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Best Laptops for Working from Home
December 31, 2019
Not being able to make it into the office no longer means not being able to get to work. Laptop computers and wireless, high-speed internet mean working on-the-go is not just a fact of life but, oftentimes, a necessity.
Getting work done at home means your laptop has to perform all the functions and connect to every thing that you might need in an office environment, all pressed into a foldable little screen and keyboard.
What makes a laptop a good work-from-home candidate?
Choosing the best laptop for working from home could be a daunting task. The best laptop for office work, brought back and forth from work to home may be different than the best laptop for a home office, where it will mostly stay put.
Trade-offs include slim and lightweight versus feature-packed and robust, with various inputs and outputs that you might or might not need. This can present an often-confusing shopping experience.
Battery life is an issue that might not mean that much to you if your laptop is going to stay plugged in at your home office desk in one spot most of the time. But it might be a bigger factor if your job requires you to not only work from home, but head out to remote locations as well.
The good news is that there is a variety of options and price points, with different combinations of features for every need. The bad news, however, is that this variety is often hard to sift through to determine which will best suit your particular needs. And getting the wrong one without the critical quality to complete and deliver your work can be both costly and inconvenient.
What kind of laptop do you need?
We’ve assembled a list of the best HP laptops for working from your home, calling out the strengths and features that set them apart from one another, to help you narrow your choices. We’ve broken down the list by the following categories:
- Essential, which offers the core functions needed at a friendly budget
- Pro, which blends both style and function into a powerful package
- Elite, for those who need durability and rock-solid performance at home and on the go
- Workstation, for high-end creative professionals working from home
Best features: Utility, power, performance, and budget-friendly
1. HP 250 G7 notebook PC
Choosing a product from the Essential line of HP products is the right choice for you if what you’re looking for is “meat and potatoes” computer use. You’ll be using it for office applications, spreadsheets, presentations, Web-enabled applications, and the like. While the HP 250 G7 can most certainly run and display video, it won’t be your first go-to choice as the vehicle for high-end display functions.
As the most cost-efficient line that HP® offers, this laptop may not include some of the jazzier bells and whistles. But being on a budget doesn’t always mean sacrificing quality. The HP 250 G7 notebook, as part of the Essential collection of notebooks, offers a surprising amount of power and functionality on the inside. On the outside, it’s a pretty stock-standard shell, opting to put all the value in the function while keeping the form relatively simple.
Getting the job done
This laptop doesn’t try to be the slimmest or lightest; the sacrifices here in budget are mainly expressed in the form factor. It doesn’t have a fancy aluminum shell or paper-thin edges; it is a workhorse-like laptop meant for getting the job done. The screen is not as feature-rich as in the more premium models; viewing it from straight on as the user provides a clear and serviceable image, but tilted angles will tend to distort the colors and brightness a bit. It is a unit meant for one person to work on alone; collaborating isn’t built into its mission.
But where the HP 250 G7 shines is in performance. The Intel® Core i5-8265U central processing unit (CPU) with 8GB memory (RAM) and a 256GB solid-state (SSD) drive are components that are functionally identical to many laptops that cost nearly double. This laptop can run video editing software or high-end, processor-demanding image-editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator without lagging or slowdown. This is where the HP 250 G7 shows its value. The bang for the buck is all in the actual use of the system.
Long battery life, chock full of ports
An added value is in battery life. Expect a solid 9 hours of video, as opposed to around 5 or so with many of the models in this price range. Not being beholden to thinness as a design imperative also makes the HP 250 G7 full of available classic ports. Look for one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0s, an Ethernet port (full size), an HDMI, and a full-size SD card slot.
The HP 250 G7 is a piece of tech that is all about getting the job done. The bottom line is that what it lacks in fancy presentation, it makes up for in power and performance under the hood.
CPU: Intel Core i3-7020U
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
DISPLAY: 15.6-inch HD (1366 x 768), TN
STORAGE: 500GB HDD
RAM: 4GB DDR4
WEIGHT: 3.9 lbs
Best features: Elegant, powerful, thin, light, great display, near-full desktop replacement
2. HP ProBook 450 G6 notebook PC
The HP ProBook 450 G6, as part of the HP ProBook line, is built for business. It presents as an ultra-slim laptop with an eye toward style in its form factor. The 15.6-inch screen is bright and vivid, and the case opens to a full 180 degrees, lying flat if fully extended, and allowing for increased sharing of views when working across the table from someone.
Function complements form
Connectivity and port availability are often vital when working from home. Onboard Bluetooth and WiFi compatibility across all spectrums are standard. It offers speed increases in WiFi benchmark tests from the previous 400 model that should suit all business upload and download needs.
The HP ProBook 450 G6 features a USB Type-A 2.0 connector and SSD card reader on one side of the unit. The other side has a charging plug, USB Type-C 3.1 (Gen. 1) connector with Power delivery and DisplayPort connection, an RJ-45 connector for wired fast or gigabit ethernet connections, an HDMI 1.4b port, and two USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) ports, as well as a headphone jack. That it packs all this into such a slim frame is appreciated. There’s function to complement the form.
Built-in security: Keep out prying eyes
Security features include a fingerprint sensor and an anti-theft Kensington lock-slot, if you ever need to take your laptop on the go to a high-traffic location. Additionally, the HP ProBook 450 G6 comes standard with the HP Sure View security system and protocols built in. HP Sure View is a function that one might use when taking the home laptop out in public, or while on a train or airport. It is a built-in privacy function, able to be toggled on or off, which changes the screen’s output such that those looking from any angle other than the user would not be able to make out what is on the screen.
When dealing with sensitive work-related data and information, you often do not want anyone looking over your shoulder or from an angle at what may be for your eyes only. When the HP Sure View function is activated, anyone outside of the user’s periphery is prevented from seeing 95% of the screen’s light output, effectively obscuring vision to nothing. Meanwhile, the user, in the field of vision directly in front of the screen, sees no difference from the normal high-end display. HP Sure View was developed with screenmaker 3M and is a cutting-edge innovation in security and privacy.
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620
DISPLAY: 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080), IPS
STORAGE: 256GB SSD
RAM: 16GB DDR4
WEIGHT: 4.4 lbs
Best features: Durable, reliable, mission-critical dependability, solid and dependable for every task
3. HP EliteBook 735 G6 notebook PC
The HP EliteBook laptops are business-class notebooks built to meet the exacting military MIL-STD-810 standards for durability and reliability in extreme conditions. The whole HP EliteBook line is built to last and perform. They feature spill-resistant keyboards, magnesium chassis, and aluminum frames with active hard-drive protection that use onboard accelerometers to enact system-saving protection measures if they detect excess acceleration.
Solidly built for extensive typing
Simply put, the notebook is solidly built. The best laptops for working from home are designed with the idea of doing work for extended periods of time, which means typing a lot. To that end, the HP EliteBook 735 G6’s keyboard is satisfying to type on. It’s got a bouncy pushback to the keys, which ‘“thunk” with a solid, hefty feel rather than a click. It’s got both a mid-key mounted touch-stick and a touchpad for mousing on screen.
Functional and versatile
An array of available ports adds to the functionality and versatility of the notebook. They include a USB Type-C, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (1 charging), an HDMI 2.0 jack, an RJ-45/Ethernet port, a docking connector, a headphone/microphone combo jack, an AC power port, and a Smartcard reader. There is an optional SIM card slot for a data plan to connect to LTE wireless cell phone networks, for true on-the-go connectivity for those times when you take your work from home out on location.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
GPU: AMD Radeon RX Vega 10
DISPLAY: 13.3-inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 166 PPI, BOE074A, IPS
STORAGE: Toshiba KBG30ZMV256G, 256GB
Best features: Mobile workstation with optimized speed and power for high-end, high-demand creative/graphic work with no slowdowns
4. HP ZBook 14u G6 mobile workstation
The HP ZBook line is a series of mobile workstations that are built with high-end features and computing power not normally found in laptops. They are meant to replicate, and even outperform, the traditional rooted desktop towers while still offering mobility and portability. The HP ZBook line can handle demanding computing needs like 3D rendering, high-quality image and video and multimedia creation and editing, as well as scientific computing for modeling data.
If the work that you do from home involves the creation or editing of big graphic files, then the HP ZBook is the premiere product line that would suit your needs.
Authentic color representation
The HP ZBook 14u G6 mobile workstation sits comfortably in the middle of the line’s offering. At first glance, and from outward appearances, it seems relatively standard as a thin profile laptop. But on closer inspection, the robust, powerful, and feature-rich components become evident. This starts with the display. The 14-inch diagonal screen boasts a certified Adobe color reproduction score of 100%, ensuring that work created on the HP ZBook will be a faithful representation of the print or projection color when exported to other media.
Memory and power to blaze through activities
Customizable options at purchase could make the display a touch screen, but the base model is non-touch. Where the HP ZBook shines is in the CPU/GPU/RAM configuration. This is where the "mobile workstation" label becomes evident. The HP ZBooks have an 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor with 16GB of RAM, which power through large files, multiple applications, and open windows, all without any slowdown.
Optimized for leading software
The HP ZBook line is all software certified through Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to run their suites of products at peak efficiency and stability, using a series of exhaustive benchmark testing and modifications. Often, even on high-end laptops, running specific multimedia creation and editing tools can prove to be troublesome or slow.
The HP ZBooks are designed to take away this worry; the ISV certification process ensures that you have not only peace of mind in knowing that the hardware is up to the task that your software demands, but also the confidence in knowing it’s specifically optimized for it, by the development teams and engineers of the software itself. This tight partnership with the leading multimedia software vendors sets the HP ZBook apart from its competition in its tier and price range.
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U 1.8 GHz, 8MB L3 cache and 4 cores
GPU: Integrated: Intel UHD Graphics 620. Discrete: AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200 (4GB dedicated GDDR5)
DISPLAY: 14.0-inch diagonal FHD IPS eDP + PSR anti-glare, 100% sRGB at 950 nits (1920 x 1080), HP Sure View Integrated Privacy Display Gen3
STORAGE: M.2 SATA SSD 128GB, Drive Controllers: M.2 Storage Bay (SATA)
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About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.