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Best business laptops 2021: top devices for working from home, SMB and more

Best business laptops
(Image credit: Dell)

This new work-from-home trend is reviving the best business laptops in a massive way. Don’t get us wrong; business laptops have always been around. However, innovations in portable computing has somewhat forced them in the shadows, as general consumers set their sights on sleeker Ultrabooks and more affordable laptops.

Now, with more and more professionals working from home, the best business laptops have found their place in the sun again. These powerful, versatile and robust machines are the perfect solutions for professionals no longer tied to their office desks – much like they have been for those who often traveled for business. As added perks, many of them are thinner, more lightweight and longer-lasting than ever.

Whether you’re looking for one with long battery life and perhaps a rugged build, or you want the thin and light option, we found the best business laptops of 2021 for you. From the most common Windows laptops to a Linux laptop and a more economical Chromebook, here are our top picks.

For more options, check out our best mobile workstation and best thin client guides where you’ll find something for your small startup or your home office-based one-man team. If you’re looking for something with a bit more oomph, one of the best business desktop PCs or even a workstation might be a better fit. Alternatively, check out our best tablets for business guide as well.

While you’re at it, consider which accessories you may need, such as laptop bags, docking stations, and portable chargers to keep the battery going.

Dell XPS 15

(Image credit: Dell)

1. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

All-powerful laptop for creative students

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Screen: 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 15.6" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Amazing speakers+Beautiful display+Comfy keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak

Combining staggering power in a stylish thin and light chassis, this laptop doesn’t hold back when it comes to internals and features that improve your computing experience overall, making this one of the best business laptops around. Among those amazing features are a gorgeous bright display with 500 nits of brightness, an extremely comfortable keyboard, impressive speakers, and a terrific trackpad. We’re not saying that this laptop is perfect, but our coveted 5 out of 5 rating should speak for itself.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15

MacBook Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

2. MacBook Pro 16"

The best Apple laptop

CPU: 2.6GHz 6‑core Intel Core i7 to 2.4GHz 8‑core Intel Core i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 to AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6
RAM: 16-64GB 2666MHz DDR4
Screen: 16-inch 3072x1920 at 226 ppi
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Powerful configurations+Best MacBook to date+Big and beautiful screen
Reasons to avoid

If you don't want a Windows laptop and you want only the best Mac laptop you can get, then the MacBook Pro 16" is truly the best laptop from Apple you can choose.

Aside from its large and beautiful 16" screen, the technical specifications make this probably the most powerful laptop on this list, and should provide many years of excellent use.

There's a choice of 6-core or 8-core processor, and for RAM the base model comes with 16 GB with the option to expand to 64 GB. There's also a choice of graphics cards available, allowing this laptop to handle even the most demanding applications.

All in all this is a beautiful and powerful machine, but as you'd expect, it comes with the biggest price tag of all of the laptops featured here. If you want only the best, then the MacBook Pro 16" should probably be at the top of your list.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen)

(Image credit: Lenovo)

3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen)

The ultra-thin business laptop that sacrifices nothing

CPU: Intel Core i7-7600U vPro
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620
Screen: 14-inch, 2560 x 1440 pixels
Storage: 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Smaller and lighter in every way to previous versions+Improved Microsoft Precision Touchpad
Reasons to avoid

Previous versions of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon have been the absolute best-in-class when it comes to business laptops, and this year's model is no exception, with Lenovo delivering a thinner and smaller design with practically no trade-offs. 

If you're looking for one of the best Lenovo laptops with business grade capabilities, you've got an ace here. Despite its small size, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with pretty much every feature you need in a productivity machine, making it the best business laptop money can buy. Thanks to a battery life of up to 15.5 hours, and a rapid charging feature that brings the battery back up to 80 percent capacity in only an hours, the X1 Carbon is an ultrabook that lets you keep on working while you're on the move.

Huawei MateBook X Pro

(Image credit: Huawei)

4. Huawei MateBook X Pro

A stunning business laptop

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 , Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.9-inch 3K (3,000 x 2,080)
Storage: 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful design+Fantastic display+Terrific battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No SD card slot-Webcam not great

Huawei may not be the first name you think of when looking to buy a new business laptop - whereas Dell and Lenovo are two names you'd more likely associate with notebooks for work, but the Chinese company has proved to be an excellent laptop manufacturer with its new MateBook X Pro. It has a beautiful design that will get appreciative looks in the boardroom, it's light enough to carry around with you, and it has powerful components and excellent battery life. It's also one of the cheaper ultrabooks on the market.

Dell XPS 13

(Image credit: Dell)

5. Dell XPS 13

New and improved

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4k (3840 x 2160)
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Centered webcam+Battery life better than ever+Beautiful optional 4K display
Reasons to avoid
-Update isn't huge-Expensive

If the Dell XPS 15 is a little large or expensive for your needs, then the Dell XPS 13 makes for an excellent second.

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. It was also refreshed in 2019 with even better components, for a much improved business laptop experience.

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.

Dell has once again given the Dell XPS 13 a boost when it comes to components, and the webcam is now placed above the screen for better video calls, which helps make the Dell XPS 13 once again one of the best business laptops money can buy.

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

6. MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

Worth the upgrade at the highest configuration

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – 10th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
RAM: up to 32GB
Screen: 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Improved specs (on some models)+Larger capacity SSD for starting model+New keyboard is great
Reasons to avoid
-Entry-level model still has 8th gen Intel CPU-You still only get Thunderbolt 3 ports

The MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)’s entry-level model may miss out on some of the lineup’s new toys. However, going for the higher-end configurations will get you new (and powerful) Intel processors and improved RAM speeds for better performance, all packed in the 13-inch incredibly svelte body. Apple rounds it all out with that incredible Magic Keyboard from the new 16-inch, finally getting rid of that problematic keyboard. Even if you don’t go for the 10th-generation Intel Core configurations, you might still appreciate the fact that all models come with more storage capacity for the same price as their predecessors. 

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

(Image credit: Lenovo)

7. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Ultra light and surprisingly powerful

CPU: up to 11th-gen Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Screen: 13.0" 2K (2160 x 1350) IPS, anti-reflective, anti-smudge, touchscreen with Dolby Vision
Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Sleek design+Incredibly light+Excellent display
Reasons to avoid
-Limited ports-Keyboard layout

Even its limited ports and small trackpad cannot hold the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano back. One of the best business laptops we’ve ever tested, this portable is not only the lightest laptop we’ve ever tested, but also surprisingly powerful considering how sleek it is. That makes it the most ideal choice for professionals who are always on the go. Excellent features abound as well, with the likes of a crisp 2K 16:10 touchscreen, a physical webcam shutter and advanced biometrics of the fingerprint scanner adding to its value and making it worth its steep price. At least if portability and performance are your top priorities.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

MacBook Air (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

8. MacBook Air (2020)

New and improved for 2020

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display (backlit LED, IPS)
Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe-based SSD
Dimensions: 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61 cm
Reasons to buy
+Lower price of entry+New 10th generation processors+Improved keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Screen colors a little muted-Battery life only OK-Webcam still just 720p

Apple’s thinnest and lightest MacBook came back with a vengeance in 2020. Not only did it fix a lot of the complaints with its predecessors – namely, that problematic keyboard, replaced by a drastically improved keyboard. But it also came with new and more powerful internal components, even more storage space options, and a lower price of entry. There are a couple of things we’d do better, like the muted screen and the average battery life. However, all things considered, this model of the MacBook Air is better than anything we’ve seen from the line to date, and among the best business laptops for Apple fans who want to travel light.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (2020) 

Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)

9. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)

The most powerful 2-in-1 laptop in the world

CPU: Intel Core i5-7300U - Intel Core i7-8650U 1.9GHz
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5 VRAM)
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 3,000 x 2,000 (267 ppi) PixelSense display, 3:2 aspect ratio
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Very good battery life+Powerful
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey-No Surface Pen included

The Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch) is another entry from Microsoft in our best business laptop list, and it's worthy of its spot, as Microsoft has crafted one of the most powerful 2-in-1 laptops in the world. The Surface Book 2 has some powerful enough components to handle most day-to-day tasks, and even some light gaming and video editing if you go for a model with a dedicated graphics card. If you want a bigger screen, then there is also a 15-inch version of the Surface Book 2, which comes with more powerful components.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)

Google Pixelbook Go

(Image credit: Google)

10. Google Pixelbook Go

The best Chromebook ever made

CPU: Intel Core m3 - Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615
RAM: 8GB - 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or 4K LCD touchscreen
Storage: 128GB - 256GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Incredible battery life+Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Iffy pricing at mid- to- high-end-No biometric login

Google continues its tradition of making the best Chromebook in the world. This is a Chromebook that proves that these devices can be just as stylish and powerful as traditional laptops, and the Pixelbook Go brings a lot of the original Pixelbook's premium features to a more affordable device. It also features a fantastic battery life and a brilliant keyboard that makes typing on a pleasure. This is among the best business laptops for professionals looking to save some cash.

Read the full review: Google Pixelbook Go

Michelle Rae Uy also contributed to this article.

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