The Racer's audio is top of the line. It comes with Creative Labs' Sound Blaster X-Fi3 MB3 audio software, Realtek High Definition Audio hardware and a pair of Onkyo speakers (located above the keyboard). There's also a subwoofer on the bottom of the laptop. The result is rich sound with very satisfying volume levels.
There's a good assortment of ports on the Racer 3W, including three USB 3.0 slots and one USB 2.0. It also offers DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI ports for video. There is no VGA port for using an older monitor or projector, however.
There are also eSATA, FireWire 400 and audio ports. It includes wired Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, but the system lacks the docking station option that the HP and Toshiba workstations have.
The best equipped of the three, the Racer 3W scored the best performance. Its score of 87.9 frames per second (fps) on CineBench's graphics test was more than one third better than either of the other two mobile workstations. Its processor score also led the group by a narrow margin.
Its results on the more mainstream PerformanceTest 8.0 benchmark were a little less stellar, with a score of 3,089.4 -- 5 percent lower than the class-leading HP ZBook 15.
The downside of all this graphics power is the drain on the Racer 3W's battery pack. Its 5,200mAh battery was able to power the system for 1 hour and 43 minutes of continuous playback of video from a USB drive. That's two full hours short of the Toshiba Tecra W50's test results, but probably will be enough for at least three hours of stop and go computing.
On the other hand, it's very simple to swap batteries if you need to. If you want to change the processor or graphics chips, the Racer has a pair of hatches that provide good access to its components; you just need to loosen six screws to get inside.
The system has two massive fans to keep it cool. (In fact, the copper heat pipes on the Racer 3W are so beautiful that it's a shame to keep them hidden inside.)
The review unit of the Racer 3W came with the latest Windows 8.1 version installed; you can order the system with Windows 7 if you wish. The system comes with Eurocom's Desktop Control Center, a utility that can help to optimize performance and make sure you have the latest drivers installed.
Rather than certifying its mobile workstations with the software vendors - as is the case with HP and Toshiba - Eurocom relies on Nvidia to test the graphics with each program. The K5100M works with everything from Adobe's Creative Suite 5.5 and Autodesk's AutoCAD to Dassault's Solidworks and MathWorks's MATLAB.
While the other two systems reviewed here provide three year warranties, Eurocom covers the Racer 3W for a single year. It costs $295 for an additional two years of coverage.
If all-out performance is what counts for you, the Eurocom Racer 3W is a mobile workstation that pours out the power, although at $4,582, the reviewed version can bust a company's IT budget wide open.
HP ZBook 15
According to HP, the company is the leader in mobile workstations, with 42.5 percent of sales for the second quarter of 2013. That may be because it offers laptops such as the ZBook 15, which is powerful and well designed, and offers extras such as a Thunderbolt high-speed port for external drives.
The system comes in a rounded black case that has soft rubber edging, making it comfortable to carry. Its footprint matches that of the Eurocom Racer 3W at 14.8 x 10.1 in., but the ZBook 15 is 0.2-inch thinner. At 7.5 lbs., the laptop is the heaviest of the three; with its AC adapter, it has a travel weight of 8.8 pounds