Best Mac For Business

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Your guide

  • Wirecutter Staff

Smartphones and tablets may have taken over much of people’s screen time, but there's still a need for a “real” computer sometimes—and for most people, that means a laptop. For school and office work and things like spreadsheets and video editing, there’s no good substitute for a decent keyboard and a big screen. But which laptop you should get depends on how often you’ll use it, what you’ll use it for, and (of course) how much money you can afford to spend on it.

We’ve tested all of the most promising laptops over the past few years, from sleek ultrabooks to cheap Chromebooks to massive gaming laptops and beyond. Here are the best models you can buy in every category, along with advice on how to choose which type of laptop is right for you.

The research

Mac or Windows (or something else)?

Many people already know whether they want a MacBook or a Windows laptop: If you’re already familiar with macOS or Windows, the easiest choice is to buy a computer that runs that operating system. That said, macOS and Windows have never been more similar, and most popular apps work just as well on either platform (or at least have alternatives that work similarly). If you’re interested in switching, it isn’t as big a deal as it used to be.

If you’re not tied to a platform, the biggest factor is how easy it is to get support. Do most of your family and friends use Macs? Do you have an Apple Store nearby? Do your most tech-savvy friends use Windows? If you’re a student, does your school have a help desk? Will your company’s IT department provide support for your home computer? If you’re not a self-sufficient techie and want the best service for your computer, buy a Mac, because you can take it to any Apple Store to get it fixed. No other computer maker provides that level of support. (If you are self-sufficient, go with what you like.)

Alternatively, as more tasks can be accomplished in a browser, without downloading and installing apps, you might not even need a traditional operating system—a Chromebook may be all you need.

Click on the labels to jump to each section.

For most people: The best ultrabook

Our pick

Dell XPS 13 (9380)

The Dell XPS 13 has a thin, light chassis plus impressively long battery life, alongside a great keyboard, trackpad, and screen.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,050.

Who these are for: Ultrabooks are the best laptops for most people, including college students, writers, office workers, and commuters. They have great keyboards, screens, battery life, and enough power to do everything most people need a computer for, and they're thin, light, and portable. You should expect to pay between $900 and $1,300 for a great Windows ultrabook that will last you three to four years.

Where they fall short: Great ultrabooks cost more than most people want to spend on a laptop, even if they provide a better experience and last longer than cheaper alternatives. They also lack the processing power to play high-end games or do demanding tasks like professional video editing or 3D modeling. If you need a cheaper laptop or a more powerful one, check out our other picks below.

Photo: Michael Murtaugh

Why we like this one: The Dell XPS 13 (9380) is the best Windows ultrabook for most people because it offers the best balance of what makes an ultrabook great: It’s compact, its battery life is the longest we’ve seen, and it has a good keyboard and trackpad. It has the newest Intel processors, enough memory for most tasks, a 256 GB solid-state drive, and Thunderbolt 3—we wish the XPS 13 had a USB-A port too, but that problem is easy enough to resolve with a USB-C hub or dock. The laptop weighs just 2.7 pounds and measures 11.9 by 7.8 by 0.5 inches. Its design was amazing in 2015 and remains impressive today—it’s about a half-inch more compact than other laptops we tested—but it’s no longer the outlier it once was.

You can read more about the Dell XPS 13 and our other picks in our guide to Windows ultrabooks.

The best Mac laptop

Best Mac For Business

Our pick

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, two Thunderbolt 3 ports)

You get good-enough performance and a full workday of battery life in a thin, light laptop with a fantastic display and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Buying Options

Who these are for: If you prefer macOS or need great tech support, Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro offers the best combination of size, weight, and speed. It’s great for the same people a Windows ultrabook is good for, including writers, office workers, commuters, and college students. Expect to pay around $1,300 for one with good enough specs and storage to last you three to four years.

Where they fall short: MacBooks are even more expensive than Windows ultrabooks—the 13-inch Pro usually costs a bit more for similar specs. Apple’s default 128 GB of storage is on the small side, and the company overcharges for storage upgrades. And like Windows ultrabooks, our recommended configuration for most people lacks the processing power to play demanding games or do professional 3D modeling.

Photo: Andrew Cunningham

Why we like this one: The 13-inch MacBook Pro (2019, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports) has some shortcomings, but they’re almost all shared by other modern Apple laptops: the low-travel keyboard, a small number of homogenous ports (in this case, two Thunderbolt 3 ports) that may require the use of USB-C hubs or new cables, and a high price relative to Windows laptops with similar performance and features (especially if you need more storage). But the Pro’s light weight, solid construction, and industry-leading support make it a good laptop, especially if you also own an iPhone or other Apple devices.

If you need a less expensive Mac or a more powerful one with a larger screen, take a look at our full guide to MacBook models.

The best cheap ultrabook

Our pick

Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA

The ZenBook 13 UX333FA has more than enough battery life for a full day of classes, and it’s thin and light, making it an excellent value.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $926.

Who these are for: Most inexpensive Windows computers, especially those less than $500, are large and heavy and have poor battery life—among other flaws—but for a bit more money you can get an ultrabook that is almost as good as a thousand-dollar one. Budget ultrabooks are ideal for students in particular, and for anyone who can spend around $800 on a laptop.

Where they fall short: Budget ultrabooks tend to have bigger, creakier bodies and worse build quality than our top picks, and they can also have less responsive keyboards and trackpads, dimmer and less accurate screens, or fewer ports. But if you can find one that makes as few of these compromises as possible, you may be able to save a few hundred dollars.

Photo: Michael Murtaugh

Why we like this one: The Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA is a fantastic value. It costs a few hundred dollars less than our top ultrabook pick and has nearly identical specs. It’s even a little lighter than the Dell XPS 13, despite being slightly bigger too. Battery life lasted more than 10 hours in our tests, plenty to get you through a full workday. This ZenBook’s trackpad is accurate and responsive, but its backlit keyboard is a bit less enjoyable to type on than those of our other picks. It also lacks Thunderbolt 3 ports. But if you need a thin, light laptop for less than $1,000, you should definitely get the ZenBook UX333FA.

You can read more about the ZenBook UX333FA and how it compares to our other picks in our full guide.

The best Chromebook

Our pick

Asus Chromebook Flip C434TA

With solid performance, a great keyboard and trackpad, excellent battery life, and a 14-inch screen squeezed into a compact laptop, the C434TA is one of the best Chromebooks ever made.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $530.

Who these are for: Chromebooks are ideal for students and kids, but you should also consider one if you spend most of your computer time in a Web browser, if you’re on a tight budget, or if you already have a decent desktop PC. A good Chromebook can do almost anything a regular laptop can do—as long as it’s possible in a Web browser or via Android apps. And they’re cheap: A $400 Chromebook is faster, lighter, and sleeker than a $500 Windows laptop and blessed with better battery life. Plus, Chromebooks are secure and easy to maintain.

Where they fall short: Chromebooks can’t run iTunes, Photoshop, demanding games, or many of the programs you might be used to on your Mac or Windows computer. They don’t have much local storage, and they work best with a full-time Internet connection. But if you use Web-based email, if you can get by with Office 365, Google’s office Web apps, and Android app alternatives, and if you stream your music and movies over the Internet, a Chromebook should do just about everything you need it to.

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why we like this one: The Asus Chromebook Flip C434TA is one of the best Chromebooks ever made, with solid performance, a reliable trackpad and backlit keyboard, excellent battery life, a spacious 14-inch screen with tiny bezels and a compact body, and both USB-C and USB-A ports to connect new and older peripherals. The C434TA has a 360-degree hinge, though the machine is too heavy to use comfortably in tablet mode. It’s expensive for a Chromebook, but it’s worth the money if you plan to use your Chromebook a lot. We recommend the DSM4T model with a 14-inch 1920×1080 IPS touchscreen, an Intel Core m3-8100Y processor, 4 GB of memory, and 64 GB of storage. Asus also offers a DS384T model with 8 GB of RAM for around $600; that’s overkill for most people but a good option when our recommended model costs more than $570 (or if you already know you’re a tab monster whose workflow requires more memory).

You can read our full guide to Chromebooks here.

The best budget Windows laptop

Our pick

Asus VivoBook Flip 14 TP412FA-OS31T

Sleek for a cheap Windows laptop, the VivoBook Flip 14 has a vibrant screen and a comfortable backlit keyboard. But it chugs if you try to multitask, and its trackpad is slippery.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $380.

Who these are for: If you need a Windows laptop for home, work, or school—and you can’t afford to spend a lot—you can find a good one for $450 to $600. They’re ideal for K–12 students, people on a strict budget, and people who use their computers mostly at home in the evenings for schoolwork, Web browsing, managing a budget, or watching Netflix. Cheaper, lighter laptops tend to be too slow to recommend, while faster, sleeker ones usually cost too much.

Where they fall short: To get a laptop that doesn’t feel slow for a decent price, you’ll have to make a lot of compromises. Most budget laptops with decent specs have 15-inch screens, weigh 5 or 6 pounds, and have much shorter battery life compared with ultrabooks. And because some budget laptops use a traditional hard drive instead of a solid-state drive, they feel slower than an ultrabook with the same processor and memory.

Photo: Rozette Rago

Why we like this one: The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 TP412FA-OS31T has 128 GB of solid-state storage, an Intel Core i3-8145U processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a bright, 14-inch screen with a 1920×1080 resolution. Its keyboard is comfortable and responsive, and the VivoBook Flip is sturdier and more compact than other laptops in this price range. But the VivoBook Flip’s 4 GB of memory is a bit limiting, its trackpad is slippery and unreliable, and its battery won’t last a full day like the Chromebook’s. It also comes with some bloatware, and it has Windows 10 in S mode—a version of Windows 10 that allows apps only from the Microsoft Store and limits you to Microsoft Edge for Web browsing—but you can switch it to Windows 10 Home for free.

Choosing a budget laptop is tricky, because you’ll find dozens—even hundreds—of configurations at a given time. Their prices fluctuate constantly, too, and companies release and discontinue models with no warning. If our pick isn’t available, you should look for the following specs in an all-purpose budget laptop: seventh- or eighth-generation Intel Core i3 or i5 processor (they’ll have model names that start with i3 or i5 and end with 7xxx or 8xxx), 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM, a solid-state drive, and a 1366×768 or better screen resolution.

You can read our full guide to budget laptops here.

The best Windows laptop for photo and video editing

Our pick

Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)

The Surface Book 2 has powerful specs and the best battery life and most accurate screen of any Windows laptop we tested. It’s reliable enough for most creative tasks, but not quite accurate enough for video color grading and print production.

Buying Options

Who these are for: If you’re a creative professional and want a Windows laptop that’s more powerful than an ultrabook, with a larger, higher-resolution screen and a faster graphics processor, you should get what we call a power notebook. These are ideal if you’re an audio, video, or photo editor, or if you do a lot of 3D modeling, but you still want something fairly light and portable. They’re pricey, though, so expect to pay upwards of $2,500.

Where they fall short: Laptops with color-accurate screens and enough power for creative professionals are expensive. Power notebooks also tend to have shorter battery life than ultrabooks, because of their larger, higher-resolution screens and power-hungrier processors. And because they’re thin and light enough to be reasonably portable, these laptops are often not as easy to upgrade as chunkier business or gaming laptops.

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the best Windows laptop for professional creative tasks like photo and video editing, thanks to a vibrant 4K screen, quad-core processor, dedicated graphics, high-capacity SSD, and plenty of RAM.Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why we like this one: The Surface Book 2 configuration we recommend costs around $2,900 (we know!). Keep reading: It has a 4K display, an eighth-generation 1.9 GHz Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB solid-state drive. It also comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6 GB VRAM, a powerful graphics processor that can handle demanding tasks—like quickly exporting 4K footage in Adobe Premiere Pro—much faster than the GPU in the MacBook Pro (it’s also good for gaming). The Surface Book 2 model’s keyboard is clicky and comfortable to use for long periods of time, and its trackpad is even better: It tracks smoothly and accurately, and it executes gestures and other Windows-related tasks with ease. It also has all of the necessary ports and connections: two USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port (though not Thunderbolt 3), as well as a full-size SD card reader, and a proprietary Surface Connect port. It also had the longest battery life of any laptop we tested this year by about 20 minutes, and you can even detach its screen and use it as a tablet if you want.

You can read more about these options in our full guide to power notebooks.

The best MacBook for photo and video editing

Our pick

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (15-inch, 2019)

The 2019 MacBook Pro has the best display of any laptop we’ve tested, and it’s accurate enough for video color grading and print production. Its keyboard is shallow and its battery life is short, but it’s the most powerful option for Apple users.

Buying Options

Who these are for: If you need a Mac for professional creative work such as audio, video, or photo editing, Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pros offer larger screens, faster processors, and more powerful graphics processors than the 13-inch models. Expect to pay at least $2,500 for one with enough memory and storage to last three or four years.

Where they fall short: The 15-inch MacBook Pro is even more expensive than our Windows laptop for creative professionals. And Apple’s latest MacBooks have removed common ports like USB-A, DisplayPort, and HDMI, so you’ll have to pay even more for dongles and adapters to connect your peripherals.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro is the best MacBook if you do a lot of photo or video editing; its high-gamut screen is impressively color accurate, and its processor is more powerful than the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s.Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Why we like this one: If you need a Mac for creative work, Apple’s 2019 15-inch MacBook Pro is the best option. The MacBook Pro’s 15.4-inch 2880×1800 Retina display was imperceptibly more color-accurate than the Dell XPS 15’s, and its screen reproduced more of the sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts; it has the best display and trackpad we’ve used on a laptop. But it has a shallow keyboard, it lacks older but still common ports, and it’s expensive. We recommend the $3,150 model—which is about $250 more than the Surface Book 2—with a 2.6 GHz eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of solid-state storage, and Radeon Pro Vega 20 dedicated graphics with 4 GB of memory.

What Is The Best Mac For Business

You can read more about these options in our full guide to power notebooks.

The best gaming laptop

Our pick

Asus ROG Strix Scar II GL504GS-DS74

With excellent performance, good heat management, and a top-notch screen, the Scar II has almost everything we look for in a gaming laptop. But the design seems to have come straight out of Hot Topic.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,554.

Who these are for: If you want a laptop that can play the latest games with decent settings at high frame rates, a high-end gaming laptop is the way to go. Expect to pay $1,750 or more for one. They’re ideal for anyone who travels frequently and doesn’t want a desktop, including deployed soldiers, college students, truckers, and the like.

Where they fall short: Gaming laptops need to be huge and heavy to make room for powerful components and proper cooling, and they also have abysmal battery life. And they’re expensive: A $1,500 desktop computer is much more powerful and upgradable than a $3,000 gaming laptop; meanwhile, a $1,000 ultrabook handles nongaming tasks just as well as a gaming laptop at one-third the weight and four times the battery life, with much better build quality.

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Why we like this one: Our favorite gaming laptop is the Asus ROG Strix Scar II. It has powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics, an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8750H six-core processor, and 16 GB of memory. It comes with 256 GB of solid-state storage and a 1 TB hybrid drive. But it has a garish faux-military design with contrasting camouflage and carbon fiber patterns, and it lacks G-sync and Thunderbolt 3, two features we expect in high-end gaming laptops. You’d have to pay $200 more to get both with the specs we like.

Read our full guide to gaming laptops here. If you want a gaming laptop but don’t have a couple grand to spend, see the next category.

The best budget gaming laptop

Our pick

Dell G5 15 Gaming

The Dell G5 15 Gaming has impressive battery life for a gaming laptop but it’s a bit heavier than the competition, and its fans get distractingly loud during gaming sessions.

Buying Options

Who these are for: For $800 to $1,300 you can get a laptop with a 15-inch screen and a thinner and lighter body that still plays games pretty well. This kind of laptop will serve you well for older games on high settings, and you can expect it to play most new games on at least medium settings for the next couple of years. They’re ideal for gamers with tighter budgets, especially students.

Where they fall short: Every affordable gaming laptop we’ve tested has had at least one serious flaw. Some get way too hot, others have poor build quality, and some have dim screens with poor viewing angles. And although budget gaming laptops tend to be smaller and lighter than their more powerful brethren, all gaming laptops are large, heavy, and saddled with short battery life compared with more portable options like ultrabooks.

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why we like this one: The Dell G5 15 Gaming has impressive battery life for a gaming laptop, but it’s a bit heavier than the competition, and its fans get distractingly loud during gaming sessions. We recommend the G5 with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q graphics, an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 256 GB solid-state drive, and a 1 TB hard drive.

Read more about our budget gaming laptop pick in our full guide.

The best business laptop

Our pick

Lenovo ThinkPad T490

The T490 has the best combination of performance, size, weight, upgradability, and price among business laptops, which tend to be more durable and serviceable than other laptops.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,130.

Who these are for: Most people don’t need a business laptop, and those who do will probably get one issued from their IT department. But there are a few great reasons to get a business laptop, even if you’re paying for it yourself, including better long-term durability, easier serviceability and upgrades, more RAM and storage, and more plentiful and varied ports than you get with an ultrabook. Our main picks typically cost between $1,200 and $1,400, but we also have a great budget pick for around $1,000.

Where they fall short: Ultrabooks are a better option than business laptops for most people because they’re thinner, lighter, and offer similar performance for less money. The majority of people don’t need to upgrade or repair their own laptops, and if you really need business-centric features like smart card support and vPro, it’s likely that the place where you work has already provided you a laptop that supports them. Dongles and docks, while inconvenient, can make up for some ultrabooks’ limited port selection.

Photo: Andrew Cunningham

Why we like this one: The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 has an excellent keyboard and trackpad, a decent screen, and a good mix of new and old ports that should keep you from ever needing a dongle or adapter. And the T490 offers long enough battery life to last you through a full workday or a cross-country flight. Our recommended configuration costs around $1,200 to $1,400 and includes an Intel Core i5-8265U processor, 8 GB of memory, a 256 GB PCIe SSD, a 14-inch 1080p IPS screen, and a backlit keyboard and fingerprint reader. Our pick’s specs are fast enough for everyday work, and it’s exceptionally easy to upgrade the memory or storage or to replace the battery.

Check out our full guide to business laptops to learn more.

The best 2-in-1 laptop

Our pick

Lenovo Yoga C930

The Lenovo Yoga C930 is the best laptop that you can flip into tablet mode. Its battery will last all day, and it has a big, 14-inch touchscreen and included stylus, but its size and weight make it less convenient for carrying around.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $980.

You’ll encounter two main types of 2-in-1 laptops. Convertibles are just ultrabooks with a 360-degree hinge that lets you fold the laptop’s screen all the way around, flat against the bottom of the keyboard, to use the entire package as a bulky tablet or in any mode in between. Detachables, the other type, are more like tablets with a removable keyboard. They tend to be awkward in at least one of their two modes, and the operating systems they use (usually Windows, sometimes iOS, Android, or ChromeOS) are usually good for either laptop work or tablet work, but not both.

Who these are for: Convertibles are a good choice if you want a great laptop that you’ll occasionally use as a tablet or propped up like a tent. For example, tent mode can be convenient for navigating recipes in the kitchen or watching Netflix on an airplane. Detachables are the more appropriate option for people who want a tablet they can sometimes use as a laptop. If you don’t need tablet features at all, we recommend sticking with one of our ultrabook picks above.

Where they fall short: Even the best 2-in-1 makes for a bulky, awkward tablet; the one we recommend is an excellent laptop first, with bonus modes for occasional needs. And styluses for writing or drawing in tablet mode usually cost extra, on top of an already expensive laptop.

The Lenovo Yoga C930 has a 360-degree hinge that allows you to flip the screen all the way around to use as a tablet, or in any intermediate position. (Tent mode is shown here.)Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why we like this one: The Lenovo Yoga C930 is an excellent ultrabook with a 360-degree hinge and a 14-inch touchscreen with an included pen. It’s the best option if you want a laptop that also works as a tablet sometimes. The Yoga C930 has a battery life that will last all day and a good keyboard and trackpad. But it’s about an inch larger and a half-pound heavier than the Dell XPS 13, so it’s less convenient to throw in your bag for a day of working on the go. We recommend the model with an eighth-generation Intel Core i5-8250U or i7-8550U processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB PCIe solid-state drive. It has two Thunderbolt 3 ports and one USB 3.0 Type-A port, as well as a fingerprint reader for easy logins.

Best Mac For Business Use

If you need a compact, light laptop above all else, we recommend getting our ultrabook pick instead.

You can read more about the Yoga C930 in our guide to Windows ultrabooks.

What about detachables? Most inexpensive detachables are neither good laptops nor good tablets, as they usually don’t have great performance, keyboards, trackpads, hinges, or battery life. High-end detachables like the Microsoft Surface Pro have fine battery life and performance but still make for bulky tablets and awkward laptops. Most people are better off with a convertible laptop like the Lenovo Yoga C930 or an iPad with a keyboard.

Best Mac For Small Business


Apple Business Computer Systems

  1. If you’re considering switching to Mac, but you still need to run Windows-specific software on occasion, keep in mind that you can do so on a Mac using Apple’s Boot Camp feature or virtualization software such as Parallels. Unfortunately, you have no easy way to run macOS software on Windows.

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  2. You can find even more powerful laptops for professional work, but they tend to be big, bulky mobile graphics workstations. We don’t cover these machines because they’re very niche, and if you need one, your workplace probably already prefers a certain model. If you do want a recommendation, Notebookcheck’s top 10 list is a good starting point.

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