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Best mobile workstations 2021: the most powerful laptops for businesses

Raw power meets portability with the best mobile workstations. These powerful laptops deliver desktop PC -level performance while keeping t...

Raw power meets portability with the best mobile workstations. These powerful laptops deliver desktop PC-level performance while keeping things relatively compact and portable. Thanks to the advancements manufacturers have made in components, processors and graphics cards are getting smaller and slimmer, making mobile workstations not just more readily available, but also better and thinner than ever.

On top of being the best business laptops, the best mobile workstations are also capable of handling intensive tasks such as video editing and rendering. Solid, reliable and powerful, they’re also typically futureproofed so you’ll get a few years out of them, giving you your money’s worth. In fact, some of them can rival some of the best desktop workstation.

Here are our top picks of the best mobile workstations. You’ll find a few great choices here, no matter your needs or budget. 

And, with Prime Day 2021 coming soon, you might find some of the best mobile workstations on this list to be cheaper than ever thanks to the Prime Day deals. We’re keeping an eye out for the most money-saving ones and sharing them with you, so remember to check in regularly from now until June 22. 

Best mobile workstations at a glance

  1. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
  2. Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)
  3. Razer Blade Studio Edition
  4. HP ZBook 17 G3
  5. Acer ConceptD 7
  6. HP Spectre Pro 13 G1
  7. Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga
  8. Dell Precision 7720
  9. Lenovo ThinkPad T460s

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Apple)
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1. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The best Apple mobile workstation

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 | Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD

Stunning 16-inch screen
New and improved keyboard
Expensive
Limited to four Thunderbolt 3 ports

As thin, light and sleek as ever, the MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) doesn’t actually feel like a 16-inch behemoth.This laptop will feel just as compact as the 15-inch MacBook Pros that preceded it and perhaps more than any other 16-inch laptops out there. Though it is a behemoth when it comes to power. Touting a 9th-generation Intel Core processor and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M graphics card, as well as up to 64GB of memory, there’s nothing this mobile workstation can't do. And, without a doubt, it will get through all your intensive workflow without breaking a sweat. If that isn’t enough, it also has incredible speakers for all your entertainment needs, and a much improved keyboard so you can type all day without fatiguing.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

2. Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)

A creative professional's dream

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

Gorgeous display
Abundance of ports
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’s priced well below its less-powerful rivals, making it a better proposition even if you have a more flexible budget. It isn’t by any means perfect. The battery life could use a bit of a boost, for example. But, for how much you’re paying and for the other things you’re getting in return, it’s a minuscule sacrifice.

Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)

Dell XPS 17 (2020)

(Image credit: Dell)

3. Dell XPS 17 (2020)

A brilliant 17-inch Ultrabook

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

Great screen
Long battery life
Powerful
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. 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.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 17 (2020)

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition was designed with photographers, video editors and even game designers in mind. (Image credit: Razer)

4. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

A seriously powerful pro laptop

CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q – NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 Studio Edition | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 15.6" OLED 4K Touch 60Hz, factory calibrated | Storage: 1TB SSD

Powerful
Beautiful screen
Expensive

While the regular Razer Blade laptop is famously a gaming laptop – one of the best, in fact, Razer has taken its sheer power and turned the whole thing into one of the best mobile workstations for creatives. There’s zero doubt that this laptop was designed with photographers, video editors and even game designers in mind, as it rocks powerful graphics cards and a gorgeous, factory-calibrated 4K display. Not unlike its gaming counterpart, you’ll be paying a pretty penny, especially for its souped up configuration with the Quadro RTX 5000 graphics card. However, if a fast and seamless workflow is of utmost importance in your day to day, this laptop certainly pays for itself.

Read the full review: Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

HP Envy 15 (2020)

(Image credit: HP)

5. HP Envy 15 (2020)

Elegance and affordability meet

CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H - Core i9-10885H | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics - GeForce RTX 2060 w/Max-Q design (6 GB) | 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

Great performance for the price
Sleek design
Beautiful 4K display
On the heavy side
Can run hot

The HP Envy 15 (2020) 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 GeForce RTX 2060 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.

Read the full review: HP Envy 15 (2020) review

Acer ConceptD 7

(Image credit: Acer)

6. Acer ConceptD 7

A mobile workstation for creatives

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

Very powerful
Cheaper than MacBook Pro
Good selection of ports
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 that 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.

Read the full review: Acer ConceptD 7 

HP EliteBook x360 1040

(Image credit: HP)

7. HP EliteBook x360 1040

Better than ever before

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 14-inch diagonal BrightView LED FHD (1920x1080) – UHD (3840x2160) | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD

Nifty design and stylus
Great performance
Blisteringly fast SSD
Plenty of ports
Battery life disappointing
Expensive
Uneven anti-glare display

We dubbed the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 as the “apex predator of the business world” in our review because, well, it is. It boasts many excellent features in its handsome-looking chassis, as well as plenty of ports to go around, including a port that works wonders and impressively audio. Simply, this HP laptop is an ideal match for the professional who demands seamlessness and power at work. It’s not the perfect machine, but it’s got plenty of features that make up for its flaws, making it among the best mobile workstations on the market.

Read the full review: HP EliteBook x360 1040

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme mobile workstation

(Image credit: Lenovo)

8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme mobile workstation

With great power comes a massive price tag

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

So much power
Glorious 4K screen
Great user experience
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.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme mobile workstation

Lenovo ThinkPad T460s

Lenovo ThinkPad T460s is a great choice if you're looking for an accomplished and affordable workstation laptop. (Image credit: Lenovo)

9. Lenovo ThinkPad T460s

A good general purpose workstation

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)

Excellent build and ergonomics
Thin and light
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' 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.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad T460s


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.

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.



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