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June 28, 2020

Workstation Laptop Versus Gaming Laptop

My Backdrop


As geeky entrepreneur I dabble on many things tech and look for opportunities to see how tech can be leveraged to solve a business problem. I got really dirty learning and hacking Machine Learning problems and dabbled a bit on Deep Learning a couple of years back. 

I always wanted to get back to learning more on the Deep Learning side of things when possible. "Deep Learning" is the key word.

I haven't played Games after my college days.

Since the time I started my consulting venture, I end-up working either full-stack or some part of it depending on my consulting gig that I end-up signing for.

So when I wanted to purchase a laptop, I ended up ordering a Gaming Laptop with Intel -7 processor and RTX 2070 GPU, based on advice of Tim Dettmers. I know very many companies that procure a Gaming Laptop for their ML/DL engineers. Also, you will see almost all ML/DL web-sites advising its readers to go for Gaming Laptops. 

I'm not used to settling down easy and in my quest to understand the world of hardware to see what marries what and solves what kind problems, I stumbled upon Workstation Laptops, and was left wondering how this is both similar to and different from Gaming Laptops. 

The section below summarizes my understanding of the key differences between the two kinds of beasts.

Gaming Vs Workstation Laptops


I'd drawing a quick comparison table with the metrics that should help you decide the right pick for you.

 Metric      Gaming LaptopWorkstation Laptop  Comments
 Cost Cheaper  Expensive  What is your budget?
 Built Depends on brand and model Relatively Sturdier.
 Typically server/military grade with some certification like ISV to prove it.  
 One of the key reasons for price difference. 
 Portability Relatively less portable because of its size, weight and/or fragility. Better portability.  
 Default Windows OS Type Home edition  Pro edition You can always install your choice of OS later, though!
 Looks Usually more jazzy and less professional Usually bland and professional Looks do matter!
 Longevity  Comparatively lesser Comparatively better What is the ROI (bang for the bucks)?
 Audio Superior Relatively inferior 
 Display Superior
 The Refresh Rate is key differentiator for smooth AAA game play experience.
 Inferior in terms of Refresh Rate.
 Usually 60 FPS.
 High refresh rate prevents screen tearing, stuttering, motion blur and ghosting.
 Heat Dissipation Better Relatively poorer 
 Control of hardwares Depending on the brand and model, you can control/configure Fan speed, CPU under-volting, etc with the help of factory software that gets installed in your OS. Absent! 
 Nvidia GPUs Typically comes with GTX or RTX GPUs.
 (RTX is more performant than GTX.)
  Typically comes with Quadro P series, T series and RTX series GPU processors.
 (P < T < RTX in terms of performance)
  • Nvidia Quadro P1000 is a mobile entry-level workstation graphics card for notebooks. 
  • Nvidia Quadro T1000 for laptops is a professional mobile graphics card that is based on the Turing architecture (TU117 chip).
  • Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 for laptops is a professional high-end graphics card for big and powerful laptops and mobile workstations. 
  • ProTips: Buy atleast Quadro RTX 3000. Don't go for P/T series, if ML/DL is your primary purpose.
  • NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon are graphics cards meant for gaming.
 Intel CPUs Typically comes with i7 processors for AAA titled gamers play. Typically comes with Intel XEON processors as base model these days 
 ECC Memory Not required and so is absent. Required and thus present.
  • Error-correcting code memory (ECC memory) is a type of computer data storage that can detect and correct the most-common kinds of internal data corruption. ECC memory is used in most computers where data corruption cannot be tolerated under any circumstances, such as for scientific or financial computing.
  • ProTip: For most gamers and general home office users, ECC RAM will not be worth the additional expense. 

A Gaming Laptop can match your Workstation in performance with right specs. You Workstation Laptop cannot match the gaming and multi-media experience delivered by its Gaming Laptop counterpart. Also you pay more for the workstation models for its improved life-span and sturdier built that relieves you from handling with delicate care every single time. 

If you are someone like me, you should go with Workstation laptop but can opt for Gaming laptop provided you understand the Cons of it.

Bonus : The other things that you shouldn't miss irrespective of the laptop kind you buy, is the maximum years of warranty (preferably onsite) that the company provides and also include ADP cover for maximum number of years. This is an insurance that is often overlooked by buyers only to regret later. 

Hope it serves you well to make an informed decision in your buying the right laptop. 

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