Our evaluation process is straightforward – start with the best in class lineups from such vendors as Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. and narrow down the list based on cost, performance, battery life, productivity features and support among others. Most businesses manage their hardware and purchasing based on a fixed lifecycle or technology refresh schedule. In my personal experience and where I work now, this has typically been around 3 years. This helps with budgeting and projecting fixed costs for the business when it comes to hardware acquisition.
Factors To ConsiderSo what do you look for when considering buying a business laptop that should work well in terms of the needs of the organization and its users for the next few years? This, of course, will be different for each business, but certain factors tend to remain constant. Here is what I would consider important when it comes to purchasing several PCs for your business:
- Battery life
The above characteristics do not comprise a complete list and each business would assign different weights to each of the items listed above based on its own specific needs. Therefore, for the purposes of this guide, we will focus our attention on these five and let you decide which of these matters more to you when it comes to making your selection.
CostI have seen managers and other admin people involved with equipment purchasing decisions base their selection solely on price, believing they would be saving the business money in the end by purchasing the cheapest laptops they could find. While this may have worked at some point in the past, this is an overly simplistic and in my view a shortsighted approach to computer purchasing in general and laptop purchasing in particular. Why do I say that? Well, let us consider the impact of these mobile systems.
Firstly, with a highly mobile workforce, it is imperative that the equipment selected realistically match their needs because once this investment is made, there is no really easy way to make changes as was the case with desktop computers where extra memory could be added easily or a hard drive swapped out, etc. While not technically impossible to do with a laptop, it is progressively more difficult, expensive, time consuming and ultimately more disruptive to the end user to do this after the equipment has already been purchased and deployed.
Secondly, purchasing the cheapest possible computer hardware implies by definition that any cost savings realized come at the expense of having cut corners either by the laptop vendor or in terms of features, usability and/or reliability. This strategy typically ends up costing more in the long run than having purchased better-suited computers to begin with in terms of extra time needed and productivity lost. So I would advise spending some time upfront identifying hardware needs (not wants) to address any existing issues and make improvements.
When it comes to performance, how much is enough and how much is too much for a given task? Again, some time invested upfront to understand business needs and address any existing performance issues would go a long way in properly identifying the right hardware for the job. This typically means assessing each department’s needs individually instead of using a cookie cutter approach. Of course, this would be determined by budget constraints based on company size, use case scenarios, etc. Obviously, someone in Marketing should not require the same spec laptop as a developer, for example. Common sense, really…
When it comes to laptop battery life, there is no such thing as too much capacity or run time. This is one of the most common complaints I hear after a user has had their laptop for about a year or more. If your workforce is highly mobile like the users I work with who don’t want to worry about where to plug in to keep going, then obviously this will factor significantly into your laptop buying strategy. Fortunately, there are many business laptops out there with long-lasting battery life to choose from.
If you are purchasing laptops in quantity to support your business operations for years to come, then you do not want to have to worry about such things as failed hard drives or displays. And while there are sometimes exceptions, I usually prefer to stick with proven flagships from the major vendors in the computer industry with track records to back them up. This rather hearkens back to my previous point that buying cheap may actually end up costing you more than just paying upfront for better build quality and a known support history, which brings me to my next point.
SupportThis is somewhat akin to buying fire insurance and hoping never having to use it, but if you do need it, the support had better be there to keep your fleet of laptops afloat. From personal experience, I have generally found support offerings and overall support quality to be better on the business side compared to the consumer products. Again, your mileage may vary, but I would recommend purchasing support to cover the lifecycle of the equipment your business plans to use. So if you follow a 3-year refresh cycle, get the support coverage for that period. In general, things tend to happen after the first year of ownership (sooner if the build quality was not great to begin with or cheap components were used).
If you are looking for a reliable day-to-day workhorse for your business, then you would have to give serious consideration to this Lenovo model. This year Lenovo has made further improvements to this model making it thinner and lighter along with 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-10510U CPU.
The battery lasts a long time (over 9.5 hours), but you will definitely see a sharp decline if you run this machine with a 4K display, which will cut down battery runtime to approximately 5.5 hours. Also, upgrading to the 4K display certainly makes for gorgeous graphics, but it also increases the final cost of this PC substantially. I would recommend reserving the higher-end configuration for those users involved with graphic design or video production.
Another thing to appreciate about this laptop is the variety of ports it comes with:
- 2 x USB 3.1 (Gen 2) Type-C / Intel Thunderbolt™ 3 (DisplayPort, Data transfer)
- 2 x USB 3.1 (Gen 1) (1 always on)
- HDMI 1.4
- Network extension for Ethernet/side mechanical docking
- Headphone / mic combo
Display: 13.4″ FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Display
Dell continues to innovate and make improvements to its cutting edge product line. We have switched from the Latitude 7480/7490 models as part of our upgrade cycle to the XPS 13 and haven’t looked back. In fact, those remaining users still working with the previous models are starting to clamor to get upgraded to the new XPS 13.
I can’t really blame them or contribute this entirely to a case of techno envy as this is a really nice ultra-portable PC that seems to be far superior to the 7490 model. It’s lighter, packs more power and has a beautiful display paired with excellent battery life and performance. What’s not to like?
New this year is the nearly bezel-less display with bezels measuring only 0.5 inches. The overall display size is also larger having been expanded to 13.4″, yet fitting into a smaller chassis than the one from last year.
Pairing this laptop with one of the Dell docks like a D6000 will increase the number of available ports and allow you to connect external displays and other peripherals, making this a winner in a business environment.
I would not recommend the base model as for about $200 more you get upgraded from an i5 to an i7 CPU and 4GB of RAM to 8GB, respectively. Additional upgrades to consider would be a UHD Touch Screen display featuring Intel® Iris Plus Graphics for an additional $100 at the time of this writing.
Having used other MacBook Pro laptops over time, I can tell you that this year’s upgrade is a pretty significant one, making this Apple laptop one of the best business laptops available on the market today. Starrting out at $2,399 for the 2.6GHz 6‑core Intel Core i7 and a 512GB SSD model, this MacBook already brings more than enough power and storage to make it a productivity beast. It is quite a bit more expensive though compared to other laptops in this lineup, and with additional upgrades the price starts to climb rather quickly.
With this new addition to the MacBook Pro line, Apple stays consistent with its excellent displays, offering 3072 x 1920 resolution which brings in really good brightness, accurate colors and just a plain gorgeous look. Another nice touch are the speakers which sound really good as far as laptops go and an improved keyboard which last year’s models had some issues with.
This is definitely a premium business laptop that offers a ton of performance, and I would recommend it if you are doing any type of video editing or graphic design work which would benefit from this unit’s powerful hardware. Also, what stood out to me with this MacBook is that Apple doesn’t appear to be as obsessed with making the thinnest and lightest laptop and continues to focus on improving performance. Of course, if size and weight are important to how you work, you should consider a MacBook Pro 13″ model.
I typically prefer my laptop screen size to be somewhere between 13″ to 14″, so this LG Gram model was a surprise due to how thin it is and weighing less than some of the smaller 13″ portables. It comes in at 2.4 pounds and packs some serious processing power. And the battery life seems to be unreal. I was curious about this balance between a larger screen size and a lighter chassis which this LG Gram has been able to achieve.
This laptop is surprisingly thin for its size at about 0.6″. I do have to say that it doesn’t feel very sturdy, although according to LG it has achieved military-grade MIL-STD-810G rating. So I don’t really have any serious concerns or reservations about this laptop’s durability.
If you have users who can benefit from a larger screen size than what is typically offered by an ultra portable but would not appreciate the heft of a full desktop replacement, this LG model would certainly be a good choice.
If you are looking for a desktop replacement that is also highly capable and well-built, then the Dell XPS 15 should fit the bill nicely. While it may not be as lightweight as the other business laptops mentioned above, it is quite a powerhouse sporting the latest iteration (Gen 9) of Intel i7 six-core processor and a discrete video card in the form of NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650. New this year is the 4K OLED display and an option to upgrade to the latest Intel CPU – 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i9-9980HK.
So if your business needs include video editing, design or music production, this machine can definitely handle the load. And it’s backed by a long-lasting battery (97Whr) that makes it easy to go all day or longer without needing to plug in.
While larger than an ultra portable, this Dell model is very well designed with long-term durability in mind. Some nice touches include an LED battery indicator on the right side of the laptop to provide a quick glance at the battery level. And, of course, there is no shortage of ports to connect peripherals making it even more of a desktop replacement.
Another powerhouse to consider that would benefit practically any business is the HP EliteBook x360 1030 G4. Unlike the others in the lineup here, this one also doubles as a convertible. So you can have your PC and tablet in one unit with HP offering the optional HP Rechargeable Active Pen G2 for handwriting.
Other nice additions to this model include an option for LTE connectivity, so you can be online while on the go and away from the office. Speaking of connectivity, this model comes with Wi-Fi 6 which should provide some future-proofing as this technology becomes more common. Definitely worth checking out.
An extra feature worth mentioning is the HP Sure View Integrated Privacy Screen. Having this feature integrated compared to sticking an actual privacy screen on your laptop display certainly improves its appearance and avoids the clunkiness of a physical privacy filter. I have not seen this option on other vendors’ models so far. So definitely worth checking out!