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Notebookcheck's Top 10 Budget Office/Business Notebooks

Staff (translated by Martina Osztovits), 04/15/2015

May 2015 update. Here you will find the current best office/business notebooks for under 800 Euros (~$860) 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 the connectivity 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 as of May 2015

Pos.RatingDateModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionFinish
182%03/15HP ProBook 450 G2
Intel Core i5 5200U (Broadwell)
Intel HD Graphics 5500
4 GB RAM, SSD
from $822 at Amazon
2.1 kg25 mm15.61366x768matte
281%03/15Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3 5005U (Broadwell)
Intel HD Graphics 5500
4 GB RAM, HDD
from $573 at Amazon
2.38 kg27 mm15.61920x1080matte
380%03/15HP ProBook 430 G2
Intel Core i5 5200U (Broadwell)
Intel HD Graphics 5500
4 GB RAM, SSD
from $716 at Amazon
1.5 kg21 mm13.31366x768matte
480%12/14Fujitsu Lifebook E544
Intel Core i5 4210M (Haswell)
Intel HD Graphics 4600
4 GB RAM, SSHD
from $880 at Amazon
2 kg31 mm14.01600x900matte
578%02/15Acer Aspire E5-521
AMD A-Series A6-6310 (Beema)
AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
4 GB RAM, HDD
from $451 at Amazon
2.3 kg25 mm15.61366x768matte
678%12/14Acer TravelMate P256-M
Intel Core i3 4005U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
8 GB RAM, HDD
from $750 at Amazon
2.3 kg26 mm15.61920x1080matte
778%08/14Acer Extensa 2510
Intel Core i3 4030U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
4 GB RAM, HDD
from €429 at Cyberport
2.5 kg26 mm15.61366x768matte
877%02/15Acer TravelMate P236-M
Intel Core i5 5200U (Broadwell)
Intel HD Graphics 5500
4 GB RAM, SSD
from €729 at Notebooksbilliger
1.5 kg20 mm13.31366x768matte
977%02/15Toshiba Satellite L50D-B
AMD A-Series A6-6310 (Beema)
AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
4 GB RAM, HDD
from $540 at Amazon
2.2 kg24 mm15.61366x768glare
1077%11/14Lenovo Thinkpad E555
AMD Kaveri A8-7100
AMD Radeon R5
4 GB RAM, HDD
from €529 at Cyberport
2.4 kg27 mm15.61366x769matte

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 do so. Unlike the 6xx series ProBooks, demanding laptop buyers will not get a genuine docking port for 800 Euros (~$860), 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 7.5 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.

2nd

Hero of work: ThinkPad Edge E550 model: 20DGS00300
Hero of work: 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 have a starting price of just under 500 Euros (~$537). 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 contrast and brightness. Unfortunately, lackluster colors and milky black are still common among TN panels of the business mid-range.

The keyboard impresses with long key travel and clear pressure point. The touchpad works precisely and has good gliding traits. The features 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. Certainly, the biggest drawback is the poor TN display. Nevertheless, the Edge E550 has an attractive price/performance ratio. Where else do you get an FHD panel with such good input devices? Therefore, we assigned it the Best Value Award in March 2015.

3rd

Display as stumbling block: ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA mit HD TN-Panel
Display as stumbling block: ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA mit 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 (~$860). However, there are also models with HDD, but otherwise identical or similar components priced well below 800 Euros (~$860). 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.

Office laptop with HD+: Fujitsu Lifebook E544
Office laptop with HD+: Fujitsu Lifebook E544

4th

The LifeBook E544 from Fujitsu is a typical 14-inch business device: The HD+ display has a resolution of 1600x900 pixels, which has become rare. The Core i5 and hybrid hard drive ensure good, yet not extraordinary high performance. The E544 features a genuine docking port and has quite a stable construction. We discovered weaknesses in fan control and viewing angles. An IPS display with wide viewing angles and a higher contrast, would be more appreciated than this bluish panel.

Discussion

5th

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 (~$430). 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 seven 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.

A lot of overview with FHD: TravelMate P256-M-39NG
A lot of overview with FHD: TravelMate P256-M-39NG

6th

Acer has designed the TravelMate P256-M-39NG for the same target group as HP with its ProBooks priced at 800 Euros (~$860): Price-conscious, demanding consumers or business customers who want to buy solid devices, but do not want to spend much money on high-end devices. The highlight of the TravelMate P256-M is its matte FHD display. The 15.6-incher with Core i3 is quiet, remains quite cool and still features an optical drive. The feedback of the input devices is good and the plastic chassis is functional and solid. The low-contrast, discolored display and the high price for the Core i3 model are disadvantages.

Good typing for little money: Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
Good typing for little money: Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4

7th

Acer's Extensa 2510-34Z4 is a 15.6-incher for budget-minded buyers looking for a matte display, sufficient performance, and decent input devices. The Extensa delivers these, but, unfortunately, its HD panel has a low contrast and is not particularly bright. While it is difficult to work outdoors, you can appreciate the very low emissions and a relatively good system performance indoors. Apart from the Core i3-4030U, the hard drive is striking since it reads slightly faster than some HDDs in mid-range office notebooks. The battery life of 6:31 hours (WLAN test) is great. Acer won our Best Value Award in September 2014 for this bundle.

8th

Dunkelkammer: Acer TravelMate P236
Dunkelkammer: Acer TravelMate P236

Acer's TravelMate P236-M-57R4  is a simple 13-incher, which appears to be lavishly equipped with Intel Core i5-5200U and 240 GB storage. Unfortunately, this ends with a plain ordinary display with HD resolution, low contrast, and too low brightness. With an average brightness of 190 cd/m², the anti reflective coating does not help much outdoors. As a result, working on the patio is not much fun. The advantages are the simple and slim case and the stable Turbo of the processors. The keyboard is well done and allows fast and comfortable typing. However, the TrackPad completely lacks quality. Issues with input and precision suggest a defect. Buyers should check it immediately after purchase.

9th

unfortunately a glossy TFT: Satellite L50D-B-12Z
unfortunately a glossy TFT: Satellite L50D-B-12Z

Toshiba's Satellite L50D-B-12Z enters our Top 10 in an unremarkable way. We did not expect that the cheap 15-incher could achieve this. The AMD A-Series A6-6310 (Beema) APU ensures a very solid performance and a noteworthy battery life: It lasts 5:45 hours in the WLAN test. The tester liked the low waste heat and the almost non-existent system noise. Even the input devices are good and the chassis is solid. Unfortunately the display blunders with too low brightness, blue tint, and narrow viewing angles. Office users deserve something better.

10th

Inexpensive office worker: ThinkPad E555
Inexpensive office worker: ThinkPad E555

As well as the Edge models, Lenovo offers an even cheaper line of ThinkPads: The ThinkPad E555 models without the Edge in the designation. The last five indicates AMD configurations at Lenovo, in our case an AMD Kaveri A8-7100 with AMD Radeon R5 chipset graphics. If you decide to buy the 15-inch device you are getting a simple and pretty solid device without any frills, but with a very good keyboard and obviously a matte panel. The simply designed E555 gets hardly warm in operation and provides sufficient runtimes of around 4 hours (WLAN test).

It is nice that you can extend the ports with Lenovo's own OneLink docking station, the E555 has a special power connector for this purpose. Unfortunately, the fast 7200 rpm hard drive is the loudest component of the system. Once again, the biggest drawback is the low-contrast display with a pretty low luminance. Using the device under sunlight is no joy and the matte panel cannot really improve the situation. The viewing angles are limited, which is typical for the TN technology. All in all, the E555 is an interesting offer for price-conscious users that do not need a huge amount of performance. The latter is slightly lower than a low-voltage Core i3 from the Haswell generation.

Recent Budget Office/Business Awards

Best Value Award in September 2014: Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
Best Value Award in September 2014: Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
Best Value Award in October 2014: Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1
Best Value Award in October 2014: Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1
Best Value Award in March 2015: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Best Value Award in 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 ThinkPad Edge E550 HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA Fujitsu Lifebook E544 Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6 Acer TravelMate P256-M Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4 Acer TravelMate P236-M-57R4 Toshiba Satellite L50D-B-12Z Lenovo Thinkpad E555
Screen
Brightness Center254228176252185232190188182203
Black Level *0.720.68810.6960.640.660.70.7770.40.65
Contrast353331176362289352271242455312
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *10.7310.0413.629.18.841210.1812.2112.511.01
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *11.2310.6514.519.4411.0412.6510.6213.113.2411.57
Gamma *2.212.532.82.562.493.092.312.662.012.09
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)36.238.833.838.640533839.44039
Noise
Idle Minimum *28.931.329.230.332.93329.729.132.734.7
Idle Average *28.931.329.230.332.93329.729.132.934.7
Idle Maximum *28.931.331.632.532.933.130.429.132.934.7
Load Average *32.932.83636.233.633.833.238.732.936.1
Load Maximum *34.333.837.141.534.434.933.240.837.137.9
Heat
Maximum Upper Side *32.732.739.132.63334.235.533.531.739.2
Maximum Bottom *34.534.346.234.64336.837.444.838.637
Idle Upper Side *29.12930.228.727.526.62829.527.433.7
Idle Bottom *2832.53331.628.729.329.33330.137.5
Battery Runtime
WiFi456395365262427368391359345238
Reader / Idle748771721404
Load1289514591
WiFi v1.3310
H.264328193
DVD286
Power Consumption
Idle Minimum *2.43.32.75.4454.233.510.9
Idle Average *4.46.54.49.36.510.86.35.76.914.3
Idle Maximum *57510.27.510.98.66.3814.9
Load Average *23.827.325.44119.928.316.830.219.434.1
Load Maximum *36.235.637.652.423.729.524.639.124.341.5

* ... smaller is better

Benchmarks

PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
2784 Points ∼38%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
3439 Points ∼47%
Acer TravelMate P256-M
2098 Points ∼29%
Acer TravelMate P236-M-57R4
4097 Points ∼56%
Lenovo Thinkpad E555
2150 Points ∼30%
PCMark 8
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
2973 Points ∼54%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
2544 Points ∼46%
HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
2986 Points ∼54%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
2521 Points ∼46%
Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6
1946 Points ∼35%
Acer TravelMate P256-M
1869 Points ∼34%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
2092 Points ∼38%
Toshiba Satellite L50D-B-12Z
1933 Points ∼35%
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
4125 Points ∼74%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
3321 Points ∼60%
HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
4135 Points ∼74%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
3774 Points ∼68%
Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6
2759 Points ∼50%
Acer TravelMate P256-M
2624 Points ∼47%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
2970 Points ∼53%
Toshiba Satellite L50D-B-12Z
2743 Points ∼49%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
958 Points ∼5%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
909 Points ∼5%
HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
941 Points ∼5%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
838 Points ∼5%
Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6
788 Points ∼4%
Acer TravelMate P256-M
802 Points ∼4%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
784 Points ∼4%
Acer TravelMate P236-M-57R4
1014 Points ∼6%
Toshiba Satellite L50D-B-12Z
788 Points ∼4%
Lenovo Thinkpad E555
964 Points ∼5%
3DMark (2013) - 1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
5169 Points ∼4%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
4854 Points ∼4%
HP ProBook 430 G2 L3Q21EA
5130 Points ∼4%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
4983 Points ∼4%
Acer Aspire E5-521-60Y6
3326 Points ∼3%
Acer TravelMate P256-M
4738 Points ∼4%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
4738 Points ∼4%
Acer TravelMate P236-M-57R4
5463 Points ∼4%
Toshiba Satellite L50D-B-12Z
3332 Points ∼3%
Lenovo Thinkpad E555
3959 Points ∼3%
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Author: Staff, 2015-04-15 (Update: 2015-05-12)