When you’re thinking about what might be the best laptop for use in your business, you need one which is far more than just a device to send e-mails and connect to the internet. Your new laptop also has to be sturdy enough to take those bumps and knocks, it needs to be super-reliable and be just as easy to use whether you’re at home, in the office, on an aeroplane or working at an event.
In a nutshell, you require a laptop which will provide you with the power you need and features the latest internal components as well as the best productivity features. A long battery life is also important for those times when you’re on the go, as there’s not always a power source nearby. It’s also worth considering which accessories you’ll need such as laptop bags, docking stations and portable chargers.
What kind of laptop are you looking for?
Windows laptops are the most common, of course, but sometimes a Linux laptop could be more useful. A rugged laptop is needed for outdoor use, and students may prefer a Chromebook. Whether you’re a city high-flier or a one-man band, you need to consider a variety of things. To make your decision much easier, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow guide to help you save yourself hours of research. Let’s take a look at how to pick the best business laptop.
Set your budget
The best way to get the most from your tech spending is to set yourself a clear budget limit before you begin. Otherwise, it’s far too easy to keep upgrading and then when you get to the final costs, you realise you can’t actually afford it. A strict budget is good. Not every business requires a fleet of high-end laptops and, to be honest, it’s a waste of time anyway if they are well out of your budget. You just have to make sure you get equipment which can provide what your employees need.
One approach to buying tech is to adopt different tiers of devices based on user needs. For example, it may be worthwhile to buy top-of-the range Dell laptops for your executives and development team, mid-range laptops for your professional staff, and entry-level devices for support staff.
Another good piece of advice is to stick to one or two brands as this simplifies maintenance needs in the future. If you have creative professionals in the business, it may be that they need Apple Macs, which are not necessary for other employees.
If you’re not totally sure how to strike a balance between cost and quality, check out our breakdown of laptop budget ranges and work out your range based on the types of employees you have:
£300 and under: In this price range you’ll find low-end Chromebooks and Windows laptops. Computers in this range are not really recommended for business users as they typically have limited storage, slower performance and a cheaper-build quality.
£300 – £500: Here you’ll find Chromebooks and good Windows laptops. Chromebooks are more advantageous in this range because they have far less storage (which can be expensive), so they can stay at a lower price without sacrificing on build and display. This means you can get a very good quality Chromebook device for your money. Laptops in this range are ideal for staff using Microsoft Office, browsing the web and posting on social media. So, for basic admin and office tasks, this price range will do the trick.
£500 – £800: This is the price range which will meet most professional businesses user’s needs. Memory and storage – along with a processor powerful enough for multitasking, charts and video presentations. Work laptops in this category typically feature advanced security features which are perfect for business protection – sometimes including fingerprint scanners. Laptops in this price range tend to have excellent battery life, advanced keyboards and quality displays.
£800 and upwards: Laptops in this range will provide much more power than ones in the lower price brackets. Powerful workstations are also in this category. This is the best price range for users such as development and design teams and executives who want to project a certain image. You’ll get super-fast performance and top-end designs for the ultimate in portable power.
Let’s now presume you’ve set your budget and you’re ready to proceed and search based on cost. Try and keep to your budget – looking at laptops outside your budget will not do you any good, so try and avoid it!
The next step: Choosing an operating system
The likelihood is that you’ll be choosing between the Chrome and Windows operating systems – unless you’re a Mac fan of course. There are actually three different primary operating systems and we’re going to talk you through each one. If you’re still not sure after reading our guide, then we suggest you go for a Windows system. It’s the business standard around the world for a reason.
Windows 10 OS
As we’ve mentioned, Windows 10 OS is the standard for work laptop operating systems and so if you go with the Windows system, then you’ll have a much bigger choice of laptops.
The latest version of Windows comes with a new range of outstanding features to help boost your productivity. From Cortana (Microsoft’s virtual assistant) to Microsoft Teams, you’ll be at the cutting edge of the latest in communications.
Most people have used or are using Windows, so familiarity is a huge benefit. Also, the majority of IT professionals know how to provide support for Windows programs, which is another thing in its favour.
Apple OS X
Many Apple fans are more than willing to pay a premium for a brilliant device with a well-designed interface, and we can’t blame them! Creative professionals favour Apple laptops for their high screen quality, function keys and ability to run programs such as Avid, Maya and Dreamweaver.
It’s personal preference whether or not you opt for a computer running Apple OS X. It also depends on how much you are comfortable spending. Sometimes it may be that your business uses a software product which can only run on a Mac and so it’s always worth talking to IT experts about operating system and software compatibility issues before buying new laptops. Apple laptops undoubtedly have a cool image, and if you operate in an industry where looks count then this may contribute to your final decision.
Google’s Chrome OS is quite new compared to other operating systems, so many people aren’t really sure what to expect from it. The first thing you need to know is that you can’t download programs on a Chromebook, but thanks to cloud-based programs such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Powerpoint, Excel and Microsoft Word, the appeal of Chromebooks is widening with business owners and entrepreneurs part of a growing number of users. If you’re comfortable up there in the cloud then a Chromebook could be the device for you. Also, you don’t have to worry about updates as they automatically update themselves, leaving you with time to focus on what’s important.
Do you want a traditional laptop or a hybrid?
Standard laptops are the ones you’re already familiar with. They have a hinges and fold shut. Hybrid laptops are different. They are also known as convertible laptops or 2-in-1s. These are laptops which double as stand-alone tablets.
Hybrid laptops can vary. Some have screens which detach from the keyboard, whilst others have hinges which allow you to fold the laptop inside out and use it as a tablet. If you have employees who are on the road and have a need for multiple tasks such as standard typing on a keyboard along with the need for stylus and touchscreen, then a hybrid might be a good choice. As 2-in-1s have high-specs, you are likely to pay a higher price than a standard hinged laptop with the same specs.
Should a good keyboard be a priority?
It’s easy to overlook the extras such as keyboards and mice when you’re looking for a laptop. Keyboard comfort should be an important factor for business users as an uncomfortable keyboard can end up hampering production. When looking for your laptop, bear in mind that the smaller the laptop, the smaller the keyboard – and typing on a small keyboard for several hours at a time can cause tiredness and repetitive strain injuries.
If possible, test out the keyboard and experience how it actually feels. If it turns out that you select a laptop with a less-than-idea keyboard, then you can also buy a separate keyboard for those long sessions, so there are other options.
How portable does your laptop need to be?
If you are constantly on the road, and travelling to different places it may well be worth sacrificing laptop size to have a lighter computer. You can check the weight of a laptop in the product specifications section. If you have to carry around a laptop for long periods of time, then you’ll need a good quality laptop bag to help you distribute the weight.
When you’re looking at the specifications information, remember that laptop screens are measured diagonally (corner to corner, like TV screens are) and that as a general rule, anything which weighs less than 3 pounds is classed as portable for business travel.
An important factor is that you need to make sure your laptop has the ports you require (for connecting other devices and peripherals) and a battery life which means you can work effectively if you’re not close to a power source. You will also have to think of an additional power pack for emergencies.
Do you really need a touchscreen?
If you’re going to use your touchscreen a lot then it may be worth your while. They are very convenient, but also come with a cost. They are almost always more expensive than laptops without them.
You might not know this, but a laptop with a touchscreen burns through a lot more power – even if you’re not actually using it. Another thing to mention is that touchscreens are heavier than standard screens. The best advice we can give is: Get a laptop with a touchscreen (or stylus support) if you NEED it – but don’t get one just because it sounds like a nifty add-on.
Do you need a rugged laptop?
A rugged laptop is one which is built to withstand more testing conditions, and that’s essential for some businesses which operate in remote conditions. Rugged laptops are very popular with public service professionals such as police, fire service and conservation workers. Industries such as the oil, fishing and construction areas also tend to go for the top-of-the-range Toughbook.
Rugged laptops often come with a range of accessories such as vehicle battery packs and vehicle mounts. They are also usually waterproof, drop-proof and you can also use them whilst wearing gloves! One thing to bear in mind is that they are much heavier than a standard laptop. They’re usually larger and clunkier – but, then again, you should probably expect that from a rugged laptop. The price for a rugged laptop can be quite a bit higher than a standard laptop.
Most business don’t need rugged laptops. But if your business does, then don’t waste your time looking at standard laptops as they will not withstand the bumps and grinds you anticipate.
Compare the specs
Hopefully by now you’ll have got your eye on one or two laptops which are within your budget and which also have the operating system to fit your needs. Now it’s a matter of the specs. If you’re not a ‘techie’ – and most people aren’t, then it can seem really complicated. Let’s simplify everything.
Take a look at the specification information with each laptop and you’ll see the laptops CPU (central processing unit) listed. A CPU is like your car’s engine – it drives your car, but there’s no point in getting one that’s massively powerful if you’re never going to go above 30mph. It’s a case of getting enough power you need, as buying too much power will be costly and unnecessary. Here are some general guidelines to help you:
Low-end CPUs: These include the Intel Atom, AMD E Series, Intel Pentium and Intel Celeron. If all you are doing are general typing activities and surfing the internet, then a low-end CPU should be fine – but they won’t be powerful for day-to-day business use.
Mid-range CPUs: These include Intel; i3, i5 and i7 or their Ryzen equivalents. You can expect to see CPUs such as these in most mid-range business laptops. These are fine for most work projects (designers and creatives will look at MacBooks of course). Emailing, word docs, spreadsheets – this CPU range should be sufficient. If you regularly need more power for things like presentations and videos, go for that option.
Intel Core i3 and i5 CPU processors are very popular with businesses, and for good reason. If your business uses programs such as QuickBooks whilst managing huge spreadsheets in Excel whilst you have large numbers of tabs open, a Core i5 is a better choice than an i3. If your business streams media, uses photography, posts to social media and uses the usual programs such as Outlook then a Core i3 will probably suffice.
High-end CPUs: A powerful processor doesn’t always mean better performance. To put this in very basic terms, here’s an analogy to consider: Imagine taking a bag of shopping (your Core i3 or i5) in your car. If you took the bag of shopping in a much more powerful car would it make a difference? Of course not. So, if you have tasks to do on your laptop, you only need the amount of power to do them. Excess power doesn’t necessarily mean better performance, like in the example we’ve just used.
So, let’s translate this into high-end processors. If you’re not going to be doing things such as video editing or 3D modelling, you really don’t need a high-end processor, and even if you do, it won’t necessarily improve your experience. However, if these power-needing tasks are needed for your business, a Core i7 could well be for you.
Let’s imagine you have an unlimited budget for a business laptop. Wouldn’t that be nice?! If you want optimum power then the Intel Xeon can provide it. However, you only need to go for this option if you have professionals who work in areas such as highly intensive data science, vector-based processing and hardcore analytics. The simple ‘rule’ is that if you don’t know what these terms are, you don’t need an Intel Xeon. It’s always a good idea to talk to your key workers and they can also guide you as to what they need. Generally, an i7 or an i9 will be more than enough power in the best business laptops.
Memory and storage
Every laptop will have one of two basic types of memory and storage. There’s random access memory (RAM) and there’s also your hard disk drive (HDD – also called a hard drive). Some computers have a solid-state drive (SSD) as well as an HDD for long term storage. Some laptops just have an SSD to handle long-term storage. It does sound a little complicated, but hang in there, and we’ll explain.
SSDs are growing more and more popular for storage as they are faster than HDD, which in simple terms means that your laptop will run faster, making your life easier! SSDs are also much sturdier and rugged than standard hard drives, making them the choice for rugged laptops. So, SSDs are probably the way to go.
SSDs, HDD, Cores, RAM, it can all seem a bit confusing – especially if you just want to know: is it a good laptop and will it do what I want it to? You really don’t need to go in to the technicalities much. Here’s how to work out if the laptop you’re thinking about has enough memory and storage for your business:
RAM: Don’t think about laptops which only have 2GB RAM, they’ll be too frustrating to work on. 4GB is much better, and 8GB is even better still. 16GB is fabulous – but not necessary for most business users. Sorted!
HDD/SDD: A combined storage capacity in the region of 512GB should be more than sufficient, unless you’re doing lots of video editing and need to store large amounts of footage on your laptop. These storage suggestions are aimed at business users purchasing Windows or Apple devices. Chromebooks have a lot less hard drive space, but this is not an issue if you’re happy using the cloud and running mobile apps.
How often will your laptop be used without access to a power source? For some, battery life will be unimportant – but for others it could make all the difference to which laptop they buy. When you look at what the manufacturers tell you about their battery life, remember that this is only an estimate. You can usually buy extended-life batteries which can extended the battery life of a laptop. Remember that additional battery packs will also add weight.
Are you ready?
Hopefully you’ve now narrowed down the choice of best business laptops, based on what you need and what your budget is. Don’t forget to find the best business laptops you can always consult our Solutions Team by calling 01430 433671.