There are thousands of laptops to choose from and the prospect of making an educated buying decision can be daunting, particularly if you need your new computer for something specific. Finding the right laptop for business use can be tricky.
Whether running a small independent business or choosing a laptop that will play nice with a large enterprise network, there are certain features, specs and design traits to look out for.
You might be buying for yourself to run your start up in your rented workspace, or you could be here looking for a model to buying to kit out all your employees with. You might even be buying for thousands of people.
So which laptop is going to please everyone? It won’t be the same one for every situation (if only it were that simple). Once you’ve decided if your style of business suits Windows or macOS (likely the former, but sometimes the latter) then you can set about choosing the model.
You'll also want to consider whether these laptops come with Windows 10 Pro as standard. If they don't it's easy to upgrade.
Price is a factor. Some high-end laptops are indeed excellent but you may want to save some money while still getting decent performance. Thankfully those laptops do exist.
Robust build could be of importance if you work in the field, or you might want something featherweight to carry form meeting to meeting. Then features such as fingerprint readers for additional security or long lasting battery life might be top of your must-have list.
Some of the laptops in this list are higher priced, but they often represent good value considering the features and specifications they have.
Here are the best laptops for business as of 2018. Each entry links out to a full review with more information on price, design, features, specs and software.
1. Dell Latitude 13 7370
- RRP: From £1,079
Okay so it’s a business laptop, but check out that 13in edge-to-edge display. You wouldn’t be ashamed to show off the Dell Latitude 13 inside- or outside the office, with design hints taken from the awesome Dell XPS 13 and 15.
It’s customisable to suit your needs, but the model we reviewed came with an Intel Core m5-6Y57 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. There’s a USB 3.0 port, two USB-C, Micro-HDMI, a microSD card slot and two optional Micro-SIM slots. This 13.3in-screen laptop also sports a 34Wh battery and a fingerprint scanner, and weighs in at 1.12kg.
The Latitude 13 has a pleasant matt finish to its base half, but the outer side of the lid is a cool (in every sense) aluminium that is surprisingly sturdy. Or you can add a carbon-fibre lid for an extra tenner.
The keyboard is distinctly business-fare, somewhat cramped and with concave, clicky keys, but it’s workable. The trackpad is good, but small. And the screen offers great colours and viewing angles, even outdoors, but it lacks brightness.
What really impresses is the Professional version of Windows it ships with, the silent running of the still-powerful processor, and its outstanding battery life of 8 hours 23 minutes in our tests.
2. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017)
- RRP: From £1349 (model reviewed £1459)
The Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 is a fantastic laptop with an up-to-date design, and one that doesn’t go for any of the feature-chopping you see in many alternatives without the same business leanings. Battery life is excellent, as is build quality and the keyboard, plus the X1 is as light as slim as promised. The only issues are to do with the screen, but many will be able to live with it. There’s also a question of price. ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptops have always been expensive, and so is this one: more than Dell's XPS 13 but hundreds less than model with an OLED touch bar.
3. Dell XPS 13 9370 (2018)
- RRP: From $999
- Buy from Dell
If you need a compact, high performance Windows laptop, the 2018 Dell XPS 13 is the best laptop you can buy alongside the 8th-gen Lenovo Yoga 920. It is competitively priced, and even the high-end touchscreen Core i7 model at £1,649 is at least £300 cheaper than the same spec 13in MacBook Pro.
In fact, for value for money, it is a better purchase than the Microsoft Surface Laptop as you get Windows 10 Home rather than Windows 10S, as well as saving at least £500.
For all but the most hardcore gamers (for whom this laptop is not the target audience) and those who really do want USB-A connectivity, there is not a better Windows laptop on the market.
Best of all, right now you can save £100/$100 if you buy direct from Dell - just use the code XPS100 if you're in the UK, or 100OFF999 if you're in the US to get the saving.
Read our Dell XPS 13 9370 (2018) review.
4. Microsoft Surface Laptop
- RRP: From $999
The Surface Laptop isn't the most affordable but it's not outrageously expensive compared to rivals. Microsoft has done a great job of creating a well-made, thin and desirable laptop. We'd tweak the ports on offer and upgrade from Windows 10 S to Pro, but we can live with the niggles considering the specs and excellent battery life.
Read our Microsoft Surface Laptop review.
5. Dell XPS 15 9560
- RRP: From $999
The Dell XPS 15 is an amazingly flexible laptop, despite looking like an ordinary high-end one on the surface. It’s very powerful but has unusually good battery life for its class. It has a 15in screen but is smaller than almost all other 15in laptops with one. And is its 4K version the XPS 15 has the colour performance for pro design work.
It’s also good-looking, and while not ultra-portable is not that heavy given the components inside. It makes the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar seem a bit frivolous in comparison, not to mention extremely expensive.
6. Acer Swift 3
- RRP: $649
The Acer Swift 3 is a near-perfect laptop for those who want an ultraportable, but don’t want to fork out £1000+. Build quality is great, battery life very good, and performance a match for much more expensive laptops. There are just two areas where the low price shows. First, it's a little thicker and heavier than some ultrabooks. It looks good enough, but limited maximum brightness and fairly poor colour reproduction limits its usefulness in certain situations.
7. Dell Latitude 5289
- RRP: From $1,355
The Dell Latitude 5289 is a serious business laptop with the portability and features of a fashionable consumer model. It’s a hybrid, it has excellent battery life and is light.
Good connectivity, added security features and a keyboard made for long-form typing ensure this is a great choice for many business users.
The one major drawback is the screen. It looks just fine for documents, but limited colour depth is not well-suited to design or photography work.
8. Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)
- RRP: From $799 (model reviewed $2149)
The new Surface Pro is a superb 2-in-1. It’s beautifully built and performs well. The screen is excellent and even the speakers sound good. However, it’s very expensive, especially when you add the cost of the Type Cover and – if you need one – the Surface Pen.
Few should opt for the base model, and you’ll pay a heck of a lot more for a Core i7. Ultimately, while a fantastic device, it’s hard to recommend the Surface Pro unless money is no object.
9. Fujitsu Lifebook P727
- RRP: From £1,349
- Buy from Fujitsu
The Lifebook P727 is not hiding the fact it is a through and though business laptop – we don’t recommend it for home or causal use. If you’re a small business owner looking for a hardy, flexible and secure machine to run your operations from then it’ll be perfect.
These features don’t come cheap though, and the P727 might be a better buy for an enterprise looking to equip its workforce with a laptop, tablet and secure workstation all in one. It’s just as good an option as the Dell Latitude series, and it’s good to see Fujitsu forge a niche for itself again.
10. Dell Latitude 5285 2-in-1
- RRP: From $1,599
The Dell Latitude 5285 is a business laptop for workers who probably spend more time in face-to-face meetings than slogging away at a desk.
Its removable keyboard design lets you setup the Latitude 5285 for demos and presentations using very little space. A vPro CPU and Smartcard reader will also let it slot into some IT systems more easily than a Surface Pro.
Solid battery life and good performance make this a hybrid with laptop-grade potential. However, it doesn’t eclipse the Surface Pro and for all-day working we’d still recommend a computer with a more conventional keyboard.