Best Picks

The Best Business Laptops to Buy in 2018 For Getting Work Done on The Go

By Vaidyanathan Subramaniam / November 10, 2018

Purchasing a business laptop is not as straightforward as it used to be earlier. There are a plethora of options to choose from and OEMs include a lot of unique features to cater to the mobile business crowd. A business laptop should not only be able to get your work done without fuss but should also double up as an entertainment machine when you call it a day.

There are several factors that should be kept in mind while looking at a business laptop. This mostly applies if you use the laptop for your personal business or as a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) machine. Often, most enterprises provide a laptop to their executives, which then limits what can do with it. Nevertheless, a combination of build quality, hardware and software features, additional security features, certifications for specific programs, and the choice of operating system go a long way in influencing your purchase decision. Generally, most business laptops, especially mobile workstations, are certified to work well with certain apps and you should see if the OEM offers such qualification criteria customized for you. Most OEMs also offer tailored business plans for those purchasing these in bulk along with a committed period of service and software updates.

Whether you are buying a business laptop on your own or deciding for an organization, these recommendations below should help you make a sound decision and you really cannot go wrong with any of these. So, here are the 8 best business laptops you can buy in 2018.

1. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is one of the best convertibles one can buy today. It is powered by the highly efficient but powerful Intel Core i7-7Y75 CPU and can be configured in a variety of RAM and storage combinations. The 13.3-inch FHD touchscreen is Dell's signature Infinity Edge display, which means that there are almost no bezels. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is well endowed in terms of connectivity. You get a full speed Thunderbolt 3 port with PowerShare (can be used for charging USB devices even on standby) that allows you to hook up peripherals such as external monitors and eGPUs. Dell has taken care of the security aspect of the laptop and provides a TPM 2.0 chip that allows companies to fully encrypt the device. You also get a Windows Hello-compliant fingerprint reader for added login security.

Performance of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 for most business applications is excellent. The low TDP processor ensures that power usage is minimal for a long battery life. Dell also offers customized support plans for businesses who wish to deploy this laptop in their organization. However, this being a fanless laptop, it tends to throttle when the processor is tasked. That said, if your work primarily involves online tools or Microsoft Office, this is a great business laptop for the price.

2. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar

Those who swear by Apple's ecosystem will find a good business choice with the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar. The MacBook Pro features a 13-inch Retina Display that offers exceptional color accuracy for creative workflows. The integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics is way ahead of most other integrated Intel GPUs and is powerful enough to provide hardware acceleration in pro tools such as Final Cut Pro. The 2018 MacBook Pro 13-inch comes with the Touch Bar — a new way to interact with supported apps. Businesses will find peace of mind with the Apple T2 chip and Touch ID fingerprint recognition. The Apple T2 chip encrypts the on-device storage and offers a Secure Boot environment for the OS.

The latest MacBook Pro 13-inch comes with macOS Mojave that offers a great set of new features and enhanced productivity. Like all modern MacBooks, the MacBook Pro only offers Thunderbolt 3 ports for connecting peripherals so you need to purchase dongles to connect legacy USB and other devices such as external displays. The new generation Butterfly switch mechanism will take some time to get used to but if you already use an iPad and an iPhone, the MacBook Pro is the obvious choice for a great business laptop.

3. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is easily the best laptop for business students and business owners alike. The Surface Laptop 2 inherits the Surface design philosophy by putting pen and touch at the center for the user experience. The Surface Laptop 2 features the latest 8th generation Intel CPUs and can be configured in multiple RAM and storage variants. The keyboard now has an Alcantara layer over it that exudes a premium feel and is easy to clean. The 13.5-inch PixelSense display supports 10 simultaneous touch points and works with the latest Surface Pen to offer a great touchscreen experience.

Those who wish to use the Surface Laptop 2 exclusively for business can get a version that comes with Windows 10 Pro. You also get enterprise-grade security with the built-in TPM 2.0 module and the IR front cam allows facial recognition via Windows Hello for extra security. For professionals, this laptop can handle most apps such as Adobe CC, Ableton Live, Visual Studio, and more. The only downside is that there is no USB Type-C port or a card reader on this laptop, which might dampen the prospects for some.

4. Dell Precision 5520

For the ultimate mobile workstation experience, look no further than the Dell Precision 5520. The Precision series of notebooks are tested by independent software vendors (ISVs) for compatibility with industry standard software such as AutoCAD, 3DS Max, Maya, Solidworks etc. so you can take your most prized creations on the road without breaking a sweat. While most mobile workstations are bulky offerings given the powerful components inside, the Dell Precision 5520 offers the same power in a slim XPS-style chassis.

It offers a desktop-class HQ CPU, 32 GB RAM, and a massive 1 TB SSD. For driving the resource-hungry apps, there is a professional-grade NVIDIA Quadro M1200 onboard. You get both FHD and 4K UltraSharp display options that offer calibrated colors and 100% sRGB and Adobe RGB coverage. This being a workstation laptop, Dell offers professional warranty services not found in their consumer offerings. However, the Precision 5520 might not be for everyone especially considering the price. Although the HQ processor is very powerful, you will experience throttling under load due to the slim chassis.

5. Dell Latitude 7480

The Dell Latitude 7480 is one of the best laptops for small business owners as it offers great performance at a reasonable price. The quad-core U-series CPU offers enough power to sail through regular office work while still being friendly on the battery. The premium build components ensure that the Latitude is made to withstand the rigors of a mobile life. The 14-inch FHD screen offers sharp visuals — it's not the most accurate out there but works fine enough for basic photo editing and presentations.

The Latitude 7480 can be purchased using Dell's special business plans if you plan to deploy it across the organization. It comes with Windows 10 Pro pre-installed, which makes remote administration easy and business-centric features easily accessible. However, the Latitude 7480 does have a few shortcomings. The keyboard might not be up to everyone's taste and the trackpad lacks Precision drivers. Also, the SD card slot is only a microSD card reader, which means that for using most SD cards you will have to resort to a USB card reader.

6. Acer Swift 3

The Acer Swift 3 is easily the best business laptop under $1000. It offers great specs for a much lower entry price than competing offerings. The 8th generation Intel CPU offers great performance for most business tasks and is also geared suitably for entertainment purposes after a busy day. Unlike many other business notebooks, the Acer Swift 3 comes with a decent NVIDIA MX150 dedicated GPU that can game well at low to medium settings.

The Swift 3 is Skype for Business certified, which means that its microphone can modulate the voice and filters any background noise for clear communication. The only gripe is that the memory is soldered on the motherboard, which means that you'll have to plan your configuration during purchase. But the SSD can be upgraded to a faster one if needed. The keyboard works and feels great. The port selection is generous but there is no built-in Ethernet port. Overall, if you want a great value business laptop, look no further than the Acer Swift 3.

7. HP Spectre x360 15t

If you're looking for the best laptop for business and personal use, look no further than the HP Spectre x360 15t. The HP Spectre x360 is a powerful convertible and comes with the HP Active Stylus in the box. You get a powerful 8th gen Intel CPU, 16 GB RAM, and 1 TB SSD that should easily sail through most demanding apps. The NVIDIA MX150 allows for gaming at low to medium settings in most AAA games and more importantly, helps drive the 4K UHD display.

The HP Spectre x360 is well endowed with respect to connectivity. It offers enterprise-grade security via the TPM chip and Windows Hello face recognition. The 79.2 Wh battery offers all-day battery backup but users have complained about the ill-placed battery charging connector. It has been rectified in newer units, though so it shouldn't be an issue.

8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo is the OEM of choice for most businesses when it comes to equipping their employees with notebooks. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon offers the latest Intel 8th generation CPU with vPro for additional security. The keyboard is a characteristic Lenovo and is one of the best keyboards one can find in a laptop. The 14-inch FHD display offers excellent color reproduction and the long battery life is perfect for getting work done on the go.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon also offers a great build quality and can withstand the travails of daily use. Performance is top-notch and if you are a ThinkPad fan, this is the laptop to get.

Final Words

Dear readers, those were some of our recommendations for the best business laptops to buy in 2018. Remember that while almost any decently-specced laptop will be able to run most modern business apps, business laptops offer additional enterprise-centric features such as security, management, special on-site support, and more reliable hardware than their consumer counterparts.

What hope these laptops will fulfill your business needs but feel free to let us know if you'd like to see other models featured in this list. Also, if you have any additional questions, do let us know in the comments below and we'll do our best to respond at the earliest.

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