Whether you’re a web writer posting on WordPress on the daily or an upstart novel writer, you’ll probably want a laptop to do at least some of your work on. The needs, however, for a writer are different than the usual laptop categories like gaming laptops or even business laptops. A laptop for writers doesn’t need a super high refresh rate, high-powered processor, or any extra frills. It can have those, of course, and become a more multifunctional machine, but the core purpose of this laptop should be the production of copy, script, and story.
What follows is our attempt to boil the thousands of viable laptops out there into a list suitable for those entering the writing profession or hobby with earnest fingers and a sound mind. Writing is also a tremendous part of our profession, so we have trial and error to show what works. For example, your romantic visions of sitting in the coffee shop and writing for several hours will come true. However, the bulk of your most productive writing will almost certainly be done on your home desktop computer. The following list looks for balance between the desires of the laptop writing lifestyle and the reality that follows.
- Best overall:
- Best Apple:
- Best 2-in-1:
- Best for freelancers:
- Best budget:
At the time of this writing, our guide to the best laptops presents four primary factors to focus on when determining what laptop to get: Performance, Portability, Build quality, and Price. Without a doubt, those four factors are still important. For you, they may even be the most important. However, when looking at laptops for writers as a subset of all laptops, there are some things that hold more decision weight than they would on another laptops.
This category is not a surprise. What might be a surprise is that it isn’t all about cost and getting fancy. While you can write thousands of words a day on a super budget keyboard if it feels comfortable to you, there are some things that might be important to you later on that aren’t obvious now.
Consider what type of writing you’ll be doing to see if you’ll want a numpad. Whether you’re writing out numbers ($149, was $249) or blocks of data for analysis, straight up numbers are important. But even if you are a sci-fi novelist, the numpad makes keyboard shortcuts easier. For example, you can always do a double n-dash (–) to make an m-dash (—) but isn’t Alt+0151 so much more satisfying? Not to mention more accurate on character counts. Depending on your specialty, you may find others that are critical. Have a British editor? Ask for a raise in Alt+0163 British pounds. If this factor is important to you, be warned that numpads are rare on laptops.
Mechanical keyboard adherents may hate to hear it, but the traditional membrane keyboards (aka chiclet keyboards) commonly seen on ASUS or HP laptops are likely the way to go. Mechanical taps might be fun for you and make you sound productive, but won’t make you the most popular patron of the local library, coffee shop, or bookstore. Besides, low-profile keyboards can be nice in their own right.
Much simpler than the keyboard, ports are still important. You’re going to want USB-A, USB-C, and HDMI ports on your laptop. Preferably on both sides so you can lay out things in a convenient manner. For example, if you want an
for a second monitor on the go, make sure you have a USB-C connection on the side you usually set up your second monitor.
The trackpad can be a shockingly frustrating aspect of writing. Popping your cursor over select words isn’t too bad, but highlighting specific lines in a document can be super irritating if you have to hold the primary mouse button down while moving the cursor. Many a web writer has made the error of including a comma or period in their hyperlink as a result of using a bad trackpad when they should have been using a wireless mouse.
Webcam and mic (possibly)
If writing is a business in addition to a hobby or passion for you, you might want to consider the quality of your webcam and mic. For example, if you have a client that likes to hop on a call (which does happen) these can be indispensable. But don’t worry tremendously about this. Many, if not most, of your best clients will barely have an inkling of what your voice sounds like. And, unless you work in the incredibly lucrative Amazon beauty products affiliate niche, your clients are unlikely to care about your appearance. In other words, a good webcam and mic on your laptop are a possible nice-to-have, not a must.
The following laptops were picked by looking for laptops that are high quality that also emphasize the qualities that we outlined above. There’s also a heavy overlap between the laptops on this list and our other laptop buying guides throughout the site. It only follows that the best laptops for writers will be good for other purposes.
|Full, comfortable keyboard
|May be too large for some
|Lopsided port arrangement
|No extra frills
While run-of-the-mill HP laptops don’t exactly turn heads or make for exciting stories in the tech world, if you need to get your head together and just write, that’s a good thing. This is a serviceable laptop, with an affordable price, comfortable keyboard, and no fancy extras. While you can still comfortably watch YouTube videos on its 1080p screen, it isn’t about to become your next gaming laptop, which is ultimately a good thing.
If you want a numpad, this is a decent laptop that actually has one without getting stuffy in the keys. This is accomplished by making the laptop bigger than most, nearly 16 inches. This might make space an issue on small round tables at the local coffeeshop but shouldn’t be a problem. You should also know that the laptop has the typical lopsided port arrangement, with USB-A’s on the left and the USB-C and HDMI ports on the right, so plan accordingly if that matters to you.
|HDMI 2.1 connectivity and thunderbolt ports
|Quality webcam and mic
Apple’s MacBooks are a popular study and work machine already. They’ve never been known for being compatible with a wide array of games, they run well, and have historically been less virus prone than Windows laptops. Among the best MacBooks, the MacBook Pro 14-inch stands out for its quiet keyboard and decent power level. While you won’t get as much value out of the M2 chip as a writer as you would in other careers, it will still be valuable for any software you end up using.
For professionals, the 1080p webcam and three-mic array will be appreciated during client meetings. When you want to use a secondary monitor, you’ll appreciate the HDMI 2.1 connectivity, at least if you have the right HDMI cable for the job. The only downsides to this laptop are its cost, which is typical of MacBooks in general, and the lack of a numpad (also typical of MacBooks). But, at the same time, it has the MacBook quality you’ve come to expect.
|Choose your own keyboard
|Keyboard (“Type cover”) bought separately
|Easy to use kickstand setup
Writers are increasingly turning to 2-in-1 laptops for their work as people who have grown up with tablets are finally needing to type longer-form documents. There’s been a lot already said about the Microsoft Surface Pro 9, our top pick among the best 2-in-1 laptops. Our Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review praised it for its design, build, and premium features. It also took a kind look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 9’s most important feature for writers, the Type Cover keyboard.
This keyboard, which is bought separately from the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 will define how you feel about it. On the one hand, it allows you more keyboard customization than any other laptop as you can buy a
of your choice. But, on the flipside, you usually have to, as they’re mostly sold separately. The ability to remove the keyboard at will, however, can save it from the damage that it might otherwise get as you knock it about while using the 2-in-1 for tablet mode.
|Lightweight (under 3 pounds)
|Only 2 ports (USB-C thunder)
Your freelancing, despite how it may feel at times, is a business. As a result, you may consider treating yourself to one of the best business laptops. It is a high-quality machine that is small (13-inches) and super lightweight while still packing a punch in the specs department. Our Dell XPS 13 Plus review highlights the laptop’s unique design, lightweight chassis, and its upgraded (compared to prior models) webcam.
As a writer, you’ll likely be most interested in this laptop’s zero-lattice keyboard, which takes up the full horizontal space of the laptop’s base. The keys look unique and also feel unique, giving you 1mm of travel on each press before giving in to a satisfying clack. Equally interesting is the haptic feedback presented by the trackpad. Once you get used to it, it might help you line up the cursor better for precision copy-and-paste or other edits.
|Lacks power for other activities
|USB-A on both sides
One of the best budget laptops is the Acer Aspire 3, and it should also work out quite well for your writing career. It has a thin numpad to the side for when you need it, but won’t crowd out the all important letters if you’re the type that doesn’t like a numpad. We particularly appreciate this laptop’s inclusion of a USB-A port on both sides, making connections easy and convenient. While writing is usually software light, if you do end up doing software reviews, you’ll appreciate the Wi-Fi 6 the Acer Aspire 3 has, but don’t expect to have a great time writing game reviews on it, as it doesn’t have the GPU for gaming. Ultimately, this is a very serviceable laptop that will get the job done and keep you away from too many other distractions.
This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.