The hybrid workplace is here to stay, and your employees must be able to work from home, at the office, or 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. That mobility means they can benefit from hardware-based security that protects employee devices more than software alone. Selecting the best laptop for small business owners should start with four primary considerations: security, performance, connectivity, and the ability to manage devices remotely. Even if you don’t need this manageability functionality today, it’s best to plan for, future long-term growth needs.
Protect Your Data
Choose a small business laptop that helps you better secure your data with the most comprehensive protection you can have with hardware and software working closely together to enhance your defense against security threats when employees work from home, office, or on the go.
Unleash Employee Productivity
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 space. A smart choice for your business might be to invest in a powerful processor now. You can add RAM and storage later as you know more about employee workload needs.
Better Collaboration Experiences
Enable your entire team to connect, collaborate, and share more seamlessly with the latest WiFi options, the most device interoperability, and the widest software choices to address your entire team's needs.
Prepare for the unexpected
You or your IT team can proactively defend against security threats and perform patches and updates more quickly and easily when you choose a business class device on the Intel vPro® Essentials platform with manageability features built in. Businesses can choose Intel vPro® Enterprise when they need best-in-class manageability features.
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.3 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 learn 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. Pairing a laptop upgrade with migration to Windows 11 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 on the Intel vPro® platform with the latest Intel® Core™ processors. Having business class devices can mean more stable experiences and the difference between a responsive computer and a lagging one. A good processor also helps optimize the memory (RAM) in your laptop to further help 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 a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or a Solid State Drive (SSD). HDDs cost less but contain mechanical parts that affect how fast your computer can access data. SSDs are smaller, lighter, faster, but more expensive. The performance gains of SSDs may outweigh the cost difference when you consider your team’s productivity.
Get seamless compatibility, the most device interoperability, and the widest software choices to address your entire team's needs with a Windows-based operating system on Intel vPro® platforms with Intel® Core™ processors you know and trust. If you haven’t updated your laptop operating system yet, you may want to skip installing Windows 11 until you upgrade your computer. Running the new operating system on an older PC may not give you the full productivity and security benefits.
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 the number of programs open to the quantity 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 presentation. 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 laptop with a smaller screen to save on weight. However, if the laptop may as well be a desktop, then you might consider an All-in-One or regular desktop paired with a thin and light laptop, or a laptop with a smaller screen paired with an external monitor at work and at home. 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.
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 the latest wireless connectivity with Intel® Wireless AC for more reliable video streaming, combined with Intel® Wi-Fi 6/6e to enable lower latency and faster network connections in a business environment with less interference from legacy devices.
Going a step further, a Thunderbolt™ 4 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.
Prepare your business to pivot and scale with Intel
You can propel your business forward by leveraging state-of-the-art technology. New technology trends, such as Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, call for more powerful PCs called workstations, which are available in mobile and desktop form factors. Before long, you may need to take advantage of additional features to accelerate creativity or productivity workloads.
Considering future needs, keep in mind that Intel leads the development of a single, unified platform in partnership with businesses, OSVs, and OEMs to help you grow and scale more efficiently as your organization and technology needs evolve.