The Best Business Laptops for 2021

Choosing the best 

Not every laptop is designed to fit the way you or your employees work or do their jobs. It’s a serious business when it comes to work. We’ve narrowed it down to the top ten business laptops that can get the job done, but even this smaller subset requires caution. After all, you need something that’s long-lasting, secure, powerful, light, and capable of lasting a long workday—and you have a lot of options.

These business-oriented PCs have the same basic components as consumer laptops, but business-PC manufacturers add features to meet specific business needs, such as biometrics (fingerprint readers and facial recognition); ruggedness (toughness is a term used to describe how durable a computer is).

MIL-SPEC-testedTrusted Platform Module (TPM) support for secure access; Intel-vPro-certified networking and power management; and chassis and keyboards. The latter two are checkbox features that an IT-based business laptop buyer might seek in a fleet of machines, but everyone requires increased physical security and durability.

There are also options for professional versions ofWindowsBecause there are so many thin black and silver laptops on the market, business machines tend to look similar. However, the key differences that matter most to business users are found beneath the surface, inside the chassis. , as well as less bloatware than consumer PCs.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

The line between tabletsPreviously, operating systems separated the two, but there are now several tablets aimed at businesses that run true Windows versions. In the business-machine world, the line between desktops and laptops is also blurring. Some of these tablets even have physical keyboards that can be removed.

But make no mistake: in the business world, traditional clamshell-style laptops still reign supreme, and choosing the right one can mean the difference between running a successful company and one that suffers from excessive downtime. Let’s go over the essential features of a business laptop, the components you’ll need, and—most importantly—how to tell the difference between a business and a consumer laptop.

Evaluating Processing Muscle and Memory

Hexa-core processors, such as the latest top-end Core i7 and Core i9 CPUs, will be required for truly demanding workflows. Processors with four or more cores are now widely available, allowing them to handle both routine email checking and more demanding business applications. Some larger workstation-grade machines for designers, engineers, and serious data crunchers now have eight-core Core i9 chips, which were previously only available on desktops. AMD-based laptops, which use the Ryzen Pro series of CPUs, are still rare, but they’ve begun to appear in some traditional business-laptop lines, such as Lenovo’s ThinkPad. Many business laptops use Intel’s latest 11th Generation “Tiger Lake” processors, though older 10th Generation “Ice Lake” and “Comet Lake” chips are still widely available and capable of performing most tasks.

Power-saving processors, such as Intel’s Y-series Core (now phased out of laptops on the market) and Pentium and Celeron chips in tablets and smartphones, are on the other end of the spectrum.ultraportable laptopsThese ultra-low-wattage processors are frequently sold alongside higher-performance chips; to tell the difference, look for the “Y” in the chip name (if it’s a Core chip). However, if you multitask with a lot of programs open at once, Core Y, Celeron, and Pentium CPUs may be a little underpowered for everyday productivity work. ..

Mainstream business laptops use Intel’s Core i3, i5, and i7 U-Series processors, which are labeled with a “U” or (in the most recent examples) a “G3,” “G4,” or “G7,” indicating the graphics performance. When it comes to laptop processors, getting into the weeds can be a bit overwhelming, but for a good overview that won’t overwhelm you, check outour guide to choosing a laptop CPU that fits what you do.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

You’ll see a few business laptops with Intel Xeon processors or the option for them. These are the workstationsOtherwise, an Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processor will provide comparable performance at a lower price and with longer battery life. Choose one of these only if you need to run a specialized app that necessitates this level of CPU support. , and they’re made to run specialized software in fields like financial modeling, engineering, and graphic design that demand the highest levels of power and consistency. They’re usually more expensive than mainstream business laptops with Intel Core CPUs, and they have a much shorter battery life.

(Graphic artists and spreadsheet whizzes should aim for a minimum of 16GB.) Memory allows you to open more programs, windows, and browser tabs at once, as well as perform multimedia tasks (such as photo editing) more quickly. If you’re shopping for a PC for a regular worker, look for at least 4GB of RAM, but if at all possible, go for 8GB or 16GB.

Go Solid State, If You Can: Storage Solutions

A 1TB hard drive is a good balance of price and space if you’re going with a traditional platter. Choosing a large hard drive is a good idea for businesses that use video, multimedia PowerPoint slides, and multi-megapixel photos in virtual and in-person staff meetings.

While more expensive and with less storage capacity, Solid-state boot drives, on the other hand, are a huge fan of ours. solid-state drivesBecause SSDs don’t have any spinning parts, they’re better suited to taking a beating on the road. If you’ll be using your laptop for a lot of traveling or commuting and don’t need a lot of storage, an SSD is the way to go. SSD-equipped systems are also faster to boot and launch apps. Because SSDs are more expensive than hard drives, you’ll most likely be looking at 256GB or 512GB capacities to get the most bang for your buck.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

On business laptops, optical drives have all but vanished. An external drive can help you retrieve older files or records stored on CDs or DVDs; it’s a better move than buying a bulky laptop with an optical drive if you know you won’t be done shuffling discs anytime soon.

Assessing Graphics: Integrated vs. Dedicated

Because you won’t be playing 3D games on a computer meant for work, these integrated GPUs are usually fine for business laptops. The majority of professionals who need discrete graphics will use them for specialized tasks like GPU acceleration in Photoshop and high-definition video creation in After Effects. (Am I correct?) Integrated graphics chips, which are a lightweight graphics-acceleration solution built into the main CPU, are found in the majority of business PCs. Adobe Premiere ProTypically, laptops in the mobile workstation class will have discrete graphics, either for 3D capabilities or to drive multiple monitors. , or the visualization of 3D graphics in architectural drawings and CAD software.

Integrated graphics silicon is usually referred to as “Intel HD Graphics,” “Intel UHD Graphics,” “Iris Plus,” or “Iris Xe” and denotes a mainstream business computer. The most common, in contrast to integrated solutions, (In the rare AMD Ryzen Pro-based business machines, Iris Xe denotes the most up-to-date silicon; Radeon Graphics denotes the least up-to-date silicon.) It’s simple to tell what tier of business laptop you’re looking at when evaluating graphics solutions. dedicatedNvidia’s GeForce graphics chips are used in most laptops, but they are not common in business machines. Although some business machines will include one of Nvidia’s lesser GeForce MX chips to give graphics a boost, GeForce GTX or RTX chips are typically reserved for higher-end consumer or gaming systems. Dedicated graphics chips from Nvidia’s Quadro or AMD’s Radeon Pro line are common in higher-end workstation machines.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Upgrade to at least a 1,920-by-1,080-pixel display with in-plane switching (IPS) technology, and your eyes will thank you. This combination will ensure that you have enough room to display multiple columns of numbers in Excel or to arrange multiple windows on the screen at the same time, and that your coworkers can see them from any angle while clustered around your desk. If you’re looking to save money on your laptop, LCD screens with 1,366-by-768-pixel resolution are still available, but stay away from them.

Though these are still relatively uncommon features on business laptops, they are becoming available in some isolated models and are well worth the money if your job requires more pixels. Just keep in mind that, all other things being equal, a high-resolution screen will deplete battery life faster than a lower-resolution screen with the same base technology. A 3K or 4K display provides more real estate, as well as sharper text and more detailed visuals, for graphics or scientific work.

Stay Connected: Wired and Wireless Options

Few people nowadays work solely on a local level. Wireless connectivity is required for access to real-time email, messaging clients, and cloud services in offices, airports, and client sites. In today’s world, any business machine must have a strong wireless connectivity loadout.

Some low-cost business laptops still have 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which is less reliable but still adequate for most small and medium-sized businesses. For the most flexibility in your IT organization, look for dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi. The most common type nowadays is 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), which operates primarily on 5GHz networks but can also connect to 2.4GHz networks as a backup. Wi-Fi is built into almost every laptop these days. Because the 2.4GHz channels tend to get crowded in high-density buildings, offices in those buildings may want to use the less-crowded 5GHz bands. It should provide adequate throughput, but to surf the web, you’ll need to find a hotspot or an unprotected network.

A USB-to-Ethernet adapter is a worthwhile investment if your laptop is too thin to accommodate an Ethernet jack. (It’s possible that one will arrive in the box.) Don’t write off Ethernet entirely: it’ll come in handy at crowded conferences where Wi-Fi is overloaded.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

For a small fee, many business laptops can be configured with one of these modems integrated; this is one of the key distinguishing features of business laptops. They work in conjunction with existing cellular networks to deliver broadband speeds to your laptop wherever a cellular signal is available. Because of these challenges, some business laptops include built-in mobile-broadband wireless modems as an option.

Mobile data plansA 4G LTE or 5G wireless connection can deliver transfer speeds that rival those of Wi-Fi, and it’s available from the top cellular networks with the most coverage, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Rates can range from $60 to $80 per month, depending on whether you have an existing plan. on the other hand, are not cheap to use with a laptop. Mobile hotspotsIf you don’t want to buy internal modems for all of your employees, smartphone tethering is also an option; it’s a quick fix if you only need mobile internet part-time.

Keep Running: Evaluating Battery Life

The extra weight of a large battery is justified by the ability to use it unplugged from dawn to dusk. On a long flight or commute, a large battery can be your best friend. When all else is equal, more cells equals longer battery life. The “equal” part is the tricky part; with laptops that use 4K displays or other power-hungry components, this isn’t always the case. Some business laptops come with two or three battery options (four-, six-, and nine-cell options). Typically, business laptops come with a variety of battery options.

Laptops with removable batteries are still available, but they are becoming increasingly rare, with the exception of rugged tablets and laptops designed for use in harsh environments. Non-removable, sealed-in-the-chassis batteries are found in the majority of ultraportable laptops.

These external solutions, when combined with the internal battery, can help deliver battery life in the 19-to-24-hour range. Instead of limiting yourself to a model with a swappable internal battery, look for an external battery pack if you think you’ll need more battery life than a single charge can provide. Just keep in mind that these extra-long-life batteries can add an extra pound or more to your system’s weight.

The Appeal of 2-in-1 Tablets

The most compelling reasons for a business to consider a Windows-based tablet for work are cost and portability. While specialized (read: expensive) tablets have long been used in vertical markets such as health care, the Apple iPad’s widespread use means that people are now accustomed to carrying a computer with no physical keyboard or one that is detachable and basic. Some tablets cost less than $500 and can easily be used in a business setting.

Look for a Windows 10 tabletif you need to run in-house or third-party apps that were designed for PCs originally. True enterprise-class Windows 10 tablets are still in development, but most business users expect their work computers to behave similarly to their personal tablets. Because a tablet-optimized version of macOS does not exist, Apple fans will have to make do with using the iPad or iPad Pro for business.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Most Windows tablets are designed to browse the web, run Office apps, and perform other light computing tasks, but they are also compatible with a wide range of security apps, VPN and email clients, and a slew of hardware peripherals like printers, scanners, and cameras. network-attached storage (NAS) devicesThe market for business Windows tablets is dominated by Microsoft (the Surface line) and Lenovo. .. We wouldn’t run our entire company on a tablet, but it can be a handy take-along unit for an offsite meeting or a portable replacement for your 6-pound big-screen workstation.

Chromebooks for Business: Simple and Affordable

The cloud is increasingly pervasive in our computing lives, both at work and at home.ChromebooksThere are more viable options for laptops dedicated to work activity than ever before. Chrome OS, which began as a beefed-up version of the popular web browser, is the only operating system available for these laptops. Chromebooks’ capabilities are extended by Android apps from the Google Play Store (such as the Microsoft Office suite or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom), but they often lack features found in Windows-based versions of the same programs. Businesses that run their core applications on the Google suite, on the other hand, may find Chromebooks useful as email and communication stations in certain circumstances.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Some Chromebooks designed for business use have more powerful processors and memory. If web-based collaboration is critical to your workflow, a Chromebook may be sufficient, and because Chromebooks don’t require powerful hardware to run most web apps, they are often less expensive than other business laptops. However, our general conclusion is that, in most cases, they serve as adjuncts rather than primary machines in most businesses.

Mobile Workhorses: Our Top Bets

Some business laptops come with a three-year warranty, specialized tech support, and a more ruggedized frame (made of carbon fiber or magnesium alloy). As a result, you should be able to find the best business laptop for you. Consider the nature of your particular job for a moment. Paying a little more now for more power or capabilities will save you time and money later.

That’s where our in-depth reviews come in handy. When you’ve determined which features are most important to you, you can narrow your search to laptops that include them. If your job requires a lot of graphics, a laptop with discrete graphics is the way to go. When selecting a processor, you must strike a balance between application power and energy efficiency, and when selecting a battery, you must choose between capacity and weight.

We update the list frequently to include the most recent products, and because we review so many laptops each year, not every top-rated product makes the cut. Also see our for more information. The following is a list of our current favorite business laptops. overall top laptop picks, and if you’re on a budget, check out our roundup of the bestbudget laptops is worth a read.  

If you’re looking to completely outfit your workspace, take a look at our business monitors, plus our favorite ergonomic keyboards and printers.

Where To Buy