While Dell and HP cover all bases in mobile workstations, from lightweight ultra mobiles to 17-inch desktop replacements, Fujitsu takes a different tack.
The Japanese manufacturer focuses exclusively on the volume market with entry-level to mid-range 3D CAD users all catered for by a single workstation-class laptop.
The mobile workstation in question is the Fujitsu Celsius H730 — a solid 2.9kg machine, 380 x 257 x 36mm in size and with a 15.6-inch screen.
It features a simple design, with a grey lid, brushed aluminium wrist rest and trademark red stripe. It also manages to pack in some good customisation and innovative features not seen on other machines.
Component-wise, the H730 has plenty to offer. There’s a good choice of Nvidia Quadro GPUs, including our test machine’s 2GB Quadro K1100M.
This mid-range graphics chip should do a good job for small to medium-sized CAD assembly modelling and delivered good solid scores in our SolidWorks and PTC Creo tests. For a bit more power there’s the optional Quadro K2100M or, for 2D or basic 3D the entry-level Quadro K510M.
Memory is as one would expect on a mainstream mobile workstation. Our review machine’s 16GB can be expanded to 32GB, thanks to two free DIMM slots.
The Intel Core i7-4800MQ processor offers solid performance, running at a nominal clock speed of 2.7GHz and Turbo Boosts up to 3.8GHz. With four cores and eight threads there’s also good potential for ray trace rendering, as demonstrated in our 3ds Max rendering test. For top performance you can up this to a Core i7-4910MQ (2.9 GHz, up to 3.9 GHz), though this will add a premium.
While other manufacturers have started to dabble with ultra high-res displays, Fujitsu has gone with a tried and tested 15.6-inch LED-backlit (Full HD) anti glare screen. It may not excite like a modern QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) panel does but the quality is good and the pixel density far more palatable for viewing non-optimised menus, icons and toolbars. You can also connect up to an external monitor, via DisplayPort or VGA.
There’s a whole host of storage options – Solid State Disks (SSDs), Solid State Hybrid Drives (SSHDs) and Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), from 128GB up to 1TB. One 2.5-inch drive comes as standard but an additional drive can be added at the expense of the optical drive thanks to a modular bay that clips out easily. Sadly, there’s no room for a small footprint mSATA SSD.
The modular bay has plenty of other options. In addition to an optical drive or second 2.5-inch drive it can house a second battery or a hollow weight saver.
Enterprise and security
The modular bay is standard across Fujitsu’s entire range of Lifebook E Line businessclass laptops (13.3”, 14” and 15.6”models) so the Celsius H730 fits nicely into a corporate environment, making IT management simple.
All four machines use the same docking bay as well so hot desking is easy. As an enterprise-class laptop it will come as little surprise that the Celsius H730 is big on security.
The machine comes with a whole range of data and access protection features including hard drive encryption, remote disable and erase and tracking via WiFi or 3G — should you have the optional Mobile broadband module installed.
The icing on the cake is the PalmSecure palm vein authentication system. Simply hover your hand over the sensor next to the keyboard and it authenticates each registered user in seconds due to the unique patterns of veins in the palm.
Fujitsu claims palm vein authentication is more reliable and more secure than fingerprint sensors. We certainly found it very easy to use and setup.
It only takes a minute to enrol your hand in the Workplace Protect software and getting authenticated as a user takes seconds, though you’ll need to learn exactly where to hold your hand.
You can even get into position before Windows boots up so as soon as the log in screen appears your hand is already being scanned. It’s certainly much quicker and easier than typing in a password.
Another standout feature of the Celsius H730 is also the most simple — a removable dust cover on the back of the machine that lets you easily clean out the fluff that gathers around the fan and heat sink.
As most laptop owners will know, if you don’t do this regularly airflow is restricted and the fan has to work harder. You not only end up with a noisy workstation and reduced battery life but the CPU and GPU can be throttled to protect them against overheating, and the whole machine slows down.
For a process that is so important, cleaning most mobile workstations is remarkably hard. It requires you to take off the back of the machine and unscrew the fans before you can even get to the heatsink. And because this can take a good 10 minutes you don’t do it nearly as often as you should.
The Celsius H730’s dust cover simply clips off so you can go to work with a pair of tweezers in seconds. Fujitsu reckons you can even use a small handheld vacuum cleaner to remove the smaller dust particles.
This might sound like a small thing, but one shouldn’t underestimate the importance of keeping your machine free from dust so it can run at optimum performance. I find it hard to believe that other mobile workstation manufacturers haven’t done something similar.
The full-sized island style keyboard includes a numeric keypad for that all-important engineering input.
There’s not a lot of movement on the keys but it’s very comfortable to use. The trackpad is a also pleasure to work with and its three buttons have just about the right amount of give.
To the top right of the keyboard there’s an EcoButton, which allows you to instantly go into power saving mode. It’s completely configurable, so you can choose what gets switched off (WLAN, LAN, audio and the DVD drive) or turned down (display brightness and CPU performance).
There are four USB ports (3 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0) distributed around the machine. When the machine is on you can charge from any port, but when it’s off only from the ‘Anytime USB’ port. This single port can be configured to charge with or without the AC adapter connected giving flexibility on the road.
If you’re after a good all-round machine for CAD on the go then the Fujitsu Celsius is an excellent choice. There are some great features, including the palm vein secure, modular bay and (our personal favourite) the dust cover.
The only downside is when it comes to storage. With no support for mSATA those who want two drives in their machine (an SSD for operating system and applications and a HDD for data) will do so at the expense of a DVD or second battery.
» Intel Core i7-4800MQ (2.70GHz, 4 cores)
» 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 L 1,600MHz
» Nvidia Quadro K1100M (2GB GDDR5)
» 15.6-inch, LED backlight, 1,920 x 1,080
» 256GB SSD
» 380 x 257 x 24.8-31.9mm/2.75Kg
» Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
» 3 years collect and return
(secs – smaller is better)
CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) 1) 191 2) 296 3) 415
Rendering (3ds Max esign 2011) 266
(bigger is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2013) 4.08
CAD (PTC Creo 2.0) 4.27
Intel Core i7-4800MQ (2.70GHz, 4 cores)
16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 L 1,600MHz
Nvidia Quadro K1100M (2GB GDDR5)
3 years collect and return