Professional laptop: a selection of the best models
Choosing a business laptop requires looking at the nature of your job. The working conditions and the frequency of daily use require reliable and efficient equipment. For recurring mobility needs, choose lightweight, compact laptops that are easy to store in a carrying case. On the move, as in the office, it is important to ensure perfect ergonomics, especially with a responsive touchpad and the integration of a numeric keyboard.
Just like for a laptop PC for personal use, you can find out about the graphics card, the storage capacity of the internal hard drive (expressed in GB or TB), not to mention the RAM (GB RAM). As for the processor model, check the number of cores. This technical characteristic makes it possible to determine the number of simultaneous tasks authorized without affecting the performance of your computer hardware.
How we selected them
Even though buying a best business laptop is somewhat different from buying an ultrabook, the most important things remain the same:
• Performance: For most needs, a good computer should offer at least 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB or more SSD, and a quad-core processor, tenth generation Intel Core i5 or i7 or AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 from the 4000 series. If you have more specific needs, like a more powerful GPU to handle images, you can check out our review of the best laptops for video and photo.
• An excellent keyboard: Business computers are essentially made for documents and spreadsheets. They, therefore, have very good keyboards, with comfortable layouts and a suitable typing stroke. We much prefer models with backlighting.
• An excellent pointing system: Of course, a professional model is robust, but it will not survive if you throw it against the wall because of a recalcitrant touchpad! We prefer the Microsoft Precision touchpads, which are precise and compatible with Windows 10 multi-finger gestures. Other pointing systems, like a mini-joystick in the middle of the keyboard, are welcome bonuses but not essential.
• A 14-inch Full HD IPS screen: we prefer 14-inch laptops: while being more compact and lightweight than the 15-inch, they are more comfortable than the 13-inch for editing text or spreadsheets. A Full HD (1080p) screen displays crisp text and images and leaves space for additional information. An IPS panel (rather than a TN panel ) generally offers better color accuracy and wider viewing angles. Higher definitions are sometimes available, but it drains the battery.
• Complete connectivity: for optimal flexibility, we have favored devices with old and new ports. To be selected, models had to have at least one USB-C port (which allows you to plug in external displays, charge the computer, and connect peripherals), a USB-A port, and an HDMI port. We didn’t require an SD or Micro SD card reader, or an Ethernet jack, but we definitely prefer to have one. Thunderbolt 3 was optional, as were additional display outputs like DisplayPort and VGA.
• Long battery life: A battery that lasts eight hours (either a working day or a medium-haul flight with the wait at the airport) is a suitable goal. Business computers hardly have removable batteries anymore.
• Reasonable size and weight: Professional equipment is often larger and heavier than ultrabooks, partly because of more robust construction and because replaceable components for updates and repairs take up more space than components welded. However, all models tested for this guide weigh less than 2kg and many even stay under 1.6kg.
• Scalable and serviceable: We looked at a few slim and lightweight ultrabook-style models, but the majority of those we tested are designed to be easily opened and maintained. It must be possible to reach the SSD and battery slots without excessive effort; Having at least one accessible RAM slot and being able to change the Wi-Fi card are bonuses. ¹ The keyboard or other parts should be replaceable without having to completely disassemble the computer or change other components.
• Competitive price (if not affordable): these models are a little more expensive than consumer ultrabooks and entry-level laptops. Prices vary wildly across discounts and sales transactions, but typically a good business laptop costs around $ 1,000 and a great model goes up to around $ 1,500. Since they are designed to evolve, you may be able to save on memory and storage if you are willing to change them yourself later. In addition, simpler upgrades and repairs mean that business notebooks can be profitable long-term investments, despite their initial cost.
• A fingerprint reader or IR camera to simplify connection: Most of these laptops may include a fingerprint reader for a nominal charge, and some offer an infrared camera to recognize your face. Advances in technology and the Windows Hello feature in Windows 10 make biometric identification more reliable and predictable than in the past.
Almost all of the models reviewed are made by Lenovo, Dell, and HP – they are the only manufacturers that have built and maintained a line of dedicated business computers. We have still looked at a few models from Acer, Asus, Fujitsu, and Toshiba in the past.
How we tested them
We used each model for at least two days for routine work: loading and using over 20 browser tabs, relying heavily on Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Slack, while reading music and videos. This gave us an idea of the quality of the keyboard, trackpad, screen, and general performance of each machine for the usual tasks.
In order to test the batteries, we used a Spyder5Pro colorimeter to adjust the backlighting of each screen to achieve a measured brightness of 150 nits (candelas per square meter), then looped through a battery of web browsing tests, alternating normal pages, email, Google Docs and videos. We performed this protocol twice on each device and retained the average of the results.
We’ve also removed the bottom cover of each computer to keep track of how many screws (or other items) you’ll need to remove to access memory, storage, and battery for possible upgrades or repairs. Changing the components of a professional laptop should be easier than on consumer ultrabooks. That said, replacing a screen, motherboard or keyboard can still void the warranty, so we haven’t tested these more onerous operations ourselves.