What is the best work from home laptop? As much of the world transitions to working and learning from home, the kind of technology we use has become extraordinarily important. We don’t have the support of a trained IT staff, or corporate office infrastructure, so reliability is paramount. Many of us have had to provide for ourselves and upgrade our own laptops, smartphones, cameras, and multiple accessories. Tools such as video conferencing have become indispensable, but we still have to address core requirements such as staying in touch and managing multiple tasks, all while meeting deadlines. Multiple people in a household often have to share computers or work across different devices.
If you find yourself wondering how best to adapt to this new world, we have some tips. This is a good time to invest in exactly the kind of equipment you need. We’ve put together a short guide to buying a new laptop, focusing on features that will be important for people working and learning from home.
What to look for in a laptop for working from home
Most manufacturers have been pushing extremely thin and light 13-inch and 14-inch models for the past few years, but portability isn’t our biggest concern when we’re sitting at home. If you have to deal with long commutes and rushing from place to place for meetings and presentations, you’d choose something as light as possible, but that isn’t a priority right now. Instead, we can look at the 15-inch segment which has plenty of affordable options.
Larger screens are great for multi-tasking, working with lots of content, creative workflows, and of course video conferencing, which is the new normal. Even though screen resolution is usually common at 1920×1080 across sizes, you can take advantage of scaling options in Windows 10 and various applications.
Larger laptops also often benefit from better keyboard layouts and more generous trackpads. You’re likely to find keyboards with number pads in the 15-inch segment, although these are sometimes cramped. We will be paying close attention to keyboard layout, since productivity depends on being able to type quickly and efficiently without having to adjust to awkward key positioning and constantly check what you’re doing.
Ports and connectivity matter a lot, especially if you’re juggling external hard drives, printers, webcams, headsets, SD cards, and other tools. In fact, we would recommend using a full-sized desktop keyboard and mouse, and elevating your laptop on a table, for a more comfortable posture. Ultraportable laptops might feature only one or two USB Type-C ports but we’re looking for plenty of legacy USB ports as well as audio and video outputs, networking, and expansion.
Your work might involve simple office tasks such as typing emails, or it might scale to intense workflows involving video editing and production, graphics and animation, software development, or heavy database access. As the situation evolves, you might also find yourself taking on new tasks and learning new skills. Not everyone needs top-tier hardware but it’s always good to have more power plus the ability to upgrade down the line. We’ll be looking for premium processors, discrete GPUs, fast SSDs, and of course upgradeable RAM and storage.
Internet connectivity will be the lifeblood of every stay-at-home worker. You can’t be interrupted in the middle of a lecture or video call. Wi-Fi and webcam hardware quality is hard to determine from product listings, so companies that pay attention to such details will also be noticed.
Of course we expect our machines to multitask as much as we do. It would be great to have high-quality screens and speakers to watch movies with, and some power under the hood to run modern games. Beyond that, there are things that don’t matter quite as much, but are still important in the bigger picture for now as well as the future. These include battery life, ruggedness, cooling efficiency, weight, and aesthetic style.
Which laptops to buy for working from home?
We have shortlisted several models, sorted by price and segment, that would be suitable for working as well as learning while based at home, plus general-purpose use. These are all available in retail to end users and can be ordered online, which many buyers will prefer. Prices do tend to vary, especially around the upcoming shopping and holiday season, so do check for variants with slightly different specifications. We are not considering refurbished models, although interested buyers should also check for deals on suitable products.
While we have not reviewed all the laptops named below, we have compiled detailed information directly from manufacturers as well as from multiple third-party sources. We have considered all aspects of their design, configuration, features, ergonomics, and value for money. We selected only laptops with Windows 10 preloaded.
Work from home laptops under Rs. 20,000
While cost is undoubtedly the biggest factor in most people’s buying decisions, recent economic factors have led to a general increase in prices across the industry and bargains are hard to find. There are very few laptops available for under Rs. 20,000 and these have extremely basic specifications. Still, they might be suitable for light tasks, general productivity and staying in touch.
iBall and Avita are two companies to look out for. iBall’s Compbook models are traditional clamshell laptops and we have been satisfied with the performance on offer considering the price. The Avita Magus Lite is a 2-in-1 tablet with a touchscreen and fold-out keyboard cover which could also work for basic tasks. At this price level you’ll get a simple Intel Celeron or Pentium processor, 32GB or 64GB of storage, and very basic connectivity.
Work from home laptops under Rs. 30,000
The Asus VivoBook 15 M509DA is an interesting option, slipping in right within our budget with a variant priced at Rs. 29,985. It features a modern AMD Athlon Silver CPU with basic integrated Radeon Vega graphics. You get 4GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, 15.6-inch full-HD screen, a USB Type-C port, and a keyboard with number pad.
Lenovo’s Ideapad S145 features a relatively powerful Ryzen 3 3200U CPU with integrated Radeon Vega graphics, 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. You get a 15.6-inch full-HD screen and a full-sized keyboard. This laptop is listed with Windows 10 Home for Rs. 28,990.
The Acer One Z2-485 is priced at Rs. 26,980 and features an Intel Pentium Gold 4415U processor with 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. Windows 10 is preinstalled. The screen is a 14-inch 1366×768 panel, which isn’t ideal, but otherwise the basics are all in place and the weight is under 2kg.
The ASUS E410MA is a rather different option, weighing only 1.3kg and featuring colourful, patterned lid designs. Priced at Rs. 29,999, you get a 14-inch full-HD screen, virtual number pad on the trackpad, Intel Pentium Silver N5030 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD.
HP offers its 250 G7 2A9A5PA business laptop at Rs. 28,999. It features an Intel Celeron N4020 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive, and a 15.6-inch 1366×768-pixel screen. There’s a 720p webcam and keyboard with number pad, and HP touts its durable, business-grade chassis.
Work from home laptops under Rs. 40,000
You can find a Dell Inspiron 3593 configured with a 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive, along with a 15.6-inch full-HD screen, full-sized keyboard, and USB Type-C port. Moreover, it comes with Windows 10 Home as well as Microsoft Office Home & Student 2019 for Rs. 39,990. It weighs 2.2kg.
Flipkart’s own-brand MarQ launched its Falkon Aerbook laptop earlier this year, and its price is now down to Rs. 34,990. You get an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, 13.3-inch full-HD screen, metal chassis, and modern ports. At 1.26kg this is a thin-and-light option.
The Lenovo Ideapad S145 features again in this price category, with an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU, integrated Radeon Vega graphics, 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive. Windows 10 and Office Home & Student 2019 are included as well, all for Rs. 38,990. Another variant with a Ryzen 3 3200U CPU and 256GB SSD is available for Rs. 34,292.
Work from home laptops under Rs. 50,000
HP lists its 15s-eq0024au laptop for Rs. 43,499 with an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD. There’s a 15.6-inch full-HD screen and HD webcam, plus full-sized keyboard. Windows 10 as well as Office Home & Student 2019.
The Lenovo Ideapad Slim 3i features an Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD. Windows 10 and Office Home & Student 2019 are preloaded. You get a 14-inch full-HD screen and there’s no number pad, but this model weighs 1.6kg. The list price is Rs. 49,990.
Xiaomi’s Mi Notebook 14 is available in three configurations below Rs. 50,000. Pushing right up against that at Rs. 49,999, you can get an Intel Core i5-10210 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a 14-inch full-HD screen, and even a basic Nvidia GeForce MX250 discrete GPU. Windows 10 Home is included and the company promises 10 hours of battery life, in a 1.5kg body with slim screen borders. An external 720p webcam is included.