Falling prices, a clear focus from component vendors on thin-and-light laptops and a drive to decrease power consumption, means that there’s barely any difference, price-wise, between laptops and desktops of equivalent specifications, once you throw in the peripherals. In this article, we’ll discuss five key aspects every IT decision maker needs to bear in mind when buying a business laptop.
- Also check out our roundup of the best business accessories
Choosing your budget (and shopping window)
Buying a business laptop for an organization usually entails a designated budget either set by the purchaser or by someone else within the organization and usually part of a purchase lifecycle. That is, a device is being acquired either for a new starter or because the previous device is no longer fit for purpose (too slow, broken or out of warranty). What that means is buying a new PC for business rarely happens by itself; it is usually a well structured process which is outside the scope of this article.
It may be worth pointing out two trends that are influencing the purchase of a business laptop in the 2020’s. First, there’s PCaaS, otherwise known as PC-as-a-service. It’s essentially another variant of leasing; there’s usually no upfront costs (only one fixed monthly payment that may cover accessories/peripherals) and essential software (e.g. antivirus), deployment, end-of-lease recycling/migration and support are included throughout. All major vendors now offer PCaaS.
Then there’s the emergence of Black Friday and various similar sales events that happen throughout the year (e.g. Amazon Prime Day, Presidents Day). A growing number of them are now targeting small and medium businesses outright with exclusive discounts, vouchers and coupon codes.
Windows 11 Pro
Microsoft’s next operating system is due to be rolled out later this year and includes some pretty compelling business-focused features. If you plan to buy a laptop over the next few months, you may want to check whether your prospective purchase is compatible with Windows 11 Pro by asking directly to the vendor. Almost all major laptop manufacturers will have a page dedicated to Windows 11 and uptake is likely to be important especially as you can upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 for free. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed if this will be the same for Windows 11 Pro. That process will start late 2021 and continue into 2022. The good news is that the overwhelming majority of new laptops will support Windows 11 out of the box. Here are the Windows 11 pages for Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Microsoft and HP.
The obvious assumption here is that you want to stick with Windows for business but that’s no longer the case. Apple’s MacOS and Google’s Chrome OS have made inroads in what was and still remains Microsoft’s most prized possession as its de-facto OS for business end-user/client computing.
What level of support do you need?
You need to consider the level of support your business requires. Smaller vendors often offer a one-year warranty, sometimes with onsite support but more often than not, that’s return-to-base (i.e. you need to send the laptop back to the vendor at your own cost) which is obviously not ideal.
Most global vendors offer comprehensive warranty packages with their laptops with some having a three-year affair with onsite next business day support by default. Dell and Lenovo stand out by offering warranties up to 60 months (that’s five years); well worth it on laptops costing thousands. Check out whether you need accident coverage or coverage outside your country; some offer support in countries as far away as India.
Some car insurance providers offer a courtesy car when a member’s vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident. This allows the customer to minimize any disruption caused to his or her workflow. There’s no equivalent yet from a laptop vendor. If downtime is not an option and if there are privacy concerns, having a backup laptop or PC is highly recommended.
What are your use cases?
The purchase strategy for a one-man band (or very small entity) will differ significantly from that of a medium size company. If you only need a couple of laptops, you might be less picky when it comes to choosing a manufacturer refurbished notebooks. Choosing your laptop will also depend on what you intend to do with it.
Edge use cases (e.g. graphics designer, coder, video editing, financial analysts) may require mobile workstations or rugged laptops rather than standard business laptops but for everyone else, the configuration below should be good enough. While there is no real alternative to a powerful CPU, extra memory and a fast SSD can often help.