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Grow Your Business Technology

Best Business Laptops 2018 (and Why We Love Them)

Google Pixelbook
Credit: Purch

Making the purchasing process easier is what we're all about. We test every machine and tell you about the top performers so you can make an informed decision. Our five favorite business laptops of 2018 each bring something different to the table in terms of budget and functionality. We've got you covered, whether you're looking for a sturdy workstation, a budget-friendly laptop, an adaptable hybrid or the best all-around work machine on the market. 

Best Acer Laptop
BUY
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  • Price
    $749
  • CPU
    Intel Core i7-7500U
  • RAM
    8GB
  • Display Size & Resolution
    13.3 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Battery Life Tested
    9:48
Best Dell Laptop
BUY
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  • Price
    $999.99
  • CPU
    3.4 GHz Intel Core i5-8250U
  • RAM
    4GB
  • Display Size & Resolution
    13.3 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Battery Life Tested
    12:37
Best HP Laptop
BUY
Read Review
  • Price
    $1,099
  • CPU
    Intel Core i5-8250U
  • RAM
    8GB
  • Display Size & Resolution
    14 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Battery Life Tested
    8:31
Best Lenovo Laptop
BUY
Read Review
  • Price
    $1,367.10
  • CPU
    3.4-GHz Intel Core i5-8250U
  • RAM
    8GB
  • Display Size & Resolution
    14-inches, 1920 x 1440 Pixels
  • Battery Life Tested
    11:01
Best Chromebook
BUY
Read Review
  • Price
    $899
  • CPU
    Core i5-7Y57
  • RAM
    8GB
  • Display Size & Resolution
    12.3 inches, 2400 x 1600 pixels
  • Battery Life Tested
    7:43

Credit: Acer

Acer may not be as familiar to you as some of the other laptop brands on this list but it's a solid option for price-sensitive business users. For well under a grand ($749 to be exact), the Acer Aspire S 13 packs a ton of functionality into a beautiful obsidian chassis. The generous offering of ports, including two USB 3.0, an SD card slot, a headphone/mic jack, HDMI and a USB Type-C, is unusual in a laptop at this price point, and the battery life (9:48) is totally respectable.

Lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air, the Acer Aspire S 13 (2.9 pounds) is ideal for business travelers and side hustlers. The Intel Core i7 processor is powerful enough for multitasking business usage, and the display (1920 x 1080) is better than many higher priced business laptops. The Acer Aspire S 13 also has one of the most comfortable keyboards of any laptop on this list, so it's perfect for long typing sessions.  

Read a full review of the Acer Aspire S 13 on our sister site, Laptop Mag.

Credit: Dell

If opting for a Dell seems like a boring choice, then you haven't seen the new Dell XPS 13 9370 yet. This laptop features an upgraded design that's miles better than the previous incarnation, even if it shares the same terrible name. Shoppers can choose between the standard silver and black chassis, for a conservative business look, or opt for the eye catching white and gold chassis ($50 extra).

The starting price for this Dell ($999) is a bit higher than some other business laptops with similar or even better specs. For example, the entry level XPS 13 comes with an Intel Core i5, whereas the less expensive Acer on this list comes with an i7. Both laptops have the same 13.3 inch-screen size, and the same resolution (1920 x 1080), but the Acer has double the onboard RAM. As with all Dell laptops the XPS 13 can be upgraded, but each boost comes at a price. On the flip side, this laptop feels high-end, has a modern edgeless screen design (no thick bezels in sight), and offers fantastic battery life (12:37) for all day use.

Read a full review of the Dell XPS 13 on our sister site, Laptop Mag.

 

Credit: Purch

 

A standout business laptop, the HP EliteBook 840 G5 may be too pricy for some ($1,099), but it's still far less expensive than many consumer laptops, and it's one of the best business devices of 2018. The model we reviewed came loaded with a 7th generation Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM and a decent battery life (8:31). If you want additional power HP offers lots of config options, including a top of the line $2,000 version with an Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM and an AMD Radeon RX 540 graphics card with 2GB dedicated GDDR5.

The entry level machine's display is good enough for standard business use (1920 x 1080 pixels on a 14-inch screen) but it’s the overall design that really sets this laptop apart from the rest of our favorites. The HP EliteBook 840 G5 isn't a dowdy, boxy business laptop, it has the looks of a high-end consumer device (such as an Apple MacBook or Google Pixelbook) with the functionality of a business device, with its optional finger print scanner, privacy lens slider and variety of ports (including a Thunderbolt).  

Read a full review of the HP EliteBook 840 G5 on our sister site, Laptop Mag.

Credit: Purch

Our sister site LaptopMag recently named Lenovo as the best laptop brand, based on the company's support, design, innovation, value and selection, and product quality. Lenovo beat out HP and Dell (2nd and 3rd, respectfully) to come in first for the second year in a row, and its long been a favorite of IT departments (Lenovos are easy to manage). Our favorite Lenovo for 2018 workers is the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Generation).

The 6th generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with an Intel Core i5, minimum, and 8GB RAM. The lightweight design (it's even lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Pro) and incredible battery life (more than 11 hours) make it an ideal choice for heavy business use. The above average display (14-inches, 1920 x 1440 pixels) and soft touch lid and inner deck round out this device, and the starting price ($1,367.10) is well worth it for a reputable business laptop.

Read a full review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon on our sister site Laptop Mag.

Credit: Purch

The Google Pixelbook is a gamechanger for business users who want to go the Chromebook route. While this super slim notebook is more expensive than many other Chromebooks ($899) available it also offers more built-in usability thanks to the 8GB onboard RAM, outstanding 12.3-inch display (2400 x 1600 pixels) and touchscreen with optional stylus (not included).

In addition to having great specs, the Google Pixelbook is by far the most attractive laptop I've ever had the pleasure to use. Just holding it feels good, typing on it is fun, and the stylus offers a great writing experience with very little latency. The dipped monochrome chassis makes other laptops look downright dowdy, and since Google takes care of all the security updates on the back end, this device is great for small businesses and entrepreneurs without IT departments. 

Read a full review of the Google Pixelbook on our sister site, Laptop Mag.

Years ago, every laptop came with an optical drive, which was crucial for installing software. Nowadays, a physical disc drive just isn't needed on most systems, since software is usually either downloaded from the web or installed via a USB drive. Plus, laptops have gotten sleeker and more portable without the extra bulk an optical drive adds.

Still, a built-in CD/DVD drive can come in handy if installing and using legacy software is a regular part of your business plan. And lucky for you, there are a handful of business laptops that still offer the feature – though the number is dwindling with each passing year.

If you only need an optical drive on rare occasions, you might be better off picking up an external drive that connects to your laptop via USB and can cost as little as $15.  But if you really can’t live without the feature built in, there are some companies that make them, but you might have to opt for an old model. 

Acer sells TravelMate line has traditionally included at least one model with an optical drive. These are generally affordable, mainstream work laptops with good security credentials, but no special durability features. In general, TravelMate laptops are designed to be lightweight and business-friendly but are a bit boring to look at. The line was originally used by Texas Instruments, until it sold it to Acer in 1997.

The HP Notebook 15.6-inch features a touchscreen with a 7th generation Intel Core i3 CPU and a SuperMulti DVD Burner and running Windows 10. But these gray, plastic laptops are designed to be more affordable, while combining the best of new technologies with older gear, such as optical drives.

Lenovo’s only optical-drive-equipped laptops come in its ThinkPad line. These business-class laptops are known for their excellent keyboards, durable designs and strong security options. The black and boxy design of the series, originally developed by IBM, makes it immediately recognizable. You might also recognize the red nubbin between the G and H keys, called the TrackPoint navigation device.

Mona Bushnell

Mona Bushnell is a New York City-based Staff Writer for Tom’s IT Pro, Business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT Technician, a Copywriter, a Software Administrator, a Scheduling Manager and an Editorial Writer. Mona began freelance writing full-time in 2014 and joined the Purch team in 2017.