Five laptops ready for work

Often work will require you to hit the road, and though business-oriented tablets may suffice in some instances, there's no substitute for a proper laptop. Laptops that are secure, rugged, and long on battery life are vital to getting things done.

Laptops make fine desktop computer replacements too, most offering enough horsepower to handle day-to-day tasks. Combined with a second monitor and full-sized keyboard, laptops can create fine working stations.

If you're in the market for a new workhorse, check out these options.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

The newest Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon has a hard drive option that offers exceptional speed. Being 2.9 pounds and 0.6 inches thick, the X1 Carbon is well-suited for working on the road. You can get up to an i7 3.2 GHz processor and 8 GB of RAM if you need serious horsepower. 512 GB of SSD storage is available, depending on model. The 14-inch display starts at 1920 x 1080 and goes up to 2560 x 1440.

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Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13 made a big splash at CES as an ultrabook with an exceptionally thin border around the display. Touch and non-touch varieties of the XPS 13 are available, and the whole package weighs in at about 2.6 pounds and 0.7 inches at its thickest. Under the hood of the base model is an i3 2.1 GHz processor, which can be bumped up to i5 2.7 GHz processors in the higher-end versions. That's paired up with 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, which can be upgraded to 8 GB in the top-of-the-line model. A 128 GB SSD should be enough to cover your storage needs, and two USB 3.0 ports can handle peripherals. The resolution of the 13.3-inch display comes in at 1920 x 1080.

HP EliteBook Folio 1020

HP EliteBook 1020

The HP EliteBook Folio 1020 is a rugged, secure, slim, and light laptop built for business. Inside you'll find a 1.1 GHz Core M processor, 8 GB of RAM, and storage starting at 128 GB. The non-touch 12.5-inch display comes in at 1920 x 1080, or you can upgrade to 2560 x 1440 with touch included. The Special Edition of the EliteBook Folio 1020 due out next month has a carbon weave construction that brings the total weight down to 2.2 pounds. MIL-STD 810G certification means this laptop is built to take a beating, plus a built-in fingerprint scanner alongside other HP security features. The rest of HP's EliteBook family is very much in the same vein. Fans of hybrids will want to check out the EliteBook Revolve 810 (opens in new tab).


Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme

For those that work in well and truly tough situations, the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme is an obscenely heavy-duty laptop. This laptop has a laundry list of military-grade ruggedization certifications, including water protection thanks to gaskets plugging all enclosures. Though the 14-inch screen's 1366 x 768 resolution and resistive touch capabilities may not impress your everyday consumer, the added glare resistance is perfect for outdoor use, plus friendly for use with gloves or cold hands. On the digital security side of things, you can tack on a smart card reader or fingerprint scanner as add-ons. Besides that, you've got a dual-core i3 1.7 GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. For those looking for added flexibility, there's also a 12-inch version with a swivel hinge if you need to operate it as a tablet.

$3,655.75 (opens in new tab)

Lenovo ThinkPad T450s

Toshiba 450s

The Lenovo ThinkPad T450s is an all-business laptop. The 14-inch display offers resolution starting at 1600 x 900, but a touch version is available at 1920 x 1080. Under the hood is an i5 2.7 GHz processor, upgradeable to i7 3.2 GHz with 12 GB of RAM. Storage ranges from 128 GB to 500 GB. 3 USB 3.0 slots, built-in memory card reader, and VGA out offers all the outputs you need. A smartcard and fingerprint sensor are available for those particularly concerned with security.


Your favorite business laptops?

There's a wide range of laptops out there; let us know your top pick for getting things done in the comments.

  • My SP3 works just fine.  Only issue, is some software doesn't support the oddball resolution.
  • That was exactly why i ended up returning mine and bought the thinkpad x1 carbon touch. It was a great device but the resolution blows ass and some things dont display correctly. Hoping the SP4 addresses that.
  • We've got for sp3's, at my firm, and six xps13's, along with an assortment of other high end devices - many with high resolution screens: It's msft's scaling that's the issue. Hopefully that will get addressed. Fast. People have been complaining for a while. We have 4k monitors and wow, even PhotoShop with the high res ui pack can be janky. Optimised for osx on their 27" imac all in one though (we have a couple)... I dunno, this problem needs to be addressed, though two of the xps13's are non touch 1080p and they're my favourite: Battery life and performance are superb. I'll also chip in the msi gt72 dominator pro - an excellent desktop replacement and, when switching to on board graphics, the battery life is not half bad, considering our models carry the gtx980! Not too heavy either. We get all our gear on Enterprise sla and the scope for configuration is far greater than for the consumer versions, but yeah: Overall that's a solid list. Though the xps13 is finally my favourite on there.
  • I think the important question here is "where do you work and are they hiring?" :-)
  • Couldn't you just change the resolution?
  • Oh of course - and that is the way to deal with it. But if you want to work natively on the screen, as intended... Well you can't. PhotoShop is a particular bug bear, and some dev tools.
  • Photoshop CC works just fine on it. In the settings change it to 200%UI. And FYI to all the others, if a piece of software doesn't support higher pixel displays, you'll have that problem no matter what machine you get. And as far as this article, I would take the Surface Pro over any of those listed devices.
  • It is the oddball aspect ratio that caused the issues i seen before i returned my sp3 and got the x1 carbon touch, because the x1 runs the standard 16:9 it does not have the issue. Dont beleive me install microsofts own expression web 4 (free program btw) and load a webpage it is borked on the sp3.
  • Yea, but then it letter boxes the screen.
  • Call me a hypocrite, but when I need a laptop (which is rarely) I go to my trusty MacBook Pro.
  • "Hypocrite"
  • Nice story bro. Who cares. This is about doing serious business when people need a serieus laptop. Which is in 95% of all cases a trusty Windows laptop. Doing business an HP Elitebook for example makes a mbp look pathetic. Sorry, you made a fool of yourself.
  • Nothing wrong with that. Macs are the only computers that can natively dual boot both Windows and OS X straight out of the box. Anyone who says one OS is always better than the other is full of it. Each one has their merits and I like being able to switch between them on one machine, so I use a MBP for the same reason.
  • I too am surprised the Surface Pro 3 is not included.  It is a great work laptop, and a great work tablet.
  • sp3 is more of a hybrid tablet than a laptop. I guess a built in KB is must for a laptop.
  • I believe it appears on the "best tablet for work" article, published yesterday. It's great bit out isn't a laptop. And, in terms of flexibility and use, a laptop has far more functionality in fast more situations. It's good for whatever it is YOU do, but may not be for someone else. The major bugbear is the hoops one has to jump through to get access to the ssd. Better than some options though ;) I primarily use my sp3 as a mobile notepad and data aggregate viewer and it's great, but much prefer a proper keyboard for typing. I type a lot and the type cover is just not good enough or large enough for my hands. But to each their own. That's the beauty of choice :)
  • I agree. I barely use anything else apart from my phone now. Right now I've got the following running simultaneously on my SP3: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, NetBeans, Hyper-V running a Debian Linux VM (for development), Apache 2, MySQL 5.6, OneNote, Skype and both app and desktop versions of IE11 with about half a dozen tabs open on each. There's no performance lag to speak of. I literally don't need anything else for my work other than a WiFi connection.
  • Surprised that there is no discussion about docking stations. Its the biggest factor for me when I buy a laptop. True docking stations (not glorified USB hubs) turn good laptops into awesome workstations with a snap. Hp, Dell, and Lenovo all have them, but they are specific to a line... For instance with Dell, its the Latitude line - all of them support full docks.
  • Dell Latitude seem like not only heavy-duty but heavyweighty too. Its huge :)
  • It's not that heavy for a military. Lol
  • It's not for you. Sorry but not everyone is a prima donna. There's some rugged boys and gals who love it. Stick to whatever makes you happy. There's a world around you that needs to coexist.
  • You dont have to go personal. Don't like my comment go to next one. And watch out when you call someone prima donna
  • Sorry bud. I didn't mean it like that. But for sure that dell is targeting a rough neck market. Your comment sound's like you're a gal or guy behind a desk looking at the wrong product. My bad.
  • SP4..... Nuff said.
  • Excuse my ignorance, but what's an sp4? Or even an sp3 like the comment up top? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Surface Pro 3.  Surface Pro 4 (SP4) hasn't been released yet.
  • He knows it hasn't been released yet... Lol.
  • While this is true, there may be some who don't. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Wow. Should have known that. Lol I don't know how everyone abbreviates things around these parts. I'm searching for the best laptop/2in1 for personal use. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Well, we would seriously recommend the SP3.
  • That what the word seems to be. Just got the girlfriend one for school, she loves it. I'm torn between the pro 3, maybe waiting for the 4, xps 13, I think the HP x360?, and yoga pro 3. Not too sure about the core m though. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I would also take the latest generation ThinkPad Helix into consideration. If you want cheap, there is the Vaio Tap 11 ;)  
  • Not looking to go too cheap, I want something to last for a long time. I'll give the helix a look, thanks! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Asus Transformer Book Trio.
  • XPS 13, I5 - Touch, 256 solid state drive!!! Great machine...
  • The Thinkpad is an excellent ultrabook.
  • I am a bit surprised to see SP3 missing from the action. I have been using it since long and it is a perfect laptop / desktop replacement. Hook it up with a neat display and voila you get advantage of dual screen setup. Adding a dock ust takes it at next level. It has been pleasure owning one and ditching my macbook air and pro. ​ ​ ​ ​
  • That's exactly what I do. They advertise it as a 2-in-1, but I use it as a 3-in-1. It works great for a desktop, laptop, and tablet. Easily the best device released last year. Can't wait to see what the SP4 has to offer. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I bought a Lenovo Edge E540 and am very happy for the price paid.  I see them floating around for $250-$350 used on eBay.  Throw in a cheap SSD, 1080p panel, and backlit keyboard and you have a solid performer for under $500. Intel HD is finally faster than Nvidia 9500GT :)
  • Original Surface Pro along with the Surface Docking Station is my ONLY work device.
  • I'm surprise the SP3 and the HP x360 not mentioned in the top 5.  Both are very good machines. I would put the SP3 at 1.
  • Sp3 was in the tablet category. I think the reasoning is that the keyboard is an optional extra, so it IS a tablet.
  • Loving my Lenovo G510. 160 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, 8.1 Pro with Hyper-V on. Very fast for the price.
  • To me a laptop for work has at least a docking port and 'Next day business support'. Of the laptops mentioned above, only the Lenovo Thinkpad falls in that category.
  • So here's an 'oddball' - I just recently bought myself the Razer Blade 2015 gaming laptop for work. Why? Because I travel - a lot - so it needed to be light. I run vrirtual machines to do client demos from so it needed 16GB RAM minimum. I wanted a touch screen for touch apps & development purposes. And because I travel and spend a lot of time in hotel rooms I wanted something that could play more than minesweeper. The laptops in this article are great if your business is conducted primarily through Office apps - throwing up a powerpoint on a projector etc, but if you need to do product demos etc you typically need a bit more grunt. Finding a laptop with the specs of the Blade in a light form factor was neigh impossible, hence I went with the Blade. The only downside is the gaming look to the keyboard and the green logo on the back of the screen, but thats not a deal breaker just a frustration.
  • Acer Nitro Black
  • I have used about a hundred different laptops over the years, from all of the big players, and to me the best by far are the Fujitsu T900 series of hybrid laptop/ penabled tablets. The latest T935 is a Maserati of a system, but also has a commensurate price.
    I am a biased toward penabled hybrids since I have been using pen type tablets since they are first introduced by the WinTel players 12 years ago.
  • I'm alwts sirplused by th nuumrus musspellkd wordes in the comments sextion. Syllabously, peeps.
  • Please, why do you guys keep pushing Lenovo products? Leonovo is in bed with the Chinese Government and the Superfish fiasco is only what we know about. How much embeded spyware has been added on the hardware level. Many business won't buy Lenovo products due to this. It's not a good choice, stop trying to tell people they are. 
  • You guys are totally missing the HP Elitebook 840. i7 , 16gb ram