The saying “With fast accounting comes more money” emphasizes the importance of productivity in the accounting profession. While finding a well-paying job is crucial for financial success, your laptop is also a vital tool for the job, especially during the process of passing CAPP exams.
To ensure maximum efficiency and productivity, the ideal laptop for accounting should have a numpad and FN keys for macros, a decent CPU to handle large files, a high-resolution display for multitasking between programs like Word and Excel, a Solid State Drive for quick software boot-up, and be lightweight (around 3lb).
Although a faster computer can save a few milliseconds when running QuickBooks or Excel functions, modern CPUs provide the same performance for accounting tasks, making the latest CPU models unnecessary. Ultimately, choosing the right laptop can enhance your accounting work and contribute to your success.
Top Laptop Specifications for Accounting
Before we delve into the 5 best laptops for accounting in 2023, let’s discuss hardware and offer tips for those who may not have access to laptops available mainly in the US.
For modern CPUs, look for Ryzen or Intel Core processors. Ryzen 3/Core i3 CPUs are budget-friendly and fast enough. Ryzen 5/Core i5 CPUs offer enough power for accounting software. Avoid Ryzen 7 and the latest (12th generation) Core i5 and Ryzen 5 CPUs as they are expensive, unless you find a deal.
RAM is more important than CPU or any other hardware. 8GB is the minimum requirement, and it should suffice for multitasking. 16GB is necessary only for running extremely large data sheets.
Storage: SSD Solid State Drive is crucial for opening large spreadsheets with macros in split seconds. Most modern laptops come with an SSD. Ergonomics Since the above hardware is commonplace, ergonomics become even more critical.
Display: FHD FHD resolution is a must for multitasking and offers a better view of data and logs. It’s rare to find FHD resolution under $400, and QHD resolution is expensive and typically found on ultrabooks.
Keyboard: Full-Size + Numpad A full-size keyboard with dedicated FN keys and a numpad is essential for accounting. They are usually found on 15″ laptops, which may not be portable for students. For a portable option, consider a 13″ laptop and add an external numerical keypad. More on this later.
The saying “With fast accounting comes more money” may hold some truth, but landing a high-paying job is more about job hunting than computer hardware. Nevertheless, since a laptop is your primary work tool, getting the right one is crucial, especially if you’re still pursuing a CAPP certification.
The best laptop for accounting should not impede your productivity, meaning it should have:
- A numpad and FN keys for macros
- A decent CPU to handle complex functions and large files
- A high-resolution display for multitasking, such as writing reports and linking data between Word and Excel
- A Solid State Drive for quick software launch and boot-up times
- A lightweight design, ideally around 3lb
While a faster computer may marginally speed up functions on QuickBooks or Excel, the difference is negligible in terms of time saved. Modern CPUs offer similar performance for accounting purposes, so the latest and most expensive models aren’t necessarily the best choice.
1. LG Gram 17Z90Q: The Top Laptop Choice for Accounting
In the previous year, we recommended the ASUS VivoBook as the best laptop for accountants due to its 17-inch FHD display, which you can see below. However, it was heavy and not suitable for students who need a portable option. Nonetheless, it’s still a great option for accountants on a budget.
This year, we have the LG Gram, which was released a few months ago and far surpasses the ASUS VivoBook in terms of hardware and design. This 17-inch laptop is now perfect for both students and accountants due to its design, which we’ll discuss below.
Display: 17-inch QHD resolution (2560 x 1600)
This resolution is increasingly popular and provides a lot of extra screen space compared to the common FHD found on most laptops. Coupled with a bezel-less 17-inch display, it provides a massive workspace area equivalent to that of a desktop. This feature eliminates the need for constant scrolling, allowing you to visualize data like graphs and spreadsheets with ease. Furthermore, it’s comfortable to work with reports, graphs, and spreadsheets simultaneously or even make your spreadsheet large enough to accommodate several graphs.
Keyboard: NumPad + FN Keys + Backlit
It’s challenging to design a responsive keyboard for a thin laptop, but the LG Gram pulls it off. The keyboard is clicky and registers characters with a slight touch. Additionally, it includes all FN keys (useful for macros) and a complete full-sized numpad. As this is a 17-inch laptop, the keys are slightly larger with more space between them, making typing easier and providing extra space to rest your forearms and palms.
It’s almost impossible to find a 17-inch laptop with this much screen space that weighs only 3lbs. Even without the high resolution, you won’t find any 17-inch laptops that weigh below 4lbs, except for the MacBook Pro 16″. The weight is manageable, but finding a bag to fit it into might be a challenge.
Hardware: Core i7 1260P + 16GB DDR5 RAM + 1TB SSD
The CPU is too fast for accounting software like Excel, Sage 50, and QuickBooks. Even if your company’s database files are in the gigabyte range, this CPU won’t run calculations faster than an 11th gen CPU. Accounting software doesn’t require that much CPU power, let alone a graphics card. Hence, save money by choosing the model with integrated graphics. The Core i7 is the only option, but if a Core i5 model is available, choose it as it’ll be more cost-effective. Additionally, the 16GB RAM and 1TB storage are more than sufficient for accounting software, and they’re overkill.
2. ASUS ZenBook: The Best Laptop for Accounting Students
The ASUS ZenBook has been striving to imitate the MacBook Air in every aspect since its release, and it has been successful in doing so. In fact, it is slightly thinner than the MacBook Air. However, there are some differences and similarities between the two laptops that are worth discussing.
Hardware If you are an accounting student who finds the LG GRAM too expensive or too bulky to carry around, you may want to consider ultrabooks with 13-15” screens. In the next three reviews, we will go through three ultrabooks, and if they seem too expensive, we will suggest some alternatives.
Display & Design
Weight and Size: New vs Old ZenBook This year, the ASUS ZenBook’s weight and size have changed slightly. The older models were usually 13” and weighed around 2.7 pounds and were thinner than the MacBook Air. This year’s model is 14.5” and weighs around 3 pounds. However, this is not a bad thing since 14.5” is still much smaller than 17”. The 0.3-pound difference is negligible.
Display: QHD Resolution + 90Hz
The display’s design has also been updated. The resolution is as high as that of premium and more expensive ultrabooks such as the LG Gram and MacBook. This is great news since you will have a better view of spreadsheets and graphs. As a student, you will also find it useful to multitask with up to three windows next to each other.
Keyboard: Full Sized + Virtual NumPad
The keyboard’s design is pretty much the same. It has a chiclet-style keyboard with small travel and is very responsive, just like the high-quality keyboards from the MacBook. The Numpad is still on top of the trackpad, which is a good thing since you don’t need the trackpad. You should always get a mouse for a faster workflow. The fact that it is 14.5” and has no Numpad means that there is more room for bigger keys and more space in between them. This makes it much more comfortable to type, as opposed to a cramped 13” or even 11” notebook’s keyboard. If you really want an ultrabook, there are many cheaper options available (see the last laptop).
Core i5 1240P + 8GB DDR5 + 256GB SSD
The latest ZenBook’s hardware is overkill for accounting software. In fact, even the previous year’s 11th generation CPU ZenBook is also overkill for accounting software. So, you can save a lot of money if you opt for the older models. One thing to keep in mind is that the hardware is soldered to the motherboard, which means you cannot upgrade it at a repair shop. You must purchase whatever RAM and storage you require before making your purchase. Once again, 8GB + SSD is all you need. I would not even consider the CPU since it is the least of your concerns.
The latest ASUS ZenBook with the QHD resolution, which is featured here, sells for approximately $750 (including tax and shipping and an extra mouse). This is a fantastic deal due to the QHD resolution, hardware, and the fact that it is slightly larger than the MacBook Air but still weighs around 3 pounds. If you cannot afford this, you can go for last year’s model, which is virtually identical in terms of hardware (a bit outdated but still as fast for accounting software) and design (under 3 pounds). The only thing you will have to sacrifice is the QHD, which is a significant issue. However, if you are
3. The M2 MacBook Air: The Best Mac Laptop for Accounting
Although the LG Gram is the most expensive laptop on the list, the M2 MacBook Air has the best display, keyboard, battery, hardware, and design. However, it does have two drawbacks: the price and the fact that it doesn’t have Windows installed natively. Nevertheless, there are workarounds for both of these issues. Additionally, there is no numpad, but there is a workaround for this as well.
You may wonder why I suggest this laptop for accounting despite these drawbacks, especially the fact that it doesn’t have Windows installed natively. However, I’m not suggesting it for accountants but for accounting students.
Display and Design: Battery: 18 hours
As a student, whether you’re in college or preparing for the CAPP examinations, you need to be productive. This means having a portable device that you can easily carry around and has a long-lasting battery. The M2 MacBook Air weighs only 3 pounds, is thin as paper, and has an amazing battery that can last up to 18 hours. If you only use it for work, it should last around 15 hours (a bit less than advertised). If you choose an older model, which is also a good choice if you’re on a budget, you may get up to 10 or 8 hours, depending on the age of the model (300-400 MacBook Airs will only get you 8 hours tops).
Operating System: Windows on Parallel
If you buy the M1 or M2 MacBook Air, you don’t want to use Excel or MS Office on macOS because it’s somewhat different from the Windows version. The macros and FN functions are different, among other things. To solve this issue, you need to download Parallel and install Windows through it. If you buy an older model, you can simply install Windows through the Control Panel’s Boot Camp option, which is natively installed on older models.
In conclusion, MacBooks should not be dismissed for accounting. Even though there is no numpad, you can attach an external numpad through the Thunderbolt (newer models) or USB ports (older models). Moreover, the MacBook Air has the best keyboard ever designed for laptops, even the older models. It’s very easy to type on, and as an accounting student, you’ll be typing more words than crunching numbers, at least in the first few years. Although the resolution is somewhat lower than 2.8K displays, it’s still far higher than FHD, allowing for the same type of multitasking. This is why the MacBook Air has unbeatable battery life; the CPU is not an energy hog, and neither is the display. The newest MacBooks with the M1 and M2 chips sell for about $1000, which is not cheap. However, you can grab an older model for $400-$1000, and they’ll still run MS Office, Sage, and QuickBooks just as fast as the newer models (for learning purposes in college, not so pretty for real-world accounting).
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