Cover Photo by Ben Kolde
For most of us, freelancing simply wouldn’t be possible without an internet connection and a laptop.
Since a laptop is such an important piece of the freelancing jigsaw, it makes sense to have one that’s going to tick all of the boxes needed for your job role.
Freelancing means something different to everyone. For some people, you’ll need a high-performance machine that spends a lot of its life on your home office desk – for others, freelancing is something that’s done on the fly – in a coffee shop or, if you’re lucky, by the pool.
With such a broad range of freelancing experiences in mind, we’ve put together a list of excellent laptops – and given you an idea of who they might suit!
Are you on a budget?
Cashflow can be tight when you work for yourself – but having limited funds doesn’t mean you have to cut corners on your laptop.
Opting for a Chromebook removes the needs for lot of the background CPU power needed to run an operating system – as such, lower spec (and therefore less costly) components can be used without reducing performance.
Our pick: Dell Chromebook 3180 (starting at $185+)
The Dell Chromebook 3180 is outstanding value for money. Dell actually aimed the 3180 series at the student market – but don’t let that make you think these aren’t great. Chromebooks are a fantastic, affordable option to start with for freelance use.
If you’re a coffeeshop worker, the sealed keyboard means spills and splashes aren’t a problem – and the tough but attractive drop-proof body will take the kind of knocks and bumps associated with being transported in a bag.
Dell will allow you to bump your spec up at a very reasonable rate too – so upgrading to 4GB of RAM (from the standard 2GB) and adding a touchscreen display can be done for around $70. A lot of performance for a very small price.
Do you need ultra-portable?
Carrying around a lot of equipment can really take the joy out of being able to work from anywhere you choose. Fortunately, laptops are getting slimmer and lighter – without losing any performance.
If you’re always on the move – it pays to have good, portable equipment that’ll keep you productive.
Our pick: Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition (starting at $1,598.40)
In a world of beautiful Apple and Windows products, it takes something special to stand out – but stand out is exactly what Huawei’s MateBook X Pro does.
With a 3K screen, 8th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7 processors and between 8–16GB RAM, the slimline MateBook X Pro is up to any performance challenge, as well as being ultra-thin and so light you’ll forget it’s in your bag.
Are you a programmer?
If your chosen freelance skill is programming, you’ll probably need around 4x the amount of power an average freelance writer would need – as well as the kind of battery power that’ll back that power up.
Our pick: Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (starting at $2,399)
With an impressive 16GB of RAM and a 2.9-GHz quad core Intel Core i7 CPU, you’re going to have to go a long way before the MacBook Pro runs out of steam.
If you’re used to running multiple intensive programs, the MacBook Pro’s got you covered – what’s more, you get set up virtual desktops that’ll keep your activities neatly organized. When Apple created the MacBook Pro, they added the Touch Bar programmable to facilitate quick access to functions and applications that suit you – ideal for programmers who want to work as efficiently as possible.
Looking for a big battery?
As a freelancer, you don’t always have access to power – so if you find yourself working out of coffee shops frequently, it can pay to have enough power to see you through the day.
Our pick: Lenovo ThinkPad T470 (starting around $799-$999)
Even with an intensive workload, the optional 6-cell battery of the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 will offer you over 13 hours of power before you need to recharge.
There’s no need to worry either, that battery life doesn’t come at the expense of performance. The ThinkPad can be configured with up to a Core i7 CPU and offers full HD screen quality. If you’re a writer, you’ll be impressed with the best-in-class keyboard too – positive feeling keys that’ll see you through millions of documents…
Is visual performance important?
Since you’re reading this on FilterGrade, there’s a good chance a high-quality display will be the order of the day! If your freelance role has you working with high-quality images and video, you’re going to need a screen that’s up to the challenge.
It’s hard to beat the Huawei MateBook X Pro for screen quality – as we’ve already mentioned, its 3,000 x 2,080 resolution produces jaw-droppingly beautiful images and video. Since we’ve already recommended the MateBook X Pro, our pick will be what we consider a very close second…
Our pick: Dell XPS 13 (starting at ~$1200)
The XPS is an exceptional laptop – and a close contender for the MateBook X Pro for the best money can buy. While the screen will generally run at 1,920 x 1,080, it is capable of true 4K – 3,840 x 2,160. This resolution is a dream come true when it comes to working with images.
Digging into the Dell spec reveals exactly why the screen is quite so fantastic to look at – a 400 nit brightness level lets you work effectively in all conditions – and a color gamut of 72% with a contrast ratio of 1000:1 makes bright outstandingly bright, and the darks very dark.
Unsurprisingly, the XPS has a top-of-the-line specification too, with 8th Gen Intel Core chips to choose from, an Intel UHD 620 Graphics card and a choice of 8GB – 16GB CPUs. If images are your thing – the Dell could be your weapon of choice.
Do a lot of typing?
While writers don’t need an enormous amount of power to deliver their work – the right keyboard feel and screen are crucial. It’s hard to beat the previously mentioned ThinkPad E470 for value and keyboard quality – but since we’ve already featured the Lenovo, we’ll take a look at another great option for our pick…
Our pick: ASUS ZenBook 14 (starting around $1050)
The Asus Zenbook 14 is a beautiful combination of style, design and usability – and it comes in a compact size too, ideal for writers who are flexible with their working location.
Writing on a laptop can sometimes feel cramped – but the Zenbook boasts a keyboard that’s virtually the full width of the machine, so your hands fall on it naturally. This makes typing extremely comfortable – which is important when you’re producing thousands of words a day…
Another thumbs up for the ZenBook 14 comes from its wake-up time. Windows driven PCs tend to lag behind MacBooks in this regard – but the Asus fires up quickly, letting you get your words on the screen in no time.