The best desktop replacement laptops available right now

work from the road with these five awesome workstation laptops intelworkstation
Are you looking for a workstation computer, but with added mobility? These modern laptops are powerful enough to handle the most demanding workloads you might throw at them, yet remain portable. Here are the top desktop replacements.

The Best

Dell Precision M3800 ($1,500+)

Dell M3800 Precision right side
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

At first glance, the Precision M3800 may look less like a desktop replacement and more like a lightweight, portable system, but this 15.6-inch touchscreen laptop is a powerhouse underneath. It gives you an Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM to work with, and a choice between a 500GB hard drive or a 256GB SSD. Dell reports that the M3800 line is customized to deal with multiple projects at the same time (where that RAM comes in handy) and handle demanding software like CAD, typically a job associated with desktop stations.

One of the things we always like about Dell is its clear-cut and varied options for personalization. Three different variants of the M3800 exist, with choices for increasing display resolution, extra software, and more.

The ports, however, remain a constant with HDMI, Thunderbolt, and a USB 3.0 connection at the forefront, backed up by a 3-in-1 card reader and a couple other USB powers equipped with PowerShare. Keep in mind that ports are often particularly important for workstation laptops and the various accessories they have to handle.

Read our review here.

Buy it from: Amazon

The Rest

MacBook Pro 15 ($2,000+)

Apple Macbook Pro 15 Open

If you choose a MacBook as your desktop replacement, you’ll definitely want to pick the 15-inch Pro model. This powerful Mac machine comes with a choice between a 2.2GHz and 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and flash storage choices between 256GB and 1TB. The 15.4-inch screen sports a native 2880 x 1800 resolution.

Because this is a MacBook, you also have Intel Iris Pro Graphics technology and an AMD Radeon graphics card. Ports are sometimes a concern with MacBooks, but the Pro 15 includes two USB 3.0 connections, two Thunderbolt ports, an SDXC card slot, and an HDMI port, which should be enough for the average office.

Read: $500 off 15-inch Macbook Pro

MacBooks have a reputation built on designer-friendly features like high-quality resolution for laptops their size and, of course, full compatibility with Apple software. While useful to many users, these features also increase the price. You have a choice between a $2,000 and a $2,500 version of the MacBook Pro 15, and a custom top-tier model can exceed $3,000 easily.

Buy it from: Apple Amazon

MSI WT72 ($2,000)


The WT27 Workstation from MSI is a chunky, 17-inch laptop designed specifically to deal with the big desktop tasks. To that end it has a plethora of unique features including the ability to support three external monitors (up to 4K displays), dual fan heat reduction, and a shortcut manager for serious key command customization. Inside is an Intel Core i7 processor, a Nvidia Quadro video card, and 16GB of RAM. It has both a 1TB HDD and a 128GB SSD for storage, making it one of the more versatile laptops on the list.

Those features sound a bit like a gaming laptop, but this MSI model was designed specifically with the workplace in mind. Ports are a particularly strong. It comes with an HDMI port, two miniDisplayPorts, and six USB 3.0 ports, plus an SD card reader. The optical drive includes a Blu-Ray burner, too.

With such powerful features, this MSI is a great bet for dealing with the most demanding desktop tasks. It’s too bad, then, that this model hasn’t quite made the leap to pre-installed Windows 10 yet. You’ll have to do some software updates.

Buy it from: Amazon

HP zBook 15 G2 ($1,800+)

HP zBook 15 real world
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

This is a bulkier, more traditional workstation laptop than some of our other picks, but fortunately this zBook backs it up with more storage space, too. Base models include a Core i5 processor, a 500GB hard drive and 8GB of RAM, but upgrades include Core i7 quad-core processor, solid state storage and up to 16GB of RAM. The battery will last up to 11 hours.

For ports, this HP provides a solid assortment, including three USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0, a Thunderbolt 2 port, a DisplayPort, and a VGA. That VGA is taking the place of a more advanced HDMI, so remember to check your video/audio connections to make sure you don’t need HDMI now or in the foreseeable future before buying (DisplayPort can help cover some ground here, especially with the right adapters).

Read our review here.

Buy it from: Amazon

Lenovo ThinkPad W541 ($1,300+)

The ThinkPad line tends to deliver solid workplace laptops, and the 15.6-inch W541 model in particular can serve as a strong desktop replacement. It runs on an Intel Core i7 processor (varying speeds are available with customization), comes with up to 32GB of RAM, and lets you choose between a few HDD and SSD sizes, up to 512GB. You can opt for a 1080p or 2,880 x 1,620 display.

Thankfully, the latest versions of this ThinkPad also come with Windows 10 preloaded. Ports are serviceable but a little disappointing compared to some of our other models. You get two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, a VGA, Thunderbolt, and an ExpressCard reader. No direct HDMI options here, but you do get a direct Ethernet connection, which not all workstation laptops include.

Buy it from: Amazon

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