Best Laptop for IT Professionals

It’s pretty difficult to define what an ‘IT professional’ is. I mean, there are thousands of different job roles out there, and all of us do different things.

But while our knowledge of IT is vital to the job, so is having the hardware to make our job easier.

Part of the fun of being an IT professional is that you get to experiment: you can try out different laptops, upgrade them, customize the settings and programs to suit your needs...however, the drawback is that we can also have to carry around a lot of additional equipment: from dongles to converters, to a shedload of adapters and cables.

Over time, your bag grows heavier and heavier, and it can even be difficult to find the piece of equipment you need when you need it.

This is why I would define the best laptop for IT professionals as one that is not only sturdy and reliable but has a maximum amount of ports to minimize the amount of stuff you need to carry around.

The ideal laptop for an IT professional would look something like this:

  • An Optical Drive
  • A serial port (or two)
  • At least 4 USB 3 Ports
  • a VGA Port
  • HDMI Port
  • a Fire port
  • SD Card Slot
  • Ethernet port
  • BlueTooth
  • Removable battery
  • Upgradable RAM and storage

Of course, it’s pretty difficult to find a laptop that ticks all of these boxes, but one that ticks most of them is ideal.

OUR TOP PICK

2020 Lenovo ThinkPad E15 15.6' FHD Full HD (1920x1080) Business Laptop (Intel 10th Quad Core i5-10210U, 32GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB SSD) Type-C, HDMI, Windows 10 Pro + HDMI Cable

The ThinkPad series is Lenovo’s business series, and these computers are reliable, durable, and simple.

This is a brand-new computer that has been modified to achieve 32GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB SSD, so it’s equipped to effortlessly handle your multitasking and heavy work-load with speed and power.

The 10th Gen Intel Core offers 4 cores 8 threads, a base clock speed 1.6GHz with max turbo upgradable to 4.2GHz, and a 6MB L3 Cach. This provides endless opportunities for those who are constantly upgrading and updating their machine.

This laptop also has pretty much all the ports you need: USB 3.1 Gen1 TypeC, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.4b, RJ-45, Audio Combo Jack, as well as Bluetooth 5.0. It also comes with a bonus IST HDMI Cable.

It has a 15.6" Full HD (1920x1080) TN Anti-glare display which is ideal for anyone who works long hours, and it also supports an external digital monitor via HDMI or USB Type-C so you can easily enhance and expand your set-up.

Best of all, it has a sturdy and reliable design that is prepared to endure anything that’s thrown at it: from accidental knocks to drops and spills - it’ll still perform as expected, which is always important when you have others relying on your IT expertise.

Pros

  • Upgraded RAM and SSD for super-fast multitasking
  • Fast and powerful thanks to 10th Gen Intel Core
  • Extensive range of ports for maximum versatility
  • Full HD display with anti-glare
  • Super sturdy, knock-resistant design

Cons

  • Disappointing battery life (but you can upgrade this)

EDITORS CHOICE

HP Envy X360 2-in-1 15.6' FHD IPS Multitouch Screen Laptop | AMD Ryzen 7-4700U 8 cores | 16GB RAM | 512GB SSD | AMD Radeon | Backlit Keyboard | Fingerprint Reader | HDMI | Windows 10

If you’re looking for a more modern laptop for your IT work, the HP Envy X360 is a good option, particularly if you’re providing on-site support, as you can reduce the amount of stuff you need to carry around thanks to the multiple ports.

It’s equipped with a USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0 Type-A, HDMI, and Headphone/Microphone Combo port, and also offers 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet, Wireless-AX, Bluetooth, and a HD Webcam which is handy if you need to provide support to those working from home.

It has 16GB RAM which can be upgraded to 32GB and a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD which is upgradable up to 2TB. It’s powered by an AMD Ryzen 7-4700U which has 8 cores, including a base clock of 2.0 GHz and a boost clock of 4.1 GHz.

All this power is packed into a sleek, lightweight design that folds into a tablet and offers a touch screen and a fingerprint reader.

Pros

  • Extensive range of ports
  • Sizeable RAM and SSD storage which can both be upgraded
  • HD webcam for high-quality meetings when offering remote support
  • Powerful CPU - AMD Ryzen 7-4700U which has 8 cores
  • Sleek 2-in-1 design with touchscreen and is portable and lightweight

Cons

  • Glossy screen - some prefer a matte screen as they’re less reflective.

BEST VALUE

Panasonic Toughbook CF-53 Laptop PC, 14' HD Display, Intel i5-2520M 2.5GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Windows 10 (Renewed)

This is definitely a laptop for IT professionals who care less about modernity and more about having a robust laptop that is versatile and reliable.

While these rugged laptops are extremely bulky and not ideal if you travel a lot, they do contain an extensive range of ports if you find one with suitable upgraded hardware.

This one has all the ports you can think of, including a CD/DVD drive, which is becoming increasingly hard to find these days.

The lack of CPU power of this laptop is outweighed by the extra RAM and the SSD upgrades. Plus you can rest assured that it can pretty much withstand any abuse that's thrown at it!

Pros

  • Equipped with all the ports you need
  • CD/DVD drive
  • Rugged and reliable design

Cons

  • Low CPU speed
  • It’s bulky and heavy to carry around

RUNNER UP

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – 12.3' Touch-Screen - 10th Gen Intel Core i7 - 16GB Memory - 256GB SSD (Latest Model) – Matte Black with Black Type Cover (QWW-00001)

If you’re an IT student, it’s likely that you’re after something more lightweight than brick-like, so that you can focus on your education and prepare for an entry-level role in the industry.

If you’re studying networking and server maintenance storage, you can even get away with a lower RAM and storage, and a lower-end CPU.

In college, you’re also always on the go, so portability is important, which is why I’ve included the Surface Pro 7 on this list. It’s thin and lightweight, but it’s also very fast.

Despite its small size, it also packs punch with a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 Processor, and, unlike bulkier laptops on the market, it has a great 10.5 battery life which can charge to 80% in just over an hour.

It can transform from a laptop to a tablet, but you can still install and run Linux environments and remote accessing computers.

You can also use a VESA-mount and attach an external monitor if you wish to turn it into a full desktop environment for you to use HP BTO, Cisco tools, or the AWS console - so there’s a lot of flexibility and adaptability here.

It doesn’t contain all the ports you might desire, but if you buy the ‘docking station’ you can attach numerous monitors, keyboards, sound speakers, etc, and a USB-to-serial adapter will also come in useful.

Pros

  • Lightweight and versatile - ideal for students
  • Also transforms into a tablet
  • All-day battery life and fast charging
  • 13.5-inch touchscreen with pen input

Cons

  • No Ethernet, but you can work around that with a usb3 to gigabit adapter

RUNNER UP

Acer TravelMate X3 14' FHD Business Laptop Computer, Intel Quard-Core i7-8550U, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB SSD, Webcam, Windows 10 Pro, Black, 802 AC, Bluetooth, Online Class Ready

This Acer laptop is ideal for anyone who wants a powerful machine that’s also portable and travel-friendly. This model has been upgraded with 16GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB SSD for swift and effortless multitasking.

It has an 8th Generation Intel Quad-Core i7-8550U processor with a 1.8 GHz base frequency and up to 4.0 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

Additionally, the 14” FHD display is equipped with Intel UHD 620 Graphics and ComfyView for more ergonomic viewing.

It comes with Bluetooth 4.2 and most of the other ports you’ll need, including a USB 3.0, USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, HDMI, and headphone/microphone combo jack. It’s also bundled with an iPuzzle DVD extension which is pretty handy.

Pros

  • Upgraded 16GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB SSD
  • Turbo boost technology for power and speed
  • Extensive range of ports as well as Bluetooth and a DVD extension
  • ComfyView FHD display for ergonomic viewing
  • Lightweight and portable (under 4 lbs)

Cons

  • Volume level isn’t great, nor is the webcam - but depends on how much you need these.

Best Laptop IT Professionals Buying Guide

Now that you’ve seen some of the laptops available online, you may be trying to narrow your choice down further.

The Buyer’s Guide below covers the essentials when it comes to purchasing a laptop for an IT professional…

CPU, RAM, Storage

While we often focus on these aspects (and don’t get us wrong, they are important), you only need to max them out if you’re a network engineer who will be setting up your own lab on a laptop or recreating network environments - for example integrating Cisco Firewalls, routers, switches with ESXi hosts and VMs as well as NetApp Filers for storage.

This largely depends on the lab you are setting up and the number of VMs you’ll be running. Therefore, it’s best to make a decision on CPU and RAM/storage based on your own personal situation and the work you carry out.

Ports and Connectivity

This is something I mentioned earlier, and ensuring the laptop has an extensive range of ports is definitely going to be key to finding a good laptop for IT work.

The good news is that most modern laptops are fully equipped with these, and if you find that you’re lacking one or two that you need, this can easily be fixed with an adapter.

Multiple USBs, SD card reader, HDMI, ethernet, you know the drill… and so long as you have the basics, if you’re missing these it’s not the end of the world, it just means you’ll still be carrying around that bag of adapters.

Bluetooth is also handy for connecting devices, transferring data and files, etc., but some use it more than others.

Design and Portability

This is another aspect that comes down purely to your work routine.

If you work from home, portability won’t matter so much, but if you move around a lot or take your laptop back and forth to the office, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to be hauling around a rugged laptop with a bag of extra equipment.

This is where some of the most modern laptops really shine - laptops such as the Surface Pro 7 are slim, lightweight, and a breeze to use, and while they might not have as many ports or be as robust as some of the older, more reliable laptops, they can be extremely useful for IT students or those in the early stages of their career.

There are also many laptops with 2-in-1 functionality, and, while these wouldn’t usually be my first choice for IT professionals, this versatility can be really useful and may suit certain individuals.

Display

Seen as we’re not looking at laptops for designers or those using graphics-centric programs, the display isn’t going to be high on your list of priorities, but a good, full HD screen is useful for everyone, and then you need to consider what size you want the display to be.

While a full 15.6-inch display provides ease of use, some people prefer a smaller display so that they can minimize the weight and size of the laptop - the choice is absolutely yours to make.

If you work long hours, it might also be useful to look for laptops that have blue-light blocking features which provide a more ergonomic viewing experience, though these are more common in modern laptops rather than more dated versions.

Other Features

You’ll also want to consider whether or not you need a webcam, and the quality of this, and the accompanying mic.

A good quality HD webcam can be great if you have to speak to clients or colleagues remotely or need to talk somebody through something, though because a lot of IT professionals rely on older laptops that are more robust and reliable, it can be difficult to find one of these that also feature the mod-cons like a good webcam.

So it’s basically down to you and what you’re willing to compromise on. 

FAQ's

How much should I spend?

This really depends on your budget and personal financial situation, but if you’re working in the IT field, you don’t want cheap, unreliable hardware that could break down at any minute.

You can usually get the most bang for your buck in the $800 to $1,000 range, as this will cover everything you need for an excellent laptop.

Remember, it’s worth spending a little bit more to ensure you have everything you need, otherwise, you’ll need to prepare to spend more money on extras or upgrades in the near future.

What should I check before buying a laptop?

Make sure you have a list of all the key features you need and ensure your laptop ticks the boxes (you can refer to the one at the beginning of this article if you wish).

Most of all though, you’ll want to check it has the ports you need, the RAM and SSD capacity (and, if low, whether you can upgrade it), the size of the laptop - not only in terms of the display but the weight and overall feel of it too, the ergonomic aspects such as the display quality and comfort of the keyboard, and of course the battery power - as just because you’re paying a high price for a great quality laptop, doesn’t mean it has the battery power to match.

What windows laptop lasts the longest?

This is a difficult question to answer. But a good way to choose a reliable laptop is to look for its ‘business’ series, as most brands will have business laptops and consumer laptops.

Business laptops are commonly provided by a company to the employees, whereas consumer models are designed for the casual home user.

For example, in Lenovo, the IdeaPad is designed for consumers, while ThinkPad is the business series. In Acer, Swift and Spin are consumer series, while TravelMate is a business series.

It’s not essential to follow these guidelines - consumers can buy business laptops, and vice versa, but the key thing to remember is that usually business laptops are designed to be reliable and robust enough to endure heavy, everyday use, they don’t get easily broken, they’re usually easy to use and maintain, and because they’re designed for enterprise they’re generally built to be dependable and lost-lasting.

So, while it’s not to say business laptops will always last longer than consumer ones, on the whole, they’re expected to, because they’ve been designed with durability in mind.

They’ll usually cover all the basic features you’ll need, will have an excellent build quality and component quality, and will generally be more boring. This means a matte, non-glossy screen, sensible ergonomic keyboard with spaced-out keys, and will generally be plainer in appearance than flashy, sleeker consumer models.

They’ll also come at a higher price, but that’s because they’re usually made from higher quality components and are expected to last longer.

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