When mobility is an integral part of your business, your employees must be able to work on the go. Learn how to choose the right small business laptop, what specs will have the greatest impact on performance, and what other features to consider.
Laptops vs. Desktops
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for small business computing. The best devices for employees depend on the tasks they do. But one key choice is laptop vs. desktop—balancing mobility versus performance, cost, and flexibility.
A desktop may give you more performance and responsiveness than a laptop at the same price point and more flexibility to add components. But laptops provide the mobility employees need to respond to business and sales opportunities in real time. They can work on a plane or train, in a coffee shop, or at a customer’s location.
Additionally, the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and Wi-Fi connectivity all come integrated into a laptop. With a desktop, these peripherals sometimes cost extra. This can make the price of a laptop more competitive.
The decision to buy a laptop ultimately comes down to how critical mobile work is for your employees. If that’s integral to your business model, you’ll want to weigh all the factors to select the ideal laptop for your small business.
The Right Small Business Laptop
When the small business workforce can get real work done on the go, productivity and efficiency soar. Selecting the best laptop for small business owners should start with four primary considerations: budget, form factor, performance, and long-term needs.
- Set a budget. Laptop prices run from hundreds to thousands of dollars—and that’s before you’re tempted to add components. Set a budget to use as a guideline, so you don’t purchase performance you can’t afford or sacrifice performance for a low price.
Start by learning how your employees use their computers. Then, determine the performance specs and features each employee requires. After that, you can price out computers that fit your budget.
- Select the right form factor and features. Think about how your employees will use their laptops, and then match those use cases with form factors and features. A thin and light laptop with a long battery life is great for the employee who travels. Meanwhile, a 2-in-1 that can flip into tablet mode and comes with a stylus lets a sales representative easily share content with a customer in the field.
- Focus on performance. A fast processor (CPU) helps ensure employees can quickly complete everyday tasks, even when running many programs at once. RAM temporarily stores data in the laptop’s memory, but the amount needed depends on program complexity. Storage is used to launch and operate programs and the operating system. Storage also holds all your files, so you’ll want ample room.
A smart choice for your business might be to invest in a powerful processor now. You can add RAM and storage later as your business requires.
- Prepare for current and future needs. With new developments in cloud computing and AI, expect fast changes in the applications your employees need to do their jobs. A software vendor’s recommended system requirements generally state only the minimum necessary.
To continue to perform efficiently, your laptop hardware should exceed those requirements by at least 50 percent.1 Investing in laptops that can handle more programs and data could prevent a frustrated workforce in just a few years.
Laptop Performance Specifications
It can be helpful to read up on the basics of PC technology before purchasing your devices. The laptop components most critical to performance are the processor (CPU), RAM, and storage. However, long battery life is crucial for workers to get through the day. And note that Microsoft has ended support and security updates for Windows* 7. Pairing a laptop upgrade with migration to Windows* 10 could be a cost saver.
The CPU gives a laptop its brain power. A more powerful processor enables your laptop to handle computations and tasks faster. Many PC manufacturers offer laptops equipped with the latest Intel® Core™ processor. This can mean the difference between a responsive computer and a lagging one. A good processor also helps optimize the memory (RAM) in your laptop to further improve performance.
Random Access Memory (RAM) plays a major role in PC performance. As the PC’s working memory, having more RAM means your PC can support more programs running at the same time.
Your laptop should provide as much storage as possible. As an alternative, you can add an external hard drive. But storage speed matters as much as storage size.
Storage comes as either an HDD or Intel® Solid State Drive or Intel® SSD. HDDs cost less but contain mechanical parts that affect how fast your computer can access data. Intel® SSDs are smaller, lighter, faster, and more expensive.
Intel® Optane™ memory H10 with Solid State Storage is a new approach to memory and storage that provides both responsiveness and performance. Compared to a system with a PCIe 4.0 TLC NAND SSD alone, Intel® Optane™ memory H10 with Solid State Storage can provide a boost in performance while multitasking—launch Microsoft Office applications up to 35%x faster while multitasking.4
If you haven’t updated your laptop operating system yet, you may want to skip installing Windows* 10 until you upgrade your computer. Running the new operating system on an older PC may not give you the full productivity and security benefits.
With a new laptop, employees can open and use Windows apps fast, save time with voice-activated help, and enjoy built-in protections and automatic updates that alleviate security concerns.
Some laptop batteries take the freedom out of mobility by making you hyperaware of every electrical outlet. Others will work all day—and even do overtime—on one charge. Various factors impact battery life, from screen size and brightness to number of programs open to amount of media consumed. In particular, your choice of processor and operating system will determine how long your laptop battery will last.
Other Features to Consider
Other factors that may help you determine the right laptop for your business include configurations, screen size, weight, graphics, and connectivity.
Multiple Configurations with 2-in-1s
A 2-in-1 PC delivers powerful processing in a razor-thin device that switches among laptop, tablet, and tent modes. Employees can transform the device to fit the task, from accessing browser windows to presenting a 4K video creation. New models offer features like voice control and facial recognition, along with exceptional performance for life and work on the go.
Laptop screen size varies from 11 to 18 inches. If you expect employees to transport a laptop daily, you may want to look at a smaller screen. However, if the laptop may as well be a desktop, then a larger screen can be comparable to a workstation display. Screen size directly influences weight and price, so you need to balance employee desires with convenience and cost.
The weight and thickness of a laptop can be critical if employees frequently carry it from location to location. In some cases, every ounce counts. Intel® Core™ processor-based laptops are lightweight and extremely portable for use wherever employees go.
Laptops typically use graphics processors integrated with the CPU. With enhancements in integrated graphics, you’re able to handle tasks that were previously relegated to discrete graphics. But for editing videos or creating high-end graphics, a discrete graphics processor can be essential.
Most laptops include USB ports to connect to everything from a mouse to an external drive, plus Bluetooth for wireless peripherals, and an audio jack. You’ll also want wireless connectivity for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and an ethernet port (RJ45) for business environments.
Going a step further, a Thunderbolt™ 3 port provides a superset of capabilities, including USB 3.1 plus 40 GBPS Thunderbolt™ and DisplayPort 1.2 from a single USB-C port. You can also find laptops with a microSD slot, Gigabit Ethernet, and other connectivity features.
Be Future Forward with Intel
Most small business owners keep a watchful eye on their budgets. But current technology trends, especially within the realm of AI, call for powerful PCs. Before long, you may want to take advantage of these features to accelerate creativity or productivity workloads.
If you think you’ll take advantage of new AI capabilities, you’ll want to consider a new class of laptops that can carry you into the future. These ultralight devices are coengineered with Intel for exceptional mobile performance.5 They feature 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processors, battery life that’s optimized to last, and features like instant wake and voice assistant. And by meeting the latest standards for connectivity with Intel® Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) and Thunderbolt™ 3, your employees can get fast connections that keep them productive.