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Dell's business Ultrabook gets the job done

Business laptops typically have understated but rugged bodies, and offer plenty of processing power for number crunching, graphics rendering and other demanding tasks. Reviewers say the best laptop for business is actually an Ultrabook: The Dell Latitude 6430u (Est. $900) simply blows past rivals in tests. Experts look at an upgraded version (Est. $1,300) that boots Windows 8 Pro in a scorching 10 seconds, three times faster than the average ultraportable; flies through file transfers twice as fast as average; and races through spreadsheets 25 percent faster than average.

The upgraded Latitude packs an Ultrabook-standard third-gen Intel Core i5 processor -- no Haswell processor as of this update -- 8 GB of RAM and a speedy 128 GB SSD to "help you breeze through your to-do list before quitting time," says Laptop Magazine. Business-friendly extras win critics' hearts: spill-proof seals on the 14-inch screen and super-comfortable keyboard, a user-swappable battery that lasts more than seven hours, and a fingerprint-proof, soft-touch exterior that testers can't keep their hands off of. However, it lacks a touch screen. Pre-configured versions of the 6430u are available via a host of retail sites, or you can customize the laptop's processor, memory, storage and more at Dell's site.

The 14-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch (Est. $1,300 and up) does have a touch screen; a really nice, high-resolution one, testers say. This makes computing easier and more intuitive, especially with touch-friendly Windows 8. Lenovo is also synonymous with rock-solid reliability, and its tech support proves much better than Dell's in reviews.

The X1 Carbon Touch is nowhere near as fast as the Latitude 6430u in tests. More powerful configurations are available, but they're pricey, and battery life is mediocre at just 4.5 to 5.5 hours. Finally, the Dell has a longer three-year warranty compared to the Lenovo's one year, and the former gets a handful of important ports that the latter skips including HDMI, VGA and Ethernet. Dell's customer support has come in for criticism in the past, but the latest round of testing by Laptop Magazine shows greatly improved satisfaction in that regard.

"It's a very close call, but at the end of the day the Latitude 6430u rightfully earns our Editors' Choice for business ultrabooks" and ousts former champ Lenovo, says PCMag.com. PC World, ComputerShopper.com and other top sources agree, naming the Dell as the best business laptop.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 14-Inch Touchscreen Laptop (Black)3444CUU
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,999.99 $1,479.99   
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Average Customer Review:  

Laptops Runners Up:

13-inch Apple MacBook Air Est. $1,050 and up

9 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Alienware 14 Est. $1,100 and up

5 picks by top review sites.

Alienware 17 Est. $1,500 and up

4 picks by top review sites.

Acer Aspire S7 Est. $1,330 and up

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DigitalTrends.com…

Asus Zenbook UX51VZ Est. $1,820 and up

2 picks including: DigitalTrends.com, Engadget.com…

Lenovo IdeaPad Y510p Est. $1,050 and up

2 picks including: Laptop Magazine, PCMag.com…

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch Est. $1,300 and up

1 pick including: DigitalTrends.com, Engadget.com…

Dell XPS 12 Est. $1,000 and up

1 pick including: Engadget.com, CNET…

CyberPower FangBook Evo HX7-200 Est. $1,530 and up

1 pick including: PCMag.com, PC World…

Sony Vaio Pro 11 Est. $1,150 and up

1 pick including: Engadget.com, CNET…

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Acer Aspire S7-392-9890 13.3-Inch Touchscreen Ultrabook (Crystal White)
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New: $1,599.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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ASUS UX51Vz-DH71 15.6-Inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,999.00   
Average Customer Review:  
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Lenovo IdeaPad Y510p 59388313 15.6-Inch Laptop (Dusk Black)
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New: $1,099.99   
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Average Customer Review:  
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ASUS TX300CA-DH71 13.3-Inch Detachable 2-in-1 Touchscreen Laptop (OLD VERSION)
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,499.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 14-Inch Touchscreen Laptop (Black)3444CUU
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,999.99 $1,479.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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CyberpowerPC FANGBOOK EVO HFX7-200 17.3-Inch Laptop
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,549.99   
Average Customer Review:  
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Sony VAIO Pro SVP11213CXB 11.6-Inch Core i5 Touchscreen Ultrabook (Carbon Black)
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,149.99 $1,100.00   
Average Customer Review:  

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