The technology of mobile laser scanning (MLS) has developed rapidly in recent years. This speedy development is evidenced by the emergence of a variety of MLS systems in commercial market and academic institutions. However, the producers tend to supply the specifications of the individual sensors in a generic sense, and this is not enough for guiding the choice of a MLS system for a specific application case. So far, the research efforts comparing the efficacy ranges of the existing MLS systems have been little reported. To fill this gap, this study examined the performance of three typical MLS systems (Riegl VMX-250, Roamer and Sensei) in terms of target representation. Retrievals of window areas and lighting pole radiuses served as representative cases, as these parameters correspond to the spatial scales from meter to centimeter. The evaluations showed that the VMX-250 with highest sampling density did best, and thus, it was preferred in the scenario of this study. If both the cost and efficacy were regarded, Roamer was a choice of compromise. Therefore, an application-oriented scheme was suggested for selecting MLS systems to acquire the desired performance.