Choosing the right laptop for your office is a serious decision and it’s easy to get it wrong. Oxford Economics surveyed 3,000 users from companies all over the world, a massive 76% said that inferior and slow IT was holding back their performance in the workplace.
The specification for the laptop computer is obviously very important and the cost is also a big factor when you are purchasing equipment for a new team or department. The total cost of ownership is now a fundamental part of how a business makes this kind of purchasing decision.
On the specification side of things, you don’t want to pay for features and facilities you don’t need or will never use. However, you also don’t want your laptops to be underpowered or of the wrong size or else your employees’ performance could be massively compromised. Employees spend a huge part of their day using their computers in anger and they know better than anyone how much time is lost as a result of being given a poorly specced laptop.
Our IT specialists at Innovent spec new IT equipment for our clients every day so we have reviewed the best business laptops for 2021 taking into account all the things that we think are important to business customers. In our analysis, speed, cost, functionality and battery life were our priorities. In this article, we first look at what factors you should consider before choosing the best laptop for your company. Then we give our results for the Best Top Five Business Laptops for 2021.
What’s important when you spec a business laptop?
Choosing desktop computers for the office may get you more value for money in terms of performance versus cost but chaining all of your computing power to a desk isn’t always the most productive solution. Laptops offer the same versatility while also providing far more options for a mobile workforce.
Choosing the Operating System.
Windows is still currently the most popular operating system of choice for many office networks. It’s at the top of the list in terms of compatibility, but there are options other than Microsoft to consider. If you wish to maintain compatibility for collaborating on documents with your clients, then your choice may be made for you, but Apple’s MacOS and Linux are increasingly attractive options.
Apple has been gaining market share with its MacBook range of professional laptops and Linux based laptops offer a wide range of benefits including enhanced security, performance and compatibility with Windows-based hardware. They are an excellent choice for streamlining your IT department so don’t rule them out just because you have never used them.
One of the major benefits of these alternatives to Windows is the reduced software licensing costs associated with Apple and ‘open-source’ offerings. When purchasing a large number of laptops the cost of licensing the operating system alone can be a deciding factor.
Choices in Laptop Specifications.
A laptop’s specification determines how fast and how efficient its performance will be, so choosing the best laptop often comes down to a balancing act between price and performance. Here are the main specs to consider when choosing a laptop and what they mean for performance. Let’s quickly look at the ones most likely to affect the model you go for.
If your employees travel or are regularly away from the office, then a smaller screen size of 10 or 11 inches will be a more portable option. However, go too small, and the trade-offs in productivity may not be worth it. Less screen real estate can also correspond with fewer connection ports and lower-powered CPUs as well.
If the screen size is going to impact the time it takes to get the job done, then going for a bigger screen with more connection options and a CPU with more power may pay off in greater productivity.
The software your employees use while out in the field will also have a large part to play in choosing a screen size. Spreadsheets become cumbersome on smaller screens, and large documents may be challenging to edit. Presentations out in the field will also have more impact on a bigger screen.
Touch screens on 2-in-1 computers provide an alternative control option to a mousepad, and your employees may appreciate the ability to use their laptop as a tablet. Convertible laptops also offer a more natural solution for displaying presentations to clients one-on-one or to small audiences.
Staff who are out in the field may not have access to mains power so battery capacity will have an impact on the range of models from which you can choose. If your office staff are desk-bound for most of their day, then a three or four-hour battery capacity won’t be a problem. However, for staff who are out on the road without access to power sockets, all-day battery life of 10 or more hours will be essential.
Bear in mind that running a laptop via the in-built battery can dramatically impact the performance, especially if you are using software which benefits from a powerful CPU running at full capacity.
More RAM equates to greater efficiency in terms of software performance. Booting up and software load times all benefit from more memory, so choose laptops with as much memory as you can afford. It doesn’t take long for loading wait times to equate to many hours of lost productivity when you multiply the figure by tens or hundreds of employees.
So we would recommend you aim for laptops with 8GB of a RAM at minimum, but 16GB is preferable. Windows 10 will work with whatever RAM you have available, but modern operating systems and software will feel a little cramped in 4GB.
The CPU is the brains of the computer, and the faster it’s clock speed and number of CPU cores, the better the laptop will perform (generally speaking). Modern CPU speeds are measured in the multiple GHz range, which is more than enough for the typical office application.
In most office scenarios, a greater number of cores will improve performance more than a faster CPU working with less RAM will.
Hard Drive or SSD?
Hard drives and SSDs (Solid State Drives) are for long-term data storage. Hard drives are mechanical devices with high capacity at the cost of speed, while SSDs are lighter, have no moving parts and allow very high performance when opening documents and applications. Many modern laptops use a small-capacity SSD in conjunction with a large capacity hard drive to balance the speed versus capacity problem. The combined effect of the two devices is to increase the boot speed by loading the operating system from the SSD and using the hard drive for everything else.
When using an SSD, cold booting the laptop (as in not from sleep mode) can be near-instantaneous, which can save a lot of time when working with clients out in the field. They are also much lighter than mechanical hard drives and use less power.
The size and price of SSDs have been steadily declining over recent years. You will find that capacities have grown to the point that including a standard hard drive may not make much sense from a performance perspective.
In the end, knowing what the best laptop is for your company comes down to understanding what its function will be. By balancing price versus performance, you will be able to narrow your choice to models which can get the job done without overpaying on specs you don’t need.
Our Top 5 Laptops
Okay, so we’ve just discussed the key specifications you should consider when choosing a laptop for the office. Now let’s hand out the awards for what we think are the best business laptops for 2021.
1. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen * (2020 model)
Lenovo has been creating great little workhorses that are great for business for years now. The Lenovo ThinkPad Series is the most popular series and constitutes the core of the brand.
- 8th Generation and built on previous excellence.
- Most award-winning laptop in the industry.
- 14″ screen and built for business use.
- Extremely well made and well designed. Superb keyboard. Unlike many, it doesn’t feel flimsy.
- 4 screen options available: 1920 x 1080 non-touch, 1080 touch, 2560 x 1440 and 4K (3840 x 2160) Dolby Vision HDR 400.
Fast USB C ports and a range of configurations in terms of CPU, RAM, screen size and technology mean that Lenovo can satisfy pretty much any business need.
2. Dell Latitude 5420 Series.
The most rugged of laptops, the Dell Latitude 5420 is designed to take the knocks and more besides.
Not everyone works indoors and for staff that needs to get out and about this thing will withstand the elements. This 14-inch laptop is designed to be used outside. It can cope with getting wet and being dropped. It carries an ingress protection rating of IP53, which means it can cope with dust and water spray. It can even be used wearing gloves.
The cost for all of that is it is bulkier than most other models and heavier (but still only 2.22 lbs).
- Able to operate at temperatures as low as -20 degrees centigrade.
- Extra bright display – ideal for bright light conditions.
- Hot-swappable long-life batteries.
- Option fingerprint reader for additional security.
- M.2 128GB PCIe NVMe Class 35 Solid State Drive.
- Gorilla glass screen.
3. HP EliteBook X360 1040 G7.
The HP Elitebook X360 1040 G7 is beautifully made and hard to fault. The clever hinge means it easily converts from a laptop to a tablet. The fast CPU and excellent display has made this a very popular model. We found it very hard to fault.
- 14″ bright screen with 1080p display
- Excellent security features including an IR camera and a fingerprint sensor.
- Well made with MIL-SPEC-810 rated durability.
- On average, the battery will last over 11 hours on a charge.
- Weight 2.9 lbs.
Editor’s note: We also like the HP Elitebook 840 G7.
4. Apple MacBook Pro 16 Inch.
The MacBook Pro is a highly portable and extremely powerful device. As always it is available in a range of sizes and configurations. The MacBook Pro is notorious for its excellent build quality, awesome design, and high level of performance.
On top of that, the computer boasts Apple’s macOS, which many consider being easier to use than Windows. Great employee engagement and productivity. Employers, please note that 78% of users would opt for a Mac over a PC. If you are looking to keep your staff – think on!
Yes, this laptop is considered to be a “not cheap” option. However, when you look at the cost of staff incentives and the cost of replacing a staff member who feels unloved, the MacBook could turn out to be one of the cheapest computers you could possibly buy.
Editor’s note: The new Macbook Pro M1 offers improved performance verses cost, using Apples own processors rather than Intel. This model currently only comes with a 13 inch screen, but expect a 16 inch version in quarter 4 2021.
5. Microsoft Surface Pro 7+
The Surface Pro was in our top 5 laptops 2 years ago and the new model has certainly maintained the standard. It has taken last year’s Surface Pro 7 and made it an even better business tool.
- 11th Gen Intel CPUs and 4G LTE connectivity.
- Upgraded CPU.
- Easily swappable SSD.
- Upgrade in battery life compared with the Pro 7.
It’s hard to find much fault with the Surface Pro 7+ design. Again, the device is a two-in-one hybrid that allows it to be used both as a tablet and a laptop with a keyboard.
Choosing the best return on your investment
All the machines discussed above have what it takes to get you through the day with speed and efficiency if you have another model in mind we would be happy to advise you on the best spec based on your business needs.
Once you have decided on which model is best the next question is where can you get it at the best price. It is been estimated that nearly 85% of business will actually buy their computers. You may want to consider a much better option which is to lease your laptops instead.
Computers are the fastest depreciating asset on the planet so leasing makes far more sense. That is why companies nearly always lease the premises they work from as well as the vehicles in the car park. There are no upfront payments just a small monthly charge. At Innovent we can actually supply your laptops on a three-year lease at a lower cost than if you buy them yourself.
If you would like a bit more information and a quote, we would love to hear from you. So give the Innovent team a call today on 0207 123 4570.