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Best business laptop 2021: Corporate devices to suit every budget

Upgrade your workforce with the best enterprise ultraportable laptops for your business

The laptop is the Swiss army knife of the modern business: an essential tool that can be applied to almost any situation. However, when shopping for the best corporate laptop, the number of options and configurations can be dizzying. Is it better to spend more on a trusted name, or take a gamble on an upstart challenger with flashier features?

Worry no more. We’ve combed through all the latest and greatest business laptops we’ve tested to pick out the machines that are most suited to enterprise productivity. There are models here to suit every taste and budget, including no-frills functionality, business-class panache and all-singing, all-dancing performance. If you’re not sure what you should be looking for, peruse our buyer’s guide and let us steer you in the right direction.

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How to choose the best business laptop for you

There are many things to consider when buying a business laptop, and they’re not always the same things you might think about when buying a laptop for personal use. You might want to ask yourself these questions before making your decision.

How much should I spend?

It can be tempting to try and cut costs on laptops by opting for cheaper models, but cutting back too far can wind up being a false economy. Realistically, you can expect to pay between £800 and £1600 on a business laptop, depending on your needs. Anything cheaper is either going to be woefully underpowered or frustratingly unreliable, while anything more expensive is going to rack up your bill unnecessarily.

It’s worth considering the specific needs of your workforce, too. If you’re a creative business, then high-quality screens should be your priority before super-fast processors, while organisations that rely on intensive programmes like financial or data science applications would be advised to invest in powerful hardware over looks.

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What specifications should I look for?

On the subject of performance, the world of laptops has changed in recent years. No longer the undisputed king of processors, Intel has started to lose ground to both AMD and Apple in the hardware race. There’s still a lot to recommend with Intel-based machines – they tend to be more visually appealing, with faster connectivity than Ryzen-based counterparts – but for raw performance, laptops with an AMD chip are now the way to go.

More specifically, most businesses are likely to need something in the mid-range when it comes to processors. For Intel, this means a Core i5 chip, while for AMD laptops this will be a Ryzen 5 CPU. Storage should not be overlooked either; unless you have a high capacity cloud storage solution and the network bandwidth to support it, any SSD capacity under 256GB is going to be a recipe for frustration.

What other features should I be aware of?

Ports and connectivity are important too. For example, if you’ve just invested in fancy new Wi-Fi 6 access points, the last thing you want to do is buy a crate of new laptops that only support the previous standard. Similarly, make sure that any laptops you buy are compatible with your existing peripherals and docking solutions, to save yourself the hassle of having to buy a bunch of adapters as well.

Turning to some of the more optional features, it won’t surprise you to learn that a decent webcam is now an essential element of any business laptop, thanks to the explosion of remote working. For roles that will involve a lot of meetings, consider shelling out for either a laptop with a high-quality built-in webcam, or a standalone model to replace it.

Finally, security. Most modern laptops support some form of biometric authentication, which can protect your sensitive corporate information from falling into the wrong hands. If your laptops include this functionality, make sure to set up organisation-wide policies to enforce and manage its use – if the worst should happen, you’ll be glad you did.

Where should I buy a business laptop?

One last point to be mindful of is that the choice of manufacturer will be more important for business customers than for the average consumer. Laptops from larger companies like Dell and Lenovo will be easier to find parts for, and will often be built in a way that allows them to be upgraded or repaired by on-site technicians without having to send them back to base. This can be a blessing for busy IT departments.

Smaller or more consumer-focused manufacturers may also offer more limited warranties than others, which can result in more costly replacements and repairs. This can sometimes be counteracted by procuring devices through a third party partner or reseller, who can offer extended warranties on top of the manufacturer’s, but make sure you’re comfortable with the support lifecycle before you invest.

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The best business laptops to buy in 2021

1. M1 Apple MacBook Air (2020): The best all-round business laptop

Price: £899 (inc VAT) l Buy now from Amazon

Say what you will about Apple – they don’t do half measures when it comes to their products. As the first laptop powered by Cupertino’s homebrew processors, there were great expectations on the MacBook Air, all of which it confidently blew past with performance and battery life that most rivals can’t touch.

True, the MacBook Pro has better battery life and performance than its slimmer stablemate, but the Air earns its spot on this list by virtue of its fanless (and therefore silent) design, and the fact that it comes in at £300 cheaper than the Pro. If you’re looking to deploy MacBooks en masse, or simply for yourself, this is the way to go.

Read our full M1 Apple MacBook Air review for more details

Key specs – CPU: Apple M1; Graphics: Apple M1; RAM: 8-16GB; Storage: 256GB-2TB; Dimensions: 304 x 212 x 16.1mm (WDH); Weight: 1.29kg

2. Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 (late 2020): The best laptop/tablet hybrid

Price: £829 (inc VAT) l Buy now from Dell

Representing the upper-mid range of Dell’s laptop portfolio, the Inspiron 7000 series isn’t going to blow anyone’s socks off with its looks or performance. Instead, the appeal of the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 lies in being a robust, dependable workhorse of machine that can stand up to the demands of a busy working professional.

Unsurprisingly, then, build quality is a highlight, as is the accessibility of its internal components for easy on-site upgrades. The keyboard and trackpad are middling, but it’s attractively priced, competently powerful, and features Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. Like the best employees, it’s not flashy, but it keeps its head down and gets the job done.

Read our full Dell Inspiron 15 7000 review for more details

Key specs – CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 32GB + 512GB; Dimensions: 354 x 238 x 17mm (WDH); Weight: 1.73kg

Buy now from Dell

3. Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6: The best ultraportable laptop

Price: £1,449 (inc VAT) l Buy now from Amazon

After a few years in the wilderness, Samsung has come storming back into the laptop game with a spread of laptops that have firmly reestablished its credentials. The most impressive of these is the Galaxy Book Pro: a 15in laptop that packs an outstanding display and superb performance into an almost unfeasibly slim and light frame.

There are a few niggles – chief among them being the lack of touchscreen or LTE options on the larger model – but these are easily overlooked considering it comes in at less than £1,500. Combine that with the outstanding battery life (over 16 hours in our tests) and the gorgeous design, and you’ve got a machine that’s guaranteed to turn heads in any office.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6 review for more details

Key specs – CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe; RAM: 8-16GB; Storage: 256-512GB; Dimensions: 355 x 226 x 11.7mm (WDH); Weight: 1.05kg

4. Dell XPS 13 9310 (late 2020, Intel 11th gen): The best Dell laptop

Price: £1,699 inc VAT l Buy now from Amazon

The XPS 13 has a well-earned reputation for blending stylish portability with a not-inconsiderable amount of power, and an 11th-gen Intel upgrade has put a bit more pep in its step. Admittedly, it’s not going to be overtaking any Ryzen or M1-powered alternatives for performance, but arguably it doesn’t need to.

What the XPS 13 lacks in raw grunt, it makes up for in design finesse, customisability and battery life. It’s also worth noting that Dell’s machines are exceedingly easy to service in the field, and boast a strong technical support structure for business customers. It may not be the top of the technical heap, but the XPS 13 is still one of the most effective all-round business machines.

Read our full Dell XPS 13 review for more details

Key specs – CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe; RAM: 8-32GB; Storage: 512GB-1TB; Dimensions: 296 x 199 x 14.8mm (WDH); Weight: 1.2kg

5. Google Pixelbook Go: The best Chromebook

Price: £729 (inc VAT) l Buy now from John Lewis

It may be a little long in the tooth compared to most of the machines on this list, but Google’s Pixelbook Go is still our favourite Chromebook. It’s the perfect size for taking on the go, it has one of the best keyboards of any laptop (Chromebook or otherwise) and the battery life is showstopping.

More importantly, since it’s a first-party Google device, you can be sure that all of the latest ChromeOS features will be supported as soon as they’re available. ChromeOS has become a hit with enterprise customers, and this is the ideal platform for it. You can find cheaper Chrome-based laptops than Google’s sophomore effort – but you’re unlikely to find better.

Read our full Google Pixelbook Go review for more details

Key specs – CPU: Intel Core i5-8200Y; Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615; RAM: 8-16GB; Storage: 64GB-256GB; Dimensions: 311 x 206 x 14.5mm (WDH); Weight: 1.06kg

Buy now from John Lewis

6. Lenovo ThinkPad T14s: The best Lenovo laptop

Price: £1,289 (inc VAT) l Buy now from Lenovo

If you’re on the lookout for something from Lenovo’s stable of business laptops, then the ThinkPad T14s is our current top pick. With a choice of either AMD or Intel processors, a generous dollop of 16GB of RAM as standard and a blisteringly fast 512GB PCIe SSD.

Performance is sublime under sustained load, so if you’re looking for something that can handle pretty much anything you can think to throw at it, the ThinkPad T14s is one of 2021’s greatest laptops. We were also big fans of the ThinkPad’s keyboard, with a generous amount of travel and a super-plush break to each individual keypress.

Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad T14s review for more details

Key specs – CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 512GB; Dimensions: 328 x 224 x 16.14mm (WDH); Weight: 1.28kg

Buy now from Lenovo

7. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 13.5in: The best Microsoft laptop

Price: £850 (inc VAT) | Buy now from Amazon

The Surface Laptop 4 is pretty much a carbon copy of its predecessor with updated internals but that’s no bad thing. Microsoft’s fourth-generation Surface Laptop is one of the best-looking ultraportables around and features a wonderful 13.5in touchscreen that covers over 95% of the sRGB colour gamut with first-rate colour accuracy.

Build quality is superb, the AMD Ryzen 5 processor performed admirably during our in-house 4K media benchmarking test and there are Intel-powered models available too if you’re willing to pay a bit more than the £999 Microsoft is asking for the base specification. Below par graphical performance and middling battery life are the device’s only real letdowns but it should still last you most of a working day away from the mains and graphics are unlikely to be high on your priority list if you’re planning on buying the laptop for business purposes.

Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review for more details

Key specs – CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4680U; Graphics: AMD Radeon; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB; Dimensions: 308 x 223 x 14.5mm (WDH); Weight: 1.27kg

8. MSI Prestige 14 Eco: A thoroughbred business laptop

Price: £869 (inc VAT) | Buy now from Amazon

Despite being all-metal, the MSI Prestige 14 Evo weighs a portable 1.29kg and measures a rucksack-friendly 319 x 219 x 16mm. It also looks great in grey or white, with a hinge that lifts the base by roughly five degrees to create a more comfortable typing angle. The keyboard itself has a quiet action and is joined by one of the biggest touchpads we’ve seen on a 14in notebook. Elsewhere, you’re getting two USB-C ports and a bright, accurate display.

Its performance in our tests was impressive, with the results in our graphics benchmarks and SSD speeds being particularly noteworthy. This machine has plenty of grunt for some after-work gaming. It lasted 11hrs 5mins in our video-rundown test, which is in line with what we’d expect from a Core i7 laptop.

In short, the MSI Prestige 14 Evo oozes quality and ticks all of the right business boxes, with the lacklustre sound system being the only bum note. 

Read our full MSI Prestige 14 Evo review for more details

Key specs – CPU: Intel Core i7-11587; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 512GB; Dimensions: 319 x 219 x 16mm (WDH); Weight: 1.29kg

9. LG Gram 17 (2021): Big-screened and lightweight

Price: £1,467 (inc VAT) l Buy now from Amazon

LG’s Gram 17 stands out on this list for a few reasons. It’s rare to see any laptop bearing the LG name, let alone one in the markedly under-served category of 17in machines. This bracket is usually the province of beefy, slab-like mobile workstations, but the Gram 17 bucks this trend by weighing just a little bit more than the dainty MacBook Air, and measuring less than 2cm in thickness.

That’s impressive enough as it is, but a top-quality screen and surprisingly capable performance ensure that its appeal isn’t just skin-deep. Even its performance, while not measuring up to the hulking behemoths it shares a footprint with, is more than capable of carrying you through a busy workday.

Read our full LG Gram 17 (2021) review for more details

Key specs – CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe; RAM: 8-16GB; Storage: 512GB-1TB; Dimensions: 381 x 263 x 17.4mm (WDH); Weight: 1.35kg

10. Acer Swift 5 SF514-55T (2021): Compact yet powerful

Price: £899 (inc VAT) l Buy now from Currys

Acer’s Swift 5 manages to squeeze respectable performance and battery life out of a surprisingly light (and yet reassuringly sturdy) frame. The keyboard is also good, although we have some slight quibbles with the size of the cursor keys in relation to the page up and down buttons.

The only other caveat we’ll add here is that Acer’s distribution is a little unintuitive; only the top-of-the-range model is available directly from the company, while the cheaper and more appealing configuration we reviewed is exclusive to Amazon. It’s worth putting in the legwork to hunt it down, though – this machine is excellent value.

Read our full Acer Swift 5 SF514-55T (2021) review for more details

Key specs – CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe; RAM: 8-16GB; Storage: 512GB-1TB; Dimensions: 319 x 207 x 15mm (WDH); Weight: 950g

Buy now from Currys

11. Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 (AMD): The best AMD laptop

Price: £850 (inc VAT) l Buy now from Amazon

Despite the name, the Yoga Slim 7 isn’t quite as petite as some of the laptops on this list, but it is among the cheapest. Surprisingly, however, it’s also one of the most powerful, courtesy of a beastly AMD Ryzen 7 4800U processor. Even more impressively, the battery lasted for the best part of 16 hours in our tests, which is not to be sniffed at.

In fact, while the fabulous price might hint at some cutbacks, there’s actually very little to criticise here. The AMD chip means there’s no Thunderbolt connectivity and the camera is rather woeful, but the keyboard, display and build quality are all excellent. This laptop may be cheap, but it’s certainly not a budget device.

Read our full Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 (AMD) review for more details

Key specs – CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800U; Graphics: Radeon RX Vega 8; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 512GB; Dimensions: 321 x 205 x 16mm (WDH); Weight: 1.16kg

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