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Best Laptops for MBA Students

Best Laptops for MBA Students

Tom Gerencer
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An MBA laptop should be able to network, multitask, work fast, and sometimes crunch big datasets and models, all while staying budget-friendly. When you’re breaking ground on an MBA degree at any university, it’s best to start with a machine that makes your schoolwork a breeze and keeps your resources liquid.
You’ll work on your laptop for 5 to 10 hours a day during school. You’ll also use it at home to stream movies and shows, and play the occasional game of Counter-Strike. The key considerations are to choose Windows (to reduce frustration during class time and exams) and an Intel® Core™ I7 machine or better, with a few other specs and features.
Scroll down for the top tips to start day one with the best tools, all while keeping your wallet in the black.

MBA laptop features recommended by business schools

Most business schools publish a list of minimum laptop requirements online, like Wharton’s laptop buying guide for MBA students (Wharton is one of the top MBA schools in the U.S., it’s not a bad place to start).
Here are some laptop recommendations from top business schools to start with:
Note: MBA laptops spec lists on college websites can go out of date fast, and not all of them are geared specifically to MBA programs. Many are for the university at large. So it’s a good idea to keep a few minimum specs in mind.
We’ll build this article on a foundation of the recommended specs for MBA laptops above from schools with top MBA programs. But we’ll adjust for fast-changing technology and new curriculum demands.

Minimum specs for an MBA laptop

At a base level, your laptop needs to be able to handle microeconomics, statistics, accounting, business analytics, finance, and of course Zoom and other video calls without missing a beat.
Here’s a quick list of basic system requirements in the best MBA laptops:
  • Intel 7th Generation or higher or AMD Ryzen™ 7 or higher
  • 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) or higher
  • Minimum 8GB of RAM (16GB RAM preferred)
  • Second monitor for vastly increased productivity
  • Ergonomic mouse to avoid pain from increased mousing time
  • Laptop with tablet mode (as opposed to a tablet with a keyboard)
  • Upgradability
  • CUDA-capable GPU or one capable of running open-source OpenCL apps for business analytics
  • Fast internet connection
  • Fast wake from sleep for getting work done in small slices of time
  • Windows environment a plus
In a nutshell, many of the specs above are also characteristics of the best laptops today.
Now let’s take a look at the best computers for MBA students on the market right now.

1. HP ENVY 17 laptop

HP ENVY 17 laptop
The HP ENVY 17 is the best laptop for MBA programs because of its unique specs package. You’ll get Windows 11 Pro, an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and a 512GB SSD storage device, all for less than you’ll pay for most of the top smartphones on the market.
You can also get an optional Full High Definition (FHD) touch screen to work on spreadsheets and videos. Plus, you can boost the memory to 32GB if you’ll be leveraging heavy business analytics applications like Power BI or Spotfire. The backlit keyboard makes it easy to take notes in dimly-lit lecture halls, too.

2. HP EliteBook Folio laptop

HP EliteBook Folio laptop
If you like taking advantage of microbursts of time to max out your productivity, you’ll love the HP EliteBook Folio. This business powerhouse packs one of the juicy new Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors that make your PC as fast as your smartphone.
But with a 256GB SSD and an available 16GB of memory, the HP EliteBook Folio fills all the MBA laptop requirements short of running models on big datasets. Plus, its 2-in-1 form factor lets you pull the screen forward to transition quickly to tablet or media modes for anything from team project collaboration to streaming Netflix.

3. HP Pavilion laptop

HP Pavilion laptop
When tuition payments loom, a budget warrior like the HP Pavilion laptop can help keep you in the green. You won’t skimp on power either. It boasts optional Intel Core i7 processors, Windows 10 Home, up to 16GB of memory, and up to a 1TB SSD storage unit with 32GB of zippy Intel Optane™ memory.
The HP Pavilion comes in plenty of form factors, too, from a standard laptop to an x360 variant with tablet and media modes. It’s also endlessly customizable, with lots of other options like a gaming version with an NVIDIA® GeForce GTX™ 950M graphics card that can process data science applications with ease. It’s easily one of the best laptops for business school on the market.

4. HP ENVY x360 laptop

HP ENVY x360 laptop
On campus and off, you’ll be on the go and moving through lectures, collaboration, extracurriculars, social time, and networking events. The HP ENVY x360 is one of the best laptops for grad school because it transitions through all these environments without a hitch.
It rolls the power of a high-quality laptop into a 2-in-1 device that goes from laptop mode to tablet mode or media mode with a quick flip of the screen. Customize yours with up to Windows 11 Pro, an 11th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and Intel Iris® Xe Graphics for those late-night gaming sessions, all at a super-affordable price point.

5. HP Spectre x360 laptop

HP Spectre x360 laptop
With up to 22 hours of battery life, the HP Spectre x360 is a strong entry on the list of best laptops for MBA students. Its Gigabit-class 4G LTE connection keeps you working efficiently even on the road (ski weekend, anyone)? Plus, the all-aluminum body can stand up to drops and dings thanks to military-grade testing, protecting its available Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM.
The 13-inch 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) OLED display delivers crisp visuals, whether you’re deep in the G-Suite or powering through a FreshBooks assignment. Its 400 nits of brightness lets you go from the dorm to a sunlit park bench without squinting. For added screen size, consider adding an external monitor for your workspace, like the popular HP V20 HD+ monitor.

6. HP ProBook laptop

HP ProBook laptop
When you don’t want to feel like you’re lugging a massive PC from quad to classroom, the world’s lightest AMD-based business laptop makes a great addition to your MBA curriculum. Grab the HP ProBook from your backpack or messenger bag with ease and power it on quickly.
This is a high-performance machine with optional 11th Generation quad-core Intel Core processors, powerful Iris Xe graphics, and a Fortune 500-worthy base of memory and storage.

7. HP ZBook Firefly notebook

HP ZBook Firefly notebook
When you absolutely need the most powerful portable workstation on the market, but you want it light and slim enough to take with you, the HP ZBook Firefly notebook is an astounding piece of tech. A favorite of office power users, data miners, architects, and designers, this HP ZBook delivers 3x faster WiFi, and pro-level NVIDIA Quadro™ graphics certified for professional apps.
This astonishing premium device also delivers up to a 4.2 GHz of processor speed and up to a massive 2TB of local storage.

8. HP Laptop 15

HP Laptop 15
If you’re suffering tuition sticker shock, the HP Laptop 15 is a rock-bottom-price-point ticket to a powerful MBA laptop. Enjoy a workflow-busting Intel Core i7 processor, gaming-level Intel Iris Xe Graphics, and 8GB of memory for a shockingly low price.
For a small notch up in price, you can get 16GB of RAM and push your other specs to the max. This is a truly great budget laptop for college students that lets you access a powerful specs list.

9. HP Spectre Folio laptop

HP Spectre Folio laptop
In some MBA programs, you need to look the part as well as play the part. Crafted from genuine leather, the HP Spectre Folio is a light and slim 2-in-1 that easily converts between laptop, tablet, and media modes. Be sure to add on an HP Pen to keep you flexible and efficient.
Its built-in 4G LTE lets you flex your leadership muscles even if you’re under a shady tree in the quad or camping in the Adirondacks. More than just a pretty face, this laptop has plenty of processing power under the hood, with Intel Core i7 processors to take you through intense school days and late-night study sessions.

10. HP 255 G8 notebook PC

HP 255 G8 notebook PC
From The Lean Startup to Topics in Risk Management to Essentials of Accounting, you’ll be doing some heavy cram sessions in your MBA program. The AMD Ryzen 5 processor in the HP 255 G8 notebook will keep pace, backed by a powerful 16GB of DDR4 RAM and 256GB SSD. Even better, you’ll get all this at a budget-friendly price point.
The HP Long Life 3-cell will easily support you during long days in lecture halls and study sessions. Plus, the starting weight of 3.84 lbs and the included Windows 10 Pro 64 will muscle through any application you throw at it.

Summary

MBA programs demand more from a computer. The best laptops for MBA students need Intel Core i7 processors and plenty of RAM to keep up with deep spreadsheets and business analytics applications. Deep data capability and Windows OS are a plus.
With the top MBA laptops on this list, you’ll be ready for everything from finance to tech management, from Harvard to Columbia, and a bright career in the business world.
About the Author: Tom Gerencer is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Tom is an ASJA journalist, career expert at Zety.com, and a regular contributor to Boys' Life and Scouting magazines. His work is featured in Costco Connection, FastCompany, and many more.
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