The 7 Best Laptops for Writers to Buy in 2020

Find the best laptops for portability, budget and more

The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
Introduction

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The Rundown
"The XPS 13 2-in-1 features a good-sized keyboard and carbon fiber palm rests for comfortable typing, and its thin profile means the whole laptop weighs less than three pounds."
"Featuring an AMD processor, a solid 8GB of memory, and an impressive 1TB hard drive, the IdeaPad S145 has some solid internal specs at an affordable price."
"One of the most durable screens you’ll find on a laptop"
Best Big Screen:
Dell Inspiron 17 at Amazon
"It’s very affordably priced compared to most laptops in its size range."
"Instead of folding it back and still carrying around the device’s full bulk, the screen simply pops off and becomes a portable touchscreen tablet with excellent internals."
Best On-the-Go:
Apple MacBook Air at Amazon
"he MacBook Air has a 13.3-inch display, weighs only 2.8 pounds, and is just 0.63 inches at its thickest point, making it a travel-friendly option for writers on the go."
"The Pixelbook Go is our favorite Chromebook for writers because it’s super portable, has solid performance, and a full-size keyboard."

Whether you write professionally or purely as a creative outlet, your laptop is the most important tool in your arsenal. Even if you’re committed to writing longhand, you still need a reliable computer to help you manage all the other aspects of your life and work. Features like speedy performance, battery life, and a reliable Wi-Fi antenna are always important. But writers may put more emphasis on physical specs like an eye-friendly screen, a comfortable keyboard, and a lightweight build (so you aren’t lugging it along when you go to your favorite coffee shop). We happen to be writers ourselves, so we’ve kept these features in mind as we’ve rounded up the most suitable laptops out there.

Some of our favorites include from the Dell Inspiron 17 at Amazon with its spacious screen to the opulent HP Spectre x360 at Amazon.

Also check out our lists of the best lightweight laptops and our comprehensive laptop buying guide

Best Overall: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop

What We Like
  • Anti-reflective InfinityEdge display

  • 2-in-1 functionality

  • Less than 3 lbs.

What We Don't Like
  • Prone to trackpad issues

  • Expensive

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop is on the pricier side but it has a lot of great features that are particularly advantageous to writers. Perhaps the most standout is its screen, a 13.4-inch touch display with Dell’s InfinityEdge bezel-less design. It’s an especially versatile device because the screen can flip all the way around for tablet functionality. With very little visible edge, the display feels even larger than it is and makes for comfortable document viewing and multitasking across several windows. The anti-reflective surface also reduces eye strain and makes the screen easier to see when you’re outside. 

The XPS 13 2-in-1 features a good-sized keyboard and carbon fiber palm rests for comfortable typing, and its thin profile means the whole laptop weighs less than three pounds — perfect for taking on-the-go. It can be configured with an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor, up to 32GB of memory, and a hard drive up to 1TB.

Best Budget: Lenovo IdeaPad S145 (2020)

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • 15.6-inch display

  • Comfortable full keyboard

What We Don't Like
  • Middling processing power

The 2020 version of the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 is a solid budget laptop that runs Windows 10 and provides a large screen and full keyboard (including a numeric pad) at a very affordable price point. Featuring an AMD processor, a solid 8GB of memory, and an impressive 1TB hard drive, the IdeaPad S145 has some solid internal specs but doesn’t quite deliver on speedy performance — you may notice it slows down when loading or switching between apps. That being said, the 15.6-inch display is a nice feature, and it facilitates an equally-large keyboard that’s very comfortable to type on. It also means it’s a bit heavier at four pounds. As with all less-expensive laptops, the Lenovo Ideapad S145 is a balance of features and compromises, but if you’re looking for a laptop to write on, we think it’s a solid budget pick.

Best Splurge: HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 15.6" 4K Ultra HD TouchScreen Laptop

What We Like
  • 22-hour battery life

  • Optional 4G LTE

  • Intel Core i7 processor

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you have some extra money to spend on a laptop, we recommend investing in the powerhouse that is the HP Spectre x360. This 2-in-1 device has a 13.3-inch touch display that can be rotated all the way around and used like a tablet, or opened like a regular laptop to take advantage of the spacious full keyboard. Every configuration features a powerful Intel Core i7 processor for speedy performance and cutting-edge Gigabit Wi-Fi for fast connections and instantaneous app switching. It even supports optional 4G LTE so you can access the internet from anywhere that your cell phone has service. Another boon for writers is the HP Spectre x360’s incredible 22-hour battery life. With that kind of longevity, you won’t need to take your charger for even a full day of work.

Best Big Screen: Dell Inspiron 17 (2020)

What We Like
  • 17.3-inch display

  • Spacious keyboard

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic build

  • Decent processing power costs more

In a laptop market full of 11-, 13-, and 15-inch screens, a 17-inch display is luxuriously spacious. It’s great for multitasking with lots of windows and, of course, watching your favorite media. The Dell Inspiron 17 3000 delivers that big screen experience at a very affordable price. The HD display isn’t quite as high-resolution as the pricier alternatives, but it’s anti-glare and has optional touchscreen functionality. And then there’s the roomy keyboard. The Inspiron 17 3000 sports a full keyboard with numeric keypad, all of which have been tested for 5 million clicks. These are the features that will make this laptop comfortable to write on for hours at a time. 

This laptop can be configured with an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor, up to 16GB of memory, and up to a whopping 2TB of storage. It also has lots of convenient port options like HDMI, USB 2.0 and USB 3.1, an SD card slot, and even an optical disk drive. The Inspiron 17 3000 does still make some compromises at this price point, primarily in terms of build quality (the body is entirely plastic) and battery life. The big screen also compromises portability with the laptop weighing in at over six pounds. 

Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Book 3

What We Like
  • Detachable full keyboard

  • 17.5-hour battery life

  • Speedy performance

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If your writing involves a lot of sketching or illustrations, and you can’t quite make up your mind between a laptop and a tablet, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 is still the best device in its class. Other 2-in-1 devices, still primarily laptops at heart, force users to deal with awkwardly folding keyboards. Microsoft solves this by letting you remove the keyboard entirely, turning the device into a completely independent tablet. 

This means that you get the best of both worlds. It still runs Windows 10 in either configuration, so you're not hopping between various operating systems and apps. Inside, it not only packs in a 1.76GHz Intel Core i5 CPU but features a vibrant 13.5-inch 3000x2000 Pixel Sense display along with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of flash memory storage as well. 

Take away the keyboard and it becomes an unencumbered tablet device, where you can use Microsoft’s Surface Pen to make handwritten notes, draw sketches, or just doodle around. The Pen, of course, works with the keyboard attached as well, and the experience is the most seamless we've seen from a 2-in-1 device. 

Best On-the-Go: Apple MacBook Air (13-inch)

What We Like
  • Less than 3 pounds

  • Beautiful Retina display

  • Seamless integration with iPhone and iPad

What We Don't Like
  • Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports only

Depending on how you like to work, portability can be a huge factor when you’re shopping for a laptop. A compact laptop — or at least one that’s lightweight — can make your life easier if you have to carry your device on your commute or if you like to work from different locations. The MacBook Air has a 13.3-inch display, weighs only 2.8 pounds, and is just 0.63 inches at its thickest point, making it a travel-friendly option for writers on the go. The keyboard has also recently undergone a redesign and now has Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which is quiet, responsive, and includes backlit keys that respond to ambient light so you can keep working in the dark. The crisp Retina display includes True Tone technology for accurate colors and Intel Iris Plus Graphics so all your media looks its best.

The MacBook Air can be configured with an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, up to 2TB SSD, and up to 16GB of memory. If you already have some Apple devices, this laptop can seamlessly integrate with your iPhone or iPad, allowing you to answer messages from your computer and effortlessly sync your photo and music libraries. 

Best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Touchscreen display

What We Don't Like
  • Not much onboard storage

  • USB-C ports onlu

The Pixelbook Go is our favorite Chromebook for writers because it’s super portable, has solid performance, and a full-size keyboard. It features Google’s Hush Keys, which make typing virtually silent (and if you’re working from home all day in a shared space, quiet typing may be more important than you think). The 13.3-inch touchscreen display and lightweight body make it easy to take on the go. It’s available with either a Full HD display or the more expensive 4K Ultra HD Molecular display for truly dazzling visuals. 

This model is available at a range of price points, starting at under $700 and going over $1,300 on the high end. The processing power and other internal specs determine how much you spend here. With the base model, you get an Intel Core m3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. Pricier configurations have better processors (Intel Core i5 or i7), more RAM (up to 16GB) and more storage (up to 256GB). Like all Chromebooks, the Pixelbook Go runs Chrome OS, a somewhat pared-down operating system that relies heavily on Google services. These services include cloud storage, which explains why Chromebooks tend to have very little storage onboard. Some users find Chrome OS to be a bit limited, but it’s part of the tradeoff for a speedy and good-looking laptop at this price point.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop is a versatile device that functions as both a laptop and a tablet, featuring a beautiful edge-to-edge display and a roomy keyboard. If a budget price is your main priority, then we’d recommend checking out the 2020 Lenovo IdeaPad S145 with its large 15.6-inch display, full keyboard, and 1TB of onboard storage.

About our Trusted Experts

A former editor of Lifewire product round-ups, Emmeline has years of experience researching and writing about the best consumer products out there. She specializes in consumer tech.