To separate the mobile workstation wheat from chaff, I stressed each of these machines by running a series of general and specific benchmarks. I also worked with each laptop on my own, and checked such factors as its warranty and certification. (See the sidebar directly below.)
Eurocom Racer 3W
Aiming for ultimate performance, Eurocom's Racer 3W spares no expense, leading to a mobile workstation that can plow through the most complex graphic tasks. The version I reviewed had a pricetag of $4,582.
The laptop measures 14.8 x 10.1 x 1.6-inch and weighs 7.0 pounds, midway between the lighter Toshiba Tecra and heavier HP ZBook. However, because the Racer's 1.8-lb. AC adapter is the heaviest of the bunch, the laptop's travel weight is 8.8 pounds, the same as the ZBook 15's. Like the other two computers reviewed here, the Racer 3W requires a three-prong grounded outlet.
Built around a sturdy magnesium frame, the case is made of aluminum; it has a rough surface I found less pleasant to touch than the other two units.
The Eurocom Racer 3W includes the most powerful mobile processor that Intel currently makes. The quad-core Core i7-4930MX cruises along at 3.0GHz -- 300MHz faster than the HP or Toshiba systems -- and can punch up to 3.9GHz when needed.
The Racer 3W starts with 16GB of RAM, but can be outfitted with as much as 32GB. It can house up to four storage drives, holding a maximum of nearly 4TB. The review unit came with a 1TB hard drive as well as a 240GB mSATA SSD; these were set up as separate drives (as opposed to the HP ZBook 15's hybrid arrangement). The laptop also came with a DVD-RAM optical drive.
Customization is king at Eurocom; the company offers users a choice of five Core i7 processors (including the review unit's Core i7-4930MX), three displays and six different Nvidia graphics processors. Unlike the other systems in this roundup, the processor and graphics chips can be upgraded.
With the latest Quadro K5100M graphics engine and 8GB of video memory, the Racer 3W that I looked at is about as well equipped as a laptop gets these days. The graphics chip has 1,536 processing cores as well as a 256-bit bus that's capable of moving 115.2GBps of data, easily outperforming the video processors on the other two systems.
On the other hand, the K5100M uses 100 watts of power, nearly double the power draw needed by the other laptops' graphic systems.
The Racer 3W's 15.6-inch screen offers 1920 x 1080 resolution. According to Eurocom, the company calibrates it with a color meter to make sure it is putting out accurate colors; the laptop comes with an ICC profile. To my eyes, the display wasn't as bright as the HP ZBook 15's display but its colors were spot on.
When it came to zooming, rotating and panning 3D CAD models, the Eurocom Racer 3W did well, delivering smooth video. It left enough resources available to write or work a spreadsheet in an adjacent window.
Unlike the HP ZBook, the Racer 3W's keyboard is not backlit. The 18.7-millimeter keys and the area around them have a rough feel, and the wrist rest attracts dust and lint. It has a touchpad, but not the pointing stick included with both the ZBook and the Toshiba Tecra. It also has a fingerprint scanner, but lacks the security-minded Trusted Platform Module (TPM) of the other two workstations.