Searching for the best laptops for digital nomads?
Look no further! We’ve been digital nomads since 2018 and this is something Matthew and I have debated for a while. Spoiler Alert: one of us won and converted the other, you’ll see below. 😉 We have researched far and wide to find the best laptop for remote work that also suits our full-time travel lifestyle.
It’s wrong to think:
“I need the best, lightest and most powerful laptop as a digital nomads”.
To be honest, the majority of digital nomads don’t need a fancy laptop (unless you work in some lucrative industry). The most important thing when looking for laptops for digital nomads is that it works well, it’s reliable and it’s durable/long-lasting. Oh and it should probably be able to handle the nature of your work, you know that’s kind of important. 🤪
It’s as simple as that.
Laptops are a big investment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether you are just starting your digital nomad journey or you’re already on the road – it’s a good idea to take the time to think, research and weigh all the options before purchasing.
But how ever do you choose from the ample amounts of laptops available?
That’s why we’ve created this curated list of the best laptop for digital nomads to help you narrow down your choice – no matter what line of remote work you’re in and whichever travel adventures you’re going to embark on.
After all, your laptop is literally going to fund all your travels lol.
QUICK ANSWER: Best Laptops For Digital Nomads In 2022
Have a specific need for your laptop?
Here is the quick answer for the best laptops for digital nomads by need:
- Overall Best Laptop For Digital Nomads: Macbook Air
- Best Laptop For Digital Nomads Who Code: HP Spectre 360 or Macbook Pro
- Best Laptop For Digital Nomads Who Write: Macbook Air
- Best Laptop For Digital Nomad Who Design: Microsoft Surface Pro
- Best Laptop For Digital Nomads Who Edit Videos: Macbook Pro
- Best Laptop For Digital Nomads Who Need Versatility: Dell XPS 13
- Best Laptop For Digital Nomads On A Budget: Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop
What To Look For In A Laptop For Digital Nomads?
Before we get into the details of the best laptops for digital nomads, we need to make sure we are looking at the right features.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before purchasing a laptop for remote work:
- “Does my line of work need certain features? If so, what are they?”
- “How fast will I be traveling as a digital nomad?”
- “What’s my maximum budget to spend on a laptop?”
- “Ideally, how long do I want this laptop to last me?”
Now that you’ve answered all those, you might have a better idea of what to look for in a laptop, right? These are some features you definitely want to consider too:
Most digital nomads prefer a lightweight laptop for one simple reason: they don’t want to carry a brick around the airport, to the coworking space or anywhere really! That’s why everyone chooses reasonably lightweight laptops that can easily slide into their digital nomads backpacks and won’t weigh them down.
You don’t want a heavy laptop that weighs more than 4.5 pounds. Most of the laptops for digital nomads weigh much less than that (unless they need a super powerful one for work). I wouldn’t go any lighter than this because you might sacrifice in other areas.
💻 Screen Size
When searching for the best laptops for digital nomads, people often forget to think about screen size. Personally, we love a 13″ screen size because it’s compact enough but big enough to work (and stream Netflix, let’s be honest).
You could go bigger than that but only if you need to. The screen size ultimately dictates what your laptop can fit into – and if it’s a 16″, it’s not much! Matt used to have a 16″ and we went shopping for backpacks which can be pretty difficult as it rarely fit into any of the ones we tried. It’s also just chunkier and inconvenient to carry around!
The best laptops for digital nomads are fast and reliable. I mean it’s not like you’re making your entire living from this machine…oh wait 🤪
How to tell if a laptop is fast/performs well? Simply – it needs to have an Intel Core i7 chip, M1 chip or better. You also want a higher core, higher GHz or MHz which might cost a little more but you need to make the investment – no matter how painful it is for your wallet.
Ever find yourself in a foreign country needing to buy a new laptop? Yeah, it’s not fun. You won’t want to do that every couple of months or years.
You need to buy a laptop that will last you years (at least 2). Otherwise, it’s just a bad investment. Matthew and I have had ours for nearly 3 and it’s still going strong!
You can’t have all the ports you want, that’s just the reality. Matthew and I succumbed to this and bought an adaptor stick on Amazon to support all the ports we do need which has worked fine for us!
Apparently, USB-C ports are what most laptops are starting to convert to and that’s all we have on our laptops.
🔋 Battery Life
The longer the hours of battery life, the better.
We love to work from cafes which is why a long battery life makes all the difference. Our laptops last around 4-5 hours without charge which is very decent. Matthew used to have a cheap laptop that wouldn’t even last an hour without charging and it sucked! If you buy the laptops on the market now, they usually have long hours of battery life around 15-21 hours!
This is the short-term storage in your laptop that allows it to run and access information, faster. Who does this matter to exactly? Well, if you are a designer running tons of apps at the same time or a 4k video editor or anything similar – you’ll want to upgrade your memory to at least 16GB.
For most digital nomads, 8GB of memory/RAM works just fine! Note: you might need to upgrade later which is possible for some laptops (but not all).
💻 Laptop vs Tablet
Should you go for a laptop or a tablet? We’ve seen many digital nomads convert to a tablet to make their lives more minimalist and simple but it always seemed to make it harder.
One of our friends had an iPad Pro + a keyboard + a mouse + hard drive. That’s much more stuff in the end than a simple laptop! But it might be what works best for you and your lifestyle. It’s good to imagine yourself and your setup to see which is best for you – a laptop or a tablet.
10x Best Laptops For Digital Nomads in 2022
As a digital nomad, your laptop is your life. We’ve been able to see 30+ countries, tick off our bucket list and work from anywhere because of this one device. Buying the right laptop is such an important decision that you need to take the time to choose wisely.
Here’s a curated list of the best laptops for digital nomads to help you narrow down your choices.
1. Macbook Pro – OUR PICK
Our choice for the best laptop for digital nomads is the…
*cue the sighs from non-Mac users*
You might be thinking “oh great, another Mac user” and you’d be right BUT hear me out. It’s the best laptop for digital nomads because it’s lightweight, compact, powerful, has long battery life and lasts years. My previous Macbook before I upgraded lasted me 7 years – yeah 7!
We currently have the Macbook Pro 13″ inches with the Touch Bar. We don’t recommend this model because the new ones are much better with the M1/2 chip and they also don’t have the totally unnecessary touch bar. We recommend the new MacBook Pro 14″ for a really powerful laptop that’s got long battery life (up to 21 hours) and it might be a little heavier but it’ll last you for years to come!
Matthew was anti-Mac before and he used to have this Dell laptop that had short battery life (eventually always needed to be plugged in) and it was only a year old. A Macbook Pro will last you for years to come and it’s likely to be powerful enough for most types of work.
Best Laptops For Digital Nomads That Are Lightweight
Want the best laptop for digital nomads that’s not going to weigh a ton of bricks?
When you’re a digital nomad you’re going to be carrying your laptop on your back everywhere you go. Whether it’s to the airport, the cafe or the coworking space – your laptop is coming with you anywhere!
If you want to save your back from stress and carry a lightweight laptop, these are the best choices for you:
2. ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultra-Slim – Compact & Lightweight
- Weight: 2.6 lbs
- Screen Size: 14″
- Battery Life: up to 14 hours
- Starting Price: $1,190 USD
Want a thin, lightweight laptop that’s still pretty powerful?
Introducing…the ASUS Zenbook 14 Ultra-Slim.
The ASUS Zenbook 14 Ultra-Slim is probably the lightest option at only 2.6 lbs! This is a great option if you want a super portable laptop. It’s a slightly bigger screen size at 14″ but it’s amazing how they have still made it super light.
The sleek design and screen-to-body ratio make it a compact laptop that won’t weigh you down or take up too much space on the table. And if you’re worried about the ports – they designed it so you will never need an extra adaptor. You’ve got an audio jack, HDMI, 2 USB ports, USB-C and MicroSD card reader – literally every connection you could need!
This is one of the best laptops for digital nomads looking for a powerful and lightweight laptop.
3. Macbook Air with M2 Chip – Powerful & Lightweight
- Weight: 2.7 lbs
- Screen Size: 14″
- Battery Life: up to 18 hours
- Starting Price: $1,499 USD
Apple just released their new Macbook Air and I must say – it’s very tempting!
With the new M2 chip, it becomes a really powerful laptop without all the weight of a Macbook Pro. It solves a lot of problems for digital nomads and bridges the gap between powerful and lightweight!
If you don’t need a crazy powerful laptop, the Macbook Air is the overall best laptop for digital nomads. It’s lightweight at only 2.4 lbs which makes it comparable to the ASUS Zenbook Ultra-Slim. As a Mac lover, I would choose the Macbook Air over the ASUS but that’s a personal preference!
Best Laptops For Digital Nomads That Need (Tons Of) Power
Don’t mind a little extra weight if you get a more powerful laptop?
These are the best laptops for digital nomads that want higher memory/RAM, storage, longer battery life and higher core/chip.
4. Razer Blade – Most Powerful Laptop On Here
- Weight: 3.92 lbs
- Screen Size: 14″
- Battery Life: up to 7.5 hours
- Starting Price: $2,479 USD
Razer is a well-known company for developing powerful gaming laptops. If you want the most powerful laptop – it’s truly hard to beat the Razer Blade 14!
But it’s starting to become a popular option amongst digital nomads because of its high performance, it’s very fast and reliable for years to come. The Razer Blade is built with the Core i9 chip processor and a 360 Hz refresh rate! The graphics are very impressive which makes it great for gaming or watching cinematic movies.
With great power comes great sacrifices – the Razer Blade is slightly heavier and doesn’t fit into the lightweight category. It’s also got a way shorter battery life than its competitors on this list at only up to 6 hours of battery life. I guess it makes sense the more powerful the laptop, the faster the battery life decreases.
The price definitely reflects the power as well and it’s a serious investment that you’ve got to be confident to take on.
5. ASUS ROG Zephyrus – Fast & Powerful Laptop
- Weight: 5.73 lbs
- Screen Size: 17.3″
- Battery Life: up to 7 hours
- Starting Price: $2,999 USD
Looking for a powerful laptop?
It doesn’t get much better than gaming laptops.
Gamers constantly need the best of the best in terms of performance and graphics.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core i9 processor cooled by liquid metal and a massive GeForce RTX™ 3080 GPU running at 140W (with dynamic boost). All of this is displayed on a beautiful looking 17″ screen.
In fact, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus is a key competitor to the Razer Blade. The mechanical keyboard is responsive and comfortable to type on. It also adjusts up and down for your convenience.
Regardless of what work you do – The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 should be able to handle it without trouble.
With high specs and a big 17″ screen, you will have to make some concessions on portability. It weighs a hefty 2.6kg which is to be expected with a gaming computer at this level.
Best Laptops For Digital Nomads That Are Versatile
Looking for some that’s a little more versatile for all kinds of work environments?
Check out these laptop for digital nomads that will go with the flow and work for you!
6. Dell XPS 13 – Good Price That’s Reliable
- Weight: 4.34 lbs
- Screen Size: 13.3″
- Battery Life: up to 8 hours
- Starting Price: $1,749 USD
The XPS series has long been Dell’s flagship offering.
If you need a laptop that offers a high level of performance but doesn’t compromise on versatility – the Dell XPS 13 is a good option.
One of the stand-out features is the price vs features ratio.
Dell XPS 13 comes equipped with a 13.4″ Full HD display and a fast Intel Core i7 processor, which makes it perfect for crush work, handling bigger software and watching on the go. The battery life is also excellent, lasting up to 13 hours – perfect for those cafe work sessions, right?
A digital nomad laptop needs to be durable and able to power on and off quickly.
Dell has introduced a new press-fit hinge sensor for its XPS 13 laptop that allows you to open the lid of the laptop with a single hand and have it power up in milliseconds. No waiting here, just lift and get to work. The lid is also made from a single sheet of aluminum which means it’s far more durable than most laptops.
You also get a decent size 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM so you should have plenty of space to store your files and can keep all of those tabs open at the same time.
Dell XPS 13 really can’t be beaten in terms of value for money. You get the same quality spec as the best 13″ laptops on the market without the heft price tag.
7. Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Versatile, Flexible & Ultra-Lightweight
- Weight: 1.96 lbs
- Screen Size: 13″
- Battery Life: up to 16 hours
- Starting Price: $1,199 USD
Not a Mac person?
Or maybe you just don’t want to fork out the extra $500 for an Apple logo? We get it…
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has to be the biggest contender to the latest Macbook Air and iPad Pro.
You get the power of a laptop and the versatility of a tablet, making it perfect for digital nomads constantly traveling. The Surface Pro 8 has a beautiful 13″ touchscreen with the famous built-in kickstand.
All of this is bought together with the award-winning detachable keyboard. The Signature Keyboard features a rugged aluminum chassis that protects against drops and scratches while still looking elegant. Its slim profile makes it easy to carry around and use anywhere you go – perfect for travel.
In our opinion, this is the best detachable keyboard available for any device at the moment.
The first Surface Pro 8 is built on the Intel Evo platform and delivers decent performance, graphics, and long battery life in a thin frame. It features an Intel Core-i5 processor and 8GB of ram.
While this is far from a top-line computer, it’s more than powerful enough to handle word processing, video calls and online streaming.
Microsoft has been working hard on their Surface Slim Pen 2. It now feels very close to writing with a real pen on paper. While we don’t think it is as good as the Apple Pencil, it’s a pretty close second and is great for design, surfing the web or taking notes.
The Surface Pro 8 does kick a lot of goals with creative flexibility – especially for designers that need a laptop as well, not just a tablet.
If you are looking for a solid-performance laptop that can also be used as a tablet – there really isn’t anything better than the Surface Pro 8.
8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – With Great Power, Comes Great Versatility
- Weight: 2.49 lbs
- Screen Size: 14″
- Battery Life: up to 11 hours
- Starting Price: $2,023 USD
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop delivers a solid combination of performance, responsiveness and battery life.
The ThinkPad X1 is the perfect digital nomad laptop for remote worker digital nomads that need a little bit of extra power and longevity.
While the ThinkPad X1 isn’t the cheapest digital nomad laptop, it’s also not the most expensive. The price you pay means you’re getting good value for money on performance and versatility.
First of all the ThinkPad X1 is super thin and very light. This makes it easy to transport around with you and easily whip it out when you need it. And just because it’s thin doesn’t mean it’s not sturdy.
The ThinkPad X1 has passed 12 different military durability tests to ensure that works even in more extreme conditions. This is a unique feature that means your laptop will be liable no matter what your digital nomad lifestyle throws at you.
So design is excellent, what about performance?
Lenovo has also built the X1 with remote workers in mind. It includes two upward-facing speakers and two downward-facing woofers for excellent sound quality. The laptop also features four far-reaching 360° microphones and a high-definition camera for excellent sound pick-up and visual clarity.
Bottom line – Those remote meetings aren’t going to be an issue.
The base model ThinkPad X1 comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 vPro processor, 16GB of ram and 512GB SSD for plenty of storage. You can also expect up to 16 hours of battery life.
Not bad, right?
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is a great digital nomad laptop for those that need a tough laptop designed to work remotely in lots of different locations.
9. Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop – Touch Screen Laptop
- Weight: 4.99 lbs
- Screen Size: 14″
- Battery Life: up to 12 hours
- Starting Price: $598 USD
On a budget?
Lenovo Flex 5 offers a very affordable 2-in-1 laptop that is about as low in price as you can get but still offers decent performance. The conversion into a tablet is a real bonus for versatility.
While you won’t want to edit photos and videos on this digital nomad laptop, It’s perfectly fine for most tasks like word processing, surfing the web and watching movies online.
Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop has a beautiful looking 14″ FHD Touch Screen Display that is surprising how good it actually looks. It features an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD. You also get an AMD Radeon Graphics card so on-screen elements still look pretty crisp.
All sounds good so far?
It’s true that the Flex 5 has incredible specs and performance for the price point you pay. But when you look deeper there are some concessions to be made.
The Flex 5 is also a little chunkier and slightly heavier than other laptops. But the benefit is that you won’t need a dongle to connect other devices and hard drives. It has two USB-A ports, a USB-C port, an HDMI port and an SD card reader.
Even though it’s not the slimmest laptop on the list, the fact that you can flip it around into a tablet still makes it usable in cramped spaces such as on a flight.
The screen also isn’t as bright which means you’ll get a bit of glare if you’re using it outside. The battery life is also on the low side but still decent at about 9 hours.
The Flex 5 could be considered the starter digital nomad laptop. If you are on a tight budget and still need decent performance, the Lenovo Flex 5 is one of the best digital nomad laptops you can get.
10. iPad Pro – Compact, Flexible & Powerful
- Weight: 1.03 lbs
- Screen Size: 11″
- Battery Life: up to 10 hours
- Starting Price: $799 USD
Yes – the iPad Pro isn’t really a digital nomad laptop.
So why is it on the list?
Short answer – we’ve met a ton of digital nomads that use the iPad Pro as their only “laptop” device.
iPad is probably the most versatile tablet available. And the iPad Pro is far more powerful than most people think. If you combine iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil or Apple Keyboard – You’d be surprised with what you can accomplish.
Here’s what I mean:
Firstly, iPad Pro has the new Apple M1 chip which means it’s powerful enough to handle a lot of heavy tasks like:
- Basic video and image editing
- Word processing
- Watching online
- Video calls
And so much more. Some of our friends even use it for coding. That’s a pretty diverse range of activities for a tablet.
The only limitation is that you will be using apps for all of your work. If you need a program that doesn’t have the app, you’re out of luck.
Even with the Keyboard and Apple Pencil – it’s easily the thinnest setup on this list. You can work on a plane, at a cafe or even on the beach. The compactness opens up a ton of places for you to work.
iPad also has solid enough battery life for up to 10 hours. It charges much faster than most laptops so you won’t run into any issues with the battery.
If you are thinking the ditching the laptop for a tablet – iPad is as good as it gets.
The Best Laptops For Digital Nomads Are…
With the travel lifestyle, we’ve concluded that the best laptops for digital nomads have 2 elements:
- lightweight and
You want to find the balance between something that is portable but can perform well for the tasks you need to get work done. For us, the Macbook Pro works perfectly! If you do make the switch from Windows to the OS operating system – it might take you some time but it’s worth it, in our opinion!
Not a Mac lover? Fair enough! The best option for you would be the ASUS Zenbook which is extremely lightweight but still very powerful for most types of work.
Which is the best laptop for digital nomads, in your opinion? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!