The Best Business Computers at Staples

by Mario Armstrong

Are you looking for new computers for your business? Digital Lifestyle Expert™, media personality, and Emmy Award–winning TV host Mario Armstrong gives his picks for the best business computers on the market. Whether you need machines that are ultra-budget friendly or ultra-powerful, you'll find the solution here.

Mario is an on-air contributor to NBC's TODAY show, CNN, HLN, Fuse News and NPR. He regularly appears on Dr. Oz, Katie Couric, The Rachael Ray Show, Steve Harvey, and Inside Edition.

Professional Laptops on a Budget

These days if you're just checking your email, doing some Web browsing and working on light office documents, almost any laptop will do. But there are a few key features that will make a budget laptop a good investment: a Webcam is crucial for doing business today, USB 3.0 ports will give you access to the fastest external storage devices and an HDMI port makes connecting to a TV simple and easy.

These business laptops manage to pack in all of these features — and even a few more — at budget-friendly prices.

Asus® 15.6” Laptop: If you're doing a lot of accounting, data-entry or just plain number crunching, you'll appreciate that the Asus X551MA 15” packs in a full 10-key numeric keypad to the right of the keyboard, just like on your desktop. With other standard features you'll want, including a Webcam, memory card reader, USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI port to connect to a TV, this laptop should meet all of your requirements on a budget. With a laptop this cheap, there are some compromises, and the under 3-hour battery life is less than ideal — you'll have to bring an extra battery or your power cable with you everywhere, which will definitely make this laptop feel less portable.

Toshiba® Satellite C55-A5180: While not a huge upgrade in terms of specs, there are a few key features that might make this Toshiba a good option for you over the Asus. The biggest advantage is battery life — the Toshiba Satellite should last you slightly more than 5 hours. Also, it packs in a slightly faster Intel® Celeron® processor. While it isn't a huge boost if you're looking to do heavier CPU-dependent tasks, it's certainly nice if you're looking for a bump in speed. You can also upgrade the RAM in the Toshiba model, up to 8GB, which is helpful if you're hoping to do some more multitasking. The HD Webcam is also a nice bump over the 1.0MP option in the Asus.

Asus X551CA-RI3N15: If you really like the Asus X551MA’s features but need a faster CPU to handle some additional multi-tasking or even some heavier office work, be sure to check out the Asus X551CA-RI3N15. This model includes the same features that are hard to find on other budget laptops, like a 10-key numeric keypad and the CD/DVD drive, but will be more capable of handling whatever task you throw at it with the upgraded Intel® Core™ i3 processor.

Big Screen Business Computing

For business use, a big screen can make a big difference. Want to work on two pages side by side? Or have a Web site open while working on a spreadsheet? Or even do all of the above while checking out a Webinar or video? On a big screen, it’s easy to take advantage of some of the advanced multi-tasking features in Windows. And this option from HP could be your answer:

HP Envy 17” j160nr: If you're looking for a 17" laptop that can do it all, then the HP Envy j160nr could be the answer. Its 2.5GHz Core i5 processor runs circles around other laptops with this screen size, making it perfect for any multimedia or heavy multi-tasking you throw at it. This HP model even includes the absolute latest in Wi-Fi, with Intel's 802.11ac card inside so you'll be able to take advantage of the fastest wireless speeds anywhere you go. Plus, with 4 USB 3.0 ports at your disposal, you'll be able to connect to a variety of external peripherals and drivers, making this laptop an excellent desktop replacement.

A Mid-Range Business Laptop

For most business users, the mid-range is the sweet spot: enough power to handle any office task, combined with the latest in multimedia features.

Lenovo® G505s: A solid 15" laptop with AMD's A10 processor mean you'll be tearing through work. With 8GB of RAM, you'll never have to worry about having too many tabs open or whether you're trying to run too many apps at the same time — mid-range machines like this Lenovo are built to handle the multi-tasking demands of the business crowd. If you like this Lenovo but need either a touch screen or a better processor, check out the Lenovo G510s Touch.

The High-End Option

Businesses that use laptops as desktop replacements will find themselves always wanting more power. For heavy-duty workloads, it's hard to compare to a traditional desktop computer. Tasks like batch-editing thousands of photos or trying to work with high-quality HD video in an editing environment will bring most computers to their knees. For these cases, only one Intel processor will do the trick: the Quad-Core i7.

Asus X550LA-RI7T27: Fly into the future of computing with this Asus touchscreen laptop and its Intel Core i7-4500U processor under the hood. Not only will you be tearing through Excel spreadsheets and Web pages, but you'll have plenty of power for any multimedia work that may come your way. With a USB 3.0 port and a DVD burner, you'll even be set when you need to pass those large video files off to a co-worker on an external hard drive or DVD.

Keep in mind: These high-end Windows laptops aren't exactly known for their battery life. If you're looking for more than just a few hours, consider some extra laptop batteries or trading down from a power-hungry Core i7 processor to a more modest Core i5 one.

The Best Business Desktop Computers

While laptops and portability generate the most excitement when thinking about buying a new computer, desktops offer an unmatched value proposition for businesses looking to expand. Not only are desktop components cheaper, desktop PCs don’t need to pack in costly batteries, which means the savings can be high for similarly specced computers. You get a lot more bang for your buck, and can get faster and more powerful machines for the same amount of money you’d spend on a lesser laptop, and these machines do offer significant ergonomic advantages. You also open up a world of accessories, including things like big screens. You can expand and grow a desktop machine to meet all of your needs. Need a new graphics card, more memory or a few extra hard drives? Not a problem. Try doing that on a laptop!

So if desktop computers sound like the right choice for your business, here are a few of my favorites:

HP Smart Buy PRO 3500 MT: Desktops can be a great way to save money while getting more performance, especially if your office already has keyboards, mice and monitors lying around, allowing you to simply buy a new tower to give someone an upgraded work experience. While it isn’t the most powerful computer on the block, the HP Smart Buy PRO 3500 MT should have more than enough power for all your typical office tasks, like working with documents and light Web browsing, for a wallet-friendly price.

Dell® Optiplex 7010: More of a workstation than a traditional desktop computer, this machine will meet all of your high-end multimedia needs at the office. The Quad-Core i7 processor and dedicated AMD Radeon graphics card combine to create a killer combo for almost any project. This is a machine that can tackle 3D design and rendering, CAD work and advanced scientific modeling, and has plenty of room to spare for photo and video editing. If your office needs a workhorse for heavy tasks, definitely take a good look at this Dell.

I hope these tips and information will help you find the right computing options to power your business.

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