A 2019 survey revealed that the average US consumer spent 6.31 hours online. If you’re a remote worker, you likely spend way more than that on your digital devices. Even more so, if your existing laptop has become buggy, too slow, and low on memory and space. Previous research confirmed that computer-related issues are productivity drainers. For instance, a 2016 study found that IT woes resulted in an average of 22 minutes of wasted time each workday. That’s over 90 work hours a year that goes down the drain! Unless you use the best laptop for remote work, you’re more than likely to find yourself in such a dilemma.
Don’t worry, though, as we’re here to give you solid advice on how to buy a laptop that best suits digital nomads. Read on to discover what makes a laptop an excellent choice for remote work.
Durable Enough to Withstand Environmental Stresses
One of the best things about remote work is that you can take it with you wherever in the world you want or need to go. You can do your job while visiting a warm tropical island, a humid paradise, or a snow-capped mountain.
However, a laptop for working from home may not be sturdy enough to survive such environments.
So, if you can take your work with you to various parts of the globe, it’s best to invest in a MIL-STD-810G certified laptop. These computers have undergone extreme testing based on military specifications. They went through rigorous physical, chemical, pressure, heat, cold, and other environmental tests.
According to www.Lenovo.com, the certification involves at least 20 procedures. Some of these tests are for shocks, moisture, sand, dust, molds, vibration, and altitude. MIL-Spec laptops can also withstand extreme low and high temperatures and UV radiation.
The best part is that you can find MIL-Spec laptops within the $1,000 price range. That’s only a few hundred dollars more than the average new laptop spending of $700 in 2019. The extra $300 is worth it if you consider how an accidental liquid spill can quickly destroy a laptop.
Specs Powerful Enough to Last for the Next Three Years
The majority of brand-new laptops come with a one-year manufacturer base warranty. This goes up to three years in some of the pricier ones, usually those that cost $2,000 and above. Once this expires, all repair and part replacement costs will come out of your pocket.
Fortunately, mid-range type of laptops (the ones that often cost $800 or more) can last for at least three years. Those priced north of $1,000, such as Macs, can give you five years or more if you take good care of them.
However, proper upkeep won’t make a big difference if your laptop can no longer meet your demands. That’s why one of the key steps on how to choose a laptop for remote work is to factor in your future computing needs.
So, the best laptop for remote work should have specs “future-proofed” for no less than the next three years. Below we’ll take a closer look at the minimum specifications your new laptop should come with.
8 GB of Memory
In computers, “memory” refers to random access memory (RAM). It serves as temporary storage for data produced by running processes and programs.
Every time you execute a task on your laptop, part of the RAM gets consumed by that activity. Closing that process then frees up the used space once again. On the flip side, keeping those apps active results in higher and more memory usage.
So, the more work apps you need to run simultaneously, the higher your available RAM should be.
To give you an idea, one browser test revealed that 10 active tabs of Google Chrome could use up to 725 MB of RAM. That’s already a lot, but those same tabs used up 2.6 GB on Mozilla Firefox and a whopping 3.1 GB on Microsoft Edge.
Since you’ll use your new laptop for work, though, that means you’ll have other apps running. For example, the 32-bit version of MS Office 2019 requires at least 2 GB, while the 64-bit requires 4 GB. If you also need the latest Photoshop, your laptop must have at least 8 GB of RAM to install and use the software.
For this reason, the best laptop for working from home should have at least 8 GB of RAM. Otherwise, it will have a considerable drop in speed and performance once you run many apps at the same time. The slower your device gets, the less work you can do, which also means reduced income.
No Less Than 256 GB of Storage
Did you know that humans created 90% of all existing data within the last two years alone? What’s more, each person now creates an average of 1.7 MB of information every passing second. This means that every person generates almost 147 GB of data within a 24-hour period!
While you won’t have to store all those bytes of data on your laptop, it still means that you need enough storage. For an average remote worker, the minimum recommended drive capacity is 256 GB. This gives you ample space to download and install large apps and store massive files.
A Quad-Core Processor
The more cores a central processing unit has, the faster it can read and relay information. This translates to speedier computer reactions to every instruction you throw at it. It can launch programs faster and can also run multiple CPU-intensive tasks at the same time.
The default for most mid-tier laptops is a quad-core processor. This means the processor has four cores, so it’s twice faster than one with only two cores. To stay productive while working on your new laptop, make sure it comes with at least a four-core CPU.
Display Properties That Won’t Make You Squint
A laptop’s display resolution refers to the number of pixels its screen has. It’s a count of both the horizontal and vertical pixels. If a laptop has a 1280 x 720 display, it has 1,280 vertical pixels and 720 horizontal pixels.
Do note that the actual screen size affects resolution quality. The bigger the screen dimension, the bigger the size of each pixel, too.
On a smartphone, a 1280 x 720 resolution is fine since the screen is compact. It’s horrible on a work laptop, though, especially if your job involves graphics and videos. At the very least, your new notebook computer should have a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution.
If you need or want a bigger screen (15 to 17 inches), consider going with a 2560 x 1440 resolution. You can find this on a laptop with a quad high definition (QHD) or wide quad high definition (WQHD) screen. Premium-quality laptops also now come with a 3840 x 2160 ultra high definition (UHD) screen.
Not a Burden to Carry
The display screen and battery size are the two biggest factors that affect a laptop’s weight. The smaller the screen and the shorter the battery life, the lighter a laptop usually is. The larger the screen and the longer the battery life, the bulkier and heavier the device is.
With that said, the most compact laptops weigh under 3 pounds, while the behemoths can weigh over 8 pounds. So, if you consider all other essential laptop factors, you’d want something in between. This way, you don’t have to deal with a too-small screen and a battery that drains too fast.
Weight is an even more crucial consideration for digital nomads. Carrying an eight-pounder all the time can cause back and shoulder pains. In fact, health experts say that you shouldn’t haul around a bag that weighs more than 13% to 15% of your body weight.
Juice That Won’t Drain in Just a Few Hours
Some 11-inch laptops can last for up to 7 hours doing light activities, like browsing and text editing. However, if you need to get a 13- or 14-inch laptop, make sure its battery has at least a 12-hour rating. If you travel a lot and work on the go, invest in a slim and light laptop that won’t run out of juice for at least 20 hours.
Do note that laptops with higher and brighter resolutions also consume more battery. As such, the brighter, clearer, and crisper your display is, the longer you want its battery to last.
The Best Laptop for Remote Work Meets or Exceeds Your Needs
The best laptop for remote work isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” kind of device. After all, each remote worker has varying computing (and personal) requirements. That’s why you should base your decision on your current and future IT needs.
At the very least, go for a laptop with 8 MB of RAM, 256 GB of space, and 12-hour battery life. These should be your minimum requirements when buying a new laptop for virtual work.
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