Hundreds of laptops are released each and every year, and the lines are blurring between everyday devices and those specifically designed for business. That’s especially true during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with many tasks usually reserved for the office desktop needing to be done from home.
Dedicated business laptops aren’t always the best choice, but that makes your decision on which to go for all the more complicated. 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 startup in your rented workspace, or you could be here looking for something to kit out all your employees with. You might even be buying for thousands of people.
Here are the best laptops for business in 2021. Each entry links out to a full review with more information on price, design, features, specs, battery life and software. They are ranked, but that doesn’t mean the #1 laptop here is right for your specific budget, taste and needs. We can easily recommend all the models listed, but make sure you’re fully aware of what the device can do before taking the plunge.
As it turns out, many consumer devices from our best laptop chart making for excellent work companions. You may also be interested in the extra flexibility offered by a 2-in-1 laptop – business-friendly options include Microsoft’s Surface Book 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 2, although they didn’t quite make it into our top 10 below.
Best business laptops 2021
1. LG Gram 17 – Best Overall
For many business tasks, a regular laptop display simply won’t cut it – you need something with some extra screen real estate.
With that in mind, allow us to introduce you to the LG Gram 17. It represents the pinnacle of laptop design in 2021, offering a huge 17in (2560×1600) display within a chassis that’s just 17.8mm thick and 1.35kg in weight.
It’s powered by the latest Intel Tiger Lake processors, as well as up to 16GB of RAM and a bumper 1TB SSD on high-end models. If that’s not enough, you also get stellar battery life from the 80Wh cell.
The below-par trackpad and speakers – our two biggest complaints about the 2020 – have also both been addressed by LG, making this the best big-screened laptop you can buy.
If you’re looking for something slightly smaller, the LG Gram 16 is also an excellent option.
Read our full LG gram 17 (2021) review
2. HP Envy 13 (2020) – Best Value
You need to splash out on the most expensive model to get a discrete graphics card, but even that is a reasonable price and many users will find the cheapest option has enough power.
HP has once again made an excellent all-rounder offering a balance of design, specs and features.
As well as being extremely portable, the Envy 13 has plenty of ports including full-size USB and a microSD card reader, both of which are rarely spotted on modern laptops. It also has all-day battery life.
An interesting feature for business users is the Sure View privacy screen that limits what onlookers can see from the side. Perfect if you’re working on something sensitive in public.
Read our full HP Envy 13 (2020) review
3. Huawei MateBook X Pro – Best for Luxury
Huawei has once again made an extremely luxurious laptop which will suit business users who want just about everything to be high-end.
The design is especially attractive so the X Pro is a great choice if you want to make a statement when you get it out of your bag at a meeting.
There’s plenty of power on offer too with up to an Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, Nvidia MX250 graphics and 1TB storage. We’re also in love with the keyboard, although the webcam is awkwardly placed here so this isn’t a good choice if you need to make regular video calls.
Read our full Huawei MateBook X Pro (2020) review
4. Apple MacBook Air (M1) – Best Mac
The release of the M1 chip has transformed the MacBook Air from a solid everyday device to one of the most powerful laptops you can buy.
Compared to the Intel version, Apple’s new processor delivers incredible improvements to performance and power efficiency, with the latter delivering a big boost to battery life.
Much of the rest of the device is unchanged, although you do get the much-improved Magic Keyboard.
We also shouldn’t overlook the wide range of software that’s either pre-installed or free to download on macOS – everything from Pages and Keynote to GarageBand and iMovie are included at no extra cost. This may avoid the need to spend extra on software.
Be warned though, battery life and webcam still aren’t great and you’re limited to just one external display.
Read our full Apple MacBook Air (2020) M1 review
5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – Best Build Quality
The Lenovo ThinkPad succeeds in the ways in which you would expect from a premium X1 Carbon model.
You get a combination of top-notch build quality, excellent ergonomics and a powerful set of specs. It’s a lot of laptop that will no doubt serve you well for many years.
Our main advice is to avoid the 4K display as it’s unnecessary and contributes to middling battery life. You might also want to look at a Core i5 model to save some money, which will still be powerful enough for most day-to-day tasks.
Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th-gen) review
6. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – Best range of specs
The Surface Book line might be the obvious choice when it comes to a business laptop but we think the Surface Laptop 3 is better for most people.
It might only have one USB-C port that isn’t Thunderbolt 3 but Microsoft offers a sleek and portable design available in two different sizes and new finishes (if you don’t want the Alcantara fabric).
There’s also a range of specs available, including 13.5in or 15in screen sizes and Intel or AMD processors. We like the style of this machine, and the impressive screen and keyboard make it well suited to range of tasks.
What’s more, with the Surface Laptop 4 expected soon, there are some great discounts to be had on this older model.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review
7. Dell XPS 13 (late 2020) – Best Keyboard
Dell has its Latitude business range, but the XPS should be considered too with the XPS 13 being one of the best laptops around for many years.
The 9310 is the second model for 2020, introducing 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake processors and improved thermals. It’s still not perfect but a decent upgrade in this department.
It’s really a spec refresh so the XPS 13 still has a stunning display (now 16:10), best-in-class keyboard and various design improvements. However, the price is a little steep and ports are limited.
Read our full Dell XPS 13 9310 (late 2020) review
8. Lenovo Elite Dragonfly – Best for Creatives
HP has achieved an impressive amount with the Elite Dragonfly, combining stylish and versatile design with some impressive specs and useful business features.
While there’s a lot going for it, it comes at a high price for an older 8th-gen Intel processor and faces some tough rivals that are cheaper.
It’s a great option for those who will make use of the hybrid design and the stylus. Also watch out for the 2020 Dragonfly with 5G and Qualcomm chips.
Read our full HP Elite Dragonfly review
9. Asus ZenBook Flip S – Best Hybrid
If display and portability are your top priorities, the ZenBook Flip S is a great option.
It comes with a gorgeous 13.3in 4K OLED panel, one of the very best on the market, while coming in at just 13.9mm thick and 1.2kg in weight. There’s also Thunderbolt 4 support and 1TB of SSD storage.
That slim chassis counts against it, though – performance from Intel’s 11th-gen chips is noticeably limited as a result. You also miss out on a headphone jack and fingerprint sensor.
Nonetheless, the Flip S is a powerful, premium device that’s worth considering.
Read our full Asus ZenBook Flip S UX371 review
10. Acer Chromebook Spin 713 – Best Chromebook
For those that have lighter workloads, a Chromebook could be just the ticket – especially if you have a tight budget as they are often cheaper than Windows rivals.
You can certainly get cheaper laptops running ChromeOS but the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is worth spending a little more on.
As the name suggests, it’s got a versatile 360-degree hinge design and build quality is good. Performance is solid and the star of the show is the 713’s excellent display featuring a 3:2 aspect ratio suited to work applications.
An alternative in the Chromebook space would be Google’s own Pixelbook Go or the Asus Chromebook C433TA. Check out our best Chromebook chart for more great options.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review
Business laptop buying guide
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 10, ChromeOS or macOS 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. As mentioned at the top, a dedicated business model like a ThinkPad might not be the right option so we’ve included a range of consumer laptops which are likely to do the job just as well, often for less money.
Price is a factor, of course. 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 and that’s why a Chromebook might be a great choice, especially if your needs aren’t demanding.
Some of the laptops in this list are higher priced, but they often represent good value considering the features and specifications they have. We’ve included a range of different prices and options.
Robust build could be of importance if you work in the field, or you might want something featherweight to carry from meeting to meeting around the globe. Then features such as fingerprint readers for additional security or long-lasting battery life might be top of your must-have list.
Security will be important to many users, especially if you will be storing sensitive data on the laptop. Look out for things like a fingerprint scanner. A webcam might also be necessary but some have awkward placements below the screen or even in the keyboard – not ideal if you need to regularly video call.
It’s important to make sure the laptop you choose has the right specs for your line of work. Do you need a powerful processor and graphics card for demanding software or can you save money by getting something lower-end?
Also, make sure the display will suit your environment. Someone working outside will need to make sure the screen is bright enough to view.
Ports are often forgotten about, but a laptop is no good if you can’t plug a vital accessory in. Many laptops come with USB-C only now, so you might need an adapter or a hub.
Find out how we test laptops.
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