The best laptops for business users to buy right now

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 CarbonSource: Windows Central

Best
business laptops
Windows Central
2021

Buying the best Windows laptop for business use is very different than buying one for education or casual consumer use. Priorities change, but the need for a great laptop remains. Whether it’s from Dell, Microsoft, Huawei, or HP, some truly great business laptops are out there.

Best overall: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 9th

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

You can’t look for a business laptop and not at least consider the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The 9th Gen model has finally launched, and as cliche as it is, it’s definitely the best one yet. It keeps the same traditional design as its predecessors, including its trademark ruggedness and lightweight nature.

It still looks great on the outside, and the features that business customers care about are still present and correct. New for 2021 are some great improvements like a 16:10 display and, for the first time, 5G connectivity. The bump to 11th Gen Intel CPUs also provides a boost to performance and battery life.

Staples such as Windows Hello biometrics and a webcam privacy shutter return for another year, as does the all-important port selection. You’ll find Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, USB-A, and HDMI on the latest X1 Carbon, along with an expansion dongle in the box for even more.

Fans of the red pointer will also be happy to see it continues to live on in the X1 Carbon in 2021. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Pros:

  • Superb display
  • Built-in privacy and security features
  • Thin, light, and durable
  • Great battery life
  • Red pointer for Lenovo fans

Cons:

  • Gets expensive
  • Lacks inking support

Best overall



Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9th Gen)

Simply put, a legend

A legendary name in business laptops, the X1 Carbon is pricey, but it’s full of premium hardware and features.

Best tablet: Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ for Business

Surface Pro 7 2021 Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

The Surface Pro is a tablet. It’s also a laptop. You have the flexibility to use it like a convertible but also completely free of a keyboard. And this “tablet” packs a full laptop’s worth of hardware inside. Throw in a pen, kickstand, and a terrific-looking display, and you have an incredibly versatile business machine.

The latest version, the Surface Pro 7+, is specifically targeted at the business crowd, too. It’s incredibly versatile and shows off the very best of what Windows 10 has to offer. This one comes with LTE, 11th Gen Intel processors, a removable SSD, up to 32GB of RAM, and the best battery life yet.

On the outside, it’s essentially the same as other recent Surface Pro releases, which isn’t necessarily bad. Still, it is starting to show its age next to the more modern design of the Surface Pro X. There’s also, still, no Thunderbolt 3 or 4, which limits external connectivity somewhat and hides the best behind a first-party connector.

But add a Surface Dock, and this can be your desktop machine in the office. Attach the Type Cover and Surface Pen, and it’s your laptop for hitting the road. It’s truly a laptop for all situations.

Pros

  • Intel 11th Gen and Xe graphics are fast
  • Improved optional 4G LTE is quick and reliable
  • Up to 32GB of RAM
  • Removable SSD
  • Longest battery life yet

Cons

  • Dated design, thick bezels
  • Still no Thunderbolt 4

Best tablet



Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ for Business

It is faster with LTE

Addressing the needs of enterprise and education markets, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7+ brings a few new features to its classic laptop. With an option for LTE, removable SSD, and the latest Intel processors, Surface Pro 7+ should be an excellent choice out in the field.

Best rugged: Panasonic TOUGHBOOK G2

Panasonic Toughbook G2 Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Not all business is conducted in the comfort of an office. Many situations demand something that can take a serious beating. Industries such as health care and construction, for example, would be better suited to the practically indestructible Panasonic TOUGHBOOK G2.

This chunky 2-in-1 can operate as a tablet or a laptop, and whatever the conditions, it’ll keep on working. The list of features this laptop has is truly mind-blowing, but each has been added to meet the TOUGHBOOK buyer’s needs.

Panasonic’s G2 is the perfect rugged tablet PC with an optional keyboard that is also completely adaptable to whatever job it is tasked with, thanks to its tri-modular design. It has weaknesses, like a poor trackpad, but as a go-anywhere, do-anything type of laptop, it’s the top of the class.

Pros

  • 3 modular bays including removable SSD
  • Excellent display
  • Optional 4G LTE (dual SIM)
  • Good performance, excellent battery life

Cons

  • Trackpad is dreadful

Best rugged


Fz G2 Clamshell Keybd Front 02 Ss Label

Panasonic TOUGHBOOK G2 (2021)

Go anywhere, do anything

The incredible TOUGHBOOK G2 provides an impressive tablet and laptop experience inside an almost indestructible body that truly can go anywhere.

Best ultraportable: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Nano

Source: Lenovo

Buying a laptop for business use likely also means buying a laptop that will be carried around a lot. In this case, you’ll do well to get something that’s compact and lightweight and won’t take up much space in your bag. All while ensuring the features you care about aren’t compromised.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that the Lenovo ThinkPad lineup has something to offer. The X1 Nano is small and absurdly light, coming in at a hair over 2 pounds. But despite its diminutive body, it packs everything the discerning business customer would want when buying a ThinkPad.

Obvious specs to highlight include the 11th Gen Intel processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of PCIe storage, and optional 2K display. Perhaps more importantly, the traditional ThinkPad focuses on business-friendly features like a dTPM 2.0 chip, both fingerprint and IR biometrics, a webcam cover, and cellular connectivity. Oh, and even though it’s small, it retains the trademark red pointer. It wouldn’t be a ThinkPad without it!

Pros

  • Excellent display
  • Cellular connectivity
  • Security-focused with multiple forms of biometric login
  • Compact and light
  • Human presence detection

Cons

  • Higher spec models are pricey
  • Small touchpad
  • Limited port selection

Best ultraportable


Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Nano Reco

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

5G, super light, but powerful

Lenovo’s brand-new ThinkPad X1 Nano is a 2-pound Ultrabook with up to an 11th Gen Core i7, 5G, a 2K 16:10 display, and some of the latest AI tech from Intel that makes this one smart laptop.

Best convertible: HP EliteBook x360 1040 G8

Hp Elitebook 1040 G7

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

HP’s top-of-the-line EliteBook x360 1040 might have a mouthful of a name, but the laptop is all business. The latest version is thinner, lighter, has smaller bezels and optional 4G LTE connectivity while maintaining its convertible form factor.

On the one hand, you’re still getting a 16:9 display ratio. But on the more important hand, for business customers, you get a ton of features. There are options for Tile integration (device tracking), cellular, an NFC module, up to 2TB of storage, Wacom AES 2.0 Pen, and displays from matte full HD to Sure View Reflect with 1,000 nits of brightness up to 4K UHD with touch.

All of this while looking like the kind of convertible Ultrabook anyone would desire to own. It’s sleek, and slim, and packed with tech. Thoughtful software and hardware permeate the EliteBook x360 1040, such as a single press of a button to cover the webcam. Toss in solid battery life, durable build quality, and surprisingly good audio, and you have yourself a winner.

Pros:

  • Beautiful, sturdy all-metal chassis
  • Outstanding keyboard and trackpad
  • Impressive audio for enterprise
  • New presence-aware tech is neat
  • Options for 4G LTE and pen

Cons:

  • Still 16:9
  • Weak pen magnets
  • Weird AC behavior
  • Fans can be noisy

Best convertible



HP EliteBook x360 1040 G8

HP’s refreshed top-tier business laptop continues to get thinner, lighter, and just all-around better with the G7.

Best battery life: Dell Latitude 9410

Latitude 9410

Source: Dell

Everyone likes to have good battery life on a laptop, but it’s even higher up the priority list when buying for business use. That’s where the Dell Latitude 9410 comes into its own because despite not having the biggest physical battery you’ll see, it has remarkable longevity.

The battery inside the Latitude 9410 is 52Wh, whichever configuration you buy, but it has different bonus features throughout the range. Some come with ExpressCharge, which can charge to 80% within an hour. Others are “long-life” batteries that come with a three-year warranty for peace of mind.

With Dell’s super-low-power display panels, the Latitude 9410 can deliver up to 27 hours of battery life, which is truly outstanding and, in most cases, could stretch two days away from a charger. It’s also FirstNet ready for first responders and comes with a suite of software and support from Dell.

The Latitude 9410 is also a convertible laptop with 10th Gen Intel processors, fast storage and RAM, lots of port selection, and a great-looking display. Not only will it last all day and then some, but it’s also just a great laptop to use.

Best battery life


Latitude 9410

Dell Latitude 9410

A laptop that will keep going when you stop

All-day battery life is always the target, but the Latitude 9410 uses clever tech to smash that ideal and live on long after you quit working for the day.

Conclusion

Gone are the days of business laptops being some boring black boxes that weighed a lot and were as thick as an encyclopedia. We’ve been there, and we’re glad those days are long gone with fantastic notebooks like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

The lines between consumer, prosumer, and business user are getting closer and closer together, and this laptop is a perfect example of that. It’s packed with business-friendly features, insanely good build quality, and as an added bonus, it looks great around the meeting room table.

Remarkably, some of the very best laptops in recent times are the ones targeted at business customers. It’s great to see for the corporate world, but it can throw a real loop for more normal customers.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore, and Windows Central. Currently, you’ll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Author:

Daniel Rubino is executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.

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