Should you buy a business laptop or a consumer laptop for work? A consumer laptop suffices for some business users, but for many, a business laptop is well worth the extra investment. To help you choose the right notebook for your business, we’ve broken down what separates business laptops from consumer laptops.
Price and specifications
Businesses often consider consumer laptops for their lower prices. Business laptops are more expensive because of they are often faster, last longer, offer better durability and come with better software. Business laptops also offer more connectivity options and enterprise-level security.
Business users can purchase low-end Windows machines or Chromebooks for as little as $200 — if you can deal with slower speed, limited features, cheap construction and less storage. Mid-range consumer laptops are available for less than $600, which is a great option for basic business tasks such as Microsoft Office, email, video conferencing and web browsing. You'll also find two-in-one laptops — notebooks that convert to tablets — and touchscreen laptops at this price point. [See Related Story: Best Business Laptops 2017 (and Why We Love Them)]
The ideal business laptops cost anywhere from $600 to $900. These models come with fast performance, better storage, business-class security and longer battery lives. They also come with full-HD displays and are built with durability and portability in mind, particularly for commuters, road warriors and other users who take their laptops everywhere they go. Other features include more connectivity options, such as additional USB and display ports.
Business users who need workhorse laptops can expect to shell out $1,000 or more. These models typically offer the best performance, longest battery lives and advanced software. This is also the range in which you’ll find MacBooks.
IT and security
From an IT standpoint, it makes more sense to choose a business laptop over a consumer laptop. Business laptops are built with software that make it easier to manage and secure devices on enterprise-class networks. Consumer laptops are primarily built for simpler, less-secure home networks.
For instance, if you need machines for an entire office, it's easier to onboard business laptops and set them up with the same IT configurations for all employees, including those who work remotely. It's also easier for IT departments to troubleshoot business laptops because they are typically the same build across the organization. (Purchasing multiple or subsequent laptops of the same model and software also becomes easier, since manufacturers have purchasing programs just for businesses.)
Similarly, business laptops are more secure than consumer laptops. Business laptops often come with additional hardware and security features that consumer laptops lack, such as smart cards that prevent unauthorized access, fingerprint scanners and built-in encryption chips. Your IT staff can make business laptops even more secure through advanced configurations that typically are not available on laptops meant for home and personal use.
Warranty and tech support
Business laptops often get a sweeter deal when it comes to warranties and tech support, as manufacturers typically have extended service programs for business clients.
Business laptops are generally covered for three years, and many packages can be extended for several more years. In comparison, consumer laptops usually only have a one-year manufacturer warranty; stores may offer extended warranties, but you'll to pay an additional fee.
Additionally, business laptops often also come with priority tech support, such as a 24/7 phone support and on-site repairs, so you can get issues resolved quickly and get back to work. Consumer laptops have very limited access to tech support with slow turnaround times, and you likely have to pay extra for one-on-one help over the phone.
If you're looking for a simple laptop for basic business tasks, a consumer laptop will work just fine. It's also more budget-friendly and a great option if you're looking for a device only for yourself or for a handful of employees. But if you're looking for a more powerful and secure device, a business laptop is the best choice, especially in an office setting. Business laptops cost more, but they offer faster performance, advanced security and better support.