Back in August Dell, HP and Lenovo all announced mobile workstations that offer Intel's first quad-core chip for laptops. Those systems are now available for order and reviews of at least one model--the Lenovo ThinkPad W700--are giving a glimpse of the performance you can expect from these 17-inch powerhouses.
The ThinkPad W700 and Dell Precision M6400 are both available for order with the 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX9300 (though it looks like you'll have to wait a few weeks for them to ship). HP announced that its EliteBook 8730w will also offer the Core 2 Quad Extreme processor, but the pre-configured models currently available top out at the 2.53 GHZ Core 2 Duo T9400, a dual-core chip.
The Core 2 Quad Extreme is a pricey part--Intel charges more than a $1,000 for the processor--and it will only help with multi-threaded applications, though many of the typical workstation applications (high-end image editing and video editing, and computer-aided design) fall into that category. But there are other high-end features on these workstations that boost performance across the board including lots of fast DDR3 memory (up to 16GB on the Precision M6400), Nvidia Quadro GPUs with up to 1GB of memory and dual hard drives (including SSD options) that can be configured in RAID 0 for best performance.
The 17-inch widescreen displays on these mobile workstations are also a step up. They are high-resolution, brighter and can display a much wider color gamut--more colors--than a typical laptop display. The ThinkPad W700 also comes with an integrated color calibration utility.
The obvious drawback to these mobile workstations is size and weight, or as Wired.com puts it, "Lenovo's Mega Notebook Crushes Benchmarks, Femurs." That's obviously an exaggeration, but at nearly 10 pounds these systems are really semi-portable--you can occasionally move them from one workspace to another, but you won't want to take one on the road regularly. Then again, these mobile workstations outperform many desktops and even the fastest gaming laptops such as the Alienware Area-51 m17x and Gateway P-7811FX.
Lenovo ThinkPad W700 reviews:
- ComputerShopper.com (8.5 out of 10; Editors' Choice)
- LaptopMag.com (4 out of 5 stars)
- MaximumPC (9 out of 10)
- Wired.com (7 out of 10)