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 (recommended retail price).
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 the professional version of Microsoft Windows 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 8.1 and Windows 7 first).
Likewise, most business laptops come with the ability to downgrade to Windows 7 should your organisation want to do that.
Keep an eye - and look out for four just-announced models that are likely to figure in our list in the near future.
Where to buy business laptops
- Apple MacBook Pro
- Lenovo Yoga, ThinkPad and Ideapad
- HP ZBook, Elitebook, Pro and ElitePad
- Toshiba Portege, Tecra and Satellite Pro
- Fujitsu Lifebook and Celcius
- Dell Latitude, Precision and Vostro
1. HP 255 G5
A reliable workhorse that won't break the bank
CPU: Intel Core i5-6200U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 256GB SSD
The 255 G5 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 G5 battles with Lenovo for the best-value business laptop on the market.
2. Dell XPS 13 Kaby Lake
A business ultraportable that punches above its weight
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U | Graphics: Intel HD620 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 256GB SSD
Believe it or not, Dell classifies the XPS 13 as a business laptop, albeit one that is geared towards a home office environment but businessmen (and women) will love the design. 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.
This award winning laptop (it won best laptop of the year from us and many others) manages to pack a 13.3-inch display into the chassis of an average 11.6-inch model.
The laptop can be upgraded to 16GB of RAM and a 1TB M2 SSD drive. Battery life is exceptional as well with almost 22 hours of continual use when using productivity applications.
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 E470
Best if you're looking for something portable with a decent keyboard
CPU: 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 256GB SSD
Lenovo took an existing form factor and refined it to deliver the new 2016-2017 ThinkPad E470. Powered by the 7th generation Intel Core processors, this particular SKU has a 14-inch FHD anti-glare display, powered by a discrete Nvidia Geforce 940MX 2GB GPU.
Equipped with a spill resistant keyboard, a TrackPoint and a 3+2 buttons click pad, the E470 has more than enough ports and expansion capabilities to keep the average user happy. Shame that it doesn't do DisplayPort, so no 4K output.
5. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260
For those looking for a business convertible
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 512GB SSD
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 Spectre Pro 13 G1
A genuine altearnative to the XPS 13
CPU: Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD 520 Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 512GB SSD
HP was the only one of the three big laptop vendors who didn't have a flagship thin-and-light laptop: Dell has the XPS 13 and Lenovo, the Yoga 900.
That is now no longer the case with the introduction of the HP Spectre Pro 13 G1. This is a device that not only oozes luxury with a combination of colours and a clever design but also one that packs some incredible components.
Despite being just over 10mm thick and weighing just over 1.16Kg, it manages to pack a proper Core i7 CPU with a full HD 13.3-inch display, a massive 4-cell 38Whr battery and three USB Type C connectors.
7. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch 2016
A great performer with an excellent screen
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core | Graphics: Radeon Pro 450 with 2GB RAM | 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.
The new generation introduces a Touch Bar and Touch ID functionality as well as a plethora of USB Type-C ports in lieu of more traditional ports.
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.
9. Dell Latitude E5480
A solid performer backed by Dell's quality aftersales
CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-7440H | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Storage: 256GB SSD
Dell managed to deliver a magnificent piece of kit which it says is the most secure, most reliable and most manageable business-class laptop.
That Latitude 5480 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. That particular model comes with a 7th generation Intel CPU, one that is an actual four-core CPU.
While it has a far higher TDP than most of its peers (45W vs 15W), it is likely to be more powerful than even a top of the range Core i7-7600U.
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.