The Write Life’s Top Picks: Best Laptops for Writers

The Write Life’s Top Picks: Best Laptops for Writers

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.

(Unless, of course, you’re writing longhand to get your creative juices flowing.)

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.

We rounded up the best laptops for writers based on categories that matter most to wordsmiths.

Check out our top picks to find the laptop that’s perfect for your writing needs.

Note: The links to the laptops recommended below will take you directly to Amazon for easy shopping. Because each laptop model comes with a wide range of options and because Amazon’s prices can vary from day to day, we suggest you check out the manufacturers’ websites if you need more info before making your purchase.

Most affordable

Many of you are on a budget as you start your freelance writing career or work on creative writing on the side. Laptops aren’t exactly known for being cheap, but there are budget-friendly options if you’re willing to compromise on storage space and fancy add-ons.

Starting at $399, the ThinkPad 13 Chromebook can’t be beat for affordability.

Writers will appreciate the comfortable keyboard and 10-hour battery life on this lightweight laptop. Although Chromebooks can’t run Word and they have limited functionality away from an internet connection, many users have found that the offline functionality of Google Docs is good enough to make this laptop a stellar deal.

Best battery life

You’re at your favorite coffee shop making huge progress on your latest writing project. 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 ThinkPad T470 (starting at $881.10). With up to 18 hours of continuous runtime, this laptop will never leave you stranded with a dying battery.

Most portable

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 MacBook Air (starting at $999). Weighing just under three pounds and less than three-quarters of an inch thick, the Air is ready to take your writing wherever the wind blows you.

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 about their keyboards, 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 Dell Inspiron i5567 (starting at $599.99). This backlit keyboard gets rave reviews from users, who appreciate its spacious keys and responsive typing feedback.

Most reliable

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 (starting at $1,299) for a laptop that’s stood the test of time.

A strong PC brand is Lenovo, with helpful customer service reps and plenty of warranty options, including accidental damage protection. Their rugged ThinkPad 13 (starting at $549) is designed to handle everyday wear and tear like a champ.

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 Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW (starting at $1,499). Its 4k touchscreen display delivers images with four-times the quality of HD, and the 15.6” screen is perfect for anyone who values display size over portability.

Best 2-in-1 option

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 Dell Inspiron 13 5000 (starting at $499.99) is an easy option for writers who want versatility. Its pricetag makes it more affordable than similar hybrid laptops, and its backlit keyboard and quality screen resolution seal the deal.

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.

Do you have a favorite laptop or brand that hasn’t failed you yet? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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!

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27 comments

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!!!

  • 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 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Good point! If glare is a problem, it’s probably easier to find an anti-glare screen protector rather than finding a computer with a matte screen. You can find some pretty affordable options on Amazon.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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