Best mobile workstations of 2022

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
MacBook Pro 14-inch on a table in an office
(Image credit: Future)

The best mobile workstations offer the kind of power you would only expect to see in robust desktop PCs and the best laptops. But, they are also trimmed down enough to be easily used on the road. As internal components such as GPUs and CPUs have gotten smaller so have the laptops equipped with them. Fortunately, this also applies to these portable workstations which have gotten lighter and thinner while providing more performance than their predecessors.

You can use these portable desktop PC replacements for several applications, thanks to all the power they contain. So, no matter if you need something that can keep up with the best business laptops or do some video editing without breaking a sweat, one of these is more than capable. 

All that power, as well as their reliability, also means that you should get quite a few years of use out of them before having to upgrade, making them an excellent value. And, some of them can go head-to-head with some of the best desktop workstations available.

We tested many mobile workstations to narrow down the best ones for power users. We analyzed their performance, graphics, display, hardware design, and storage, among other things. The workstations we’ve listed are suited for different uses — while some are great for business professionals, others are perfect for content creators and creatives at varying levels. 

We’ve gathered our picks of the best mobile workstations 2022 has to offer here to help you find your next portable. 

Also, check out the best laptops and tablets for drawing and artwork here. 


The best mobile workstations of 2022 in full 

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
Best mobile workstation for creatives

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 Pro 8-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 14-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant performance
+
Best screen on a laptop

Reasons to avoid

-
Screen may be a bit small for some

If power and portability are what you’re looking for, there’s no better choice right now than the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021). It’s more of a creative laptop than a business one. However, if you need a workstation for your creative tasks that you can carry anywhere, its M1 Pro or M1 Mac chip comes with a lot of processing and graphical prowess. That’s while touting a battery life that’ll last you even past your work hours. 

Ports abound, including the returning MagSafe, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, one HDMI port, an SDXC card slot. Not to mention, there's the stunning XDR display with 1600 nits of peak brightness.

This laptop may be overkill for normal users, but it is incredible for video editors, music producers, photographers, and programmers.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)

Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) against a white background

(Image credit: Gigabyte)
Great mobile workstation for creative professionals

Specifications

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M
RAM: 16GB – 64GB
Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous display
+
Abundance of ports

Reasons to avoid

-
Runs hot

One of the most powerful mobile workstations out there, the Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) comes with a lot of power, a gorgeous display, and a whole lotta ports. Best yet, it is priced well below its less-powerful rivals, making it a better proposition even if you have a more flexible budget. It is not by any means perfect. The battery life could use a bit of a boost, for example. But, for how much you are paying and for the other things you are getting in return, it is a minuscule sacrifice.

The Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) boasts exceptional build quality and can run AAA games pretty well too. Not just that, this midrange laptop offers terrific performance when running video editing, graphic design, and 3D rendering apps.

Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)

MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2021) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
Best mobile workstation for professional content creators

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 Pro 10-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 16-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely long battery life
+
Plenty of ports

Reasons to avoid

-
On the bigger side

 No matter what you’re looking for in a computer, the MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2021) can probably handle it. That’s thanks to Apple’s in-house M1 Pro and M1 Max (if you choose to upgrade) that can blaze through any application you can think of. 

The Pro comes with an incredible display that'll eliminate the need to plug into an external monitor, as well as plenty of ports including next-gen Thunderbolt 4 ports. All that performance does come at a price, as even the base model costs a lot. But, considering how powerful this laptop is, it’s worth the price of entry. 

The laptop's also large and heavy, so you'll want to check out the 14-inch MacBook Pro, unless you really need the larger screen and longer battery life. 

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2021)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 against a white background

(Image credit: Lenovo)
Best 2-in-1 mobile workstation

Specifications

CPU: 11th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Xe Plus
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 14-inch, 1920 x 1200p, IPS touchscreen, 400 nit
Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic 16:10 display
+
Excellent battery life especially with its outstanding performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Rather plain design for the price
-
No SD card slot

There are very few laptops that are more powerful than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6. This 2-in-1 workhorse delivers excellent battery life of up to 14 hours, and if you’re going to be working long hours, this is the mobile workstation you’ll want to be working in. 

It also comes with a breathtaking 16:10 display as well as many security add-ons, features business professionals will appreciate. We’re also pretty sure that they’ll appreciate its connectivity ports (two USB Type-A ports, two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-Cs, and HDMI 2.0) and garaged stylus.

The X1 Yoga Gen 6 does lack an SD card slot, making it a bit inconvenient for creatives and photographers. Despite its stunning performance, the laptop has a rather plain design that won't grab any eyeballs.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6

Dell XPS 17 (2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Dell)
A brilliant 17-inch Ultrabook

Specifications

CPU: Up to 10th Generation Intel Core i9-10885H
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 with Max-Q
RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-2933MHz
Screen: 17.0" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 17.0" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit
Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe

Reasons to buy

+
Great screen
+
Long battery life
+
Powerful

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most portable
-
Lack of ports

For a 17-inch laptop, the Dell XPS 17 (2020) is impressively thin and light, especially when you consider the fact that it boasts powerful specs for that top-notch performance that content creators require. It has the new 10th generation Intel processors, Nvidia RTX GPUs, and up to 32GB of RAM: in other words, it's a productivity machine for power users.

Among the best mobile workstations out there, this is practically the whole package, touting a big, gorgeous screen, fantastic battery life that will last you the entire day and a gorgeous design on top of everything else. That’s without even mentioning its mid-range price of entry, giving the MacBook Pro 16-inch a good run for its money.

Despite its sleek and premium design, the laptop is large and lacks portability.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 17 (2020)

HP ZBook Studio G7

(Image credit: HP)
Excellent mobile workstation that's elegant and affordable

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H - Core i9-10885H
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics - NVIDIA Quadro RTX3000 w/Max-Q design (6GB)
RAM: 16 – 32GB
Screen: 15.6" diagonal FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 15.6" diagonal 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) multitouch display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance for the price
+
Sleek design
+
Beautiful display

Reasons to avoid

-
On the heavy side
-
Can run hot

The HP ZBook Studio G7 may have been meant for creative professionals looking to get away from the Macbook Pro. However, its versatility, thanks to all the customizable options when purchasing, makes it ideal for a number of different uses, whether you’re looking for a reasonably priced ultrabook or one that can tackle gaming. 

It can be upgraded to have some serious RAM and storage, up to an Intel i9, as well as an NVIDIA Quadro RTX3000 with Max-Q Design and a beautiful 4K display. And, even in its souped up configuration, it comes in at a decent price especially when compared to similar offerings from Dell or Apple.

This laptop can handle lots of heavy tasks, from graphic design and video editing to AAA gaming. The fan can be a bit loud and the laptop sometimes gets hot when running intensive apps, but overall, it's a sleek and well-built device.

Read the full review: HP ZBook Studio G7 review

Acer ConceptD 7 against an off-white background

(Image credit: Acer)
(opens in new tab)
Best mobile workstation for creatives seeking color accuracy

Specifications

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 – 2080
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Screen: 15.6" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9 IPS
Storage: 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Very powerful
+
Cheaper than MacBook Pro
+
Good selection of ports

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Plain design
-
Not as thin and light as MacBook Pro

For those who think that MacBook Pros are overpriced but still need a powerful mobile workstation, there’s the Acer ConceptD 7. This formidable laptop capable of handling complex and demanding tasks such as 3D rendering, thanks in part to its Nvidia RTX graphics, was designed specifically with creative professionals in mind. 

Beyond the sheer power it delivers, it also offers decent port selection, a minimalist solid white design, and that stunning Pantone-validated 4K IPS display. Obviously, it’s still pretty pricey, but if you’re looking for a Windows-powered MacBook alternative for video and photo editing, it’s a great option.

The Acer ConceptD 7 is quite a stylish laptop and with Nvidia's RTX graphics, you can run AAA games on it too. But with support for Adobe GB and Delta E<2 color gamut, this laptop is not designed for normal users or gamers. Rather, it's perfect for those who need color accuracy, like photographers and video editors. 

Read the full review: Acer ConceptD 7

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
Best mobile workstation for portability and power

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Huge battery life
+
Great performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Still lacks ports

Thanks to the powerful M1 chip, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) boasts a major upgrade in power and battery life. It delivers the kind of performance and battery life that business professionals need and deserve. 

Its performance is so impressive, in fact, that it can easily handle 4K - and even 8K - videos. That’s while keeping the same sleek, compact, and lightweight chassis that creative pros want. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that keeps things smart and classy, you’ve got a winner here.

The MacBook Pro 13-inch isn't the latest laptop from Apple, but it has an impressive interior and a decent price tag too. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are equipped with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips which are ideal for content creators, but for regular users, the 13-inch MacBook Pro will suffice.  

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme mobile workstation against a white background

(Image credit: Lenovo)
Best mobile workstation for corporate use

Specifications

CPU: up to 8th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with Max-Q
RAM: up to 64GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare – 15.6-inch 4K UHD HDR (3840 x 2160) IPS multi-touch, anti-reflective
Storage: Up to 1 TB PCIe SSD x 2
Connectivity: up to Intel Dual Band 9560 Wireless AC (2 x 2) with vPro + Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: 720p HD with ThinkShutter privacy cover with Infrared Camera

Reasons to buy

+
So much power
+
Glorious 4K screen
+
Great user experience

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Expensive
-
Battery life could be better

Do you have a lot of cash to spare and require a powerful mobile workstation? Look no further than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme mobile workstation, whose impressive specs are only the beginning. 

You’ll also appreciate working with that bright and crisp 15.6-inch screen, especially if you’re getting the 4K version, as well as all that storage space if you go all out. Though, fair warning, this isn’t exactly the lightest laptop you’ll lug around, so investing in a sturdy backpack with padded straps is ideal for stowing it in.

Although the interior of the laptop is packed with powerful, high-quality technology, the laptop's exterior is almost the same as the previous ThinkPad models. Although this may not appeal to users who want a more aesthetic-looking laptop, it's quite apt for the corporate market and working environments. 

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme mobile workstation

Lenovo ThinkPad T460s against a white background

(Image credit: Lenovo)
(opens in new tab)
Good mobile workstation for general use

Specifications

CPU: Dual-core 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB SSD
Screen: 14-in IPS display (1,920 x 1,080 pixels)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent build and ergonomics
+
Thin and light

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow processor
-
Relatively screen quality

The ThinkPad T-series is a no-nonsense design with a focus on robustness over style. Even so, the T460s (opens in new tab)' 18.8mm thickness is within 1mm of the MacBook, and it's actually lighter at 1.4kg. It's not as powerful as some of the workstation laptops in this list, but it's not as expensive either, which makes it a great choice if you're looking for an accomplished workstation laptop for less hardcore workloads, while also keeping to a budget.

The laptop lacks the aesthetic charm that some of the other workstations have, but it offers excellent connectivity options — 3 USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI, SD Card reader, Mini DisplayPort, and a smart card reader too. Not to mention, the T460s boasts an impressive 14-hour battery life, enough to power you through a day or two at work.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad T460s

MSI WS66 Laptop

(Image credit: MSI)
Great mobile workstation for swift graphics performance

Specifications

CPU: Core i9-11900H
RAM: 64GB DDR4
Storage: Phison 1TB SM2801T24GKBB4S-E162 NVMe SSD
Screen: 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080), Finger Touch panel

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance
+
Latest Intel silicon

Reasons to avoid

-
Constant fan noise

The new WS66 is a revamp of a previous MSI mobile workstation design that now exploits an Intel 11th Gen processor and a mobile version of the Nvidia GeForce RTX A5000 GPU. Anyone paying the high cost of this hardware should expect performance, and for the most part, that’s what they get. 

Designed for graphical or compute based problems, the WS66 is comparable with mid-level desktop workstations in many respects. But, it offers a high degree of portability for those not put off by lugging a 2.1Kg machine around.

A 99Whr battery will allow the WS66 to function on battery power for a few hours when needed. But the reality of this hardware is that it needs main power for prolonged use, and building a desktop workstation with better performance would cost much less. And, in our testing, fan noise was a constant annoyance.

Read the full review: MSI WS66

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How do I choose a workstation PC? 

  • TechRadarPro Q&A with Anu Herranen, Director of New Product Introduction, Advanced Compute and Solutions at HP Inc (opens in new tab).

There are a couple of basic questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a workstation. The first is simply to think about the work you need it to support. Do you need fantastic graphics performance, or to analyze huge data sets in hours, rather than days? Do you need to be able to do a range of tasks concurrently? Which applications or operating system are you relying on?

The next step is to think more broadly about how and where you will use your workstation. Are you always in the field, therefore need a lightweight device, combined with great battery life? Or like so many of us today, do you need something that you can use at home, but doesn’t take up much space so you’re able to hide it away when not working? What audio experience do you need? Do you need to be able to work collaboratively?

Reliability is another key factor in choosing a workstation PC. Imagine that you are in a hospital environment analyzing CT scans: your computer needs to run 24/7 all year round and must never fail. Likewise, a NASA astronaut in a space station cannot ever take the risk of having their computer fail due to system crashes, component breakdowns and sluggish performance.

Some have undergone hundreds of thousands of hours of extensive testing under extreme conditions, where frequency, voltage and temperature are varied in such a way that it goes beyond what one could call normal operating conditions.

The best mobile workstations: how we test

We evaluated various aspects of different laptops to arrive at the best mobile workstations. Performance is essential, so we looked at how the workstations run different types of applications — from graphics-heavy programs to large data sets. 

We analyzed numerous specs, like CPU, RAM, graphics, and storage, to determine what kinds of users the workstation would be best suited for. We considered how many connectivity ports the workstation had, whether the fan was noisy, and if the laptop would get hot with prolonged use. 

Another key area we assessed was the laptop’s portability and battery life. We looked at the size, weight, and design of the workstations and included laptops of varying builds in our list.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.