Best Travel Laptop for 2021

  • calender Image July 08, 2021
  • Posted By Shivangi Swaroop
Blog Image

Looking for the best travel laptop for your next trip? We’ve put together our top recommendations for laptop models available in 2021.

This advice is mainly for business travelers that have to bring a laptop with them to stay productive (or if you’re one of those lucky people that can travel for pleasure while doing your job now that remote working is much more common), but it’s also useful for people that just to take a PC with them on their next vacation.

First, let’s talk about what to look for in a “best travel laptop”. Some of these criteria may be more or less important depending on your preferences and what you’re looking for.

What To Look for in the Best Travel Laptop

dell travel laptop

 

Portability

The two main factors that determine laptop size and weight are the screen size and whether the laptop has an optical DVD or Blu-ray drive. The most common screen sizes (measured diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right) are 13″, 14″, 15″, and 17″, with 13″ and 15″ being the most common. Optical drives aren’t very common these days, but some people demand them. They add noticeably to the thickness of laptops when included.

Aside from those factors, some laptops are designed to be ultralight. These might be labeled as ultrabooks (high-end light laptops, like Macbooks and the Dell XPS) or netbooks (cheaper light laptops including many Chromebooks). On the other end are thick and heavy gaming laptops that are usually stuffed with a heavy-duty, external graphics card and CPU fans. Normal laptops like the Dell Latitude, HP ProBook, and Lenovo ThinkPad land somewhere in the middle in terms of size, cost, and performance.

Battery Life

Most laptops range in battery life from a few hours to more than a day. Ultrabooks and netbooks typically have the best batter life. All batteries deteriorate over time, usually in a few years, to the point where you can’t leave them unplugged for more than 30 minutes at a time. Factors that impact your battery life include screen brightness and running processor-intensive programs like games, graphics and video software, spreadsheet software, or web browsers.

Some laptops have a battery life of only 2 or 3 hours, while others can last almost a full day. The importance of battery life is determined by your travel style and laptop usage.

Performance

We recommend at least an Intel Core i5 CPU or AMD Ryzen 5 and 8 GB RAM (or the equivalent if you’re buying a Mac laptop). You may want to get a laptop with at least 16 GB if you like to keep a lot of applications and browser tabs open at once. Anything larger than this is likely overkill unless you’re a power user like a graphic designer, video editor, or gamer, and anything less than this can detract from your productivity.

In the past, like most IT companies, we would never recommend an AMD processor over Intel, but AMD has closed the gap with Intel in terms of performance and in many cases offers more value for the money than Intel these days.

Storage

If you have to deal with a lot of files on a daily basis (business purposes) or maybe because you’ll be taking a lot of photos while traveling, your laptop should have adequate storage to save them. We recommend at least a 256 GB SSD (Solid State Drive, much faster than an HDD or mechanical, spinning Hard Drive Disk).

Storage tends to be one of the least expensive aspects of a computer, so feel free to splurge on a 500 GB or 1 TB drive if you think you might need it. Some laptops offer dual SSD / HDD drives. You can always buy an external storage drive if you need it (there are many portable options), and many laptops allow you to switch out your storage drive with a larger version later on if you want.

Also, try to account the fact that when you’re traveling you won’t always have access to cloud storage services like Google Drive or OneDrive.

Price

We recommend spending at least between $800 and $1,500 on a new business laptop. In most cases this cost is worth the performance and reliability. It lets you work without being slowed down by performance problems and you won’t have to think about replacing it until at least 4-5 years later. They’re good investments.

Also, if you’re buying this laptop for your business, make sure to buy the Windows Pro version, not a consumer Windows laptop, even though the latter is almost always cheaper. Windows Pro laptops not only include useful management and security features, but they’ll keep Microsoft auditors from coming after you for violating licensing policies.

Best Travel Laptop for 2021

These are the top travel laptops available in 2021.

To be honest, don’t beat yourself up worrying about which laptop is the best travel laptop. There are a lot of good options out there, and as long you meet the minimum requirements in the last section you should be fine. Take note of the warranty that’s included with your laptop if you end up running into problems.

Dell XPS

Dell XPS 13 Laptop | Dell USA

Recommended model: Dell XPS 13

Retail price: $849.00

Buy now

Specs:

  • 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7 Processor
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 13.3″ FHD (1920 x 1080)
  • 8GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x Memory
  • 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Width: 11.9″ (302 mm)
  • Depth: 7.8″ (199 mm)
  • Weight: starting at 2.6 lbs (1.16 kg)
  • Battery life: 12-15 hrs

The Dell XPS is pretty widely regarded as the top Windows 10 laptop in terms of performance, appearance, and portability. It’s the standard laptop for execs that want to make a good impression. Different options include:

  • Screen size: 13″ (XPS 13), 15″ (XPS 15), and 17″ (XPS 17)
  • Intel i5 or i7 processors
  • Touch or non-touch screen
  • Standard “clamshell” form factor or 2-in-1 (hinge folds backward to turn it into a tablet)

For travel we recommend the XPS 13 with an i5 CPU which is about 2 1/2 pounds and 12″ x 7 1/2″.

View all Dell XPS laptops

Lenovo ThinkPad X1

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 | Business Laptop | Lenovo US

Recommended model: ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (20XW003EUS)

Retail price: $1,475.40

Buy now

Specs:

  • 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7 Processor
  • Windows 10 Pro 64
  • 14″ FHD (1920 x 1200)
  • 8GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x Memory
  • 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Width: 12.38″
  • Depth: 8.72″
  • Weight: starting at 2.49 lbs
  • Battery Life: up to 16 hours

IT people swear by Lenovos for their reliability, customizability, and reasonable cost. We’ve also heard good things about their ThinkPad X Carbons, which are sort of their answer to Dell’s XPS – it’s their flagship ultrabook that combines the best in performance, appearance, and portability. You can always tell a Lenovo laptop because they’re the only ones that still have that red little joystick nub in the middle of the keyboard, and also the fact that their mid-size laptop is 14″ not 15″.

Lenovo laptops are the ultimate business laptop – somewhat boxy and boring but powerful and reliable on the inside, they’re a good choice if you want to project a no-nonsense, utilitarian image.

The X1 product line breaks down like this:

  • Gen 7, 8, or 9: this refers to the generation of Intel processor that’s included; newer is always better, but not necessarily dramatically so
  • Nano: 13″ screen instead of the standard 14″
  • Yoga: 2-in-1 foldable by the hinge
  • Fold: folding screen
  • Titanium: metal-plated cover
  • Tablet: tablet that attaches and detaches from a clamshell-style keyboard base

We recommend at least a simple X1 Gen 9 with an i5 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, and HD 1900 x 1200 screen (model 20XW003EUS, $1475.50 retail). Its dimensions are 12″ x 8 1/2″, 2.49 lbs, with a battery life up of to 16 hours.

View all X1 models

Microsoft Surface

New Surface Laptop 4: Ultra-Thin Touchscreen Laptop - Microsoft Surface

Recommended model: Microsoft Surface 3 15″ (PKU-00022)

Retail price: $11,00.00

Buy now

Specs:

  • 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7 Processor
  • Windows 10 Pro 64
  • 13.5″ 2256 x 1504 PixelSense Touchscreen
  • 8GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x Memory
  • 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Width: 12.1″
  • Depth: 8.8″
  • Weight: starting at 2.84 lbs
  • Battery Life: up to 11 hours

The Surface is the new kid on the block. Microsoft just started its own computing hardware a little while back. The Surface started out as a tablet with a lightweight magnetic keyword attached; now it’s a full line of devices that emphasizes tablet-like portability (including screens smaller than 13″), performance, ultra high-definition screens, and multi-point, pressure-sensing touchscreens. It’s sort of Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook. It’s also been around long enough and has proved its reliability that IT pros like us have come to trust it and recommend it. If portability and touchscreen features are what you’re looking for, and you’re looking for something different from your average that still runs Windows, the Surface might be your best bet.

The current Surface product line includes:

  • Surface Laptop: 13″ and 15″ clamshell laptops
  • Surface Laptop Go 2: 12 1/2″ lightweight laptop
  • Surface Book 3: tablet that attaches and detaches from a clamshell-style keyboard base
  • Surface Pro 7+: tablet with magnetic keyboard
  • Surface Pro X: thinnest tablet with magnetic keyword and LTE for mobile connectivity
  • Surface Go 2: lightest tablet with magnetic keyboard

At the minimum we like a Surface Pro Laptop with a 2496 x 1664 pixel 15″ screen, AMD Ryzen 5, 8 GM RAM, and 256 GB SSD for about $1,500 currently.

View all Surface models

Apple MacBooks

Buy 13-inch MacBook Air - Apple

MacBooks are a favorite of graphic designers, video editors, execs, and anyone else looking for a fast, high-performance, great-looking laptop that projects an image of hipness and creativity. They’re known for their crisp high-definition Retina screens, great performance, sleek metal design, reputation for durability – and high price tag. Another advantage: unlike Windows laptops, they almost never get hacked or infected with malware. Some in IT consider them overpriced extravagances for people that don’t know any better and prefer the Surface for a premium laptop option; others appreciate them as well-made machines that make up for their cost in security and ease of maintenance.

With refreshing simplicity, Apple offers only three MacBook models: the ultra-lightweight 13″ Air and the higher-performing Pro that comes in 13″ and 16″ options.

We recommend either the Air or the 13″ Pro.

Visit Apple’s website

Summary

There are plenty of solutions available, whether you require a laptop that can be used as a mobile office or just a simple device to stay connected.

Before you go searching for a travel laptop, remember to think about your travel style and what you’ll be using it for.

Need help deciding on the perfect laptop, setting one up, or buying them in bulk? Contact us today to get professional IT procurement assistance.

best travel laptop

Best Travel Laptop for 2021

Looking for the best travel laptop for your next trip? We’ve put together our top recommendations for laptop models available in 2021.

This advice is mainly for business travelers that have to bring a laptop with them to stay productive (or if you’re one of those lucky people that can travel for pleasure while doing your job now that remote working is much more common), but it’s also useful for people that just to take a PC with them on their next vacation.

First, let’s talk about what to look for in a “best travel laptop”. Some of these criteria may be more or less important depending on your preferences and what you’re looking for.

What To Look for in the Best Travel Laptop

dell travel laptop

 

Portability

The two main factors that determine laptop size and weight are the screen size and whether the laptop has an optical DVD or Blu-ray drive. The most common screen sizes (measured diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right) are 13″, 14″, 15″, and 17″, with 13″ and 15″ being the most common. Optical drives aren’t very common these days, but some people demand them. They add noticeably to the thickness of laptops when included.

Aside from those factors, some laptops are designed to be ultralight. These might be labeled as ultrabooks (high-end light laptops, like Macbooks and the Dell XPS) or netbooks (cheaper light laptops including many Chromebooks). On the other end are thick and heavy gaming laptops that are usually stuffed with a heavy-duty, external graphics card and CPU fans. Normal laptops like the Dell Latitude, HP ProBook, and Lenovo ThinkPad land somewhere in the middle in terms of size, cost, and performance.

Battery Life

Most laptops range in battery life from a few hours to more than a day. Ultrabooks and netbooks typically have the best batter life. All batteries deteriorate over time, usually in a few years, to the point where you can’t leave them unplugged for more than 30 minutes at a time. Factors that impact your battery life include screen brightness and running processor-intensive programs like games, graphics and video software, spreadsheet software, or web browsers.

Some laptops have a battery life of only 2 or 3 hours, while others can last almost a full day. The importance of battery life is determined by your travel style and laptop usage.

Performance

We recommend at least an Intel Core i5 CPU or AMD Ryzen 5 and 8 GB RAM (or the equivalent if you’re buying a Mac laptop). You may want to get a laptop with at least 16 GB if you like to keep a lot of applications and browser tabs open at once. Anything larger than this is likely overkill unless you’re a power user like a graphic designer, video editor, or gamer, and anything less than this can detract from your productivity.

In the past, like most IT companies, we would never recommend an AMD processor over Intel, but AMD has closed the gap with Intel in terms of performance and in many cases offers more value for the money than Intel these days.

Storage

If you have to deal with a lot of files on a daily basis (business purposes) or maybe because you’ll be taking a lot of photos while traveling, your laptop should have adequate storage to save them. We recommend at least a 256 GB SSD (Solid State Drive, much faster than an HDD or mechanical, spinning Hard Drive Disk).

Storage tends to be one of the least expensive aspects of a computer, so feel free to splurge on a 500 GB or 1 TB drive if you think you might need it. Some laptops offer dual SSD / HDD drives. You can always buy an external storage drive if you need it (there are many portable options), and many laptops allow you to switch out your storage drive with a larger version later on if you want.

Also, try to account the fact that when you’re traveling you won’t always have access to cloud storage services like Google Drive or OneDrive.

Price

We recommend spending at least between $800 and $1,500 on a new business laptop. In most cases this cost is worth the performance and reliability. It lets you work without being slowed down by performance problems and you won’t have to think about replacing it until at least 4-5 years later. They’re good investments.

Also, if you’re buying this laptop for your business, make sure to buy the Windows Pro version, not a consumer Windows laptop, even though the latter is almost always cheaper. Windows Pro laptops not only include useful management and security features, but they’ll keep Microsoft auditors from coming after you for violating licensing policies.

Best Travel Laptop for 2021

These are the top travel laptops available in 2021.

To be honest, don’t beat yourself up worrying about which laptop is the best travel laptop. There are a lot of good options out there, and as long you meet the minimum requirements in the last section you should be fine. Take note of the warranty that’s included with your laptop if you end up running into problems.

Dell XPS

Dell XPS 13 Laptop | Dell USA

Recommended model: Dell XPS 13

Retail price: $849.00

Buy now

Specs:

  • 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7 Processor
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 13.3″ FHD (1920 x 1080)
  • 8GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x Memory
  • 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Width: 11.9″ (302 mm)
  • Depth: 7.8″ (199 mm)
  • Weight: starting at 2.6 lbs (1.16 kg)
  • Battery life: 12-15 hrs

The Dell XPS is pretty widely regarded as the top Windows 10 laptop in terms of performance, appearance, and portability. It’s the standard laptop for execs that want to make a good impression. Different options include:

  • Screen size: 13″ (XPS 13), 15″ (XPS 15), and 17″ (XPS 17)
  • Intel i5 or i7 processors
  • Touch or non-touch screen
  • Standard “clamshell” form factor or 2-in-1 (hinge folds backward to turn it into a tablet)

For travel we recommend the XPS 13 with an i5 CPU which is about 2 1/2 pounds and 12″ x 7 1/2″.

View all Dell XPS laptops

Lenovo ThinkPad X1

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 | Business Laptop | Lenovo US

Recommended model: ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (20XW003EUS)

Retail price: $1,475.40

Buy now

Specs:

  • 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7 Processor
  • Windows 10 Pro 64
  • 14″ FHD (1920 x 1200)
  • 8GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x Memory
  • 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Width: 12.38″
  • Depth: 8.72″
  • Weight: starting at 2.49 lbs
  • Battery Life: up to 16 hours

IT people swear by Lenovos for their reliability, customizability, and reasonable cost. We’ve also heard good things about their ThinkPad X Carbons, which are sort of their answer to Dell’s XPS – it’s their flagship ultrabook that combines the best in performance, appearance, and portability. You can always tell a Lenovo laptop because they’re the only ones that still have that red little joystick nub in the middle of the keyboard, and also the fact that their mid-size laptop is 14″ not 15″.

Lenovo laptops are the ultimate business laptop – somewhat boxy and boring but powerful and reliable on the inside, they’re a good choice if you want to project a no-nonsense, utilitarian image.

The X1 product line breaks down like this:

  • Gen 7, 8, or 9: this refers to the generation of Intel processor that’s included; newer is always better, but not necessarily dramatically so
  • Nano: 13″ screen instead of the standard 14″
  • Yoga: 2-in-1 foldable by the hinge
  • Fold: folding screen
  • Titanium: metal-plated cover
  • Tablet: tablet that attaches and detaches from a clamshell-style keyboard base

We recommend at least a simple X1 Gen 9 with an i5 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, and HD 1900 x 1200 screen (model 20XW003EUS, $1475.50 retail). Its dimensions are 12″ x 8 1/2″, 2.49 lbs, with a battery life up of to 16 hours.

View all X1 models

Microsoft Surface

New Surface Laptop 4: Ultra-Thin Touchscreen Laptop - Microsoft Surface

Recommended model: Microsoft Surface 3 15″ (PKU-00022)

Retail price: $11,00.00

Buy now

Specs:

  • 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7 Processor
  • Windows 10 Pro 64
  • 13.5″ 2256 x 1504 PixelSense Touchscreen
  • 8GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x Memory
  • 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Width: 12.1″
  • Depth: 8.8″
  • Weight: starting at 2.84 lbs
  • Battery Life: up to 11 hours

The Surface is the new kid on the block. Microsoft just started its own computing hardware a little while back. The Surface started out as a tablet with a lightweight magnetic keyword attached; now it’s a full line of devices that emphasizes tablet-like portability (including screens smaller than 13″), performance, ultra high-definition screens, and multi-point, pressure-sensing touchscreens. It’s sort of Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook. It’s also been around long enough and has proved its reliability that IT pros like us have come to trust it and recommend it. If portability and touchscreen features are what you’re looking for, and you’re looking for something different from your average that still runs Windows, the Surface might be your best bet.

The current Surface product line includes:

  • Surface Laptop: 13″ and 15″ clamshell laptops
  • Surface Laptop Go 2: 12 1/2″ lightweight laptop
  • Surface Book 3: tablet that attaches and detaches from a clamshell-style keyboard base
  • Surface Pro 7+: tablet with magnetic keyboard
  • Surface Pro X: thinnest tablet with magnetic keyword and LTE for mobile connectivity
  • Surface Go 2: lightest tablet with magnetic keyboard

At the minimum we like a Surface Pro Laptop with a 2496 x 1664 pixel 15″ screen, AMD Ryzen 5, 8 GM RAM, and 256 GB SSD for about $1,500 currently.

View all Surface models

Apple MacBooks

Buy 13-inch MacBook Air - Apple

MacBooks are a favorite of graphic designers, video editors, execs, and anyone else looking for a fast, high-performance, great-looking laptop that projects an image of hipness and creativity. They’re known for their crisp high-definition Retina screens, great performance, sleek metal design, reputation for durability – and high price tag. Another advantage: unlike Windows laptops, they almost never get hacked or infected with malware. Some in IT consider them overpriced extravagances for people that don’t know any better and prefer the Surface for a premium laptop option; others appreciate them as well-made machines that make up for their cost in security and ease of maintenance.

With refreshing simplicity, Apple offers only three MacBook models: the ultra-lightweight 13″ Air and the higher-performing Pro that comes in 13″ and 16″ options.

We recommend either the Air or the 13″ Pro.

Visit Apple’s website

Summary

There are plenty of solutions available, whether you require a laptop that can be used as a mobile office or just a simple device to stay connected.

Before you go searching for a travel laptop, remember to think about your travel style and what you’ll be using it for.

Need help deciding on the perfect laptop, setting one up, or buying them in bulk? Contact us today to get professional IT procurement assistance.

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