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With the Acer Aspire E 15, you don’t have to compromise on performance for a better price. For less than $500, the E 15 packs a powerful 8th generation Intel Core i3 processor, along with 6GB of RAM and 1TB HDD. The 15.6-inch screen features full 1080p resolution, but the colors and vibrancy leave something to be desired. The E 15 is unquestionably a work laptop: built with a durable poly-carbonate plastic and featuring plenty of port space, for USB 3.0, 2.0, and Type-C, Ethernet, HDMI, along with an SD card reader and a DVD slot. The laptop even includes a numeric keypad, which business professionals will surely appreciate. It also boasts a long-lasting 13.5-hour battery life.
The Microsoft Surface 2 makes for a great alternative to a MacBook, promising similar specs at a slightly lower cost. The Surface 2 is fairly similar to its predecessor, but with a couple of improvements. Just like the first model, its dimensions are 12.13 x 8.79 x 0.96 inches and it weighs just 2.76 pounds. The 13.5-inch screen also features 2256 x 1504 resolution (201ppi), with the same deep shadows and sharp, vibrant colors.
The big difference between the Surface 2 and the original is in the hardware. Microsoft boasts faster processing speeds and a silent cooling system that makes it seem like your laptop is hardly working. One of the major draws of the Surface 2 is the option to choose your own specs. At its least expensive configuration, it offers an 8th-generation Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD. Microsoft also provides detailed descriptions for each of these specs to help buyers gauge which configuration best suits their needs. Customers can also choose from four stylish colors: black, platinum, burgundy, and cobalt blue.
The only downside we can find is the outdated port space. The Surface 2 offers a USB 3.0 port and a mini DisplayPort, but it doesn’t have a standard USB 3.1 input. But if your everyday work doesn’t involve importing files from external devices — or if you plan on using the Surface as more of a portable device — then this shouldn’t be a huge problem. It’s also worth noting that the Surface 2 boasts a 14.5-hour battery life, but many users are reporting it lasts closer to 5.5 hours with regular use.
Although operating system choices sometimes drive which laptop you’ll be able to use for business purposes — sometimes you’re just stuck with Windows whether you like it or not. If you have the option, Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro is a sleek and solid laptop that will serve you well whether you’re at your desk, in the boardroom, or flying across the country. For the latter, it’s especially noteworthy, since its unibody aluminum design makes it one of the most solid and durable laptops you can get in a professional-looking chassis.
Under the hood, there’s more than enough power to handle all of your business applications. Whether that means writing up proposals in Microsoft Word, crunching numbers in Excel, collating research data, or working on a marketing campaign, the 2.4GHz (up to 4.1GHz with Turbo Boost) 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor will be more than up to the task. You also get your choice of a 256GB or 512GB SSD, plus 8 GB of memory, but you can configure these up to 16 GB RAM and a 2 TB SSD should you need more headroom. With four Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports available, however, it’s also well-suited to hooking up more storage later down the line.
Although it’s arguably not needed for all business applications, we think you’ll appreciate Apple’s True Tone Retina display as well. The higher resolution and 500 nits of brightness will ensure that all of your work is crystal clear and helps to reduce eye strain, and the wide P3 gamut makes all of the colors pop. A 720p FaceTime HD webcam built into the lid will cover all of your video conferencing needs while the OLED Touch Bar, having supplanted the function keys, lets you customize macros in a number of apps.
Can't decide which MacBook Pro configuration suits your workflow best? Our round-up of the best MacBook Pro models can help you find what you're looking for.
Don’t let the size of the Surface Go fool you — this little computer packs a big punch. Running a full version of Windows 10, the Go is ideal for buyers looking for a wallet-friendly computer with 2-in-1 capabilities. Weighing in at just over a pound, the Go is a super portable introduction to the convertible laptop-tablet market that, as the name suggests, is ready to go wherever you want to take it.
Microsoft's attachable Type Cover keyboard accessory is a necessity for business users, transforming this tablet into a fully-functioning laptop. And while the Type Cover adds a tiny bit of weight, it makes it easy to switch between tablet and laptop mode. The kickstand on the rear of the device helps you find the best viewing angle for typing, reading, or watching.
The 10-inch PixelSense display has full touchscreen capabilities and is compatible with the Microsoft Surface Pen, which can be extremely handy if you use a stylus for design work or want to use the Go as a digital notebook. The Intel Pentium Gold processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of SSD storage provides more than enough power for running basic web apps, a web browser, and streaming movies. If portability, versatility, and price are your priorities, the Surface Go is a cutting-edge device that checks all the boxes.
It’s not often that you hear the word “lightweight” used to describe a 15-inch laptop, but the LG Gram is the exception. The metal alloy that makes up the computer’s exterior is lighter than the traditional materials seen in laptops these days. At only 2.2 pounds, this is one of the lightest consumer laptops on the market. At 0.6 inches thin, it’s also one of the thinnest. Put through seven military-grade tests, LG claims the Gram can withstand shock, vibration, and just about anything else your daily commute can throw at it.
Inside, you'll find an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor as well as 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The 15.6-inch display sports a resolution of 1920 x 1080 so your screen is always clear and sharp, whether you're looking at spreadsheets or watching a movie.
As thin as it is, LG still managed to pack in USB 3.0, HDMI, and USB-C ports. There’s also a slot for microSD cards as well as a headphone/microphone combo jack. The 72Wh battery can run for up to 16.5 hours, which puts also puts the Gram quite a ways ahead of the competition.
If you’ve got a decent budget and you’re in the market for a PC, you have plenty of machines to pick from. When shopping, put things in perspective a little: think of your purchase as an investment, as the laptop will make you and your business money. That in mind, our splurge pick goes to the HP Spectre x360 15t — an ultra-premium laptop that offers the build quality of a MacBook and the professional feature set of an HP.
For starters, the x360 is built around an 8th-gen Intel Quad-Core i7 affording speeds of 1.8 GHz (turbo-charged up to 4 GHz). There’s a NVIDIA GeForce MX150 Graphics processor with 2GB of its own dedicated RAM and the computer’s central RAM is 16GB, giving you plenty of temporary storage headroom. There’s also an astounding 1TB solid state driving, which affords you tons of space and the performance value of flash storage. The 15-inch screen is full 4K at a resolution of 3840 x 2160, which is really the best you can expect from a laptop. Plus, it flips around into a tablet, so there are plenty of touch functions to add in. It all comes in a sleek, gold package that weighs less than 5 pounds so it’ll be an easy addition to your laptop bag.
If you're looking for something a little more affordable and portable, the Asus Chromebook Flip is a strong contender. The ChromeOS is packed with features and tools that can help you tackle whatever your work demands (especially if you often use Google Docs). Featuring a sleek aluminum casing, the device’s 360-degree hinge and 12.5-inch touchscreen let you use it as either a tablet or laptop. It also boasts a battery life of up to 10 hours, meaning you can run between meetings without worrying about your laptop dying. It runs on a powerful and seamless Intel Core Processor with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. For all-day connectivity, the Chromebook Flip is equipped with 802.1ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It also weighs just 2.65 pounds, has a comfortably-sized keyboard, and includes built-in anti-virus protection and automatic updates to keep your device — and your data — safe.
When it comes to laptops that let you take your work anywhere you go, the Dell XPS 13 does so with style and substance. At 2.7 pounds, the 13-inch ultraportable is quite light, though not the lightest device out there. But with a thickness of 0.46 inches that tapers down to 0.3 inches at the thinnest point, it’s hard to find a slimmer laptop with as much performance. You can easily pack it up and use it throughout the work day without needing a charge. Battery life is listed at 21 hours for normal productivity work on a 1080p display—opting for the 4K touchscreen version may cap you off closer to 8 hours.
Any screen option will give you a vibrant in-plane switching (IPS) display, and the super-slender bezels of the “InfinityEdge” design help it fit impressively into a footprint of 11.9 x 7.8 inches. With platinum silver, frost, or rose gold exteriors available, the XPS 13 proves a laptop can be sleek and classy while still being a serious business machine. At the top end of the many hardware options available are a powerful yet ultraportable-friendly Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 2TB SSD hard drive.
As Chromebooks grow in popularity, they've become streamlined, increasingly capable devices that can make great business laptops. Samsung's Chromebook Plus 2-in-1 is a lightweight and versatile device that doesn't offer quite the same level of processing power as a typical laptop, but compensates for it with a convertible laptop-to-tablet design that's ultra-portable and great for businesspeople on the go. It has a 12.2-inch display with 1900 x 1200 resolution that, when in laptop mode, is slightly smaller than a typical laptop screen. Fold back the keyboard and this display becomes a nicely-sized tablet.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus really is two devices in one — you get all the benefits of a tablet including touchscreen capabilities, an included stylus, easy app downloads from the Google Play Store, and a 13MP rear and front-facing camera. Plus, you also all the hardware benefits of a laptop including a full keyboard, an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. This, of course, makes it a bit heavier than a typical tablet (it weighs just under three pounds) but is still lighter than most laptops.
If you often travel or commute long distances for work, this Chromebook is the perfect lightweight companion for your work bag or carry-on. Answer your emails or touch up a presentation in laptop mode, then flip the keyboard around to watch Netflix during the last leg of your flight. It's the perfect balance of work and play.
If you spend a good portion of the day away from a charger, finding a laptop with good battery life is a major priority. Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Carbon can keep going throughout your workday with a solid balance of portability and power. This laptop has almost 15 hours of battery life with continuous use — even if your work extends well beyond an average day at the office, there's still power left after-hours.
Everything about the X1 meets and exceeds the ThinkPad’s legendary quality. The 14-inch WQHD display adds a 2560 x 1440 resolution for plenty of workspace. The Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage can facilitate seamless app-switching and multitasking.
Our writers spent 110 hours researching and testing the most popular business laptops on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.
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.
Extensive battery life
Issues with internet connectivity
Lots of pre-installed software
A little bulky
Our testers loved this laptop for its overall quality and budget-friendly price. “It offers a quality display, relatively high speeds, an easy set-up, and a great operating system (Windows 10),” one of our reviewers declared. Our testers also liked the battery life: “It charges up quickly, and on a full charge, it lasted me 8 hours of on-and-off use throughout the work day,” noted one of our reviewers. In terms of downsides, one of our testers had issues with the laptop disconnecting from the internet and also didn’t like all of the pre-installed software. One of our reviewers also wished it were lighter. Bottom line: “For an everyday budget laptop, this is a great choice,” one of our testers advised.
Good battery life
Bottom gets warm
This laptop came highly recommended by our testers for its stylish design and functionality. One of our reviewers called it “gorgeous” and “more intuitive than any PC” she’s previously used. “I'd especially note that certain aspects of the computer, such as the keyboard, are actually better than the newest iteration of Apple's hardware,” raved one of our testers. Other pluses, according to our reviewers, included a long battery life, “crisp and clear” display, and great audio. While one of our testers wished it were lighter, she still considered it super portable. One of our reviewers also mentioned that the bottom heated up, but “the keyboard and trackpad did not get warm.”