In the current technological era, the quest for the “perfect professional PC” involves selecting a device with many different features: maximum mobility; light and thin; built using premium materials; full-day battery life; good CPU performance; high resolution screen; fully wireless connectivity to the internet and other devices; easy integration into IT departments and with the required security for a corporate environment.
Clearly, the type of machine that can fulfill all of the above in this era of mobile devices is the laptop. Although choosing the ideal model for a company or for professional use is not straightforward. You must take into account multiple aspects starting with the device case format. It can be a more traditional solution or one of the new hybrid models like convertibles or 2-in-1.
However, there are a number of features common to all of them that we are going to review in this article, we hope you’ll find it useful when you consider renewing your current equipment.
An update that should not be delayed at the point of keeping PCs that become obsolete. It is well known that this can have a drastic impact on productivity, which may translate to an increase in costs more significant than the acquisition of new equipment, due to higher repair and maintenance prices.
Design and Battery-life
It is likely that the first aspect to be valued when looking for the ideal laptop is the case design that best fits our needs. Premium and convertible notebooks are the most attractive options in the current world of portable computers and one of the fastest growing in the PC industry. Especially remarkable are the “2-in-1” devices, which offer among other benefits the possibility to use it like a tablet or as conventional laptop.
The current trend in design is to offer thinner and lighter devices. The use of premium materials such as aluminum, magnesium or carbon fiber help to reduce weight while improving resistance. Professional machines like the Elite family from HP are able to withstand stress tests with strong hits, vibrations, dust and temperatures to meet the MIL-STD 810G standard.
Nowadays in the market you can find devices presenting passive cooling (without fans), thanks to the size reduction, decrease of the chips power consumption and new storage formats. If you are concerned about noise and power consumption, this is a group to consider.
In addition to the excellent mobility, this type of models also offers all day battery-life without having to rely on extra batteries. The dream of a professional spending a lot of time on the road, who will value this feature above others. This is achieved thanks to the reduction of the components power consumption, an improvement of the energy management and the increase of batteries capacity and efficiency.
The screen size is another property to evaluate carefully. We can choose between 12-inch ultrabooks or powerful mobile workstations going up to 17-inch. The 12 and 13-inch models will offer the best mobility while the highest display sizes will help to improve productivity. A well balanced size, very successful in the professional market, are the ones with 14-inch screens.
Regarding the resolution, in the premium range the minimum will be Full-HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) with high-end models going up to 4K, while for basic laptops we can find resolutions with HD displays. Native resolution enhancement is another rising trend, with the most advanced models offering Ultra High Definition with native resolutions close to 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels).
Another property to consider are the screens bezels. Go for the narrowest if you want a big display without affecting the overall machine size.
The 7th generation of Intel Core Processors (Kaby Lake) is the reference platform in the notebook marketplace and the best option for your new machine, due to its improved computing and graphics performance presenting the highest level of energy efficiency of Intel’s history.
They are commercialized in the well known submodels Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7, together with the Celeron and Pentium families which are designed for entry level machines. In the Core family there are available the models variants with Intel Core vPro technology, with features embedded into the hardware for business computing, which include additional hardware security and management capabilities.
The new version of the memory standard, DDR4, focused on mobile devices (from smartphones to powerful laptops) is the main memory type you will find installed in the best equipment you can find nowadays. Among its improvements stands out the ratio of I/O operations they are capable of, up to 4266 MT/s, double the one of latest DDR3 versions.
The standard includes a completely new architecture consisting on a two channels matrix of 16-bits versus the simple channel found on DDR3. This reduces the distance that the data must travel from the memory array to the I/O terminal areas, increasing the throughput, as well as reducing the power required to transmit the same amount of data. The working voltage has also been reduced to 1.1 volts. In addition, the standard was specifically designed to obtain an efficient power operation over a wide range of frequencies.
In terms of installed capacity, the minimum is 4 GB which is found in most basic laptops, the recommended is 8 GB and that is found in the initial configuration of premium models, going up to 16 or 32 GB for mobile workstations.
Solid state drives are the big standard in mobile storage and they must be chosen by the professional looking for the best performance. They are based on NAND flash memories and with the absence of mechanical parts, they provide great advantages in power consumption and reduction of vibrations, noise and heat emission. They offer a performance far superior to conventional hard disks in terms of the speed to start the Operating System, applications, restarts from standby or hibernation modes and data transfer.
While most of the installed SSDs correspond to the classic 2.5-inch format, the most advanced computers will use PCIe SSDs, the fastest drives available for consumer storage. They use the native PCI-e interface to boost their performance up to a theoretical maximum that goes up to five times the one of SSDs connected to a SATA port. In addition the device formats like the small M.2 allow to develop thinner and lighter equipment.
Of course, hard drives are still available and for very good prices, presenting a huge reliability and bigger storage capacity than SSDs.
Wireless connectivity for Internet access is a key feature for a professional who is usually on-the-go and therefore cannot be connected to wired Ethernet networks.
The AC technology (IEEE 802.11ac) is the latest version of the WiFi standard and it will be present on all mobile computers next year. It is compatible with earlier versions of the standard and operates in the 5 GHz band, a zone of the radio spectrum with much less traffic than the overcrowded 2.4 GHz band. Its main feature compared to earlier versions of the Wifi standard is a significant improvement on transfer speeds, up to 3 times the one of WiFi n, reaching a theoretical maximum of up to 1.3 Gbps using three independent transfers at 433 Mbps.
At the professional level, since wireless Wi-Fi networks are not always available, the possibility to connect to mobile broadbands can guarantee Internet access anywhere. Thus, this is a property to be considered when purchasing new equipment.
Regarding the output ports for the interconnection with different equipment and devices, the third generation of Intel’s I/O technology based on silicon photonics using optical communication, Thunderbolt 3, provides a great transfer speed and low power consumption.
Another port to be considered is the USB Type-C, a new type of connector for peripherals and Universal Serial Bus devices approved by the USB Implementers Forum, the group responsible for the development of USB. Besides to try to universalize connectors and reduce its size, USB Type-C offers some other advantages like being symmetrical and therefore allowing reversible plug orientation. Being complemented with the USB 3.1 standard, it can offer a very fast transfer speed of up to 10 Gbps. Also, type-C USB is designed to be future-proof, meaning the design will be used for every future and faster USB version.
We mention finally Intel’s commitment for improvements in two promising technologies, Wireless Docking and WiDi Pro. They are meant to eliminate in the future any kind of wiring for mobile devices. The first one allows the wireless connection with monitors and USB peripherals at Gigabit speeds. The second technology is the improvement of the Intel Pro Wireless Display specification, that allows wireless content sharing with resolutions up to 4K through the Intel WiDi standard.
Security is one of the top priorities when choosing IT equipment for business. Latest concerns about cyber-attacks are pushing for new ways of authentication to identify user on access to equipment or Internet services, especially those related with online banking or e-commerce.
The improvements in this area come on a regular basis in premium notebooks, especially those focused on the professional market. The new work trends based on big collaborations and requiring mobility to improve productivity are a real challenge for IT managers in ensuring that all the devices remain secure. This is where professional equipment like the HP Elite presents an advantage.
More secure and easier to manage than previous generations, they are designed to make things easier for IT professionals in charge of managing and securing the company’s fleet of equipment. They allow for devices, identities and data protection with technologies such as the HP Client Security Software Suite, an enhanced BIOS level protection with the third-generation of HP Sure Start and HP BIOSphere, HP Touchpoint Manager or TPM certificates.
These functions are added to other ones as the fingerprint sensor, TPM modules, SmartCards and vPro variants of Intel processors that offer native hardware security in important areas. All these levels of protections are very important, specially taking into account that the theft and loss of mobile equipment are a worldwide reality.
Windows 10 is the current reference and the most frequent OS pre-installed in new equipment. It is under permanent development and it was just released the new version Creators Update, which rather than an update is actually a new version, due to the big amount of changes it offers.
Improvements which involve the user interface, the system configuration tool, the Edge web browser, the native Windows Defender security solution, the privacy options, the development of 3D creativity tools, the Cortana assistant, the Windows Update tool, the support for VR devices and security improvements with a bigger control over VPNs or Windows Hello.
For all of these reasons, it is the recommended system to use in the ideal laptop for companies and professionals.
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