For most writers, CPU performance isn't really important, as text formatting requires very little processing power. As long as you can open a dozen or more browser tabs simultaneously along with a few applications without the system bogging down, it's enough to handle a writer's typical workload. The user experience is far more important. You'd want a thin and light laptop that you can easily carry around, long battery life, a sharp display that doesn't tire your eyes, and a spacious and comfortable keyboard. Fortunately, there are tons of ultraportable laptops on the market that check all those boxes. This article will help you narrow down your options and, hopefully, help you choose the right laptop for your needs.
We've bought and tested over 60 laptops. Below you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops for writers you can buy. You can also see our recommendations for the best laptops, the best Chromebooks, and the best Windows laptops.
The best laptop for writers we've tested is the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022), a newer version of the very popular Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). It's an exceptionally well-built and compact laptop with a sharp and bright display, a comfortable keyboard, and an outstanding haptic touchpad, arguably one of the best touchpads on the market. Its M2 SoC is more than powerful enough to handle most writers' workloads, like text processing, web browsing, and video playback, and its battery lasts easily a full day. The only downside is its limited port selection, as you only get two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 and a MagSafe Charging port.
If you find the M2 MacBook Air too expensive, you can get the older M1 model, which is still available alongside the 2022 version. Plus, it starts at a lower price and is often on sale. Its battery lasts longer, but it has an older design, a worse 720p webcam, and a slightly slower M1 SoC. For Windows users, we recommend the Dell XPS 13 (2021), the equivalent of a MacBook Air in the Windows world. You can configure it with a 1080p or 4k display and an Intel 11th Gen. Core i3, i5, or i7 CPU. There's already a newer 2022 model of the XPS 13 with Intel 12th Gen. CPUs, so if the 2021 model isn't available or you can find the 2022 model at the same price, then go with the newer model, as Intel's 12th Gen. processors perform much better in multi-threaded workloads.
Our best upper mid-range pick is the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (2021), a 2-in-1 convertible Windows laptop. It's available with Intel 11th Gen. processors and up to 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage. It has a sharp 14-inch display, a comfortable backlit keyboard, a reasonably large touchpad, and a good port selection that includes two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports. You can use it as a tablet since it's a 2-in-1, and it supports pen input, although you'll have to buy the stylus separately. Portability isn't a problem, thanks to its thin and light design, and its battery lasts comfortably through a whole day. Other features include a fingerprint sensor for quick logins and a privacy cover for the webcam. Our main complaint with this laptop is that the display doesn't get very bright, meaning visibility can be a problem in very well-lit or sunny rooms.
If you want to save money with a more modest mid-range option, go with the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020). It's a sturdily built ultraportable with a battery that lasts nearly 14 hours of light use. You can configure it with an Intel 11th Gen Core i5 or i7 and up to 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. Its 14-inch display looks sharp and provides enough room for split-screen multitasking, but it doesn't get very bright, so it isn't ideal for well-lit settings or outdoors in broad daylight. The keyboard feels decent to type on; it just feels a little cramped. As for the touchpad, it's on the smaller side but reasonably responsive to all movements and gestures. The only major downside is the webcam, as the image looks soft and underexposed, and the microphone sounds staticky. On the upside, you get a great port selection that includes two USB-As, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, a full-size HDMI, and a headphone jack.
If you're shopping on a very small budget, get the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020). This 15.6-inch Chromebook has a thin and light design, making it easy to carry around, and its battery lasts comfortably through a full workday. You can configure it with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 CPU, both of which are powerful enough to provide a smooth desktop experience on Chrome OS. Unfortunately, you can only get a maximum of 4GB of RAM, which means it'll stutter if you have too many things running.
Another compromise is the display's brightness; it only gets bright enough for use in a moderately-lit room. The keyboard feels great to type on, and while the touchpad is small, it tracks all movements and gestures well. As this is a 2-in-1 convertible, you can set this laptop up in tent mode for media consumption or flip the screen all the way and use it as a tablet. It doesn't support pen input, though, which might be disappointing to fans of handwritten notes.
Feb 17, 2023: Added the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (2021) as the 'Best Upper Mid-Range' pick. Removed the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021) because it's almost the same price as the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) but isn't as good. Moved the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020) to the 'Best Budget' category.
Dec 19, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops for writers to buy. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you prefer to make your own decision, here's the list of all of our laptop reviews. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it's best to see the full review for information about other variants.