The best workstation laptops are designed to deliver a computing experience approaching desktop levels while remaining mobile enough to work practically anywhere. Creators, designers, developers, engineers, scientists, and many other professionals use these laptops for heavy tasks in specialized software; they’re built to accommodate the need for high-end processor (CPU) and graphics card (GPU) performance, as well as color-accurate and high-resolution displays. Many even come with Independent Software Vendor (ISV) certifications, proving that the laptops can optimally run the most popular and demanding industry apps. Let’s take a look at the best workstation laptops out there today to help you get the right hardware for the job.
Our favorite workstation laptops in 2023
Lenovo ThinkPad P16 Gen 2
The right setup for many people
$1855 $3200 Save $1345
The ThinkPad P16 (Gen 2) continues the tradition of the P15 and P17 workstations, coming at you with monster performance, OLED display, perfect keyboard, and many high-end features.
- High-end performance for specialized work
- Gorgeous 16-inch display options
- Excellent keyboard
- Optional 4G LTE connectivity
- No Ethernet port
- Some might prefer a laptop without TrackPoint
Lenovo’s second-gen ThinkPad P16 is a refresh of one of the best Lenovo laptops out there in terms of workstations. It’s a mix of the older (and discontinued) ThinkPad P15 and P17 laptops, with Lenovo taking some of the best parts of both PCs to create this 16-inch powerhouse. Under the hood it’s available with Intel’s 13th Gen Core HX-series processors, topping out at a Core i9-13980HX with 24 cores and 32 threads. It’s joined by up to 128GB of DDR5 RAM, up to 8TB of M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD storage spread out over two M.2 slots, and up to a Nvidia RTX 5000 Ada Laptop GPU.
When I reviewed the ThinkPad P16 (Gen 1), I noted that the laptop can almost deliver desktop-class performance, and it does it while remaining unthrottled by heat. That remains true here, with more efficient CPUs and largely the same cooling system.
Lenovo ThinkPad P16 (Gen 1)
There are four displays to work with, starting at an FHD+ resolution and extending up to a UHD+ resolution with OLED panel, touch functionality, anti-reflective finish, Dolby Vision, HDR 500 True Black, 100% DCI-P3 color, and X-Rite Pantone color calibration. The OLED screen is even compatible with Lenovo’s Precision Pen 2 should you want to jot down some notes or make some sketches. The laptop includes ISV certifications for many popular programs, ensuring it works right out of the box.
As usual, it’s built into a resilient ThinkPad chassis with MIL-STD-810H durability certification. The keyboard is as good as it gets, there are plenty of ports to work with, and you can even add 4G LTE connectivity if you need to stay connected outside of Wi-Fi range. Other than a few blind spots, like the lack of native Ethernet port, this is a well-rounded PC.
Apple MacBook Pro (2023)
Exceptional workhorse for macOS users
$1799 $1999 Save $200
Apple’s MacBook Pro for 2023, available in 14- and 16-inch sizes, is a beast of a laptop that many professionals can’t live without. It’s powered by the impressive M2 Pro and M2 Max processors, it offers outstanding battery life, and it has a knockout display.
- Great performance that doesn’t suffer on battery power
- Epic battery life
- Gorgeous screen and loud speakers
- Ugly screen notch
- Can get very expensive
Apple’s MacBook Pro for 2023 comes in both 14- and 16-inch sizes, but here we’re focusing on the latter option thanks to its larger size and broader performance potential. In our MacBook Pro 16 (2023) review, we mention that “the M2 Max doesn’t bring jaw-dropping leaps over the M1 Max, but its improved efficiency is very welcome.” Essentially, those with an M1 MacBook Pro won’t really see much difference here in terms of design or extra features; it’s all about the performance.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro can be configured with up to a 12-core M2 Max CPU, a 38-core GPU, 96GB of memory, and 8TB of storage. That’s enough power and support to handle just about any task, and you’ll find that the battery can last through a full workday even when accomplishing advanced tasks. The laptop has three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI, an SD card reader, and 3.5mm audio jack, ensuring you can connect accessories natively or with a powerful Thunderbolt dock.
Moving on to the display, you’re looking at a 16.2-inch size with 3456×2234 resolution, up to 1,600 nits brightness with HDR, up to a 120Hz refresh rate, and outstanding color accuracy. The only drawback is the 1080p camera’s notch along the top. If you’re a macOS lover and need a ton of power but want to remain as mobile as possible, you can always check out the MacBook Pro 14.
HP ZBook Firefly 14 G10
Lots of laptop at a competitive price
$1419 $2369 Save $950
HP’s ZBook Firefly 14 G10 just starts scratching the workstation category, and it should be a great option for professionals and managers who need a bit more power in a secure system. It’s durable, there are tons of customization options, and when on sale it’s one of the more affordable mobile workstations you’ll find.
- Relatively slim design
- Beautiful display options suited for pros
- Tons of customization options
- U- and P-series Intel CPUs aren’t the fastest
- Battery life could be better
Investing in a workstation laptop doesn’t always mean you need to shell out big bucks for a blistering device. HP’s ZBook Firefly 14 G10 just starts scratching the workstation tier, coming at you with Intel’s 13th Gen Core U- and P-series processors and NVIDIA RTX A500 discrete GPU. These can be joined by up to 64GB of DDR5-5200MHz RAM and up to 2TB of M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD storage. As mentioned in our HP ZBook Firefly G9 review, the laptop is built to accommodate professional mobile workers and technical managers.
HP ZBook Firefly G9
You’re not going to get as much power as a workstation with, say, an HX-series Intel processor and beefier GPU, but this laptop can often be found on sale for somewhere around $1,500 or less. And considering it’s just 0.78 inches thin and weighs about 3.2 pounds, you can carry it around much easier than a full workstation. It comes with MIL-STD-810H durability certification and plenty of security measures to keep your data safe.
HP offers a bunch of different 14-inch displays with 16:10 aspect ratio for this laptop, with standard and DreamColor variants across resolutions. You can save money with a standard FHD+ screen, or you can step up into QHD+ with a 120Hz refresh rate, anti-glare finish, and perfect DCI-P3 color reproduction. There’s even a privacy screen option for those who work in public.
Dell Precision 7780
Dell’s Precision 7780 is an evolution of the 7770, bringing more powerful performance hardware and the same durable and secure build. There are tons of customization options available, and those who multitask will love the oversized display.
- Killer 17-inch display options
- Lots of performance available
- Generous port selection
- Chunky build
- Prices climb quickly
Dell’s Precision 7780 is one of the best Dell laptops, and it holds up well here when surrounded by other mobile workstations. This is a refresh of the Precision 7770 with a focus on updating performance hardware; it now has 13th Gen Intel Core HX-series CPUs with up to a Core i9-13950HX, which can be paired with up to a Nvidia RTX 5000 Ada Laptop GPU, 64GB of DDR5-5600 ECC RAM, and two 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe 4.0 drives (or 1TB of self-encrypting SSD storage with another 4TB SSD). Needless to say, this laptop brings a ton of performance potential.
The 17.3-inch display should be perfect for those who love multitasking, though the 16:9 aspect ratio does mean you’re missing out on some pixels. There are four displays available, starting with a 1920×1080 (FHD) resolution and climbing to 4K. All screens have 99% DCI-P3 color reproduction and 500 nits brightness, though the 4K option adds a 120Hz refresh rate for easier viewing.
If you enjoy working from practically anywhere but home, optional 5G connectivity will allow you access to the internet even outside of Wi-Fi range. An IR camera is available with most models (save those with the most basic display), and you can opt for fingerprint and NFC readers if necessary.
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 6)
X1 style, workstation power
Lenovo’s sixth-gen ThinkPad P1 is a superb alternative to the X1 Extreme for those who need extra power, ISV certifications, and optional 4G LTE connectivity. There are plenty of configuration options, including a 4K OLED display with accurate DCI-P3 color.
- Thin and durable build
- Lots of hardware customization options
- Outstanding keyboard
- Runs hot when configured for max performance
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme has long been a top business laptop choice for many people who crave ThinkPad durability with extra performance overhead, built into a chassis that’s much slimmer than something like the ThinkPad P16. However, the X1 Extreme is geared less toward the mobile workstation market and more toward “casual but high-end” use. Thankfully, the ThinkPad P1 (Gen 6) is almost the exact same laptop as the X1 Extreme, albeit with a wider selection of Nvidia GPUs — including RTX, RTX A-series, and RTX Ada — that are better optimized for specialized work. Our X1 Extreme vs. ThinkPad P1 comparison has much more information.
You can configure the ThinkPad P1 (Gen 6) with up to a 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13900H CPU, NVIDIA RTX 4090 or RTX 5000 Ada Laptop GPU, tons of DDR5-5600MHz RAM, and up to 8TB of M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD storage depending on the GPU you choose. It’s a killer laptop despite its sleeker design. There are also three different 16-inch displays available, starting at FHD+ and moving up to UHD+ OLED with touch functionality, 500 nits brightness, an anti-reflective finish, 100% DCI-P3 color, Dolby Vision, and X-Rite Pantone factory color calibration.
You get the usual outstanding ThinkPad durability and added security features, plus a ton of ports for native connectivity. You can even add a 4G LTE WWAN chip should you need to stay connected outside of Wi-Fi range.
HP ZBook Studio 16 G10
Best configuration options
Lots of high-performance hardware
HP’s refreshed ZBook Studio 16 G10 has a glut of configuration options to help you get the perfect workstation laptop. It’s powerful, it’s relatively sleek, and it has a bunch of gorgeous display options for specialized work.
The ZBook lineup represents some of the best HP laptops for professionals who need ultimate power, and the Studio model — now in its tenth generation — is particularly accommodating when it comes to hardware configurations. This is a rather sleek 16-inch workstation that you can get with up to a 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13900H vPro processor with NVIDIA RTX 4000 Ada GPU or Nvidia RTX 4080 GPU. There are plenty of lesser configurations available as well, starting at a Core i5-13600H vPro CPU with Intel integrated graphics. Add up to 64GB of DDR5-4800MHz RAM and up to 2TB of M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD storage.
The 16-inch screen is a knockout, with up to a 3840×2400 (UHD+) resolution, 500 nits brightness, 120Hz refresh rate, and outstanding color accuracy. There’s also an FHD+ option with HP’s Sure View privacy for those who often work in public. The keyboard is comfortable, there’s an enormous touchpad, and it comes with plenty of extra security features. One of the ZBook Studio G9‘s drawbacks, which continues with the G10 model, is port selection. Its three Thunderbolt 4 ports can make up for a lot of it, but there’s still no native video out and just one USB-A port.
Dell Precision 5480
Best 14-inch workstation
Lots of power in a more compact size
$2069 $3186 Save $1117
Dell’s Precision lineup is great, but not everyone wants a hulking workstation. That’s where the Precision 5480 shines, brings powerful performance in a durable 14-inch chassis.
- Lots of power available
- Beautiful 14-inch displays
- Relatively lightweight and durable build
- Port selection could be better
- Just two discrete GPUs available
Dell’s Precision 7780 might look like it has what you need, but not everyone can contend with a 17.3-inch laptop. That’s where the Precision 5480 comes in. It has a 14-inch display available with an FHD+ or QHD+ resolution, the latter with a 60Hz refresh rate, anti-reflective finish, touch functionality, 100% sRGB color, inking support, and 500 nits brightness. The laptop weighs in at about 3.26 pounds, keeping it on the portable side of the workstation market.
In typical Dell fashion, you can choose from a bunch of different configuration options. Processors range from a 13th Gen Intel Core i5-13500H vPro all the way up to a Core i9-13900H vPro chip, and you can add a Nvidia A1000 or Nvidia RTX 2000 Ada Laptop GPU if required. Configure up to 32GB of LPDDR5-6000MHz RAM, and enjoy up to 4TB of M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD storage. There’s also a 1TB self-encrypting drive available for better data security. I/O relies heavily on Thunderbolt 4 with four total ports, though there is a microSD slot for removable storage.
Best 16-inch workstation
Professional NVIDIA RTX power
This sleek 16-inch workstation from MSI features up to an Intel Core i9-12900H CPU, NVIDIA RTX A5500 professional GPU, plenty of RAM and storage, and a QHD+ display with 165Hz refresh rate and 100% DCI-P3 color. It’s expensive, but it’s full of great features and has the power for an advanced workload.
- Up to a 12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900H CPU
- NVIDIA RTX A-series GPUs
- 16-inch QHD+ display at 165Hz and 100% DCI-P3
- Very expensive
- Limited availability
MSI unveiled its CreatorPro series of laptops in 2022, and the CreatorPro Z16P is still going strong as an option for those with deep pockets. It’s one of the best MSI laptops you can buy today along with its 17-inch CreatorPro X17 sibling. It comes with a number of ISV certifications to prove it can run industry software, making it ideal for professionals.
The CreatorPro Z16P is equipped with Intel’s 12th Gen Core H-series chips, with up to a Core i9-12900H to handle specialized software. It’s also packing NVIDIA’s professional A-series GPUs, with up to an RTX A5500 laptop GPU with 16GB of GDDR6 VRAM. If you don’t need as much power, there’s also an RTX A3000 GPU with 12GB of VRAM. You can add up to 64GB of DDR5 RAM across two SODIMM slots (with the ability to upgrade after purchase), and it comes with 1TB of speedy M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD storage.
A 16-inch display with 2560×1600 (QHD+) resolution, 165Hz refresh rate, touch functionality, MPP 2.0 active pen support, and 100% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage comes in all models and should be a worthwhile mobile alternative to a high-end external monitor. The webcam has a crisp 1080p resolution with IR support, and ports are generous with Thunderbolt, USB-A, and an SD card reader.
Finding the best mobile workstation for you
Shopping for a new a mobile workstation is not something that should be taken lightly. These devices are generally very expensive, and you want to be sure you get the right setup for your needs without overspending. The best laptops in this category provide plenty of configuration options at different price points, and we’ve been sure to round up different screen sizes and resolutions to suit your workflow.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad P16 (Gen 2) is an outstanding option that should work for many people. It’s durable in the traditional ThinkPad sense, it’s built to a high standard, and the keyboard is almost unbeatable. It comes with Intel’s 13th Gen HX-series CPUs, combined with up to an NVIDIA RTX 5000 Ada Laptop GPU. ISV certifications prove it can optimally run popular industry software, and the four available 16-inch displays should handle just about any work.
ThinkPad P16 (Gen 1)
The ThinkPad P16 doesn’t come cheap, but Lenovo often hosts major sales that drop prices by 50% or more. Try to hold out for one of these sales to get the best deal for your money. If you need a laptop now and don’t want to overspend, something like the HP ZBook Firefly G10 is a great pick, though it won’t deliver nearly as much power as the P16.
Finally, those accustomed to macOS — especially anyone who wants an excellent creator laptop or high-end laptop for developers and software engineers— will want to check out the MacBook Pro (2023) with M2 chips. It’s available in 14- and 16-inch sizes, it’s extremely powerful, and its battery life can’t be beat.
Lenovo ThinkPad P16 Gen 2
$1855 $3200 Save $1345
The ThinkPad P16 (Gen 2) is mainly a performance refresh over the original P16, which itself was a continuation of the P15 and P17 workstations. It’s secure, it’s durable, and it’s powerful.