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 July 2015

Pos.DateRatingModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionScreen
107/1589%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
206/1587%MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BWMSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
Intel Core i7-4980HQ
NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
32 GB Memory, 1024 GB SSD
48 mm3.7 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
301/1587%Fujitsu Celsius H730Fujitsu Celsius H730
Intel Core i7-4710MQ
NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
32 mm2.8 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
407/1487%Dell Precision M2800Dell Precision M2800
Intel Core i7-4810MQ
AMD FirePro W4170M
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
34 mm2.9 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
503/1586%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
611/1486%MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7PMSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
Intel Core i7-4710HQ
NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
20 mm2 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
701/1585%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
805/1485%MSI GT70-20Li716121BMSI GT70-20Li716121B
Intel Core i7-4800MQ
NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
16 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
55 mm3.9 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
901/1484%Dell Precision M3800 QHD+ DisplayDell Precision M3800 QHD+ Display
Intel Core i7-4702HQ
NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
16 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
20 mm2 kg15.6"3200x1800glossy
1005/1583%Asus PU551JHAsus PU551JH
Intel Core i5-4210M
NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
7.9 GB Memory, 500 GB HDD
36 mm2.5 kg15.6"1920x1080matte

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.

From $1475 (test model from about $4900)

2nd: MSI WT72

MSI WT72
MSI WT72

The 17 inch workstation from MSI has recently been updated and brings a very good IPS display and cutting-edge USB 3.1 ports apart from the usual high-performance components. 4 SSDs in RAID 0 connection, an Intel Core i7 4980HQ CPU, 32 GB RAM, and Nvidia's Quadro K4100M ensure an excellent performance. However, prospective buyers have to do without typical business features and a discrete look. In addition, the system noise is relatively high and the graphics switch require a reboot. The price of about 4000 Euro appears to be high at the first glance, 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 Euro level.

From $2200 (test model from about $4400)

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.

From 1500 Euro (test model from about 1600 Euro)

4th: 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 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.

From $1330 (test model from about $2000)

Discussion

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.

From $1250 (test model from about $2400)

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.

From $2000 (test model from about $2000)

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.

From $1900 (test model from about $4300)

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.

From $1400 (test model from $3500 Euro)

9th: 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.

From $2000 (test model from about $2600)

10th: ASUSPRO PU551JH

ASUSPRO PU551JH
ASUSPRO PU551JH

Asus quietly added a small entry level workstation to their portfolio and ventured a first step into the professional niche market. It is based on the already existing PU551 business series, which has been refined with a great Full HD IPS display and an Nvidia Quadro K1100M. Apart from solid base features, the ASUSPRO PU551JH especially scores points with an unrivaled affordable price. The lack of a keyboard light, lacking business features, and the short warranty period of only 24 months are not really apt for the target group. The modest system performance is mainly caused by the installed RAM and the used mass storage. A second RAM module and a Solid State Drive ensure a notable performance gain.


From 930 Euro (test model from about 930 Euro)


Because of its excellent price performance ratio, we decided to assign our "Editor's Choice" award to the ASUSPRO PU551JH.

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
MSI WT72 Workstation Review
MSI WT72-2OL32SR311BW
MSI WT72 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4980HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K4100M, 06/23/2015
3
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
4
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
5
86% v4
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
6
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
7
86% v4
MSI WS60 Workstation Review
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
MSI WS60 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4710HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, 11/20/2014
8
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
9
84% v4
HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
HP Omen Pro 15 Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 4870HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, 07/13/2015
10
83% v4
Asus PU551JH Workstation Review
Asus PU551JH
Asus PU551JH Workstation Review
Intel Core i5 4210M, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, 05/29/2015
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Author: Staff (Update: 2015-07- 9)