As an online teacher or course creator, your laptop is your daily companion. It is, therefore, necessary to make an informed decision to select a good laptop for the job.
Computers have been a part of our lives for as long as most of us can remember. From Pentium One to the modern i9 processors, we’ve witnessed the gradual growth in this technology and have come to depend on them for all manner of work and activity.
Back in the past, buying a computer was an easier decision especially since only a few manufacturers existed and these produced one model at a time.
Since the technology was still in its infancy, people were overjoyed to own a computer even if it was mostly used for simple typing, calculation, and drawing.
These were simpler times and computers became easier to acquire when a few brands entered the market. The MacBook was at a high price point while other Windows operating system-based brands were easier to acquire.
When I got my first computer, my father simply bought the most recent model he could find that wasn’t a MacBook to save money.
It did the job we thought it could do and more, over time.
Fast-forward a couple of decades later, computers have become common and evolved to the point where a pen-sized device can outperform the Apollo Guidance Computer (APC) which was used for the moon landing.
With the IT industry being one of the largest and most competitive, windows operating system-based computers now stand on par with MacBooks.
These days, if you want a flagship product, you would need to invest a considerable amount of money to get your hands on the new toy we all love to have.
Companies produce multiple models each year to fit into the price range of their customers. This includes low-end models to high-end ones.
Whether you are looking for a good laptop for your online course or online classes, there are multiple options on the market for you and your price range.
Technical Requirements For Online Teaching
Choosing the right laptop for your online course or teaching requires a bit of understanding of what the numbers manufacturers add to their descriptions mean.
At a minimum, these specifications should be met to make course content creation or ESL online teaching easier.
- CPU – Core i5 or Ryzen 5 minimum
- RAM – 8 GB (4 GB good enough for MacBook)
- Display – 12.3” or above
- Keyboard – Backlit
- Storage – 128 GB HDD or SDD minimum
- Battery – 6 hours minimum
- Graphics – Integrated or dedicated
How we chose the best laptop for online Content Delivery
Some may say differently especially with the CPU and the RAM, but this decision was made after thorough research and experience.
I have been in the eLearning space since 2014, and during this time, I have used multiple laptops from various brands.
Even before entering the education space and subsequently the eLearning space, I bought and sold slightly used laptops in the university.
With the demand in processor speed and RAM when using applications like Adobe After Effect for motion graphic designing, IntelliJ for Java application development, and running emulators in android studio, I’ve tried multiple brands and models.
It should be noted that selling used laptops made this process possible and convenient for me.
We will explain below the reasons for choosing the above specifications.
What processor is best for online teaching
Ever checked a laptop description and seen something like “intel core i7 6000U” or “Ryzen 7 6000U”. Well, these all have meanings and are quite easy to understand on the spot.
Let’s break them down into processor speed and generation.
The processor runs the laptop and the software that comes with it. Most computers come with either an Intel or an AMD chip.
Some of Intel’s chips include:
Pentium, Celeron, i3, i5, i7, and I9
Note: Pentium and Celeron CPUs should be avoided as they are old and outdated. They are considered slow in modern standards and should only be recommended for applications like Microsoft Word and watching movies. Even these would still be slow especially if you happen to be watching HD videos.
Some of AMD’s chips include:
Ryzen A5, A7, 3, 5, 7, and 9
Note: Similar to the Pentium and Celeron CPUs, the AMD A5, and A7 CPUs are outdated and should also be avoided. Like their counterparts, they should only be used for Microsoft Word and watching lower resolution movies.
Intel i3 & Ryzen 3 CPUs
Laptops with these CPUs can be recommended for accomplishing simple tasks like browsing, and in low usage scenarios, Adobe Photoshop.
In high usage scenarios, Adobe Photoshop will become slow on these processors.
Intel i5 & Ryzen 5 CUPs
Laptops with these CPUs are great for running apps that consume a lot of processing power. These processors can keep up with demanding applications like Autodesk Maya, Cinema 4D, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effect, and many more.
This makes them the ideal choice when considering the best laptop for online courses or teaching and also a great laptop for graphic designing.
Note: The i5 processor speed can lag if multiple processor-heavy applications are used simultaneously. A typical example is running Adobe After Effect and Autodesk Maya or Adobe Premiere Pro at the same time.
These processors are also great for low-resolution games.
Intel i7 & Ryzen 7 CUPs
Laptops with these CPUs are geared towards intensive software usage. This means running multiple applications at the same time.
A typical example is running Adobe After Effect, Autodesk Maya, Android Studio, or any other intensive applications simultaneously.
These processors can support this form of intensive processor usage.
Note: Perfect for motion graphic designers, animators, ESL tutors and not forgetting programmers.
Another word that is thrown alongside the CPU is the word “generation”.
To put it simply, a laptop with a name like Dell i5 6000U means the laptop is generation 6 or 6th generation.
You can tell the year a laptop was produced by looking at the generation. The number “6” in front of “6000U” represents the generation of an intel CPU.
Note: Intel names its processors based on the year. 4th generation or generation 4 means it was produced in 2014, 8th generation means 2018, and the 10th generation means 2020.
AMD generation names on the other hand start from 2017. This means that a laptop with the name Dell Ryzen 3 1200U would be a 1st generation made in 2017.
Ryzen 3 2500U would be the 2nd generation made in 2018 and Ryzen 3 4100H would be the 4th generation made in the year 2020.
This makes it easier to verify when a laptop was made, especially when you are looking for a laptop for your online course or class.
Why this name? Simple
This is meant to help understand which system is the latest version. Newer is not always better but in this case, the latest would be better than the previous.
This includes performance, battery life, and many more.
Letters at the end of the laptop processor name
When the processor name ends with a letter like Dell i5 6000H, the “H” at the end means it has high processing power.
This means it has higher performance but high power consumption as well. This is typical with gaming laptops which come with top-of-the-line performance but consume a lot of power.
If it has a name like Dell i5 6000U, the “U” at the end means it has ultra-low power. This means it has good performance but with lower power consumption.
How much RAM do I need for online teaching
RAM serves as the short-term memory storage for applications. Some applications consume a lot of RAM which is why modern computer and phone manufacturers try to increase the amount of RAM in their devices.
Applications like Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effect, Autodesk Maya, Cinema 4D require a lot of RAM for rendering.
Even an internet browser can consume a huge amount of RAM based on the number of tabs open at a time.
For simple video editing for your online course, an 8 Gig minimum RAM would be sufficient.
The RAM also comes in different speeds, typical examples include 2400MHz, 3000MHz, 3400MHz. It is worth noting that the higher this number is, the faster your RAM speed will be.
How much storage do I need for online teaching
Most of us might have seen a computer storage device or hard drive before. That is what a computer permanently stores data on.
This includes storing our pictures, videos, documents, and our installed applications. When choosing a laptop for online teaching or a laptop in general, you’ll come across two computer storage options, namely SSD and HDD.
This is usually very visible in the description of the laptop. Examples include 4TB HDD or 128 SSD.
The HDD has a normal speed and is cheaper compared to the SSD. The SSD on the other hand is 5 to 6 times faster than the HDD but more expensive.
Software installation and any other tasks performed are faster on an SSD. For the best performance, it is advisable to ensure your computer of choice has SSD storage.
128 GB SSD storage and above will be great for online courses and content creation.
Integrated or dedicated video card
Computers come with either an integrated or dedicated graphics card. For simple video editing tasks, an integrated video card is adequate.
A dedicated card is required for video gaming laptops, heavy graphic designs, and most importantly motion graphic design and 3D modeling.
Stronger battery life is key to remote access to work. Although it is advisable to have your computer connected at all times during an online meeting, there are circumstances where a power outage leaves you relying on your laptop’s battery.
It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that whichever laptop you choose has good battery life.
Most modern laptops come with a pretty decent camera for video conferencing. It is necessary to ensure that the laptop you choose has an inbuilt camera as some laptop models trade the camera for thinner bezels.
These cameras would be sufficient for some blended video creation technique (Screencast and Talking-head combined) under the right room lighting.
A backlit keyboard has become a necessity in most modern laptops as it enables you to work even in a low-lit environment.
The selection below was made after hours of research. They fit into the minimum requirement as well as a moderate price range.
Best Laptop For Online Teaching In 2021
First on our list as one of the best laptops for online teaching, learning, or content creation is the Lenovo Flex 5.
It is a thin, light, and stylish 2-in-1 laptop that weighs just 3.64 pounds and is only 0.82″ thick. It’s soft and comfortable to the touch, with durable paint that creates a better user experience. It also comes along with a digital pen included
The 10-point, 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen allows the Lenovo Flex 5 14″ 2-in-1 laptop to be comfortable, fun, and easy to use. It’s also great to look at, with 4-side narrow bezels
The 360⁰ hinge lets you use your 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop in whatever mode works best for you; Use it in ‘Laptop’ mode for everyday computing, ‘Tent’ mode for sharing things, ‘Stand’ mode for binge-watching, or ‘Tablet’ mode for more intuitive interaction.
- AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Processor
- 16 GB DDR4 Memory
- 256 GB SSD Storage
- Integrated AMD Radeon Graphics
- Up to 10 hours battery life
- Lenovo Active Pen included
- 2-in-1 laptop
- Excellent Ryzen CPU performance
- Good viewing angle
- Touch screen display
- Comes with a pressure-sensitive stylus
- Good battery
- Webcam cover slider
- Fingerprint reader
- Glossy screen so maybe some reflection
- Color accuracy not comparable to higher-end devices
- RAM is soldered on and can’t be upgraded
Although Lenovo doesn’t make the most aesthetically pleasing laptops on the market, this laptop is one to compete with.
Like every laptop on the market, it has its challenges but its pros far outweigh any cons. The touchscreen adds additional advantages as well as offers greater flexibility and the possibility to draw illustrations during presentations.
Second, on my list is the Microsoft surface pro 7. It has a next-gen, best-in-class laptop with the versatility of a studio and tablet, so you can type, touch, draw, write, work, and play more naturally.
Faster than surface pro 6, with a 10th gen intel core processor – redefining what’s possible in a thin and light computer.
It also comes with both USB-c and USB-a ports for connecting to displays, docking stations, and more, as well as accessory charging.
Standout design that won’t weigh you down — ultra-slim and light surface pro 7 starts at just 1.70 pounds
All-day battery life up to 10.5 hours, plus the ability to go from empty to full faster — about 80 percent in just over an hour
- 10th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU
- 8 GB RAM
- 128 GB SSD Storage
- Intel Iris Plus Graphics
- Up to 10 hours battery life
- Windows 10 Home
- Small and light in weight
- MicroSD card slot
- Good camera
- Stylus pen not included
The surface is one of my favorite laptops. I am currently writing this article on a Surface laptop. I use mine for quite a bit of Java programming and Photoshop designing.
It has a simple design and I’m able to use it as a tablet at any moment. Additionally, it is very light in weight and easy to carry around in a backpack.
This makes it an ideal choice when looking to buy a laptop for online course creation.
The Dell XPS 13 is precision cut from a block of aluminum in two pieces so there is no variability in construction.
Corning Gorilla Glass 6 is tough, damage-resistant, durable, elegant, and allows for no flex in its display.
Dual fans separated to spread heat over a larger area, to dual heat pipes to hidden exhaust venting through the hinge,
The power button lets you log on with just a touch. A 2.25mm high-quality HD webcam gives you the best camera experience.
- 16×10 aspect ratio
- Intel Core i7-1195G7 CPU
- 256 GB SSD
- 4” UHD Infinity Edge Touch Display
- 16 GB RAM
- Has a microSD card slot
- One hand open
- Good webcam
- Supports Windows Hello (Facial recognition login)
- Fingerprint ID
- Great battery life
- Bright screen
- Has only two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Soldered on components
The XPS line is where Dell shows off its design chops. It is a premium Windows 10 rival to Apple’s MacBook Pro and more recently Microsoft’s Surface Laptop line.
It has one of the sleekest looks in a laptop on the market and packs a lot of power under the hood as well.
It’s an all-rounder, perfect for any kind of online job and running intensive applications, creating and editing video lessons.
It takes its spot as the best laptop for online teaching.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go has a sleek design and standout value. At just 2.44 pounds, it’s light, portable, and easy to keep by your side throughout the day.
Be productive, browse, and binge watch on the 12.4” PixelSense touchscreen display.
Convenient security with Windows Hello sign-in, plus Fingerprint Power Button with Windows Hello and One Touch sign-in on select models.
Run your favorite apps and keep up on social media with a 10th Gen Intel Core Processor.
Show your best side on video calls, meetings, and virtual get-togethers with the built-in 720p HD camera.
- Intel Core i5 10th Gen CPU
- 8 GB Memory
- 128GB Storage
- Up to 13 hours Battery life
- 12.45” Touchscreen
- One hand open
- No backlit keys
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go has a solid build with great hardware under the hood for a good price.
The backlit is an issue if you like to work in the dark but it’s still one of the best laptops out there for that price and makes our list of best laptops for content creators
Everyone who’s used a MacBook Pro for programming or editing knows how smooth running these applications become.
It should be no surprise therefore to see the MacBook Pro on this list.
If you are looking for a premium product then the MacBook Pro is the best high-end all-rounder and a great choice for online teaching and learning.
- Ninth-generation 6-Core Intel Core i7 Processor
- Stunning 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone technology
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
- AMD Radeon Pro 5300M Graphics with GDDR6 memory
- Ultrafast SSD
- Intel UHD Graphics 630
- Six-speaker system with force-canceling woofers
- Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
- Up to 11 hours of battery life
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Retina display
- Good speakers
- Great performance
- Thunderbolt 3 connectivity
- Good keyboard design
- Very expensive
- Soldered on components
- No SD card slot
The MacBook Pro comes at a premium price but is one of the best laptops on the market for all sorts of work-related activities.
It has a solid build and operates smoothly. It is therefore one to consider when looking for a good laptop for online teaching.
Touchbar on some models is considered useful by some users while considered unnecessary by others.
The HP Pavilion 15 laptop provides a premium performance enabling users to spend less time getting more done. it’s like a small PC that’s compact enough to go where you go with a long-lasting battery to power you through your day.
It comes with an 11th generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, which delivers instant responsiveness and best-in-class connectivity.
Enjoy up to 15x faster performance than a traditional hard drive with 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage (4) and experience improved multitasking with higher bandwidth thanks to 16 GB of RAM
- 11th Gen Intel Core i7
- Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- 16 GB DDR4-3200 SDRAM (2x8GB)
- 512 GB PCIe NVMe m.2 SSD
- 15.6” Display
- Integrated graphics card
- Good travel on the keyboard
- Supports fast charging
- Good battery life
- Upgradeable memory
- No backlit keys
- Fan noise
Although the fan noise can become a problem during intensive usage, the laptop doesn’t get too hot.
It is a very capable laptop for the price and a great laptop for students or anyone else who wants a great laptop without breaking the bank.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 laptop comes with AMD’s Ryzen 5 3500U Mobile Processors with Radeon Graphics that delivers powerful performance for everyday tasks.
Dopoundsy Audio delivers crystal-clear sound, while the 14-inch FHD screen and narrow side bezels give you more viewing area and less clutter
Quick and quiet with Q-control – Effortlessly swap between fast & powerful performance and quiet battery saving mode
Keep your privacy intact with a physical shutter for your webcam. You’ll enjoy privacy right at your fingertips
- 8 GB RAM
- Ryzen 5 3500U
- 14” Display
- 256 GB SSD Storage
- Windows 10
- Webcam cover slider
- Upgradeable RAM
- Strong processor
- No one-hand open
- Brightness issue
This is one of the best budget laptops on the market. The Ryzen 5 3500U processor in this laptop packs a punch and makes it good enough to make it one to consider when choosing a laptop for your eLearning content creation.
The one-hand open thing is more of a gimmick and can be ignored. The brightness on the device is quite low but can be adjusted to produce your desired level of brightness.
All in all, it’s one of the best laptops out in the market for the price range and comes with very decent specifications to help you get the job done.
The Acer Swift 3 comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Octa-Core Mobile Processor (Up to 4.1 GHz) with Radeon Graphics, 8GB LPDDR4 Memory, and 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD.
It has an Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6 AX200 802.11ax, HD webcam (1280 x 720), backlit keyboard, and a fingerprint reader
According to their page, this laptop is the recipient of the PC World’s Editors’ Choice Award and we see why.
- AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU
- Radeon graphics
- 8 GB RAM
- 512 NVMe SDD storage
- 14” display
- Windows 10 Home
- Backlit keyboard
- Fingerprint reader
- Quiet fan
- Good gaming performance
- Sturdy build
- SSD can be upgraded
- Good audio
- Not the best color accuracy
- No one-hand open
- Non-upgradeable RAM
If you are into photography and need top-of-the-line rich color accuracy then this laptop is not for you.
Its gaming performance is better than any integrated intel card with an impressive performance.
With a strong CPU and graphics card, this device is great for rendering images from applications like Photoshop.
It’s an over-achiever that performs better than many laptops above its price range.
If you’re looking for good value in a well-built laptop, the Acer Swift 3 is the laptop to choose from and is one of the best laptops for online teaching or learning you can find for the price range.
In conclusion, choosing the best laptop for your online course creation or teaching doesn’t need to be a difficult process.
Any laptop that meets the requirements listed above would be perfect for the job.
The options provided on this list are just a few of the hundreds of options available on the market to help you reach your online training goals.
Choose which one fits perfectly into your budget or look through and find the best option that satisfies all the requirements to make your life easier.
Our favorite choice on this list is the Dell XPS 13. It is a solid build and strong all-rounder laptop if your preference is for the windows operating system.
Alternatively, if the macOS is your choice, then Apple’s MacBook Pro will serve you well.