When it comes to ISV certification, Toshiba is a little behind others, possibly because it is such a new machine. The Tecra W50 has been certified for Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks; AutoCAD and other programs are expected to follow in the coming months.
Toshiba warrants the pre-configured Tecra W50 for three years.
At $1,999, the pre-configured Toshiba Tecra W50 is the blue-light special of mobile workstations. (If you go for the self-configured version with 32GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, the price jumps up to $2,748, still not a back-breaker.) It should be fine as a general purpose mobile workstation for those on a tight budget, but I wish that it had more options than it currently has so that I could customize it to the work at hand.
I found it hard to choose among these three well-designed and well-built workstations.
For example, while I loved the all-out performance of the appropriately named Eurocom Racer 3W, I found its relatively short battery life and lack of a Trusted Platform Module to be definite negatives. More to the point, at $4,582 the review unit is close to a luxury item -- and even if you opt for a less option-packed version, it will require an extra $295 to bring the unit's warranty up to three years of coverage.
At the other end of the price-performance spectrum is Toshiba's Tecra W50. The laptop is thin and light (at least compared to other mobile workstations), performed well and could run for more than 3.5 hours of continuous use on a charge. On the other hand, it is only now getting certified with key software vendors, and there aren't enough configuration options.
That leaves HP's ZBook 15. While it is a little overweight, I found no serious faults with it. The system did well on the specialized workstations benchmarks, ran for nearly three hours of continuous use and has one of the best docking stations available.
In the final analysis, software certification counts for a lot in the genre of mobile workstations and HP has worked with just about every specialty software vendor of importance to insure that it can get the job done. It doesn't matter if you're going to use it to edit video, design and manufacture products or even explore for oil and gas deposits, the ZBook 15 has the right stuff to get it done.
How I tested
To see how these three workstation laptops compare, I stressed them with a combination of everyday work activities, high-end graphics work and a variety of benchmarks and performance-oriented tasks.
After measuring each system, I weighed them on their own and with their AC adapters. I opened the back of each system to see how hard it is to get to its components to perform maintenance, repairs or the inevitable upgrades. I noted how many fans each had and how hard it was to change the batteries.
To benchmark the systems, I started by running PassMark's PerformanceTest 8.0. This suite of tests exercises every major system component, including processor, memory, hard drive and graphics. It then compiles the results into a single score that represents its performance potential. I ran the software three times and averaged the results.