Best business laptops 2018: top laptops for work


The best business laptops combine cutting edge productivity features with slimline designs and long battery life that provides mobility and productivity – essential functions for the modern workplace, and we're here to help you by gathering together the very best business laptops for 2018.

Having the best business laptop that suits your needs is essential, and to make things as easy as possible, we've put together this list of the best business laptops money can buy in 2018, which includes expert advice on the latest business-orientated laptops and notebooks, so you know exactly what you're buying.

While compiling this list of the best business laptops, we've taken into consideration a number of key factors including power, battery life, feature set and sheer value for money.

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.

We also have our very own price comparison tool that will compare prices and make sure you're buying the very best business laptop for the very best price.

If you're looking for a bit more power, then check out our list of the best mobile workstations, as well as our pick for the best business desktop PC.

best business laptops

Where to buy business laptops

best business laptops

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. 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% capacity in only an hours, the X1 Carbon is an ultrabook that lets you keep on working while you're on the move.

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.

best business laptops

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. It was also refreshed in 2017 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.

With the 2018 refresh, the Dell XPS 13 is a slimmer, more powerful version with a stunning 4K display and a gorgeous Rose Gold on Alpine White color option. It's powered by an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU to boot.

elitebook

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. 

best business laptops: Thinkpad X

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.

Last year’s Dell XPS 15 was already one of the best laptops you could buy, but now that Dell has taken the beautiful redesign of the Dell XPS 13 and applied it here – while also making it a convertible. This makes it easily one of the best business laptops money can buy in 2018. It looks fantastic, feels great to use and it packs one of those new Intel Kaby Lake G-series CPUs featuring ‘discrete-class’ Radeon graphics. This means that this laptop packs serious power – even if it can get a little loud.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 

If you're after a cheap laptop that offers something a bit special, look no further than the Lenovo Yoga Book. As with all Yoga devices, the screen folds flat so you can use it either as a tablet or a laptop, and it comes with a choice of Windows 10 or Android as its operating system. For business users, the Windows 10 option is a no-brainer. It has a fantastic touchscreen that makes jotting down notes or diagrams a cinch.

elitebook

If you're after the latest and greatest laptop from Apple, we suggest you check out the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar, which is one of the best business laptops in 2017. Despite Microsoft’s claims that its Surface Book 2 is twice as powerful as Apple’s flagship MacBook Pro, it’s also more expensive at the starting level. Of course, the headline feature is the Touch Bar – it's a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard which can be used for any number of things, whether that be auto-suggesting words as you type or offering Touch ID so you can log in with just your fingerprint. If you're a massive fan of the Macbook Pro 2017, you'll be happy with this model but there are some serious reasons why you should consider one of the Windows alternatives. If you work with a lot of creative applications, such as Photoshop, then the MacBook Pro is a fantastic choice.

Read the full review: Apple Macbook with Touch Bar (2017)

The Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch) is another new entry to 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, the there is also a 15-inch version of the Surface Book 2, which comes with more powerful components, but that's currently only on sale in the US. It should reach other territories next year.

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

Chromebooks might not be the most obvious devices for business laptops, but the Asus Chromebook Flip proves that they can be excellent work tools. It comes with a full-fat Intel Core processor, full HD 1080p display and backlit keyboard. ChromeOS is now a more robust operating system with plenty of tools, and if you rely on web-based CMS or Google Docs to do your work, then the Asus Chromebook Flip is an affordable, well built and handy business laptop.



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Acer Chromebook Tab 10


Acer has at last allowed the press to play around with the world’s first Chrome OS tablet, the Chromebook Tab 10. However, we’re not exactly psyched to have had the chance.

You see, Chrome OS on tablets is a tricky proposition at the moment, with very little consideration in the interface for touch-only devices. That makes the otherwise cleverly-designed tablet rather difficult to use and difficult to get excited about.

Acer may have beaten Apple to the punch with a tablet for classrooms (by a day) with an education tablet that includes a stylus, but perhaps it would have been better off pumping the brakes for a little while.

acer chromebook tab 10

Price and availability

Acer has priced the Chromebook Tab 10 rather conservatively at just $329 (about £229, AU$429), which includes the built-in stylus.

That price gets you a 2GHz Rockchip processor behind the 9.7-inch, IPS touchscreen with a 2,048 x 1,536 resolution. Backing that up are 4GB of memory and 32GB of eMMC storage.

Of course, that price is strategically set to combat Apple in the classroom and elsewhere in kids’ lives – but we’re not sure it’s enough. Apple’s iPad processor should handily trounce the Rockchip in performance tests, and it generally feels like a more substantial device.

Design and display

The Chromebook Tab 10 is designed like most budget Android tablets, with a blue, pocked plastic shell surrounding a display with rather thick bezels. 

Acer has included a USB-C port for charging and data transfer as well as display extending, as well as a microSD slot and headphone jack, which is more than Apple can say at least.

Furthermore, Acer can proudly say that its education tablet stylus is included – it hides within the left side of the device – whereas Apple’s costs another hundred bucks or quid. However, it’s a rather chintzy-feeling pen with no additional features or buttons, despite the Wacom technology inside.

That said, the stylus performs admirably, even including strong pressure sensitivity to create thin or thick digital ink strokes.

We appreciate the light weight and no-nonsense style of the Chromebook Tab 10 design, but it’s just nowhere near as luxury-feeling as a device that costs exactly the same (though without the stylus).

The display, on the other hand, is just gorgeous. It unsurprisingly matches Apple’s resolution pixel for pixel, but the IPS technology inside makes for awfully wide viewing angles.

acer chromebook tab 10

Interface and performance

Perhaps our biggest bugbears with the Chromebook Tab 10 come through its interface. Simply put, Chrome OS needs work in a tablet environment – at least for those without keyboards.

Chrome OS on tablets makes very few considerations for the platform on which it exists for several reasons, the worst of which being that it has no home button. There is no way to get to the home screen of the tablet other than exiting all of your open apps.

There is a system-wide search function and app manager, but neither can stand in for the lack of a basic feature. Pinning anything to the home screen seems like a non sequitur, and there appear to be no touch functions for easy access to system settings, much less multi-touch gestures.

Simply put, even with Google Play Store support, Chrome OS works best on a tablet with a keyboard.

Unfortunately, we were not able to test the augmented reality function of the tablet during Acer’s big event.

acer chromebook tab 10

Early verdict

Acer’s – and the world’s – first Chrome OS tablet might be ideal in a classroom environment for security reasons, but it’s certainly not ideal in most other applications.

The tablet employs a gorgeous display and gets extra points for the included stylus, but we’d have a hard time using this tablet with any regularity considering these shortcomings.

While we’ve yet to fully test the Chromebook Tab 10, we’re sad to say that we’re not all that excited to do so anyway. 



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Acer Predator Helios 500


Acer has introduced its flagship, 17-inch gaming laptop for 2018, and it’s a powerful desktop replacement with lots of options (save for graphics) and features tailor-made for a mobile gaming rig.

This is the Acer Predator Helios 500, a 17.3-inch gaming laptop powered by up to Intel Core i9 processors and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics.

We’ve had a brief time to test drive the laptop during Acer’s annual keynote event in New York City, and we’ve come away impressed – especially considering the price – if a little uninspired.

Acer Predator Helios 500

Price and availability

Acer is setting the Predator Helios 500 to start at $1,999 or £1,799 (about AU$3,179) when it lands in stores and online in the US in June and the UK in July. Acer has not yet disclosed Australian pricing and availability.

That starting price gets you quite a lot: a 17.3-inch, 1080p (configurable to 2160p) Nvidia G-Sync display at 144Hz, which is powered by an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor (up to Core i9) and an Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics card. Backing that up are up to 16GB of DDR4 memory and SSD options ranging from 512GB to 1TB (you can also get up to a 2TB hard drive).

With that, the Helios 500 falls well in line with its competitors when it comes to pricing for the hardware inside.

Design and display

There isn’t that much different about the Helios 500 design from its smaller cousin, the Helios 300. The laptop adopts a matte black shell adorned with light blue Predator-branded accents. You won’t find any chrome or gold on this laptop.

As expected, the Helios 500 is rather heavy at 8.82 pounds (4kg), so this laptop sits squarely in the desktop replacement category. Of course, Acer makes ample use of the laptop’s tall base with a full-sized, fully RGB-backlit keyboard (numpad included) that offers satisfyingly deep travel and strong bounceback from the keys. This is a gaming laptop with a keyboard that can be used for lengthy bouts of typing with no problem.

As for the display, Acer seems to have all but ignored the trend of shrinking bezels, which is understandable. With a screen that large, do the bezels even matter?

The short answer from our brief time with the device is ‘no, it doesn’t.’ The UHD (2160p) display on the Helios 500 is a sight to behold when playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). However, it’s currently unknown just how much the Nvidia GTX 1070 inside can handle other games at such a high resolution.

Acer Predator Helios 500

Performance

While we were unable to glean too much regarding the laptop’s power from our short time with it, the spec sheet shows lots of promise. The game of PUBG that we played while at the show went down with zero fuss, stutter or slow down, if that’s any indication.

However, no other, more intense games were found on the demonstration unit available during Acer’s event. Further testing at TechRadar headquarters will have to determine just how performant that Core i9 processor is when paired with Nvidia’s latest.

That said, we did find the Helios 500 to run rather cool after several minutes of gameplay – even when touching the base of the laptop. It’s easy to chalk this up to two of Acer’s latest, proprietary AeroBlade 3D metal cooling fans, and five heat pipes inside.

Acer Predator Helios 500

Early verdict

Acer’s newest 17-inch gaming laptop isn’t rewriting the rule book on mobile PC gaming, but rather keeping pace with the competition. The result is a fine-looking and potent desktop replacement that, at the moment, we’d be comfortable seeing replace our desktop. If the price is right, then all that’s left is to suss out the performance – stay tuned for a full review.



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Samsung C49J89


We love a good ultra-wide monitor here at TechRadar, and the Samsung C49J89, which comes with a ‘super ultra-wide’ aspect ratio, makes most of the monitors we’ve previously tried feel rather cramped and titchy by comparison.

This is thanks to its combination of a large 49-inch screen and an aspect ratio of 32:9. In comparison, standard widescreen monitors usually have an aspect ratio of 16:9, while ultra-wide monitors, like the BenQ EX3501R, have aspect ratios of 21:9.

In fact, the Samsung C49J89 has only one rival when it comes to 32:9 aspect ratio, and that’s another Samsung monitor: the Samsung CHG90, a gaming-focused monitor with the same 49-inch screen size and 32:9 aspect ratio.

The difference between the Samsung C49J89 and the Samsung CHG90 is the latter’s focus on gamers, so the C49J89 on test here has a lower maximum brightness (300cd/m2 compared to the CHG90’s 350cd/m2), and a slower response time (5ms (GT) compared to the CHG90’s 1ms (MPRT)).

There’s also a difference in price, with the Samsung C49J89 costing a fair bit less than the Samsung CHG90.

Price and availability

The Samsung C49J89 is now available to order in the US for $1,099, in the UK for £899, and in Australia for AU$1,899. While this is pretty steep for a monitor, you are getting a lot more screen than you usually would.

It’s not the most expensive monitor we’ve tried either, and is less expensive than the Samsung CHG90, although that monitor is now seeing discounts if you shop around.

So, if the gaming-centric features of the Samsung CHG90 don’t appeal but you still want that huge 32:9 aspect ratio for working on, watching movies or doing the odd bit of gaming (or all three at once – seriously, this monitor is wide), then you could save yourself some money by going for the Samsung C49J89 instead.

Design

At first glance the Samsung C49J89 looks pretty much identical to the Samsung CHG90, with the same screen size and aspect ratio, along with a pretty much identical body and stand. It’s little surprise that the design is so similar, as Samsung would hardly have a wide selection of 32:9 monitor bodies knocking around, so it makes sense to use the same chassis.

Unless you're familiar with its sibling, the Samsung C49J89 looks like no other monitor you’ve seen, with its almost ridiculous width sometimes appearing as if it were an optical illusion – it quite easily fills your horizontal field of vision. However, the wider monitors get, the more the vertical aspect seems diminished, so here you get a very wide, yet narrow, monitor. Combined with the resolution of 3840 x 1080, which gives you the same vertical resolution as a high-definition TV, you may find the aspect ratio a bit constrictive. 

In comparison, the 21:9 BenQ EX3501R has a resolution of 3440 x 1440, and that extra vertical resolution is greatly appreciated. Of course, upping the vertical resolution of the Samsung C49J89 would likely increase the asking price dramatically, and would also make it require more powerful hardware to operate, especially if you wanted to game on it.

If you are eyeing up the Samsung C49J89 you’ll need a pretty wide desk to handle its 47.36-inch span. And, sitting in front of it, you’ll likely find yourself having to turn your head to see open windows positioned at the extremities. 

Like the Samsung CHG90 it's curved, which makes it more comfortable to take in the full screen. It has a curvature of 1800R, which is pretty pronounced – 1800R is quite common in curved monitors, but some (as well as curved TVs) go for a 3000R curvature, which is subtler. But then there’s nothing subtle about this monitor.

The screen is easily attached to the arm and stand, although you will need a screwdriver to properly affix it, and when assembly is complete you can swivel and tilt the screen, as well as adjust the height. Around the back are two 7-watt speakers, and on the bottom are the various ports. Given the vast width of the Samsung C49J89 you can imagine that there’s plenty of space for ports, and Samsung hasn't passed on the opportunity – the monitor comes with two HDMI ports, a DisplayPort, two USB Type-C ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port and an audio jack. It also has a USB Type-C upstream port, enabling you to turn the monitor into a hub.

It’s a stylish, slick, but also domineering monitor, thanks to a classy design by Samsung, and of course the sheer size of the screen.

Performance

The Samsung C49J89 has a VA (vertical alignment) panel. On paper VA panels should deliver excellent blacks, but they can suffer from having a rather narrow viewing angle, which means VA screens can sometimes appear washed out if you’re viewing them from an angle, rather than straight-on.

Due to the sheer length and size of the C49J89 there’s a good chance that you’ll be viewing at least some of the screen at an angle, but in our time with it we didn’t notice any deterioration in image quality at the extremities when sitting in front of it at a desk – the curvature of the screen certainly helps here.

The Samsung C49J89 is designed more for productivity use than for gaming, and Windows 10 does a good job of scaling the desktop to the super-ultra-wide aspect ratio. You really do get a lot of screen space to play with, and we were able to work quite comfortably with a large number of programs, apps and websites all open at once. 

However, the 1080-pixel vertical resolution does mean there’s not a lot of vertical screen space, and if you’re coming from a monitor with a WQHD resolution (2560 x 1440) you may actually find the Samsung C49J89 a bit too narrow.

However, being able to have so many windows open while only having one monitor on your desk is a fantastic feature, and image quality out of the box is pretty good. The buttons on the bottom of the bezel are shortcuts for certain features, with the first switching between input sources. The second turns on the monitor's Picture-In-Picture mode – this is an excellent feature that allows you to plug in a second source, such as a laptop, and display that screen within the main screen connected to your PC. Because of the sheer size of this monitor this is a very handy addition, and it works well.

The third button enables you to use the Samsung C49J89 as a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switch, so you can have one keyboard and mouse plugged into the monitor, and the button will let you switch the peripherals to other devices you have plugged into the monitor without having to physically unplug and move the mouse and keyboard. It’s another useful feature for business users.

Behind the power button is a joystick-like button that's used to bring up and control the onscreen menu. It’s hidden away a bit, but once located it can be used to go through some of the pre-set display modes, which you can tweak to your liking.

Samsung also has a piece of software, EasySettingBox, that works with the Samsung C49J89. This software lets you quickly split the screen into multiple areas, either using one of the ready-made templates or one that you’ve created yourself. Then, when you drag a window you can place it in an area (they're highlighted in blue) and the window will expand or shrink to fit in that area. The idea with this is to make it quick and easy to arrange multiple windows, and it’s quite a handy tool, and worth having a play around with.

While unlike the Samsung CHG90 the Samsung C49J89 isn't designed primarily as a gaming monitor, there will be people who want to use it as one, with the super ultra-wide aspect ratio and 144Hz refresh rate being two compelling reasons. So we fired up a couple of games to see how it performed.

Most modern games can cope with the unusual resolution and aspect ratio of the C49J89, but you may have to tweak a few settings to get them displaying properly. We did with Wolfenstein II, and when we fired up a level the results were really impressive. The field-of-vision-spanning aspect ratio really is immersive, and if you sit in the right spot it’s almost like wearing a VR headset, as your entire vision is filled with the game. The view is so wide that you can physically move your head to look around you, rather than using the mouse, which takes a bit of getting used to but could end up giving you a real advantage in certain games, as enemies will have a harder time sneaking up on you.

The slower response time of the Samsung C49J89 compared to gaming monitors does make the gameplay feel a little more sluggish. We’ve recently been spoiled by gaming monitors with G-Sync and Free-Sync technology that combines high refresh rates with low response times for incredibly smooth gameplay, although none of them can match the sheer spectacle of the Samsung C49J89’s 32:9 aspect ratio.

If you often work over multiple monitors, and you’d like to do a bit of gaming as well, then you’ll be very happy with the Samsung C49J89’s performance. We’d love to see a version with a higher resolution (and there are now rumors that Samsung is working on one) and if you’re a competitive gamer who's conscious of input lag then a gaming-orientated monitor would be more to your liking.

Verdict

If the gaming-orientated Samsung CHG90 was a bit too expensive for your tastes, the Samsung C49J89 is a very good alternative, offering the same rare 32:9 aspect ratio for a lower price, and without sacrificing too many features.

It’s not quite as good for gaming as the CHG90, but it still puts on a good show – that super ultra-wide aspect ratio really can be breathtaking when you're playing games. It’s also got some great productivity tools that make it a good choice for business use, especially if you often work over numerous monitors, as you can now swap out those for a single Samsung C49J89.

Our only major complaint is the lack of vertical resolution – at 1080 pixels it does make things a little tight, but if you’re used to 1080p monitors you’ll love the extra horizontal space.



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