The work is not always limited to editing documents and tables.
Designers and photographers, for example, need a high-quality screen. Others will need powerful hardware for rendering, video editing and graphics work. In addition, no one has canceled the need to relax by playing games and watching movies after a working day.
You can find a suitable laptop for all these tasks. I have selected and tested several interesting devices to work with. The final list turned out like this.
The best laptops for work, in our opinion
Huawei MateBook E is the most compact.
Asus Vivobook 17 (A712EA-AU583) is the best with a large screen.
Asus Zenbook 14 OLED is the best of the best.
Asus Vivobook Pro 14X OLED.
Apple MacBook Air M1 is the best of the best on macOS.
Huawei MateBook X Pro – like a MacBook, but on Windows.
HP Omen – for any task.
Best on Windows – Asus Zenbook 14 OLED
Asus produces a lot of models under the name Zenbook with different characteristics, design and capabilities. As the optimal one, I chose the UX3402Z modification with a 90 Hz OLED screen , but besides it, even in the same case, there are options with other screens and hardware.
The laptop is available with Intel Core i5-1240P and Core i7-1260P chips . These are modern, fast 12th generation processors – nothing newer will appear until mid-2023. There is no separate video card, as the model is designed for lightness, portability and long battery life.
But the processor here is powerful, and the video card built into it is many times superior to low-power “stubs”. The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED can handle semi-professional video editing, not to mention Adobe Photoshop, large spreadsheets, and a browser with dozens of tabs. But I recommend immediately choosing the version with 16 GB, and not 8 GB of RAM.
You can play, but with restrictions. The Witcher 3 and Doom Eternal will run on low graphics settings, and new games like Hogwarts Legacy will not work at all.
The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED screen is excellent. It has perfect blacks, high resolution and wide HDR color gamut. In addition, the maximum screen brightness reaches almost 600 nits, so it is comfortable to use the laptop in the park or on the veranda of a cafe. The refresh rate is increased to 90 Hz, so page scrolling and cursor movement will look smoother.
The laptop looks nice and is well built. The case is metal, weighs only 1.4 kg, and the lid tilts 180° away from the keyboard. The fingerprint scanner is built into the power button. You have to get used to its location: it is located next to the Delete key, but after a couple of days you stop paying attention to it.
The keyboard and touchpad also deserve praise. The keys operate clearly and quietly, and there are no errors when typing. There is a white backlight with three levels of adjustment. The touchpad is covered with glass, it is large and responsive – it is comfortable to work with the laptop without using a mouse. There is also a proprietary function of Asus laptops: a long press on the upper corner of the touchpad will turn it into a touch numpad for working with numbers. Only the up and down arrows are small, so it’s difficult to hit them blindly.
They didn’t skimp on connectors – this is important for a work laptop. There are two Type-C , each of which allows you to charge a laptop, as well as the usual USB Type-A , full-size HDMI, audio jack and memory card slot. A good set for such a thin device.
The laptop has a 75 Wh battery , which is better than most 14-inch models. Therefore, Zenbook 14 OLED pleases with good battery life. It will last eight to nine hours of work with the browser, instant messengers and documents, but in particularly complex editing or games the battery life will be reduced to four hours or even less.
There are two downsides to the Asus Zenbook 14’s OLED display . Firstly , all OLED screens flicker; for some sensitive people, this causes tired eyes and headaches. Most users do not feel this, but it is better to check in advance.
Secondly , OLED has not previously been used in laptops due to the risk of “burn-in”: if an element such as the Start bar or toolbar is displayed on the screen for a long time , the outlines of these elements may remain on the screen forever. Asus has provided a system to protect against this effect and believes that you don’t have to worry about “burnout” at all. But for peace of mind, we recommend not keeping static images at full brightness for more than two to three hours without a break.
Zenbooks with a “regular” IPS screen are also available, but the colors and contrast are not as good.
Alternative. Asus has a cheaper and more powerful model, but not as light and thin – Vivobook Pro 14X OLED.
An OLED matrix with a diagonal of 14 inches is also installed here. It doesn’t have as accurate colors as the Zenbook, but most users will enjoy the Vivobook Pro 14X OLED display. The screen pleases with deep blacks, rich colors, uniform illumination and excellent viewing angles.
The Intel Core i5 11300H processor is weaker than the newer 12th generation chips, but there is room in the case for a separate GeForce RTX 3050 video card. The laptop can run fairly demanding games like Horizon Zero Dawn, and popular projects like Fortnite and Dota 2 can be played at high settings . The video card also significantly speeds up the editing of videos, color correction of photos and the creation of 3D projects .
The laptop is pleasant to use: it has a metal body, a high-quality touchpad, a shutter for the webcam and a fingerprint scanner. The manufacturer did not skimp on connectors: there are several USB Type-A , one Type-C , HDMI, audio output and a slot for a memory card.
This model has a smaller battery, but it is enough for six hours of simple “office” work.
Best on macOS – Apple MacBook Air M1
I chose Air for this article because, in my opinion, it’s worth paying extra for a firmware when you realize that you can’t do without its advantages. Not all users will need higher power, and the price difference is very large. For most people, the Air M1 will be enough for work: it quickly copes with almost any task, from text editing to editing, and works for more than 10 hours on a single charge. The older MacBook Pro has a noticeably brighter and better screen, but not everyone is willing to pay twice as much for it.
The newer MacBook Air M2 claimed the leadership role, but I chose the 2020 generation. In terms of performance in the browser, spreadsheets and photo processing, they are approximately the same, but the Air on the M2 is significantly more expensive. The 2022 model has a slightly larger screen, but the useful space on it is eaten up by a notch, like the iPhone. On Apple smartphones it is justified because they have face unlock sensors, but there is nothing like that here. The only major improvements are a better webcam and a magnetic charging mount.
Performance is the strong point of the MacBook Air M1 . Since Apple switched MacBooks to its own processors, its laptops have set a new bar for speed while minimizing battery drain. Applications open quickly and smoothly, working with photos and videos is convenient. You can easily render video in Final Cut Pro . This MacBook is also absolutely silent – there is simply no fan that could make noise.
The minimum modification has 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal memory. These MacBooks are inexpensive, but are suitable for those who are ready to buy an external hard drive or actively use the cloud to store photos and videos. For the rest, I recommend paying extra for the version with a 512 GB drive.
The screen is small, 13.3 inches, but of high quality: with a wide color gamut, good contrast and correct color reproduction. There is a True Tone function that adjusts the color balance of the screen to environmental conditions. Brightness is 400 nits, which is lower than that of more expensive MacBooks, but 80% is still usually enough for working in a bright room.