It takes a lot to run a successful business, whether you're managing a small-to-medium sized organisation, or working at a large enterprise scale. Second to top-notch talent, the most important thing required is top-notch machinery: high functioning, cost-efficient, and easy-to-use computers.
In many cases, particularly in open offices where space is tight, or in environments where employees may be shuffling from meeting to meeting or even working remotely, it's necessary that these workstations be mobile. So, all that considered, what's it going to be for your staff?
You've got no shortage of options; we've highlighted our favourite business-focused laptops taking into consideration a number of key factors including power, battery life, feature set and sheer value for money based on actual value as opposed to RRP.
This means that we've selected a wider range of laptops to suit most if not all budgets and hopefully all tastes; there's a mix of cutting-edge products and old favourites here.
Almost all of them come with Windows Professional to enhance their business credentials. Remember that you can upgrade from any recent version of Windows Home/Personal (7, 8.1 and 10) to Windows 10 Professional for £99.99 (although you will need to upgrade to Windows 10 Personal for Windows 8.1and Windows 7).
Note that you have only a couple of weeks till the free upgrade to Windows 10 expires.
1. HP 255 G4
A reliable workhorse that certainly won't break the bank
CPU: 1.8GHz AMD A6-6310 | Graphics: AMD Radeon HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 pixels | Storage: 500GB HDD
The 255 G4 is HP's entry-level business laptop and is a solid candidate should you be looking for a straightforward, reliable, workhorse at a bargain price. Don't expect any fireworks as it is a basic model; it just does the job without much ado. One thing that works for this machine though is its price – the G4 battles with Lenovo for the cheapest business laptop on the market.
2. Dell Inspiron 15-5559
A business ultraportable that punches above its weight
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: AMD Radeon R5 M335 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 2TB HDD
Believe it or not, Dell classifies the Inspiron as a business laptop, albeit one that is geared towards a home office environment. This ultraportable laptop – as Dell puts it – punches above its weight with Windows 10 Pro across the entire range as well as rather attractive pricing. The top of the range model we've favoured here tips the scales at around £750 with some very tasty specs, but the entry-level machine costs about 20% less.
3. Toshiba Portege Z30-C-138
A notebook which boasts great connectivity and battery longevity
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 512GB SSD
So, you want the most powerful system on the market with plenty of connectivity but don't want to compromise on size or portability or battery life. Mission impossible? Well, not really. Take this Portege laptop from Toshiba. The Japanese manufacturer managed to squeeze an extraordinary amount of components in this device including a VGA port, a fingerprint reader and even a 4G/LTE modem and A-GPS!
4. Lenovo ThinkPad X240
An old favourite, but still a very worthy notebook
CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U | Graphics: Intel HD 4400 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, 1366 x 768 pixels | Storage: 256GB SSD
Mention the word ThinkPad to older geeks and many of them will wax lyrical on how that laptop range set the benchmark for enterprise notebooks. The X240 might be a couple of years old already but its feature set means that it simply cannot be ignored at its current asking price. Sure it doesn't have the latest CPU or a touchscreen but that probably won't matter for the audience the X240 is aimed at.
Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X240
5. Lenovo B51-80
A not particularly portable powerhouse
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 1TB HDD
If you are willing to sacrifice portability for sheer power, then this laptop is worth considering. Oddly enough, although it is part of Lenovo's B-series (essentially aiming for the SMB market), it comes with Windows Home rather than Professional. Other than this, the B51 is a very decent all-rounder that hits almost all the right notes: from the powerful CPU to the full HD display and the discrete GPU.
6. HP EliteBook 745 G2
A great budget offering
CPU: 2.1GHz AMD A10 Pro-7350B APU | Graphics: AMD Radeon R6 Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch, 1600 x 900 pixels | Storage: 240GB SSD
Business laptops do not have to be expensive. This EliteBook from HP embodies that idea, bringing together some very decent components at a rock bottom price. How HP manages to do that beggars belief, because this notebook is loaded with a powerful AMD CPU, 4GB of RAM, a fast SSD and it gives you up to 10 hours battery life.
7. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina Display 2015
A great performer with an excellent screen
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core | Graphics: Intel Iris Pro Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2880 x 1800 pixels | Storage: 256GB SSD
Should a member of Apple's award winning MacBook Pro family be included in a best business laptop shortlist? Certainly as it hits all the right notes especially as IBM has boosted Apple's credentials as an enterprise player. And Apple's top of the range models are certainly not overly expensive compared to their Windows-based counterparts, especially if you buy them from trusted third-party websites.
8. Fujitsu LifeBook E736
This notebook delivers on all fronts, but has quite the price tag
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6600U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 256GB SSD
This is the other Japanese laptop company that we often hear about and while Fujitsu is rarely seen as an innovator, its newest range of notebooks may well change that perception by bundling a lot of features that are often regarded as optional by the competition. From the two-year standard warranty to the massive battery and 4G/LTE integrated modem, there's a lot to love about this machine.
Read the full review: Fujitsu LifeBook E736
9. Dell Latitude E7470
A solid performer backed by Dell's quality aftersales
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Storage: 128GB
Dell's decision to bypass the E7460 series to launch an E7470 left a few analysts puzzled but the PC vendor managed to deliver a magnificent piece of kit which it says is the most secure, most reliable and most manageable business-class laptop. It does come at a hefty price though and compared to the competition, this notebook may feel underwhelming. However, Dell's forte lies in its services and aftersales.
Read the full review: Dell Latitude E7470
10. Lenovo ThinkPad T560
Powerful yet still nicely slim and portable
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6600U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 2880 x 1620 pixels | Storage: 256GB SSD
Lenovo calls the newest member of the ThinkPad T-series family the 'new standard for highly mobile laptops'. What makes it so special is the fact that it blurs the line between traditional business devices and more powerful mobile workstations. The top-end spec highlighted here boasts some of the highest configuration levels we've seen on any laptop and yet manages to pack everything into a very portable and elegant Ultrabook-esque form factor.