The 8 Best Business Laptops of 2021

Find the right machine for your business needs

The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
Introduction

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The Rundown
"The 13.5-inch screen has a resolution just slightly over 1080p HD, allowing it to produce sharper details and more vibrant colors."
"The battery gives you up to 20 hours of use on a full charge, meaning you can work almost two full days at the office without recharging."
"Its 2-in-1 format allows you to use it as either a traditional laptop or as a tablet."
Best Durability:
LG Gram 15 at Amazon
"The LG Gram 15 has a metal alloy chassis that provides plenty of durability and protection against bumps, scrapes, and drops."
"With a 10th generation Intel Core i7 CPU that can be overclocked to 5GHz, you'll get more than enough power."
Best Portability:
Dell XPS 13 9380 at Amazon
"The laptop is 0.46 inches thin, making it small enough to slip into a backpack or tote bag."
"With ChromeOS, you get Google Assistant built into the laptop for hands-free voice controls."
"The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon has a 15-hour battery life, meaning you can work all day and still watch Netflix after dinner."

Whether you're an on-the-go professional or just prefer the compact size and portability, business laptops are important tools for both home and traditional offices. Improvements in battery life mean that anyone who works long hours at the office or needs a battery to hold a charge for several work days has plenty of options to choose from. Some laptop models, such as the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro, have battery lives up to 20 hours on a single charge.

Connectivity is also a key factor to consider when shopping for a new business laptop. With USB-C, users can set up external storage devices for faster file transfers, secondary displays for improved multitasking, or charge mobile devices to help keep your workflow going smoothly.

Bluetooth connectivity allows you to use wireless peripherals such as mice and headsets for a cleaner, more organized workspace (which is ideal for smaller desks or shared workspaces), as well as allowing you to wirelessly transfer files from smartphones and tablets.

If security is one of your top priorities, you'll want to choose a business laptop that offers either encryption protection for your personal data and work files or some sort of biometric login like a fingerprint reader or infrared camera that works with Windows Hello facial recognition software to protect your computer from unauthorized use.

Storage is another big challenge for business professionals. Fortunately, it's possible to find laptops with hard-disk or solid state drives up to 2TB, allowing you to store thousands of documents, photos, and videos without ever having to worry about running out of space. We've gathered up our top picks below for the best business laptops available and broke down their features to help you decide which is the perfect upgrade for your home office or traditional office fleet.

Best Display: Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
What We Like
  • Long battery life

  • Sleek style

  • Solid state drive

What We Don't Like
  • Older USB ports

  • Some RAM and storage options are pricey

The Microsoft Surface 2 is an ideal laptop for professionals who want a portable workstation that not only works hard, but looks good doing it. The 13.5-inch screen has a resolution just slightly over 1080p HD, allowing it to produce sharper details and more vibrant colors than its predecessor. And clocking in at just under 3 pounds, this laptop won't weigh you down on your morning commute or on your way to an off-site client meeting.

It's powered by an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM for more than enough power to handle daily tasks and even some creative work. The 128 GB solid state drive lets you access files and programs much faster than with a traditional hard disk drive, meaning you'll spend less time waiting for Excel and Word to open and more time crossing things off your to-do list.

The Surface 2 comes in four colors, helping you show off your personal style or match office decor with ease. The battery gives you up to 14.5 hours of use on a single charge, meaning you can go from your morning alarm to after-dinner emails before you need to even think about plugging in.

Size: 14 inches | Resolution: 2256 x 1504 | CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i5 | GPU: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Touchscreen: Yes

"Instead of resting your palms on cold aluminum, they'll be on a smooth carpet of sorts." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best MacBook: Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

What We Like
  • 20 hour battery

  • New M1 chip

  • Thunderbolt 4

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Some programs may not be compatible with MacOS

The MacBook is no stranger to traditional and home offices, and the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro proves once again why Apple remains one of the top choices for business laptops. It is built with Apple's all-new M1 chip, which integrates the CPU, GPU, and neural engine into a single unit for blazing fast speeds as well as to save internal space. The neural engine works to prioritize your most-used programs and files for faster, more reliable access and to provide the Retina Display with the best color volume and details possible.

The macOS Big Sur works with Rosetta 2, allowing you to use your iPad or iPhone apps right on your laptop, which is perfect for professionals who use multiple devices during the work day. The touch bar lets you set up shortcuts for instant access to your favorite apps, files, and programs, and TouchID allows you to use your fingerprint for a biometric login for your laptop to keep your personal data and work safe from unauthorized access.

The MacBook uses Thunderbolt 4 USB-C connectivity for charging mobile devices, connecting displays with up to 6K resolution, and transferring data at speeds up to 40GB/s so you don't have to wait around for big files to move from your external hard drive to your laptop. With Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, you can take advantage of next-gen internet speeds for more stable video conference connections, which is important in an increasingly online workspace. The battery gives you up to 20 hours of use on a full charge, meaning you can work almost two full days at the office without worrying about forgetting your power cable at home.

Size: 13 inches | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: Apple M1 16-core | GPU: Apple M1 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | Touchscreen: No

"The display can hit an impressive 500 nits of brightness, features rich, accurate colors, and great viewing angles." — Alice Newcome-Beill, Product Tester

Best Budget: Microsoft Surface Go

Microsoft Surface Go
What We Like
  • 2-in-1

  • Very portable

  • Decent battery

What We Don't Like
  • Limited storage

  • Accessories cost extra

  • Limited connection ports

Buying a work laptop doesn't mean you have to drain your wallet, and the Microsoft Surface Go is the perfect, budget-friendly option for professionals looking for a dependable laptop. Its 2-in-1 format allows you to use it as either a traditional laptop or as a tablet, which is perfect for anyone looking to invest in a laptop that can be at home in both an office and living room. Tablet mode is also great for hand-writing notes during meetings or editing images.

The 10-inch display allows for touch inputs, making it easy to use a stylus or your fingers to pan images, scroll through documents, or create digital art. The Surface Go is built around an Intel Pentium Gold processor and has 4GB of RAM and a 64GB eMMC hard drive, giving you plenty of power to handle daily tasks and storage for typical documents and images.

The laptop's 2-in-1 format makes it perfect for professionals whose offices are wherever they happen to be that day, or who travel often for business. With nine hours of battery life on a full charge, you'll be able to breeze through a typical workday without needing to carry around your power cable.

Size: 10 inches | Resolution: 1800 x 1200 | CPU: Intel Pentium Gold | GPU: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB DDR3 | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Touchscreen: Yes 

"The wonderful and sturdy kickstand on the back of the device provided us with a multitude of viewing angles for different use cases, from basic browsing to drawing with a stylus." — Jordan Oloman, Product Tester

Best Durability: LG Gram 15

What We Like
  • SSD

  • USB-C connectivity

  • Great battery

What We Don't Like
  • No 4K screen

  • No end-user upgrade options

If you travel a lot for business or often meet with clients off-site, you need a laptop that can handle being thrown into a backpack or carry-on bag. The LG Gram 15 has a metal alloy chassis that provides plenty of durability and protection against bumps, scrapes, and drops while remaining incredibly lightweight. At just 2.2 pounds, you won't have to worry about getting worn down carrying your laptop around.

It's powered by an 8th generation Intel Core i7 CPU as well as 8GB of RAM, and with a 256GB SSD, you'll have more than enough storage for all of your work files and programs. The 15.6-inch screen produces an excellent, 1080p HD resolution picture that makes everything from video calls to text files look great.

At just 0.6 inches thin, the Gram 15 still has USB 3.0, HDMI, and USB-C connection ports for all of your external storage devices and peripherals. It also has an SD card reader for transferring photo files from your camera to your laptop. And the 16.5 hour battery life means you can go all day before needing to recharge your laptop.

Size: 15.6 inches | Resolution: 1080p HD | CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i7 | GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Touchscreen: Yes

"Despite the light and slim form factor, it still manages to pack an almost complete set of ports and jacks." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best Splurge: HP Spectre x360 15t

HP Spectre x360 15t Touch Laptop
What We Like
  • 2-in-1

  • 4K

  • Bang & Olufsen speakers

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you're willing to dig deep and spend a bit more to get a top-of-the-line laptop, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better option than the HP Spectrex360. This 2-in-1 laptop balances form and function in ways that rivals its MacBook counterparts. With a 10th generation Intel Core i7 CPU that can be overclocked to 5GHz, you'll get more than enough power to tackle everything from simple spreadsheets and word documents to complex programming apps and even digital art or 3D modeling.

The discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU has 4GB of dedicated RAM that works alongside the laptop's 16GB of RAM, allowing for blazing-fast access to your most-used programs and files. The 1TB SSD not only provides plenty of storage space, but it also creates faster file retrieval and program launching than traditional hard-disk drives.

The 15.6-inch screen gives you excellent 4K resolution that's perfect for video calls, virtual meetings, digital art, and streaming media. The durable hinges allow you to easily transform the Spectre x360 from a traditional laptop to a tablet and back again whenever you need to.

The Bang & Olufsen speakers work with the HP Audio Boost technology to give you crystal-clear audio for both conference calls and listening to your favorite music as you work. And the 13-hour battery life makes it easy to tackle a long day at the office and catch up on your newest Netflix binge obsession before needing to charge the laptop.

Size: 15.6 inch | Resolution: 4K | CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i7 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX150 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB SDD | Touchscreen: Yes

"Instead of flat edges and square angles, the edges of this beauty are cut to reveal shining metal surfaces that catch the light and draw the eye." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best Portability: Dell XPS 13 9380

What We Like
  • 4K screen option

  • 2TB SSD

  • Stylish

What We Don't Like
  • 4K option has very short battery life

  • Expensive

While the Dell XPS 13 isn't the most lightweight laptop on the market, it's one of the most portable laptops that also doesn't skimp on performance. It's built around an Intel Core i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM for all the power you need to take on your work day. The 2TB SSD not only provides more than enough storage space, but you'll get fast file retrieval and program startup times.

You can choose either a 1080p HD or 4K screen for your XPS 13, though the 4K option has a shorter battery life. The 1080p option gives you up to 21 hours of use on a full charge while the 4K only gives you around 8 hours. The laptop is 0.46 inches thin, making it small enough to slip into a backpack or tote bag for your morning and evening commutes or a carry-on bag for business travel.

With three different color chassis to choose from (frost, rose gold, and silver), you can show off your personal style or have your new laptop match your office decor. The 13-inch screen has an ultra-narrow bezel, allowing it to fit into the footprint of an 11.9-inch chassis as well as provide an edge-to-edge picture that's great for work and entertainment.

Size: 13.3 inches | Resolution: 1080p HD or 4K | CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i7 | GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB DDR3 | Storage: 2TB SDD | Touchscreen: Yes 

"Cramming an incredibly high-resolution 4K display into a 13.3-inch frame might seem excessive, but wow, this is a stunning screen." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go
What We Like
  • Quick charge

  • Data encryption

  • Touchscreen

What We Don't Like
  • Limited storage

  • No 4K screen

  • Limited USB ports

ChromeOS-based laptops may not be as popular as their Windows or macOS counterparts, but they offer some solid options for business professionals looking for a balance of price, performance, and portability. The Google Pixelbook features a 13.3-inch 1080p HD screen that supports touch-based inputs, making it perfect for quickly panning images or scrolling through documents. It's built on an Intel Core m3 CPU and 8GB of RAM for plenty of power for typical office work, and a 64GB SSD gives you enough space for your most-used programs and files.

With ChromeOS, you get Google Assistant built into the laptop for hands-free voice controls. This is perfect for setting calendar reminders or searching the web without having to stop your work. The battery lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge, and just 20 minutes of charge time gives you up to 2 hours of use. This is perfect for topping up your battery while you're in a meeting, at lunch, or if you forgot to plug in your laptop overnight.

The integrated Titan C chip provides encryption protection for all of your data, and built-in anti-virus software protects your new laptop from malware and phishing scams.

Size: 13.3 inches | Resolution: 1080p HD | CPU: Intel Core m3 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 | Storage: 64GB SDD | Touchscreen: Yes  

"Google wins plenty of points on design with the PixelBook Go. Nearly everything about using this quiet, slim device is enjoyable." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Best Battery Life: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

What We Like
  • Great battery

  • Bluetooth

  • SSD

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • 4K display shortens battery life

  • Limited USB inputs

Whether you're an on-the-go professional or you put in long hours at the office, a long-lasting battery is important in any business laptop. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon has a 15-hour battery life, meaning you can work all day at the office and still catch a movie on Netflix after dinner before needing to charge your laptop.

The 14-inch screen produces 1440p HD resolution, meaning you'll get better colors, contrast, and detailing than a standard 1080p screen. The Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM give you all the power you need to tackle every day office tasks and big projects, and the 512GB SSD lets you store all your programs and files and access them quickly. An SSD also helps drastically reduce boot times, so you don't have to wait around for your laptop to start up to get started on work in the mornings.

This laptop also has Bluetooth connectivity for use with wireless peripherals such as mice or sharing files between your computer and mobile devices. If you need more storage and a better display, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon has storage options up to 2TB and a 4K screen available.

Size: 14 inches | Resolution: 1440p HD or 4K | CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB DDR3 | Storage: 512GB to 2TB SDD | Touchscreen: No

Final Verdict

The newest 13-inch MacBook Pro (view at Amazon) is built on the latest Apple M1 chip, which integrates the CPU, GPU, and neural engine into a single unit to save space and provide incredible processing power. With new Thunderbolt 4 connections, you can set up a secondary monitor with up to 6K resolution, charge mobile devices, or move files between storage devices at speeds up to 40GB per second.

About Our Trusted Experts:

Taylor Clemons is a tech writer who has written for IndieHangover, GameSkinny, TechRadar, The Inventory, and The Balance: Small Business. Taylor specializes in PC components, operating systems, and gaming console hardware.

Andrew Hayward specializes in smartphones, wearables, smart home tech, and video games. His work has been published by TechRadar, Macworld, and others.

Jordan Oloman is a Newcastle-based tech writer whose work has appeared in PC Gamer, TechRadar, Eurogamer, IGN, GamesRadar, and many other publications.

Jeremy Laukkonen is a tech writer and the creator of a popular blog and video game startup. He also ghostwrites articles for numerous major trade publications.

Jonno Hill is a writer who covers tech such as computers, gaming equipment, and cameras for Lifewire and publications including AskMen.com and PCMag.com.

Alice Newcome-Beill has been the associate commerce editor for Lifewire since December 2019. Her work has appeared on PCMag, PC Gamer, and GamesRadar. In her spare time, she enjoys building computers, emulating old software in DOSBox, and cycling.

What to Look for in a Business Laptop

Resolution and screen size - Unless you plan on investing in a portable monitor, this is one area where you don’t want to cut corners. The bare minimum resolution for a good business laptop is 1920 x 1080, and don’t go any smaller than a 15-inch screen unless you’re looking for a lightweight secondary laptop to supplement your main work machine.

Quality keyboard - One of the first things to suffer in the race to make laptops smaller, lighter, and more affordable is the keyboard. Do your fingers and wrists a favor and look for a business laptop with a snappy, responsive keyboard that’s big enough to avoid jamming your hands together uncomfortably.

Processing power - For general use, a dual-core processor and integrated graphics work just fine. If you need your laptop to do any heavy lifting, especially if you do video editing, 3D modeling, or any other demanding work, look for a laptop with a quad core processor and a discrete graphics card.

FAQs

What is a 2-in-1 laptop?

A 2-in-1 laptop, also sometimes known as a convertible laptop, is a portable computer that can be used either as a traditional laptop or as a tablet. A special hinge allows you to fold back the screen to take advantage of touchscreen features such as being able to hand-write notes or use the laptop as you would a smartphone or tablet. These types of laptops are perfect for creative professionals who work in digital art or for typical office work that may require multiple device types to tackle workloads. 

Can I upgrade laptop components on my own?

It really depends on the kind of laptop you have. Some brands, such as Apple, use integrated components that cannot be switched out by users. This means that when your laptop becomes slow or outdated, you usually have to just buy a completely new laptop. Others like HP and Dell often let users upgrade things such as RAM and hard drives, but use integrated graphics cards to save internal space and make the laptop thin and lightweight.

Which is better: integrated or discrete graphics?

Whether your graphics capabilities are decided by an integrated card or discrete unit, their functions are essentially the same. Integrated graphics are usually found in laptops or mini desktops where internal space is at a high premium and excess heat waste could cause serious damage. Dedicated video cards are often found in typical desktops and use much more power as well as their own memory storage. No matter which form of graphics card you choose, you have to make sure there is enough power to run programs you need or your favorite games.

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