Here’s what you should understand about comparing budget laptops with flagship-model business laptops. They aren’t as nice. If you’re willing to spend upwards of $1,000 you will find the displays look better, the builds feel classier, and you have significantly more computing power than a laptop under $650. Truth be told, if you’re programming or using robust creative applications, you’d be better served looking at laptops for creative professionals. If you want to use your business laptop for gaming after hours, you might consider something with more power.
That said, if you’re just wanting to do basic office work—e-mails, documents, light spreadsheets, web browsing, consuming media—there’s a point where fancy screens and extra features stop making financial sense. There is plenty of utilitarian value to be found in budget laptops for business users. We’ll look at five solid picks for company-issued basic mobile PCs.
Each laptop shown here has enough power to run Microsoft Office applications and Chrome with a reasonable number of extensions. They are not bereft of extras, either. You will find full high definition displays, solid state drives, and ergonomic keyboards here.
All major OEMs have entry-level laptops that they’ve designed with businesses in mind. They are easy to maintain and upgrade. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll be looking at entry-level business laptops under $650, and some under $500. Each is ideal for remote laptop management and support. With the exception of one Chromebook, these laptops have Windows 10 Professional installed and ready to join a business domain. You can support Chromebooks on a Windows domain, in case you were wondering.
HP Laptop 250 G6
HP positions the Laptop 250 G6 as an affordable alternative to their flagship laptop for business, the HP ProBook. The 250 series is as straightforward as a laptop PC comes. You get a 15.6-inch standard definition display (1366 x 768) a durable chassis with a sleek, polished look and feel. Connectivity is the best selling point from a business perspective: alongside HDMI ports that any work laptop has, you have “legacy” VGA and RJ-45 Ethernet ports.
The 250 series is available in a variety of hardware configurations. You will find 250s sold in low-power Intel Celeron all the way up to a seventh-generation Core i7. For around $450 you get a HP Laptop 250 with an Intel Core i3-6006U, a dual-core multi-threaded processor designed for basic productivity. For closer to $650 you can get a HP Laptop 250 G6 with SSD storage and 8 GB of RAM—a great deal for those specifications.
Acer Aspire 5 Series
The Aspire is Acer’s everyday no-frills laptop line. They offer solid overall performance for a budget laptop that can be purchased for under $600. It has a FHD resolution (1920 x 1080-pixel) 15.6-inch display and weighs in at 4.85 lbs. That’s a middling-but-respectable display-to-weight ratio that’s surprisingly uncommon at this price point. The bezel is a reasonably narrow, at 7.82 mm. Aluminum accents give the Aspire a professional feel that reaches beyond its price point.
Aspire 5 has business-standard connectivity and security features. Three USB ports, HDMI, USB Type-C, Ethernet, a socket for a Kensington lock. You will find various hardware configurations for Acer Aspire 5. This includes very respectable specifications for under $600—a 3.1 GHz Intel Core i5-7200U, a 256 GB SSD, and 8 GB of RAM. For a graphics boost, check out Acer Aspire 5 with a NVIDIA GeForce MX150 which can be found on sale under $600.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2-in-1 takes aim at the Microsoft Surface tablet. Lenovo’s version of the kickstand-style hybrid targets professional users, and it’s a lightweight but comfortable laptop for conducting business. It’s all about the tactile features on the ThinkPad X1. A bucket-shaped keys aid in typing, a magnetic key cover that sits at a slight angle so it’s easier on the wrists when hammering out documents and e-mails. It includes the signature Lenovo TrackPoint trackpad. It has a 12-inch QHD touchscreen, a rare feature for devices under $500.
The hardware gets the job done for most tasks, but it’s by no means a workhorse. It comes with a 256 GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM. The processor is more tablet than laptop—a 1.10 GHz Intel Core M5. If you’re working with large spreadsheets or use productivity software beyond Office basics you might want to consider something with more power.
Acer Switch Alpha
The Acer Switch Alpha gives 2-in-1 users extra processing power packing a 2.3 Ghz Intel Core i5-6200U into a kickstand-style hybrid tablet PC in the $600 range. The magnetically-attached keyboard is built for business users who appreciate full size tactile feedback. The 12-inch laptop is a touch bulkier than the competition at about 3 lbs.
The silent, fanless cooling system is one of the more interesting selling points for Surface-style competitors. The proprietary mechanism cools components with liquid loop system. It boasts USB 3.1 Type C connectivity which helps if you need to attach external data storage drives for streaming media. The model shown here comes configured with a 256 GB SSD and 8GB of RAM.
ASUS C302 Chromebook Flip
Our most popular Chromebook for business users is ASUS C302 Chromebook Flip. This Chromebook features durable lightweight aluminum build (2.65 lbs.) and is rated for a battery life up to 10 hours. As is the give-and-take for laptops with long battery life the processor is low-power, a 0.9 GHz-base clock Intel Core M3 (2.2 GHz in turbo mode.) This is fine for consuming media and the most basic office production tasks, but don’t expect to run more than that.
Chromebooks are characterized by small data storage drives, and this one is no exception to the rule. This one has 64 GB eMMC SSD. If you’re in the market for a Chromebook, you do most of your work online and this should not bother you. The C302 Flip is widely regarded for its build and look. It’s probably the best combination of display specifications, build quality, and sleekness available for under $500.