Notebookcheck's Top 10 Workstation Notebooks

September 2015 update. Here you will find the best workstations 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.

Mobile workstations are the most powerful devices in the business segment. They should offer a combination of typical business features and powerful hardware that has been optimized for reliability, stability and performance. Comprehensive support options, system-specific accessories, long spare-parts availability and various warranty options, are typical for this class of devices. You can also often find ports that have already been discarded for consumer products but are still being used in companies. The product cycles in this segment are very long and can be as long as three years in some cases. The pricing in this premium segment usually starts at significantly more than 1000 Euros (~$1080) and can quickly reach a few thousand Euros/Dollars. 

As well as the above-mentioned factors, one of the main contributors to the cost is the graphics chips. Unlike the familiar consumer GPUs, they support special features and are designed for stability, comparability and reliability in combination with certified software. These are not very interesting for private users, but can make a major difference for businesses.

Due to the long availability of mobile workstations, we look at devices from the last 18 months. The ranking can be different from the automated top list. The changes can include devices that have been on the market longer than 18 months, duplicates, review updates or very recommendable models according to the editorial point of view (price/performance, mobility, upgradeability, etc.). Deviations are explained in the corresponding editors' comments.

The prices are usually based on the review configuration. If this configuration is no longer available, then we have selected similarly equipped alternatives. We have also listed the starting price for each base configuration.

In our editorially maintained top list for September, we have added three new models. Thanks to its high processing performance, the 5th generation of Bullman's E Class achieved second place. The workstation variant of the Schenker W505 also made it into our Top 10 thanks to its convincing performance. The HP Omen Pro is positioned at the bottom of the ranking. The price performance winner ASUSPRO PU551JH and the Dell Precision M3800 are not in the charts. In addition, the workstation variant of the MSI GT70 was removed from the list, since it has been replaced by the MSI WT72 successor and is no longer available.

Workstation Notebook Charts as of September 2015

107/201589%HP ZBook 15 G2HP ZBook 15 G2
Intel Core i7-4910MQ
AMD FirePro M5100
32 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
31 mm3.1 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
287%Bullman E-Klasse 5Bullman E-Klasse 5
Intel Core i7-4790K
NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
32 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
46 mm3.8 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
306/201587%MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BWMSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
Intel Core i7-4980HQ
NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
32 GB Memory, 1024 GB SSD
48 mm3.7 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
401/201587%Fujitsu Celsius H730Fujitsu Celsius H730
Intel Core i7-4710MQ
NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
32 mm2.8 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
507/201487%Dell Precision M2800Dell Precision M2800
Intel Core i7-4810MQ
AMD FirePro W4170M
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
34 mm2.9 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
603/201586%Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGELenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
Intel Core i7-5500U
NVIDIA Quadro K620M
15.7 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
23 mm2.4 kg15.5"2880x1620matte
711/201486%MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7PMSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
Intel Core i7-4710HQ
NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
20 mm2 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
807/201586%Schenker W505Schenker W505
Intel Xeon E3-1231 v3
NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
16 GB Memory, 500 GB SSD
36 mm3.5 kg15.6"3840x2160matte
901/201585%HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ETHP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
Intel Core i7-4710MQ
AMD FirePro M6100
8 GB Memory, 750 GB HDD
34 mm3.8 kg17.1"1920x1080matte
1007/201584%HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABDHP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
Intel Core i7-4870HQ
NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
15.9 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
20 mm2.1 kg15.6"1920x1080glossy

Editors' Comments

1st: HP ZBook 15 G2/ ZBook 15

HP ZBook 15 G2
HP ZBook 15 G2

The HP ZBook 15 G2 is a typical 15-inch workstation. With a weight of around 3 kg (~6.6 lb) it is not really a mobile device, but it can impress with the important core features:
Input devices, display quality (IPS display), configurability, accessories, warranty extensions, performance and chassis quality are very good. The only issue with the HP ZBook 15 G2 is the steep price, which is sometimes much higher than similarly equipped rivals. The predecessor (and almost identical) HP ZBook 15 is still available. Differences are found mainly in terms of the available components. The 15-inch DreamColor display, for example, is only available for the older version.

Buy HP ZBook 15 G2

2nd: Bullman E Class 5 Xeon 17

Bullman E Class 5 Xeon 17
Bullman E Class 5 Xeon 17

Bullman's E class 5 Xeon 17 is based on the Clevo Barebone P771ZM and its case comes from the gaming segment. While you have to dispense with certain business features and the system noise is dangerously loud, the 17-incher could convince with a particularly high performance. Our test model came with an Intel Core i7-4790k desktop CPU, 32 GB of RAM, a fast solid-state drive and Nvidia's Quadro K3100M. As usual, you have many available choices when configuring the notebook and the price policy is more than fair compared to the purebred competition. The series is already available from about 1500 Euros (~$1697). The test model costed about 2900 Euros (~$3280) at the time of testing.

3rd: MSI WT72


The 17-inch workstation from MSI has been recently updated and comes with a very good IPS display and cutting-edge USB 3.1 ports as well as the usual high-performance components. 4 SSDs in RAID 0 connection, an Intel Core i7-4980HQ CPU, 32 GB of RAM, and Nvidia's Quadro K4100M ensure an excellent performance. However, prospective buyers have to do without typical business features and a restrained look. In addition, the system noise is relatively high and the graphics switch requires a reboot. At a first glance, the price of about 4000 Euros (~$4525) appears to be high, but compared to similarly equipped competitors it proves to be quite affordable. For example an HP ZBook 17 G2, which we configured as similar as possible for a test, quickly reaches the 7000 Euros (~$7918) mark.

Buy MSI WT72

4th: Fujitsu Celsius H730

Fujitsu Celsius H730
Fujitsu Celsius H730

The Fujitsu Celsius H730 is certainly not one of the most powerful or very configurable models, but there are no real issues in any section and it also convinces with a good price/performance ratio. You will get a classic workstation that has a comprehensive list of business features. However, you will have to dispense with different display options or current ports like M.2, Thunderbolt or AC-WLAN.

Buy Fujitsu Celsius H730


5th: Dell Precision M2800

Dell Precision M2800
Dell Precision M2800

Dell's entry-level workstation uses the chassis from the older, Latitude E6540 business-series, which means that you do not have to be concerned about the business features of the Dell Precision M2800. The list of accessories is also quite comprehensive. One important purchase factor is AMD's FirePro W4170M, which is often slightly faster than its counterparts from Nvidia. According to the specification sheet and unlike our review unit, Dell now also offers a Full HD display with very wide viewing angles (probably IPS). This would remove one of our criticisms. It also seems that Dell has improved the individual configurability in the online store and has added some new components.

Buy Dell Precision M2800

6th: Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

Lenovo ThinkPad W550s
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

Lenovo offers a very mobile workstation with the ThinkPad W550s. The weight is comparatively light, the chassis slim, and the battery runtimes are almost phenomenal. In addition, you get a stable case, a very good keyboard, a practical port variety and a great display. Drawbacks of the W550s are the touchpad, the port layout and above all the processor performance. If you can live with these, then you get a good price/performance ratio, which is often a deciding factor.

Buy Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

7th: MSI WS60


MSI has been offering an interesting category of devices with its workstation-series for a while now. With little effort, the consumer notebooks are equipped with professional graphics cards, so they can gain a foothold in the business environment. The main problem with this solution is the missing business features, which are usually standard for a workstation. However, if you can dispense with easy maintenance, docking stations, SmartCard reader, etc., then the MSI WS60 offers a lot of performance for the money.

Buy MSI WS60

8th: Schenker W505

Schenker W505
Schenker W505

Like the Bullman E class, the Schenker W505 is a typical representative of a Clevo Barebone, which comes from the gaming segment. Cheap prices and free configuration are the main pros of this workstation alternative. As usual, Schenker’s W505 has accomplished delivering high performance at an affordable price. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has done slightly too much by incorporating an Nvidia Quadro K5100M and an Intel Xeon E3-CPU, which are usually found in large 17-inch notebooks, in the test model and has slightly overtaxed the 15-incher with too much waste heat. The measured system noise and the temperatures are very high and might rightly discourage many users from buying this configuration. In our opinion, it is only recommendable to performance geeks who do not mind using an additional external cooling system. Prices for the W505 start from just under 1500 Euros (~$1697) and from about 1600 Euros (~$1810) with Quadro graphics. Our test model costs about 4500 Euros (~$5090).

9th: HP ZBook 17/ ZBook 17 G2

HP ZBook 17 G2
HP ZBook 17 G2

The HP ZBook 17 is one of the last representatives of large 17-inch workstations. This category can be equipped with very powerful components and usually offers the best configurability and expandability options. We have combined both versions in the seventh place because the place in the ranking and the differences between the equipment are small. A few new ports, updated components and slightly improved CPUs cover the main differences. The chassis and the input devices are identical and the performance is very good depending on the components.

Buy HP ZBook 17

10th: HP Omen Pro

HP Omen Pro
HP Omen Pro

Like the Clevo descendants or the MSI workstations, which have been turned into a workstation with a professional graphics card, the HP Omen Pro is a modified gaming notebook. All these share missing business features and borrow their look from gaming devices. In addition, the HP Omen Pro is a representative of the slimline trend, which is much more limited in terms of performance. Overall, HP offers a design notebook with professional entry-level graphics, which scores points, especially in display, emissions, and look. However, you have to accept compromises in performance, configuration options, and mobility, which unfortunately are not reflected in an attractive price. The HP Omen Pro starts from 2900 Euros (~$3280), the test model costs about 3900 Euros (~$4412).

Buy HP Omen Pro

Assigned mobile workstation awards:

» List of all reviewed workstation notebooks (ordered by rating)

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Author: Staff (Update: 2015-09-21)