The 2 Best Workstation Laptops of 2021

These devices are designed to deliver powerful performance

The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
Introduction

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The Rundown
A well-rounded machine that’s slim and portable enough to take anywhere.
Has a surprisingly slim and sleek design that belies the power that’s packed in under the hood.
in this article

The best workstation laptops come close to giving you a desktop experience in terms of productivity and battery life, but still retaining the portability of a laptop form factor. The ideal workstation laptop should have specs that can handle all your office needs, like word processing, spreadsheeting, PowerPoint presentations, and photo and video editing. Reputable workhorse brands include Apple, Dell, Lenovo, and HP, all of which are manufacturers with great warranty support for offices. You can also customize configurations to give you the specs you need to get the job done.

For a broader look at laptop options, take a look at our roundup of the best laptops. Otherwise, read on to see the best workstation laptops to get.

Best Overall: Lenovo ThinkPad P1

Lenovo ThinkPad P1

Lenovo’s ThinkPad lineup offers arguably the leanest and most attractive “executive” look among Windows-based laptops, and the company’s P-series mobile workstations offer power to spare. Among these, the P1 leads the pack, offering a well-rounded machine that’s slim and portable enough to take anywhere, and super-light by workstation laptop standards, while packing the power of a six-core 2.7GHz / 4.4GHz Intel Xeon E-2176M and Quadro P2000 graphics card under the hood. The 32GB of RAM will give you more than enough headroom for demanding creative applications, while the 14 hours of battery life is enough to last an entire workday. And the 1TB SSD means everything will load fast.

The P1, of course, features the same popular keyboard design as the rest of Lenovo’s ThinkPad lineup; it’s stable with a comfortable typing experience and includes both a trackpad and pointing stick for mouse control. Despite the slim and portable size, the P1 offers a decent array of connectivity options here as well. There's Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, two Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports, two traditional USB-A ports, as well as a media card slot that supports the whole range of SD card formats.

At just under four pounds, it’s heavier than Lenovo’s X-series business laptops, but with great power comes extra weight.

Best MSI: MSI WS65 9TK-687

MSI WS65 9TK-687

MSI is better known for its gaming laptops, but the company also has a line of mobile workstations in the form of its “WS” series. Some have suggested these are just rebranded gaming machines, and there’s no doubt that the WS65 bears a lot of similarities to MSI’s GS65, but there’s still more here than just a name change.

For one, MSI is using the more workstation-appropriate NVIDIA Quadro GPU, in this case, the RTX 3000, alongside a ninth-generation Intel Core i9-9880H. What this means is that it includes eight cores and Intel’s newest Coffee Lake HR architecture. There’s also 32GB of memory, an 82-hour battery life, and the impressive 1TB SSD of memory. 

In fact, it feels like MSI is trying to emulate Apple in other ways here as well, with a surprisingly slim and sleek design that belies the power that’s packed in under the hood. Unfortunately, this is where the similarities end, as MSI’s done little to improve the somewhat flimsier build quality that its GS series laptops are known for.

Port-wise, the WS65 has a slightly more interesting arrangement, with only a single USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, accompanied by three USB-A ports, one HDMI and one mini DisplayPort, audio input and output ports, and a wired Ethernet connection. All of the latest wireless specs are also supported here, including 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0. 

FAQs

What is a workstation laptop?
A workstation laptop has several features that make it capable of handling productivity tasks. It usually has a powerful multi-core processor, SSD storage, a discrete GPU rather than integrated (for video and photo editing and graphic programs), and enough RAM to handle multitasking. Put simply, a workstation laptop is a high-performance laptop that can handle demanding programs.

How to set up an ergonomic workstation with a laptop?
If you want to have an ergonomic workstation despite having a laptop, there are many options to improve your comfort. If you get a USB-C hub, you can get many additional ports to plug in accessories and additional monitors to your laptop. Then you can add a keyboard and mouse to your laptop workstation, allowing you to sit further back from it. Additional accessories you may consider are a wrist rest, mousepad, better office chair, a standing desk, and standing desk mat.

Can I use a gaming laptop as a workstation?
A gaming laptop can tick most of the boxes for what makes a good workstation laptop. Gaming laptops tend to have high-end multi-core processors, SSD storage, and better GPUs than standard laptops. On top of that, you also get a high resolution, high refresh screen, and plenty of RAM. In theory, there's nothing a gaming laptop is missing to allow it to function as a workstation laptop. That said, if you're planning to take the laptop into the office, not all gaming laptops may look professional enough for the workplace.

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