Notebookcheck

Notebookcheck's Top 10 Workstation Notebooks

February 2016 update. Top 10 Workstation laptops with professional graphics cards reviewed by Notebookcheck

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 February 2016, we have added as many as six new models in the past few weeks. The reason for the extraordinary high number of new devices is that almost all manufacturers have carried out a model change lately. By far not all new series and models are taken into account yet. Thus, it is to be expected that this chart will change significantly in the next few months. The HP ZBook 15 G2 has to share the 1st place with two newcomers now. Dell's Precision 5510 and Lenovo's ThinkPad P70 took the lead extemporaneously. In addition, we have added the MSI WT72-6QME, the Lenovo ThinkPad P50, Dell's Precision 7710 and the Schenker W706 to the charts.

Workstations Notebooks Charts as of February 2016

Pos.DateRatingimageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionScreen
101/201689%Lenovo ThinkPad P70Lenovo ThinkPad P70
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
NVIDIA Quadro M3000M
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
34.2 mm3.6 kg17.3"3840x2160matte
212/201589%Dell Precision 5510Dell Precision 5510
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
NVIDIA Quadro M1000M
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
11.5 mm2 kg15.6"3840x2160glossy
307/201589%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
402/201688%Lenovo ThinkPad P50Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Intel Core i7-6820HQ
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
29.4 mm2.6 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
501/201688%Dell Precision 7710Dell Precision 7710
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v5
AMD FirePro W7170M
16 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
35 mm3.6 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
601/201687%MSI WT72-6QMEMSI WT72-6QME
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
32 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
48 mm3.9 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
701/201687%Schenker W706Schenker W706
Intel Core i7-6700
NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
32 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
39 mm3.8 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
887%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
901/201587%Fujitsu Celsius H730Fujitsu Celsius H730
Intel Core i7-4710MQ
NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
32 mm2.8 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
1007/201487%Dell Precision M2800Dell Precision M2800
Intel Core i7-4810MQ
AMD FirePro W4170M
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
34 mm2.9 kg15.6"1920x1080matte

» See whole list of reviewed Workstation laptops (ordered by total rating)

Editors' Comments

1st: Lenovo ThinkPad P70

Lenovo ThinkPad P70
Lenovo ThinkPad P70

Finally, after a long time Lenovo has a big 17-inch workstation in its line-up again. The Lenovo ThinkPad P70 relies on proven features and brings in the odd unique feature. This is undoubtedly the case with  the integrate color sensor from X-Rite. However, it was not really impressive in our test model. The optionally available Full HD IPS touch display and the entry-level Nvidia Quadro M600M graphic are also special in this category that are not currently offered in the workstation range elsewhere. Our test model was particularly impressive with its adequate performance, a solid case, an excellent keyboard, a great display and practical battery runtimes. In terms of connectivity and upgradeability, the ThinkPad P70 is even almost perfect. It is an appreciated, often decisive advantage that the emissions are not too high despite high performance. The P70 series starts at about 2000 Euros (~$2222), while the test model already cost 3400 Euros (~$3777) at the time of testing.

2nd: Dell Precision 5510

Dell Precision 5510
Dell Precision 5510

The Dell Precision 5510 workstation is based on the multimedia notebook Dell XPS 15. Thus, it looks the same as the consumer device. However, it features a professional Nvidia Quadro M1000M graphic and a mobile Intel Xeon CPU. It is also important that the Precision can, other than the XPS, be quite freely configured. However, the design-oriented and ultra-slim mobile workstation does not only look good, but it also convinced with good performance, excellent IGZO UHD display, modest emissions, and above-average build and material quality. Apart from the steep price, the reduced performance under full load and on battery and the design-inherent modest maintainability and upgradeability are the biggest disadvantages. At the time of testing, the entry level price of the series was about 2000 Euros (~$2222; gross price), while the test model cost 3200 Euros (~$3555).

3rd: 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 a discontinued model. It is no longer listed in HP's online shop and the online configurator. For example the 15-inch DreamColor display is only available for the HP ZBook 15 G3 successor now, which we will certainly scrutinize. The HP ZBook 15 G2 starts from 1700 Euros (~$1889; test model from about 4400 Euros/~$4889).

Discussion

4th: Lenovo ThinkPad P50

Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Lenovo ThinkPad P50

The smaller variant of the Lenovo ThinkPad P70 offers many good features, which include welcome improvements, particularly in the touchpad and the case compared to its ThinkPad W541 predecessor. In addition, we liked its unique features like the integrated Colorimeter from X-Rite or the ExpressCard slot. Overall, the performance is high, but it falls slightly behind our expectations in the components used. In addition, the maintenance possibilities are a bit meager compared to theThinkPad P70 and missing mountings make it even more difficult. Unfortunately, the quite good IPS display only delivers a modest brightness and a small color space. Thus, it is not suitable for professional image editing. The Lenovo ThinkPad P50 starts from under 2000 Euros (~$2222), while the test model cost about 2500 Euros (~$2778).

5th: Dell Precision 7710

Dell Precision 7710
Dell Precision 7710

Dell's Precision M6800 is an example of the long product cycles in the workstation range. Only now, its case based on the Precision M6500 from 2009, has been replaced by a completely new design in the Precision 7710. The big 17-incher delights with high performance, a very good display, long battery runtimes, a stable and high-end case, maintainability and upgradeability suitable for its status, and a long warranty of 36 months Premium support with on-site service. However, we did not like the throttling of the graphic performance under full load and on battery, missing interfaces, and the maximum number of possible internal drives that much. The gross price of the series starts from about 2700 Euros (~$3000), our test model already cost 3730 Euros (~$4144; gross price) at the time of testing.

6th: MSI WT72-6QME

MSI WT72-6QME
MSI WT72-6QME

MSI's WT72 even ranked in under the best 10 workstations of our automated top list twice. However, since the predecessor is slowly discontinued and replaced by the model from 2016, we have removed the MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW with similar rating from our ranking. The current model still captivates with high, permanently stable performance. Many top models cannot provide this. The maintenance is user-friendly and the MSI features a modern interface with Thunderbolt 3. The display is good, but cannot keep up with its demanding workstation competitors in terms of color space and color precision. The fact that a 17-inch workstation is big and heavy and only delivers modest battery runtimes are disadvantages, which many rivals have to a similar extent, too. The prices of the series start from about 2000 Euros (~$2222), while the test model cost about 5700 Euros (~$6333).

7th: Schenker W706

Schenker W706
Schenker W706

The Schenker W706 workstation is definitely tuned for performance. With gaming case, desktop CPU, and most powerful, professional Nvidia Quadro M5000M graphic you cannot complain about its sheer performance. A big advantage is the impressive stability of the performance. Throttling is not even to be expected under permanent full load. However, limiting factors of Schenker's W706 are its surface temperatures, its display, and missing business features. The battery life is even very short for a 17-inch workstation and the warranty is shorter than usual in this category. The price starts from about 1800 Euros (~$2000) with Nvidia's Quadro M1000M. However, Schenker charges about 4700 Euros (~$5222) for the extremely powerful test configuration.

8th: 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 cost about 2900 Euros (~$3280) at the time of testing.

9th: 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. The recently released new models have widened the gap with the competitions in terms of features and performance even more. Whether the relatively cheap prices can still make up for the quite big disadvantages, depends on your individual requirements. Gross price from 1500 Euros (~$1697; test model from about 1600 Euros/~$1777).

10th: 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. The Dell Precision 5310 is already available and offers a new case with up-to-date interfaces apart from up-to-date components. While the entry-level price is about 150 Euros (~$167) higher, you will get a significantly more modern device in view of the specs (test will follow).

The Dell Precision M2800 starts from a gross price of about 1500 Euros (~$1697; test model from about 1850 Euros/~$2055).

Assigned mobile workstation awards:

of the last 18 months
1
89% v4.1
Lenovo ThinkPad P70 Workstation Review
Lenovo ThinkPad P70
Lenovo ThinkPad P70 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 6820HQ, NVIDIA Quadro M3000M, 01/23/2016
2
89% v4
Dell Precision 5510 Workstation Review
Dell Precision 5510
Dell Precision 5510 Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5, NVIDIA Quadro M1000M, 12/27/2015
3
88% v4.1
Lenovo ThinkPad P50 Workstation Review
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Lenovo ThinkPad P50 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 6820HQ, NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, 02/01/2016
4
88% v4.1
Dell Precision 7710 Workstation Review
Dell Precision 7710
Dell Precision 7710 Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v5, AMD FirePro W7170M, 01/28/2016
5
88% v4
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme (Clevo P750ZM) Notebook Review
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme (Clevo P750ZM) Notebook Review
Intel Core i7 (Desktop) 4790K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M, 03/06/2015
6
87% v4.1
MSI WT72-6QME Workstation Review
MSI WT72-6QME
MSI WT72-6QME Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5, NVIDIA Quadro M5000M, 01/23/2016
7
87% v4.1
Schenker W706 (Clevo P771DM) Workstation Review
Schenker W706
Schenker W706 (Clevo P771DM) Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 (Desktop) 6700, NVIDIA Quadro M5000M, 01/21/2016
8
87% v4
MSI WT72 Workstation Review
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
MSI WT72 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4980HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K4100M, 06/23/2015
9
87% v4
Fujitsu Celsius H730 Workstation Review
Fujitsu Celsius H730
Fujitsu Celsius H730 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4710MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, 01/31/2015
10
87% v4
HP ZBook 15 G2 Workstation Review
HP ZBook 15 G2
HP ZBook 15 G2 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4710MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, 12/09/2014

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

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Author: Staff (Update: 2016-02- 4)