Notebookcheck's Top 10 Budget Office/Business Notebooks

Redaktion (translated by Martina Osztovits), 03/11/2014

April 2014 update. Here you will find the current best office/business notebooks for below 800 Euros (~$1093) 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: this category includes many different notebooks in various sizes. They all have a simple graphics chip, which is sufficient for everyday office tasks. But, they require decent input devices and an ergonomic display and the connectivity should allow the user to easily connect to the home or professional environment.

Every month we evaluate newcomers of the office category and update our Top-10 considering notebooks reviewed in the previous eight months. Several devices jumped into our Top 10 at once, but some did not make it into our list. Sometimes older notebooks slide into our Top-10 when notebooks are removed from our Top-10 list after eight months.

Top 10 of the previous 8 months at the time of writing - current articles are listed first

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUGPURAMDiskPrice/Buy
new03/1474%Medion Akoya S4217T MD985992.12 kg14" 1366x768 matteIntel Core i3 4010UIntel HD Graphics 44008 GBHybridstarting at 580 Euro
new03/1472%Packard Bell EasyNote LE69KB-23804G50Mnsk3.2 kg17.3" 1600x900 glareAMD A-Series E2-3800AMD Radeon HD 82804 GBHDDstarting at 399 Euro

new03/1470%HP 255 G22.5 kg15.6" 1366x768 matteAMD E-Series E1-2100AMD Radeon HD 82104 GBHDDstarting at 319 Euro

Further tests of each month - current tests are listed first

Editors' Comments

1st: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540/E545
1st: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540/E545
1st: HP ProBook 650 G1 H5G74E
1st: HP ProBook 650 G1 H5G74E
1st: HP ProBook 455 G1 H6P57EA
1st: HP ProBook 455 G1 H6P57EA
2nd: HP Probook 645 G1
2nd: HP Probook 645 G1
3rd: Dell Latitude 3440 - very good price performance ratio
3rd: Dell Latitude 3440 - very good price performance ratio

Although it is not May yet, it's all new: The update of our rating system to version 4.0, brought some changes to our Top-10. Many familiar devices remain, since the best budget office notebooks cannot suddenly become bad. We reevaluated the formerly best devices of this category with version 4. New thresholds and a better differentiation between sufficient and very good, resulted in a lower rating for all devices. As all devices are affected, at least the comparison remained the same here.

Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge E545-20B2000PGE took the first place together with HP's ProBook 455 G1 H6P57EA, ProBook 650 G1 H5G74E, and its ThinkPad Edge E540 Intel sister. All of these 15-inch laptops feature solid cases built for day to day use and input devices suitable for prolific writers. Especially the two ThinkPads have excellent keyboards which can also be found in the professional models above 1000 Euro. Important difference: HP still uses separate mouse buttons, while Lenovo switched to a ClickPad, but left the two trackpoint buttons (can also be used as mouse buttons).

The top devices only use HD panels (1366 x 768 pixel), yet matte ones. The ProBook 650 is also available with FHD display (1920 x 1080) and so is the ThinkPad Edge E540. We reviewed the entry-level model. The HP ProBook 650 is not only more expensive. The 15-incher is a mid-range office laptop with a higher quality case and more interfaces.

It is striking that devices with AMD APUs made it at the top of our charts. The reason is simple: performance only has a small impact on the office rating, while good input devices, decent displays, stable cases, and low emissions are considered more important. In terms of performance, Intel's counterparts can keep up well with the A10-5750M (versus Core i3) or the A6-5350M (versus Pentium). Only the A4-4300M (ProBook 455 G1) or weaker APUs should be avoided by performance oriented users.

Four HP devices share the second place. The ProBooks 645 G1 (Intel) and 655 G1 (AMD) are new. The 6xx series models differ from the Probooks of the 4xx series by more features (interfaces: e.g. docking port, TPM, fingerprint reader etc.) and a more high-end build quality. The ProBook 450 G1 (Haswell) and the ProBook 450 (Ivy Bridge) are the entry into the Probook world. The cheapest configurations are starting from just under 500 Euro.

The ProBook 645 G1 and 655 G1 are the AMD counterparts to the 640 and 650 models and are almost completely identical. A special feature of the 15-inch 650/655 feature is their serial interface. The 6xx models feature the same input devices as the 4xx models.

The 14-inch Dell Latitude 3440 is third. It is the counterpart to the ProBook 450 G1 (entry in the series) and not that high-end and well equipped as the ProBook 645 G1 (14-inch). It brings HD+ into the budget office category for little money, but the input devices are not as good as the ProBooks'. The reasonable connectivity is identical to the 4xx series ProBooks', but it has a better price performance ratio thanks to GeForce GT 740M and Intel Core i5-4200U. Those looking for fast hardware and good resolution in a case suitable for office use will find it in the Latitude 3440 and do not need to spend 800 to 1000 Euro for a E5 series Latitude (counterpart to the ProBook 6xx). The attractive bundle won our Editor's Choice award in December 2013.

Medion's The Touch 300 S6212T is quasi a convertible, which made it into our Top-10 because it is a quiet device with decent system performance (hybrid HDD) for little money. The battery life of above six hours in our WLAN test is even excellent. Special feature: The DVD drive in the module bay can be replaced by a second hard drive or  a supplement battery. Downside: the quite dark and very bluish touchscreen with reflective surface.

These did not make it into our Top-10

Missed our Top-10: HP 250 G2
Missed our Top-10: HP 250 G2

The Packard Bell EasyNote LE69KB and the HP 255 G2 did not make it into our Top-10. However, we did also not expect much for bargain prices of (significantly) below 400 Euro. Their weak AMD APUs only deliver very low performance and their standard HD displays have the usual weaknesses (bluish, low contrast, narrow viewing angles). On the other hand, both devices shine with good battery runtimes, low emissions (especially the EasyNote) and low power consumption.

of the last 8 month
1
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2
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Review HP EliteBook 840 G1-H5G28ET Ultrabook
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Intel Core i7 4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 04/14/2014
3
86% v4
Review Lenovo ThinkPad T540p-20BE005YGE Notebook
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4
86% v4
Review Fujitsu Lifebook E753 Premium Selection Notebook
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Intel Core i7 3632QM, Intel HD Graphics 4000, 10/11/2013
5
85% v4
Review Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6005YGE Notebook
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Intel Core i7 4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 04/15/2014
6
85% v4
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HP EliteBook 850 G1-H5G34ET
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Intel Core i5 4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 03/11/2014
7
85% v4
Review Dell Latitude E6440 Notebook
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Intel Core i5 4300M, AMD Radeon HD 8690M, 02/24/2014
8
85% v4
Review Lenovo ThinkPad T440p 20AN-006VGE Notebook
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Intel Core i7 4700MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M, 01/07/2014
9
84% v4
Review Lenovo ThinkPad L540 20AV002YGE Notebook
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Intel Core i5 4200M, Intel HD Graphics 4600, 03/22/2014
10
84% v4
Review Fujitsu LifeBook E743-0M55A1DE Notebook
Fujitsu Lifebook E743-0M55A1DE
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Intel Core i5 3230M, Intel HD Graphics 4000, 11/06/2013
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Author: Redaktion, 2014-03-11 (Update: 2014-04-17)