Computing

The Best Mobile Workstations | Digital Trends


The year 2020 has seen a marked rise in employees who are now working from home. This has made it essential to have a mobile workstation that can keep up with demands. Laptops are replacing the trusty desktop because mobility is becoming essential.

For many, a mobile workstation is intimidating. To help relieve that pressure, we have crafted this guide to help you make the right purchase. We’ll help you get set up and working from any destination.

HP ZBook Fury G7

HP has built some fantastic consumer laptops in recent years and that pedigree extends to the workstation space too. As much as it has a number of solid workstation options though, the ZBook Fury G7 is our favorite of the bunch, with a combination of powerful hardware options, a large display, Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, and manageable weight.

Available in price ranges up to $5,000 with tons of customization options, the Fury G7 sports 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processors and a full 17-inch HD display. Depending on the model you opt for, you can have up to 128GB of memory, Intel HD or Nvidia Quadro graphics with up to 16GB of dedicated GDDR6 video memory, and around 2TB of SSD storage.

All models come with a 94-watt-hour battery, which should be good for a long stretch of time in the right circumstances, and each model weighs in at 6.08 pounds before extras.

The combination of a large battery, powerful internal hardware, and reams of options, make the ZBook Fury G7 a fantastic choice for whatever tasks you’re taking on. It’s not as specific as some other entries on this list, but it’s a mobile workstation that will do anyone proud and the customization options are absolutely top-notch.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 3

Lenovo’s P1 Gen 3 allows you to build several different 17-inch laptop models, from choosing 4K resolution to increasing RAM up to ridiculous levels for highly specialized workstations. Each comes with a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, starting with the i7-10705H on the base model. But our favorite option is the higher-end model decked out with 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a great Nvidia Quadro graphics card. This latest model also includes support for Wi-Fi 6, and the design is great too, featuring a sturdy backlit keyboard.

It’s very obvious that Lenovo intends this model to be a desktop replacement. Designers in particular may be interested in the Pantone color calibration sensor in the palm rest, allowing you to adjust color to precisely where you need them to be. While it starts at around three pounds, more customized models can get a lot heavier, so it does take a bit of effort to lug around. But if you want some customization for a truly powerful laptop companion, the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 3 is a great place to start.

Dell Precision 5520

Dell Precision 5520 review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you need an extremely light mobile workstation, Dell’s Precision 5520 should definitely be on your radar. At under four pounds, this is the lightest laptop on this list, and it’s rather compact, too. The 1080P versions do come with just 56 watt-hour batteries, but the 4K version has a 97 watt-hour version, which in our tests was able to keep the system running for more than five hours.

Options beyond the display resolution include a range of Intel Core processors, with i7 and Xeon CPUs to choose from. You can go up to 32GB of RAM if you need, and there are options for up to a terabyte of PCI Express solid-state storage. The only limiting factor in this workstation’s customization is with the graphics, which are either Intel HD or Nvidia Quadro M1200 only.

Pricing for the Dell Precision 5520 starts at $2,000, and can set you back upwards of $3,700 if you opt for a high-end edition. However, at the time of writing (and regularly otherwise) Dell offers enormous discounts, in some cases as much as 40%, so if you time it right you will be able to snag yourself one of these systems at a comparative bargain price.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 15-inch

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Although not technically classed as a workstation, the Surface Book 3 is one of the most versatile workhorse laptops we have come across in a long time. Its hardware is no way near as impressive as some of the other entries on this list, but with its extremely long battery life and a powerful processor/memory combination, it will perform a variety of intensive tasks for much longer than most.

Starting at $1,500 for the 13.5-inch version and going all the way up to $3,300 for the top of the line 15-inch variant, the Surface Book 3 starts with an upgradeable 10th-gen Intel i5 processor, up to 32GB of memory, up to 2TB of solid-state storage, and the option of an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics chip.

The Surface Book 3 is also incredibly versatile. Its “dynamic fulcrum” hinge means that you can completely detach the screen from the keyboard, giving you an extremely portable tablet as and when required — it weighs in at just 1.7 pounds in tablet mode. The Surface 3, like its predecessor, also has a long-lasting battery that’s good for a day of work.

Razer Blade Pro 17 (2020)

Razer Blade Pro 17 review angle
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

A mobile workstation can totally be enjoyable and look great too. Although the Razer Blade Pro 17 doesn’t truly have the internal hardware to rival many of the other systems included on this list, it’s definitely not a pushover. This system is also much more attractive than the majority. It packages robust consumer-grade hardware into a beautiful shell with features that include keyboard backlighting and a slimline design, which add to its appeal and make it an excellent device to transport from home. It’s an incredibly fantastic option if you enjoy gaming in your free time.

Although there are several distinct varieties, our top pick is the 4K version, which comes with 120Hz display compatibility, 1TB of SSD storage, and an RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU to operate even the most challenging and demanding of games. The model is also accompanied by a 19th-gen Intel Core i7-10875H processor and 16GB of RAM. The RGB keyboard, although anticipated, is also well-designed and pleasant to work with overall.

You will also be pleased to discover that the Razer Blade Pro 17 is outfitted with a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port along with a USB-A 3.2, plus a readily available SD card. The laptop is Wi-Fi 6 ready, too. You have the option to downgrade the screen to save some cash if the resolution isn’t a deal-breaker for you. The truth is, laptop screens don’t always profit much from 4K support anyways.

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