Mobile workstations are usually the best option for engineers and professional power users. However, their price tag can make it difficult whether to get a workstation laptop or a consumer grade laptop. In this short guide we will discuss some of the advantages and drawbacks of workstation laptops, and if you’re an engineer, we have also compiled a list of some of the best workstation laptop for engineers. So keep reading!

What is a mobile workstation laptop?

A mobile workstation is a specific type of laptops designed for professional users, and intended to provide high end computing features, that are usually only performed on desktops. This means that a mobile workstation has more powerful components, in comparison to a regular laptop. High-end components include faster graphics cards, more powerful CPUs, lots of RAM memory, and faster storage. And because of the extra features, mobile workstations are often heavier and bigger than traditional laptops.

Who needs a mobile workstation?

Mobile workstations are not meant for all costumers. These machines are usually most suitable for professionals who need a huge amount of power, but still need a portable machine. If you are someone who starts to work at the office, then steps out to meet a client, and must get back in the office again afterwards to finish working, then a workstation would save you from all that hassle. Mobile Workstations are designed to handle demanding professional grade programs such as 3D modelling software, CAD software, video editing, and scientific computing.

If you are an engineer, an architect or a 3D designer looking to streamline your work process, then you might consider getting a workstation laptop.

However, workstation laptops are considerably more expensive compared to ultrabooks and gaming laptops that can provide almost the same processing power. For example, a high end Dell Workstation laptop can cost several thousand dollars, and if you’re on a budget, you’re probably going to ask yourself whether a mobile workstation is still worth it.

Are mobile workstations still worth it?

To be honest, there is no definitive answer to this question. Because it depends on your specific needs, and also your budget. The truth is, a lot of gaming laptops and premium ultrabooks can provide the same performance you can get from a workstation laptop, for far less price. At a similar price range, you might get even better performance from a gaming laptop. However, that might not be true to everyone; and if you’re here, I guess that you’ve already done some research about Mobile Workstations and the advantages they provide over gaming laptops, especially for engineers and professional users.

Mobile Workstation often offer come with graphics chipsets that are tailored to 3D work, and offer higher specification processors (such as Xeon processors). And because Workstation are mainly designed for businesses, their components are selected for speed and reliability, and they are not built down to a price, like mainstream laptops. For example, most Workstation laptops come with Nvidia Quadro or AMD FirePro graphics cards, which are optimized for professional software. Workstations also have faster processors, which can be better when using programs that need a high clock speed, such as Autodesk.

This doesn’t mean that you can get a good performance from a gaming laptop. If you’re on a budget, and if you’re going to use your laptop mainly at home, then you can consider getting a gaming laptop, especially if you’re going to work with Autodesk software. However, if you’re a professional, and need a laptop that you can bring to the office, then a mobile Workstation is the best option. Not only are these machines more reliable, but they are usually officially supported by software publishers, which can be very important for business users.

To make the best decision, it is recommended to make a list of all the programs that you’ll need to use. Some programs do not use the graphics cards to their fullest, while others  can only use a single CPU core most of the time (such as CAD software). Some programs also require lots of RAM in order to run properly. If you’re an engineer, here are a few tips on how to choose the best mobile workstation for you.

What to Consider when choosing a mobile workstation for engineers:

Choosing which workstation to buy is not an easy task. Even if the options on the market are not that many, you should still choose carefully, since this purchase would be an investment for your career.

Initially, you should assess your personal and professional requirements. Evaluate what you prioritize the most and how much power you need on this portable device. For instance: would you use only this laptop to work, or would this be your secondary device? Similarly, visualize how you’d transport it, and then decide accordingly regarding its size and weight.

With those assessments out of the way, let’s analyze what are the most common technical requirements and what you need to keep an eye out for.

  • The Processor

The processor is one of the main components to consider when buying a mobile workstation. Most workstation laptops come with Intel i7 processors, or even Intel Xeon processors. And it all depends on your specific needs, and the software you’re intending to use. For example, some programs are only able to use a single core and thus will perform better if the processor has a higher clock speed. This is actually true for a lot of programs used by engineers, such as Autocad. But there are other programs that can benefit from multiple cores.

  • RAM

For a Mobile Workstation, don’t go anywhere below 16GB of RAM. Some programs may also require even more RAM to run properly, especially if you’re working with complex 3D modelling projects. Most workstations processors are also able to support enterprise management and ECC RAM. Those are functions will prevent errors in data when this one is being read and written into memory.

  • The Graphics Card

Both NVIDIA and AMD offer workstation versions of their consumer cards. The NVIDIA Quadro series was designed especially for professional workflows, as well as the AMD Radeon Pro. NVIDIA’s Quadro cards offer extra memory and processing capabilities; but one of its  main advantages for engineers, designers and architects is the level of compatibility it provides with professional applications. To read more about Quadro cards and how they differ from Geforce cards, you can check this good article.

  • The Build quality

Considering the price tag of these machines, reliability and build quality should not be overlooked. Most mobile workstations are durable and sturdy, but it’s always a good thing to check for you self, and read the reviews online before making an investment. You can also check if you can benefit from good warranty and support services.

Best Mobile Workstations for Engineers:

So, now that you have an idea what to look for when buying a new workstation laptop; let’s check some of the best mobile workstations for engineers we selected for you. We will add more laptops to the list soon!

Lenovo ThinkPad P52s

First on our list, the Lenovo ThinkPad P52s is a relatively affordable mobile workstation that offers great value for the money. With an 8th Gen Intel Quad-Core i7 processor (1.8 GHz up to 4.0 GHz), 32 GB of RAM, a 1 TB SSD and an NVIDIA Quadro P500 graphics card with 2GB of memory, this laptop is one of the best mobile workstations for engineers under $2000. The ThinkPad P52s workstation is designed to prioritize portability, while still managing to be lighting fast. This laptop will fit those looking for an easy to carry device, that comes with lots of RAM fro multitasking. The 8th gen i7-8550U processor is capable of handling demanding programs such as Autodesk or Solidworks, as long as the projects are not too complex. And After all the “S” in this laptop’s name means that this version has a low powered processor, but offers better battery life compared to the normal P52.

This laptop also has a 15.6-inch Full HD Display, which is also IPS. There is also plenty of connectivity option, including one Thunderbolt 3 port, one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, one HDMI port, a combo jack and a media card reader.

Another great feature about the P52s is the battery life. This laptop can easily give a solid 8 hours of use; and the battery is also removable. In fact, The P52S comes with a dual battery setup, a 32wh internal battery, and a 24wh removable one. You also get a 48wh or a 72wh battery if you like, and that will bring the battery life up to 18 hours!

Processor Intel Core i7-8550U Processor
RAM 32GB
Storage 1TB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, NVIDIA Quadro P500
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1- USB 3.1 port Type C

1-Thunderbolt 3

2- USB 3.0 port

1 – HDMI port, Ethernet, Lenovo’s Docking connection

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1,

Battery up to 8 hours battery life

 

HP ZBook 15v G5

Our second option is from HP, the HP ZBook 15v G5. This mobile workstation comes with an Intel i7-8750H processor,  16 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD and a 4 GB NVIDIA Quadro P600 graphics card. The i7-8750H is a powerful hexacore processor, that has a base clock speed of 2.20 GHz, and can go up to 4.10GHz when needed. If you’re going to work with CPU intensive software, then consider the ZBook 15v G5.

Even if the RAM and the storage space could be better, the ZBook still manages to be fast enough overall for most professional users, and if you need more RAM or Storage, there are other customized versions as well. The build quality is also very good, and the laptop feels sturdy and durable.

With a 15.6-inch full HD vivid display,  The ZBook G5 is also good for graphic tasks such as photo or video editing. There is also a good amount of ports,  including one Thunderbolt port, three USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, one HDMI port, a combo audio jack and one SD card reader slot.

 

Processor Intel Core i7-8750H Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, NVIDIA Quadro P600
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1- USB 3.1 port Type C

1-Thunderbolt 3

3- USB 3.0 port

1 – HDMI port, Ethernet,

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1,

Battery up to 8 hours battery life

 

MSI WS65 8TK-888

MSI is famous for its gaming laptops, but they also offer extremely powerful mobile workstations for professional users; such as the MSI WS65 8TK-888 featured here. Despite its relatively high price, the MSI WS65 8TK-888 actually offers good value:  An Intel Core i7-8850H (2.6 GHz up to 4.3 GHz), 32 GB of RAM, one 1 TB SSD and an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 with 6GB GDDR5. The MSI WS65 8TK-888 is one of the best laptops for 3D modelling, rendering, and for performing any task that requires a powerful GPU.

The MSI WS65 8TK-888 doesn’t sacrifice the looks either; it comes in a 0,7 inch chassis, and with the gold trims around the edges, MSI manages to make this mobile workstation feel premium, while maintaining that professional feel.

There is also a good amount of ports, including 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 3.1 Type C with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI and Mini Display port, and Ethernet. Battery life is also good, with a maximum of 8 hours.

Processor Intel Core i7-8850H Processor
RAM 32GB
Storage 512GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1- USB 3.1 port Type C // Thunderbolt 3

3- USB 3.0 port

1 – HDMI port, Ethernet, MiniDisplay Port

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1,

Battery up to 8 hours battery life

Dell Precision 5530 Mobile Workstation

Dell makes some of the best mobile workstations for Engineers out there, and the Dell Precision 5530 is one of them. This laptop comes with an Intel Core i7-8850H hexacore processor, 32 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD and a dedicated 4 GB NVIDIA Quadro P1000 graphics card.

With a thin and light premium-built body, this laptop has one of the best-looking designs on the list, betting high on looks and portability. However, the specifications don’t improve on its contender’s, but will get the job done for those who prioritize appearance over power.

The machine has a 15.6-inch display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, and offers excellent picture quality; with 100% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB . It also has a memory card reader, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, an HDMI port and a Thunderbolt 3 port. The battery can last up to 14 hours of usage.

Processor Intel Core i7-8850H Processor
RAM 32GB
Storage 512GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, NVIDIA Quadro P1000
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1- USB 3.1 port Type C //Thunderbolt 3

2- USB 3.1 port

1 – HDMI port,

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1,

Battery up to 14 hours battery life

MSI WS75 9TK-498

Last but not the least, we have the MSI WS75 9TK-498, a 17 inch mobile workstation that packs lots of power. Although its price exceeds the 3000 dollars mark, this mobile workstation has a lot to offer under the hood: An Intel Core i9-9880H (2.3 GHz up to 4.8 GHz), 32 GB of RAM, one 1 TB SSD and an Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 with 6GB of GDDR5. The MSI WS75 9TK-498 is not only one of the best mobile workstations for engineers, but it’s also a great option for designers and architects.

Even if this laptop doesn’t prioritize looks, its thrilling amount of power will astonish you and certainly improve your workflow.

The screen is a huge 17.3-inch display, but the resolution stays flat on 1920 x 1080 pixels. This MSI workstation does get even better, since it has three USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, one Mini DisplayPort, one HDMI port and one USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port. The battery has a maximum run time of 8 hours.

Processor Intel Core i9-9880H Processor
RAM 32GB
Storage 1TB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000
Screen 17,3 inch, 1920X1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1- USB 3.1 port Type C

1-Thunderbolt 3

3- USB 3.0 port

1 – HDMI port, Ethernet,

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1,

Battery up to 6 hours battery life

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