Us writers don't really need much to do our thing.
A pen and paper for brainstorming or first drafts. Maybe a strong cup of coffee.
Oh, yeah. And a laptop.
Whether you're a screenwriter, journalist, poet, fiction writer, or essayist, at some point there comes a time to digitize your words. And while it might seem like any old laptop will work, that might not be the case.
Without further ado, here are the best laptops for writers in 2018, based on my own research and opinions.
TL;DR: If you're in a hurry, my top laptop for writers in 2018 is the Macbook Air 13.3 inch. It's pricier, but you just can't beat the portability. I get into it in more detail below.
If you've got some time, pull up a chair and let's do a little exploring together. What makes a good laptop for a writer?
What do writers need in a laptop?
As long as it has a functioning keyboard and a word processor, we're good to go, right?
Actually, it's not quite that simple.
That's right. A big screen isn't just for movies and games, y' know.
Not only do writers in 2018 need their documents big, bright, and easy to read, they need a screen that can handle rigorous researching.
The days of a lone writer smoking a cigarette and tapping away on a typewriter are gone. Today's writers have 60 Google Chrome tabs open, pouring through mountains of research, switching between screens like mad scientists, and searching for multimedia to help their writing come to life. (Life hack: Use an external monitor)
For this reason, a dinky 10" screen probably isn't going to cut it for most writers.
No one, and I mean no one, gets more excited about keyboards than writers. The space between keys, the depth, the feel under your fingers.
It might not make a big difference for the average person typing out a few emails a day, but when you really get into a writing groove, nothing can kill your vibe faster than a keyboard that doesn't "suit" your hands. It's hard to explain, and everyone will have different preferences, but keyboard ergonomics are massively important for us scribes.
There are really two kinds of keyboards - mechanical and membrane. Membrane keyboards have a soft, rubber underlay that provides little tactile feedback during each keystroke while mechanical keyboards have keys that strike hard buttons underneath directly, giving that familiar "click clack." You'll also hear the term "chiclet" style keyboards, or "island" keyboards, referring to flat, square keys with rounded edges and significant space between them.
You can always plug in a third party keyboard when you're at home, but that's not always practical. Writers need a laptop with a good keyboard ready to go out of the box.
(I've also got a whole post about the top keyboards for writers - check it out!)
Writers are known to have all kinds of kooky habits. We write in our office, on the couch, on the porch, sitting in the grass. In coffee shops and mall food courts and park benches.
We may want total solitude or we may want to be surrounded by human energy and activity. Everyone's different.
But it's super important, in any case, that a writer's laptop be easy to carry around. The catch is that screen size and total weight are often related, and you may have to sacrifice one for the other.
But generally speaking a 7-8 pound behemoth (18 inch screen be damned) isn't going to work for the writer on the go.
It's the tried and true stereotype: A writer plugging away on his screenplay at the local coffee shop.
But as I mentioned above, it could just as easily be a park, a mall, a restaurant... I had one writer friend that actually liked going to the pub to write!
In some places, a power outlet isn't always going to be available. And any good writer knows that writing sessions take time — hours, likely — so it's super important that a blinking red battery signal doesn't pop up and ruin your creative vibes.
Some of the best laptops on the market in 2018 can go 10 hours or more on a single charge, which is pretty impressive. Others will be lucky to go 3 hours at a time.
(Buyer beware: Battery life is usually exaggerated, so if a company claims 5 hours, it's probably less in reality.)
Let's be honest: Writing is a humble trade. Most of us aren't rolling dough, particularly if we're writing on spec (say, pursuing a passion for screenwriting or fiction). Even writers with steady paychecks in journalism or other fields aren't known to be particularly wealthy (The average U.S. journalist makes somewhere around $40,000 a year.)
So it's best to keep our equipment affordable.
The good news is, we're not power gamers or special effects producers, either. We don't necessarily need our laptops to be jacked out of their minds with the latest tech and processing power.
What writers need is a laptop that works, lasts, and won't break the bank.
Enough already; show me the top laptops for writers in 2018!
Alright, now that we've agreed on what a writer needs in his or her laptop, let's take a look at this year's best choices.
I've narrowed it down to my top 3, but stay tuned for a bonus recommendation aka, What I use :)
You can't go wrong with any of these:
If screen size is your thing, get the HP Notebook ay011nr
The HP Notebook ay011nr is a beast. It's got a nearly 16-inch screen and a massive 1TB hard drive on board out of the box.
That comes at a cost, though, since the laptop weighs in around 5 pounds.
But what you sacrifice in portability you more than make up for in performance. If you're the kind of writer who wants to seriously hunker down in one place and get totally lost in your work, this is the computer for you.
Its reasonable price tag also makes it a good cheap laptop for writers, since it's the most affordable laptop on this list, but still packs a powerful punch. In fact, the massive screen size and storage makes this a rival of some of the best desktop computers for writers on the market.
Screensize: 15.6 inches
Operating System: Windows
Hard Drive: 1TB
Advertised battery Life: 7.15 hours
Weight: 4.21 pounds
Good stuff to know:
- The HP Notebook is the cheapest laptop on this list
- Super crisp 15.6 inch display (1920x1080 resolution)
- Touch pad can be a bit stiff
- Easy-to-use chiclet style keyboard
If you're all about that battery life, get the Lenovo ThinkPad T460
This laptop also scores high in performance and durability, making it an excellent high end choice for any writer in 2018.
The insane battery life makes this one of the best laptops for writing a novel, too, since it's particularly well-suited for deep dive writing sessions.
Screensize: 14 inches
Operating System: Windows
Hard Drive: 240GB
Advertised battery Life: 12-18 hours
Weight: 3.8 pounds
Good stuff to know:
- Comes with a 1 year manufacturer warranty
- Customizable build: Choose the RAM and hard drive size you need
- Does not include Microsoft Office (sold separately)
- Soft but springy keyboard is great for typing
Military-specifications make this laptop super sturdy and reliable
If you need ultimate portability, get the Macbook Air 13.3 inch
The Macbook Air is my top overall laptop for writers, without a doubt.
At under an inch thick and just a hair below 3 pounds, it doesn't get much smaller or more portable than a Macbook Air unless you're diving into tablet territory (and even then, it's debatable).
This is one of the smallest, sleekest machines on the market, and though it's not the cheapest laptop for writers out there, Macs are known for being super easy to use and reliable.
Another plus for the Macbook Air is its impressive graphics, making this one of the best laptops for writers and photographers, along with anyone who likes to work with video or other multimedia.
If you can afford to get the Macbook Air on your budget, you likely won't regret it.
Screensize: 13.3 inches
Operating System: Mac OS
Hard Drive: 128GB
Advertised battery Life: 12 hours
Weight: 2.96 pounds
Good stuff to know:
- The Macbook Air comes with a 1 year limited warranty
- Incredibly fast load times
- Backlit keyboard for easy typing anytime, anywhere
- Fun iOS extras like iMovies, Keynote, Photobooth, and more
Comparison table of laptops for writers
Here's everything you just read in a nifty, thrifty comparison table.
|Laptop||Cost||Screensize||Operating System||RAM||Hard Drive||Battery Life||Weight|
|HP Notebook ay011nr||$||15.6 in||Windows||8GB||1TB||7.15hrs||4.21lbs|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T460||$$$||14 in||Windows||16GB||240GB||12+hrs||3.8lbs|
|Macbook Air||$$||13.3 in||Mac OS||8GB||128GB||12hrs||2.96lbs|
I'm a professional writer! What laptop do I use?
I'm so glad you asked!
And yes, if you didn't know that about me, I am a pro writer — I've worked in marketing, copywriting, and content marketing, as well as my current job as a viral content writer and journalist.
And personally, I use a Macbook Air.
It was issued to me by my employer, so I didn't have a ton of choice, but I've actually become a huge fan over the course of 2 years using it.
It's incredibly lightweight, to the point where I actually think it's smaller and easier to work with than a lot of tablets. Hell, it feels lighter than my phone at times. I have no trouble taking it from my home office downstairs, outside, to coffee shops, through the airport, and beyond. It couldn't be easier to move around. I also travel with it frequently and find it an absolute breeze to go through security with and to whip out on an airplane.
I also keep it lean without a lot of extra software, doing most of my work on the web, in browsers, or with a simple word processor. That keeps it fast, and I've been amazingly impressed by the performance. You'd think something so small wouldn't pack a lot of power (and it may not for gaming or graphics purposes).
But as a writer, it's been a perfect fit.
Hope this helped! Got questions? Leave them below.
Also check out my guide to the best tablets for writers in 2018!
Disclaimer: I may receive compensation from products or services mentioned on my site, but I stand by any research, opinions, or advice I offer here.