Hundreds of laptops are released each and every year, and the lines are blurring between everyday devices and those specifically designed for business. That's especially true during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with many tasks usually reserved for the office desktop needing to be done from home.
Dedicated business laptops aren't always the best choice, but that makes your decision on which to go for all the more complicated. Whether running a small independent business or choosing a laptop that will play nice with a large enterprise network, there are certain features, specs and design traits to look out for.
You might be buying for yourself to run your startup in your rented workspace, or you could be here looking for something to kit out all your employees with. You might even be buying for thousands of people.
Here are the best laptops for business in 2021. Each entry links out to a full review with more information on price, design, features, specs, battery life and software. They are ranked, but that doesn't mean the #1 laptop here is right for your specific budget, taste and needs. We can easily recommend all the models listed, but make sure you're fully aware of what the device can do before taking the plunge.
As it turns out, many consumer devices from our best laptop chart making for excellent work companions.
Best business laptops 2021
1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon - Best Overall
The Lenovo ThinkPad succeeds in the ways in which you would expect from a premium X1 Carbon model.
You get a combination of top-notch build quality, excellent ergonomics and a powerful set of specs. It's a lot of laptop that will no doubt serve you well for many years.
Our main advice is to avoid the 4K display as it's unnecessary and contributes to middling battery life. You might also want to look at a Core i5 model to save some money, which will still be powerful enough for most day-to-day tasks.
Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th-gen) review
2. HP Envy 13 (2020) - Best Value
You need to splash out on the most expensive model to get a discrete graphics card, but even that is a reasonable price and many users will find the cheapest option has enough power.
HP has once again made an excellent all-rounder offering a balance of design, specs and features.
As well as being extremely portable, the Envy 13 has plenty of ports including full-size USB and a microSD card reader, both of which are rarely spotted on modern laptops. It also has all-day battery life.
An interesting feature for business users is the Sure View privacy screen that limits what onlookers can see from the side. Perfect if you're working on something sensitive in public.
Read our full HP Envy 13 (2020) review
3. Huawei MateBook X Pro - Best for Luxury
Huawei has once again made an extremely luxurious laptop which will suit business users who want just about everything to be high-end.
The design is especially attractive so the X Pro is a great choice if you want to make a statement when you get it out of your bag at a meeting.
There's plenty of power on offer too with up to an Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, Nvidia MX250 graphics and 1TB storage. We're also in love with the keyboard, although the webcam is awkwardly placed here so this isn't a good choice if you need to make regular video calls.
Read our full Huawei MateBook X Pro (2020) review
4. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 - Best range of specs
The Surface Book line might be the obvious choice when it comes to a business laptop but we think the Surface Laptop 3 is better for most people.
It might only have one USB-C port that isn't Thunderbolt 3 but Microsoft offers a sleek and portable design available in two different sizes and new finishes (if you don't want the Alcantara fabric).
There's also a range of specs available, including 13.5in or 15in screen sizes and Intel or AMD processors. We like the style of this machine, and the impressive screen and keyboard make it well suited to range of tasks.
What's more, with the Surface Laptop 4 expected soon, there are some great discounts to be had on this older model.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review
5. Dell XPS 13 (late 2020) - Best Keyboard
Dell has its Latitude business range, but the XPS should be considered too with the XPS 13 being one of the best laptops around for many years.
The 9310 is the second model for 2020, introducing 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake processors and improved thermals. It's still not perfect but a decent upgrade in this department.
It's really a spec refresh so the XPS 13 still has a stunning display (now 16:10), best-in-class keyboard and various design improvements. However, the price is a little steep and ports are limited.
Read our full Dell XPS 13 9310 (late 2020) review
6. Lenovo Elite Dragonfly - Best for Creatives
HP has achieved an impressive amount with the Elite Dragonfly, combining stylish and versatile design with some impressive specs and useful business features.
While there's a lot going for it, it comes at a high price for an older 8th-gen Intel processor and faces some tough rivals that are cheaper.
It's a great option for those who will make use of the hybrid design and the stylus. Also watch out for the 2020 Dragonfly with 5G and Qualcomm chips.
Read our full HP Elite Dragonfly review
7. Dell Latitude 14 7400 - Best Hybrid
Dell’s machine is one of the best-looking business laptops around, and it has a great hybrid design meaning you can use it in more places and ways compared to a traditional clamshell.
Adding to the desirability is a superb screen and excellent battery life - two important elements when it comes to business use.
However, it can’t compete with some rivals when it comes to connectivity and keyboard quality and it falls behind rivals on performance, too.
Read our full Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 review
8. Apple Macbook Air - Best Mac
The MacBook Air isn't the groundbreaking laptop it used to be but the 2020 model is the best choice for most users looking for an Apple laptop.
Some key changes such as the Magic Keyboard make it a lot better for business use if you need to do a lot of typing. And the cheaper Core i3 model means it's actually a pretty good value option in the grand scheme if that's enough power for you.
It's easy to forget that macOS includes Apple's suite of useful applications, so you might not even need to budget for additional software, depending on your usage.
Be warned though, battery life and webcam aren't great and you are limited to USB-C. You may also prefer to invest in the new M1 MacBook Air instead.
Read our full Apple MacBook Air (i3, early 2020) review
9. Acer Chromebook Spin 713 - Best Chromebook
For those that have lighter workloads, a Chromebook could be just the ticket - especially if you have a tight budget as they are often cheaper than Windows rivals.
You can certainly get cheaper laptops running ChromeOS but the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is worth spending a little more on.
As the name suggests, it's got a versatile 360-degree hinge design and build quality is good. Performance is solid and the star of the show is the 713's excellent display featuring a 3:2 aspect ratio suited to work applications.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review
10. Samsung Galaxy Book S - Best Battery Life
If it's longevity you need then the Galaxy Book S is the laptop for you and means you won't have to worry about extended periods of time away from a power socket.
In our battery life benchmark, it lasted a whopping 25 hours and 24 minutes looping a video. That's over twice that of the average laptop and the Book S is extremely thin, light and is silent thanks to a fan-less design.
This is all thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, although it's not as powerful as Intel and AMD-powered laptops so bare this in mind if you need to get through demanding workloads.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book S review
Business laptop buying guide
So which laptop is going to please everyone? It won’t be the same one for every situation (if only it were that simple). Once you’ve decided if your style of business suits Windows 10, ChromeOS or macOS then you can set about choosing the model.
You'll also want to consider whether these laptops come with Windows 10 Pro as standard. If they don't it's easy to upgrade. As mentioned at the top, a dedicated business model like a ThinkPad might not be the right option so we've included a range of consumer laptops which are likely to do the job just as well, often for less money.
Price is a factor, of course. Some high-end laptops are indeed excellent but you may want to save some money while still getting decent performance. Thankfully those laptops do exist and that's why a Chromebook might be a great choice, especially if your needs aren't demanding.
Some of the laptops in this list are higher priced, but they often represent good value considering the features and specifications they have. We've included a range of different prices and options.
Robust build could be of importance if you work in the field, or you might want something featherweight to carry from meeting to meeting around the globe. Then features such as fingerprint readers for additional security or long-lasting battery life might be top of your must-have list.
Security will be important to many users, especially if you will be storing sensitive data on the laptop. Look out for things like a fingerprint scanner. A webcam might also be necessary but some have awkward placements below the screen or even in the keyboard - not ideal if you need to regularly video call.
It's important to make sure the laptop you choose has the right specs for your line of work. Do you need a powerful processor and graphics card for demanding software or can you save money by getting something lower-end?
Also, make sure the display will suit your environment. Someone working outside will need to make sure the screen is bright enough to view.
Ports are often forgotten about, but a laptop is no good if you can't plug a vital accessory in. Many laptops come with USB-C only now, so you might need an adapter or a hub.
Find out how we test laptops.