Notebookcheck

Notebookcheck's Top 10 Workstation Notebooks

April 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.

Workstation Notebook Charts as of April 2015

Pos.%DateModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionFinish
189%02/15
HP ZBook 15 G2
Intel Core i7-4910MQ
AMD FirePro M5100
32 GB RAM, SSD + HDD
from $4329 at Amazon
starts at €1700
3.1 kg31 mm15.61920x1080matte
288%04/15Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
Intel Core i7-4790K
Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M
16 GB RAM, SSD + HDD
from $3000 at Eurocom
starts at $1600
3.4 kg35 mm15.63840x2160glossy
387%01/15
Fujitsu Celsius H730
Intel Core i7-4710MQ
Nvidia Quadro K1100M
16 GB RAM, SSD
from €1600
starts at €1500
2.8 kg32 mm15.61920x1080matte
487%06/14Dell Precision M2800
Intel Core i7-4810MQ
AMD FirePro W4170M
8 GB RAM, SSD
from $2000 at Amazon
starts at €1500
2.9 kg34 mm15.61920x1080matte
586%
New!
03/15Lenovo ThinkPad W550s
Intel Core i7-5500U
Nvidia Quadro K620M
16 GB RAM, SSD
from $1750 at Amazon
starts at €1600
2.4 kg23 mm15.52880x1620semi-
glossy
686%11/14MSI WS60
Intel Core i7-4710HQ
Nvidia Quadro K2100M
8 GB RAM, SSD
from $2550 at Amazon
starts at €1700
2.0 kg20 mm15.61920x1080matte
785%12/14HP ZBook 17 G2
Intel Core i7-4710MQ
AMD FirePro M6100
8 GB RAM, HDD
from $1600 at Amazon
starts at €1600
3.8 kg34 mm17.11920x1080matte
885%05/14MSI GT70 (Workstation)
Intel Core i7-4800MQ
Nvidia Quadro K4100M
8 GB RAM, SSD + HDD
from $3000 at Amazon
starts at €2000
3.9 kg55 mm17.31920x1080matte
985%10/13
Dell Precision M4800
Intel Core i7-4900MQ
Nvidia Quadro K2100m
16 GB RAM, SSD
from $1800 at Amazon
starts at €1600
3.2 kg40 mm15.63200x1800matte
1084% 01/14Dell Precision M3800
Intel Core i7-4702HQ
Nvidia Quadro K1100M
16 GB RAM, SSD
from $1100 at Amazon
starts at €1600
2.0 kg20 mm15.63200x1800glossy

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

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 a really 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. You can mainly find differences in respect of the available components. The 15-inch DreamColor display, for example, is only available for the older version.

2nd: Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme

Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme

Put a powerful desktop-class CPU in a laptop form, and it will automatically shoot to the top of our workstation list. The Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme, based on the Clevo P750ZM chassis, is the only model on our list so far with the insane Core i7-4790K CPU while providing all the advanced features expected from a mobile workstation. Thus, anyone not satisfied with the performance of mobile CPUs need not look any further. This Extreme edition supports overclocking, although stability becomes shaky if pushing anything over +200 MHz. We recommend sticking to the standard P5 Pro model in lieu of the P5 Pro Extreme since the overclocking potential is very limited.

Discussion

3rd: 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.

4th: Dell Precision M2800

Dell Precision M2800
Dell Precision M2800

DDell's entry-level workstation uses the chassis from the older, Latitude E6540 business-series, which means 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 spec 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 added some new components.

5th: 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 particularly the processor performance. If you can live with these, then you get a good price/performance ratio, which is often a deciding factor.

6th: MSI WS60

MSI WS60
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.

7th: 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 couple of 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.

8th: MSI GT70

MSI GT70 Workstation
MSI GT70 Workstation

The MSI GT70 in the workstation version is a gaming machine with a new name, similar to the MSI WS60. A colorful keyboard illumination and striking accents also show the origin of this model. The biggest strength of this 17-inch machine is the high performance, the stable performance under load and the very good upgradeability and maintainability. Not so good are the mobile capabilities, the system noise and the somewhat limiting display. The concept means that there are no typical business features. The successor, MSI WT72 with updated components should be available soon.

9th: Dell Precision M4800

Dell Precision M4800
Dell Precision M4800

Dell's classic mainstream workstation Precision M4800 has hardly changed its design in the recent years. A new port here, another display there and always updated components show a conservative development. The solid chassis with convenient maintainability and upgradeability delivers the perfect foundation for this. Accessories are often compatible with different generations, so it keeps the cost down. Dell has also returned to old virtues and offers individual configurations in its online shop once again. Otherwise, we still like the high performance, good cooling solution, low operating noise and the port variety. Drawbacks are the mobility and the rather old touchpad design.

10th: Dell Precision M3800

Dell Precision M3800
Dell Precision M3800

The construction of the Dell Precision M3800 is almost identical to the Dell XPS 15. The big difference is the integration of the Nvidia Quadro graphics card, which transforms the slim design notebook into a slim design workstation. In addition to the elegant design, this device also convinces with a great display, a good system and CAD performance as well as good input devices. After a while, we actually started to like the touch functionality of the UHD display and it is an appreciated unique feature amongst workstations. Drawbacks are the missing typical business features, the opening angle of the display and the unusually short warranty period of 1 year.

of the last 12 months
1
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
2
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
3
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
4
87% v4
Dell Precision M2800 Notebook Review
Dell Precision M2800
Dell Precision M2800 Notebook Review
Intel Core i7 4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, 07/05/2014
5
86% v4
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Workstation Review
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 20E2-000PGE
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 5500U, NVIDIA Quadro K620M, 03/17/2015
6
86% v4
MSI WS60 Workstation Review
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
MSI WS60 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4710HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, 11/20/2014
7
85% v4
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET Workstation Review
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET
HP ZBook 17 G2 J8Z55ET Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4710MQ, AMD FirePro M6100, 01/04/2015
8
85% v4
MSI GT70-20Li716121B Workstation Review
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
MSI GT70-20Li716121B Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K4100M, 05/17/2014
9
83% v4
Lenovo ThinkPad W541 Workstation Review
Lenovo ThinkPad W541 20EF000SGE
Lenovo ThinkPad W541 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4910MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, 03/06/2015
10
83% v4
Review Update Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BG001BGE Workstation
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BG001BGE
Review Update Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BG001BGE Workstation
Intel Core i7 4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, 04/22/2014
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Workstation Notebooks
Author: Staff (Update: 2015-04-19)