There are thousands of laptops to choose from and the prospect of making an educated buying decision can be daunting, particularly if you need your new computer for something specific. Finding the right laptop for business use can be tricky.
Whether running a small independent business or choosing a laptop that will play nice with a large enterprise network, there are certain features, specs and design traits to look out for.
You might be buying for yourself to run your start up in your rented workspace, or you could be here looking for a model to buying to kit out all your employees with. You might even be buying for thousands of people.
So which laptop is going to please everyone? It won’t be the same one for every situation (if only it were that simple). Once you’ve decided if your style of business suits Windows or macOS (likely the former, but sometimes the latter) then you can set about choosing the model.
You’ll also want to consider whether these laptops come with Windows 10 Pro as standard. If they don’t it’s easy to upgrade.
Price is a factor. Some high-end laptops are indeed excellent but you may want to save some money while still getting decent performance. Thankfully those laptops do exist.
Robust build could be of importance if you work in the field, or you might want something featherweight to carry form meeting to meeting. Then features such as fingerprint readers for additional security or long lasting battery life might be top of your must-have list.
Some of the laptops in this list are higher priced, but they often represent good value considering the features and specifications they have.
Here are the best laptops for business as of 2017. Each entry links out to a full review with more information on price, design, features, specs and software.
Okay so it’s a business laptop, but check out that 13in edge-to-edge display. You wouldn’t be ashamed to show off the Dell Latitude 13 inside- or outside the office, with design hints taken from the awesome Dell XPS 13 and 15.
It’s customisable to suit your needs, but the model we reviewed came with an Intel Core m5-6Y57 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. There’s a USB 3.0 port, two USB-C, Micro-HDMI, a microSD card slot and two optional Micro-SIM slots. This 13.3in-screen laptop also sports a 34Wh battery and a fingerprint scanner, and weighs in at 1.12kg.
The Latitude 13 has a pleasant matt finish to its base half, but the outer side of the lid is a cool (in every sense) aluminium that is surprisingly sturdy. Or you can add a carbon-fibre lid for an extra tenner.
The keyboard is distinctly business-fare, somewhat cramped and with concave, clicky keys, but it’s workable. The trackpad is good, but small. And the screen offers great colours and viewing angles, even outdoors, but it lacks brightness.
What really impresses is the Professional version of Windows it ships with, the silent running of the still-powerful processor, and its outstanding battery life of 8 hours 23 minutes in our tests.
Read our Dell Latitude 13 7370 review.
The Asus ZenBook UX310A is an ideal mid-range ultraportable laptop. It is what happens when a practical everyday laptop and an expensive all-aluminium Ultrabook fall in love, bringing you the pricey look and feel of a portable, stylish machine with the features of a workhorse and a price way below that of a rival MacBook.
Core hardware includes a Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and both a 128GB SSD and a 500GB HDD. There’s a single USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0, plus USB-C, HDMI and SDXC. The Asus sports (albeit so-so) Harman Kardon stereo speakers, and with its 48Wh battery weighs in at 1.45kg. A cheaper version has the Core i3, 4GB of RAM and a lower-res display.
The 13.3in screen is a highlight, with unbelievable sharpness (276ppi) and colour saturation at this price, and this matt screen excels in outdoor use. It’s paired with a scissor-mechanism keyboard with backlight and a large, comfortable trackpad.
The ZenBook is not perfect – we’d like the display to tilt back further, the shell displays some flexing, and it’s a tad chunky thanks to the HDD inside – but it scored well on performance, provided you avoid intensive gaming. Battery life is solid, at 8 hours 10 minutes.
You can’t have it all at this price, but the ZenBook gets close.
Read our Asus ZenBook UX310UA review.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 is a fantastic laptop with an up-to-date design, and one that doesn’t go for any of the feature-chopping you see in many alternatives without the same business leanings.
Battery life is excellent, as is build quality and the keyboard, plus the X1 is as light as slim as promised.
The only issues are to do with the screen, but many will be able to live with it.
There’s also a question of price. ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptops have always been expensive, and so is this one: more than Dell’s XPS 13 but hundreds less than model with an OLED touch bar.
Read our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017) review.
The Dell XPS 15 is an amazingly flexible laptop, despite looking like an ordinary high-end one on the surface. It’s very powerful but has unusually good battery life for its class. It has a 15in screen but is smaller than almost all other 15in laptops with one. And is its 4K version the XPS 15 has the colour performance for pro design work.
It’s also good-looking, and while not ultra-portable is not that heavy given the components inside.
It makes the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar seem a bit frivolous in comparison, not to mention extremely expensive.
Read our Dell XPS 15 9560 review.
The Latitude 14 7000 series has a well-rounded flagship in the Latitude E7470. Its features are unremarkable in the business laptop world, but then again, it does everything you want it to do in exactly the way you expect it to. Often, when it comes to getting work done, that is precisely what you need.
Read our Dell Latitude 14 7000 E7470 review.
Acer Swift 3
The Acer Swift 3 is a near-perfect laptop for those who want an ultraportable, but don’t want to fork out £1000+.
Build quality is great, battery life very good, and performance a match for much more expensive laptops. There are just two areas where the low price shows. First, it’s a little thicker and heavier than some ultrabooks.
It looks good enough, but limited maximum brightness and fairly poor colour reproduction limits its usefulness in certain situations.
Read our Acer Swift 3 review.
The Dell Latitude 12 7000 won’t win any beauty contests but then again, for what it is designed to do it is very good. It is the smallest form factor a business laptop can take without any compromise on functionality and if you can afford it, it’s a very good choice.
Read our Dell Latitude 12 7000 E7270 review.
The new Surface Pro is a superb 2-in-1. It’s beautifully built and performs well. The screen is excellent and even the speakers sound good.
However, it’s very expensive, especially when you add the cost of the Type Cover and – if you need one – the Surface Pen. Few will opt for the base model, and you’ll pay a heck of a lot more for a Core i7.
Ultimately, while a fantastic device, it’s hard to recommend the Surface Pro unless money is no object.
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review.
HP 255 G4
The HP 255 G4 is a budget 15.6in Windows laptop with budget build and performance. We found no single serious flaw and it should get the job done eventually, making it ideal if you’re on a tight budget and don’t need lots of speed or a high-quality screen.
Read our HP 255 G4 review.
This is a confusing machine. On one hand it’s an impressive performer that’s sturdily built and conveys a certain amount of style and professionalism. But we can’t shake the feeling that where the Chromebook Pixel had a few wow factors – the display and industrial design – that almost tempted you to spend £1000, the Dell just seems expensive.
That’s unfair in some ways, as you’re getting a fast and durable device that will be up for the rigours of the road, which in the case of most businesses is far more important than how it looks or makes you feel. If a Chromebook is what you want, rather than a premium PC or MacBook, then the figures and the bottom line says the Dell, but our hearts want the Pixel. Maybe that’s why we’re not businessmen.
Read our Dell Chromebook 13 (7310) review.