A powerful performer. Optimized for multitasking between multiple programs. Bright and color-accurate display. Slim design. Runs cool under pressure. Features an ergonomic keyboard. Up to 20 hours of battery life. Available in silver and gray.
The MacBook Pro is fairly pricey.
Especially affordable. Offers up to 8 hours of battery life and speedy performance. Features a bright and vivid display, along with a wide viewing angle. Lightweight design. Fingerprint login provides added security. Has a backlit keyboard and a huge array of ports.
May run a little on the warm side.
Gives premium performance. Offers lightning-fast loading times. Features wide and vivid Full HD display. Has extra-thin bezels and a wide array of ports. Built with a durable magnesium alloy chassis. Convenient backlit keyboard.
Isn't the slimmest model on the market.
A simple, lightweight design that maximizes portability. Weighs just 2 pounds and measures 13 mm thick. Battery lasts up to 12 hours. Utilizes Intel Core i5 CPU. Chrome OS is extremely intuitive to use and updates automatically. Includes a 1080p webcam.
Expensive for a Chromebook. No biometric login.
Convertible laptop and tablet in one. Spacious 1920 x 1280 screen offers more usable and practical 3:2 aspect ratio. Standard 16 GB of memory and 512 GB SSD storage. Powered by 11th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, and charges via USB-C.
Moderately pricey. Lacks an optical drive.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Finding the right business laptop for your work needs means considering a handful of factors, including the best operating system, storage size and type, form factor, screen resolution, and security features.
Different programs are available on different operating systems, and while you may already have an operating system you like, taking a look at the features offered by the latest Windows, Apple, Chrome, and Linux software is worthwhile.
If you’re someone who works on the go or travels frequently, a compact and lightweight computer with reliable battery life are crucial. If your laptop will mostly be staying in one spot, you may be able to sacrifice convenience for power and performance.
Though storage has never been more affordable, you will still have to decide how much space you need and whether the speed of a solid-state drive is worth the extra cost.
Your laptop is the center of your work. Whether it’s your communication hub, your primary design tool, or a combination, your laptop should be suited to your needs and built to last and perform. Here are some key factors to understand before making this big purchase.
You probably already have a preferred operating system, particularly if you use specific programs for your job. If you work in an office, you might be required to use a specific operating system. However, you should still have an idea of what each operating system currently has to offer.
Windows 10: This is the most recent version of Microsoft’s classic software. It’s also one of the most popular operating systems currently available due to its ease of use and many programs.
OS X: This operating system is found in current generation Apple laptops. The latest version is macOS Mojave, and it’s offered as a free upgrade for Apple computers with recent versions of OS X. Though many of the same applications found on Windows 10 are available for macOS Mojave, an Apple computer in an all-Windows office can lead to frustration when transferring files.
Linux: This doesn’t come with most laptops out of the box, but Linux is free and this open-source software can be customized to suit your needs. It’s straightforward to use, but you might need to do a bit of light programming to tweak settings from time to time.
Chrome OS: This is a good option for those who regularly use Google’s G Suite and don’t need a computer with a lot of power. Chromebooks act primarily as browsing machines, though some newer models are able to download apps from the Google Play store. Chrome OS is generally found in more affordable laptops and is straightforward to use even for first-timers.
Processing power and memory
The CPU determines the overall speed and performance of your machine. It does the bulk of the work and “thinking” of the computer, and its RAM allows your computer to handle multiple tasks at once. Both are vital to a high-performing machine that can handle a variety of tasks at once.
CPU: The majority of today’s processors are made by Intel, with the fastest CPUs available for laptops being the i5, i7, and i9 core processors. Most CPUs are quad-core processors, meaning there are four separate units for computing and executing functions. More powerful CPUs like the i9 feature hexa-core designs, though these are often expensive and typically used for more intensive work like 3D modeling, coding, or video editing.
RAM: Random access memory is what enables your CPU to do its work efficiently and without slowing. For a basic business laptop, 4GB to 8GB of RAM will be sufficient for most people. If you want to make the most of your CPU or you’ll be editing videos, 16G is your safest option, though you’ll pay extra for it.
The amount of space you need depends largely on what type of work you do and whether you store your files primarily on your computer or on a cloud-based service. Even if most of your work is kept on Dropbox or Google Drive, you will still likely access files from your computer on a daily basis.
More is more when it comes to storage space, but you will pay a higher price for it. Most people can make do with 500GB, and at 1TB, you should have plenty of space for years. However, if you know you’ll need to store large files on your computer, you might want to consider up to 2TB or 4TB of storage.
HDD and SSD: There are two primary types of storage: the hard disk drive (HDD) and the solid-state drive (SSD). The HDD is the traditional (and less expensive) option, using a spinning disc to read data. The SSD has no moving parts and is significantly faster. In addition, it tends to fare better on the move since there are no parts to be disrupted. The smallest SSDs usually hold 256GB.
Other important considerations when buying a laptop are its size, shape, and weight. There’s no debate that smaller and lighter is better, but higher-performing machines sometimes come in larger packages. The latest laptops are smaller than ever, and it’s possible to find a compact machine with a decent amount of processing power – but you’ll often pay top dollar for it.
Most laptops weigh between two and five pounds. Anything less than three pounds is generally quite easy to carry around. You should also take the weight of charging cables, mouse, and other accessories into consideration.
It’s a tricky balance between performance and convenience, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide which is more important. If you’re regularly working on the go or traveling, a sleek form factor may be a necessity.
A reliable battery can go a long way in saving you headaches (or costing you precious work hours) when you’re away from an outlet.
If your business laptop will mostly live on your desk, you might want to go with a small battery that adds little weight since a long rundown time won’t be an issue. If you regularly work on the go, a good battery can be a lifesaver.
Once you have a good idea of what type of laptop you’re looking for, you should dig into the details that can make everyday use more streamlined and convenient.
You’ll likely use your laptop for eight or more hours each day, so it’s important to consider your health when choosing the device that is the center of your work.
An ergonomic design doesn’t always mean a curved keyboard, though some laptops do offer one. It’s also about the size of the screen and the weight of the laptop. If you have large hands or suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, look for laptops with larger keyboards so your hands aren’t cramped while you type. Laptops equipped with voice recognition can allow you to type hands-free, greatly reducing the risk of wrist strain.
A touchscreen can also be more intuitive and more comfortable to use than a mouse. If you opt for a laptop with a touchscreen, switch between using your mouse and the touchscreen to prevent wrist pain or strain.
Though we hear the words “malware” and “virus” less often these days, security is still as important as ever when it comes to your laptop. There are a few features you should look for to get the best protection.
Fingerprint scanner or facial recognition: These are two features that are difficult to bypass and can prevent a stranger from accessing your files in the case of theft. Built-in fingerprint scanners are simple to use and can get you into your computer faster than a passcode. Facial recognition, offered by Windows 10, is another secure option that wastes little time in logging you in.
Encryption: Some operating systems, including macOS Mojave and Windows 10, offer the ability to encrypt specific files on your HDD or SSD. This scrambles important data so that only you can access these files, protecting your information from hacking attempts or theft.
WiFi: This is standard in all modern laptops. However, not all laptops connect to the internet the same way. Laptops with the best WiFi connection are dual-band, capable of connecting to 2.4GHz or 5GHz WiFi so that you can find the strongest signal in any situation.
Ports: Take note of the number and type of ports offered by each laptop. USB is still standard, with most laptops featuring USB 3.0 ports. Some devices may offer USB-C or Thunderbolt ports for rapid charging and data transferring.
Camera and microphone
If video calls are a regular part of your work, you should make sure your camera and microphone are up to the task. Take note of the resolution your camera is capable of, and read customer reviews to see if the microphone produces clear calls. You won’t want to use a built-in camera or microphone for professional video work, but they should be able to handle video chatting.
Screen size and resolution
For any work that requires a detailed eye, you want a decent amount of screen space and crisp resolution to catch every detail.
Size: A larger screen means a larger laptop, but if you want to reduce eyestrain or you work on multiple tasks at once, consider a laptop with a screen size of at least 15 inches.
Low-priced laptops cost between $175 and $450 and typically offer Windows 10 or Chrome OS. These machines may not pack much power, but they tend to be compact and can have batteries that compete with more expensive models.
From $500 to $1,000 are laptops that will meet most people’s needs and may have competitive RAM and processing power. These laptops can last for six years or more and usually offer Chrome OS, Windows 10, or macOS Mojave.
High-performing laptops cost between $1,200 and $2,000 and are suited for work like graphic design, video editing, and 3D modeling. These are powerful professional machines that often have i7 or i9 CPUs and usually run Windows 10 or macOS Mojave.
Prolong the battery’s lifespan by fully discharging it once a month. Most laptops have lithium-ion batteries, which should be charged and discharged in small amounts.
Protect your security with a privacy filter. It can protect you in ways software and fingerprint scanners can’t by preventing prying eyes from seeing what’s on your screen from an angle.
Q. How long should a business laptop last?
A. Most laptops can be expected to last between four and six years before they start to become sluggish. If you work in a rapidly advancing field, you might need to replace your computer more frequently to keep up with the latest programs.
Q. How can I transfer the files from my old computer to my new one?
A. If your files are smaller, you can transfer them via a cloud storage solution like Google Drive or over a local WiFi network. Otherwise, you’ll likely need to use an external hard drive or a transfer cable.
Q. Can I transfer applications from my old computer to the new one?
A. That depends primarily on the application. In some cases, you may have multi-license applications that can be installed on multiple devices. Or you can transfer the license to your new computer.