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The 4 Best Workstation Laptops - Winter 2023 Reviews

Best Workstation Laptops

Whether editing videos or creating 3D graphics, a laptop with a fast CPU and GPU goes a long way, as it'll provide a smoother experience and allow you to complete renders or exports faster. To further improve your workflow, you'd want to look for a laptop with a fast SSD and plenty of ports, especially USB-C ports with USB4 or Thunderbolt 4 support. A good keyboard will allow you to work comfortably for long hours, and if you perform color-critical work like video editing, you'd want to look for a model with a screen that can display all the colors in the color space in which you work. Of course, you'd also want to look at quality-of-life things like thermals and fan noise, portability, and battery life. We've put together a few picks below to get you started and help you narrow down your options. The list is short for now, but it'll grow as we review more laptops.

We've tested more than 60 laptops, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best workstation laptops you can buy. You can also see our recommendations for the best laptops, the best business laptops, and the best video editing laptops.

  1. Best Workstation Laptop

    The best workstation laptop we've tested is the MSI WS76 (2021), a premium Windows laptop. You can configure it with an Intel 11th Gen. H-series CPU, an NVIDIA RTX A3000 or A5000 GPU, and up to 64GB of memory and 2TB of storage. There are a few display options, including a 1080p 144Hz panel and a 4k 120Hz panel with full Adobe RGB coverage, so you can choose one that best suits your needs. Its wide port selection includes USB-As, USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, an HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, and a full-size SD card reader.

    Performance-wise, this laptop can easily handle demanding workloads like video editing and 3D CAD, so you get a smooth experience with minimal lag or stutters. Plus, it has certification from various software vendors to ensure that applications run properly, like AutoCAD, Maya, and Solidworks. As for portability, it isn't overly bulky for a 17-inch laptop, but it's a 17-inch laptop nonetheless and is quite heavy. The battery lasts over seven hours if you only perform light tasks, but for intensive workloads, you'll likely get a little over an hour.

    For Mac users, we recommend the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021) or the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021). Both laptops perform almost identically, so it's just a matter of size preference. The downside is that some applications might not have been updated to run on an ARM-based SoC, so you need to check that the software you use works properly on Apple silicon. One thing to know is that Apple has already released the M2 MacBook Pro 14 and 16, which are reportedly 20% faster. They also have some minor upgrades, like the addition of Wi-Fi 6E and HDMI 2.1. If you're shopping now, go with the M2 model unless you can find an M1 model at a heavily discounted price.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Workstation Laptop

    If you find premium workstation laptops like the MSI WS76 (2021) too expensive, check out the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022), a 14-inch gaming laptop. It has a powerful 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU, and you can choose between an AMD Radeon RX 6700S or 6800S GPU, both of which are fast enough for professional workloads. The main difference between a gaming laptop like this and a true mobile workstation is the GPU. Gaming GPUs aren't as well-optimized for professional workloads like CAD, so although this laptop can get the job done, it isn't quite as good as a model with a GPU specifically designed for such tasks.

    As for the user experience, this laptop has a great keyboard that isn't fatiguing over extended periods and a smooth and responsive touchpad. It also sports a 16:10 QHD display with full DCI P3 coverage, making it suitable for color-critical work like video editing. Unfortunately, although it has a wide port selection that includes USB-As, USB-Cs, and an HDMI port, its USB-C ports only support USB 3.2 Gen 2 data transfer speed, which is much slower than USB4 or Thunderbolt 4. Also, you can only get a maximum of 32GB of memory, which might not be enough for workloads with large data sets.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Workstation Laptop

    Our best budget pick is the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021), a gaming laptop. It's available with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H or Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, and there are multiple GPU options, from an entry-level NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 to a powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070. You can get up to 32GB of memory and 1TB of storage, and both are user-replaceable, so you can add more to suit your needs. It also helps if you're short on cash, as you can get a cheaper configuration to start and upgrade later.

    The main compromise with this laptop has to do with the overall build and user experience, or in other words, the overall feel of the device. It's very sturdy; it just doesn't feel or look as premium as the laptops we recommend above. Also, the available displays only have full sRGB coverage, meaning you'll need an external monitor if you work in a wider color space. The port selection is outstanding, but the USB-C ports don't support USB4 or Thunderbolt 4.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap Workstation Laptop

    If you want something cheap to get started, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021) is a great option. Like our budget pick, you can configure this laptop with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H or Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, and there are also various NVIDIA GPU options, from a GeForce GTX 1650 to an RTX 3060. You can only get up to 16GB of memory, but you can add more later as the modules are user-replaceable. As for the display, it's only available with 1080p panels, and even the top-end option only has full sRGB coverage. Another tradeoff is the port selection, as the USB-A port transfers files at USB Gen 3.2 Gen. 1 speed (up to 5Gbps), and the USB-C transfers at USB 3.2 Gen. 2 speed (up to 10Gbps).

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Dell Precision 5570 (2022): The Dell Precision 5570 (2022) is a good alternative to the MSI WS76 (2021) if you want something more portable. However, its port selection is worse, as it only has USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports and an SD card reader, and its GPU options aren't as powerful as the GPUs available on the MSI. It also throttles under load, and its battery doesn't last as long. See our review
  • ASUS ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED (2021): The ASUS ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED (2021) is a good alternative to the MSI WS76 (2021). It has a dial that you can customize to perform various actions or shortcuts so you can make your workflow more efficient. However, it's more expensive, and its battery lasts only a little over five hours of light use. Also, its CPU throttles under load, and its OLED display isn't flicker-free. See our review
  • Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 4 (2021): The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 4 (2021) is a good alternative to the MSI WS76 (2021). The tradeoffs are that it doesn't feel as well built as the MSI, and its CPU throttles under load. See our review
  • HP OMEN 16 (2022): The HP OMEN 16 (2022) is a great alternative to the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) if you prefer an Intel/NVIDIA system or need Thunderbolt 4 support. However, none of the available displays support a wide color gamut, and it isn't as portable. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 27, 2023: Minor text changes to improve clarity. No change in recommendations.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best workstation laptops to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you prefer to make your own decision, here's the list of all of our laptop reviews, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it's best to see the full review for information about other variants.