With its hybrid storage system, the ZBook 15 review unit led the pack when it comes to its ability to perform everyday business tasks. Its PassMark PerformanceTest 8 score of 3,258 was the best of the bunch.
Its other results were more on a par with the Toshiba workstation: a CineBench processor score of 675 points and 65 frames per second on the graphics tests.
On the battery test, the system's 5,200mAh battery pack was able to power the ZBook 15 for two hours and 53 minutes of a continuous workload. That's 50 minutes shorter than the Toshiba Tecra's battery life, but more than an hour longer than the Eurocom Racer 3W's runtime. This means it should be capable of five to six hours of on-and-off work.
As is the case with the other three laptops, it is quick and easy to change batteries on the ZBook 15. In addition, the entire bottom panel of the case can be slid off of the machine, providing access to its components and fan. You won't even need to loosen a screw.
The review unit of the ZBook 15 came with Windows 8 Pro installed, but can be ordered with Windows 7. I was able to update it to Windows 8.1.
I really liked the computer's Performance Advisor software, which can help optimize the system's performance as well as get the display just right.
HP has the software vendors test and certify that its ZBook 15 will run a variety of specialty software. The ZBook 15 has been certified with the major programs in digital media, CAD, engineering, geographic information services as well as oil and gas development. Neither the Toshiba Tecra W50 nor the Eurocom Racer 3W can match this.
As Toshiba does with the Tecra W50, HP backs the ZBook 15 with a three-year warranty.
It may not have the power of the Eurocom Racer 3W or the seductive price tag of the Toshiba Tecra W50, but the $3,191 HP ZBook 15 does everything well at a reasonable price. It's a workaholic of the mobile workstation world.
Toshiba Tecra W50
Although Toshiba is a newcomer to the mobile workstation market, its Tecra W50 can teach the established players a thing or two about delivering a thin and light system on a tight budget (the base unit starts at $1,899; the review unit costs $1,999). Unfortunately, it lacks the configuration options that the others have.
At 14.9 x 9.9 inches, the Tecra is slightly wider than the HP ZBook 15 and the Eurocom Racer 3W. It is 1.4-inch thick, 0.2 in. thinner than the Racer 3W. The lightest of the three at 5.9 pounds, it has a somewhat bulky AC adapter that brings its travel weight to 7.5 pounds
Rather than having a smooth surface, the Tecra W50's black plastic system has a striated surface on the wrist rest and screen lid that takes a while to get used to.
Like the HP ZBook 15, the Toshiba Tecra W50 is powered by Intel's quad-core Core i7-4800MQ processor, which runs at 2.7GHz and can be pushed to 3.7GHz.