on a nearby table to get up, and the Wi-Fi will cut out until you reboot, in most cases. Replacing the Wi-Fi card didn’t do much good in this regard, but if you’re very gentle with it, it doesn’t happen too often. Even with how big a pain in the rear this is, I can’t bring myself to part with the X220. I got mine with a dock, so I could easily sell it and grab an older X201 or newer X230, but the X201 isn’t powerful enough for my other poison, gaming (sue me), and the X230 has the newer keyboard, which is widely regarded as trash. After handling a ThinkPad 13 Yoga, I agree.

    If you’re OK with working offline a lot, don’t have to regularly ditch your laptop in a hurry to chase toddlers away from dangerous or fragile objects (work from home parenting is sooooo rewarding), and want a good, no-nonsense laptop with a stellar keyboard, hop on eBay and risk a Benjamin on an X220. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Sarfraz Khan says:

    I have just bought a Chromebook and it’s very fast despite having low spec hardware. Definitely the best bang for the budget.

  • Prince Gupta says:

    Hi, Everyone,

    Recently i am purchased HP Laptop its ( HP I3rd 6gen). its a amazing feature and its a great Laptop for Working.

  • aneesh says:

    Great Article, thank you for sharing this useful information, this post helped me choose new laptop!

  • very nice idea Ashley, thank you

  • Writers will love this post as they will get to know the knowledge about the best laptops for their writing work. Wireless is the best option for them so that they can carry it anywhere easily.

  • Wendy says:

    My first laptop was a Compaq Presario 1600, and I loved it. When its hard drive finally gave out (after the touchpad keys died, one by one) I got an HP netbook. Got interested in learning Japanese, and found out the hard way that HP doesn’t like Japan ( I tried to enable the Asian language support; couldn’t get a certain folder to install; and when I contacted HP about it, was asked where in Japan I lived–and I couldn’t even say that I didn’t live in Japan. “Live in Japan” was a prohibited phrase on their help site!). The HP also developed severe thermal-issues with the keyboard (ever try typing when your “wertyuio” and “345678” keys don’t work?), which lead to the discovery that HP keys are very difficult to reattach if they every get dislodged from the keyboard. Now I’m typing on a Dell Latitude D620–my third, actually. I bought the first one with no battery, hard drive, AC adapter, or operating system, and since I invested in those, I better get my use out of them and bought a pair after the first one suddenly refused to boot. Dell #2 also developed thermal keyboard issues. My only real issue with Dell is that the touchpad is overly sensitive–I’ve inadvertently clicked away from this field twice now as I type (The HP had “palm touch” software to hep prevent accidental clicking while you’re typing, but I haven’t found and equivalent for Dell). If I move on to another laptop, I think I’ll be looking for one with a number pad.

  • Daws says:

    I just bought a 13″ MacBook Pro (the non-touch bar, 2017 model) and I’m in love with this thing. I think I let out an audible groan when I first typed on the keyboard. Feels really good and clicky and the touchpad is divine. I would highly recommend if you don’t mind the price/prefer Mac.

  • Neringa says:

    You forgot to mention one of the main criteria for choosing computer – a matte screen. Impotant for everyone working with a computer every day, especially if you do it in a place with many light reflections (eg, a cafe). And also strangely hard to find as the majority of laptops have glossy screens!

  • I love my Macbook pro, normally, but I’ve had a huge amount of trouble formating with Microsoft word for mac. My mistakes were not verifying fonts, formating early — to see what it would look like and using trackchanges with my editor’s PC, all of which added corruption. After months of trying other solutions, I eventually retyped all 220 pages in plain text, removed every evidence of Office off the computer and downloaded the 2016 version anew. Even then, headers and footers change size and numbering does not work right — unbelievable! I plan in the future to avoid Microsoft on the mac and format on an old PC.

  • Martin Harnevie says:

    Ergonomics have more than anything to do with key placement. Key things (pun intended) are:

    1. Ctrl should always be leftmost, because your little finger will need to find it quickly and without error to perform the various Ctrl+key commands. Those that place the Fn key to the left are banned.

    2. The arrowpad should have Home, Pg Up, Pg Dn, End as 2nd options. Placing those commands on the side or up on top is not comfortable; as it will force the typer to move his/her whole arm out of position.

    3. A second Fn button to the right like in some of the Asus and HP laptops is strongly desired. This allows the typer to operate the arrow pad with a single hand; he/she doesn’t need to stretch his hand from the leftmost Fn button over to the arrow pad.

    4. If keys are backlit, the intensity must be adjustable. The backlit of some laptops is so strong that it reduces the eye sensitivity, resulting in loss of concentration and missing out important things on the screen.

    5. The Caps Lock key should be sunken or otherwise be clearly recognisable by touch. Else it can lead to many annoying typing errors.

    There are not many laptops meeting all these 5 points. I am currently using the Asus Transformer T100 and T102 series which meet most of them. There is no key backlight on these though, but they allow faster editing since they have the right hand Fn button near the arrowpad.

    • Wendy says:

      You forgot the size of the backspace key. A writer needs a nice, big , backspace key. Back in the DOS days, I insisted on the backslash key being over the enter key, which–ironically–was harder to find back then than it is now that the backslash’s less important.

    • It’s awesome that you’ve got such a detail list of keyboard features that work well for you! I’ve fully adapted to my Apple keyboard since I’ve been using it so long, so but you bring up some good points to consider.

  • Pail Writer says:

    In my experience as a computer tech turned writer, I have found the Dell Inspiron line to be the best for writing. They are fairly light weight, have a long battery life (if you get a 9 cell or better) and are reasonably priced.
    I buy most of mine from pawn shops or eBay and do the upgrades myself. I have had a long fascination with the Mac line, but alas, they are just too expensive for a small 13 or 14 inch screen. I can get a Dell Inspiron 15 to 17 inch screen for a lot less money. (usually half the cost of a Mac)
    My advise to other writers that often find themselves working “off” the power cord and are concerned about battery life; get a long life battery, install Linux Mint and install a Solid State Drive (SSD).
    Linux Mint is as easy to use as Windows (version whatever) and has a much faster startup and shut-down time than Windows or Mac. On my older core 2 duo laptop, (yes it’s a Dell) booting into Windows 7 takes about 1 minute and 20 seconds with a top speed mechanical SATA drive. Booting into Linux on the same setup takes about 30 seconds. This is a great benefit for anyone hoping from home to a bistro, to the airport or wherever.
    The SSD drives are much faster, quieter and consume less power than mechanical drives. SSD drives consume about one forth the power of mechanical drives and when your concerned about battery life, it makes all the difference in the world.
    Just my 2 cents worth.

    • These are great tips—thanks for sharing!

    • Gary says:

      Pail Writer, your comment made my night. Not because of your advice, but your tech experience. I was in IT for 27 years, recently took early retirement and have moved into the realm of writing fiction. I currently write two blogs and have my first book in the hands of my copy editor. At times it has felt a bit lonely coming from the tech world into this. So great to see another person with a similar tech background.

  • As a writer who also worked in the design industry and had the opportunity to teach college classes in both fields, I’ve worked with a number of laptops by different manufacturers with different operating systems (and owned a few). In my experience, the best overall in terms of reliability, usable software, ease to get up and running, fewest crashes and lost data, remains the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air is a little less complete but is cheaper, lighter and (if you just write and don’t use graphic intensive applications) a good computer too.

    • All the designers I know are partial to Macbook Pros as well. I actually use a Macbook Pro myself (7 years old and still going strong!), but I’m thinking of switching to the Air when it’s time to upgrade.

      • Frances M Doyle says:

        My 3 yr old Mac book is freezing and Mac Word is hanging several times. I bought Mac for visual. I’m thinking of going back to Windows, though I like the Mac, it freezes too much and they are expensive. What I want, USB port for backups isn’t available on some Mac laps. I have an I-Pad that is not doing anything because there is no way to back it up on an external drive.

  • Tiffany says:

    I’d avoid Lenovo like the plague. I brought three different ones and they all failed within days of each other. End up getting a custom computer instead, pricey but worth every penny. A shame Toshiba aren’t as good as they used to as they were my number one choice of laptop back in the day.

  • I got the MacBook Air three years ago. I haven’t looked back since. I travel a lot and it fits in my small carry-on and the small tray at my seat on the plane. I write on my back patio, in my study, at the park, on a bench in the city……not a problem with the MacBook Air. It’s the best thing since sliced bread. I am pleased to see it made your list!

  • Since I move around a lot and am really not careful, I opted for a Lenovo 3 years ago. My old Dells never lasted more than a year. This Lenovo is banged up all over, I have dropped it, banged it on door frames. I’m not deliberately being hard on it, I’m just clumsy. Now I’m hesitating between changing the hard drive for an SSL, to make it even sturdier or just changing for a smaller one, but Lenovos, or Thinkpads for that matter, are it for me

  • i am HP loyal. my first laptop was an HP, off the shelf, and my current one is HP. had it custom built four years ago with my intended interior design career in mind. that career hasn’t happened, but i’ve got a cream-of-the-crop machine (HP Pavilion dv7.) it’s large, it’s heavy, but i like the full size keyboard.
    BONUS: i have a good friend who is my personal tech support!!!

  • I write on a 15″ 2008 Macbook Pro, using Scrivener and Word for Mac 2016. I’ve increased the RAM to 8gigs and it’s been great. However, Apple won’t support it for the newest operating system and so the time is coming for me to replace it. But I shall hang on as long as possible to my old friend even as Apple abandons us.

  • Jacqui says:

    Some good points to consider. With considerations such as these in mind, I’ve decided to replace my excellent but large and heavy laptop and my light but small and limited tablet with one ultraportable all-rounder. I’m going with HP x360 (Elitebook model, though the Spectre was in the running, as well as the MS equivalent). Hopefully it’ll be as versatile and beautiful to use as it looks!

  • Sherryl says:

    I have an old ASUS laptop (15″) and it has always worked well for me, except for one thing. It was too slow when the upgrade to Windows 10 came out. So, I install Linux, LibreOffice and carried on. There’s even a version of Scrivener for Linux.

    Write on!

    • New updates that slow down old computers are the worst! It sounds like Linux was a great workaround for you—and anything that supports Scrivener is a win in my book!

    • Robert Lenson says:

      The Linux version of Scrivener is not an updated version. Better to use the Windows version through Wine. Yes, you’ll have to pay for the license but it’s only $65, same price for Scrivener 3 that will be it shortly and you can always find a discount ticket somewhere.

  • Hello Ashley. I purchased a Microsoft Surface several years ago as I formerly was using a 17 inch computer. The Surface is compact, easy to carry (for a 72 year old with bad shoulders); performs well as a computer as well as a tablet; it has a detachable keyboard. It is great for travelling and for use in coffee shops, libraries. The battery life is phenomenal — I believe it 9 hours; but may start to fail at 6. I have been using this unit for approximately 4-5 years and it hasn’t failed me yet. I would recommend a Surface for anyone looking for a compact easy to use ‘laptop’.

    • I’m glad to hear you’ve found success with the Surface, Paulette! I was hesitant to include it here because it’s a little more expensive than similar tablet options and I personally don’t care for the typing experience on its keyboard. Thanks for sharing your good experience with it!

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