The 9 Best Business Laptops of 2021
Powerhouses to get through workdays
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The best business laptops provide a balance between long battery life, processing power, and memory storage. Some laptops use solid-state drives for faster boot times and more reliable data storage, but they usually come with a higher price tag. Traditional hard disk drives are cheaper but are more susceptible to damage from drops. Modern laptops have also started integrating 4K resolution and OLED technology into their display screens, as well as touch-based input support for easier use of certain applications.
When shopping for a business laptop, there are traditional clamshells for heavy typing work to a 2-in-1 style computer with a touchscreen for flexibility to higher-end laptops with a bevy of security features. No matter what your styles and needs are, here are our top picks of the best business laptops.
Best Overall: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the ultimate mobile workstation. It's powered by a 10th generation Intel i5-10210U quad-core processor for blazing-fast speeds. You get up to 19.5 hours of battery life on a single charge, and when you need power in a pinch, you'll get 80 percent battery with just an hour of charging. This laptop has customizable memory options with either 8 or 16GB of RAM and an SSD from 256GB to 1TB for ultra-fast boot times and plenty of storage. Even more, the 14-inch screen produces excellent 4K UHD resolution.
Along with standard USB and HDMI inputs, this laptop supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity for quick data transfer and reliable connections. For privacy, the built-in webcam has a physical shutter and works with an infrared sensor to alert you when someone may be looking over your shoulder. Plus, a fingerprint reader is built-in. The business laptop is also splash-resistant and put through tests against 12 military-grade requirements to ensure long-lasting durability.
Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
For professionals who like the practicality of a traditional laptop as well as the convenience of a tablet, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the best choice. Use this 2-in-1 as a traditional laptop for everyday work or as a tablet for design projects or handwriting notes with the Surface Pen. The front and rear cameras use 1080p HD video streaming and recording for crisp, clear pictures. The Surface Pro 7 features both USB-C and USB-A ports as well as Bluetooth connectivity. It also has a microSD card reader for transferring files from cameras and other equipment.
The battery gives you up to 10.5 hours of life on a single charge and you'll get 80 percent of your battery with just an hour of charging. This 2-in-1 also has customizable memory options with 4 to 16GB of RAM and an SSD from 128GB to 1TB. Better yet, there's facial recognition technology for signing in with Windows Hello for more secure log-ins.
Best for Apple Users: MacBook Pro 16-Inch
With each new iteration of the MacBook, Apple has improved on processing power, memory storage, and graphics capabilities, and this MacBook Pro model is no exception. It features a 16-inch retina display for ultra-high-definition quality and unparalleled support for millions of colors. With Thunderbolt 3 inputs, you can connect two 6K displays for the ultimate workstation. You can also customize the laptop's storage with up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM, and an SSD up to 8TB.
Choose either an Intel i7 or i9 processor with integrated AMD Radeon 5000M graphics. The laptop's battery gives you up to 11 hours on a single charge, making it great for working on-the-go. With the T2 security chip, all of your personal and work data is encrypted for protection against unauthorized access. For added security, the MacBook Pro features a Touch ID sensor for signing in with your fingerprint.
Related: The Best Desktop Computers
Best for Travel: Dell Latitude 9410
Though pricey, this is a smart pick for business travelers because of its optional LTE modem and impressive up to 27 hours of battery life. Of course, the sleek, brushed silver 2-in-1 laptop is loaded with lots of other great features, including Windows Hello face recognition via the webcam to sign in, and tons of ports (HDMI, USB 3.2 Gen 1, two Thunderbolt 3, a microSD card slot, and a SIM card slot) for when you have to connect to AV systems on the go. With 16 GB of RAM, you’ll also have ample power to power through your work trips.
Related: The Best Note-Taking Tablets
Best Budget: Asus Flip Chromebook
If you need a reliable laptop for work without breaking the bank, look no further than the Asus Flip Chromebook. This business laptop features a precision-crafted, all-aluminum body that gives the Flip a sleek, modern look. It's powered by an Intel M3-8100Y processor and has integrated Intel HD 615 graphics for superior picture quality.
For memory, you can choose between 4 or 8GB of RAM and you'll also get a 65GB eMMC to store important documents. With both USB-C and USB-A ports, you can connect peripherals or external memory storage devices. The Flip weighs just 3 pounds and measures 14 inches wide, making it compact for travel. Get up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge, while the 360-degree hinge lets you turn the laptop into a touchscreen tablet for handwriting notes.
Related: The Best External Hard Drives
Best Splurge: HP ZBook G5
The higher-end HP ZBook G5 is a worthy investment. This business laptop features excellent picture quality, thanks to a 4K UHD display that supports 100 percent of the Adobe RGB color range. The display also supports touch-based inputs for easy image zooming. The ZBook G5 is powered by an 8th generation Intel i7-8750H 6-core processor to give you plenty of power for everyday work, graphic design, and even gaming. For memory options, the laptop has 32GB of DDR4 RAM, a 2TB HDD, and 2TB SSD, as well as a second input bay for an M.2 style SSD up to 2TB.
With Bluetooth connectivity, Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI ports, and USB 3.1 inputs, there are plenty of ways to connect peripherals like mice, external memory storage, and secondary displays. To keep your information safe from unauthorized access, this business laptop has a fingerprint reader for logging in as well as a privacy screen available that limits the viewing angle. Plus, the battery gives you up to 17 hours of use on a single charge.
Best for Creatives: Dell XPS 15
Professional artists and graphic designers will love the Dell XPS 15 laptop. It features a 9th generation Intel i7-9750H 6-core CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 video card with 4GB of VRAM. It also comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB SSD, but you can configure the laptop with up to 64GB of RAM and an SSD up to 2TB for more storage. The 15.6-inch display uses OLED technology to produce a stunning 4K UHD resolution and supports 100 percent of the Adobe RGB color range. Even more, the display supports touch inputs so you can use a stylus for drawing.
This business laptop weighs just 4 pounds and measures 17 mm thin for portability. The dual speakers support Waves MaxxAudio technology for 3D sound and an immersive listening experience when working with music or audio mixing. The laptop is made of CNC machined aluminum and a carbon fiber palm rest for durability. Get up to 12 hours of battery life on a single charge.
Best 17-Inch: Lenovo ThinkPad P17 Mobile Workstation
Though this is a durable, rugged laptop that you can take with you (despite being a hefty 7 pounds), it also doubles as a true workstation for professionals who want to ditch the desktop. With ample ports including HDMI, USB, and Thunderbolt, SD-card and micro-SD card readers, and a headphone jack, you can plug in all sorts of peripheral devices and equipment or external monitors. With a 16 GB RAM and 512 GB hard drive, it’s a good choice for engineers and creative professionals who can rely on this machine to run hard-core programs like AutoCAD.
Related: The Best Lenovo Laptops
Best Style: HP Elite Dragonfly
Stylish as it is practical, the HP Elite Dragonfly features a magnesium chassis with an iridescent blue finish for sturdiness and an elegant look. The ultra-quiet keyboard is backlit and spill-resistant, while the touchpad is made of glass for smooth operation. The 13.3-inch touchscreen display produces a full 1080p HD resolution and features a minimal bezel for an edge-to-edge picture. The four-speaker array also uses audio drivers from Bang & Olufsen for a better listening experience. Beyond looks, though, the business laptop is environmentally conscious: HP created 82 percent of the laptop's mechanical parts with recycled materials, including ocean-bound plastics.
Inside the chassis is an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The Elite Dragonfly not only has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, but it also features a SIM card slot to connect to high-speed LTE cellular networks. For safety, the laptop has a fingerprint reader, facial recognition software, and data encryption technology. Get up to 13 hours of battery life.
Related: The Best Computer Monitors
There’s no defeating the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (view at Lenovo) when it comes to business laptops. With top-notch screen resolution, unique security features, durability, and of course, reliable and fast performance, you’ll get a lot of ROI from this purchase. If you’re an Apple loyalist, however, then the latest MacBook Pro (view at Amazon) is a processing powerhouse with crisp graphics and data encryption options.
What to Look For in a Business Laptop
You don’t want your business laptop to die when you’re in the middle of a project, or working on the go. Ideally, you want to be able to get through at least a work shift without having to plug in, and if it can charge quickly, even better.
Processor type, RAM, and disk storage are all important components of a well-built business laptop, so carefully consider your needs when shopping around. Think about the types of activities you’ll be doing, if you store a lot of large files, and if you’ll be using multiple, memory-hogging programs at once. Other specs to inquire about is the number of ports and slots the laptop has. For highly sensitive work, you might also consider security features like fingerprint readers.
Whether you’re a graphic designer or someone who shows a lot of multimedia slideshows or video content to clients, screen resolution and color will matter more to you than, say, someone working in spreadsheets or doing coding. Related to this, you should also decide if you would benefit from a touchscreen, which gives your laptop more of a tablet feel.
Size, weight and durability matter when you’re lugging around a laptop for work. In this case, you literally want to “weigh” your options carefully as you might regret choosing one that’s bulky. However, if you’re mainly using it from your home office, you might want to go for a bigger size or thicker outer material.
How much RAM do I need for a business laptop?
RAM is really what impacts the speed of your laptop’s performance, so it’s not something you want to skimp on. That said, how much you need really does depend on what types of things you’ll be doing. You can likely get by with 8GB of RAM for normal activities, but if you use multiple programs and regularly have lots of open tabs, you’ll want to go for a bit more power, such as 16GB. Though there are options that offer just 2GB or 4GB, you may get frustrated at the lack of speed those laptops offer.
Are gaming laptops good for business use?
Gaming laptops are actually very powerful and sleek machines since they are designed to handle complex graphics and interactive gaming. The downside, however, is that they are usually a bit on the bulky side and the battery life is not as long-lasting as a regular business laptop. So while you can certainly accomplish your work tasks on a gaming computer, they aren’t ideal for portability.
What’s the difference between a laptop and a tablet?
Because there are some hybrid tablet/laptops on the market, the lines between the two devices have blurred a bit. But there are a few key distinctions between the two. The main difference is that tablets are usually smaller in size than a laptop. And although some tablets have keyboards that can attach, they are designed to be used as touchscreens, while laptops always have a connected keyboard. Something else that distinguishes between the two is that laptops are much better at handling all types of specialized business software, while tablets are usually more for online activities or for graphic illustration. As far as price, there are laptops and tablets at various price points. And if you can’t choose between the two, then a 2-in-1 model might be the perfect pick.
Meet the Expert
Taylor Clemons has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. She has written for IndieHangover, GameSkinny, TechRadar, and her own publication, Steam Shovelers.