Whether you're buying a fleet of laptops for your employees or just looking for a single productivity system for yourself, you'll want one of the best business laptops, something that's durable, powerful and easy-to-use.
We review dozens of business laptops each year and the models that make our best business laptops list offer a combination of comfort, performance and battery life. Don't forget about security and durability -- business laptops typically come with fingerprint sensors, IR cameras and security chips, and many have military-grade durability. Newer models should even feature webcam sliders or camera kill switches.
If you need something with a bit more oomph than your traditional business laptop, then check out our best workstations page. Looking for more specific recommendations? See our best Lenovo ThinkPad and best Dell Latitude and Precision laptops guides.
Which business laptop is best?
Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen) remains our favorite business laptop for three years running thanks to its lightweight design, fast performance and good display options. One option among the top competitors to the X1 Carbon is the HP Elite Dragonfly, a gorgeous 2-in-1 laptop with long battery life, an awesome keyboard and fast performance. Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated with new CPUs and it's even more expensive than the X1 Carbon.
On the macOS side of things, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is an excellent option for power users who run massive simulations or transfer large files. The larger Retina screen can comfortably display multiple windows, and the Butterfly keyboard has been replaced by a more comfortable scissor-style keyboard.
If you're an artist or designer who wants to use a stylus, we recommend the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 or the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, which is essentially a convertible version of the X1 Carbon. True power users who need to crunch big data should opt for a workstation, like the excellent HP ZBook Studio x360 G5. For those on a budget, like small-business owners, the HP Pro C640 Chrome Enterprise is a straightforward, easy-to-use laptop or, if you need to run Windows 10, consider the ThinkPad X13.
The best business laptops you can buy today
1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen)
2. HP Elite Dragonfly
3. Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
4. Microsoft Surface Pro 7
5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (5th Gen, 2020)
6. Dell Latitude 9410 2-in-1
7. HP Pro C640 Chrome Enterprise
8. Dell Precision 7730
9. Asus ExpertBook B9450
10. Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)
Lenovo didn't make many changes to our favorite business laptop but the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon now flaunts Intel 10th Gen CPUs. On top of delivering fast performance, you get long battery life (on the 1080p model) and two gorgeous, 1080p and 4K display options, all in an impossibly lightweight chassis (2.4 pounds).
But it's still those classic ThinkPad features — a durable design (with MIL-STD-810G strength), best-in-class keyboard and stealthy black/red aesthetics — that carry the X1 Carbon to greatness.
Yes, we wish the ThinkPad X1 Carbon hadn't ditched the SD card reader in the previous, and top configurations can get very expensive, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better overall business machine.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 (8th Gen) review.
HP's Elite Dragonfly redefined what it means to be a business laptop. This stunning laptop has a breathtakingly gorgeous chassis that flaunts a unique dark-blue finish.
The design is as practical as it is attractive; The Elite Dragonfly has flexible hinges that convert the laptop into a tablet, and at 2.2 pounds, it's one of the most portable 13-inch laptops around.
You'll somehow need to take your eyes off the Elite Dragonfly's aluminum body to appreciate its bright and vivid 13.3-inch display. But the Elite Dragonfly's greatness doesn't stop there. The laptop also has a surprisingly comfortable keyboard, fast performance and a host of security features, including an IR camera, a fingerprint sensor and MIL-SPEC-810 rated durability.
See our full HP Elite Dragonfly review
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is just your type if you’ve been waiting for Apple to make a better keyboard. The Magic Keyboard on this premium laptop ditches the Butterfly mechanism in favor of a scissor switch, and the result is a much more comfortable typing experience. You also get a bright and sharp 16-inch display with slimmer bezels, powerful performance from an available Core i9 CPU and robust AMD Radeon 5300M or 5500M graphics.
You also get up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of storage if you really want to splurge. The 11 hours of battery life is another plus on this laptop, dwarfing the runtimes of its competitors. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is pricey, and Apple still doesn’t include full-size USB ports, but overall this is a very formidable workstation for creative pros.
See our full Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) review.
The Surface Pro 7 takes an excellent laptop in last year's Surface Pro 6 and gives it a power boost. While battery life takes a hit, the new 10th Gen CPUs provide outstanding performance in our synthetic and real-world testing.
The design hasn't changed at all, but the Surface Pro 7 now has a USB-C port for charging and connecting peripherals. Microsoft still sells the comfortable Alcantara-clad Type Cover and the super-responsive Surface Pen, which makes it easy to draw or take notes on this tablet's vivid and bright 12.3-inch display.
There is still room for improvement. For example, the Surface Pro 7's display bezels are chunky and storage/RAM upgrades are inexplicably expensive. Still, this is one of the best 2-in-1 devices around, and an excellent choice if you're traveling.
See our full Surface Pro 7 review.
Lenovo took a chance with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, the first metal ThinkPad, and it paid off. While we still love the signature matte-black carbon-fiber found on most ThinkPads, the aluminum and magnesium ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a gorgeous change of pace. Not only does it have a slim design, but this convertible 2-in-1 flaunts a bright display and offers a best-in-class keyboard and long battery life. These combine to make the best Lenovo laptop for anyone who those looking for a convertible.
You also get loads of extra goodies, like a built-in stylus slot and webcam cover. We still love the ThinkPad X1 Carbon for its super-lightweight chassis, but you should definitely get the Yoga instead if you want to use a stylus.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (5th Gen, 2020) review.
If battery life is a priority, the Dell Latitude 9410 2-in-1 is the business laptop for you. The 2-in-1 laptop easily got me through a full day of use, even with the screen brightness turned up. But its 16+ hours of runtime isn't the only reason to buy this notebook; the Latitude 9410 2-in-1 has a sleek, flexible design, fast performance and some useful sign-in options.
All you need to do is walk up to this Dell and it will know that you're there, thanks to its proximity sensor. This makes it super easy to log in -- you don't have to input any passwords or even look at an IR camera.
The Latitude 9410 2-in-1 is yet another big stepping stone for Dell's famously uninspiring business notebooks. We just hope the next version has a brighter screen and a webcam cover.
See our full Dell Latitude 9410 2-in-1 review.
Chromebooks...for business users? Yes, we mean it. The HP Pro C640 Chromebook Enterprise is the best option in this budding category. Running on Chrome OS with Chrome Enterprise, Google's cloud-based IT platform, the Pro C640 is a good alternative to Windows or macOS for small business owners or boutique companies.
What makes it such a compelling laptop is that it doesn't compromise on features to fit the traditional Chromebook persona as being cheap and built out of plastic. Instead, this $1,129 Pro C640 has a gorgeous metal chassis that is military-grade tested, plenty of security options including a fingerprint scanner, and fast performance delivered by a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU.
See our full HP Pro C640 Chromebook Enterprise review.
If you're willing to spend and want the most powerful machine around, look no further than the Dell Precision 7730. This 7.5-pound workstation may not be the best for travel, but its Core i9 CPU and Nvidia Quadro P5200 GPU are capable of running even the most demanding applications, like 3D modeling or photo editing. But the Precision 7730 isn't all about performance.
A gorgeous 4K display, a comfortable keyboard, and a MIL-SPEC design make this an exceptionally well-rounded machine, even though its battery life isn't great.
See our full Dell Precision 7730 review.
16 hours and 42 minutes. That is how long the ExpertBook B9450 lasted on our battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits. Almost 17 hours. Can you believe that? Because I can't. No other laptop has endured for that amount of time.
It's incredible for so many reasons. Sure, that's super long. But what if I told you that the longest-lasting laptop ever weighs just 2.2 pounds. Or that it has a 10th Gen Intel U-series processor inside? Or that the midnight-blue chassis is one of the most gorgeous we've ever seen. There are so many reasons to love the ExpertBook B9450 and to even consider it over the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Asus still has a few things to fix -- like the frustrating keyboard -- but it's on the right path.
Read our full Asus ExpertBook B9450 review.
The MacBook Pro 13-inch brings mostly incremental changes to a tried-and-true formula and that's OK. Why? Because the Butterfly keyboard is finally gone. Yes, the uncomfortable unreliable keys have been replaced by the Magic Keyboard, which is a fancy name for the old scissor-style switch used before Apple went experimental. The new keys are much more comfortable to type on.
With those shackles no longer holding back the MacBook Pro, this laptops shines. It has the same aluminum design we've all come to know and love. And while it's a bit hefty and the bezels need trimming, the laptop still feels elegant. Performance is another area where the MacBook Pro excels. At least the higher-end version we tested, which packs 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs. Add in a blisteringly fast SSD and powerful speakers, and the MacBook Pro is an awesome business laptop for enterprise users who prefer macOS over Windows.
How to choose a business laptop
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the right model of business laptop for you or your company.
- Do you need Intel vPro or AMD Pro? Many business laptops are available with CPUs that have Intel vPro technology, which lets a support person log in remotely, even if the computer can't boot. However, unless you have a large IT department and a huge fleet of laptops that you need the ability to service remotely, you probably won't use this feature.
- How fast do you need it to be? Most business users will be happy with a laptop that has a dual-core, Core i5 CPU like the Core i5-7200U or Core i5-7300U (vPro) and the CPU's integrated graphics processor. However, if you require a high-end performance for 3D Modeling, professional video editing or creating predictive models, then get a mobile workstation with a quad-core Core i5 or Core i7 CPU (model numbers end in HQ) and Nvidia Quadro graphics.
- Long battery life: Nobody wants to run out of juice in the middle of a long workday or a cross-country flight. Unless you're getting a giant workstation, look for a laptop that gets more than 9 hours on a charge. Some business systems come with a choice of regular or extended batteries; always get the high-capacity unit.
- At least a 1080p screen: It's hard to be productive if you can't see much text on the screen. Avoid laptops with low-resolution, 1366 x 768 screens like the plague. Get one with a resolution that's 1920 x 1080 or higher.
- SSDs for responsiveness: If you want a truly fast computer, get a solid state drive rather than a mechanical hard drive. SSDs boot up, open programs and multitask at least three times faster than old-fashioned hard drives.
- The right ports: Nobody likes to carry a bag full of dongles. Consider which kinds of connections you or your employees will need the most. If you connect to a wired network a lot, make sure the laptop has an Ethernet port. If photography is a key part of the job, choose a laptop with a memory card reader. No matter what your needs, a Thunderbolt 3 port is a huge plus, because it will allow you to connect to a new generation of high-speed peripherals, universal chargers and powerful docks.
- A great keyboard: It almost goes without saying that every laptop should have a good keyboard. But with business systems, a comfortable typing experience is even more important. Look for snappy feedback, deep travel and absolutely no flex.
How we test laptops
We put each laptop through extensive benchmark testing — both synthetic and real-world — before they end up in the hands of our reviewers. We evaluate each aspect of the laptop, including its performance, battery life, display, speakers and heat management.
In our benchmark testing, we use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and sRGB color gamut of the laptop's display. For performance testing, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests.
To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 4.97GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics test is the Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings at 1080p resolution.
We also run heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in different areas of the laptop. Last but not least, our battery test consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. For MacBooks and premium Windows 10 laptops, a runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise.
These tests are complemented with extensive hands-on testing from our reviewers who critique everything from the laptop's materials to the feel of its touchpad.