You hear the term “laptops for business” or “business laptops” all around you, especially if you run your own business and network with other small business owners. But what are these laptops and how can you find one that suits your professional needs?
Let’s get this out of the way. There’s no “perfect laptop for business”. But there are a few models that get pretty damn close to that. Each model of laptop has its own strengths and weaknesses. Each one has different specs and is better at certain things than other models. Things like durability, snappy multitasking without downtime, long battery life should be taken into account. But depending on your specific business, you will need to weigh some of these factors more heavily than others.
Let’s face it, wading through hundreds of laptops searching for these things would be quite boring and very time-consuming. And one thing I know about business owners – they hate wasting time. This is where I come in and help you out. I’ll tell everything you need to know about the various components of the best laptop for business. And of course, I’ll cover the best laptops for small business right now. By the end of the post, you will know what laptop is perfect for your small business and why.
Key requirements for a good small business laptop
Tablets vs. Laptops
More and more tablets are being designed and sold as business devices. There are tablets with detachable keyboards (2 in 1 laptops, in other words) and even tablets that run Microsoft Windows instead of Android. Tablets are great for business because they cost a lot less than dedicated laptops. However, tablets are weaker when you think about performance and they cannot – as of yet – replace laptops.
You must be aware that investing in a powerful laptop that will work for your business for years is much more important than playing with a low budget “toy”. Budget machines are not enough to support a business that’s growing. Though, I’m not here to say that you need a top of the line machine to get things going – far from it. I believe, that for most small businesses, going for laptops that are slightly better than the entry-level options is enough.
Right now, I’ll cover my reasoning part by part.
What is a sufficient processor for a small business?
To keep it short and simple, I’d target for i5 or i7 U-series processor. These offer sufficient performance and good enough battery life.
Going for a Core i3 processor, or God forbid, Pentium/Celeron is far from ideal. Buying a Windows laptop with i3/Pentium/Celeron and no SSD storage is the fastest route to a disappointment.
On the other hand, investing your money in expensive i7 HQ processors is not necessary unless the laptop is used for highly technical work (programming, photo/audio/video editing, 3D modeling).
Being slowed down by outdated technology is certainly something you need to avoid at all costs as a small business owner. However, keep in mind that more powerful Central Processing Units (abbreviated CPU) will drain your laptop battery quicker than older processors. MacBooks and other ~$2000 laptops are the only exceptions to this rule.
Enough RAM for multitasking
In the most simple terms, the more RAM a laptop has, the more things it will be able to do at once. Even having dozens of tabs open in your Internet Browser takes up quite a lot of RAM.
I recommend going no lower than 4 GB of RAM. And even then, consider buying a laptop with 4 GB RAM only if you are on a very low budget (under $500). Realistically, 8 GB should be enough. Anything above that is only needed for technical work.
Right amount of space for files
Small business laptops are stressed with all types of work. Multimedia showcases, hundreds of Word documents and PDFs, large PowerPoint presentations, large email databases – all of these things need to be stored on your hard drive.
Best storage type for small businesses
When dealing with small business, I often had to:
- install/upgrade software
- install/upgrade hardware
- recover data from hard drives
One of these tasks is not like the others. So please, get an SSD – they are a lot more reliable, they don’t have a 20% chance of failing in first 4 years and they are so much faster than the old spinning disks.
How much storage should I get?
I recommend going for at least 250 GB. If a laptop is used for accounting, that’s more than enough. A larger drive needs only if you’re dealing with media – photos, video, and audio. In that case, you might be better off having multiple drives – SSD for OS and critical data and a large HDD for media. Having a backup in the cloud is a great way to minimize the risk of data loss if you’re ever storing any data on an HDD.
A large battery will surely save you a lot of time because you can work while you’re not in an office.
If you mostly work at your office, you can ditch a large battery for a larger screen and more performance (or a lower price for that matter). You can keep the laptop charged most of the day at the office, so vigorous battery life is not necessary.
What would be nice to have for a small business?
An easy to carry laptop
Portability is this magical term to refer to weight, battery life, and screen size. If your laptop will stay at the office/home most of the time, weight and battery life are not important. You can safely pick a laptop with a large screen and lots of processing power because you can keep it connected to a charger most of the time.
If you travel a lot, you will definitely find a smaller, lighter laptop much more practical. This means a smaller screen, less performance, but greater battery life. However, you don’t have to worry about charging the laptop in the middle of a presentation.
Graphics card w/ dedicated memory
Most of the time, business people don’t need powerful video cards for their regular tasks. The built-in GPU should be enough for most people. However, you will need a dedicated graphics card if you plan on doing video or photo editing. Complex 3D visualization and modeling software also require powerful GPUs. It all depends on what you will be using your laptop for.
The right screen size
Screen size is not very important; you either want a portable laptop or a powerful laptop. Laptops in the 10.1″ to 14″ are highly portable and don’t weight too much. Most people prefer a 13.3″-15.6″ screen sizes because they seem to be the best screen size for business laptops – not too large to carry around all day and not too small to struggle to see the details and small text in direct sunlight. Keep in mind that most 10.1” laptops are close to the performance of a tablet – definitely not enough for the needs of an average small business.
What’s entirely optional?
If you keep sensitive documents and data on your laptop, you are surely interested in protecting said data the best you can. A fingerprint reader is an all-around better and more convenient solution to authentication than a regular password.
Another option would be a high-quality integrated camera that can work in conjunction with third-party software to perform face recognition – the laptop will not unlock unless you are looking at it. Though, these systems almost always have a password fallback which means that they’re more of a matter of convenience than a matter of data protection.
Best Small Business Laptops
I wouldn’t recommend going for a cheaper laptop than Asus F556UA-AS54. It is the cheapest option you can find for a small business laptop and is quite versatile for a relatively small price.
When it comes to laptop speed, it packs all the essentials: i5 processor, 8 GB RAM, 250GB SSD. These are really good specs for a laptop under $600.
Talking about more qualitative metrics, it has a decent battery life – it can stay up and running for up to 6 hours of light use. And its display is nothing to be impressed by. 15.6″ 1920×1080 with a matte finish – it will not look premium but it’s still Full HD so it’s OK.
Compared to the previous ASUS laptop, the Acer Aspire E 15 has a dedicated GPU that will help out a bit if you plan on doing video and photo editing work. It’s nothing high-end but it’s still a nice addition to an already good laptop.
The screen display is rather dim because this model does not have an IPS/WA. The brightness and contrast are below average – which is to be expected at this price range. However, a bit dimmer display lets this laptop reach a very solid battery life for the whole day of work – 8 hours.
The Asus Zenbook UX360CA is a fanless laptop – it has no fans and is virtually silent. Although it is silent, it can overheat if you use it for heavy work for prolonged periods of time. Though, you shouldn’t use it for truly computationally difficult tasks – its processor (Core M3-6Y30) is not designed to handle that. But if this laptop will be dedicated to responding to emails, working with sheets and documents – that’s not a problem.
It is a very portable 2-in-1 laptop that can be flipped around whenever you need to give a quick pitch or showcase something on the laptop.
The spacious 500GB SSD is the jewel in Zenbook’s crown. That means you can store large amounts of business data, a lot of rich media and even a few backups.
Apple products have been well received in the professional scene. That’s due to better Microsoft Office support, cutting edge macOS-exclusive applications and general movement to OS-agnostic web applications that work on any type of laptop.
If you ever wanted to get a MacBook for your small business but you were reluctant due to its steep pricing – this particular MacBook Air might be your best opportunity to give Apple a chance.
This MacBook can be compared to the Asus Zenbook above. MacBook Air has a slightly better processor and a significantly better battery life. Up to 10 whole hours of light office work.
But there are a few caveats that distinguish it from the more expensive Apple MacBook Pro line. First and foremost, it has a rather unorthodox (1440 x 900 pixels) which is below a more standard Full HD (1080p). That’s not ideal for visual work (mostly graphic design/web development and video). But for other lines of work it should not be a problem since it is a 13″ laptop.
MacBook Air comes with a flash storage (SSD) of just 120 GB. To be sure it will not limit you – you can either check how much storage you’re using right now or ask someone that uses their laptop in a similar fashion as you do.
If you need a really powerful laptop under $1500 – Acer Predator 15 G9 is ready to serve. This laptop that has it all!
You get an amazing 6th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU and a 970M NVidia GOU with 3GB of Video RAM. The combo is unbeatable, especially for 3D modeling applications and video editing programs.
You get 16 GB of RAM, which is more than enough to run even the most resource-intensive applications. There will be no lag or downtime.
The laptop comes with a 120 GB SSD drive for your operating system and programs. It also has a large, 1 TB HDD where you can store all of your business files, as well as some movies and even games – if that’s how you like to spend some of your free time.
The battery life in this machine does not seem great – but it actually is.
Let me explain.
Most laptops with i7-67000HQ processor have under 5 hours of battery life. And these are not cheap laptops since we’re talking about a upper-range processor. It’s very rare to find laptops with good battery runtimes AND a great processor. On the other hand, I can see how this battery life was reached. This Acer laptop has only slightly above average display: 15.6″, IPS panel for wide viewing angles, standard Full HD resolution, average brightness and contrast and a slightly better color gamut than in your average laptop.
Overall, it’s a great laptop. It is a particularly light notebook (as nearly all gaming-ready laptops are) but it has great hardware if you want the best laptop for a small business.
I hope now you know what to look for when searching for the best laptops for your small business. As expected, people who use a laptop for heavy graphic design and 3D modeling need different specifications than people using their business laptops for opening Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. It’s hard to tailor suggestions for every single use case.
But the picked laptops are usually very well-rounded with their strengths and weaknesses pointed out so you can know if it’s right for you. If you can’t spend much time on a research yourself, you can safely pick any one of the laptops listed above. But at the end of the day, it’s still your choice!
If you have any personal preferences or requests, you can leave a comment down below and I’ll make sure to reply – after business hours :)