Business Laptop Buying Guide

By
Kayla Harrison
,
business.com Writer
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Oct 21, 2019
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As our world becomes ever more connected, you need a professional laptop that gets the job done whether you're in a meeting, on a business trip or working from the comfort of home. The best laptop for work is more than just a laptop in a business suit; there are functional differences between consumer and business-class systems.

The basics are more essential than ever, so powerful processing, a healthy RAM allotment and capable graphics are a must. But you also want something with long battery life and durable construction to keep you productive on the go. Ports and connections are necessities, and security features like fingerprint logins and support for authentication badges take on increased importance. The best business laptops do more than help you do your work – they prevent problems and eliminate downtime.

Business Laptops: Important Features

The right business laptop can be the difference between successful work and unprofitable frustration. No matter what your business needs, there is a laptop out there that offers the right combination of performance and features, letting you work quickly and use whatever accessories and security you need.

Performance

When it comes to getting work done, everything starts with processor performance. For optimal performance, look for models that not only have speedy processors but also pair the processor with lots of memory. RAM is where your laptop stores temporary data for quick access. Memory impacts how many data-intensive programs you can run and how fast you can run them, either by aiding peak performance or by slowing down performance if too little memory is installed.

Graphics performance is also key, especially for any work that requires complex visuals, whether it's editing photos and videos or rendering graphs and digital models. Most basic work machines come with Intel's integrated graphics solution, which handles all graphics rendering through a dedicated portion of the processor. This is enough to handle basic video playback, presentations and even some photo editing.

Design

Battery life is related to the overall performance, as it lets you stay productive on the go, away from a power outlet. A longer-lasting battery is better, giving you more time to work between charges.

Portability is also a major point of distinction. Some systems, like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, are slim and light, weighing under 3 pounds. These devices are designed to offer unparalleled portability. Others emphasize stationary performance over the ability to pick up and go, tipping the scales at up to 4.5 pounds. Lighter laptops are easier for professionals on the move to pack and carry.

Display

The display on a business laptop directly impacts your productivity. High-resolution displays fit more pixels per inch than their lower-resolution counterparts, letting you see more on the screen. A higher resolution is better because it displays clearer detail in images and sharper, more readable text. High-quality displays also prevent eye strain, which is a real concern when you work on a laptop for hours at a time.

What Else Is Important in a Business Laptop?

While those core factors have the largest impact on your laptop's overall performance, there are several other specifications and features to think about.

Storage

Storage is an important element to consider, as it determines how many programs and documents your computer can hold, and limitations here can inhibit your ability to do your job. The style of drive is of some importance: Traditional hard drives (HDDs) have higher storage capacities, but solid-state drives (SSDs) have faster overall performance and are better suited to mobile use.

When deciding how much storage space you require, consider your business needs. For instance, 128GB of space is enough to support your operating system. Windows 10 Pro uses a full 30GB of space on its own and leaves nearly 100GB free for software and storage. That may be enough for your day-to-day work, but if you routinely deal with large files, you may want to step up to a 500GB or 1TB drive. When in doubt, opt for more storage space.

Connectivity

Connectivity is another must-have for any business laptop. Wi-Fi is standard on all current PCs, but some offices require a wired Ethernet connection for accessing a secure network. Business travelers may also want to look for built-in Ethernet, since some hotels don't offer Wi-Fi or have slower speeds for wireless users. Another consideration for travelers is mobile broadband. Much like with a smartphone, using a SIM card and a data contract, you can access an internet connection anywhere your phone gets a signal.

Help and Support

Take a look at the support options for each laptop. Many business laptops have a standard warranty that extends beyond the basic one-year coverage of a consumer system, and warranty extensions are always available for longer and more comprehensive coverage.

Watch for things like onsite support, in which a support person comes to you to get things back up and running, or remote access, which lets an authorized support person access a troubled system directly and fix things right away. Accidental damage protection gives you some peace of mind by offering extra coverage for things like spills and drops, which aren't included in the basic warranty. Because your data is especially valuable to your business, some coverage plans even include asset recovery services to restore damaged or corrupted drives.

Security

Other features of interest to business users are security tools. A built-in fingerprint reader provides unique biometric security for logins, and smart card readers work with security badges for authorized computer access.

Types of Business Laptops and Prices

While the term "business laptops" broadly covers all the various laptop models that you can purchase for your office or company, there are a few distinctions within that category. Standard business laptops take the traditional laptop design and simply apply it to business use, but that's not the only option on the market.

For the most powerful kind of system around, you may want to look for a mobile workstation, such as the HP ZBook 15u G3, which boasts high-end processing and graphics capabilities. It can also be customized for seriously demanding computing. These sorts of systems are used in a variety of industries, including financial analysis and computer animation, and generally have more computing power than most business users need. These systems can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 or more.

Ultrabooks slim down the traditional laptop with ultraportable designs and feature energy-efficient components for extended battery life. Systems like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon measure 0.7 inches thick or less and weigh significantly less than normal laptops. That thin and light design means that your laptop can easily slip into a bag for a commute or business trip. Ultrabooks cost around $700 to about $1,500.

A few models on the market are more than just laptops, with two-in-one designs that combine laptop and tablet functionality. These convertible laptops, like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, are not only thin and light, but also easy to use on the go, making them extremely useful for travelers and commuters who need to get work done along the way. These can cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000 depending on the features of the one you choose. 

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