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Notebookcheck's Top 10 Workstation Notebooks

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

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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, compatibility 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.

Our rating update v5 has significantly changed the ranking. Basically, this is caused by the fact that we considered the performance of a mobile workstation a key property and weighted it higher. Mobile workstations in ultrabook format rather focus on mobility. While they are usually not poor notebooks, they seldom belong to the top models because of their significantly lower CPU and GPU performance.

Since our previous update in April, we had three new mobile workstations in review: the Lenovo ThinkPad P40, the HP ZBook Studio G3, and the HP ZBook 17 G3. While the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 missed our charts by far because of its too low performance and many small flaws in details, the elegant HP ZBook Studio G3 sticks out in a negative way because of its very poor emissions. At the bottom line, only a single contender, HP's ZBook 17 G3, makes it into our charts and even takes the lead. Although, this mobile workstation also has cons, it appears to be balanced and very good.

The Dell Precision 5510, which is still the best slim line solution, is in the 10th place now.

Workstations Notebooks Charts as of June 2016

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
105/201689%HP ZBook 17 G3 TZV66eAHP ZBook 17 G3 TZV66eA
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v5
NVIDIA Quadro M3000M
32 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
30 mm3.3 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
201/201688%MSI WT72-6QMMSI WT72-6QM
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
32 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
48 mm3.9 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
301/201688%Schenker W706Schenker W706
Intel Core i7-6700
NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
32 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
39 mm3.8 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
401/201587%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 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
504/201685%HP ZBook 15 G3HP ZBook 15 G3
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
32 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
26 mm2.6 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
601/201686%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
701/201686%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
802/201685%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
907/201584%Schenker W505Schenker W505
Intel Xeon E3-1231 v3
NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
16 GB Memory, 500 GB SSD
36 mm3.5 kg15.6"3840x2160matte
1012/201583%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

Editors' Comments

1st: HP ZBook 17 G3

HP ZBook 17 G3
HP ZBook 17 G3

The HP ZBook 17 G3 is a powerful 17-inch workstation and combines typical business features with good portability and high performance. You can configure the 17-inch notebook in HP's online shop according to your needs. Although the test model did not exploit all possibilities, it already offers a very good performance and gives little cause for criticism. In particular, system noise during high load scenarios, which could be even louder with one of the more powerful Nvidia Quadro graphics cards, stands out in a negative way. Additional negatives include use of PWM, poor accessibility to battery and SIM, and the very high starting price compared to similarly equipped competitors. Pre-configured models start from just under 2100 Euros at retailers and about 2400 Euros at HP's online shop. However, our test model is priced at a steep 4500 Euros.

2nd: 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 being 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 core property of a workstation gets a higher weight in our rating update v5 and is the reason why the WT72-6QME takes the lead now. The maintenance is user-friendly and the MSI features a modern interface with Thunderbolt 3. Notable weaknesses are missing business features and that the display is average at best in this category. While it might be sufficient for gaming, videos, office and Internet tasks, color space and color precision is too low for image and video editing. 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 (~$2271), while the test model cost about 5700 Euros (~$6473).

3rd: Schenker W706

Schenker W706
Schenker W706

The Schenker W706 workstation is definitely tuned for performance. With the gaming case, desktop CPU, and powerful, professional Nvidia Quadro M5000M graphics, 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 (~$2044) with Nvidia's Quadro M1000M. However, Schenker charges about 4700 Euros (~$5337) for the extremely powerful test configuration.

4th: HP ZBook 17 G2

HP ZBook 17 G2
HP ZBook 17 G2

The HP ZBook 17 is a typical 17-inch workstation. This category can be equipped with especially powerful components and generally provides the best configuration and upgrade options. Compared to the newer HP ZBook 17 G3, the case is significantly bigger and heavier. In return, you'll get a maintenance hatch fixed without screws and easily reachable slots. It only differs slightly from the HP ZBook 17 G1 predecessor. The main differences are several newer interfaces, upgraded configuration options, and a slightly better CPU. Case and input devices remained the same and the performance is very good depending on the components. As usual, the HP ZBook 17 G2 and the current HP ZBook 17 G3 will both be available for a while. The review of the HP ZBook 17 G3 is already in progress.

The gross price starts from about 1600 Euros (~$1817 test model: to about 3900 Euros/~$4429).

Discussion

5th: HP ZBook 15 G3

HP ZBook 15 G3
HP ZBook 15 G3

The updated HP ZBook 15 G3 comes with a completely new case, modern interfaces, and powerful components. In addition, the test model shines with a very good display, very good battery runtimes, and an excellent case quality. However, the HP ZBook 15 G3 gets loud and hot under full load despite throttling. Moreover, the fan noise of our test model is unpleasant time and again. While it was possible to get into the case of the predecessor via a maintenance hatch without screws, a star screwdriver is necessary for removing the underside now. As usual, you can either configure your device according to requirements in the online shop or select one of the pre-configured models, which are also offered by online shops. Prices start from 2000 Euros (~$2271); the test model cost about 4000 Euros (~$4542).

6th: 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. It basically ranks in midfield because less than powerful processor and graphics card, and several other components, can be changed in Dell's online configurator if desired. The gross price of the series starts from about 2700 Euros (~$3066); our test model already cost 3730 Euros (~$4236; gross price) at the time of testing.

7th: 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 integrated 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 (~$2271), while the test model cost 3400 Euros (~$3861) at the time of testing.

8th: 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 the ThinkPad 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 (~$2271), while the test model cost about 2500 Euros (~$2839).

9th: 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 in our test model by incorporating an Nvidia Quadro K5100M and an Intel Xeon E3-CPU, which are usually found in large 17-inch notebooks,  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 (~$1703) and from about 1600 Euros (~$1817) with Quadro graphics. Our test model costs about 4500 Euros (~$5110).

10th: Dell Precision 5510

Dell Precision 5510
Dell Precision 5510

The Dell Precision 5510 workstation is based on the Dell XPS 15 multimedia notebook. Thus, it looks the same as the consumer device. However, it features a professional Nvidia Quadro M1000M graphics card, which can be combined with a mobile Intel Xeon CPU. It is also important that the Precision, unlike the XPS, can be quite freely configured. However, the design-oriented and ultra-slim mobile workstation not only looks 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. After our rating update, the Dell Precision 5510 is the only slim workstation in our Top 10, which is mainly since it is a well-made bundle overall with few weaknesses. At the time of testing, the entry-level price of the series was about 2000 Euros (~$2271; gross price), while the test model cost 3200 Euros (~$3634).

Assigned mobile workstation awards:

of the last 18 months
1
89% v5.1
HP ZBook 17 G3 Workstation Review
HP ZBook 17 G3 TZV66eA
HP ZBook 17 G3 Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v5, NVIDIA Quadro M3000M, 05/30/2016
2
88% v5
MSI WT72 6QM Workstation Review
MSI WT72-6QM
MSI WT72 6QM Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5, NVIDIA Quadro M5000M, 01/23/2016
3
88% v5
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
4
86% v5
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
86% v5
Lenovo ThinkPad P70 Workstation Review
Lenovo ThinkPad P70
Lenovo ThinkPad P70 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 6820HQ, NVIDIA Quadro M3000M, 01/23/2016
6
85% v5.1
HP ZBook 15 G3 Workstation Review
HP ZBook 15 G3
HP ZBook 15 G3 Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5, NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, 04/06/2016
7
85% v5
Lenovo ThinkPad P50 Workstation Review
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Lenovo ThinkPad P50 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 6820HQ, NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, 02/01/2016
8
84% v5.1
Dell Precision 7510 (4K IGZO) Mobile Workstation Review
Dell Precision 7510 (4K IGZO)
Dell Precision 7510 (4K IGZO) Mobile Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v5, NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, 06/20/2016
9
84% v5
MSI WT72 Workstation Review
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
MSI WT72 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4980HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K4100M, 06/23/2015
10
84% v5
Schenker W505 (Clevo P751ZM) Notebook Review
Schenker W505
Schenker W505 (Clevo P751ZM) Notebook Review
Intel Xeon (Desktop) E3-1231 v3, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M, 07/28/2015

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

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Staff (Update: 2016-05-31)