2018 Guide: The Best Mobile Workstations


Lenovo ThinkPad P70

The maximum challenging, hardcore customers want essentially the most tough laptops in the world. You most probably agree. You most probably suppose we are speaking about avid gamers and gaming laptops.

Actually, we are speaking about paintings, no longer play: programs like computer-aided design (CAD), structure, engineering, video modifying and submit manufacturing, three-D rendering and animation, digital fact, and oil and fuel exploration. The machines that take those jobs to task websites or convention rooms are cell workstations—laptops within the best echelon of each CPU and GPU energy to crunch thru massive datasets and boost up ultra-complex graphics.

Mobile workstations proudly put on their very own manufacturers, similar to HP’s ZBook and Dell’s Precision households. (Lenovo’s entries lift their very own letter underneath the corporate’s greater logo—the ThinkPad P sequence.) They may also be breathtakingly pricey, however will pay for themselves temporarily as their customers worth the time they save. They’re constructed for reliability, able to working flat out 24/7. And they are huge overkill for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—cell workstations don’t seem to be about spreadsheet recalculations that will take maximum notebooks a few seconds, however CGI results that will take maximum notebooks perpetually.

Lenovo ThinkPad P51

Table stakes for cell workstation distributors are ISV certifications. The acronym stands for Independent Software Vendors—specialised instrument firms like Adobe, Autodesk, Avid, PTC, Siemens PLMS, and Dassault Systemes, who paintings with the PC makers to be sure that a given workstation and its graphics adapter, drivers, and different parts are optimized for his or her apps. If you utilize a specific program for your task, similar to Dassault’s SolidWorks, search for the correct certification sooner than purchasing a machine.

Is a cell workstation best for you? Frankly, for many pc customers, the solution isn’t any. But in the event you paintings in some of the skilled fields discussed above—or in case your task comes to looking forward to calculations or graphics processing that takes your present pocket book many mins or hours—you’ll be able to justify the expense and sign up for the elite. Before we get to a few of our favourite contemporary evaluations, let’s take a look at some basic parts and possible choices you can face as you store for a cell workstation.


The rule of thumb here’s to shop for the entire processing energy you’ll be able to manage to pay for. Taking Intel’s CPU line for instance, whilst various excellent gaming laptops, so long as they’ve a quick graphics card, could make do with a Core i5, cell workstation customers must head directly for a Core i7 or perhaps a Xeon, with as many cores and threads as are to be had.

HP ZBook 15 G4

A couple of entry-level machines, supposed extra for appearing completed renderings to shoppers or the boss moderately than generating the renderings themselves, characteristic dual-core processors. But maximum cell workstations depend on beefy quad-core CPUs, teamed with various reminiscence—16GB is a minimal, with 32GB no longer unusual and 64GB a well-liked ceiling.

Some Xeon-based techniques make stronger server-style error correcting code (ECC) reminiscence, which will stumble on and attach single-bit reminiscence mistakes. ECC DRAM is a mainstay in programs similar to monetary or medical computing the place even the slightest inside information corruption can’t be approved, however is outdoor the mainstream for many ISV apps.

GPU & Display

As with gaming laptops, all however a handful of cell workstations draw at the pace and energy of a devoted or discrete graphics adapter moderately than the built-in graphics constructed into the CPU. Nvidia’s skilled cell graphics are discovered underneath the Quadro logo, simply as AMD’s are referred to as Radeon Pro (previously HearthPro).

Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga

The Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga is an outlier: a 2-in-1 convertible with a Wacom pen for drawing.

Though constructed to optimize other operations, cell workstation GPUs give not anything away to client or gaming GPUs like Nvidia’s GeForce line. In reality, Nvidia’s skilled cell flagship at this writing, the VR-ready Quadro P5000, has extra show reminiscence (16GB as opposed to 12GB) than the corporate’s best desktop gaming card, the Titan Xp.

A few cell workstations that emphasize gentle weight and portability have 14-inch displays, however maximum measure both 15.6 or 17.3 inches diagonally. Some distributors be offering each full-sized and skinny and light-weight 15.6-inch fashions (the Lenovo ThinkPad P51 as opposed to P51s, for instance, or HP ZBook 15 G4 as opposed to ZBook Studio), the latter buying and selling expandability for simple delivery. Full HD or 1080p (1,920×1,080) decision is a minimal, with 4K (3,840×2,160) decision a well-liked selection for graphics or animation paintings with room for on-screen toolbars and menus—or for 4K video modifying.

HP ZBook 17 G4

Color control—ensuring that what you spot on display precisely suits a completed product—is vital for a high-end cell workstation. Screens similar to HP’s factory-calibrated DreamColor shows include instrument that allows you to make a selection the Internet’s sRGB, print’s Adobe RGB, or cinema’s DCI P3 palettes or colour areas. Some Lenovo techniques pass additional by means of having Pantone colour calibrators on board: You make a selection a white level (in most cases D65 for pictures or D50 for prepress and graphic design) and gamma (tone reaction) worth, then shut the lid, which places the display in opposition to a palm-rest sensor. A couple of seconds later, an audible tone signifies that the calibrator has executed its paintings.

Storage & Extras

Mobile workstation homeowners paintings with huge information information, so cell workstations want abundant garage. That in most cases approach one or two M.2 solid-state drives teamed with one or two arduous drives, totaling up to 3TB or 4TB (no less than for greater 17.3-inch fashions).

Dell Precision 5510

For nonetheless extra garage capability, we at Computer Shopper do not believe a workstation worthy of the identify until it has no less than one Thunderbolt 3 port for high-speed connection to exterior drives and RAID arrays, in addition to unmarried or more than one high-resolution shows. If Thunderbolt 3’s daisy-chaining connectivity is simply too difficult for you, a rising collection of desktop docking stations use the generation to offer one-plug get admission to to ports aplenty.

Finally, take into accout of the contact pad situated within the palm relaxation south of the distance bar. Many CAD and different workstation apps use 3 mouse buttons, so it is value checking to peer whether or not a machine has a center button as a substitute of handiest the standard two.