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The best business laptops in 2021

Best business laptops
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The best business laptops help you get work done and be more productive on the go. They're easy to carry, 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 still 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 looking for 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

best business laptops: thinkpad x1 nano

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1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

The best business laptop overall

Specifications
Display: 13 inches; 2K
CPU: Intel Core i5-1130G7 | Intel Core i7-1160G7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB - 16GB
Storage: 256 - 1TB SSD
Weight: 2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Great battery life+Lightweight+2K, anti-glare display
Reasons to avoid
-Limited ports-Dull sound

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.

best business laptops: HP Spectre x360 14

(Image credit: Future)

2. HP Spectre x360 14

The best 2-in-1 business laptop

Specifications
Display: 14-inch 1920 x 1280 FHD (as tested) or 3000 x 2000 OLED touchscreen
CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics
RAM: 8 GB
Storage: 256GB to 512GB SSD
Weight: 2.95 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sound quality+Stellar display+Intuitive touchscreen and pen controls+Ultra portable
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Limited port connectivity on lower-priced models-No 10-key option-Pen input finicky for left-handed users

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. 

best business laptops: macbook air with m1

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3. Apple MacBook Air with M1

Apple's best business laptop

Specifications
Display: 13.3 inches; 2560x1600
CPU: Apple M1
GPU: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB-16GB
Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Remarkably fast performance+Strong legacy app support+Amazingly long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Still has thick bezels-Light on ports

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

Best business laptops: Dell XPS 13

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4. Dell XPS 13

A great all-around business laptop

Specifications
Display: 13.4 inches; 1920x1080, 3840x2160, or 3.5K OLED
CPU: 11th-Generation Intel Core i3-i7
GPU: Intel UHD to Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB-16GB
Storage: 256GB-2TBGB SSD
Weight: 2.64 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous, immersive display -- especially if you spring for the 3.5K OLED option+Comfortable keyboard+Great overall performance+Slim, attractive chassis
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be better-Slim port selection-Grainy 720p webcam

The Dell XPS 13 is one of our favorite laptops thanks to its excellent performance, beautiful display, and svelte design. All of these strengths make it a great business laptop, and while the battery life isn't as good as some other laptops of similar price, it's usually enough to get you through a day of work without scrambling for a charger.

Plus, in 2021 Dell began offering the XPS 13 with a 3.5K OLED touchscreen option. If you can afford it (it's usually a couple hundred bucks extra, around the same price as the non-OLED 4K screen configuration) 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 13's thin-bezelled InfinityEdge design. 

Read our full Dell XPS 13 OLED review.

Not interested in OLED? Don't miss our Dell XPS 13 (2020, 11th Gen) review.

best business laptops: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

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5. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Best business laptop for productivity

Specifications
Display: 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 touchscreen
CPU: 11-Gen Intel Core i5/i7 | Ryzen 5/7 4000-series
GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Xe or Radeon graphics
RAM: 8GB to 32GB
Storage: 256GB to 1TB SSD
Weight: 2.79 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Light, slim design+Very comfy keyboard+Great speakers+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Needs more ports-Thick bezels are an eyesore-Needs a better webcam

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.

Best business laptops: Acer Swift 3 (AMD)

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6. Acer Swift 3 (AMD)

Best business laptop under $700

Specifications
Display: 14 inches; 1920x1080
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4700U
GPU: AMD Radeon graphics
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 512GB SSD
Weight: 2.7 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Amazing battery life+Powerful performance+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Display is a little dim-Speakers aren't great

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.

Best business Laptops: Dell XPS 15

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7. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

Best 15-inch business laptop

Specifications
Display: 15.6 inches; 1080p or 4K
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 / i7
GPU: Intel UHD / Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti
RAM: 8GB / 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB SSD
Weight: 4-4.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous, immersive display+Great overall performance+Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
Reasons to avoid
-So-so battery life-Gets loud under pressure

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.

Don’t let its slim and stylish design fool you, either: The Dell XPS 15 2020 is an absolute workhorse. Its 10th Gen Intel Core processors can juggle multiple tasks with ease, and its optional Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU gives it some serious muscle for graphics work and after-hours gaming. Factor in a pair of impressively loud speakers and solid battery life for a 4K laptop, and the new XPS 15 is one of the best 15-inch laptops you can buy for business use.  

Read our full Dell XPS 15 (2020) review.

best business laptops: Lenovo Yoga 9i

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8. Lenovo Yoga 9i

The best 2-in-1 budget business laptop

Specifications
Display: 14-inch, 1080p
Processor: Intel Core i7-1185G7
Memory: 16GB of RAM
Storage: 512GB SSD
Size: 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 3 pounds
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-A, headphone jack
Reasons to buy
+Long battery life+Colorful 1080p display+Hundreds less than competitors
Reasons to avoid
-Limited ports-No IR webcam

The Lenovo Yoga 9i entered a crowded field of 2-in-1s and made a splash with a competitive price. Not only does it have latest 11th Gen Core i7 processor, a built-in stylus and long battery life, but its display is plenty colorful and its neat rotating speaker packs a ton of punch. 

Sure, it only offers two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports and one USB-A port, and its display could stand to be slightly brighter. But when you consider it's hundreds of dollars less than the HP Spectre x360 with basically the same parts, the Lenovo Yoga 9i is a great choice when you want a 2-in-1 for business but need to keep costs down. That said, you do have the option of paying roughly $600 more to get the Shadow Black edition which ups the style, puts the fingerprint reader in a more convenient location, and has a glass palm rest that covers the entire deck.

Read our full Lenovo Yoga 9i review.

Best business laptops: Asus Zenbook 13 OLED

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9. Asus Zenbook 13 OLED

The best cheap OLED business laptop

Specifications
Display: 13.3-inch 1080p OLED
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U
GPU: Integrated Radeon graphics
RAM: 8 GB
Storage: 512 GB
Weight: 2.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Stellar battery life+Beautiful 1080p OLED display+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-Middling sound quality-Inconsistent webcam-No headphone jack

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.

Best business laptops: HP Elite Dragonfly

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10. HP Elite Dragonfly

Another great 2-in-1 business laptop

Specifications
Display: 13.3 inches; 1920x1200 or 3840x2160
CPU: 8th-Gen Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB / 16GB / 32GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB SSD
Weight: 2.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful, eye-catching design+Epic battery life (with optional upgrade)+Bright and colorful screen+Comfortable keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Can be much more expensive than other laptops on this list

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.

Alex Wawro

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. He currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.