While smartphones are becoming more and more versatile, the usefulness of travel laptops is remaining as high as ever. Mobile devices still must sacrifice crucial things such as processing power, storage, ease of typing as well as many other features which trial laptops have.
So whether you are a digital nomad, someone looking to easily catch up with work or emails, or just someone simply looking to binge some Netflix on a large screen while on the go; here are some great laptop choices at all ends of the price spectrum.
Editors Choice: Dell XPS 13
Travel Laptops: Buying Criteria
Before you see our list, here are the key criteria for these laptops from our laptops, along with a brief explanation for why these features are so important:
- Processing Power – A powerful and efficient CPU is essential to any form of computer. Even more so for a laptop, this is due to the fact that companies generally have to implement smaller processors inside of their laptops in order to allow the laptop to be thin. This often means a sacrifice in power for slimness.
- Weight – The weight of a laptop is something the user cannot avoid and will notice almost every time they use it or carry it. A light feel of a laptop for travelling is a key feature, thankfully as technology continues to advance the weight of new laptops begins to decrease over time.
- Battery Life – Regardless of what type of product you purchase, you want it to last a long time. A long lifetime for your device is just as important as any other factor of a travel laptop, if not the most important.
- Storage (A hard-drive or SSD?) – A large amount of storage space is also a key feature to a laptop, this will allow you to save as much or as little files/applications as you want. A hard-drive is typically much cheaper than its rival, the Solid State Drive, (commonly known as an SSD) but is generally much slower at loading. On the other hand, an SSD will allow your laptop to load anything in seconds, but at a higher cost to purchase.
Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13” is by far one of the most awesome laptops I have ever seen. It offers so many outstanding features, topped with an unrivalled performance from the latest and greatest processor from intel. If you are looking for a complete monster-powerhouse of a laptop, this is the one for you.
Firstly, it has an incredibly large screen to body ratio, accompanied by extremely thin bezels around the screen. Its 4k UHD display is a beautiful sight to the eye and makes watching or working on this laptop an absolute pleasure. We recommend the 13” as it balances size & weight very well, giving off impressions similar to that of Apple’s Macbook Pro. Although, there are many variations of this model such as increasing the size of the screen or storage, as well as the option to choose a 4k or 1080p display.
A slight gripe I may have about this laptop is that the battery life is not as great as the other features, and I sometimes found myself activating the touch screen accidentally.
(a feature I realise you would not find with the 1080p display in comparison to the 4k screen.)
DELL XPS13 Pros & Cons
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
Ever since Microsoft first revealed the Surface line of laptops, they have continued to iterate upon and improve the product with each generation. The Surface Laptop 3 seems to be the pinnacle of all of Microsoft’s endeavours to create one of the best travel laptops on the market.
The Surface 3 differs to the Surface 2 as it does not have the 2 in 1 functionality, (which I personally believe was a gimmick anyway) but instead evolves the “ultrabook” feel of the laptop. Reminding me of the Dell XPS 13 in many ways. The surface Laptop 3 is different in many ways to its competitor laptops due to a different aspect ratio screen (3:2), giving you more vertical workspace, as well as incredible battery life.
However, one of the main issues I have of the Surface 3 is that it lacks a thunderbolt 3 port, something that is becoming increasingly popular with modern-day laptops. As well as a display which is relatively mediocre, and is not impressive or as progressive as other screens we have seen from producers for laptops.
Surface 3 Pros & Cons
Best Budegt Travel Laptops
Lenovo’s Ideapad line has become increasingly popular in the last few years, and for good reason. Its price range fluctuating between $500-$600, makes it a much cheaper option in comparison to the high-end laptops such as the Dell XPS 13, which has a price range a few hundred dollars higher than the Ideapad. From personal experience, I would say that this laptop is very nice to use and loads/performs well in many categories.
The Ideapad offers a great price to performance ratio, using the Intel Pentium line of processors which provide just the right amount of power on this laptop. It offers easy to transport with its weight of 5 lbs, but also provides the user with a very generous 9 hours of battery life as well as a vast 500gb of hard drive storage space.
However, compared to some of the ultrabooks on this list, the Lenovo Ideapad may appear to fall short in many of the categories essential to a travel laptop; but due to its vastly lower price, we recommend to give it a little bit of leniency.
Ideapad Pros & Cons
Best Mid Range Laptop
ASUS Zenbook UX434FLC 14”
This mid-range laptop is arguably my favourite laptop on this list. This is for many reasons! Firstly, the laptop is very thin and light, weighing at 2.6 pounds and a thickness of 1.6cm. Asus has shown lots of innovation with this version of their Zenbook, one of the most impressive is its trackpad. Asus has made it so the trackpad is quite large, but can act as a second screen or allows the user to perform certain gestures to open certain applications or simply use it as a tablet, (bear in mind that they have provided the option to easily disable this feature if you wish to use a more standard trackpad.) the laptop’s touch screen is also very responsive and barely shakes the screen while tapping.
There are many things to like about this laptop and after using it for about 3 months I can say I have only a few negative things to say about it.
Zenbook Pros & Cons
Best Laptop for Apple users
Macbook Air 2020
While the Dell XPS 13 takes up the spot for the best premium laptop on our list, the MacBook Air 2020 does not fall that short from it. Apple continues to strive for a great, premium feel to their laptops, the aluminum body of the laptop really feels sturdy and even after a little bit of stress-testing, it is safe to say that that laptop is built excellently.
The new backlit “Magic Keyboard” is one of the highlight features of this Macbook. On top of this, the Macbook seamlessly integrates into the apple economy, for example, if you own an Apple Watch you can seamlessly unlock your laptop using it.
The Macbook Air has a much lower performance compared to the Dell XPS 13 and is lacking in a few more key areas, its display achieves only 389 nits of brightness in comparison to the XPS 13’s 500. This makes outdoor use a bit less enjoyable as you struggle to see the screen in bright sunlight. You will not find any performance issues unless you are using it for extremely high CPU-Intensive tasks such as multitasking in dozens of applications or editing high-resolution videos.
Overall this MacBook is very good and offers a solid overall performance whilst maintaining a very high-quality feel.
Pros & Cons
Best Portable Laptop / Overall best travel laptop
Asus Expert Book B9450
Out of all of the laptops on this list, this one is the best for simply travel. It may not be the fastest, cheapest or best bang for your buck, but it offers unparalleled travel capability.
The Expert Book is a shockingly ultralight travel laptop, which is paired alongside a battery which seemingly lasts forever. Ever been irritated at your laptop for dying on you when you are out only for a few hours? Don’t worry, the Asus Expert Book will last for over 24 hours. The weight of this laptop aids its portability greatly by only weighing 1.9 lbs or 0.87 kg. After some stress-testing, it is apparent that this lightness is not at the expense of anything.
The processors (intel 15 or 17) are very powerful and will handle pretty much anything you can throw at them, although if you are looking for a powerhouse or a portable work station, you are better off buying the previously mentioned XPS 13.
If you are looking to travel or take a laptop with you about your day, this is by far the best laptop on the market for you.
Pros & Cons
It is easy to get distracted when choosing a laptop for travel, but overall, your own personal needs/preferences are the ultimate deciding factor.
In this article, we’ve shown many different laptops as well as why each one is a uniquely great choice. I would recommend using our list as a starting point and not to hesitate to explore the laptop market further. If not, I hope you find one of the laptops on our list to be perfect for you.