What Is The Best Laptop For Working At Home?

If you work from home and don’t have a decent laptop – your life is going to suck.

But you don’t have to spend $5000 on a fancy computer to get the work done either. In fact, I know a guy who made money with a cheap laptop, using spotty wifi in a tent in the middle of the desert – while fighting a war in Iraq.

But obviously… that situation is not optimal. You need something decent to work with.

I get asked all the time about what tools and gear I use. Most people think I work at a huge desk with 11 big-screen monitors and 3 computers. They’re always surprised when they find out that I work on a small, minimal desk with a single Macbook Air that I’ve had since 2010.

But a few weeks ago – I changed it up a bit.

Today I’m going to show you:

  1. The computers I’ve used
  2. Why I use them
  3. Why you might want to use them too

But first, let me explain how I became an Apple device hoarder.

I Used To Be A Serial Upgrader

Every time Apple came out with a new version of the iPad, iPhone or Macbook I would buy it. I felt like the constant upgrades were justified because I work from home and my computer gear is my life-blood.

But then their release schedule started to feel a little… shady.

  • They give us the iPhone 4 and we all buy that
  • Then they make a small change to the camera and call it the iPhone 4s and we all buy that
  • Then they make a big update, call it an iPhone 5 and we all buy that
  • Then 6 months later the 5s comes out, and we all buy that…

apple-event

The slow release process is great for Apple. It guarantees that we buy new devices from them once or twice a year… forever.

They could probably give us better phones and laptops today if they wanted to. But it makes more financial sense for them to sell us 2–3 different versions along the way to maximize revenues.

Like everyone else, I fell for it and was buying new Apple stuff like crazy. The end result was a house full of laptops, iPhones and iPads that weren’t being used, losing value every day that I didn’t sell them on Craigslist.

Mac Device Breaking Point

I finally hit a breaking point in 2010, around the time the iPhone 4 came out. That’s why I ended up keeping my iPhone 4 up until this year and my late 2010 Macbook Air for 4 years. I did it on purpose – to prove to myself that I could do it.

I felt pretty good about holding out before upgrading. But the second I turned on the new Macbook Pro, I knew the upgrade was was definitely worth the money.

If you work from home and you haven’t upgraded your gear in a while I’d like to share my experience and show some side-by-side stats of exactly what my upgrade looks like, how it feels and why I have no buyers remorse this time around.

I also love photos of Apple devices side-by-side and this gives me a great excuse to take some.

Experience With the Macbook Air 13 in

Work from home laptop - Macbook AIr

I loved the Macbook Air. It’s definitely my favorite laptop that I have ever owned. Here are a few reasons I love it.

  1. Size and Weight: The simplicity of the design, it’s small size and it’s light weight have made it the best laptop for travel I have ever had. It slips in a backpack or carry-on bag without adding noticeable weight.
  2. Design. The Macbook Air is still my favorite laptop design. The way they shaved the front end down so that it comes to a sharp point is one of the sexiest designs on a laptop I’ve ever seen.
  3. Power. The power of the Macbook Air was plenty for me, up until the very end. The dual 2.13 Ghz processors handled my work apps well. I’m by no means a power-user, I mainly stick with a browser, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and a handful of other lightweight applications.

So if the Macbook Air 13 inch was so great, then why did I upgrade?

I’d been feeling a bit of a lag on the machine for several months mainly because I changed the way I use it over time. I no longer have a TV or stereo. I use my computer for everything. And I was starting to notice a slight lag while watching movies and using Photoshop.

Then, when I installed Mac OS X Yosemite, the lag doubled… so I knew that if I wanted to use the new OS, I’d probably need to go ahead and get a stronger machine. I could have gone with the new 2014 version of the Macbook Air, but I’ve been eyeballing the Macbook Pro for a while.

Why I Wanted the Macbook Pro 13 in Retina Display

Work from home laptop - Macbook Pro

To tell you the truth, I’ve wanted a Macbook Pro with Retina Display for a long time. But (as I mentioned before) I made a promise to myself a few years ago that I would stop buying every new Mac product each time they put out a new version.

Here are a few reasons why I felt it was necessary for me to go ahead and upgrade.

  1. Time. I’ve had my Macbook Air for almost 4 years (late 2010 model). In that time the technology inside the machine had changed enough to warrant getting a new machine.
  2. Retina Display. I’m looking at that screen for anywhere from 4–14 hours a day, so it makes sense for me to have the best screen possible. The Retina display is damn amazing by the way, big difference from the old 2010 Macbook Air.
  3. Power. Processors have gotten a lot stronger in the last 4 years and as I mentioned earlier I was beginning to feel a lag on the Air’s dual 2.13 Ghz processors. The Macbook Pro has 3 Ghz of power and 14 GB of Memory, which is 4x the memory in the Air. Huge, noticeable difference.

I didn’t really consider the 15 in. Macbook Pro. Size and weight is a big deal to me, so I stuck with the smaller, lighter 13 in. Macbook Pro.

Side By Side Comparisons Photos

Here is a breakdown of what the two laptops look like side-by-side. I’ll also give a little insight as to why I do / don’t like certain things about each one. There were certainly things about the new Macbook Pro that I wasn’t expecting, but almost all of them turned out to be good surprises.

Macbook Pro vs Macbook Air
Macbook Pro on top, Macbook Air on bottom

The Macbook Pro is smaller. I wasn’t expecting that at all. Here you can see the difference. The Macbook Pro is on top.

I don’t mind the smaller body size. One of my biggest fears about going from a Macbook Air to a Macbook Pro was that it was going to be bigger. The smaller size was a nice surprise.

Work at home laptops, Macbook vs MacAir
Macbook Air 13 in. left, Macbook Pro 13 in. right

Here’s a different angle showing the size difference. The 13 in. Macbook Pro is on the left, 13 in. Macbook Air on the right. The Macbook Pro is smaller in both height and width.

Best Work from home laptops reviewed
Macbook Air left, Macbook Pro right.

The Macbook Pro screen is also smaller. I can’t tell visually if the screen is actually smaller or if it’s just the housing around it, but overall it feels smaller.

What is the best laptop for working at home
Keyboard view. Macbook Air left, Macbook Pro right.

As you can see here, the actual keyboards are the same size but again, the Macbook Pro’s housing is smaller than the Macbook Air.

What Is The Best Laptop for Working From Home?

To be honest, there is no “best laptop”. The trick is finding a laptop that gives you with the maximum power that you need and not a bit more. Don’t get caught up on thinking you have to have a monster laptop in order to make money online.

I could have probably continued using my Macbook Air for another few years. My actual work is pretty light – a little Photoshop and Dreamweaver are the two heaviest apps I use. If that was all I was going to do I wouldn’t need a more powerful machine.

But because I also use my laptop as a TV, sound system and recording studio I really needed some extra procesing power. So the best laptop for working from home, for me, is the 2014 Macbook Pro 13 in. with Retina Display.

  • The performance was noticeably faster
  • The design is just as sleek
  • It’s smaller in size
  • The weight difference is barely noticeable at all

Price Difference

The Macbook Pro is obviously more expensive than the Air. The cost is almost all based on power and the Macbook Pro has much more of  it.

If you have the cash, I’d definitely go with a Macbook Pro. If you just need a lightweight laptop that gets the job done, go with the Macbook Air.

What About iMacs or Desktop PCs?

I recommend using a laptop over an iMac or a PC desktop. Why? Because when you travel, you need to be able to take your work with you. I’ve found it incredibly helpful to be able to take the same computer with me on trips that I use at home.

  1. You don’t need any desktop sharing apps
  2. You’ll never “forget” a file
  3. You have the same work experience on the road

If you’re half way across the country, relaxing in a hotel room, the last thing you want to be worried about is forgetting to bring your files with you and not being able to do maintenance work while you’re away.

Do yourself a favor – buy a laptop.

And Mac’s are just my preference. You can use a PC if you (really?) want to.

Conclusion

If you’re on a Macbook Air and you’re feeling a lag, I recommend the Macbook Pro 13 in Retina as a solid upgrade, especially if you work from home and use your laptop as much as I do.

You’ll work a little bit faster, your videos will play better, your screen and colors will look 10x better and you won’t be adding much weight to your shoulder strap or suitcase when you travel.

That’s what makes the Macbook Pro a win for me.

So, what kind of computer are you using and how long have you been using it?

  • http://www.mikemrk.com/ Mike MRK

    Great choice. I’m also looking forward to buying a 13″ laptop ( i have a 15″ lenovo, with optical drive – that means it’s thick )

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      you gotta go thin to win Mike, haha. How do like the lenovo? curios how it stacks up against a macbook?

      • Allen

        I have top of the line ThinkPad T440p (also upgraded to 500 GB SSD) and would not change it for anything out there. Win 8.1 is blazingly fast, made for multitasking, and the machine is made out of carbon, aluminium and magnezium (military/space spec).
        However, if you need something more stylish, ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the way to go.
        My GF has a MacBook Pro and while it’s OK and all, it just feels so awkward to work on. The machine is beautiful, but MacOS X? I just can’t get used to it – feels a bit outdated.
        Just my two cents. 🙂

  • Glynn Ash

    You can use a PC if you (really?) want to. -> LOL

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      had to

  • http://www.benokumura.com Ben O

    the difference between the Air and the new retina is amazing. very little difference so much more power. one thing to note about the retina is that basically when you get it its hard to mod. not an issue for most but with the other macbooks you can add things or take things out. the retina is not very versatile in that regard. but all around good processing power. i run a TON of applications with almost no lag. huge difference from the previous line of macbooks.

    I’d say if you’re just starting out as as affiliate, you don’t need a macbook. use your PC, make some money then get a macbook. You have to look at things from an ROI basis. If you’re getting slowed down by your PC, each time you get held up a few seconds, that adds up to a lot of time over the long haul which ultimately reduces your output which would reduce your revenue/profit.

    mostly though, macbook/mac way more pleasant to use IMO. Makes working a lot easier.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Ben, I don’t mod much. I used to on Windows machines, I’d build them from scratch. But with Macs I’ve never even added memory after purchase. Haven’t had to.

      And yeah, you definitely can start with anything. I’d much rather see people spending their $$ on campaigns than gear at first. Just grind it out until you can afford to upgrade.

  • Petre Veluda

    I have a mid 2013 MacBook Air that runs pretty well using more or less the same apps as you do. In my opinion Apple products just work .. for two years:)! I’m not a fan of constantly changing with the new shiny think that came up, because I don’t need it. I still have my iPhone 4S and I’ll probably have to upgrade it because it’s hard to keep up with the software update after two years, same things with laptops.

    In conclusion I tend to focus more on what I can achieve with my machine rather than the machine itself and I try not to buy things I don’t need. But going for a laptop is way better than a desktop because “your office” will be constantly with you.

    And always go for a Mac!!!! I don’t argue here, I don’t compare, I don’t care what anyone thinks. It simply works … 4 years in a row, with NO freezing, nothing!! I bought my father a simple DELL, Windows based laptop that I couldn’t Shut Down in the first day because Windows had a problem showing the menu bar … WHAAT really?? In 2014??? It’s its first day out of the box and already you have an error?? :))

    True, funny, sad story..

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      yeah Petre, I used to have all kinds of problems with Windows. Viruses, freezes, having to restart, reinstall Windows, etc. I can say that I have never had to restart a Mac, never had a virus and have never had one freeze up on me.

      Doesn’t mean Windows sucks, just means it sucked for me.

      It’s been 5-6 years now though, maybe it’s gotten better.

  • Boyd

    I have Acer E1-522. It costs just around $400.
    2Ghz Quadcore
    4GB RAM
    15.6 inch display
    500GB HDD

    If you are looking for a Windows laptop, this gives you the best bang for your buck and it is no way inferior to the mac’s.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      nice Boyd, that’s definitely a lot of bang for your buck. I doubt I could ever do Windows again though, it’s like they say: “Once you go Mac you never go back”

      • Boyd

        Ya, maybe you are right. I have never used a mac.

        But, if you are just starting out, this laptop is good.

  • http://www.iAmAttila.com/ iAmAttila

    Nice post, I’m making the switch to MacBookPro very soon, need it now as we start traveling a lot more now that my son is almost 5.

    I looked around and an equal caliber windows based laptop costs the same as a mac, so price is no question. Mac being more stable, having better ram memory management and not being so prone to viruses is why I am going for the MBP!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      yeah man for me it’s Mac all the way. It took a week or two to get used to it (i was previously on Windows) but when I got used to it was great. I’d never go back.

      • http://www.iAmAttila.com/ iAmAttila

        Loving my Mac man, a mac beats every single PC. I am going to write a subjective post for all Windows PC/Laptop fan boys to tell them from an ex Windows user perspective why they are better as traditional marketing arguments most Mac fan boys throw out don’t fly with PC users. [I know.. first hand..]

        • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

          same here. i was on PC for my first 5-6 years of being online. then i got a Mac and never went back.

  • Yussef Gilkey

    We have a lot in common bro. That’s the laptop I have as well and before the 2014 Pro I had a 2007 pro that I loved to death. That thing was a tank but it took one too many falls (headphone cord trips) and my logic board died. But the screen on the 2014 Retina is a little smaller so I still use my 2009 Imac 24″ for graphics just because I have more visual space to work with. I am also a little paranoid about having so much software on one device. Laptops are easy to steal and it doesn’t take but one time to get caught sleeping and leave it on your car seat at the wrong time and maaaan. I have had nightmares about this but I totally understand why you love that little work horse.

  • Patrick

    nice article man ! btw how much ram is needed to have a fast mbp ? Is 8 gig enough?