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Best business laptops in 2021

Included in this guide:

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon gen 9
(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

Whether you're buying a fleet of laptops for your employees or just looking for a  productivity system for yourself, you'll want one of the best business laptops as they are typically durable, powerful, secure 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 and displays with built-in privacy filters. 

If you need something with a bit more oomph than your traditional business laptop, then check out our best workstations page. If you're not sold on a business laptop, read our general best laptops page which features many devices that could do for work. 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 (Gen 9) is our favorite business laptop for four 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 EliteBook x360 1040 G7, a gorgeous 2-in-1 laptop with long battery life, an awesome keyboard and fast performance. Unfortunately, it is even more expensive than the X1 Carbon. And don't count Dell out; its Latitude 9420 2-in-1 is a fantastic option if you have the budget. 

On the macOS side of things, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 is an excellent option for power users who run massive simulations or transfer large files. The new M1 processor is a speed demon but also efficient enough to give the MacBook Pro an absurd 16 hours and 32 minutes of battery life. 

If you're an artist or designer who wants to use a stylus, we recommend the Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable, Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ or the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable, which is essentially a tablet 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 or HP EliteBook 840 G7. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon gen 9

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon is, once again, the best business laptop thanks to its sleek design and fast performance.  (Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9)

Best overall business laptop

Specifications
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5/Core i7
GPU: Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD
Display: 14-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel 16:10
Size: 12.4 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Slim, lightweight design+Good 14-inch, 16:10 FHD+ display+Class-leading keyboard+Great quad speakers+Epic battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Poor 720p webcam-No card slot

Lenovo made several welcome changes to the 9th Gen edition of its flagship business laptop. Along with fast performance from 11th Gen Intel CPUs, you get longer battery life (15 hours!), powerful quad speakers, a new 14-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and plenty of ports, all in an impossibly lightweight chassis (2.5 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 had a better webcam and hadn't ditched the SD card reader in the previous. Also, top configurations can get very expensive; still, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better business laptop.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 (Gen 9) review.

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020)

With faster performance and longer battery life from its M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro is the ultimate MacBook (for now). (Image credit: Future)

2. Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1)

The best Apple laptop for business

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1
GPU: Apple M1 (integrated)
RAM: 8GB/16GB
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel
Size: 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Stellar overall and gaming performance+Excellent battery life+Lightning-fast SSD+Great webcam
Reasons to avoid
-Not enough ports-Thick bezels

Welcome to the new era of Apple computing. Apple’s M1 custom SoC marks the first step in Apple’s conscious uncoupling from Intel. The ARM-based 5-nanometer chip has 16 billion transistors, which is the most the company has ever put into a chip. In addition to all those transistors, the SoC features an eight-core processor, integrated graphics, a unified memory architecture, Apple’s Neural Engine, an improved image signal processor and Apple’s Secure Enclave. The result is a faster, more powerful laptop that's a force to be reckoned with.

The MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 delivers impressive performance and has the longest battery life we’ve ever seen on a Mac. If that’s not enough, paired with Big Sur, you get blistering webpage load times and a better webcam experience –– all thanks to Apple Silicon. In short, the new MacBook Pro is everything Apple said and more. 

See our full Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1) review.

HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7

A convertible laptop from HP, the EliteBook x360 1040 G7 is the best laptop for business.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

3. HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7

The best HP business laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-10810U
GPU: Intel UHD
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB
Display: 14-inch, 1080p
Size: 12.6 x 8 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 2.9 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Epic battery life+Attractive, slim design+Good 1080p display+Fast CPU performance
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

HP's EliteBook x360 1040 G7 is among the best business laptops money can buy. This stunning laptop has a gorgeous chassis that flaunts a flexible hinge, allowing the x360 1040 G7 to convert from a laptop into a tablet.

It's one of a few rare notebooks that seemingly has no downsides. Along with that stylus chassis, you get a bright and vivid 14-inch display. But the EliteBook x360 1040 G7'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. The 10th Gen Intel CPUs, while lacking graphical oomph, are powerful, and the battery lasts for longer than 11 hours on a charge. 

For these reasons, the EliteBook x360 1040 is the best HP laptop for business users. 

See our full HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 review 

Artists and writers who prefer to write/draw by hand will appreciate the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, the best 2-in-1 laptop. 

Artists and writers who prefer to write/draw by hand will appreciate the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, the best 2-in-1 laptop.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (6th Gen, 2021)

The best 2-in-1 laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU
GPU: Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 256GB; 512GB SSD
Display: 14-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel IPS (16:10)
Size: 12.3 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Solid, sleek design+Fantastic keyboard+Speedy performance+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Heavier than some competitors-No SD card slot

Lenovo is trusting in aluminum with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, and the risky decision is paying off. While we still love the signature matte-black carbon fiber found on most ThinkPads, the aluminum 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 14-inch 16:10 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. 

If you prefer a detachable, give our ThinkPad X12 Detachable review a read. Want something a bit more spicey? The ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is an excellent option. 

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (6th Gen, 2021) review.

Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1

Dell stepped up its game with the Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1, an attractive laptop with 15+ hours of battery life.  (Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

5. Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1

An excellent clamshell 2-in-1 laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-1185G7
GPU: Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Class 35 SSD
Display: 14-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel 16:10
Size: 12.2 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches
Weight: 3.2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Slim, but durable chassis+Fantastic QHD+ 16:10 display+Fast performance+Epic battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Subpar 720p webcam-Not the lightest option-Pricey

If battery life is a priority, the Dell Latitude 9420 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 15+ 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. Perhaps most impressive is that you get that epic endurance despite the laptop having a fantastic 14-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel 16:10 display. 

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 9420 2-in-1 is yet another big stepping stone for Dell's famously uninspiring business notebooks. We hope the next version has a better webcam and costs less because if it does, you can say goodbye to the X1 Carbon as the best business laptop. 

See our full Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 review.

HP Pro C640 Chromebook

HP Pro C640 Chromebook (Image credit: Future)

6. HP Pro C640 Chrome Enterprise

Best business Chromebook

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-10610U
GPU: Intel UHD
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 128GB eMMC
Display: 14-inch, 1080p
Size: 12.8 x 8.07 x 0.65 inches
Weight: 3.3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Military-grade durability+Perfect for security-minded users+Comfortable keyboard+Wide variety of ports
Reasons to avoid
-Dim, lackluster display

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.

Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable

Dell's Latitude 7320 Detachable is a better version of the Surface Pro 7+ (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

7. Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable

The best business 2-in-1 laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-1180G7 CPU
GPU: Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB
Display: 13 inches, 1920 x 1280-pixel
Size: 11.4 x 8.2 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Slim aluminum design+Bright, vivid 13-inch display+Good performance+Comfy keyboard with pen charging slot
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Kickstand is a bit flimsy

With the Latitude 7320 Detachable, Dell takes on the Surface Pro and wins. Standout features include a gorgeous 13-inch display, fast performance, a comfortable detachable keyboard with a built-in stylus slot, useful security features, and a class-leading webcam (yes, you read that right). These are all packaged in a sleek metal chassis that can easily be slipped into a backpack or purse. 

The Latitude does waver in a few areas. The kickstand feels somewhat flimsy and the sky-high price will detract all but the highest-ranking execs or the wealthiest corporations. Despite these faults, the Latitude 7320 gives Dell enterprise customers an excellent version of this ultra-mobile form factor so they can work or relax from anywhere.

See our full Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable review.

Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 workstation laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 is the best workstation on the market. (Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

8. Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2

The most powerful workstation

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-11950H vPro
GPU: Nvidia RTX A5000
RAM: 32GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, FHD (1920x1080)
Size: 14.7 x 9.9 x 1.2 inches
Weight: 6.2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Class-leading performance+Excellent array of ports+Bright display+Durable build
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Heavy

The Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 improves on what was already a winning formula with the original ThinkPad P15 with upgraded performance and stellar battery life for the 1080p model.

The laptop’s 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11950H CPU, Nvidia RTX A5000 GPU and 32GB of RAM make it an absolute workhorse of a workstation. If raw performance is your goal, it will be hard to beat the ThinkPad P15 Gen 2. The one concern for creatives will be the display, but if that’s crucial for you consider the OLED panel option or perhaps an external display.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 review.

Asus ExpertBook B9450

Asus ExpertBook B9450 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

9. Asus ExpertBook B9450

Ultra portability

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-10510U
GPU: Intel UHD
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB
Display: 14-inch, 1080p
Size: 12.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Record-setting battery life+Incredibly lightweight yet durable+Attractive midnight-blue design
Reasons to avoid
-Mixed performance-Touchpad and keyboard quirks

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.

EliteBook 840 G7

Whether you're a business user or an IT admin buying an entire fleet, the EliteBook 840 G7 is a go-to laptop.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

10. HP EliteBook 840 G7

The best mainstream business laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-10810U CPU
GPU: UHD graphics
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 14-inch, 1080p
Size: 12.74 x 8.45 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Sleek aluminum chassis+Fast performance+Comfortable keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Weak graphics-Top configs are expensive

The EliteBook 840 G7 is one classy-looking business notebook. But it's more than just looks. It offers 9 hours and 23 minutes of battery life, an awesome keyboard, and, when you need it, a SureView privacy display to keep strangers from checking out your screen. 

There are also plenty of ports so you can ditch the dongles and top-firing speakers sound surprisingly good. Yes, the webcam isn't the best but that's nothing an external solution can't fix. Cheaper than most premium business laptops, the EliteBook 840 G5 comes with a 10th Intel Core i7 CPU, up to 64GB of RAM and up to a 1TB SSD.

See our full HP EliteBook 840 G7 review.

Surface Pro 7 Plus

Dell's Latitude 7320 Detachable is a better version of the Surface Pro 7+ (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

11. Microsoft Surface Pro 7+

The best business 2-in-1 laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7
GPU: Iris Xe
RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB
Storage: 256GB
Display: 12.3 inches, 2736 x 1824-pixel
Size: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Bright, vivid display+Faster CPU and graphics performance+Swappable SSD
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be better-Thick display bezels

The Surface Pro 7+ takes the Surface Pro 7 and makes it for business users by adding 11th Gen Intel CPUs, 4G LTE connectivity and an easily swappable SSD. The battery life gets a small upgrade and the new processor provides outstanding performance in our synthetic and real-world testing. 

The design hasn't changed at all, but the Surface Pro 7+ 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, storage/RAM upgrades are inexplicably expensive, and there is no Thunderbolt 3 port. Still, this is one of the best 2-in-1 devices around, and an excellent choice if you're traveling. 

Not sold on the Surface Pro 7+? See our review of the ThinkPad X12 Detachable. If you don't absolutely need business features, we prefer the Surface Pro 8 over its enterprise-focused sibling. 

See our full Surface Pro 7+ review.

HP ZBook Studio G8 review

HP ZBook Studio G8 is another excellent workstation if you can afford the price. (Image credit: Future)

12. HP ZBook Studio G8

Powerful workstation with stunning display

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9-11950H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
RAM: 32GB
Storage: 2TB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, OLED 4K (3840 x 2160)
Size: 14.1 x 10.1 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 3.3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Stunning 4K OLED display+Powerful overall and gaming performance+Comfortable keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey-Can get hot

This salacious attention grabber comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB of RAM, 2TB of SSD storage, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU that will more than handle all your Adobe Creative Suite power-hungry needs and then some.

The $4,727 system is gorgeous, powerful, MIL-SPEC tough, and in my humble opinion is one of the best content creator laptops on the market. Oh, I forgot to mention, its OLED 4K touchscreen is bright, vivid and positively stunning.

However, for the price, I wish the battery lasted longer and it didn’t run as hot. If you’re looking for longer battery life and just a scooch more power, the $2,999 MSI Creator Z16 is an option that’s loads cheaper.

See our full HP ZBook Studio G8 review.

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 business 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. 

Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable

Dell's Latitude 7320 Detachable is a better version of the Surface Pro 7+ (Image credit: Laptop Mag)
Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.