Choosing the Best laptop for QuickBooks

Working with QuickBooks on laptop
QuickBooks logo is Intuit trademark. Use of it does not imply any affiliation with them.
This year I had to start doing my own taxes for my freelance work. To get everything cleared up, I had to talk with an accountant that I’ve helped out multiple times with various computer problems. Since I’m a “computer person“, she asked to help her out with building a new PC for accounting or picking a new laptop. After all, it shouldn’t be that hard to find the best laptop for accounting software, like Quickbooks.

The first idea that popped into my head was “oh that’s easy, accounting software shouldn’t require anything special“. But then I remembered the problems she faced with her previous PC. And then I started recalling the problems I have when dealing with spreadsheets…

That’s what this post will be about – the problems that should be taken into account (heh) when searching for the best laptop for Quickbooks. On the second half of this post, I’ll give some great laptop models depending on your budget and needs.

Enough of my stories, let’s get this post rolling.

Word of caution. This post is very strictly focused on accounting and not on very demanding 3D/audio software. This post will focus on a laptop for Quickbooks and other accounting software, whether it’s on the web (online) or desktop (offline). Since Quickbooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise do not demand high-performance components, the laptops I’ll recommend will be great for the desktop versions and QuickBooks Online. Worth noting, I am assuming that the laptop will not be a part of client and server setup.

These requirements will also guide as to good enough laptops to smoothly run other accounting/business software, such as Microsoft Office, TurboTax, Lacerte etc.

What am I looking for in a best laptop for Quickbooks?

Official system requirements for Quickbooks Premier 2016:

  • 2.4 GHz processor
  • 4 GB RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • 2.5 GB of disk space
  • Internet access
  • CD/DVD-ROM for CD installations (optional)

Meanwhile, requirements for Quickbooks Online are practically non-existant.

It doesn’t take a genius to notice that if a computer is good enough to run QuickBooks Premier, then it will be good enough to run Online version. I’ll just make sure that the laptop will be able to run any QuickBooks product that it will need to (Desktop or Online).

But these requirements are just the start. How these official requirements translate into exact parts I’m should be looking for? And what else is needed for a QuickBooks laptop?

Major requirements for an accounting laptop

Major requirement Mid-range processor

QuickBooks performance depends almost entirely on the processor. At the same time, there’s no need to go for an expensive power-hungry CPU – Quickbooks will work very well even on a lot cheaper hardware.

I do, however, recommend not going for the cheapest CPUs. As time goes on and additional software piles up, low-end processors start taking too to long to respond to commands. And if we’re shopping smart, we can find that the price difference between a low-end and a decent mid-range processor can be negligible.

Major requirement8 GB of RAM

8 GB of RAM is the best option for QuickBooks and any other not particularly demanding software. You might need to run internet browser (like Chrome) with Google Docs/Sheets, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel) etc.

You can go above 8 GB but it is not necessary for accounting.

Minor requirement Full Keyboard

Tenkeyless keyboards are very common these days, especially on smaller notebooks. But they’re definitely not as convenient for entering numbers as a full keyboard is. Right now, I’m using a small external keyboard for my laptop. And quite often I miss a full one.

One additional feature of keyboards with a number pad is (relatively) easy input of special characters. For example, euro and UK pound symbols have their own “ALT codes”. If right now you’re on Windows PC, hold “Alt” key and press 1, 5 and 6 in succession on the numpad. You should get a symbol £. I have learnt some of these codes in the past few years and if you’re skilled at working the keyword – you should too.

Major requirement Solid State Drive

SSD substantially improves startup, shutdown times and how fast you can launch any type of software. But it is only a minor requirement in this particular case – SSDs will not speed up your workflow much when you’re already on Quickbooks.

Important to note, that if you’re planning to use this laptop for 3 years or more, I would not even consider the old HDDs that use spinning disks to store data. That’s because SSDs are a lot more stable over the long-run – most regular hard drives tend to start failing after ~3 years.

4 months ago, I had to fix an accountant’s PC due to hard drive failure. She was using an older non-web type of software, which made hard drive issues a lot more difficult to solve. This can end up being a HUGE issue if you do not sync your documents online and there’s no backup. Eventually, after recovering most of the lost data, I’ve installed an SSD instead of the old HDD and that was the end of that issue. I’m pretty sure she won’t be having a similar problem for a long, long time.

Lastly, HDDs, in contrast to SSDs, are vulnerable to data loss when dropped on the ground while they’re still spinning. Usually, I don’t stress this danger, but considering the importance and sensitivity of the accounting data that could be lost – it’s important to take it into consideration.

Minor requirement Lightweight

If you’re searching for an accounting laptop, I’m sure it means you’ll be taking it in-and-out of work, possibly every day. Because otherwise, you could just go for a small PC.

There are basically no drawbacks of a light laptop in this particular case. I tend to mention about possible airflow and heating problems when a compact notebook has to deal with very demanding software, but this will not be a problem for Quickbooks or ANY accounting software.

Though I will not stress it as much as other requirements, I’ll give a slight edge to lighter laptops.

Optional requirement Battery Life

This one is an optional requirement and it depends entirely on your specific situation.

To know how long a laptop can survive without being plugged in – I encourage to look at 3rd party Wi-Fi browsing tests. They can give the best estimate on how long a laptop will last while using Quickbooks. Most non-gaming laptops have ~5h battery life. But the best ones can go up to 8-11 hours.

My recommended laptops for Quickbooks

Now, we’ve got all the requirements down, let’s take a look at which laptops passed these checks with flying colors.

Dell Inspiron 15 i5558-5718SLV

1
As cheap as it gets
Price
$510
i5-4210U | 8 GB | 1 TB HDD | 15.6″ Touch Full HD | 5.3 lbs/2.4 kg | Full keyboard | 5h 30min

Nobody needs a powerful PC to run QuickBooks. Usually, laptops around $800 will be sufficient for it. But it would be a sin not ignoring any laptop below that. So I present you, the best entry-tier model – Dell Inspiron 15.

Even though it’s a cheap laptop, it offers about the same specs and quality that you’d find in most $650-700 notebooks. I definitely wouldn’t say that it’s particularly great for accounting, but hey – it’s the cheapest decent laptop for QuickBooks.

Be aware that even when it has a decent screen (IPS panel, great contrast, underwhelming color space), it will look way too dim in daylight. That’s the only giveaway that this laptop is rather cheap.

  • Processor: slightly aged lower mid-range processor is nothing to be impressed by, but it’s better than most laptops under $600.
  • Memory: 8 GB – that’s about right. Glad to see that much memory in a budget model.
  • Full Keyboard: Yes. No backlight when working late in the evenings.
  • Solid State Drive: No.
  • Lightweight: Sort of. 5.3 lbs (2.4 kg) is not particularly light. But it is light enough for a 15 inch laptop. In comparison – it weighs the same as 15″ MacBook Pro.
  • Battery Life: 5 hours and a half hours. Not bad.
View on Amazon

Acer Aspire V 15

2
Well-rounded laptop for work
Price
$820
i7-6500U | 16 GB | 500 GB SSD | 15.6″ Matte Full HD | 4.9 lbs/2.2 kg | Full keyboard | 5h 30min

Acer Aspire comes with a lot better specs than the Inspiron above it.

  • Processor: great mid-range processor for multitasking that will not slow you down in any way.
  • Memory: 16 GB might be an overkill for accounting. But there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • Full Keyboard: Yes. Backlit too.
  • Solid State Drive: Check. 500 GB is plenty of storage for documents, scans, tax templates etc.
  • Lightweight: Yes. Being just under 5 lbs, it’s one of the lighter 15″ laptops.
  • Battery Life: just like Dell Inspiron, it’s enough juice for a half of a workday.

If you’d like to spend a ~$150 extra for a more powerful processor, take a look at a very similar HP Pavilion 15.6″ model.

View on Amazon

ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW

3
Best laptop for QuickBooks15 inch laptop for graphic design
Price
$1,500
i7-6700HQ | 16 GB | 512 GB PCIe SSD | 15.6″ Touch IPS 4K | 5.0 lbs/2.3 kg | Full Keyboard | 5h 40min

Asus ZenBook Pro goes way beyond QuickBooks and that makes it a great choice if you need a solid laptop for years to come.

The IPS screen comes in 4K resolution (which is more than Apple “Retina”). But be aware that for desktop versions of QuickBooks (Premier, Pro, Enterprise) you might need to reduce this ridiculously high resolution to prevent weird scaling issues when fonts/buttons start to mismatch in sizes. Also, you should gain extra battery life if you choose to downscale your resolution to more standard dimensions.

  • Processor: Great. Intel Core i7-6700HQ is the draws a line for office-work processors. Anything above it would suck out too much power from the battery with little to no gains.
  • Memory: Great. 16 GB of RAM leaves a lot of room for running all kinds of software at the same time.
  • Full Keyboard: Yes. One of the few Asus ZenBooks with a full keyboard. And it’s also backlit.
  • Solid State Drive: 500 GB SSD over PCI-Express for even quicker startup time. Great.
  • Lightweight: Sort of. Weighs just like a modern 15″ laptop should.
  • Battery Life: Quite good. 5h 40min of web browsing over Wi-Fi.

This laptop managed to beat out many more expensive laptops up to $2,500. That’s why it is my pick for the best laptop for QuickBooks.

View on Amazon

Table of Best Laptops for QuickBooks

LaptopPrice (approx)
Dell Inspiron 15 i5558-5718SLV $510
Acer Aspire V 15$820
ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW$1,500

You probably noticed that all 3 laptops are 15.6 inches in size. That’s the most preferred size for office work. But if you want a smaller/larger machine, here’s 2 quick suggestions:

(Sorry 14″ people, I didn’t find any REALLY great laptops in that size range #make14GreatAgain #overusedReference).

If you have any questions, please leave a response below and share this article if you know someone who’d find it useful. Good luck!

27 thoughts on “Choosing the Best laptop for QuickBooks

  1. Thanks for this great article, as I’m trying to fulfill this exact need. Question though – devices listed here come with Windows 10 which is NOT listed as a supported OS on QB website. Will QB operate properly under Windows 10?

  2. Hi there, great article! I’m wondering what is the least amount of processor to load/run Quickbooks Premier on a laptop? It says it needs 2.4 GHz but most mid-line laptops are at 2.3, while getting it above 2.4 makes the expense spike up to @ $900!
    I have the chance to get an ASUS with 4 GB RAM, 1.8 GHz processor, 500 GB memory and while I could add RAM I am not confident about the processing size. What are your thoughts with this??
    Thanks!

    1. First of all, the GHz is not as relevant as it used to be. You could go below that and still be OK.

      But even then, 4 GB RAM, 1.8 GHz processor does not look good at all. I suggest going for at least 2.2 GHz.

      Don’t forget that often processors have their lower frequency displayed and not their maximum. For example, the Acer model I’ve listed (that now costs $790), has i7-6500U processor. It has a base frequency of 2.5 GHz but its maximum frequency is 3.1 GHz. The higher frequency can quickly drain the battery life. But if you’re plugged in – your laptop automatically will adjust its performance somewhere in-between those two speeds. And when it’s idle, it might even scale down to ~1 GHz.

  3. Could you recommend a similar dell laptop with Windows 8 for quickbooks. I have the 2014 version. I guess I have to have a 2016 version for a Windows 10 program

  4. Hi, great article! Did you happen to test out a Lenovo Thinkpad? I was leaning towards buying this laptop for our small business but wasn’t sure how QB would run on it. Any insight would greatly help!

    1. There are so many Lenovo Thinkpads – it’s difficult to give accurate advice on the whole line of laptops.

      But overall, the same rules apply as with any other model.

      If you’re buying a 2015 or 2016 Thinkpad (that has 6th generation Intel processor) – it will handle Quickbooks just fine.

  5. Hey,

    Do you know of a version of the ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW that doesn’t have a touch screen? I want to get the best laptop for Quickbooks but don’t want to be spending extra money on a touch screen which i don’t need.

    1. Hey,

      no there isn’t a non-touchscreen version. Sadly we can’t just pick out the things we don’t want out of laptops – but wouldn’t that make the whole laptop selection process much easier? :)

      Touchscreen surface doesn’t add much to a laptop’s price, often touch and non-touch versions of laptops are sold at the same price or just $50 apart.

  6. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01II7FMAY/ref=ox_sc_act_title_19?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2R87W6XPBZ1J4 Here is a amazon link of a HP laptop sporting an AMD processor with 16 GB DDR3 ram for $429. i haven’t order this laptop as yet because am not sure if quickbooks 2016 accounting software runs smoothly when installed. I need quickbooks ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE on a laptop for my upcoming 4th semester. SHOULD I PURCHASE THIS HP LAPTOP SINCE IT’S WITHIN MY BUDGET?

    1. Hi. Yes, it’s fast enough for Quickbooks. It’s AMD processor is comparable to Intel Core i5-6200U.

      16 GB is a bit of an overkill for this kind of computer – but I guess it’s better than 8 GB just because it doesn’t have an SSD so it needs plenty of RAM to avoid using slow page file on the HDD.

      Overall, for its price, it’s a good deal.

  7. Interesting article with lots of helpful stuff. Recently I purchased a Dell XPS 15 with 16 GB RAM, WIN 10, and a 1 TB SDD from Best Buy – they call it the ultimate business laptop. While Quickbooks Pro 2016 installs, the graphics capability of the new Dell (apparently) is so different from older computers that the display simply is not usable in the QB app. So I will have to return it and try another laptop that has a graphics card compatible with QB 2016 Pro. If you are shopping for a newer, faster laptop for QBs, don’t trust the sales guys and gals about QB running on them. It works well on my Acer All-In-One Aspire U5-620 with a 240 GB SSD and 8 GB Memory – dual monitor (extended) to a Dell HDMI monitor.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience!

      It sounds that you were using the Dell XPS 15 with its 4K resolution which is very problematic to deal with for many applications built on older frameworks.
      But from my experience, this high display pixel resolution usually can be downgraded to a more standard Full HD (1920×1080) which should be supported by Quickbooks. Then you might not have needed to return the laptop. Nevertheless, if it works flawlessly with your Acer Aspire, there’s no reason to look back!

  8. Great topic! I find that what I need are:
    1) The ability to use Bitlocker or other encryption software – and that leaves out some HPs. If you have Social Security numbers, names, and credit card info, you have to be encrypting.
    2) A non-glare screen – which leaves out most notebooks
    3) A full-size numbers pad which leaves out Lenovo, and pretty much everything that says “gaming”. The numbers pad on those models are almost half an inch narrower than a full-size numbers pad and the zero key is half-size and located under the 2-key requiring you to bend your thumb backwards under your hand so you’ll have serious hand pain in just a few hours of use.
    4) A 17″ screen so I can lay QBs on one side and the Web, Excel, or Word, on the other side.
    I’m still looking.

  9. Great article.I’m in the market for a new laptop for doing accounts using
    sage/tas books software.I am leaning towards a Dell as I own a Dell inspiron 1100 (2004) and Dell Vostro
    1520 (2009) Both still work though the Vostro is very slow at moment.
    I have limited finance available for to buy new laptop. What is your best mid range recoomendation (Any brand)?

    1. Hey, I’d recommend Dell, because you are familiar with the brand and Dell’s laptops are made for tasks like you mentioned, so I recommend Dell XPS 9350-1340SLV, because it’s lightweight (13.3″ inch screen display), comes with a comfortable backlit keyboard and fits all system requirements of Sage/Tas Booking software.

  10. I am going mobile from my desktop computer using QB 2016 Pro and found your article. I’m entering bills, invoices, emails to clients, web surfing, some uploading, Microsoft office and Adobe reader for my saved reports. At first I was looking at the Macs. My whole family are Apple users but me but I thought I would browse them. So Mac or Asus pro are what I’m pondering.
    Macbook pro 13″ 2.0GHz Processor 256GB Storage $1450
    15″ ASUS ZENBOOK Pro UX501VW-XS74T Intel i7 16GB 512GB SSD GTX 960M $1700
    The Macbook 15″ was $2300! But everyone swears by them, you’ll never have any issues with it. What are your thoughts?

    1. QB on a Mac is not at all like QB for a P C,

      Most bookkeepers and accountants use a PC and find that transferring over to Mac for me is annoying, frustrating, illogical, and time consuming (means I get higher bills for doing QB data entry and reconciliation), I can see this first hand if I sit in on the work sessions ( I am trying to get more proficient and independent on QB)

      I plan to buy a PC laptop dedicated to Accounting and QB.

  11. Hello! I was wondering if a chrome book could be used for QB? Will a chrome book or 2 in 1 laptop run QB, as long as it has the 2.4 ghz, 4 or more gb ram, & 500 or more of storage? I was reading a site some where and it stated that a chrome book could not be used for QB. Is this accurate? Please help! Any input would be greatly appreciated! :)

  12. It’s time to upgrade my laptop and I will be using QB 2017. Any model updates since your original post, which was extremely helpful? My laptop travels between work and home every day.

  13. I need a laptop for emails and scanning documents and to download turbotax to do my tax returns. I would like office so I can do mailing lists and excel for budgeting.
    Please recommend a dell that is reasonably priced. Thank you so much.

  14. These are great recommendations but I have one client that is a MAC user – can’t get him to change – so any advice for a MAC laptop for Quick Books MAC 2016?

    MAC does have the option to download to Windows but getting it back to MAC is sometimes an ordeal and some information will not download (example 1099 information FEIN or SSN) – any suggestions so I do not have to but a MAC laptop? Please

  15. I am looking at the HP i7, 8GB memory, 1TB hard drive, Windows 10 Home 15cc055od. Do you think that would be a good fit to run QuickBooks?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *