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Congratulations, my friend — you’ve done it.
You’ve finally ditched the office.
Whether you’ve escaped part-time or you’re a proud full-time work-from-homer, I bet you can already taste the freedom.
There’s just one thing holding you back from complete work-from-home domination…
The right laptop.
The right work-from-home laptop can make or break your experience. As a remote professional, you depend on it for your livelihood every day.
You need it to be fast, comfortable, and reliable — but without costing an arm and a leg. That’s a tall order.
To speed up your research, our tech experts at Project Untethered dug deep into the data, sifting through mountains of specs, reviews, and prices to narrow down your best options.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
✔️ The 7 best budget laptops for working from home (or remotely).
✔️ 5 essential features to consider before buying a WFH laptop.
✔️ Specific recommendations based on your unique needs.
✔️ Creative tips for shaving down your purchase price.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
- Best Budget Laptop for Working from Home Comparison Table
- Work-From-Home Laptop Buying Guide
- Best Budget Laptops for Working from Home in 2022
- Wrap Up on the Best Budget Work-From-Home Laptops
Best Budget Laptop for Working from Home Comparison Table
Work-From-Home Laptop Buying Guide
Before diving into the nitty-gritties of each laptop, let’s look at the spec and features to look out for while shopping.
It’s much easier to compare laptop models when you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Outlets aren’t always an option. You might think you’ll always have a plug handy in your home office, but odds are you’ll end up working in other parts of your house (or outside your house) from time to time.
Some budget WFH laptops don’t have the best battery life — after all, you get what you pay for. So before buying, pay close attention to this spec.
Think about your workday and what you can get done. If you never work more than 8 hours at a time, look for a laptop that will last 8 hours or more per charge. Keep in mind that the more you stress the computer, the faster the battery will drain.
If you work with heavy graphics and power-intensive computing tasks, you might want a longer-lasting battery. For example, the Macbook Air has an 18-hour battery life, which should last you an entire day (or two) no matter what you throw at it.
As a remote worker, you want a laptop you can take on the go. The last thing you need is a heavy computer and a bunch of accessories weighing you down.
If you’re on a strict budget, you may have to make sacrifices in the weight department. But some models are certainly less back-breaking than others.
The average weight of the laptops on this list is roughly three pounds — the equivalent of a 12-pack of small apples. By the time you add in all of your accessories, hauling around your laptop bag can be a workout.
If you’re worried about weight, both the MacBook Air and ASUS Zenbook clock in below this three-pound average.
Thinner is generally more travel-friendly. But how sturdy and rugged is this computer? Just because it’s pretty and has shiny things doesn’t mean it can take a beating.
One way to research ruggedness is to Google “[COMPUTER NAME] drop test”.
As an extreme example, this guy dropped a MacBook 1,000 feet out of a helicopter. Check out what happens:
Ideally, you’ll avoid dropping your laptop out of a helicopter, but knowing you chose a rugged option gives peace of mind.
Freelance writers require different specs than graphic designers or video editors. Make sure the remote work laptop you buy is capable of meeting all of your business needs.
The CPU is the family of processors your computer uses to complete tasks. The more “cores” (and power of these cores) translate into a faster and smoother running machine.
For Intel, i3 is going to be the worst you should tolerate. This is fine for writers, but people doing heavier work should opt for the i7 or AMD equivalent.
RAM is short-term memory. The more RAM, the faster your machine can run. 4 GB is the bare minimum and anyone doing graphic design or editing video should get as much as they can — 16 GB is optimal.
The days of clunky hard drives are over. Most laptops these days come equipped with solid-state drives (SSDs). This means your computer saves faster and boots up quicker.
Look for a minimum of 256 GB. Depending on what programs and files you work with, this memory can disappear quickly.
That said, if you’re on a tight budget, you may find that buying this extra external SSD hard drive is cheaper than upgrading the internal storage of a laptop.
WFH laptops vs. desktops
Before diving into each laptop, you might wonder why anyone who works from home would want a laptop over a desktop in the first place.
Well, several reasons.
Many professionals who work from home don’t work from home all the time. Others like to get out and go to coffee shops or co-working spaces to prevent their social tanks from drying up.
Digital nomads who failed to pick up a wifi hotspot for travel might have to bike or walk miles to get the service they need.
If you fall into this category, you probably want a laptop — better yet, a laptop for digital nomads specifically.
If you’re 100% sure you’ll never have to bring your work outside your house for the next five years, you could opt for a desktop to save money. But it severely limits your flexibility.
Best Budget Laptops for Working from Home in 2022
Below is my list of the best budget laptops for working from home in 2022.
“On a budget” means different things to different people. So I’ve organized recommendations by price range and brand.
Best laptops for working from home under $1000
A thousand bucks is a lot of cash to some people, so if you’re looking for the cheapest option possible, skip down to #3.
That said, when you consider build quality and calculate cost based on expected lifespan, sometimes slightly higher priced models end up being cheaper over the long run.
For example, if you buy a $400 laptop that breaks after two years, you would have been better off buying the $800 model that lasts for five. Of course, nobody can predict the future.
It’s also worth considering your output. If a higher-end laptop increases your productivity and allows you to finish your work faster (or earn more), that could be considered a discount.
Time is money, after all.
Dimensions (H x W x D): 0.63 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches
Weight: 2.84 lbs (1.29 kg)
Storage: 256GB SSD
Processor: Apple M1 chip
Ports: Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (x2)
Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
After 20+ hours of research, there is a clear winner — the MacBook Air M1 is the best budget laptop for working from home — at least for most people.
It’s not the cheapest laptop on the list, but its quality, longevity, and usability make up for it.
In fact, this is the exact laptop I use to work remotely. It checks all of the boxes.
It’s incredibly lightweight, weighs in at 2.8 pounds, and has a ridiculous 18-hour battery life that’ll let you work from anywhere.
Power goes out at home? You can still work.
Stuck on the runway? You can still work.
Living van life off-the-grid with limited house batteries? You can still work.
With 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of solid-state memory, your machine fires up in just a few seconds. And unlike older versions of the Air, the M1 is packed with power. That means it can take on pretty much any tasks you throw at it without a flinch.
(Although if you do high-end graphic design and ultra HD video editing every day, the MacBook Pro might be a better option — which slides you above the “budget” range).
As far as durability, did you see the helicopter drop video above?
The slightly annoying part of the MacBook Air is that it only comes with two USB-C ports. That means you will almost certainly need to buy an extra laptop port adapter to plug in all your devices.
But carrying a tiny adaptor around with you isn’t the end of the world. Just keep it in your laptop case so you never lose it.
Who should buy the MacBook Air?
Everyone! Kidding. Kinda. The MacBook Air is the best all-around option for most people working from home.
It can handle most remote work applications with the exception of heavy graphic design work. (Tests show that it technically can handle it, but it’s not quite as fast as more expensive laptops).
The only reason to avoid it is if you simply hate Apple products, or if your company uses Windows-only software.
While it’s slightly more expensive than some other options, Macs are known to hold their value and last many years. I bought a 2009 MacBook in college and later sold it to my brother — he still uses it today, 13 years later!
(Other options: Best Buy)
Dimensions (H x W x D): 12.6 x 7.8 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 2.65 lbs (1.2 kg)
Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
Ports: USB 3.0 Type A (x1), USB 2.0 Type A (x1), HDMI, headphone jack
Battery Life: Up to 13 hours
It isn’t easy, but I accept that not everyone appreciates Apple products the same way that I do. In that case, the ASUS Zenbook 14 is your best option.
They’re ultra-slim and lightweight, hitting the scales just over 2.5 pounds — even lighter than the MacBook Air.
As far as specs, this bad boy boasts an i7 chip, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD drive, making it very comparable to the MacBook Air in this category. The battery life isn’t quite as good as the Air, but it’s still solid at just over 13 hours of life.
On the bright side, the Zenbook 14 packs in quite a few different ports. So unlike the Air, you might not need to carry around an extra adapter.
The Zenbook 14 can easily handle what the average remote worker requires, but for heavy HD video editing, the base model might not cut it.
In that case, you can always upgrade to a beefed-up version for just a few hundred bucks.
Who should buy the ASUS Zenbook 14?
The Zenbook 14 is fairly compact. It’s ideal for people who have smaller hands, work in tight spaces, need to pack light, or are constantly on the go. It also fits perfectly in a traveling office for digital nomads.
It can handle all of the tasks a MacBook Air can handle with one notable exception — the graphics card isn’t quite as robust. So even a YouTuber or someone who requires graphic design capabilities will probably want something more.
(Other options: Best Buy)
Best Laptops for Working from Home Under $500
Some of you WFH folks can get by with some really attractively priced products. If you don’t need anything fancy — just internet browsing, email, docs, and the basics — then you could potentially get buy with some even cheaper models.
Dimensions (H x W x D): 14.31 x 9.39 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 4.19 lbs (1.90 kg)
Storage: 128GB SSD
RAM: 4GB DDR4
Processor: 11th Generation Intel Core i3-1115G4
Ports: USB 3.2 Type-C, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 (1 Power-off Charging), USB 2.0, HDMI 2.0 with HDCP support, headphone, Ethernet (RJ-45), DC-in for AC adapter
Battery Life: Up to 8.5 hours
I have a friend who swears by Acer products. He’s a hardcore bang-for-buck kind of guy, and he claims Acer is the best product at its price range. They offer both laptops and desktops at affordable prices with decent hardware.
The Acer Aspire 5 is a budget laptop that doesn’t look cheap. In fact, it’s the cheapest “true” laptop on this list. It has a sleek design, but is a bit heavier than average — weighing in at a smidge over four pounds.
If you don’t plan on moving around much, that won’t be an issue. If you do move around, consider the extra weight an opportunity to whip yourself into shape.
As far as specs go, it boasts an Intel i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. These are best suited for minimally-intensive programs like email, word docs, and spreadsheets (as long as you don’t have 100 windows open simultaneously).
The Aspire 5 also boasts a 15-inch display and plenty of ports, two benefits you get for that extra weight.
The battery is nothing to scoff at either, giving you nine hours of life — much higher than most laptops in this price bracket.
With all of this decent hardware, there are going to be some downsides. The biggest one is poor graphic quality. You’re not going to be doing any gaming or bitcoin mining on this thing. It’s pretty bare-bones in this area.
But if all you’ll only be using a few basic programs — with some streaming and Youtube mixed in — then it should suffice.
Who should buy the Acer Aspire 5?
The Aspire 5 is the best option for those looking for the best WFH laptop for the absolute cheapest price.
It’s fast enough with decent hardware, fairly durable, and cheap enough that breaking isn’t going to bring you to tears. You can just go buy another one.
Is it a bit clunkier than the MacBook Air and ASUS Zenbook 14?
Of course it is. But it’s also a fraction of the price.
(Other options: Best Buy – Only more expensive i7 version available at time of writing)
Dimensions (H x W x D) (Tablet + Keyboard): H 9.64 x W 6.66 x D 0.71 inches
Weight (Tablet + Keyboard) : 2.03lbs (0.920 kg)
Storage: 128GB SSD
RAM: 4GB DDR4
Processor: MediaTek Helio P60T Processor (2.00 GHz, 8 Cores, 8 Threads)
Ports: USB-C (Gen 2), Volume control, Power button, 5-point pogo pins
Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
Chromebooks are slightly different from “normal” laptops. They use Chrome OS, which is an operating system that runs a lot like an Android smartphone. It is app-based, which requires lighter hardware to run properly.
Chromebooks are for people who are just testing the waters. If you’re just starting out as a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, or with some kind of data entry gig that allows for Google products, this is your best bet.
You can dip your toes into the pool without spending a small fortune on a computer.
The Chromebook Duet is technically cheaper than the Aspire 5, but I wouldn’t consider it a “true” laptop. It is a 2-in-1 laptop with a 10” screen and detachable keyboard. Think of it kind of like working on a glorified tablet.
This makes it super portable, but not super comfortable to work on full-time.
Lenovo is known for creating quality products, and this one is no different. Unlike many Chromebooks, this one comes with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive.
My only issue is the screen size. But if you’re just starting out and absolutely cannot afford anything else, this Chromebook can handle your basic needs.
Who should buy the Lenovo Chromebook Duet?
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is the best choice for brand new online workers who are just testing the waters. If you don’t know what the best WFH laptop is for your specific job (or haven’t even decided which job you want to do yet), then why spend a ton of money?
If you have a severely limited budget, want tablet capability, and you’re brand new to this lifestyle, then the Lenovo Chromebook Due is a solid choice.
Once you gain some traction and build your savings, you can always upgrade as needed.
(Other options: Best Buy)
Best Laptop for Remote Work by Brand
Just like I love my Apple products and my cheapskate buddy adores Acer, there are people all over the world with different tastes in computers.
If you have a specific brand you must have, here are some great options to choose from. But if you could care less about brands, just stick with the Macbook Air, ASUS Zenbook 14, or Acer Aspire 5 above.
Dimensions (H x W x D): 14.4 x 10 x 0.85 inches
Weight: 5.51 lbs (2.49 kg)
Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
RAM: 8GB DDR4 SDRAM
Processor: AMD 4th Generation Ryzen 5 4600H Processor (6-core, 3.0 GHz Up To 4.0 GHz, 8 MB Cache)
Ports: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x USB 3.2 Type-A, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x Mini DP, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Headphone/Speaker/Line-Out Jack
Battery Life: Up to 7 hours
This budget Dell laptop has an impressive AMD Ryzen R7 CPU and an AMD Radeon RD 5600M GPU. This means that for the money, the graphics on this computer are top-notch. It also comes with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD hard drive. All for under $1,000.
Please note, this is for last year’s model. The newest one is going to cost anywhere between $1,200 and $1,500. However, it’s still a quality machine and definitely worth the money.
So what’s the problem? Weight. This thing is monstrous, weighing in at 5.5 lbs. That’s almost equivalent to carrying TWO MacBook Airs or ASUS Zenbook 14s. Yikes.
Secondly, the battery only lasts seven hours, which is far less than our top picks.
Who should buy the Dell G5 15?
There are so few laptops out there in this price range that can be used for graphic design and video editing. This one might be the only choice.
If you want to start playing around with these potential career paths and want an affordable work-from-home laptop, this is likely the best (if not the only) choice.
Other than that, the Macbook Air and ASUS Zenbook 14 are better options.
(Other options: Best Buy)
Dimensions (H x W x D): 14.1 x 9.1 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 4.41 lbs (2.00 kg)
Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
RAM: 8GB DDR4 RAM
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U 2.30GHz Hexa-Core Processor up to 4.0GHz, AMD Radeon Graphics with Shared Graphics Memory
Ports: 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Combination Audio Jack, 1 x Multi-format SD Media Card Reader
Battery Life: Up to 11 hours
What if a laptop could also be a tablet? What if it was lightweight, faster than greased lightning, had long battery life, and was attractively priced?
Well, then you would probably be looking at the HP Envy x360.
It’s got a 15” screen, which depending on your portability needs, could be a pro or a con.
The Envy x360’s hardware is impressive with an AMD Ryzen 5, 8GB of RAM, and a 256 SSD. It weighs less than three pounds and has plenty of ports.
The graphics card isn’t great, and there are some strong-worded complaints about the webcam and Zoom functionality. But if you’re an HP fan who wants something tablet-capable, this is the best choice for the money.
Who should buy the HP Envy x360?
The Envy x360x is best for people who want 2-in-1 tablet capabilities and have their heart set on the HP brand. It’s not the best at anything, but does everything “good enough”.
(Other options: Best Buy)
Dimensions (H x W x D): 12.8 x 2.68 x 9.21 inches
Weight: 1.10 lbs (0.49 kg)
Storage: 128GB SSD
RAM: 8GB LPDDR4
Processor: Core i5
Ports: USB-C, USB-A
Battery Life: Up to 10.5 hours
Not many people think about Microsoft when it comes to hardware. But they make computers, and these computers run their software amazingly well. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is what you want if you’re a die-hard Microsoft lover.
This is one of the best laptops for home business since so many people rely on the Office Suite for office tasks. And at a feathery 1.7 pounds and 2-in-1 tablet capability, it’s a cinch to haul to and from the office.
The Surface Pro also lets you choose your chip, GPU, RAM, and hard drives — but anything more than the base model will cost you dearly.
The downsides are that for nearly a grand, you’re only getting the barebones base model with a 12.3-inch display and 10.5 hours of battery life — far less than what a similarly-priced Macbook Air gives you. In fact, if you want equal specs to the Macbook Air, you’ll pay over $1,000.
Who should buy the Microsoft Surface Pro 7?
This is probably the best laptop for a home business with tablet capabilities, but it doesn’t come cheap. If you have the budget and love the idea of a tablet option, it’s a great choice. But for essentially the same price (or less), you could grab the sleek and powerful Macbook Air.
(Other options: Best Buy)
Wrap Up on the Best Budget Work-From-Home Laptops
As you can see, no matter what your budget, you’ve got options.
Quality WFH laptops range from a couple hundred dollars up to a grand. But in almost all cases, you get what you pay for.
Yes, you pay a little more upfront. But when you consider the total lifetime of the laptop, increased productivity and work output, and a more enjoyable daily work experience — those extra costs even out.
That said, not everyone has the upfront cash sitting around for the Air or Zendesk. And in that case, the budget-friendly Acer Aspire 5 is a perfectly decent option for the average remote worker who just needs the basics.
If you choose one of these three options, you literally can’t go wrong.
Mitch is your typical nomadic backpacker. Or at least, he was. But after stopping in Colombia to take “one week” of salsa lessons, his life took a sharp left turn. He met a cute Colombian girl in dance class, fell in love, and got married. Over half a decade has passed since he left his career to travel the world as a digital nomad, and he’s never looked back.
Nowadays, he’s the blogger behind Project Untethered—where he runs an awesome email newsletter and Youtube channel teaching adventure-craved wanderlusters how to escape the rat race, earn money from anywhere, and build an “untethered life”.
His advice has been featured in Forbes, USA Today, Yahoo, Reader’s Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, and more.
Mitch's Travel Recommendations:
Travel Planning Resources - Everything you need to plan your trip on one convenient page.
Safetywing Insurance - This cheap travel insurance has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Booking.com - Book accommodation without adding your credit card (in case you need to cancel).
Skyscanner - Find cheap flights.
Trusted House Sitters - Take care of pets in exchange for free (sometimes luxury) accommodation.
Flexjobs - Find remote jobs without having to sift through crappy ones.
Skillshare - Free trial to take unlimited classes that teach digital nomad skills.
Anytime Mailbox - Virtual mail service that can handle your mail while you’re away.
Wise - Send and receive money abroad cheaply (great for freelancers).