Preamble out the way.
All accountants should be after a laptop that can do accounting & bookeeping as fast as possible.
Fast accounting means less time spent on a job and more time collecting money.
Grab the one that can can eat large amounts of data an do calculations ASAP.
Wait, will a faster laptop/computer make a difference when my old rig already handles my operations pretty well?
Think about it.
If you can execute those tasks on QuickBooks or Excel just a few seconds or even a few milliseconds faster. If all your operations are done slightly faster, the time saved will add up to minutes, which can then add to hours and even days over the course of the month.
AKA, less time spent on the job and more time either making more money or finding more clients.
Now finding a laptop that can do that isn’t that hard…
Especially modern laptops.
They have way too much power for accounting software and they’re not that expensive.
So as long as you a land a laptop made within the past year or two and you have enough RAM and an SSD, you’ll get the performance gains we just went over.
Remember you’re going to be staring at the screen for several hours with fingers glued to the keyboard. So it may be a good idea to invest a little more on the display/keyboard rather than power you will probably never fully use.
Recommended Specs For Accounting
If you are interested in knowing how accounting software utilizes hardware to run calculations/operations or you want know all the details on why we are recommending these laptops, check the guide at the end.
For now I’ll try to summarize here before we go over the best laptops for accounting.
Like I said, there’s enough power for accounting in today’s computer. So pay attention to the display.
Get a 15” Full HD as a minimum . Why?
This combo will increase the amount of screen space available so you can see more rows, columns. interfaces and will have less need to scroll down a doc,(or table) and to use drop down menus.
A large keyboard with dedicated F keys & a numerical keyboard if possible. It’s impossible to find a numerical keypard on a 13” laptop but you can buy an external one. 15” laptops already have numerical keyboards so get those instead unless you really need something super portable.
Any modern processor released within the past 5 years will be okay. Don’t worry about. Just make sure to Avoid Pentium/Celeron/MY and processors from AMD that are not Ryzen chips. Obviously, the faster the better and by this I mean clock speed. You should be topping out at 4GHz though. Anything from 3.4 to 4GHz is cool.
If there’s anything that will make a big difference is RAM. Bigger RAM will help process calculations on huge spreadsheets&databases a lot faster. Check the last section to see why and how.
At least 8GB RAM, 16GB is too much.
Storage is just as crucial as RAM. You don’t need to worry much about capacity but type. There are basically two: HDDs (fancy word for slow), SSDs (fancy word for super sonic datatransfer). Im joking obviously, but make sure you get an SSD(Solid State Drive).
It will help process data at super crazy speeds. Opening those big large 100MB spreadsheets with macros up the wazoo? They’ll take a few seconds.
Top 5 Best Laptops For Accounting
I’m aware there are accounting students reading this and accountants already making the big bucks or just getting started. So I’m listing laptops for every budget. Obviously, the more you invest on one the more perks you’ll get: bigger displays, better keyboards, more power, etc.
I’ll start with my personal favorite and probably the best of the best out there.
Best Laptop For Accounting
AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7
8-12GB RAM DDR4
AMD Radeon RX Vega
256-512GB PCIe NVMe
17” full HD TN
Reader Multi-format card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC) Networking 1 x COMBO audio jack 1 x Type-C USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) 1 x USB 3.0 port(s) Type A 2 x USB 2.0 port(s) Type A 1 x HDMI 1 x micro SD card
(802.11 ac) and Bluetooth 4.1Interface
The most amazing laptop I’ve seen for Accounting in a really really long time (since 2008 really).
Not only does it look professional but it’s actually very comfortable to work with and that’s not the best part, it’s thin and lightweight has a great keyboard (which includes a numerical keybad too).
If you check the specs, you can quickly see that the RAM & SSD we talked about it’s there. Not only that it’s got the current best line of the processors, the latest Ryzen series.
You can actually configure the CPU, SSD, RAM to whatever suits your budget. I’d recommend settling for a Ryzen 5 or 7 CPU with no more than 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, if you can afford to have higher specs, then get 12GB RAM and as much storage as you can afford.
8GB + Ryzen 5/7 CPU is enough power to make even QuickBooks with large databases open as fast as NotePad.
Design is kind of borderline premium/budget laptop, it’s not full aluminum like the MacBooks but it’s got some parts made out of aluminum. It’s thin and lightweight depending on the hardware/size you choose.
The display is the best part, all configurations have an IPS FHD display. Pair that with a 15” display and this should enough to make your workspace area comfortable.
If you’re not moving around all the time, then a 17” might actually be way more beneficial because the amount of space available for multitasking will be humonguous! You might even fit two spreadsheets next to each other.
Keyboard is fast responsive but does not have much travel, that doesn’t really matter as long as typing on it it’s a breeze. It does have FN dedicated Keys though AND a numerical keypad if you choose the 15-17” models.
Best Cheap Laptop For Accounting
AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
Radeon Vega 3
15” full HD IPS
802.11 AC BlueTooh 4.0
10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port), HD Webcam (1280 x 720), 1 – USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port, 2 – USB 2.0 Ports, 1 – HDMI Port with HDCP support
Even if you have a super low budget, you can still get a fast machine with MOST of the specs we recommended.
This is the cheapest laptop on the list, it costs 1/2 the price of the ASUS VivoBook but by no means it’s useless.
It can do calculations/handle excel/quickbooks just as fast as any laptop and that’s because you got the PCIe NVMe SSD and the 8GB RAM already in it.
The CPU? Like I said it doesn’t matter as long as it’s modern. This Ryzen chip will be fast enough for ANYTHING that’s not related to gaming/video editing.
Anyways there are no flaws on it, look at the picture, it has a keyboard with a lot of travel distance because it’s thicker. Numerical keypad, check. Dedicated FN keys, check.
Full HD, IPS panel, check. It’s a 15” display too.
So what’s the downside?
It’s a bit heavier and bulky but not that heavy, students will have some trouble taking this thing to classes.
The biggest downside is the fact that it doesn’t have the full version if Windows 10 Home on it.
Wait, so it’s totally useless?
No, because Windows 10 in S mode, allows you to install software directly from the App store. MS Office, Zoom and the most widely used software are there this includes QuickBooks.
However, third party software like Sage is not there. So you will have to get a Copy of Windows 10 Home if you need to install something very specific.
Core i5-8265U 3.4GHz
8GB RAM DDR4
512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
13” full HD TN
The New ASUS ZenBook is the most premium and portable machine you can get for Accounting.
It’s perfect for a student or an account that’s working on the train or someone who’s just lugging his/her laptop everywhere.
Now I’m sure you’ve seen thousands of thin 13” laptops already. What makes this one any different?
First, the bezels are a lot thinner than they should be, that means the screen is bigger than what a regular 13” laptop would have.
Second, this thing is ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT, not just lightweight ~2.5lb!
Third, despite the 13” size, it’s got a NUMERICAL KEYPAD, this is probably the only 13” laptop as of 2021 with it.
Lastly, it’s faster than most premium 13” laptops because you have it with a 10th core i5 CPU and even a 11th gen Core i7 CPU but BOTH choices come with the latest RAM technology just released : LPDRR4X.
Not many models have that hardware as of early 2021. The best part is that it isn’t MacBook expensive, it’s around 700$.
Core m3 , Core i5, Core i7
128GB-1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
12” IPS 2736×1824
The Surface Pro is even a more portable option. Far lighter than any laptop at ~2.2 and with as much power as the most premium machines.
Because it’s got a touchScreen feature to take notes (with the stylus) and turns into a tablet to read/write/draw/sketch like a NoteBook, I’d recommend this model to a student.
A student isn’t likely to crunch numbers all the time and would probably do so from time to time. He/She will mostly struggle with all kinds of classes and the Surface Pro excels at giving students their best bang for their bucks.
Make sure, you install One Note:
So you can also record audio,video and notes on top of slides,etc.
Basically this laptop screams accounting student.
If you are an accountant though and if you are attracted by these features, it’s actually not a bad choice and in fact there are a couple of accounting software that have released a specific version of their software tailored for the Surface Pro.
Do note that it also has a much higher resolution than any other laptop shown here, so the 12.5” will not be detrimental to how much screen space you’ll have available.
If you’d like to work back home with a more desktop like environment, you can also be turn the Surface Pro into a full blown desktop with the docking station. You can attach an external keyboard, mouse, display, etc.
5. DELL XPS 15
Best Dell Laptop For Accounting
Core i7-10750H Up To 4.5GHz
16GB-32GB RAM DDR4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 – 2060RTX 4GB vRAM
512GB-2TB SSD PCIe NVMe
15.6” 4k UHD Infinity Edge TouchScreen IPS
This is the most expensive laptop on the list.
There are good reasons for that.
It’s thin, it’s ligihtweight, it’s made of full aluminum lid, it’s got the best CPU, way more storage, superb keyboard with dedicated numerical FN keys and numerical keypad.
That’s not the best part, it’s got a 4k resolution! That means approximately an increase of 1.5 in screen area for work and you already know how that can affect your workflow.
The only real downside is the GPU, I mean it’s a good mid-range GPU, but you’re not going to need that for any accounting related task AT ALL. Unfortunately, there isn’t laptops with 4k resolutions without one which is the reason why I decided to post a fifth laptop on the list.
Dell XPS 13:
The 13” model has an 11th generation processor but it won’t be any faster than this model for accounting purposes. If you choose the 13” remember you won’t get a numerical keypad.
How To Buy A Laptop For Accounting
This guide in aimed for accounting students and those taking financing classes. If you are a professional accountant, the same principles apply since the software you’ll be using have nearly the same computer requirements as the ones used in business school.
*I wrote this section with the aid of users from reddit & my own experience in business school.
The Accounting Program
It doesn’t hurt to check the department to see if they have anything to say about computers. You might get info on what kind of laptop you should be purchasing, or they might go as far as recommending to buy very specific models
Accounting software is not demanding. It’s more than likely you will be ok with whatever laptop you have in possession or the one given by to you by internship or company you work at.
Concentration & Curriculum
However out of the concentrations offered in a business program. Finances, accounting & information systems are most software heavy than the rest: marketing & international business.
The question really comes down to how much of that software will you be using and how deep into the software will you get.
Which classes will use a software?
Any class having to with financing and statistics.
Software & Operating System
In fact these classes will require to become quite adept with both Windows & the excel version of Windows.
Most schools will teach you using Windows since accounting students have to learn and rely on Microsoft Excel & Powerpoint.
While some schools might allow you to use a Mac others are strictly Windows: they run their Computer Network based on Windows and use a Windows Software for their exams too.
Excel: What it all boils down to
Yes you might run into a bunch of unknown statistical and simulation software ( RISK Palisade for example). If you are already an account you might run into QuickBooks as well.
However all schools will require you to use Excel. How much of Excel you need to learn will dictate whether or not you can go with Mac OSX (the operating system of Apple).
Excel is much more efficient and productive on Windows than Linux or Mac OSX. This is the main reason why it’s often recommended for accountants to stick with Windows and anyone whose job relies on heavy spreadsheet work.
A Mac machine would be fine for those dealing with advertising or international business rather than accounting and financing.
Anyways, fyi here’a few of the differences between Excel on Windows and Excel on Mac:
- Ribbon composition/Tool Side Bars
- Keyboard ShortCuts
- Add ons and Plugins availabilitty : Data Analysis ToolPak and Solver for Excel will only work with the latest Excel Version of Mac (All Windows Versions can run them).
*On a side note: The OneDrive interface(developed by Microsoft), ironically, is better on a Mac.
Bottom line is…
How much of Excel will you need to learn really comes down to what your curriculum/most of your classes consist of.
Financing and modeling will require you to run Excel at its full potential. Whereas marketing and strategy classes will use Basic Excel for which either Operating System will do just fine.
Best Laptop Specs for Accounting
Look, you’ll be constantly on the move. From different classes to networking events, meetings for projects, career activities and so on.
Think like an accountant now:
Portability can be expensive but think about the benefits. Being able to have a laptop right next to you the entire day without making you uncomfortable or tired from carrying is a good investment, you’ll be much more efficient with your work since you’ll be able to work with your laptop everywhere.
What’s the point of having a heavy laptop that’s sitting at home collecting dust and turning into a house for cockroaches & spiders?
Battery life is just as important, there’s no point on having a lightweight & snappy laptop that can’t turn on when you need it the most. Sure there are tons of outlets available at any educationa institution but in this day and age nearly everyone has a laptop and a cellphone.
You don’t want to waste time looking for an outlet when you could be completing your assignments or studying for exam (if you ever find one available).
If you are thinking of showing up to class 20 min earlier to secure an outlet, think again because you will not be the only one.
A long battery life will make sure you’ll be able to use your laptop when traveling frmo your workplace to internships and back to school without having to worry about having enough battery life for later.
If you end up with lower battery life, do not multitask while you work on your projects. Listening to itunes and running other apps will suck your battery life dry quickly.
Forget brightness levels , contrast ratios , color accuracy and all of that nonsense.
Resolution is the most important feature of any display.
A high resolution will make a world of a difference when working with excel, writing reports ,essays and taking exams.
The higher the resolution the more windows you’ll be able to fit into one screen plus the more space you’ll have available for multitasking (high resolution allows you to have smaller windows and be able to distinguish what’s in them).
Ideally you’d want a gigantic laptop screen to be able to see a large portion of your spreadsheet at once. A larger screen will also be easier on your eyes.
Unfortunately bigger screen means heavier laptop which isn’t ideal when you have several textbooks and are constantly on the move. If you already work at an office as an account then by all means choose the size you want.
Don’t go below 13” though. I’m currently using a 11” laptop to type this post and using a spreadsheet with it is totally undoable especially if you have a lot of numerical data.
Both keyboard quality & size are important.
This could be said the most important feature of any computer for an accountant since you’ll be constantly typing tons of data into spreadsheets and other documents.
Since spreadsheets consist mostly of numerical data a numerical keypad is a must ! You’ll be much more efficient & faster if you avoid the numerical keys at the top and use the numerical keypad on the right.
Picture your professor using a series of cool keyboard shortcuts in excel (there are gazillions) and you sitting there in class trying to keep up with your cheap keyboard without a numerical keypad. Needless to say you will more than likely be thrown off and unable to keep with your peers and the lecture given.
External Numerical KeyPad
Having a numerical keypad on a laptop’s keyboard can unfortunately make the laptop much bigger and this will take a toll on its portability.
No worries you can always buy a numerical keypad and plug it into your laptop’s USB port.
Taking this route will allow you to pick a nice lightweight laptop instead of a 14” or 15” laptop which may be too heavy to carry (there are few 14” laptops with nearly ~3lb though and a numerical keypad like one of the ASUS VivoBooks models).
Dedicated F keys – F1 F2….
Sure all laptops have F keys however for some of them you still have to press Shift or Command to activate them and you have to do that each time you want an F key. Dedicated F keys bypasses this step and you simply need to press them directly to use them. This is extremely useful for quick access to operations in many different softwares including excel.
Don’t worry about it.
The most intensive task will be dealing with complex spreadsheets filled with macros for which any modern processor released within the past 5 years and from the core family (i3 , i5 or i7 ) will be sufficient. Just avoid pentiums, atoms and celerons (although some of them will be ok it’s too risky to try them out).
Here are some tips:
- Avoid Core i7 processors: they’re unnecessary for the software you’ll use & will drain your battery life
- Avoid 4th generation processors : they’re too old to handle the size of your spreadsheets with the current version of excel and most of your updated simulation software
- Avoid atom, pentium and celeron processors: these are designed for ChromeBooks and the most simple tasks you can think of (Microsoft Word & Web Browsing).
For accounting apps Sage 50 , peachtree , microsoft excel, quatopro , viscicalc, lotus e.t.c, 4GB RAM will be sufficient.
If you happen to multitask between these apps and other “unrelated apps” (iTunes, PDF files, YouTube and many web browsing tabs) and having them running in the background simultanously then you’re better off investing on 8GB .
RAM is cheap so feel free to upgrade it to the max, but you will not notice a difference beyond 8GB for the accounting software unless you also run multimedia editing software for marketing and even then 16GB might be too much.
Databases & Large SpreadSheets
If you are taking a lot of classes in Databases or directly working with huge chunks of data, then RAM is far more important than any other feature. 8GB then becomes a must.
Similarly if you take a lot financing classes which will deal witih complex macros and large data sheets (I mean really large), you need 8GB to be on the safe side.
Any capacity will do. Even the largest spreadsheets you’ll face in your lifetime do not take more than 100 MB. Just avoid 128GB because your software & windows will eat up most of it.
There are two types : SSD (Solid State Drive) & HDD (Hard Disk Drive).
Although an SSD usually has less capacity than a traditional HDD. They have many advantages:
- They’re several times faster and they’ll load up all of your applications several times faster than regular drives ( in fact in a few seconds).
- They’ll help you look up particular lines of code or data within huge databases or large excel files much instantly.
- It’ll boot up your system in seconds. (where as a HDD might take several minutes).
- It’ll increase your battery life & make your laptop a bit ligther
Even if you happen to work on video editing for some marketing , there’s no need to worry about graphics cards.
These two will give you better battery life.
USB: you don’t need to worry about this. You only need one for you to attach a numerical keyboard and perhaps a mouse. Focus on portability first. Heavier & Bigger laptops have several USBs.
HDMI: this port is useful for you to connect to flat screen monitors and projects. Most modern laptops do not have one especially if they are light & portable. You can always use an adapter to connect to external displays.
What about a Touchscreen and Tablets?
Neither can replace a laptop for accounting.
You can have one in addition to a laptop though . A tablet-like device is more practical & comfortable for reading on the go. I wouldn’t advice using it even for classes which do not require excel or any of the programs listed before because you have to become proficient with computers anyways and the more you’re exposed to them the better for your career.
There are a few convertible laptops worth checking out such as the Lenovo Yoga 700, Surface Pro and the HP Spectre. All of them are lightweight & can run any program you can think of plus they have a stylus for you to write on it (to take notes) which makes them extremely for meetings and lectures.
Operating System: Windows or Mac
Mac: BootCamp & Parallels
MacBooks are not uncommon among accountants. They do have to partition their storage with BootCamp to run Windows for most software though.
They can also run Parallels which will allos them to access Windows without having to reboot.
At the end it’s always better to stick with Windows either with Parallel or BootCamp, you can buy a Mac but you have to install windows on it whether you like it or not.
Even if you can get away with simple spreadsheets that can run on the Mac Version of Excel, don’t do it! Especially if you are going into finance (work in Prviate Equity, investment banking, etc).
Because you need to get used to the Excel version of Windows, otherwise companies will be reluctant to hire you if you’re only proficient with Mac Versions of any software.
For example, if you use the Mac version of excel for heavy duty spreadsheet work you’ll take far more time finishing tasks & it’ll get more and more detrimental to your performance in the office. In fact, the more advances of features and addons for Excel you throw into the more you need to get away from the Mac Version of Excel.
For any accounting student or account:
- Any modern processor,
- 8GB RAM
- Any storage size (SSD prefered)
- Make the device as portable as possible (for students), any weight for an accountant siting at the office
- Full size keyboard. If not an external numerical keypad.
Students will have a lot excel-heavy classes. Accountants need to mostly run Windows based Software:
– Mac is okay as long as you use boot camp and run Windows on your Mac.