Best laptops for working from home and digital nomads in 2023

Abstract image of a laptop on a blue background

The last few years have empowered workers to exercise their right to work in a location that suits them best. Be it from a beach in Bali or in a rainy countryside cottage, for workers in 2023, the best laptop for working from home - wherever you call it - is high on the list of purchasing priorities.

The change in working arrangements means certain aspects of the device you buy, size, weight, power, and battery life, become more important than they otherwise would. If your laptop needs to be used in a different office every day, or regularly in airports, the weight might be the most important factor. If you are permanently from home, however, you might want something more bulky and powerful.

Regardless, the first place to start is what you do for a living and where you do it...

What is the best laptop for digital nomads?

Workers that are permanently at a home desk have, perhaps, more options and less need for lightweight or portable hardware. Though that really depends on the space they have available at home. However, for the truly remote – the digital nomad – once you step out into the wider world, the rules change.

For starters, there is no guarantee that you'll end up working in a large space. Tiny aeroplane seats, squished tables in coffee shops, or a remote working space that may actually be more effective as a cupboard – these are the pitfalls of the anywhere worker. So portability, be it small in size or compact, is the key.

Small, however, shouldn't automatically mean low-spec. Some of the thinnest laptops around now come with top-tier displays, powerful CPUs and also long-lasting batteries, so it isn't simply a case of finding the easiest thing to carry. You can't get the job done if you can't do much with the device, so it's about balance.

For businesses, procuring laptops for a dispersed workforce also comes with some key considerations. For starters, travelling laptops are more open to risks such as theft, loss and damage, so repair packages, replacement services and after-purchase care schemes are as equally important as the device itself. In some cases, that may well mean a third-party insurance plan.

Asus Zenbook S 13

The Asus Zenbook S13 on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

Asus has built up a reputation for producing some of the finest looking machines on the market, and the Zenbook S 13 continues this trend. It features a lid made of what Asus calls plasma ceramic aluminium – a patterned cover that is lovely to touch, looks great, and helps the device stand out from the competition.

Aesthetics aside, the S 13’s biggest selling point is its OLED display; a 2,880 x 1,800 resolution screen with 250dpi pixel density, nice bright whites and perfect zero black luminance. It’s the sort of screen that puts it squarely in competition with the likes of the MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13.

With specs that offer better value for money over the similarly specced MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13, we believe the Zenbook S 13 is one of the best ultraportable machines on the market today.

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ProcessorIntel Core i7-1355U 10-core, 5GHz
Storage1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD
Screen13.3-inch 2,880 x 1,880 OLED, 16:10 aspect ratio, 60Hz refresh rate, 400cd/m2 SDR, 637d/m2 HDR peak brightness
Dimensions296.2 x 216.3 x 11.8mm

Price when reviewed: £1,599 exc VAT

Read our full Asus Zenbook S 13 review for more information.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 on a desk

Touchscreen laptops are not for everybody but for those that do need that capability on a laptop, Microsoft's Surface Laptop 5 is arguably one of the best around. It doesn't come with a stylus, but at £833 (exc VAT) it is fairly cheap – so a little extra for Microsoft's Surface Pen isn't going to break the bank. It is worth noting, however, that getting the Surface Laptop 5 via Microsoft for Business (which comes with maintenance and repair packages) doesn't include the pen, so it is an extra payment.

There are two sizes of Surface Laptop 5, IT Pro recommends the 13.5in model, which has a 2256 x 1504 resolution and a peak brightness of 411cd/m2. That enables it to combat most sunny conditions, save for extremely bright and direct sunlight. The glossy finish also helps here.

Colour accuracy is also very good with a 95.6% sRGB colour gamut score. This was achieved under the 'RGB' setting. That score is a little lower than what is offered by other touchscreens, such as the MateBook X Pro (2022) though the Surface Laptop 5 has stronger brightness levels and is considerably cheaper.

What's not so good about the Surface Laptop 5 is very minimal; for its price (£833) it is very good and it isn't glaringly bad in any way. It feels very professional and has a stunning display and snappy processor. Plus, it will look good in the home office or any random coffee shop you take it to.

There are some larger-than-normal bezels and a less-than-adequate webcam and it would be nice if the pen was included as part of a bundle. But what it has got is usually more expensive than £833 – the latest MacBook will cost much, much more, and that isn't a touchscreen.

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Processor12th Gen Intel Core i7-1265U
RAM8GB or 16GB
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Screen13.5in PixelSense
Dimensions223 x 14.5 x 308mm

Price when reviewed: £833 exc VAT

Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review for more information.

Dell XPS 17

A photograph of the Dell XPS 17

The Dell XPS 17 is power packed into a lightweight machine. Weighing slightly over 2kg and measuring under 2cm in thickness, this laptop will provide you with great flexibility moving from room to room in your home. Additionally, its lightness also helps if you’re ever on the road, or having to take it into the office, or beyond.

The device’s detailed vibrant UHD+ screen will make working from home a real treat as well, especially once you realise it’s touch enabled. If you happen to be in a brightly lit environment, like the garden for example, then its anti-glare surface will come in handy too.

The device isn’t shy when it comes to battery life, either. With our video test, it lasted for a whopping 11hrs 37 mins, allowing you to get through a working day completing modest tasks. However, if you’re expecting to complete activities like rendering out 3D, it will be a lot less, so if you work from a cafe or library don’t stray too far from the mains.

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ProcessorIntel Core i7-11800H
Storage1TB NVMe SSD
Screen17in, 3,840 x 2,400, touch screen
Dimensions374.45 x 248.05 x 19.05mm (WxDxH)

Price when reviewed: £2,166 exc VAT

Read our full Dell XPS 17 review for more information.

Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED

A photograph of the Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED

Stay creative on the go with this impressive mobile workstation from Asus. Although prices begin at £1,666.66 exc VAT, you’ll get a lot of computing power for your money. It also packs a punch when it comes to its internal hardware, meaning that if you’re looking for a laptop at home that’s comparable to a desktop computer, this could be the device for you.

The great news is that it comes with a gorgeous 16in, 4K OLED display, making it very easy on the eyes and a joy to use. Although you might be looking for a machine to help you work from home, if you ever take it into the office, it’s safe to say your colleagues will be very jealous.

Considering it has a fairly big screen and intensive hardware, you might be worried about how long this machine can keep running away from the mains if you plan on working remotely from different locations. Fear not, as the ProArt lasted for 6hs 19mins in our video playback battery test. This might be less than other devices on this list, but don’t forget that this device is aiming to replace your desktop PC. If you need to work while travelling, or want to work from a cafe, this laptop should get you through most of the day, as long as you don’t perform anything too hardware-intensive like video editing.

This is a powerful content creation notebook you can use on the move for extended periods of time, and one that is particularly attractive for graphic professionals.

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ProcessorAMD Ryzen 9 5900HX running at up to 4.6GHz
Storage2TB NVMe PCI Express 3.0 SSD
Screen16in, 3,840 x 2,400, OLED
Dimensions362 x 264 x 19.9-21.4mm (WxDxH)

Price when reviewed: £2,082 exc VAT

Read our full Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED review for more information.

Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable 13.3in

A photograph of the Dell Latitude 7320 from the side

The Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable is a 13.3in slate that can either be used on its own or with a detachable keyboard. It offers solid performance and good security presented neatly in a slim and lightweight bundle.

Any remote worker who is looking for a simple, competent, Windows tablet should take a look at this device. It offers good battery life and is significantly lighter and more flexible than a conventional laptop.

It weighs just 782g and is 8.4mm thick, making it exceptionally suitable for anyone who’s priority is weight. You’ll barely feel this in your bag if you need to transport it away from home, while in your house it will be extremely easy to work from any room.

It also has a hinge which can support the tablet at any angle between near-vertical and 170 degrees, making it ideal for use on a train or aeroplane if there’s much travelling involved in your line of work. It might help you use the tablet in bed at home too, but don’t let your boss know about that.

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ProcessorIntel Core i5 1140G7
Storage256GB NVMe SSD
Screen13.3, 1920 x 1080, IPS
Dimensions288.4 x 215.6 x 13.54mm (with keyboard)
Weight1.1Kg (with keyboard)

Price when reviewed: £1,474 exc VAT

Read our full Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable 13.3in review for more information.

Acer Chromebook Spin 714

The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

For our money, Acer’s Spin 714 is one of the best Chromebooks on the market. The company is well-known now for producing top-notch Chromebooks, but the 714 has hit that sweet spot of providing plenty of functionality, tons of connectivity options, and a decent screen, while also keeping its weight low.

As you can see from our images, this is a convertible device, making it more versatile than many of the other devices on our list. We found it a joy to use when taking notes or browsing, and at just 1.37kg, it's comfortable to handle in its portrait mode – something that some convertibles fall down on.

We found the 714’s traditional laptop layout equally impressive. It has a spacious, well-laid-out chiclet keyboard, well constructed keys, and a generously-sized trackpad. 

One of its biggest selling points is its battery life. In a 1080p video test, the Spin 714 reached 13 hours and 16 mins. When you couple that with solid CPU performance and a 14-inch screen size, that’s particularly impressive.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is a solid recommendation for anyone looking for a reasonably-priced business Chromebook.

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ProcessorIntel Core i5-1335U
Storage512 GB SSD
Screen1,920 x 1,200, 14-in, 16:10
Dimensions18 x 322 x 224mm

Price when reviewed: £699

Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 714 review for more information.

How we test

For laptops, IT Pro runs a series of tests on the display, CPU, battery and even storage. Not all of these will be relevant for the review as it depends on the type of laptop and what we are trying to highlight about it. But the aim is to give you a metric for comparison so that you can make an informed decision about the purchase.

We run performance tests on the CPU, firstly with our in-house benchmarks which measure photo-editing, video-encoding and multitasking speeds. We combine these results into an overall score which is always quoted in the review -- on occasion, however, we might mention an individual test result if it is particularly noteworthy.

These tests can be run on Windows and macOS, though we also use the cross-platform Geekbench 5 test to compare operating systems. This gives us a separate score for single and multi-core operations. Sometimes we incorporate other benchmarks, such as PCMark 10 and workstation tests including Cinebench R23 or SPECViewPerf 2020 -- but these are not used for every review, only where it is appropriate.

When it comes to the display, we use a colourimeter to measure maximum brightness and colour reproduction. This is primarily tested against sRGB colour gamut, which is the main colour space that digital displays are usually calibrated for. Our test, however, also offers results for Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 which we may mention if it is relevant to the review.

We test battery life with a looped video test. The device is fully charged and the screen set to a specific brightness level of 170cd/m2. The video then plays till the laptop reaches a critical battery level and switches off. This gives a time score we can compare with other laptops or to which we can roughly estimate how long it will last during working hours without a charger.

On occasion, we will also measure the performance of solid-state storage drives with the AS SSD benchmark test. This simulates four different file transfer options to give an overview of speeds across various aspects of PC performance.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.