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 55 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). This thin and light laptop has a sleek design, a sturdy aluminum build, and all-day battery life. Its M2 SoC has plenty of processing power to handle a typical writer's workload, like text formatting, web browsing, and video playback. The display is sharp and bright, the keyboard feels comfortable to type on all day, and the touchpad is large and responsive. If you do a lot of video calls, it has an excellent 1080p webcam with a microphone that sounds loud and clear. The downside is that you only get two USB-C ports, and like its predecessor, it can only support one external display.
If you find the M2 MacBook Air too expensive, there's good news! The older Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) is available at a lower price. Of course, the tradeoff is that you're getting an older design that's been around for several years. This model also has a slightly worse webcam and lacks Apple's MagSafe charging port, so you'll have to use one of the USB-C ports to charge the laptop. Nonetheless, it's still an excellent ultraportable and a great alternative if you want to save money.
For Windows users, get the Dell XPS 13 (2021). It's also a 13-inch thin and light laptop with a sturdy, premium build, and a great keyboard and touchpad. You can get this laptop with a 1080p or 4k display, and there's even a 4k OLED option if you want those deep blacks for media consumption. Its battery life (with a 1080p screen) isn't as good as the MacBook Air's, but you can still get through a typical workday on a full charge. The downside is that it's more expensive.
If you want to save some 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 complaint 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.
Our budget pick is the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021). This Windows laptop is easy to carry around and has enough battery life to get you through a typical eight-hour workday. Its 1080p display is decently sharp and provides plenty of room for split-screen multitasking, so you can keep your reference material on one side while you write. The keyboard feels spacious and provides satisfying tactile feedback, but it can be a little tiring to type on for an extended period because you need to apply a fair amount of force to actuate the keys. The touchpad is okay; it's on the smaller side, making it hard to perform actions like dragging and dropping. Some models have a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, so it's best to check before buying if this is something you care about.
If you're shopping on a very small budget and want something cheap to get the job done, we recommend the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020), a 15.6-inch Chromebook. This 2-in-1 convertible feels well-built despite its wallet-friendly price and has enough battery life to get you through a typical workday. It's available with an Intel Core i3 or Pentium Gold CPU, both of which are powerful enough to provide a smooth desktop experience on Chrome OS. However, you can only get a maximum of 4GB of RAM, so it'll stutter if you have too many Chrome tabs open at once. The main compromise is the display, as it doesn't get very bright, meaning you might have trouble seeing the screen in well-lit settings. The keyboard feels great to type on, and while the touchpad is small, it tracks all movements and gestures well.
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, sorted by price from low to high. 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.