If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, you’ve likely seen photos of digital nomads working from their laptops with a breathtaking beachfront view. The prospect of living in different countries and making your living online can be enticing, but which laptop is best for the job?
If you plan on buying a laptop for your digital nomad lifestyle, there are a few unique factors to consider, such as screen glare, battery life and size. If you’re a digital nomad or planning to become one, give these top picks a look and get a leg up on your decision.
Digital nomads live a life of travel, either from state to state or country to country. To sustain this life of fun and adventure, digital nomads make their living virtually, and often use mobile hotspots or public WiFi. Many nomads daytrade, illustrate, run drop-shipping businesses, write or host YouTube channels. Others may work virtually for large corporations like Amazon, AT&T or Apple.
Some even save on bills by “work/camping” — meaning they may work for campgrounds or state parks in exchange for a long-term RV site or cabin. Essentially any job that gives you the option to work virtually could be right for a digital nomad, so long as you make enough to sustain your travels.
Random-access memory can be crucial for digital nomads or anyone who uses their laptop for work. RAM is a form of computer memory that’s incredibly important for multitasking and running system-heavy programs.
RAM is more or less like a person’s short-term memory — it stores data related to programs you’re immediately using to make the processor’s job easier. Suppose you don’t have enough RAM to store the data related to the programs you have open. In that case, the processor has to repeatedly overlay old data in the RAM with new data, slowing down your computer significantly.
Anti-glare screens aren’t necessary, but they can be pretty handy if you plan on doing a lot of work outside. It’s important to note that anti-glare screens can impact overall image quality when you’re using the laptop inside. If you don’t want to buy a computer with a built-in anti-glare screen, you can always buy an anti-glare stick-on screen protector.
Laptops with bright displays like the Macbook Pro's Retina display can reduce glare as well.
Battery life can be an important thing to consider as a digital nomad. You may occasionally work out of your vehicle or hotel and may not always be near an outlet. A laptop with at least 10 hours of projected battery life is best for digital nomads.
It can be a good idea to invest in an external battery pack or a DC to AC inverter; this way, you can charge your device if it’s at risk of dying.
Large laptop screens look nice and can make your workday easier, but it comes at the cost of portability. Depending on how you plan to travel and how often you plan to use your laptop away from home, size may not be an issue. Still, it’s worth considering whether or not you want a smaller, more lightweight device.
The 13-inch Macbook Air is perfect for digital nomads, thanks to its powerful technical specs, lightweight design and bright Retina display. This laptop features 8GB of memory for lightning-fast performance. The Macbook Air also features two USB-C ports and comes in three colors. The 11-hour battery life isn’t as robust as some of the other Macbooks but can still allow you to work all day, even if you aren’t near an outlet.
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This ultra-thin laptop is equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor that excels at carrying out any task you throw at it. The graphics card on this model isn’t necessarily impressive, but that’s only an issue if you plan to use it for gaming in addition to work. The ASUS Zenbook sports a tremendous backlit keyboard that’s perfect if you find yourself working outside as the sun goes down.
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The Huawei Matebook X Pro has a lightweight design and a near-borderless display. The touchscreen feature is convenient if you want to work while standing for a bit but don’t have a standing desk available. The capable 8th Gen Intel Core i7 8550U processor excels at completing tasks, but if you’d like to save some money, a model with an i5 processor is also available.
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This option features a 15.6-inch HD anti-glare LED screen that’s excellent for working outside during the day. The Lenovo Ideapad 3 has up to 20GB DDR4 RAM that allows you to run more programs simultaneously than you’ll likely ever need. You can get the Ideapad with as little as 128GB of storage space or as much as 1TB.
The Dell XPS 15’s InfinityEdge anti-reflective touchscreen is great for outdoor use. The touchscreen is handy if you’re working on the go, and the capable 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H processor is great for content creators. This laptop comes with up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage space. The touchscreen edition costs around $2,500, but there’s a less expensive, non-touchscreen model as well.
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HP Spectre x360 Convertible Laptop
This feature-packed laptop weighs just a little over 2 pounds but offers 16GB of RAM, a 512GB hard drive and facial recognition. The HP Spectre x360 has both USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports and has an impressive set of internal speakers. A 512GB Spectre x360 will set you back around $1,300, or you can get the 1TB model for around $1,500.
The multifunctional Acer Spin 3 can switch between being a tablet and a laptop, has 8GB of RAM and 11 hours of battery. The LED screen does a pretty good job of resisting glare, and you get a bonus Acer protective sleeve and rechargeable stylus.
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This ultra-lightweight laptop weighs less than 1.5 pounds. The Microsoft Surface Go 2 features a micro-SD slot, USB-C port and 8GB of RAM. This option is highly portable but doesn’t have the longest battery life, at just 10 hours. Still, it’s a competent laptop for digital nomads, and you can get a model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage space.
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Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 Laptop
This laptop’s LED screen is reasonably good at blocking glare and the near-borderless display is aesthetically pleasing. The touchscreen is an excellent addition for on-the-go use and its 8GB of RAM is more than enough to run several programs at once. This option offers extra peace of mind if you’re concerned about your privacy thanks to its privacy camera shutter.
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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.