Review: Fujitsu Celsius H970

16 January 2018

Fujitsu’s new 17.3-inch mobile workstation offers incredible power for demanding VR and viz workflows but the CPU cooling fan can be a little over eager at times, writes Greg Corke

Product Celsius H970
Company name Fujitsu
Price £4,500 + VAT

For some years now, Fujitsu has been relatively inactive on the mobile workstation front. Most OEMs offer three or four different models (HP actually has six), but until recently, the German-based manufacturer only had a single mobile workstation – a 15-inch machine.

15-inch mobile workstations are fine for 3D CAD, but they can only support a mid-range GPU, so often fall short in more challenging 3D workflows. Historically, demand has come from users of traditional design viz applications like 3ds Max or Maya (and perhaps a little cheeky gaming after hours). However, more recently, the need for a more powerful GPU has come from additional areas including game engine visualisation, GPU rendering and Virtual Reality (VR).

In order to support these new designfocused, GPU-hungry workflows, Fujitsu has added a 17-inch mobile workstation to its portfolio — the Fujitsu Celsius H970. The larger chassis provides the thermal headroom for a significantly more powerful GPU, as well as accommodating a bigger display.

The Celsius H970 comes with a choice of three pro-grade GPUs. The Quadro P4000 (8GB) and P5000 (16GB) are both powerful, VR Ready and virtually identical to their desktop counterparts. Alternatively, for those who want the benefits of a larger screen but don’t necessarily need buckets of GPU power, there’s the Nvidia Quadro P3000 (6GB). To put all of this into perspective, most 15-inch mobile workstations are limited to the 3D CAD-centric Nvidia Quadro M2200 (4GB), which is a whole GPU class below.

To show off its peak capabilities, our test machine came with the top-end Quadro P5000. This 100W GPU is partnered with a more mainstream CPU – the Quad Core, Intel Core i7-7820HQ (2.9GHz - 3.9GHz Turbo), common in both 15-inch and 17- inch mobile workstations. For those that need a bit more oomph, the H970 can also accommodate the Intel Xeon E3-1535M v6 (3.1GHz – 4.2GHz Turbo).

Memory is maxed out at 64GB of 2,133 MHz DDR4, distributed over four 16GB SO DIMMs, which is plenty for most design workflows.

For storage, there’s a solitary 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD – the popular Samsung SM961, also available in 256GB or 1TB models.

Those who want more capacity (or a lower cost per GB) can add one or two 2.5-inch SATA Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), but it seems these are best specified at time of purchase as our test machine did not come with any mounting brackets or cables – just the space within the chassis.

Product specifications

■ Intel Core i7-7820HQ (2.9GHz, 3.9GHz Turbo) (4 cores, 8 threads)
■ 64GB (4 x 16GB) DDR4 2,133 MHz
■ Nvidia Quadro P5000 (16GB) (376.33 driver)
■ 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
■ 17.3-inch anti-glare IPS FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
■ 418 x 288 x 30mm 3.30kg
■ Microsoft Windows 10 Pro
■ 3 Year Collect & Return Service

CPU benchmarks (single threaded) Seconds (smaller is better)

SolidWorks 2015 IGES export (single threaded): 116

CPU benchmarks (single threaded) Seconds (smaller is better)

Luxion KeyShot 6.1 render test (multi threaded): 884
V-Ray render benchmark (CPU) (multi threaded): 181

GPU compute benchmark Seconds (smaller is better)

V-Ray render benchmark (GPU): 106

3D graphics benchmarks (3D CAD) Score (bigger is better)

SPECapc for SolidWorks 2015 (shaded + edges): 5.28 (test run at FHD)
SPECapc for SolidWorks 2015 (RealView + shadows): 9.31 (test run at FHD)
SPECapc for SolidWorks (RealView + shadows + AO): 26.11 (test run at FHD)
SPECapc for PTC Creo 3.0 (shaded + edges): 9.05 (test run at FHD)
SPECapc for PTC Creo 3.0 (reflection): 12.18 (test run at FHD)

3D graphics benchmarks (design viz) Frames Per Second (FPS) (bigger is better)

LumenRT (hotel model) (FPS): 49 (test run at FHD)
LumenRT (roundabout model): 22 (test run at FHD)
Autodesk LIVE (Villa Enhanced model): 137 (test run at FHD)
Autodesk VRED Professional (AA off): 56 (test run at FHD)
Autodesk VRED Professional (AA medium): 31 (test run at FHD)
Autodesk VRED Professional (AA ultra high ): 14 (test run at FHD)

3D graphics benchmarks (VR) Frames Per Second (FPS) (bigger is better)

VR Mark (Orange): 165 (VR resolution
VR Mark (Blue): 31.9 (VR resolution)
VR Mark (Cyan): N/A

Elsewhere, the Celsius H970 does well on serviceability. Memory can be accessed easily, simply by taking out one screw and lifting up a service panel.

The 96Whr Li-ion battery can also be easily removed by sliding a clip. At a time when many other OEMs are moving towards fully integrated batteries, it’s nice to be able to carry a spare in the bag for long journeys. In saying that, battery life is OK for a machine of this size, lasting 108 mins in the CPU and GPU intensive PCMark benchmark — and much longer in more balanced workflows.

Access to the drives and fans (if needed for cleaning) is more involved, but it only takes a matter of minutes to remove the main maintenance panel, which is secured with a few screws.

The chassis is solid, a combination of metal and plastic, and features a fullsize keyboard with numeric keypad. It is somewhat let down by the keyboard frame, which flexes a lot in the middle, making it feel spongy when typing. However, Fujitsu says that this was only an issue with early units (like ours) and has now been fixed.

For security, there’s a standard fingerprint scanner and not the palm vein technology championed by the 15.6-inch Fujitsu Celsius H770. At 418 (w) x 288 (d) x 30mm (h), the machine is comparable in size with others in its class.

Performance is very impressive, with the Celsius H970 excelling in our GPU intensive benchmarks. We found it to be a worthy partner for real-time design viz in Autodesk VRED Professional, game engine visualisation with Autodesk Revit Live or GPU rendering with V-Ray, going toe to toe with Quadro P5000-based desktop machines. However, under more CPU limited applications like PTC Creo and SolidWorks, the graphics performance dropped because of the lower GHz CPU.

All of our tests were done at FHD, which is the maximum resolution of the integrated 17.3-inch anti-glare IPS display, which is crisp and of good quality, if not outstanding. Other OEMs offer optional 4K displays, which is important for some design viz users, although you can expect frame rates to drop at higher resolutions, especially in GPU-hungry applications.

We also tested the Celsius H970 with some professional VR applications, using an Oculus Rift headset. In Autodesk Revit Live, we had a comfortable experience navigating our test buildings and we’d expect the same of other game engine VR applications. In Autodesk VRED Professional, our large automotive model appeared fine at lower quality settings, but frame rates fell to uncomfortable levels as soon as anti-aliasing was enabled.

At this juncture, it is worth mentioning the ports on the Celsius H970, as there are some differences to other machines in its class.

First, there are only three USB 3.1 Gen1 (Type A) ports (other manufacturers offer four) so you can quickly run out when using VR. The Oculus Rift, for example, needs four (for headset, tracker, touch and Xbox wireless controller), and that’s before you start adding other devices like a smartphone or a 3D SpaceMouse.

However, the H970 also has two USB 3.1 Gen2 (Type C)/Thunderbolt 3 ports, so Type A adapters or hubs can get round this potential issue.

Second, there is no HDMi (only DisplayPort and VGA) port, which is the primary display interface for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Neither of these quirks are deal-breakers, as long as you have the appropriate adapters to hand.

●1 GPU cooling fan ●2 CPU cooling fan ●3 M.2 NVMe SSD ●4 Memory (4 x SO DIMMs) ●5 Location of removable battery ●6 Location of 2.5-inch HDDs

Like most mobile workstations, the H970 features two fans for cooling – one for the GPU and one for the CPU. When hammering the GPU with a GPU renderer or with a VR application, we found fan noise to be significant but not that loud. However, with all four CPU cores working flat out on a KeyShot render, noise became much more noticeable. The CPU fan even started whirring under more moderate loads, which some will find annoying.

Overall, the Fujitsu Celsius H970 is a hugely powerful mobile workstation, capable of making light work of demanding viz or VR workflows. Battery life is OK but the ability to swap out for a spare is a big plus for those who spend time away from their desk. However, the machine is let down a bit by a CPU cooling system that is over-eager at times.


This article is part of a DEVELOP3D CAD/Viz/VR workstation special report. To read articles and reviews in this report click on the links below.

Choosing a workstation for design and engineering is no longer straightforward
How to future proof your workstation to support new and emerging product development workflows

Desktop Workstation Buyer’s Guide
Essential advice for those looking to buy a workstation for product development

Lenovo ThinkStation P320 Tiny
In a world of shrinking workstations, Lenovo’s ThinkStation P320 Tiny in the smallest yet

Fujitsu Celsius W570POWER+
This compact workstation delivers the goods for 3D CAD, game engine viz and VR

Boxx Apexx S3
The overclocked six core ‘Coffee Lake Core i7 CPU makes this CAD workstation fly

Workstation Specialists WS-1160A
AMD CPU and AMD GPU combine for a powerful workstation for CAD,viz and VR

AMD Radeon Vega GPUs
What does AMD’s Vega GPU architecture bring to CAD, VR, viz and GPU rendering?

Scan 3XS WI6000 Viz
An overclocked 18-core Intel Core i9-7980XE CPU makes this a phenomenally fast workstation for CAD and design viz

Armari Magnetar R80 (Pre Production Unit) 
This dual Intel Xeon Gold workstation delivers the goods in single and multi-threaded workflows

Boston Venom EPYC (Pre Production Unit)
Dual 32 core AMD Epyc CPUs make this rendering beast fly, but it’s at the expense of single threaded performance

Iceotope EdgeStation
‘Total liquid cooling’ makes this specialist machine ideal for harsh and dusty environments

Mobile workstation buyer’s guide
A rundown of the things to look out when buying a professional 3D laptop

Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16
Wacom’s legendary pen technology is embedded in a pro 3D tablet

HP ZBook x2 G4 (Pre-Production Unit)
This detachable 2-in-1 combines Wacom pen technology with a Quadro GPU for 3D CAD

PNY PrevailPro P4000
This slimline 15-inch mobile workstation breaks all the rules by putting a powerful ‘VR Ready’ GPU at its heart

Dell Precision 7720
With powerful processors, impressive cooling, good serviceability and excellent build quality, this 17” mobile workstation is hard to beat

Samsung Portable SSD T5
This portable drive offers fast, secure solid-state storage in a sleek package

Download a PDF of the 36-page workstation special report, complete with charts

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