The Best Travel Laptops
by Daniel | Last Updated March 26th, 2020
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Technology has made it easier to work, well anywhere really. Most of the best travel laptops are becoming lighter with better battery life, making it easier to travel with your laptop than ever before. Keep reading to learn about the five best travel laptops, and what you should look for when shopping for a laptop to travel with.
Features The Best Travel Laptop
Before we break down the pros, cons, and features of the top five laptops out there, let's take a look into what features make the best travel laptop. Regardless of who makes your laptop, you'll want to keep an eye out for these features.
USB-C & Thunderbolt 3 Ports
You'll want to make sure your laptop has a USB-C port. Most new laptops have this, so you'll also want your computer to have a Thunderbolt 3 port as well. This is basically a USB-C port with more functions that can connect your device to screens or external devices, and charge your battery.
USB-C and Thunderbolt ports help charge laptops super quickly, making it necessary for travel. Even if you have only 30 minutes to charge your computer at the airport, these ports will give you enough battery life for hours of in-flight laptop use.
You also can charge with a USB-C from portable power banks, which can give you extra battery life when you're in a pinch. Thunderbolt 3s also allows you to connect your laptop to a dock, which can be connected to a keyboard, screen, speaker, and mouse.
The best travel laptop should have an SSD drive instead of an HDD drive. This is because SSD drives are not only lighter, but they are faster and consume less power.
Think about how much storage space you need on your computer when you travel. If you're sick of constantly loading photos and videos to the cloud over slow hotel Wifi when you travel, you might want a laptop with a drive of at least 1 TB of space.
If you can't afford this storage space, know that you can still use your USB port for thumb drives or external hard drives to give you more space. You can also use SD cards, as long as your computer has a drive read. Know that SD cards, while much slower than hard drives, are good for storing, photos, music, videos, and downloads.
Warranty And Repair
Something else you want to look for in a travel laptop, which is key if you travel internationally, is the warranty. Some companies will help you out with problems no matter where in the world you are, while others will restrict you to the country you bought your computer in.
Brands like Dell, Microsoft, and Apple operate globally.
Touch Or 4K?
If your laptop has a 4K resolution or touchscreen, know that it can drain your battery much faster than a non-touch full HD (1080p) display. The difference here is that while 4K screens are more efficient, you get a long battery life with a basic FHD screen.
The Best Travel Laptop
Here are the best five travel laptops that give you the most bang for your buck when you're on the road or in the air.
1. Dell XPS (13″ or 15″)
These ultrabooks are essentially high-end laptops with the best combination of portability and power. Running Windows 10 operating system, these lightweight devices are a go-to tool for photographers, remote workers, nomads, and videographers alike.
If you're someone who is also programming, editing or simply multitasking, then you'll want this laptop. The Dell XPS is also great for regular internet and office use.
As for the design. this model comes with a gold or silver lid, with a carbon fiber soft touch body. Coming in both 13 or 15 inches, the 13-inch screen is obviously lighter, weighing in at 2.8 pounds.
The base model Dell XPS 13-inch screen has a display of 1080 non-touch screen. Its brightness on the 1080p screen hits about 368 nits of brightness with a 3200 x 1800 panel with 305 nits. While the XPS 15-inch screen is less bright with only 282 nits, which is still relatively bright at most angles.
This computer has a lot of pros. For example, it's a high-end laptop that can do pretty much everything with superb performance. The Dell XPS has one of the thinnest screens around, which makes it so portable. You also are getting the latest of a ninth-generation processor.
Overall this is an incredibly lightweight, small yet powerful 13-inch laptop with an Intel Core i7-8565U Processor. Its sleek attractive design is also well made, with a long battery life.
The pros outweigh the cons here. The only real downside of this lap is 4K and OLED versions of this Dell XPS tend to have less of battery life compared to the FHD. There is also no USB-A sockets, which can be a dealbreaker to some.
2. Microsoft Surface Book 2
We also love this Microsoft Surface Book 2, which is an update from last year's 1st gen Surface Book. While the 2 might look similar to the OG, it's internal configuration has gotten a serious upgrade. This laptop comes in 13.5 inches, as well as a 15 inch.
The Microsoft Surface Book comes with an Ultra-HD display which will make heads turn with its crystal clear display. The best part about this computer is the long battery life that can last up to 15 hours, which works even when you're streaming movies.
In other words, Microsoft Surface Book 2 has enough battery life to survive long flights with ease. This device can be transformed into three modes: laptop, convertible or a tablet.
The tablet form is great for traveling, as you can use the Surface Book 2 as a media device, ebook reader and or digital notepad. You can also attach a keyboard making it a great workstation.
This laptop is an incredibly powerful running an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, versatile laptop and powerful studio all in one machine. You can get more done with this Surface Book because of it's four user modes. This laptop is lightweight and powerful, having high performance for a laptop of this size.
This laptop lets you get your ideas down fast with a backlit keyboard and touch display. You can connect all your devices to this laptop using a USB 3.1, and or full-size SD card. This Surface Book's USB-C port has a single connector that can transfer files, charge devices or display a video on an external monitor.
We love this device because of its 2-in-1 ability to be a laptop and or a tablet. You get up to fifteen hours of battery life, and great performance. This computer is incredibly lightweight, with a high-quality screen and there's an LTE version that's also available.
The downside of this laptop is it does not have a thunderbolt 3 port, which earlier we mentioned is key for traveling. This device also has a slow CPU.
3. Acer Chromebook R13
If you need a laptop that is incredibly capable, fast and easily portable than you're going to want to look into ultrabooks. But if you're on a tight budget, and don't need a ton of horsepower, Windows makes some efficient budget laptops you might want to look into.
These laptops are perfect for any office work, media and or browsing. You can run programs like Photoshop relatively well. But if you're a more demanding computer user, then you might feel that these laptops are too slow and don't have as much storage as you might want.
The Acer Chromebook is another interesting option; they don’t run Windows operating system, but they’re much cheaper and can handle basic tasks very well.
Chromebooks run on Chrome OS, which is Google's operating system that was made to reflect how we live and work today. Chrome OS delivers automatic updates with an Internet connection, built-in protection from viruses, and the ability to not only boot up in seconds but also the ability to stay fast over time.
These books come with all the Google apps that you already use and love, allowing you to easily download, edit and convert any Microsoft Office files through Google Slides, Sheets and Docs.
Chromebooks also come with the Google Play Store, which gives you access to a vast library of games, apps, TV, music, books, movies, magazines and so much more. This device has built-in storage which gives you offline access to your key files (which is helpful when traveling with spotty Wifi).
You also get an extra 100GB of Google Drive space with this device, so all your work can be automatically and properly backed -up. This laptop comes with 4GB of memory, a 12-hour battery life, 32GB of eMMC, a 13.3 inch full HD touch display, MediaTek Quad-Core CPU, and is a convertible laptop.
The pros with the Chromebook is it has an incredible value, giving you the most for your money. You don't just get a laptop since it's convertible, this device also works like a tablet with a touch screen. Chromebooks run all Chrome and Android apps, which is a real pro for Android users.
The downside of this device is it doesn't run Windows at all. So if you're used to Windows, this can be a real setback for you.
There also isn't a ton of storage on this computer, which will make you need to use the cloud or an SD card for more space. If you are a pro, you will likely find this computer to be too underpowered for you.
4. Lenovo Yoga 920
This laptop is a great travel device because it's incredibly flexible, letting you take it this computer essentially wherever you want to go. This device is a gorgeous 2-in-1 laptop that has the ability to transform into a tablet.
Its price tag matches the premium quality of this laptop. But know that you are getting your money's worth, as this device is incredibly powerful. This convertible laptop has some nice touches including an included stylus and no extra software that most PCs have pre-installed.
The Yoga 920 provides an incredible performance due to its Core i7 processor. It's strong battery life usually means you can do a whole day of work before you need to recharge.
We like this laptop because of it's slim and light 2-in-1 design. The screen of the Yoga 920 is superb, allowing you to do your best work practically anywhere.
The only real downside to this device is the keyboard. Some have said it feels strange when you fold it back for the tablet mode.
5. Apple Macbook Air
This 2.8-pound device has a battery life of up to 12 hours, with a 13-inch screen. We like the Macbook Air because it gets most things right for travelers.
Years ago, this laptop kept topping lists for the best laptops for travel. Due to it's a light and small design that is still powerful enough to get work done. Back then there were few alternatives to the air, but as you can see from our list so far, that is changing.
Apple actually stopped updating the Air, at a time when the competition started to make faster, lighter, and cheaper alternatives. Finally, in 2018, the Air got it's first significant refresh for the first time in three years.
Now, it's hard to choose between the Air and the Pro, as both machines have their strengths and weaknesses. It really comes down to the price and weight, over these computers expandability and power. Most travelers will prefer the Air due to its design.
This computer is reliable, with an Intel i5 processor, with 8 or 16GB of RAM and 128 to 1.5TB of storage space. All of that in just a 2.8-pound device.
One of the best upgrades to the lastest Apple Air model is how the display now uses Apple's eyecatching Retina True Tone screen. This means a crisp, vibrant picture that can adjust the white balance as well as the brightness, all based on the ambient light, which means there are more natural-looking colors on the screen.
We also love how this laptop has two USB-C Thunderbolt ports, which earlier we mentioned is key for a traveling laptop.
We love this model because it's lightweight and easy to travel with, but still powerful. We also like how the screen is very high quality with great support and it's easy to integrate other Apple gear into this laptop.
The downside is like most Apple products, this computer is expensive for what you are getting. There are also a few USB sockets, and there isn't a card reader or any other ports.
6. HP Spectre x360
The updated 2020 HP Spectre x360 is a top of the line 2-in-1 laptop supporting a 13.3-inch screen and utilizing a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor which provides amazing performance. The quad-core in this laptop makes easy work of more complicated and demanding workloads.
Weighing in at 2.8 pounds it is light enough to travel with it in your backpack or bag and easy to hold in one hand. It also has an extremely thin bezel which means the actual laptop is only marginally larger than the screen.
This laptop has a stylish brushed metal finish that gives it a high quality feel whilst still remaining impressively thin.
The track pad is nice and wide and has a quality feeling when using it and the keyboard is a breeze to use with well sized keys which are softly backlit.
For super quick log ins there is a fingerprint scanner below the keyboard which as a nice inclusion.
This laptop comes with up to 16GB of memory, over 10 hours of battery life, 13.3-inch 4K touch screen, 1TB SSD and a Webcam Kill Switch
Being a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet is always beneficial as it give you even more ways to use it. Over 10 hours of battery life and great performance.
It can tend to run a bit hot due to the new hardware powering it. It is also a bit expensive compared to some of the other laptops on this list.
7. MacBook Pro 16-inch
Apple has managed to squeeze a stunning 16-inch Retina display screen into its latest MacBook Pro without compromising too much size thanks to even thinner Bezels that surround the screen.
With an updated scissor-switch keyboard that replaces the problematic Butterfly switch keyboard from the previous 15inch model, it no longer has any issues with keys becoming stuck or not working. The feel of the keyboard is also much more responsive and enjoyable to use.
Performance has also been significantly increased for the previous model, now using an 8-Core Intel Core i9 Processor and starting with a minimum of 16GB of RAM that is upgradable to 64GB of RAM.
Storage starts at 512DB SSD and can be optioned up to a huge 8TB SSD, which is currently the most available on the market at the time of writing.
Apple has also increased the size of the battery to a 100-watt-hour battery which is the largest battery that is allowed on planes by the FAA. It can provide up to 11 hours of use before needing a charge which is quite impressive considering the size of the screen.
The updated keyboard is a pleasure to use and now has a dedicated Escape key, Touch ID and new inverted arrow keys.
A fantastic 6 speaker sound system that creates an amazing sound for a laptop
It is quite expensive compared to most other laptops on the market.
Due to its size it is slightly heavy in comparison to other laptops on this list
Find Your Laptop For Traveling Today
Now that you know what makes a great laptop for traveling, as well as our picks for the best travel laptop, find the right laptop for you today. You'll want to consider not only your budget but how you plan to use this laptop when traveling. For more travel, check out my blog.
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My name is Daniel and I am a full-time world traveler and constantly on the move.