The best business laptops make it easy to get work done and be more productive on the go. They’re light enough to carry all day, with great keyboards and crisp, easy-to-read screens that are comfortable to look at during marathon sessions. Plus, they’ve got great battery life.
Once upon a time, if you wanted a laptop for business you were pretty much limited to Lenovo ThinkPads and HP EliteBooks. While these are still great laptops for office workers and business mavens on the go, recent advances in mobile components have given us a bumper crop of affordable ultraportables that are long-lasting, powerful, and svelte enough to slip into a briefcase or look stylish on a desk.
Of course, with all the options you have at your fingertips now for a great business-ready laptop, you’re going to need some help sorting the wheat from the chaff. Read on for our guide on the best business laptops you can buy.
The best business laptops right now
Right now we recommend the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano as the best business laptop because it’s lightweight and long-lasting. At just 2 pounds it’s the lightest laptop on this list, yet it manages to squeeze in a crisp 13-inch display with a tall 16:10 aspect ratio that makes it easier to work with code and documents. Plus, it has facial/fingerprint biometric authentication, a webcam kill switch, and all the other business privacy features the ThinkPad line is known for. The only big downside is its lack of ports — with just two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, you may need to invest in a USB hub when you want to plug in a lot of accessories.
If you prefer your business laptop to convert into a tablet, we recommend the HP Spectre x360 as a great alternative. It’s a slick, elegant device that’s just 0.67 inches thin, though it is about a pound heavier than the ultra-light ThinkPad X1 Nano. Still, the Spectre x360 delivers great performance, a lab-tested 12-hour battery life, and a stellar display in a svelte, stylish package. Plus, it comes with a packed-in stylus for taking notes (or doodling) during meetings.
Apple fans seeking a lightweight, long-lived business laptop should pick up the new M1-equipped MacBook Air. It achieves new heights of performance and efficiency for the MacBook Air line, while remaining as small and light as ever.
The best business laptops you can buy today
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Nano is a great business laptop because it’s powerful, long-lived, and easy to carry. Weighing in at just 2 pounds, the Nano is the lightest laptop on this list, but with a tested battery life of 12 hours it still has enough juice to last you through a day of work without needing a charger. You can also pay extra for 4G/5G connectivity, if you need to stay connected on the go.
Lenovo didn’t sacrifice on performance or usability either. In addition to the standard suite of security features and durability ratings all ThinkPads have, the Nano’s Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors provide the speed you need for tons of productivity — and its keyboard provides a snappy and comfortable typing experience that lives up to the ThinkPad brand. You might want to pack a USB hub though, as it sports just two Thunderbolt / USB-C ports.
Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review.
The HP Spectre x360 14 is a powerful convertible business laptop with a sleek, elegant design that provides excellent performance for both work and play. Available in three colors (silver, black, and navy blue) and sporting an ultra-thin profile of just 0.67 inches, the HP Spectre x360 brings a touch of sophisticated style to your desk that perfectly complements its internal components.
While the price can be steep if you configure it with top-tier components, we think the performance and sleek, sturdy design of the Spectre x360 are worth the asking price. It comes packaged with a rechargeable MPP2.0 Tilt Pen too, which is perfect for digital artists or anyone who prefers to take handwritten notes during meetings.
Read our full HP Spectre x360 14 review.
Apple revolutionized its laptops with the M1 chip, and the MacBook Air was one of the first devices to get one. This chip delivers better performance than the Air’s ever seen, as well as incredible battery life: it lasted 14 hours and 41 minutes on the Tom’s Guide battery test. Plus, the MacBook Air’s webcam is clearer and more color-accurate than ever, thanks to signal processing, and the Magic Keyboard still delivers a great typing experience.
All in all, if you need a MacBook for business purposes, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than the M1-equipped MacBook Air. It’s powerful, long-lived, and capable enough to handle everything from meeting presentations to coffee shop work sessions.
Read our full Apple MacBook Air M1 (late 2020) review.
Judging by the name, you might think that the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a bigger version of Dell’s iconic laptop. But it’s actually quite the opposite. This is as minimalist a design as we’ve ever seen from Dell.
There’s just two ports. There’s no headphone jack. And Dell even took away physical function keys, replacing them with a capacitive row. There’s not even lines to denmark the touchpad; the entire area beneath the keyboard is one smooth piece of glass.
But the XPS 13 Plus isn’t just a design statement. Dell managed to pack a 28W 12th gen Core i7 processor into this sleek 2.7-pound machine. And the result is a system that can outperform even the mighty MacBook Pro M2 on some tests. However, the short battery life and capacitive function row will give some pause. We also found the bottom gets a bit toasty when running at full power, so keep that in mind to avoid a scorched lap!
Read our full Dell XPS 13 Plus review.
Not interested in the Plus? Don’t miss our Dell XPS 13 OLED review — the base XPS 13 is still a great laptop that we recommend often.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a good choice for business use, as it’s the closest thing the company makes to a flagship Windows laptop. This 2021 addition to the Surface Laptop line packs premium components into a svelte chassis, and it comes with a clean Windows 10 install that’s bloatware-free.
If you’re looking for a premium Windows laptop to work from anywhere, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is the way to go. It has a comfy keyboard with well-sized, satisfying keys and a nice Alcantara deck option that gives your wrists a little more comfort than a typical all-metal laptop. Factor in the respectable 10+ hour battery life and the screen’s tall 3:2 display ratio, which can help you read and edit documents more comfortably, and you have a great notebook for getting things done on the go.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review.
If your business is on a budget and you want the best bang for your buck, the Acer Swift 3 proves that you can get great performance at a surprisingly low price. Packing AMD harware, this laptop offers plenty of battery life (11:09) in a lightweight design. Plus, it’s got more ports than some of the laptops listed above it here: a USB Type-C, HDMI, and a USB-A. Plus, you get a fingerprint reader too.
The keyboard is also great for getting work done in an office, thanks to its quiet, satisfying keys. We just wish the Swift 3’s display had more brightness and color, and that its speakers had a little more kick. But if you’re looking to get things done on a budget, it’s hard to argue with the value and performance provided by the AMD-based Acer Swift 3.
Read our full Acer Swift 3 (AMD) review.
If you need your business laptop to have a nice big screen, we recommend the XPS 15 because it’s surprisingly slim and stylish for its size, with the same great performance and beautiful thin-bezelled design of its XPS siblings. The new XPS 15 is also made better by some smart design tweaks, such as bigger keycaps and a responsive touchpad that’s over 60% larger than that of the previous generation.
Plus, in 2021 Dell began offering the XPS 15 with a 3.5K OLED touchscreen option. If you can afford the extra $1k or so it costs (though you get a few upgraded components bundled in with that, in addition to the OLED screen) it’s well worth the investment, as the OLED’s deep, inky blacks, vibrant colors, and high contrast ratios really shine when mounted in the XPS 15’s eye-catching InfinityEdge design.
Read our full Dell XPS 15 OLED review.
Not interested in OLED? Don’t miss our Dell XPS 15 (2020) review.
The Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 ($1,249 to start) is an ultra-thin 2-in-1 laptop that’s tailor-made for people who are always on the go. Like last year’s Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360, this iteration features a gorgeous AMOLED screen that’s perfect for media consumption. It’s also ideal for work thanks to its speedy performance.
Though a Windows laptop at its core, the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 comes loaded with a slew of Samsung software. This could be good or bad, depending on how invested you are in the Samsung ecosystem. If you are, then you’ll find that this 2-in-1 pairs nicely with your Samsung tablets and phones. Otherwise, all of these applications are effectively bloatware.
Despite the middling webcam and Samsung bloatware, the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 has a lot going for it and is a 2-in-1 we highly recommend to those who are in the market for a powerful, portable laptop that pairs nicely with Samsung devices.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 review.
The Yoga 9i Gen 7 is an excellent 2-in-1 for business. The beefy 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and bountiful RAM allow for seamless multi-tasking, while the spacious keyboard lets you work comfortably for hours. The improved webcam and roaring speakers are also highlights. While the battery life on our configuration is less than the previous model, you should be able to get through most of an average workday.
The only major complaint we have with this laptop is that it makes for a somewhat awkward tablet. Yes, the touch interface is snappy and easy to use, but the laptop’s size means you can’t comfortably hold it in one hand as you would with smaller tablets. But it’s entirely possible some folks will consider the Yoga 9i as a perfectly capable Windows tablet despite its size.
Minor qualms aside, this is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops we’ve tested and is one worth considering.
Read our full Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 review.
The AMD-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 OLED is an excellent value, offering an eye-catching 1080p OLED display and exceptional 15-hour battery life in a slim, lightweight package for less than a thousand bucks.
The speakers aren’t amazing, the webcam leaves something to be desired, and there’s no headphone jack, but these are stumbling blocks you can work around. If you need a zippy little business laptop with a great screen that will last you all day long, you can’t do better than the OLED-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 at this price.
Read our full Asus Zenbook 13 OLED review.
If you’re looking for a great all-around ultraportable laptop for under $1,000, then I think you need the HP Pavilion Aero 13 ($839 as reviewed).
That’s because the HP Pavilion Aero 13 offers a powerful AMD Ryzen 7 CPU backed by a bright, colorful 13.3-inch display along with a clicky keyboard and a superlight chassis, all for a great price. However, some people may not like the small keyboard deck and the lack of a microSD card slot.
But those are cons you could easily get over when you consider it delivers great performance in a lightweight laptop that’s easy to carry and satisfying to type on. It’s easily one of the best laptops you can buy.
Read our full HP Pavilion Aero 13 review.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is another 2-in-1 laptop that’s great for business because it’s incredibly thin and light, with excellent battery life (12+ hours) and a nice comfy keyboard.
Plus, it offers a crisp, beautiful display and all the robust security features that the HP Elite line is known for, including a physical webcam privacy shutter and the promise of having passed 19 MIL-STD-810 tests, giving you some peace of mind when someone inevitably knocks it off a desk. The biggest potential pitfall is the expense, as this laptop’s price can climb up into the $2k range if you kit it out with all the bells and whistles.
Read our full HP Elite Dragonfly review.
How to choose the best business laptop for you
Performance: If you only need something basic for tackling emails and surfing the web, you’ll be fine with a mid-range CPU (think: Core i5 or an AMD A10) and 4-8 GB of RAM. However, if you want something that can tackle anything you throw at it (short of heavy-duty gaming and video editing) splurge for a Core i7 and 16 GB of RAM.
Graphics and gaming: Business laptops are rarely built to do much serious gaming, but if you just want to unwind with older or undemanding games like Civilization, you should be fine as long as you have at least a Core i5 CPU and 8 GB of RAM. For more demanding games, look into one of the best gaming laptops instead — a few have designs subtle enough to not look out of place in a boardroom.
Size: Consider how mobile you want your business laptop to be. Machines such as the Dell ThinkPad X1 Nano and HP Elite Dragonfly are slim and feather-light, whereas machines with larger screens (like the Dell XPS 15) are a bit bulkier and more painful to carry all day.
Whichever system you decide on, you may also want to pick up the best mouse for your particular work situation.
How we test the best business laptops
To find the best laptops, we run every machine through a rigorous suite of benchmarks and real-world tests to gauge how it will perform during everyday use.
We measure the average brightness and color quality of each laptop’s display using our in-house light meter and colorimeter. For general performance, we run our machines through tests that include Geekbench 5 (CPU performance), as well as various 3DMark tests to measure graphics capabilities. We also run a file transfer test to measure how fast a machine’s hard drive is, and a custom battery test that has the machine browse the internet over Wi-Fi until it runs out of juice.
And because we know everyone likes to play games sometimes, we run every laptop we review through the Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm graphical benchmarking test to see how well it handles light gaming.
For more information, check out our how we test page for Tom’s Guide.