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Notebookcheck's Top 10 Budget Office/Business Notebooks

Staff (translated by Martina Osztovits), 08/09/2015

August 2015 update. Here you will find the current best office/business notebooks for under 800 Euros (~$868) reviewed by Notebookcheck in the last few months. Our list of top models is regularly updated, maintained and commented on and should assist in purchase decisions.

For the original German article, see here.

Office notebooks, cheap bargains and computers for everyday tasks: They require decent input devices, an ergonomic display and connectivity that should allow the user to easily connect to the home or professional environment.

The following table shows an overview of the Top 10 budget office laptops reviewed by Notebookcheck in the previous 10 months. If ratings are equal, the latest review is listed first. The table can be sorted by clicking its headers and filtered by entering text in the text field above it (e.g. "matte").

Budget Office Notebook Charts (<800 Euro) as of August 2015

Pos.RatingDateModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionScreen
182%03/15HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EAHP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
Intel Core i5-5200U
Intel HD Graphics 5500
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
2.1 kg25.5 mm15.6"1366x768matte
281%03/15Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Intel Core i3-5005U
Intel HD Graphics 5500
4 GB Memory, 500 GB HDD
2.4 kg27 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
380%08/15Fujitsu Lifebook A514Fujitsu Lifebook A514
Intel Core i3-4005U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
2.2 kg30.9 mm15.6"1366x768matte
480%07/15Fujitsu Lifebook A555Fujitsu Lifebook A555
Intel Core i5-5200U
Intel HD Graphics 5500
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
2.3 kg30.9 mm15.6"1366x768matte
580%03/15HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EAHP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
Intel Core i5-5200U
Intel HD Graphics 5500
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
1.5 kg21 mm13.3"1366x768matte
680%12/14Fujitsu Lifebook E544Fujitsu Lifebook E544
Intel Core i5-4210M
Intel HD Graphics 4600
4 GB Memory, 500 GB Hybrid
2.1 kg31.4 mm14.0"1600x900matte
778%03/15Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6
AMD A6-6310
AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
4 GB Memory, 1024 GB HDD
2.3 kg25.3 mm15.6"1366x768matte
877%06/15Dell Vostro 3558Dell Vostro 3558
Intel Core i5-5200U
Intel HD Graphics 5500
4 GB Memory, 500 GB HDD
2.4 kg25.6 mm15.6"1366x768matte
978%12/14Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NGAcer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
8 GB Memory, 500 GB HDD
2.5 kg30.4 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
1078%08/14Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
Intel Core i3-4030U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
4 GB Memory, 500 GB HDD
2.5 kg30.3 mm15.6"1366x768matte

Editors' Comments

1st

Office avant-garde: HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
Office avant-garde: HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA

The HP ProBook 450 G2 (L3Q27EA) is a 15-incher with a matte display, good input devices, and a stable case, which is suitable for daily use. It achieved a rating of 82%. Only balanced devices without serious drawbacks can manage this. Unlike the 6xx series ProBooks, demanding laptop buyers will not get a genuine docking port for 800 Euros (~$868), but the maintainability is good (RAM, HDD, WLAN, free M.2 slot). Thanks to an Intel Core i5-5200U (Broadwell) and a Samsung SSD PM851, the HP always runs smoothly. In addition, the system noise is very low and the device hardly gets warm. While HP is frugal with the standard warranty (12 months), they include Windows 7 as well as Windows 8. The very good battery life of 7:30 hours is significantly better than most of its competitors in this price range. The biggest drawback is the dark, low-contrast TN type display with an outdated resolution of 1366x768 pixels and poor viewing angles.

Buy HP ProBook 450 G2 for $689

2nd

Work hero: ThinkPad Edge E550 model: 20DGS00300
Work hero: ThinkPad Edge E550 model: 20DGS00300

The entry-level models into the mid-priced office world are an important mainstay of Lenovo. The cheap ThinkPad Edge series has a starting price of just under 500 Euros (~$542). The ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300 is equipped with a new Core i3-5005U (Broadwell). The rest of the hardware is as expected. The matte FHD panel with an above average resolution is impressive, but it disappoints in terms of contrast and brightness. Unfortunately, lackluster colors and milky black are still common among TN panels in the business mid-range.

The keyboard impresses with long key travel and a clear pressure point. The touchpad works accurately and has good gliding capabilities. The components are standard and include VGA d-Sub, Ethernet, and a DVD multi-burner. In addition, the E550 features a genuine docking port. The special power connector allows connecting to the ThinkPad OneLink Pro Dock. The solid case has some minor flaws in detail, but temperature and system noise remain very low. The battery life of 6:30 hours is quite good. Obviously, the biggest drawback is the poor TN display. Nevertheless, the Edge E550 has an attractive price/performance ratio. Where else can you get an FHD panel combined with such good input devices? Therefore, we assigned it the Best Value Award in March 2015.

Buy Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550 for $469

3rd

fast hardware: LifeBook A514
fast hardware: LifeBook A514

This is rare: Fujitsu combines an SSD with a Core i3 in the LifeBook A514. Nevertheless, we feel that the MSRP of 500 Euros (~$542) at the time of testing is too high. Overall, the 15-incher would be a balanced bundle, if it were not for the too low display brightness. On the other hand, the contrast is above average for a TN panel in this price range. The LifeBook A514 achieves a good rating thanks to its decent input devices, low power consumption and acceptable battery runtimes.

4th

disappointing display: LifeBook A555
disappointing display: LifeBook A555

For about 750 Euros (~$835/ depending on the configuration), the Fujitsu LifeBook A555 delivers up-to-date hardware and good input devices, which should also satisfy prolific writers. Despite a hard drive, the system performance is relatively high and it works almost silently while idling. Pros are four USB ports and battery runtimes of just under 6 hours. However, the display is poor. Its low resolution, low brightness, low contrast and narrow viewing angles are disappointing. The bulky chassis, which is made entirely of plastic without an alloy finish, appears to be old-fashioned, especially in this price range. The competition often performs better in this respect.

5th

Display as stumbling block: ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA with HD TN panel
Display as stumbling block: ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA with HD TN panel

The HP ProBook 430 G2 belongs to the entry-level devices in the mid-priced office lineup of the manufacturer. Since it comes with an SSD, it currently costs more than 800 Euros (~$868). However, there are also models with HDDs but otherwise identical or similar components priced well below 800 Euros (~$868). Thanks to its premium case, low energy demand, good battery life, fast SSD, and new Broadwell Core i5, the 13-incher is fit for work. It also has a maintenance hatch and a free M.2 slot. Once again, HP includes two Windows OS versions in the box. The biggest weakness is the too dark, low-contrast display, which is no longer appropriate in this price range.

Buy HP ProBook 430 G2 for $749

Discussion
reliable: Fujitsu LifeBook E544
reliable: Fujitsu LifeBook E544

6th

The Fujitsu LifeBook E544 proved to be a reliable companion in our test. At that time, it was still equipped with Haswell hardware and delivered sufficient performance, convincing input devices, and a solid build quality. With a solid-state hybrid drive, Fujitsu has increased the performance without a surcharge for an SSD or sacrificing storage capacity. The reviewer liked the decent brightness of the matte TN panel as well as the good temperature control. The 15-incher did not even exceed 35 degrees Celsius (~95 degrees Fahrenheit) under continuous high load. For just under 700 Euros (~$780), the LifeBook E544 is still a good deal. It performs better than the A models reviewed more recently, but depending on the configuration, it does not necessarily cost more since the E544 with Haswell is a discontinued model.

Note that this particular Fujitsu model is much more expensive from Amazon U.S. than from other online retailers. We recommend checking out Rakuten or B&H for prices starting well under 900 Euros (~$1000).

7th

Too dark: Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6
Too dark: Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6

Cheap and good? With the Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6, Acer offers a 15-incher for 400 Euros (~$433). By itself, this is not unusual, but the quite balanced result of the 15-incher is. The matte display is necessary for office use. We liked the almost silent system noise and the low temperature increase. The hard drive has a capacity of 1000 GB, and the AMD APU is that frugal that the device achieves very good battery runtimes of roughly 7 hours. The feedback of the keyboard is not as good as ProBooks' or ThinkPads'. Unfortunately, the list of good or acceptable features ends with an inappropriately dark and low-contrast TN panel.

Buy Acer Aspire E5-521 for $399

8th

Old-school - VGA instead of HDMI: Dell Vostro 15 3558
Old-school - VGA instead of HDMI: Dell Vostro 15 3558

The Texans have revived the low-priced Vostro models. With the Core i5, the 15-inch Vostro 3558 features upscale components which will offer its owner good performance for many years to come. The reasonably solid, yet not especially elegant case gets hardly warm during use and remains mainly quiet. A decent battery life of 6:30 hours in the Wi-Fi test and a keyboard with strong feedback round off the Vostro. However, typical business features like TPM, biometric access control, and a docking port are missing. Unfortunately, this is also true for a digital-video out (HDMI/DisplayPort). The Vostro has a maintenance hatch (RAM, WLAN, HDD, CMOS-battery) and a removable battery. The latter is no longer a matter of course. The matte TN display has a low contrast, only an HD resolution and is very bluish in factory settings. However, the display is reasonably bright; even in battery mode. All things considered, Dell offers an unspectacular office entry level device for just under 500 Euros (~$542).

Buy Dell Vostro 3558 for $379

9th

optional FHD: TravelMate P256-M-39NG
optional FHD: TravelMate P256-M-39NG

With the TravelMate P256-M-39N, Acer offers a 15-incher for work with the coveted Full HD resolution. The other components, including Core i3 and hard drive are down to earth and do not deliver high performance. The panel is suitable for its price of about 600 Euros (~$668). It is not an IPS panel, but a TN model with narrow viewing angles. The contrast is not particularly high and so is the brightness of the matte display. The editor liked the solid build quality, the quiet and cool operation and the longer battery life compared to other offices laptops. There are many models of the TravelMate P256-M on the market and the price ranges from 400 to 750 Euros (~$445 to ~$835). 

Buy Acer TravelMate P256-M for $570

10th

cheap with long battery life: Acer Extensa 2510
cheap with long battery life: Acer Extensa 2510

This is as in former times: Acer has revived the written off Extensa again: With the Extensa 2510-34Z4, the low cost series comes to life again. Does it bring the old strengths like good input devices and a solid chassis? It does, albeit with cutbacks. The keyboard has a good feedback, the chassis is high quality and stable, the temperature increase is low and so is the system noise. For just under 400 Euros (~$445), you will only get a low voltage Core i3, which, however, ensures a decent battery life of 6:30 hours (Wi-Fi test). Yet, the display ruins the slightly above average impression: Acer incorporated a dark, low-contrast, bluish TN panel. Unfortunately, this is still common in this price range.

Recent Budget Office/Business Awards

Best Value Award March 2015: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Best Value Award March 2015: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Best Value Award in December 2014: Lenovo ThinkPad E555
Best Value Award in December 2014: Lenovo ThinkPad E555

Notebooks in Comparison

Measurement Results

HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA Lenovo TP Edge E550 Fujitsu Lifebook A514 HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA Fujitsu Lifebook E544 Acer AS E5-521-60Y6 Dell Vostro 3558 Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
Screen
Brightness Center254228231180176252185267232190
Black Level *0.720.6880.390.5210.6960.640.780.660.7
Contrast353331592346176362289342352271
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *10.7310.048.0810.1113.629.18.8414.621210.18
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *11.2310.659.0510.9214.519.4411.0416.0312.6510.62
Gamma *2.212.532.442.272.82.562.492.363.092.31
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)36.238.862.933.838.640395338
Noise
Idle Minimum *28.931.329.62929.230.332.931.83329.7
Idle Average *28.931.329.62929.230.332.931.83329.7
Idle Maximum *28.931.3352931.632.532.931.833.130.4
Load Average *32.932.834.236.73636.233.632.233.833.2
Load Maximum *34.333.835.138.337.141.534.439.734.933.2
Heat
Maximum Upper Side *32.732.740.442.739.132.63333.234.235.5
Maximum Bottom *34.534.346.541.346.234.64338.336.837.4
Idle Upper Side *29.12929.232.630.228.727.536.926.628
Idle Bottom *2832.531.732.13331.628.731.929.329.3
Battery Runtime
WiFi456395350365262427368391
Reader / Idle748571771736721
Load1281279584145
WiFi v1.3310350340389
H.264328391374
DVD286
Power Consumption
Idle Minimum *2.43.33.852.75.44254.2
Idle Average *4.46.56.37.14.49.36.55.110.86.3
Idle Maximum *576.47.7510.27.5610.98.6
Load Average *23.827.322.930.625.44119.923.428.316.8
Load Maximum *36.235.627.338.937.652.423.725.529.524.6

* ... smaller is better

Benchmarks

PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Lenovo TP Edge E550
2784 Points ∼38%
Fujitsu Lifebook A514
3367 Points ∼46%
HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
4147 Points ∼57%
Acer AS E5-521-60Y6
3439 Points ∼47%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
2541 Points ∼35%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
2098 Points ∼29%
PCMark 8
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
2973 Points ∼54%
Lenovo TP Edge E550
2544 Points ∼46%
HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
3035 Points ∼55%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
2986 Points ∼54%
Acer AS E5-521-60Y6
2521 Points ∼46%
Dell Vostro 3558
1946 Points ∼35%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
2758 Points ∼50%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
1869 Points ∼34%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
2092 Points ∼38%
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
4125 Points ∼74%
Lenovo TP Edge E550
3321 Points ∼60%
HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
4202 Points ∼75%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
4135 Points ∼74%
Acer AS E5-521-60Y6
3774 Points ∼68%
Dell Vostro 3558
2759 Points ∼50%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
3800 Points ∼68%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
2624 Points ∼47%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
2970 Points ∼53%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
958 Points ∼5%
Lenovo TP Edge E550
909 Points ∼5%
Fujitsu Lifebook A514
752 Points ∼4%
HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
1000 Points ∼6%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
941 Points ∼5%
Acer AS E5-521-60Y6
838 Points ∼5%
Dell Vostro 3558
788 Points ∼4%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
913 Points ∼5%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
802 Points ∼4%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
784 Points ∼4%
3DMark (2013) - 1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
5169 Points ∼4%
Lenovo TP Edge E550
4854 Points ∼4%
Fujitsu Lifebook A514
4597 Points ∼4%
HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
5416 Points ∼4%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
5130 Points ∼4%
Acer AS E5-521-60Y6
4983 Points ∼4%
Dell Vostro 3558
3326 Points ∼3%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
5179 Points ∼4%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
4738 Points ∼4%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
4738 Points ∼4%
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Author: Staff, 2015-08- 9 (Update: 2015-08-12)