The choice between a mobile workstation vs a laptop is not as binary as it first appears. Both options have their merits, with niches they can fill that the other option is less suited for.
Today, we hope to help explore the differences between these two options. Then, with that knowledge in hand, you’ll be better equipped to decide which is best for you!
The Basics of a Laptop
What is a laptop? While most people know more about laptops than workstations, we’ll start by reviewing some of the basics of a laptop to help clear up any confusion or misconceptions.
A laptop is a small computer designed for portability. They tend to be light, with everything needed for the device to operate built into the unit, with the exception of a charging cord that can be plugged in as needed. They are the bread and butter of small businesses and college students everywhere.
The trick to choosing a laptop fit for your needs is knowing where to prioritize. Laptops have quite a few elements that you can compare model to model. If you’re overwhelmed, pay close attention to their memory capacity, RAM, and (if you care about gaming or harder-hitting programs) graphic capabilities.
Despite their drawbacks, noted in the section below, laptops can be more than capable of handling the average workload.
If one needs a device that can handle the internet, a word processing program (such as Microsoft Word), and similar “light” tasks, then a mid-range laptop will be more than capable.
In fact, modern laptops can even handle tougher tasks, such as gaming (although usually not at the highest specs). The difference between higher-end laptops and mid-range workstations can be blurred, with laptops tending to be much lighter.
While most laptops are more powerful than your typical phone or tablet, they also tend to be weak by the gold standard set by something like a desktop. Graphic capabilities and RAM can be limited unless you actively search for a model that is capable in those areas.
The compact nature of laptop can make them difficult to customize or repair. These issues can worsen if you are not careful when choosing a model; the hinge a laptop opens on is a point of weakness that can be very sensitive to rough handling on lower-end models.
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The Basics of a Mobile Workstation
“Mobile workstation” is a term many are less familiar with and that’s understandable. The truth is the term isn’t standardized; different brands use it similarly but not in a way that’s identical.
So what is a mobile workstation? We’ll answer that question as best as we can but keep in mind it’s one answer of many.
If you imagine a mobile workstation as a step on the computer spectrum between laptops and desktop PCs, you’ll more or less be able to understand the term enough to make meaningful decisions about what you’re considering.
While their specs aren’t as beefy as those of desktops at similar price points, they tend to outclass laptops in that regard. At the same time, they also tend to be heavier. While still mobile, some may even be a bit too heavy and big to use without first setting them down on a hard surface.
Power is the name of the game when it comes to mobile workstations. While they can’t compete with the most powerful PCs, most mobile workstations should be more than capable of whatever the average user would throw at them.
Most models should be capable of gaming, and many will be able to handle things like 3D design or video editing. While you should do your research if you need a mobile option capable of really tough, resource-intensive tasks, very few businesses operate in such niches.
Another benefit of mobile workstations putting less of a priority on weight and mobility is that they can afford to be bigger. Among other benefits, this allows many of these computers to have larger screens than the average laptop.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to mobile workstations is pricepoint. A quality mobile workstation may cost you 1200 dollars or more, and you should be wary of a model under 1000 dollars.
Our reasoning here is simple: At a certain point, why are you buying the computer? A cheap, outdated workstation may cost as much as a modern laptop that’s lighter while still being more or less as capable.
Size also has its cost. They can be heavy, with some models weighing over 5 pounds. It won’t be anything the average adult can’t carry around, but it will be noticeable if you’re trying to use the device on your lap or while holding it in your arms.
The Debate: Mobile Workstation vs Laptop
With the two options now detailed out, which is right for you?
Firstly, it needs to again be reiterated that neither option is “bad” in the traditional sense. These computers have different roles.
Laptops are lighter and tend to be cheaper. Mobile workstations are more powerful but can be larger and more expensive.
It’s also worth noting that at a certain point, the debate is semantic. A strong laptop and a weaker mobile workstation will look almost identical in terms of specs and appearance. What matters is what you want in a mobile computer.
Who Are Laptops For?
The reality is that laptops are what most people looking for a mobile computer are after. In some ways, this claim is sort of cheating. There are just too many computers for different niches that qualify as “laptops.”
There are laptops at almost every price point. Putting aside the fact that a higher-end laptop might just be called a mobile workstation depending on who you ask, there is a laptop for almost everyone’s needs.
If you want a computer for emails, YouTube, occasionally typing up documents, and not much else, there’s a laptop for that. There are ones for gaming and ones for graphic design. Our only warning might be to be wary of models under 500 dollars or so, as those models may not have the staying power the average user is looking for.
To nail the point home, there’s the powerful Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon that’s recently topped Laptop Mag’s 2021 laptop review. This model is capable of almost anything a business could ask of a laptop, and it’s durable to boot.
Who Are Mobile Workstations For?
Mobile workstations have the “disadvantage” of being an overall smaller group of computers. They also can be pricy in a way that desktops of similar capabilities aren’t.
That said, some users still can get a lot out of these models. If you need cutting-edge capabilities while still needing your computer to be mobile, a mobile workstation might be for you. A normal laptop can’t serve everyone’s needs.
Those who want to play the most resource-intensive games at their highest settings, plan to run multiple intensive programs at once, or need to rely on their mobile computer for things like complex architectural design programs may want to consider a mobile workstation.
The best mobile workstations can do almost anything a desktop PC can do. They can even manage nasty 3D simulation work, although won’t be as fast as PCs dedicated to such tasks.
The Winner? Laptops (Usually)
It’s no surprise, considering all the above, that we’re going call laptops the winner of this debate. They can do what most people are looking for without breaking the bank.
If you’d like to take a look at some of the best laptops around, check out lenovo.com. They have dozens of powerful, well-reviewed machines available. They also have mobile workstations too, if you’re curious about comparing options.
Despite our claim laptops win out, we’ve already mentioned this choice isn’t binary. Some people reading this will still want a mobile workstation. Whether because you need it or love the idea of a powerhouse of a mobile machine, they have a lot to offer.
We say laptops win only to dissuade consumers from buying more than they need. A good laptop can handle what most people need and will last a long time. If you have the specs of your perfect mobile computer in mind, you should still research and see which fits your dream better!
If you have money to spend and want some serious power, buy a mobile workstation! Their price is their biggest disadvantage. If you think you’ll utilize most of what they can offer you, they have some serious kick that most laptops can’t approach.
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The answer to the mobile workstation vs laptop debate has been found! In the end, it depends on you, although laptops are where most users can find what they’re looking for without overspending.
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