The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses and educational institutes to relocate to the internet. It’s now been well over a year since a lot of us have been working from home. Everything from a morning class to a business meeting has to be held virtually now. Naturally, laptops made adapting to a very drastic change in life a whole lot easier. Sure, you could fashion yourself a home office equipped with a desktop and monitor setup, but that brings with it several problems of its own, including space issues and move-around-ability.

We find that laptops are a whole lot more convenient than desktops in this regard. If you need something done, there’s definitely good laptops for the task. Adding to functionality a layer of portability and versatility certainly helps prove our point too. We hope the pandemic is over soon, but many workplaces have reacted positively to having the option to work from home. The trend might soon become the norm, so there’s never been a better time to invest in a good laptop.

Comparing our Picks for the Best Laptops for Working from Home

We’ve been hard at work trying to compile a list of the very best laptops for working from home. Here’s what we found, and our thoughts about them in a nutshell.

ImageProductDetailPrice
M1 MacBook Air 2020

M1 MacBook Air 2020

  • A Secure and reliable machine
  • A terrific performer
  • An absolute winner in the battery department.
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Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15

  • A fancy, high end laptop
  • Comfortably the performance champion amongst Windows devices
  • Fantastic for a variety of professions.
  • Runs a little expensive though!
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2020 HP Envy x360 2 in 1 Laptop

2020 HP Envy x360 2 in 1 Laptop

  • One of the Best 2 in 1 option on the market.
  • It lacks in extremely high end performance
  • But it certainly makes up in versatility
  • A solid pick for anyone not looking to splash thousands of dollars on a laptop.
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ASUS Laptop L210 Ultra-Thin Laptop

ASUS Laptop L210 Ultra-Thin Laptop

  • Light on your pocket, great for those on a budget.
  • Packs all of the essentials, performs fairly in standard web and media tasks.
  • Has an SSD slot available to get more out of it.
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Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Home and Business Laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Home and Business Laptop

  • Best in class Business Laptop
  • Large RAM deposit makes it Perfect for multi-tasking
  • Retains the trademark features of the ThinkPad brand, including the much loved TrackPoint.
  • Don’t expect GPU intensive workload to shine through.
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2021 Newest Dell Inspiron 15.6" HD Business Laptop

2021 Newest Dell Inspiron 15.6″ HD Business Laptop

  • A business laptop that is quite good for the money.
  • Comes with an SSD which we really appreciate.
  • The screen leaves much to be desired.
  • Lack of a Core processor means practically less CPU power.
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Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

  • Sports a great keyboard.
  • Cleanest Windows experience, straight from Microsoft.
  • We love the screen and productivity is a charm here.
  • We don’t love the I/O options at all, expect to be carrying around dongles.
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The Buyer’s Guide to the Best Laptop for Work From Home

Needless to say, many were unprepared for the shift from their workplaces or classrooms to their homes. The change was met with a slew of problems, tech issues being very prominent amongst them. Before we recommend a spec list, we want to tell you that there’s some thinking behind our recommendations. You see, performance woes are consistent across anyone complaining about their laptops. At this point, you know that you can trust us to not recommend something that’s total garbage in the performance department. So that really is the easy part, and we’ll get to the performance part in time. What’s not so easy is something you might overlook. There’s plenty of IT/tech issues that go way below the radar.

 Not only is it something that might be a personal inconvenience for you, but it is something your employer might also take issue with. In time, being under equipped to work from home will no longer be an excuse. Companies as of late have shown no unwillingness to stop downsizing. This owes largely to the fact that they’re in worse financial sitting than they were in the years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. To them, anyone not keeping up with the norm becomes more expendable. Question is, are you ready to adapt to that change?

If you’ve survived being let go from work the first time, thank your lucky stars. If you continue to experience laptop related problems working from home without attending to them, you won’t be so lucky next time. For employees, longstanding technical issues means being possibly fired. Students can expect their grades to drop, with them not being able to partake in online classes or submit their assignments. Take a tip as you go, fix the leaks in the cauldron and fix them fast.

NaviSite Stats For Work From Home Issues
Source: NaviSite

American IT service management company “NaviSite” conducted a survey monitoring issues workers and employers were facing while working from home. The most notable issue, by far, is internet access. This ranges from bandwidth limitations to shoddy Wi-Fi. While it may seem obvious, simply asking your ISP to bump up your connection is often not enough. Replacing your router might not be the move either.

Internet

But why is that? You might not have known, but your Wi-Fi can only get you as far as your laptop hardware allows you. Laptop manufacturers have been increasingly aware of adapting to better Wi-Fi card standards, but you still need to know what you’re looking for. Laptops that support the Wi-Fi 4 standard are the obvious bare minimum. Look for something with Wi-Fi 5, but Wi-Fi 6/6E would be very ideal.

Reddit Complain Work From Home Internet
A reddit user adds legitimacy to our findings describing how internet issues are very much a real thing

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of those at the moment, but the former option does just fine. Making sure your laptop has dual band Wi-Fi support would be swell. The ability to switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz allows you to choose between signal strength and speed. What would also be neat is an Ethernet Port. A LAN Cable permits you to utilize greater bandwidth, allows for noticeable improvements in speed and has lower latency. We have listed a bunch of laptops that have either one or both of those features, those come up in a bit though.

Security

You’d think a person’s computing habits have a lot to do with keeping their laptops safe. If you’ve been using computers for a while, you’d already know to avoid visiting shoddy websites or downloading stuff off them. That’s a quick way to get a virus in your computer and risk losing both your privacy and data. While we agree that the end-user has a lot of say in how secure their OS is, the truth is some are just better for that purpose. If security is your top concern, why not try macOS? Wanna stick to Windows? Windows 10 Pro is a lot more secure than the “Home” variant. It houses all of Windows’ Business Management and Deployment features plus higher end security features like BitLocker encryption and WIP. Of course, you will always have the option to very easily boot Linux with the Windows laptops we’ve listed. If you know what you’re doing with Linux, security won’t be much of an issue.

Reddit Linux is Secure
Reddit user u/Linux4ever_Leo explains how secure Linux really is)

Cost

There’s a reason why cost was the option that mattered least to the people being surveyed because it will vary greatly with what you need to do. The simpler your needs, the cheaper your laptop. Our listings cover a variety of budgets and purposes, keeping in mind what you need from a remote working setup.

Longevity

There’s no telling how long you’ll be working from home. NaviSite also found that 83% of the workforce is expecting to continue with remote work policies indefinitely. For that reason, it helps to keep something that’s not gonna end up in a landfill site by next year. Also consider that it’s obviously not as easy to get your laptop repaired these days. Of course, having a laptop that is modular and user upgradable helps too. You can, for example, pop in an extra stick of RAM or an SSD pretty easily and make your laptop go the distance.

Quora User Work From Home Laptop Issues
Quora user expresses concerns about their broken laptop

Performance

We saved this for last because this also depends greatly on your usage. CPUs like the Intel Celeron are obviously inferior to their Core i3-i9 lineup, but they’re perfectly adequate for routine web tasks. It’s the same with AMD’s Ryzen lineup, they’re definitely better their A6s and A9s.

With RAM it’s a little trickier. You need as much RAM as you can get to be able to multitask more easily. For that purpose, 8GB is the sweet spot but you can still temper your expectations and get away with 4GB in budget laptops. Business/Power users should

 aim for the 16GB mark, but accept no less than 8GB.

GPU capability matters least to most people for work-at-home purposes. However, If your work requires good GPU performance, you can’t go wrong with NVIDIA’s GTX or RTX lineup, or AMD’s Radeon series.

Battery life matters a lot too. A lot of manufacturers trade performance for 4-5 hours of battery life. But you definitely want at least 8-10 hours from your laptop. You can’t risk not having access to your laptop if your charger breaks, or for the small, but given possibility of a power outage. Besides, it’s not all that wise to have your laptop plugged in all the time.

The 7 Best Laptops for Work From Home

1. M1 MacBook Air 2020

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Specification

  • CPU: Apple M1 8-Core CPU
  • GPU: Apple 8-Core GPU
  • RAM: 8GB
  • DISPLAY: 13.3” Retina display (2560×1600)
  • STORAGE: 256GB SSD

Design & Hardware

Macs are textbook examples of superior craftsmanship. Sporting a metal unibody design, it feels solid and premium to the touch. Coming at just under 3 pounds, it’s heaven-send for anyone looking to jump from the couch to the desk. Besides all that though, this is an absolute treat for all things media. The MacBook seriously has one of the most remarkable screens we’ve ever used. It’s bright, colorful, sharp and framed by a thin set of bezels. MacOS is already pretty secure as is, but for everyone trying to add an extra layer of security, Apple brings TouchID to the MacBook Air as well. It’s fast AND convenient.

One of the reasons how Apple have managed to fit so much power into a package this tiny is by not including cooling fans. With that, the device does tend to get hot under heavy workloads, even more so than its predecessor in the 2019 MacBook Air. We attribute that in part to its superior processor. Another other issue is a little more longstanding. Apple still isn’t very generous with its offerings in I/O. One 3.5mm headphone jack and two USB-C thunderbolt ports is all you get, one if it’s plugged in. Expect to be investing in and carrying around a lot of dongles if you need to expand connectivity. 

Performance

The MacBook Air is faster and more reliable than it’s ever been. An in-house processor coupled with exceptional software optimization with macOS means there’s never been a better time to get a MacBook. It can handle pretty much everything you throw at it, including even resource intensive applications including most notably, Photoshop and Final Cut Pro.

Battery life has improved significantly; Apple’s claim of 15 hours of web browsing or 18 hours of watching movies is actually a reliable stat. You’d be hard-pressed trying to kill this in a day, especially with routine tasks like note taking, attending meetings for a bit etc. Of course, your mileage will vary greatly depending on what you’re doing. You’re not going to get 18 hours of software development or video editing, but that’s too unreasonable an ask anyway.

 Expect the MacBook Air to deliver on everything performance-related and last you a good while at that. All of this makes the MacBook Air a near-perfect choice for most people looking to work from home.

Pros

  • Superior Build
  • Extreme Portability
  • Superb Battery Life
  • Fantastic Performance
  • Top screen and sound quality
  • Great for Security & Privacy

Cons

  • Poor I/O selection
  • Questionable Cooling System
  • macOS is not as versatile as Windows

2. Dell XPS 15

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Specification

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 10th Gen (up to 5.0 GHz)
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650-Ti 4GB GDDR6
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • DISPLAY: 15.6” 3840 x 2400 FHD+ Display
  • STORAGE: 512GB SSD

Design & Hardware

While we were very impressed with the MacBook’s performance to size ratio, a lot of that performance owes itself to in-house components paired with incredible software optimization. Most Windows Laptops simply do not have that luxury. They’re assembling third party components and coupling them with third party software. So, when we say that Dell has absolutely WOWED us with their XPS lineup, that says something. This laptop packs a TON of power into something that’s also comparably compact. Everything in the XPS 15 is, by every measurable metric, powerful. CPU? Top of the line. GPU? One of the finest options available for laptops, period.

To us though, the most striking feature about the XPS 15’s design is the phenomenal, edge to edge, best in class 4K+ display. Incredibly color accurate, bright and sharp, it makes for an incredible user experience. Also, it has HDR, an incredible plus for multimedia work. With that alone, it stands head and shoulders above anything else on this list. Moving on to the keyboard panel, and you’ll notice the carbon fiber texture. It doesn’t attract fingerprints as easily and makes it comfortable to rest your palms over. Keyboard’s alright, but the trackpad needs talking over. It’s large and responsive, but know that there have been reported issues with double clicking.

Performance

The XPS 15 has consistently been one of, if not THE best performing thin and light laptops of the past several years. It is so ridiculously good at its core function; it can put many a workstation to shame. The CPU-GPU pairing does wonders for the laptop’s usability for a broad range of professional use. Game developers, graphics designers etc. will love the inclusion of a dedicated NVIDIA card to run Unity, Photoshop, Blender etc. with relative ease (Also check out our best laptops for game development piece for similar needs). Performance is top notch; Dell charges a premium for this though so that’s a given. If you’re more concerned with the ability to multitask, know that the 16GB of onboard RAM takes care of switching between your spreadsheets, zoom calls and browser tabs like it’s no problem at all. Pair that with its superb screen and it makes working from home a total breeze.

Pros

  • Incredible performance
  • Fit for a variety of professions
  • Reliable for demanding workload
  • Great build quality
  • Best in class screen

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Bad webcam
  • Potential trackpad defects

3. 2020 HP Envy x360 2 in 1 Laptop

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Specification

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U (2.8GHz – 4.0GHz)
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4 RAM
  • DISPLAY: 15.6″ Full HD (1920×1080) IPS Anti-glare Micro-edge WLED-backlit
  • STORAGE: 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD

Design & Hardware

One thing we would absolutely like to commend HP for is them constantly improving and innovating on the design choices for their Envy x360 Laptops. The Envy x360 series has had a glo-up the likes of which I’ve rarely seen with other lineups from other companies. The old chonker of a display is gone, replaced now by a very impressive looking LED screen with remarkable sharpness and great colors. All of this is centered nicely within a sleek frame with the screen taking up a lot of the real estate there. Move down a little, and you’ll find a backlit keyboard. This is a very welcome addition for all the times you’re going to be holed up in your room with the curtains drawn. Besides that, the keyboard has decent travel and a full num pad, a lot to like there.  Variants of the HP Envy x360 include the fingerprint reader, as well as Windows Hello.

A lot of the Envy x360’s design choices are reminiscent of well built, premium laptops. But where it really stands out is its versatility as both a laptop and a tablet. The screen rotates a full 360 degrees so you can really adjust it to whichever position you’d like. I found myself using it in a 60 degree mode, so I could get the screen as close as possible to myself with the fans facing upwards. Interestingly, that helps a bit with cooling thanks to better airflow. With the screen adjusted like that, it makes for an incredible work session and adds some fun to your leisure time. You could also pair it with a bunch of styluses. A lot of the 2-in-1 appeal will prove especially useful to all the graphic designers and artists.

Performance

Performance on the x360 laptop may range from fantastic to average depending on what you wanna do with it. Wanna read or write emails, brush up on some homework, compile code, use drawing apps, watch some videos? All of that works like a charm. However, if you’re looking to do anything SUPER resource intensive, especially with regards to the GPU, you might not fare as well. Add to that the stock graphics power, and it’s nothing special at all. But if we’re being completely honest, if you’re looking for resource intensive work, you’d never look at a 2-in-1 anyway. For most cases though, performance is perfectly adequate, and you can even expect the HP Envy x360 to outperform rival devices in many scenarios. The SSD works great, launching apps and booting up is a total breeze. The Ryzen does help add a little more battery power than it’s Intel equivalent models, decent with low to moderate workload.

Pros

  • Better screen than a lot of its competition
  • Excellent aluminum build
  • Bang & Olufsen audio
  • Works great as a 2 in 1

Cons

  • Known for annoying software inconveniences
  • Potentially lackluster GPU performance

4. ASUS L210 Ultra Thin Laptop 11.6”

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Specification

  • CPU: Intel Celeron N4020 Processor
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 600
  • RAM: 4 GB DDR4 SDRAM
  • DISPLAY: 11.6” 1366 x 768
  • STORAGE: 64 GB Embedded Multimedia Card

Design & Hardware

We think the Asus L210 is a cut above other options in its price range. For one it’s not very flimsy. The plastic seems to be pretty good quality. It’s solid and sturdy, looking ready to take a hit. At the same time the laptop is also pretty small and lightweight coming in at just over 2lbs. There’re laptops a lot more expensive than the L210 that just feel a lot worse. A nice matte finish covers the whole device so it’s not a total fingerprint magnet.

The keyboard, while not great, is not the worst either. There’s little travel and it’s not very tactile. That said, it is backlit, a very welcome addition at the price. It also sports an enter key with a yellow accent which adds to style points. The screen is where it shows that Asus cut corners. We’d say it’s functional at best. If you’re gonna do a lot of web browsing and typing, it’s perfect for that. Once you wanna use this for something like multimedia is when things start to get a little iffy. Colors are dull, and the matte coating, while great for outdoor use, does result in lost sharpness. There’s decent I/O on either side, and you can even pop an NVMe SSD into this for better performance.

Performance

Performance is perfectly in line with what the L210 costs. Pretty adequate for routine web tasks, basic Windows applications and…. that’s just about it. Look, at this price point don’t expect to be running Cyberpunk in 4K. Think of it instead as a barebones, no nonsense laptop. It’s gonna write your papers, it’s gonna handle all your zoom calls, it’s gonna send your emails too. Getting bored? Put a movie on.

That’s honestly about it though, unless you pop in an SSD. At Best Laptops 101, we’re pretty clear on our stance on SSDs and all that magic applies here too. It’s an easy way to get a performance boost and extend your mileage. The L210 is a very cost effective solution to having to work efficiently from home. It also could honestly be great for a lot of students too (though you might wanna check out our full guide for student laptops).

Pros

  • Good value for the money
  • Long lasting battery
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Very portable

Cons

  • Low base storage
  • Display quality
  • Comes with S mode enabled for Windows 10 (Can Disable)

5. Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Home & Business Laptop

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Specification

  • CPU: Intel i5-10210U 4-Core
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4
  • DISPLAY: 15.6 Inches 1920 x 1080
  • STORAGE: 512 GB PCIe SSD

Design & Hardware

Lenovo bought IBM’s PC business back in 2005. They probably knew not to fix what ain’t broke, because everything about the ThinkPad screams classic. They’ve kept a lot of the visual elements intact. The red accents are all there, lining the mouse buttons above the trackpad, the TrackPoint itself plus the dot in the ThinkPad logo’s “I”. The beloved TrackPoint, a trademark ThinkPad feature, is still here. We love it too, because it helps you move around the mouse with your hands still on the keyboard.

The keyboard is VERY Lenovo. You’ve seen keyboards like this on a lot of Lenovo laptops before, but that really isn’t a bad thing at all. On the contrary, it’s pretty solid with decent feedback and is responsive. The screen is a full 1080p, but is very mediocre. Most prominently, there’s issues with backlight bleeding and a shallow color gamut. An ethernet jack welcomes you in the I/O section for the option to maximize your internet speed. All in all, most business users will have absolutely nothing to complain about.

Performance

ThinkPads have long been the benchmark for business laptops. Working from home isn’t exactly new. Professionals have been using ThinkPads for work related needs at home for decades now, that should tell you how reliable they are. Performance isn’t an issue at all. It’ll handle whatever you throw at it, and more, thanks to the plentitude of available RAM.

Battery life is pretty great, despite its perceivably small capacity. Unfortunately, it can run a little hot. This seems to be a trend with some E series ThinkPads in general but it’s worse here than some of its predecessors.

Pros

  • Superb performer
  • Great for multitasking
  • Energy Efficient
  • Windows 10 Pro

Cons

  • Mediocre Screen, terrible colors
  • Runs hot

6. 2021 Dell Inspiron 15.6”

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Specification

  • CPU: Intel Celeron Processor N4020
  • GPU: Intel® Intel UHD Graphics 610
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4 SDRAM
  • DISPLAY: 15.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare LED-Backlit Display
  • STORAGE: 256GB PCIe SSD

Design & Hardware

For the money the Dell is built quite well. There’s minimal flex and a lot of sturdiness which is noticeably absent in many rival laptops. It’s all plastic made, but with a textured finish to complement its robustness, thankfully they didn’t cheap out with the design. We’re fans of the keyboard too. It’s full sized with the num pad and offers an inviting typing experience. Unfortunately, it is not backlit.

There’s a bunch of ports suitable for all your work related needs, with USB 3.0s galore and an ethernet port to make up for the lack of Wi-Fi 6 support. USB-C is a glaring exclusion here and we’re not sure why Dell thought that would be OK in 2022.

Performance

The Inspiron is a far cry from the XPS series. There’s absolutely nothing glamorous about it. There’s no fancy display, or dedicated graphics. But what you will find in the Inspiron is a lot of the familiar snappy performance in a FRACTION of the price. Consider this: you’re a business person working from home and you want something gimmick free and reliable. The Inspiron is fairly fast with its stock SSD storage and a CPU which can go up to 2. 8GHz.Although base speed is quite low, and we would’ve preferred at least a Core i3 in its stead. Battery life is also good, you could squeeze around a dozen hours with light use.

It’s a work laptop through and through. Use it for that alone, and you won’t be disappointed.

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Great for multitasking
  • Adequate SSD storage
  • Inclusion of a LAN port

Cons

  • No USB-C in 2022
  • Poor screen
  • Would’ve liked to see an Intel Core at this price point

7. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

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Specification

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 (Base 1.20GHz)
  • GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR4
  • DISPLAY: 13.5” 2256 x 1504 Touch Screen
  • STORAGE: 128GB SSD

Design & Hardware

Surface Laptops were always Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook, and it shows right away with how similar it looks. What sets it apart from the MacBook is the finish on the chassis, which we absolutely adore. Depending on the color, it’s either Alcantara fabric or Sandstone (we’ve linked an Alcantara variant) and it feels comfortable all the same.

We love the Surface’s keyboard. It’s so good it embarrasses that of the MacBook. Each click is pronounced and satisfying. Paired with the finish of the chassis, the comfort factor is elevated. The trackpad doesn’t have the haptics of its rival device but still goes toe-to-toe with the best on Windows. Large and responsive, you couldn’t ask for a lot more. Port selection is horrid though, a single USB-C (not thunderbolt) and only a single USB-A which doesn’t even support data transfer.

Coming somewhere between QHD and 2K, it sports a simple, but decent looking touch screen. Sharp, but unconventional in its 3:2 aspect ratio, it’s especially useful for scrolling through forms or documents. Coincidentally, it is perfect for working from home cause you’re gonna be doing a lot of that. What we don’t love are the bezels. They look a little chunky and therefore, outdated.

Performance

Running a bloatware free Windows build does wonders for the Surface Laptop. Literally an undiluted experience, any spec loadout would benefit from stock Windows. Performance is naturally decent. It may fall behind some price range competitors, but this is a different ballpark altogether. We would say it’s perfect for work though, and the Iris+ is a much better option than the usual UHD chipsets. Expect this to perform spectacularly for routine work, but not as well with anything particularly demanding. Although in this form factor and price, you don’t really get that. Battery life is solid, with Windows’s advertised 11+ hours holding true, more or less.

Pros

  • Great Screen
  • The purest Windows experience on the market
  • Great Keyboard
  • Solid battery

Cons

  • Low storage for the price
  • Pathetic I/O

Conclusion

It’s high time we realize that laptops are essentials for working at home. They’re reliable, convenient, portable and powerful. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your current device to something better suited for remote work, you can’t go wrong with our recommendations. If you’re a power user, try the XPS 15. Businessperson? The ThinkPad was made for you! On a budget? The L210 has your back.

It is high time we prepare ourselves for a potential shift in the tide and adapt ourselves to the new norm the best we can.