In order to work remotely, you need a computer that’s going to keep up. For that reason, the device we call “the best laptop for remote work” should check off a few important boxes.
To start, it needs to travel well. Looking good doesn’t hurt, either, but you want to feel like machine can hold its own. It needs to be sturdy and well-built.
Next, it should also pack the power necessary for you to accomplish your daily tasks. Some people will have more processor or graphics-intensive workloads than others. Ideally, you’d have a laptop that could handle just about anything you throw at it.
And last but certainly not least for remote workers: it needs to have awesome battery life. If you wind up in a place for a day where plugging in is tough, you still need to get things done. The best laptop for remote work should have the juice to stay running for an entire work day.
With all of that in mind — and after considering the roster of contestants — we’ve decided to keep the crown right where it is. In 2022, the answer is the same as 2021.
Apple’s MacBook Air is still the king of remote work
It may come as a surprise that, in 2022, the best laptop for remote work is one that was released back in November 2020. After studying all of the available options, however, we’ve concluded that you simply cannot do better than the 2020 MacBook Air.
In terms of form factor and design, competitors have made headway these past few years but still haven’t reached the heights of the Air’s aesthetic. It is slick and svelte. Meanwhile, the all-aluminum casing provides the sturdiness and protection necessary for travel. You can toss the Air in a bag and not be overly concerned that the thing is falling apart inside.
Where power is concerned, Apple’s M1 chip is every bit as good as the company claimed it would be. For most CPU- and GPU-heavy tasks, it stands toe to toe with Windows laptops that are much more expensive while using far less power. That reduced power consumption translates into pretty stellar battery life — roughly 14 hours from a full charge. For remote workers, the Air’s ability to stay productive away from power outlets is key.
And then there are the niceties we’ve come to expect from the Air line over these past few years, such as the Retina display, the comfortable keyboard and the industry-leading trackpad. The 2020 model adds Touch ID to unlock, which is a nice bonus exclusive to Apple silicon Macs. The only thing to complain about really is the 720p webcam. But a webcam is there, at least, should you need to take some meetings remotely.
Finally, the more open nature of macOS means the Air is much more compatible with the apps and web services you might use versus, say, an iPhone or an iPad. If your company runs on Google, you’re set. If you use Microsoft Teams, there are apps. You can enable integration for these services in ways Apple’s more closed off mobile devices won’t allow. That’s what makes the Air a great choice all around — not just for those who’ve bought into the Apple ecosystem.
You can’t beat the price
What really cements the 2020 MacBook Air as the best laptop for remote work is its price. It does everything mentioned above while, most of the time, coming in under $1,000. Comparable Windows laptops we looked at — the kind offering the same premium build, power capabilities and battery life — were on the north side of $1,500.
At the time of publication, you can find the 2020 MacBook Air on Amazon for $949. At that price point, a laptop as capable as the Air is a steal.
And sure, you could hold off and perhaps wait for a newer model to come out. One is expected to arrive in 2022, according to most Apple watchers. But if the 2021 MacBook Pro models have taught us anything, it’s that new doesn’t always mean better in every single way. If Apple beefs up processing power in a new Air without adding battery capacity, for example, you may not enjoy the same longevity in that one as you do with the current Air.
The 2020 MacBook Air is the best laptop for remote work in 2022
And there you have it, folks. After some deep dives into all of the Mac and Windows laptops available at the moment, we’re sticking with the option that stole the show at the tail end of 2020: the MacBook Air. Its combination of design, power and price point have yet to be equaled. Unless a Windows laptop comes along to really blow our socks off, that could remain the case for many months to come.
If you have any questions about using the 2020 MacBook Air for remote work, feel free to tweet us at @gizjodotcom. We’ll be happy to answer any questions and perhaps provide some tips on how to get the most from the Air.