Owning a business laptop lets you take your business with you wherever you go. Your laptop is only as good as its specifications. While your business laptop may not need high-end specifications, you’ll want enough power to quickly and easily perform your tasks. Certain laptop specifications matter more for business users than they may for casual users or media lovers. Knowing which specs to pay attention to ensures you get what you need without paying extra for unnecessary features.
CPU The central processing unit is like the brain of your laptop, where all the information and data is actually processed. Cisco Cheng, writing for PCMag.com, asserts that a dual-core processor is enough for many business tasks. Things like opening and editing documents, creating presentations, and using the Internet go smoothly under dual-core CPUs. If you’re working with graphics software or other large applications, consider something more powerful, like a quad-core CPU.
RAM Having plenty of random-access memory helps Windows and other programs boot faster and run smoother. RAM upgrades boost performance for little investment, and they’re relatively easy to install. Look for a laptop that has at least 4GB of RAM, but also consider one with space available to add more. The specification may read “4GB installed/8GB maximum” or something similar. Laptops with space for additional RAM provide flexibility; if you end up needing more you can upgrade the RAM without breaking your budget.
Networking Business laptops regularly come with the ability to connect to the Internet and your office network with or without wires. For wireless connectivity, look for a Wi-Fi specification with “802.11” and a letter. The letter denotes the generation of the technology used in the Wi-Fi adapter, with “n” being the latest as of June 2012. If you want the option to use wired Internet or network connections at least some of the time for the extra connection speed, for example, look for a model with an Ethernet port as well.
Size and Screen Laptop size is typically measured by the screen’s diagonal size. Fifteen-inch laptops provide plenty of screen space for most tasks while still fitting in standard laptop bags and cases. Larger, 17-inch laptops may offer more display, but their larger size and weight make them less convenient to take on business trips or to job sites. Conversely, smaller laptops like netbooks may be easy to carry around but might not offer the performance you need.
Battery The battery life on your business laptop dictates how long you can work while the laptop isn’t plugged in. Laptop specifications may list the battery by the number of cells or an estimated usage time. More cells equal a longer battery life, but also mean more weight. If you want to keep the weight down, consider buying a laptop with a smaller battery and purchasing an additional battery to swap in when the first gets low on power.
Storage The hard-drive specification denotes a laptop’s storage capacity. How much you’ll need varies greatly depending on the types of documents and files you’re working with and how many you have and, increasingly, whether you can access the files you need through the Internet, as with cloud-based computing. Generally speaking, the larger the hard drive, the better. If you travel with your laptop, consider a solid-state drive. While they’re usually more expensive than standard hard drives, they’re more stable and less likely to get damaged during transportation.
Peripheral Ports Your business laptop should include ports for everything you’ll need to plug the computer into if you’ll plug it into a projector, ensure the laptop has the proper video ports. Since many peripherals connect via USB, look for a laptop with at least three or four USB ports.
Keyboard and Control If you work with numbers, a laptop with a 10-key number pad is important. The feel of the keys and trackpad are also crucial. Before you purchase the laptop, try to find a display model you can type on and use the trackpad to ensure the controls fit you.
Graphics Unless you’re using graphic-intensive software, most business users don’t need high-end graphics processors. Powerful GPUs are more important for gaming, but won’t make any difference in a word processor or email client. Integrated GPUs don’t offer as much power as discreet GPUs, but they’ll be fine for most business tasks.
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