[Page updated: 10 February 2018]
I put together this list of best laptop computers (+ 1 desktop) to help you choose one as your main writing instrument in 2017 and 2018. I am basing these recommendations on the quality of three main features – keyboard; screen; and trackpad. Battery life for all of them is fine. Durability? Great. Operating systems? Vary. I’ll list the best notebooks for 2018 below, in my order of preference and tell you what I like or don’t necessarily like about each. Fair enough?
Best Notebooks for Writers in 2018
The very highest recommendations are listed first. I think writers will love any of the notebooks below, but we all have to choose something. I strongly suggest you spend the money and get a MacBook Pro with Retina screen!
1. MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Screen
This laptop is simply unbeatable for writers and most anyone. One look at the exceptionally sharp screen will win you over. When I write on this (I have one) computer and watch the words alight on the screen, it’s magic. The letters are so crystal clear that it’s like I’m an artist painting the screen with words, not typing them out.
The keyboard is awesome. It isn’t perfect. It’s fantastic. No matter what you’re used to typing on right now, you can be converted. Meaning, you’ll come to like this keyboard. It has just enough key-travel. It’s a full-sized keyboard. Keys are clicky and you know when you’ve fully pressed one. There is very little noise. Typing is smooth and mindless using this keyboard. I type around 80 words per minute on this one. Not as fast as I can type on others, but the experience just feels better. I’m well accustomed to the keys after two-years using it.
The trackpad must have come from alien technology. Seriously, there is no better trackpad anywhere on the planet. Honestly, I would keep buying MacBooks ONLY to get this amazing trackpad. It’s that special to me. I think you’re going to find the same. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do – help you navigate the screen in as unobtrusive a manner as possible. I really hope Apple never changes the trackpad the way they just destroyed their keyboards for the late-model MacBooks.
Operating system – MAC-OS. If you’ve ever gone a few years wanting to throw your Microsoft Windows computer into a spitting volcano, but couldn’t find one, you’ll appreciate MAC-OS. Beautiful. Less buggy. It just works. Sure, there are some things that don’t make any sense to me, but I gladly overlook them for everything that DOES make sense about the MAC operating system. Windows still doesn’t have it right. Not only that, the only way you’re getting that alien trackpad mentioned above, is when you buy a MacBook notebook. Just get one and kiss Microsoft’s BS goodbye once-and-for-ever.
2. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina Screen
Exact same features of the 13-inch MBP above, but bigger, albeit a bit heavier notebook. I vacillate between continuing with my 13-inch and upgrading for the 15-inch. My eyes are going bad, and instead of wearing corrective lenses like everyone else, I sometimes think a larger screen is the answer. At least I could delay glasses for a couple of years more. Right?
The weight and price of this notebook will be a deciding factor for some of you. You could buy and carry around three MacBook Air 11-inch notebooks to do your writing on, for the price and weight of this one. Tough call because it’s just so damn awesome.
3. Apple MacBook Air 13-inch
Lighter than the MBP, the MacBook Air is an exceptional writing machine. I could easily go back to this computer as my daily writer, despite having no Retina screen option. The keyboard and trackpad are exactly the same, and the battery life is even better. This notebook does absolutely everything 98% of us need it to do – and at ultra-low-weight. It is even affordable. Get one used or new and you’ll be satisfied if you can get over the screen – which isn’t bad at ALL, it’s just nothing quite like the Retina screens on the MBP’s. The screen is very good though, and I was happy using one for over a year before I bought the upgraded MacBook Pro with Retina screen. I am likely going to grab one of these as a backup and to travel with.
4. Apple MacBook Air 11-inch
Yep, they have a mini-me version of the 13-inch. It’s also exceptional, has long battery life, and is fast enough for everything you’ll need it for except hardcore video editing. Same screen quality, trackpad, and keyboard as the 13-inch. Full-size keyboard!
Any of the above four notebook computers I recommend highly. You cannot go wrong with any of them. If you’re currently using a Windows machine, nearly all your files can be opened on your new Apple MacBook. The learning curve is almost non-existent. It took me one day to figure it out and absolutely love it from the first time I laid hands on it.
5. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA-DHM4 12.5-Inch Touchscreen
Completely different operating system than Windows or MAC, the Chromebook has an operating system from Google, which resembles something like the IOS (Apple’s iPad and iPhone operating system). Chrome is fast and stable. The screen on this notebook is a touchscreen. I haven’t found them to be useful, but you might prefer them. This is a very nicely priced unit. You can write with Microsoft’s Word program online with this computer, but you can’t put the program on your notebook – just use in the cloud.
6. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 14″ FHD Ultrabook
If you can stomach Windows, and I know a lot of you out there still prefer it, you won’t do better than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1. This has a big, 14-inch screen, and mind-blowing keyboard! Other than that, nothing to get excited about. Ha! That’s unfair. It’s an amazing Windows computer, and if Apple suddenly lost all of its 1 trillion in cash, and stopped making MacBooks, I’d head straight for Lenovo to get this beast when I needed to replace my old MBP in fifteen years. Even though the X1 has the absolute best keyboard I’ve ever typed on, I’d still get the MacBook Pro because of the trackpad.
7. iMac 21.5-inch Retina Screen Desktop Computer
I couldn’t resist throwing in a desktop, considering it’s a Mac. With a phenomenal nearly 22-inch Retina screen, this is the ideal desktop computer for writers. You can get the Apple “Magic Keyboard” which is the same typing experience as the MacBook Air and Pro keyboards. Same size. You can buy a Magic Trackpad too!
This desktop iMac has a full host of ports on the back of the screen, something preferred by some writers. Though it doesn’t look very heavy, it is not very portable!