Finding the best laptop for video conferences is not the same as finding the best laptop for gaming, photo editing, or video rendering.
You will need a computer that can efficiently take feeds from multiple camera inputs, and have a screen large enough to display all those feeds.
Depending on your standards for audio and video clarity, you may also wish to add an external monitor, webcam, or microphone, rather than relying on your laptop screen, webcam, and mic.
In this article, we will introduce you to the best laptops for videoconferencing and zoom meetings.
What features matter in a laptop for video conferencing?
The best laptops for videoconferencing have the following features:
Sufficient screen size
A large screen is necessary so that all the feeds from multiple cameras can be shown. For Zoom meetings and video conferencing, a netbook with a 10.1″ or 11.6″ won’t suffice. Look for a laptop with a 15.6″ screen at minimum. If you can find a device with a 17.3″ or 18.4″ display, all the better.
Another point to consider is whether or not you will add an external monitor. Because you can find quality monitors of 23″+ for less than $200, it makes sense to hook up a monitor rather than taking Zoom calls on your laptop screen. Of course, this workstation will be less portable than a stand-alone laptop.
Capacity to handle input of multiple video feeds simultaneously
To display feeds from more than one camera at a time, you need a reasonably powerful machine.
The stronger the computer’s processing power, the more feeds it can handle. Weaker processors may work with two or three inputs, but you will need a better processor and more memory if you want to use more.
At minimum, you need a 1 GHz processor (per Zoom). However, Zoom recommends a dual-core processor of at least 2 GHz.
Zoom also recommends at least 4 GB of RAM, but most sources will recommend 6-8 GB of RAM (or even more) for the best video conferencing experience.
If your team needs to travel frequently with their equipment, portability becomes an essential requirement.
A laptop with an external monitor strikes the perfect blend of portability and usability. If you are on-the-go, just unplug your monitor and use the laptop display. (As we mentioned above, a display of 15.6″+ will make for more enjoyable Zoom meetings). And if you are at your desk or home office, plug in the monitor (23″+ ideally) and you won’t have to squint to see the people on the other side of the conference call.
Video feeds are only as good as the cameras they are taken from. If you want to have high-quality video conference meetings, you need equipment to take in high-definition video signals without losing much clarity or feedback.
Many laptops come with a 720p webcam, which should be capable of producing high quality video. Some devices, like the Apple Macbook Pro, have 1080p HD webcams.
Another point to consider is whether or not to use an external webcam. For less than $40, you can find a budget webcam that will provide better video than your laptop. For closer to $100, you can find a webcam that will produce video that is leaps and bounds better than the built-in camera on your laptop.
And a final note here — consider the lighting in your office or home office. Generally speaking, the lighting environment has more impact on video quality than does the webcam quality. A great webcam can correct poor lighting, and great lighting can compensate for a cheap webcam. But a poor webcam plus poor lighting is a recipe for video conference disaster. With Zoom calls, where there are often many participants visible on the screen, you don’t want to be the participant with the grainy video.
Quality microphone audio
Another feature of the best laptops for videoconferencing and zoom meetings is a quality microphone. Most laptops will include a built-in microphone, but this may be a single, low-quality mic. Higher end laptops are likely to include dual microphones with more advanced features like background noise reduction, long range audio, etc.
How do you decide which one to purchase?
The key to choosing the best laptop for you is deciding how much you’re willing to spend and what kind of specs (processor speed, RAM, screen size) you need.
For example, if you run a small business that only needs videoconferencing for meetings between team members or clients, then any laptop with 2-3 inputs will do the trick. But if many customers talk on your conference calls, having a machine with several cameras and microphones is also advisable.
And another great way to look and sound sharp on Zoom calls is by adding a webcam and microphone. Choosing an affordable laptop and saving money for an external webcam and mic may provide for better video conferences than maxing out your budget on a laptop alone.
Recommended Laptops for Zoom & Videoconferencing
1. Lenovo ThinkPad P50
The Lenovo ThinkPad P50 is one of the best laptops that can handle multiple inputs simultaneously, such as two or three videos and several voice conferences.
This is a powerful device with high processing power, a large amount of memory, and ample storage space.
The 15.6″ 1080p screen is crisp, vivid, and responsive.
The built-in webcam is 720p, which is high enough quality to provide a clear video stream on Zoom meetings. And the laptop also has dual noise-cancelling microphones.
2. HP ZBook Firefly 15 G7
The HP ZBook 15 G7 is one of the best laptops for Zoom calls. It performs well with multiple camera feeds. Battery life is great, making it suitable for traveling professionals who need to keep their tools going through long flights or driving days.
Like the Lenovo ThinkPad listed above, the display is 15.6″. This screen is also 1080p, full high-definition, and looks great.
The 1.8 GHz core_i7 processor is a little bit slower than some of the other options on the list, but should still be plenty fast for video conferences.
3. Lenovo ThinkPad P51
The Lenovo Thinkpad P51, like its sister model, the P50, is an excellent machine. An ideal keyboard and touchpad makes video conferencing easy. One significant difference between this computer and the previous one on this list is that it has full support for up to three displays, making it suitable if you need to have multiple monitors hooked up at once.
It’s also easy to upgrade the memory in this laptop, so users who plan on using complex simulations or rendering software shouldn’t have any problems using the device for most tasks.
The price point is higher, but recall that the Lenovo Thinkpad P51 is significantly more powerful than any other two on this list.
The 2160p (4K) display is a couple notches better than the previously-discussed laptops, and you can tell both in the design and the performance than this is a premium device. It features a built-in 720p HD Webcam with Infrared for facial recognition, as well as dual noise-cancelling microphones. And the stereo speakers provide surprisingly good sound quality.
This is a great “plug and play” laptop for video conferencing. While many cheaper laptops will need an external webcam, external microphone, or upgraded memory before using them for video conferences, the Lenovo ThinkPad P51 is ready to go, right out of the box.
4. HP ZBook Studio G3
The HP Zbook Studio G3 is an excellent laptop for zoom, videoconferencing and recording your screen to share with others. The computer is high-speed, but it doesn’t have a hard drive that end-users can upgrade or replace at home.
It’s been reported as a highly sturdy device that can take accidental falls with no visible damage to the exterior. There are two Thunderbolt ports, four USB 3.0 ports, and one HDMI port, as well as a mini display port on this laptop, so there are plenty of ways to connect up both screens and external storage devices.
5. Dell Precision M5510
The Dell Precision M5510 has a high-resolution screen and excellent audio, making it ideal for video conferencing and recording your video sessions.
It has an NVIDIA Quadro M1000M graphics card, which is perfect for rendering 3D images or playing graphic-heavy games, making this computer appealing to users who need to do both videoconferencing and complex rendering at the same time, such as architects or engineers.
Like other more expensive models on this list, the MSRP is around $2000, but you can find refurbished models available for much cheaper. We like this device for its combination of high-performance computing power yet with a simple and lightweight design.
6. Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display
The new Apple MacBook Pro with retina display is another great laptop for videoconferencing and zoom meetings. It has a very sharp screen resolution, which helps with the image quality during chats or live events. It has plenty of storage space, giving you the option to store video files. It can handle multitasking smoothly, with up to 16GB RAM. And, depending on the particular model you choose, its battery lasts between 17 and 21 hours before needing a recharge.
You also get all Mac OS perks like iCloud drive access, airdrop sharing, iMovie editing apps, etc.
The premium price of this laptop is one drawback. But if you are an Apple person, I really don’t need to say much to convince you. And there is no doubt that this device is worthy of the premium price tag and its stellar reputation.
What brand laptop is best for video conferencing?
The Lenovo Thinkpad P51, Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and Dell Precision M5510 all make our list of best laptops for video conferencing. Dell, Apple, Lenovo, HP, and others all make sufficient laptops for video conferencing. The key is to choose a model that has a fast processor, large enough screen, good webcam, and clear microphone.
Is 4GB RAM enough for Zoom meetings?
4GB is technically enough for Zoom meetings, but we recommend 6 GB RAM at a minimum. Ideally, your computer will have 8+ GB RAM.
How much RAM do I need for video conferencing?
You should choose a device with at least 8GB RAM. This will make for a smoother video conference experience, with minimal lag time and minimal frustrations.
Finding the best laptop for video conferencing or Zoom meetings is a matter of considering your business’s portability and storage needs, and how important image quality is to you when using this device.
In terms of getting value for money, it’s hard to go wrong with either the Dell Precision M5510 or HP ZBook Studio G3 laptops – they both have an outstanding balance of portability, performance and storage capacity to ensure you’re getting the best value for money.