Best Business Laptops 2018

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Update on Dec 12 at 10:35 am ET: The ThinkPad T480s and Surface Pro 6 are on sale during the holiday season. 

Whether you're buying an entire fleet of notebooks for your employees or just looking for a single productivity system for yourself, you'll want a business laptop that's durable, powerful and easy-to-use. The best business laptops outdo their consumer-focused counterparts by offering better security, stronger build quality and a superior typing experience. These are our favorite business laptops right now.

Best Business Laptop Overall: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen)

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the Maserati of business laptops, a sleek and stylish system with plenty of power under the hood. At 2.49 pounds, this 14-inch laptop can go anywhere, but it still finds room for a full suite of ports and enough battery capacity to provide over 11 hours of endurance.

The 2018 version of the X1 Carbon, which is technically the "6th Gen" of this product, ups the ante by adding a quad-core, Intel Kaby Lake-R CPU and one of the most gorgeous screens we've ever seen on a laptop. The optional, 2K HDR display rivals the OLED screens we see on top phones as it reproduces 199 percent of the sRGB gamut and provides up to 500 nits of brightness.

MORE: Best Lenovo Laptops

Best Design: HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3

The HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3 is the complete package. Its aluminum chassis is not only thin and lightweight, but it's also durable to military-grade specifications. Not to mention, the business laptop's sturdy yet flexible hinge allows the gorgeous 13.3-inch, 1080p display to rotate back into tablet mode.  Aside from its stylish looks, the Elitebook x360 1030 G3 has a comfortable keyboard, long battery life and a fast hard drive. 

Best Business Detachable: Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The Surface Pro 6 wasn't designed as a business laptop, per say, but it has everything you could want from an enterprise machine. New to the Surface Pro is a sophisticated matte black finish that will blend into any professional office environment. The flexible detachable now has 8th Gen quad-core processors, which offer a significant performance boost when compared to last year's Surface Pro. Battery life has also been markedly improved, so you can leave your charger at home. You can use the gorgeous, 12.3-inch touch screen display with the responsive Surface Pen, and the comfortable Type Cover keyboard attachment has a useful touchpad.

Best Business 2-in-1: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

If you want your business laptop to outshine those around you, then pick up the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. This 2-in-1 has a gorgeous 2K HDR screen that is among the most colorful we've ever seen. The laptop also features an elegant Mil-Spec tested design and its 8th Gen Intel processors offer excellent performance. If you're worried about privacy, the X1 Yoga comes with a slider on the webcam, so you can ditch the tape.

Best Battery Life: Lenovo ThinkPad T480

If battery life is your priority, Lenovo's ThinkPad T480 is the laptop to get. This notebook lasted a stunning 17 hours on our battery test, which, combined with its strong Core i5 processor and Nvidia MX150 GPU, offers tons of muscle for a full workday and then some.

Best Performance: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is essentially a 15-inch version of the X1 Carbon with beefed-up specs, and a direct competitor to the Dell XPS 15 and MacBook Pro. The surprisingly thin and lightweight laptop has exceptional speeds thanks to its Core i7 CPU, and its GeForce GTX 1050Ti GPU is powerful enough to play most modern games. An excellent keyboard and one of the best displays we've ever seen top off this recommended machine. 

Best 15-inch Workstation: Lenovo ThinkPad P1

The ThinkPad P1 takes what we love about the ThinkPad X1 Extreme -- a premium consumer product -- and ramps it up to the next level. Armed with a Xeon CPU, 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD, the P1 blew away the competition in our benchmark tests.  Business users will enjoy viewing content on the workstation's 15.6-inch, 4K display, which is extremely detailed and vivid. Better yet, the reliable ThinkPad keyboard makes a return, and the P1's may be the most comfortable yet. 

Best 17-inch Workstation: Dell Precision 7730

If you have an unlimited budget 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. 

Best Business Chromebook: HP Chromebook x2

Premium Chromebooks are on the rise, and there is none better (for now) than the HP Chromebook x2. The 12.3-inch tablet has a super-bright, high-resolution display and it lasts nearly 9 hours on a charge. One of best reasons to buy the x2 over competitors is that its attachable keyboard and pen are included in the $599 price. Business professionals who spend their 9-to-5s writing reports will appreciate the comfortable typing experience offered by the Chromebook x2, not to mention the security and convenience of Chrome OS. 

Best Rugged Laptop: Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme Tablet

When combined with its optional keyboard cover, the Dell Latitude 7212 is the most durable business 2-in-1 you can get. In our tests, the Latitude survived 4-foot drops, without even getting a scratch. This 11.6-inch device is also incredibly bright, allowing you to use it outdoors on sunny days. This is the laptop to take with you to busy work sites. 

 

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 vPro? 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.

Getting a business laptop with all the features you need could cost more than $1,000, but you'll be rewarded with a computer that makes you or your employees more productive for years to come.

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