The best work-from-home laptops | Digital Trends

More people are working from home than ever. And all indications are that this won’t be changing anytime soon as people become accustomed to the flexibility of hybrid work. That makes the laptop a vital tool for not only getting work done but staying connected with coworkers.

The work-at-home laptops on this list share a few common traits, and a few of them have made their way to one or more of our best laptops lists. First, they’re strong performers that meet demanding productivity workflows. Second, they’re well-configured. And third, they offer high-resolution webcams that make videoconferencing a more pleasant experience.

The best work-from-home laptops | digital trendsMicrosoft Surface Laptop Studio

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

The best choice for creators

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Microsoft surface laptop studio

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

The best choice for creators

Pros

  • Most powerful Surface PC

  • Gorgeous, 120Hz screen

  • Fun 2-in-1 design

  • Wonderful haptic touchpad

  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • CPU holds back performance

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio took over from the Surface Book 3 as the most powerful Surface you can buy. It’s also a convertible 2-in-1 with the unusual pull-forward design, giving it more flexibility than most laptops and a tablet-like form factor for creative types.

It’s not the most powerful laptop on our list, but the 35-watt Intel 11th-generation H-series CPU is fast enough for productivity, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti helps with creative applications that can use it. And Microsoft has built-in technology that balances CPU and GPU use as needed, providing the right mix of performance, heat, and fan noise.

The rest of the laptop is just as refined. The keyboard and touchpad are excellent, the build quality is second to none, and the 120Hz IPS display is high-res and colorful and supports Microsoft’s Surface Slim 2 active pen with its haptic feedback for more realistic inking. Of course, the webcam is 1080p, helping you look your best when Zooming. If you’re a creator who works at home, then the Surface Laptop Studio is a particularly good choice for you.

The best work-from-home laptops | digital trendsMicrosoft Surface Laptop Studio

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

The best choice for creators

Hp spectre x360 16

Mark Coppock/We

HP Spectre x360 16

An excellent large-format 2-in-1

Pros

  • Solid productivity performance

  • Excellent build quality

  • Spectacular OLED display

  • Outstanding keyboard and touchpad

  • Elegant good looks

Cons

  • Creative performance is lacking

  • Large and heavy in tablet mode

HP’s Spectre x360 16 is a more traditional convertible 2-in-1, with a large 16-inch 4K+ (3840 x 2400) OLED display that produces vibrant colors and inky blacks. It equips a 35-watt Intel 11th-gen quad-core CPU that provides for excellent productivity performance that meets the needs of the most demanding worker.

The keyboard and touchpad are top-notch, among the best you’ll find in Windows laptops today, and the touch display supports an active pen for Windows Inking. It’s large as a tablet and so a steady surface is required, but it works well.

For the home worker, the Spectre x360 16 incorporated a 5MB webcam that provides a stunning image along with various tools to enhance the videoconferencing experience. There’s Beauty Mode that smooths out wrinkles and removes blemishes, Auto Frame that keeps the user centered in the image, and Lighting Correction that optimizes the image for the environment. Combined, the tools provide one of the best video conferencing solutions around.

The best work-from-home laptops | digital trendsHP Spectre x360 16

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HP Spectre x360 16

An excellent large-format 2-in-1

Lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme gen 4

Mark Coppock/We

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4

A portable powerhouse

Pros

  • Excellent build quailty

  • Superior entry-level display

  • Solid performance

  • Good keyboard and touchpad

  • Very powerful configuration options

Cons

  • Performance was inconsistent

  • Battery life was middling

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is the company’s most powerful laptop outside of a workstation. For demanding home users who need a lot of power under the hood, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 can be equipped with up to a 45-watt, eight-core/16-thread Core i9-11950H with vPro and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 CPU. That’s enough power for demanding creative work.

Several 16-inch displays are available, including a 4K+ (3840 x 2400) version with excellent colors, brightness, and contrast. They’re all in the 16:10 aspect ratio and so they’re great for productivity. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is also user-upgradeable, with the ability to swap out the RAM and add a second solid-state drive (SSD) for redundancy or extra (and very fast) storage.

You’ll also get a 1080p webcam for high-res videoconference; the outstanding ThinkPad keyboard, touchpad, and TrackPoint nubbin; and solid build quality. For home power users, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is the best Windows laptop on our list.

The best work-from-home laptops | digital trendsLenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4

A portable powerhouse

Hp elite dragonfly max

HP Elite Dragonfly Max

A work-from-home dream machine

Pros

  • Outstanding build quality

  • Thin and light

  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad

  • Effective privacy screen

  • A slew of valuable business features

Cons

  • Underwhelming CPU performance

  • Expensive

In our review, we called the HP Elite Dragonfly Max a “work-from-home dream machine.” And it’s well-earned, with a design that was crafted to be attractive to both business people and regular consumers. Consider the laptop’s “cleanability,” which allows you to use common household wipes to clean and disinfect the laptop, and an Easy Clean utility that shuts off the touchscreen, keyboard, and touchpad while you’re giving it a good scrub.

Of course, it’s also an excellent laptop, thin and light and incredibly well built. It uses 11th-gen Intel CPUs for solid productivity performance, and it offers a bright and colorful display with a privacy option to keep your work safe from prying eyes. The keyboard and touchpad are excellent, and the optional touch display is handy.

It’s in videoconferencing where the Max version of the Elite Dragonfly really shows off. Like the Spectre x360 16, there’s a 5MP camera on hand with auto-exposure for faces and up to 1440p video resolution. Four microphones provide for A.I.-powered noise cancellation to keep household background noise at a minimum. The Elite Dragonfly Max might be a business laptop at heart, but it works incredibly well for the home user, too.

The best work-from-home laptops | digital trendsHP Elite Dragonfly Max

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HP Elite Dragonfly Max

A work-from-home dream machine

Apple macbook pro

Apple MacBook Pro

The best MacBook, period

Pros

  • Incredible XDR display

  • Fantastic creative performance

  • Extensive port selection

  • Keyboard and trackpad are perfect

  • Excellent speakers and webcam

  • Endless battery life

If you’re not married to Windows, the MacBook Pro is the most potent laptop on our list – at least when it comes to the processor. It uses Apple’s M1 Pro or Max CPUs that are incredibly fast and power-efficient, making the MacBook Pro a great choice for creators.

Whether you opt for the 14-inch or 16-inch model, you’ll get the best-built laptop, and Apple has increased its thickness just a bit to fit in some extra connectivity – a full-size HDMI port and an SD card reader – along with optimizing the thermal performance. And with incredibly long battery life, you won’t be tied to your home office.

The MacBook Pro 16’s keyboard is the best one currently made, and its haptic touchpad is a joy to use. Finally, you’ll love the mini-LED display that rivals OLED for deep blacks and dynamic colors, and the 1080p webcam produces high-quality video. This is another great laptop for anyone who does demanding creative work at home.

The best work-from-home laptops | digital trendsApple MacBook Pro

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Apple MacBook Pro

The best MacBook, period

Pixelbook go

Riley Young / We

Pixelbook Go

A Chromebook for the hybrid worker

Pros

  • Portable design

  • Bright, colorful display

  • Speakers are impressive

  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Chunky bezels

  • No fingerprint scanner

If your work is less demanding and you don’t rely on Windows or MacOS applications, then a Chromebook is an easier-to-manage solution. And the best Chromebook available today is Google’s Pixelbook Go, even though it’s been on the market for a few years.

You’ll love the bright, colorful 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display, and the Pixelbook Go produces excellent sound quality. The Hush Keys keyboard is extremely quiet and comfortable to use, meaning you won’t bother your housemates when working feverishly at night.

The 1080p webcam is unusual on Chromebooks and produces an excellent image, making for great videoconferencing. And the Pixelbook Go’s design is both good-looking and functional, with a ribbed bottom chassis that makes the laptop easy to carry around. If you want the simplicity and ease of use of a Chromebook, then the Google Pixelbook Go remains your best choice.

The best work-from-home laptops | digital trendsPixelbook Go

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Pixelbook Go

A Chromebook for the hybrid worker

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