Mobile workstations are not your ordinary business laptops; they're altogether different beasts due to the parts they use, the after sales services and their retail prices. In other words, they tend to be chunky, expensive and top performers when it comes to sheer speed, regardless of price.
You tend to get expensive professional GPUs (FirePro or Quadro), loads of memory, masses of expansion capabilities, Xeon processors as an option and more often than not, a long warranty.
These portable powerhouses are popular in a number of verticals: CAD/CAM, Geospatial, Oil & Gas and engineering because they allow workers to be flexible on the move, reducing downtime that might be associated with long commutes or intercontinental flights.
A number of recent trends have accelerated this shift. Component manufacturers have shifted their attention away from the desktop to the laptop markets with a laser focus on delivering the best performance per watt.
Some vendors - like MSI - are also using experience acquired in other markets - like gaming - to design and build their mobile workstation portfolios. Then there's also the move to further miniaturise the form factor with a number of models falling in the UItrabook category by virtue of their size and heft.
Dell Inspiron 15-7000
Very few laptops on the market can compete with this model. Dell's Inspiron range is aimed at business and consumers with a definite nudge towards the former. Dare we say, the 7000 series is one that will please almost everyone, including gamers. For the price, you get one with a laptop with an aluminium chassis and a long list of impressive features. As this is not your typical workstation, the laptop comes with Windows 10 Home but can be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for £99.99.
- Dedicated GTX 960M GPU with 4GB RAM
- 16GB Memory
- A true quad-core CPU
- Three-year warranty
HP Zbook 14 G2
HP's mobile workstation ultrabook has already reached its third generation but the last one is still very much a best-in-class especially when it comes to sheer value for money. It is one of the cheapest workstations, on the market, to offer a professional dedicated graphics card and the most affordable business laptop to come with a whopping half-decade warranty. HP opted for a 14-inch diagonal which may well hit a sweet spot for some.
- Five-year warranty
- Dedicated AMD Firepro M4150 GPU
- MIL-STD 810G certification
- Three-year warranty on the battery
- TPM and Fingerprint sensor
HP Zbook Studio G3
HP calls it the perfect combination of brains and beauty and it is kind of hard to disagree. The G3 is essentially a mobile workstation that has been squeezed in an Ultrabook form factor. A 4K monitor adorns it and there's plenty of oomph under the hood. It is actually the only device known to us that comes with a Xeon CPU. Add in extensive ISV certification, a super long warranty and MLD-STD 810G certification and you have a very attractive candidate.
- Intel Xeon processor
- 4K monitor
- A plethora of ports that include two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
- Choice between Windows 7 and Windows 10
- 5-year next business day onsite warranty
Dell Precision 15-7000
The more upmarket version of the Inspiron 15-700 above is the Precision 15-7000, an outrageously fast with an equally outrageous price tag. As expected you get cutting edge components and the type of flexibility in the customisation process that sorely lack to the SOHO-oriented Inspiron range. This is Dell's direct, built-to-order model at its best: From the latest Intel quad-core CPU to a plethora of other high end parts, this is as good as it gets.
- 1TB SSD
- Dedicated Nvidia Quadro M2000M professional GPU
- Quad-core Core i7 CPU
- USB Type-C
- Massive 72Wh battery with quick charging
Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga
Lenovo hails this model as the world's first multi-mode workstation, one that manages to combine power and creativity thanks to a 360-degree hinge that has, to some extent, set the standard when it comes to convertible or 2-in-1 designs. What's more, it is one of the very rare laptops to come with built-in Wacom Active ES pen technology, capable of delivering 2048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity and till recognition.