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Notebookcheck's Top 10 Workstation Laptops

October 2017 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 in 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 highly recommended models according to the editorial point of view (price/performance, mobility, upgradeability, etc.). Deviations are explained in the respective 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.

Performance is a key element of a mobile workstation. 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.

Workstations Notebooks Charts as of October 2017

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
110/2017
New!
89%HP ZBook 15 G4-Y4E80AVHP ZBook 15 G4-Y4E80AV
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v6
NVIDIA Quadro M2200
32 GB Memory, 1024 GB SSD
26 mm2.6 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
206/2017
New!
89%Lenovo ThinkPad P51 20HH0016GELenovo ThinkPad P51 20HH0016GE
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
NVIDIA Quadro M2200
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
29.4 mm2.6 kg15.6"3840x2160matte
310/201689%Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000XUSLenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000XUS
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
NVIDIA Quadro M4000M
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
32 mm3.7 kg17.3"3840x2160matte
405/201689%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
507/2017
New!
86%Fujitsu Celsius H970Fujitsu Celsius H970
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v6
NVIDIA Quadro P4000
32 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
30 mm3 kg17.3"1920x1080matte
610/201686%Fujitsu Celsius H760Fujitsu Celsius H760
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
32 mm3 kg15.6"1920x1080matte
704/2017
New!
85%Dell Precision 5520 UHDDell Precision 5520 UHD
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6
NVIDIA Quadro M1200
32 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
21 mm2.1 kg15.6"3840x2160glossy
806/201684%Dell Precision 7510 (4K IGZO)Dell Precision 7510 (4K IGZO)
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v5
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
32 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
33 mm2.7 kg15.6"3840x2160matte
906/2017
New!
83%Lenovo ThinkPad P51s 20HB000SGELenovo ThinkPad P51s 20HB000SGE
Intel Core i7-7600U
NVIDIA Quadro M520
16 GB Memory, 1024 GB SSD
22 mm2.2 kg15.6"3840x2160matte
1005/2017
New!
82%Dell Precision 3520Dell Precision 3520
Intel Core i7-7820HQ
NVIDIA Quadro M620
32 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
24.6 mm2.3 kg15.6"1920x1080matte

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

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Editors' Comments

The big manufacturers have primarily provided us with minor updates this year. Case and display options were mostly adopted from the predecessors, which is not a big problem however. Apart from current Kaby Lake processors from Intel, the new Pascal graphics cards and the Virtual Reality topic were particularly important. Unfortunately, Nvidia only offers the new Pascal-based Quadro graphics card for the top performance class. Hence, they are currently almost exclusively used in large 17-inch models.

Currently, we have three highlights from the big manufacturers Dell, HP, and Lenovo under review. These will first be considered in the next update of this Top 10. However, it already shows that the Precision 7720, ZBook 17 G4, and the ThinkPad P71 race for the lead in terms of performance.

1st: HP ZBook 15 G4

HP ZBook 15 G4
HP ZBook 15 G4

Two old rivals occupy the top two places: the HP ZBook 15 G4 and the Lenovo ThinkPad P51. Both achieved very good ratings of 89% in our test; the mobile workstation from HP is the more recent review however.

The current G4 generation continues with the case of the predecessor. This is not a negative aspect since it features a high quality and many interfaces. In terms of performance, our test configuration priced at more than 4500 Euros (~$5285) delivers the maximum. The biggest cost factors are the mobile Xeon processor and the lightning fast 1 TB SSD from Samsung. However, the Xeon does not necessarily pay off for all users, since its full performance is not available during prolonged load.

The Full HD IPS display of our test model is a good choice; especially after calibration. However, the optional DreamColor display is recommended for photo and video editing, since it covers an even larger color space. Another advantage is the long battery runtimes. Unfortunately, the system emits disturbing electronic noises depending on the load during everyday use.

Pricecompare

2nd: Lenovo ThinkPad P51

Lenovo ThinkPad P51
Lenovo ThinkPad P51

Just as its competitor from HP, the ThinkPad P51 uses the case of the predecessor and features up-to-date components. Apart from high performance, which is also almost fully available during prolonged load, it delivers a stable case and excellent input devices.

The 4K display is also a very positive surprise. Unfortunately, Lenovo does not manage to incorporate high-end displays in all models, but the 4K version in the P51 can be recommended regardless of the other components: decent brightness, matte surface, no PWM, low color deviation, and high color coverage. Moreover, there is an integrated calibration tool, which did not bring good results in our model however.

Pricecompare

3rd: Lenovo ThinkPad P70

Lenovo ThinkPad P70
Lenovo ThinkPad P70

Finally, after a long break, 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. Both test models in particular have a very good 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 the high performance. The P70 series starts at about 2000 Euros (~$2271); while the first test model from January cost 3400 Euros (~$3993) and the current configuration with the Xeon CPU and Nvidia Quadro M4000M cost about 4500 Euros (~$5285) at the time of testing.

Pricecompare

ThinkPad P70-20ER000XUS

4th: 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 to suit your needs. Although the test model did not exploit all these 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 the use of PWM, poor accessibility to the battery and SIM, and the very high starting price compared to similarly equipped competitors. Pre-configured models start from just under 2100 Euros (~$2466) at retailers and about 2400 Euros (~$2820) at HP's online shop. However, our test model is priced at a steep 4500 Euros (~$5285). See the official HP website for more configurations.

Pricecompare

ZBook 17 G3 TZV66eA

5th: Fujitsu Celsius H970

Fujitsu Celsius H970
Fujitsu Celsius H970

The 17-inch workstation from Fujitsu follows the current design language of the manufacturer and is available with powerful components, including the new Quadro graphics cards based on Nvidia's current Pascal architecture. The GPU of the H970 does not have any temperature problems, but the Xeon processor is slightly too much for the cooling system. Moreover, the cooling is very loud at about 48 dB(A), which is disturbing in the long run. The H970 might be able to better handle a "smaller" processor.

The IPS display convinces with high brightness and contrast. However, high-resolution models with enhanced color space are not even optionally available. Hence, graphic designers have to use an external monitor. Another problem is that the keyboard can be too yielding. Therefore, it depends on the intended usage whether the Celsius H970 is suitable or not.

Pricecompare

6th: Fujitsu Celsius H760

Fujitsu Celsius H760
Fujitsu Celsius H760

With the Fujitsu Celsius H760, Fujitsu offers a standard workstation. Apart from adequate performance, the professional work device convinces especially with useful features including security features, modern interfaces, and many configuration options. A unique feature is the module bay, which can be used to add  a storage device or a supplementary battery. Further benefits include the stable casing, low emissions, and many support and warranty options. The Fujitsu might be the right choice for those who appreciate real business qualities. The only drawback is that its 15-inch size restricts the possible components to those with not too high a performance. For a few years now, Fujitsu has not had a 17-inch workstation in its line-up. The series starts at about 1800 Euros (~$2115); the test model costs about 3700 Euros (~$4345).

Pricecompare

Celsius H760

7th: Dell Precision 5520

Dell Precision 5520
Dell Precision 5520

The trend towards more compact models also exists in the mobile workstation range. Those who travel frequently and do not need the most powerful graphics cards will soon come across the Precision 5520 from Dell, the professional counterpart of the popular Dell XPS 15. You will get a very high-end and compact case, which easily fits into every briefcase. However, loud fans and high temperatures are to be expected in return if you apply load to the laptop. Moreover, the mobile Xeon processor is slightly too much for the cooling system.

The high-resolution display is another advantage. It is very bright and already has low deviations of grayscales and colors out-of-the-box. However, it is a glossy touchscreen, which might put several users off. In addition, the color coverage does not fully meet the value specified by Dell.

Pricecompare

8th: Dell Precision 7510

Dell Precision 7510
Dell Precision 7510

The Dell Precision 7510 is one of the best mobile workstations currently available. The models of this series deliver base properties such as solid case, excellent build quality, good upgradeability and extensive connectivity. In the meanwhile, the Dell Precision 7510 is also available with modern Thunderbolt-3 port, which further improves the connectivity. The negative points include throttling under combined load and the high power consumption of the 4k panel. Depending on the requirements and the desired configuration, both problems can be avoided by alternative configurations. Dell's price policy is relatively moderate. The entry-level price is about 1800 Euros (~$2115). However, the test model is priced at 4000 Euros (~$4698; incl. VAT).

Pricecompare

Precision 7510 (4K IGZO)

9th: Lenovo ThinkPad P51s

Another 15-inch model occupies the 9th place. The Lenovo ThinkPad P51s is based on the normal ThinkPad T570 and uses a ULV processor (dual core) in combination with a small dedicated Quadro graphics card from Nvidia. Hence, it is not surprising that its performance falls behind the full-grown models in this list. Nevertheless, the compact ThinkPad gets very warm under load.

The P51s still has several advantages, including its compact and stable case, good connectivity, excellent input devices, and decent 4K panel. In terms of battery life, the ThinkPad P51s benefits from its rather weak configuration and achieves just under 12 hours in the realistic battery runtime tests.

Pricecompare

10th: Dell Precision 3520

Dell Precision 3520
Dell Precision 3520

The Precision 3520 is the entry into the Dell's workstation portfolio. The mobile workstation has the same casing as the Latitude 5580 business model. Apart from a mobile quad core processor, you will get a professional graphics card from Nvidia. In order not to overstress the cooling system, the manufacturer has restricted the processor to 35 watts. Furthermore, the system does not perform particularly well in terms of noise emissions. Especially after load periods, the fan continues to run for up to 10 minutes.

Otherwise, the Precision 3520 is a solid entry into the world of mobile workstations. The case is solid, the Full HD display is decent, and battery life is long. Moreover, it comes with comfortable input devices and extensive connectivity including Thunderbolt 3.

Pricecompare

Assigned mobile workstation awards:

of the last 18 months
1
89% v5.1
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000XUS Workstation Review
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000XUS
Lenovo ThinkPad P70-20ER000XUS Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5, NVIDIA Quadro M4000M, 10/11/2016
2
89% v6
HP ZBook 15 G4 (Xeon, Quadro M2200, Full-HD) Workstation Review
HP ZBook 15 G4-Y4E80AV
HP ZBook 15 G4 (Xeon, Quadro M2200, Full-HD) Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v6, NVIDIA Quadro M2200, 10/04/2017
3
89% v6
Lenovo ThinkPad P51 (Xeon, 4K) Workstation Review
Lenovo ThinkPad P51 20HH0016GE
Lenovo ThinkPad P51 (Xeon, 4K) Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6, NVIDIA Quadro M2200, 06/20/2017
4
87% v6
Eurocom Tornado F5W (Xeon E3-1280 v5, Quadro P5000) Workstation Review
Eurocom Tornado F5W
Eurocom Tornado F5W (Xeon E3-1280 v5, Quadro P5000) Workstation Review
Intel Xeon (Desktop) E3-1280 v5, NVIDIA Quadro P5000, 11/13/2017
5
86% v6
HP ZBook Studio G4 (Xeon, Quadro M1200, DreamColor) Workstation Review
HP ZBook Studio G4-Y6K17EA
HP ZBook Studio G4 (Xeon, Quadro M1200, DreamColor) Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6, NVIDIA Quadro M1200, 10/24/2017
6
86% v6
MSI WS63 7RF (i7-7700HQ, FHD, P3000) Workstation Review
MSI WS63 7RF-290US
MSI WS63 7RF (i7-7700HQ, FHD, P3000) Workstation Review
Intel Core i7 7700HQ, NVIDIA Quadro P3000, 07/10/2017
7
86% v6
MSI WS63VR (i7-7700HQ, 4K, Quadro P4000 Max-Q) Laptop Review
MSI WS63VR 7RL-023US
MSI WS63VR (i7-7700HQ, 4K, Quadro P4000 Max-Q) Laptop Review
Intel Core i7 7700HQ, NVIDIA Quadro P4000 Max-Q, 09/19/2017
8
86% v5.1
Fujitsu Celsius H760 Workstation Review
Fujitsu Celsius H760
Fujitsu Celsius H760 Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5, NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, 10/23/2016
9
86% v6
Fujitsu Celsius H970 (E3-1535M v6, P4000) Workstation Review
Fujitsu Celsius H970
Fujitsu Celsius H970 (E3-1535M v6, P4000) Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1535M v6, NVIDIA Quadro P4000, 07/19/2017
10
85% v6
Dell Precision 5520 (E3-1505M, UHD) Workstation Review
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
Dell Precision 5520 (E3-1505M, UHD) Workstation Review
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6, NVIDIA Quadro M1200, 04/28/2017

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

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Staff (Update: 2017-10- 9)