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Best small business laptops 2018

Featuring brands such as Apple MacBook, Dell, Lenovo, HP and Acer, here's our pick of the perfect laptops for entrepreneurs and start-ups

What makes a successful start-up? It’s a question that’s rigorously scrutinised time and time again.

While there may never be a definitive answer, most efforts that come close involve a good slice of luck, moments of genius, and truckloads of hard work.

For modern entrepreneurs, these long unforgiven hours are often spent hunched over a laptop, so much in fact, there’s a good chance that you too find yourself operating whole sections of your business with just your keyboard and mouse.

As a result, a limited laptop can genuinely hamper your progress and stifle revenue, so it’s absolutely essential you make sure you pick the right one.

Not a standalone consideration however, as your business grows over the next few years, you’ll be adding more and more employees to your team, and in turn, more and more IT systems.

This means you’ll also need to think about IT support for your small business.

Or, if you’re ready to compare suppliers and receive a free quote, complete the form at the top of the page.


Things to consider before buying a business laptop

Choosing the right laptop for your business can be a delicate and frustrating process.

Rather than just picking up the first one you like the look of, you’ll need to examine potential purchases for exact specifications to make sure they can actually do what you want them to.

However, wading through the marketing jargon and making sense of all the technicalities that come with buying IT equipment can be easier said than done.

Failing to understand said specs could see you miss out on features you really need, or mean you spend too much money on bells and whistles you just don’t require.

So, read on below and make sense of the specifications.


CPU

The central processing unit, the CPU is essentially the heart of the laptop, running the operating system and all apps you use.

Naturally, a faster CPU means faster running programmes. Which all sounds good, however, a faster CPU can also impact battery live and be quite expensive.

Virtually every laptop you buy will have a AMD or Intel CPU, and if you’re intent on buying a netbook (a small, lightweight, legacy-free, and inexpensive laptop), you find it’ll likely have a Intel Atom processor.

For the best possible battery life, look for ‘ultraportable PCs’ – as they generally use low-voltage processors.


GPU

The GPU, or graphics processing unit, is responsible for the quality of the visuals on your screen – think of this in the same way you’d talk about graphics in a video game, except the GPU is responsible for the whole PC rather than an individual game or app.

If video is your thing, many GPUs can accelerate video decoding. Which means that videos from YouTube and other sites will run a lot better with much smoother and crisper visuals – even if you’ve opted for a netbook with a weak CPU.

Most laptops come with integrated graphics from Intel or AMD, or a discrete GPU from nVidia or ATI, the graphics division of AMD.

The difference between the two is that integrated graphics share the main system memory with the CPU, while discrete GPUs are individual chips, so they are dedicated solely to graphics and have their own pool of memory.

As a result, laptops with discrete GPUs will have much better graphics than those with integrated graphics.


RAM

RAM, or random access memory, is the piece of hardware that allows data to be stored and retrieved on the laptop.

As laptop hard drives tend to be a lot slower than their computer counterparts, it’s incredibly important you select a laptop with a suitable quantity of RAM – in most instances, 4GB should be more than enough.

When browsing business laptops, you’ll often see DDR2 and DDR3 mentioned. These are the two types of laptop memory – with DDR3 being the better of the two.

You’ll also notice numbers indicating laptop speed, such as 667MHz, 800MHz, or 1066MHz. Once again, the higher the number, the faster the RAM.

When making your purchase, place the priority on the 4GB and then worry about the speed, as you’ll get an overall better performance while doing so.


Display

The display is the size of the laptop screen, and with this, you have several factors to consider: screen resolution, LED backlighting, and a glossy or antiglare surface.

Screen resolution is how many pixels are on the screen, horizontally and vertically. So while the display size might be the same, the more pixels you have on your screen the more space there’ll be on your desktop.

However, higher resolution can also make all desktop icons and text appear smaller, so things may be harder to see.

In terms of LED backlighting, LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, sit behind the LCD panel and tend to be more energy-efficient than standard fluorescent displays – as well as having a longer battery life, and providing better contrast.

Finally, some laptops have a more shiny, glossy display while others have a soft matte finish. This is a matter of the coating on top of the display and is worth considering.

A glossy coating will create a lot more glare, but will also have better contrast and brightness. While a matte finish will result in less contrast, but also a lot less glare.


Connectivity

Nowadays, all new laptops and netbooks have wireless networking. Many products conform to the 802.11a, 802.11b/g/n, and/or 802.11ac wireless standards – collectively known as Wi-Fi technologies.

802.11g Wi-Fi is the standard you’ll likely encounter in coffee shops, while 802.11b (an older and slower standard) is the most basic connectivity any new laptop will come with no matter how cheap.

Should you need to plug your computer into a wired network however, ensure that the laptop you buy has an ethernet jack. Most do, but a few netbooks don’t.

Many laptops also offer Bluetooth connectivity, which is useful for making use of Bluetooth mice, keyboards, and headsets, or for syncing contacts and calendar information with a Bluetooth phone. For more on business phones click here.


Optical drive

An optical drive is the bit of the laptop that plays CDs and DVDs. Most laptops still have them, however, more and more are being produced that don’t – namely because of the demise in popularity of CDs and DVDs.

Most netbooks don’t have an optical drive, regardless of how old they are.

Should you need an optical drive in the future, but opt to buy a laptop that doesn’t have one, you can easily buy an external DVD drive for between £10 and £30. Most connect via the USB port and don’t even need to be the same brand as your laptop.


Storage

As you’re likely to be running whole sections of your business from your new laptop, storage is an incredibly important consideration. How much storage a laptop can hold, is measured by the size of its hard-drive.

Once again, this is where netbooks show their limitations – as most will only offer up to 250GB worth of storage.

In comparison, some all-purpose laptops will have 500GB worth of storage, with some more expensive offerings holding a whopping 1TB.

When browsing, you’ll also see drives listed as 4200 rpm, 5400 rpm, or 7200 rpm. This is a measure of how fast the platters spin, in revolutions per minute.

Generally speaking, the speedier drives have faster data transfer rates and seek times, which means better file copying, application launching, and boot-up speed.


Best small business laptops 2018

Now that you understand all of the technical terms you’ll encounter when buying a laptop for your business, you can start browsing with confidence.

However, with so many laptops available in the market, how can you effectively narrow down the selection while still ensuring you make the right purchase?

Thankfully, we’ve done the job for you – and have compiled the best small business laptops you can buy this year – complete with a price guide.


Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch

Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch

Specifications Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch
CPU Intel
GPU Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650
RAM 8GB
Display 13.3 inch
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking
Optical drive No
Storage 128GB – 265GB
Price £1,249.00 – £1,749.00

Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1

Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1

Specifications Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1
CPU Intel
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM 8-16GB
Display 13.3 inch
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking
Optical drive No
Storage 256GB
Price £1,109.00 – £1,479.00

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Specifications Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
CPU Intel
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM 16GB
Display 14 inch
Connectivity 8265ac Wi-Fi wireless networking
Optical drive No
Storage 128GB-1TB
Price £1,629.99


HP Spectre Pro 13 G1

HP Spectre Pro 13 G1

Specifications HP Spectre Pro 13 G1
CPU Intel
GPU HD Graph 520
RAM 8GB
Display 13 inch
Connectivity 802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11n
Optical drive No
Storage 512GB
Price £1,5600 – £1,5900

Acer Swift 3

Acer Swift 3

Specifications Acer Swift 3
CPU Intel
GPU Intel HD Graphics 620
RAM 8GB
Display 14 inch
Connectivity Dual band wireless-ac
Optical drive No
Storage 128GB
Price £385 – £500

IT support for small businesses

Once you’ve decided on the perfect laptop for your business, your next thought should be on IT support.
Startups can also help with this process.

By completing the form at the bottom of this page, we can put you in touch with IT support suppliers who can offer quotes and plans based on your specific requirements.

Comparing quotes with Startups is free, quick and easy, and could help to save your business both time and money.