What is the Best Business Laptop for 2018?
My pick for the best business laptop for 2018 is the HP Probook 450 G5
I based my decision on the following factors: performance, features, ease of encryption, reliability, weight/battery life, and of course price.
Who it’s for
Like anything else, it’s not one size fits all. This machine is great for typical business users. I’m talking about lawyers, accountants, office staff, medical staff, students, and tradesmen. If you’re in a line of work that calls for a powerful machine (CAD, Video Editing, Software Development, etc.) then this machine is not for you.
This machine is far from HP’s top of the line. The next line up from here is the Elitebook series. The Elitebooks come with a nicer exterior and some slightly newer tech but at a considerably higher cost. This machine is a budget machine that will give you the best performance you can get at this price point and will hold up for a few years.
NvME Hard Drive – I look for these in every machine I recommend. The traditional SATA interface has been around for a long time and in my opinion has become obsolete. For a long time, NvME hard drives were either too expensive or just weren’t offered as a feature. I’m actually surprised you can get them at this price point. It’s definitely the biggest plus for this machine.
So what is NvME?
NvME stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express. It was developed to take advantage of faster media and instead of using the aging SATA interface, it uses the computer’s high speed Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) bus. This is typically where a computer’s graphics card would connect. It allows your computer’s main hard drive to take advantage of the same “highway” that a graphics card would typically utilize, allowing for up to 4x the performance of a even the fastest SATA hard drive. I am a huge advocate for NvME hard drives and have been using them for years in all my devices. It’s by far the single biggest upgrade any “normal” user will notice in their every day work machine. Even better, it won’t slow down over time like a mechanical hard drive would. It also doesn’t suffer from the fragility that a mechanical hard drive does. Since it has no moving parts, an accidental drop is unlikely to affect it in any way.
Integrated TPM – I really can’t stress enough how important this is. A TPM or Trusted Platform Module, is a chip that is plugged into or soldered into the motherboard. Without getting super technical, it saves your encryption password along with some authentication keys when you encrypt your computer. It makes encrypting the hard drive a breeze. Without it, you either need to use a complex third party tool to encrypt your hard drive or you have to edit Windows group policy to allow encryption without a TPM. This will add the extra step of either an extra password at first login or having to leave a USB key always inserted in the computer. Many professions require encryption of mobile devices now. Massachusetts even has even made law. All business laptops should have a TPM chip.
Pro-tip: Make sure you get Windows PRO if you want to encrypt!
Back-lit Keyboard – Not much to say about this, it’s not rocket science and it’s not a new feature, but it can be tough to find on cheaper laptops. If you’ve never had a laptop with a back-lit keyboard, it’s a really great feature at night or in low light situations (like when you’re maintaining servers in pitch black basements). Obviously it makes seeing your keyboard a lot easier. Again, a standard feature on expensive laptops, very tough to find on machines in this segment.
Light Weight – It goes without saying, we all want our laptops to weigh as little as possible. It’s a battle you’re always going to fight between screen size, battery life, portability, power, etc. This machine clocks in around 4.5 pounds. Not the lightest laptop ever made, but it’s pretty easy to carry around. It also boasts the smallest laptop power supply you can get (45W) so that doesn’t add much to your bag. Additionally battery life is very good. Realistically, you can probably get a full day’s work out of it. It’s rated for 12 – 14 hours, but if you’re on it all day with the screen going and the Internet going, you’ll never get that out of it. Getting a full 8 hour work day out if it is definitely doable though. I think it’s a very reasonable balance between weight, screen size, and battery life.
Ethernet and WiFi – Lastly, this machine still has both Ethernet and WiFi connections. Why does this matter? Well of course all laptops come with WiFi, but more and more laptops (especially the lower cost ones) are starting to come with WiFi only. This can be a problem in a business that keeps it’s WiFi network isolated or doesn’t use wireless. Also, if you happen to have a failure and WiFi doesn’t work (or suffer from a weak signal) you always have that Ethernet connection to fall back on. Frankly, it’s always the better option, so if you can connect to any network using a cable, I always recommend it. It gets rid of so many issues.
A big reason I choose this model as the best business laptop for 2018 was because of the price. As someone who works with client companies all day, one of the first concerns is always cost. This machine comes in at $840! Considering a high end laptop will still set you back $3,000 and a mid-range laptop will be anywhere from $1300 – $1700 I really think this thing is a steal at this price. Yeah the plastic finish is a little cheap, but is it worth it to pay $1150 to get to the Elitebook pro that has all the same internals? That’s your choice. This is a machine that I can confidently recommend to clients, knowing the performance is going to be great and knowing they won’t complain too much on the price.
This laptop also has a fingerprint scanner for those of you that like to take advantage of bio-metrics. I don’t list this under the prime considerations because a lot of people don’t use it.