Lenovo ThinkPad P51s Review

Thanks to Lenovo and their Lenovo Insiders program #LenovoIN,  I received a new Lenovo ThinkPad P51s.

I’ve previously reviewed the ThinkPad P50 (which has been superseeded by the ThinkPad P51) which is the big brother or sister to this device. Where the P51 is a top end workstation with multiple hard drive bays, 4 RAM slots and so on, the P51s drops a few of these extra features to be a bit more mobile, while still fitting in the workstation class.

Tech Specs

Here’s an overview of the possible technical specifications of the P51s, with the options I have on this model bolded. I’ll talk in more details about some of these below.

Processor

  • 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-7300U Processor (3M Cache, 2.6GHz, max. 3.5GHz), vPro
  • 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7500U Processor (4M Cache, 2.7GHz, max. 3.5GHz)
  • 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7600U Processor (4M Cache, 2.8GHz, max. 3.9GHz), vPro
Operating System
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Display

  • 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080), anti-glare, IPS, 250 nits, 700:1 contrast ratio
  • 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080), anti-glare, IPS, 250 nits, 700:1 contrast ratio, with on-cell touch
  • 15.5″ UHD (3840 x 2160), anti-glare, IPS, 300 nits, 1300:1 contrast ratio
Graphics
  • Intel HD Graphics in processor and NVIDIA® Quadro® M520M, 2GB GDDR5 memory
Memory

  • Up to 32GB / DDR4 2400MHz1, dual-channel capable, 2 x SO-DIMM sockets ( 2 X 8gb16Gb)
Webcam
  • HD 720p
Storage
  • SSD / SATA 6Gb/s: 128GB
  • SSD / PCIe NVMe, 8Gb/s, OPAL 2: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
  • HDD / SATA, 6Gb/s, 2.5″, 7mm high: 500GB 7200RPM / 1TB 5400RPM
Dimensions (W x D x H)
  • 365.8 x 252.8 x 19.95 – 20.22 mm
Weight
  • Discrete non-touch:
    • With 4 + 3-cell: starting at 1.99 kg
    • With 4 + 6-cell: starting at 2.18 kg
  • Discrete multi-touch:
    • With 4 + 3-cell: starting at 2.01 kg
    • With 4 + 6-cell: starting at 2.20 kg
Internal battery
  • Integrated 4-cell (32 Wh)
External battery
  • 3-cell (24 Wh) or 6-cell (72 Wh)
Battery life
  • 4 + 3-cell: up to 13.5 hours
  • 4 + 6-cell (72 Wh): up to 26.4 hours
AC adaptor
  • 65W
Keyboard
  • 6-row, spill-resistant, multimedia Fn keys, numeric keypad, optional backlight
Fingerprint reader
  • Swipe style fingerprint reader on the palm rest (optional)
Audio support
  • HD Audio, Realtek® ALC3268 codec / stereo speakers, 2W x 2 / dual array microphone, combo audio/microphone jack
Ethernet
  • Intel Ethernet connection
Wireless LAN

  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265, 2×2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.14, M.2 Card
  • Intel Tri-Band Wireless-AC 18265, 2×2, WiGigTM + Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.14, M.2 Card (configurable from model with UHD display only)
 Ports
  • 3 x USB 3.0 (1 x AlwaysOn)
  • 1 x USB-C/Thunderbolt
  • HDMI
  • Ethernet (RJ45)
  • Combo audio/mic
  • CS13 Docking
  • Media card reader (SD 3.0 UHS-I)
  • Smart Card Reader (optional)

Processor: It’s always nice to have the fastest. This has Intel 7th gen CPU options, which now are 1 behind the latest, but usually between single generations there’s not that much of a difference.

Display: Would have been nice to have touch screen, but I’m still happy with a 1080p res. Above that, and Windows 10 scaling + remote desktopping doesn’t usually make for a good experience. It seems like a higher quality display than what’s on my P50, something a bit more crisp about it.

Graphics: Having a dedicated graphics card is always a bonus on a laptop, and the 2GB NVIDIA Quadro M520M is about the same as a GeForce 940MX if you’re looking up benchmarks. This should give you high level gaming at 720p, or decent level gaming at 1080p.

Lenovo ThinkPad P51s Display

Memory: It doesn’t have 4 slots like it’s P51 sibling, but can still take two 16GB sticks. This one has two 8GB sticks which is plenty, but if I wanted to run lots and lots of VMs or a few beefy ones, I might upgrade that amount.

Battery: This took me a little bit to realise. There’s both an internal battery, and an external battery. I first connected the battery that came with it and noticed it was only 3 cell. I thought that wasn’t too big, but then found it also had a 4 cell battery inside. If you remove the external battery and the power plug, the laptop keeps going. 13.5 hours is a pretty good claim, and makes sense with that much battery power. It starts getting crazy with a 26.4 hour claim when using a 6 cell battery plus the internal 4 cell, and a good option if you really need your laptop to stay awake longer than you will.

Ports: Let’s look at each side of the laptop –

 

Left side – Rectangle charger plug, USB3, USB-C, Smartcard slot (filled in on this one)

Back – Nothing to see here, battery and hinges

Right side – 3.5mm headphone port, 2x USB3, full HDMI, full Ethernet

Another point I noticed about this laptop is that it came with a USB-C power cable, but still had provision for the older rectangle power cord. Handy if you have those from the last few years of ThinkPads as either port will charge the laptop.

Keyboard: Most people are fans of the ThinkPad style of keyboards, and this one even has a number pad. Nothing too different or tricky here – I liked the feel of both the keys and the trackpad on this model, and there’s no buttons that felt out of place for me (good to see Caps Lock where it should be!)

Lenovo ThinkPad P51s Keyboard

Other observations: The circular power button felt slightly off center, as in the left side of the button dipped in further than the right side. Not something that will make any difference, and isn’t visible unless you look really closely, but still worth mentioning to anyone that will notice non-perfect things like me :)

At around 2KG the laptop isn’t light, but it’s much lighter than the P50 on my desk. It feels solidly built, the hinge style seems strong and there’s very little screen wobble. The fingerprint reader is also nice for Windows Hello, but this unit actually came with Infa red cameras too – meaning I can use my face to log in. You visibly see something flashing when it tries to read your face (at a guess they’ve got some sort of film over the lenses to show that, since IR is invisible to our eyes normally.

Beyond that, I’m very happy with this laptop. There’s no frills to it’s appearance, so it’s square and black like most ThinkPads, but it’s enjoyable to use with a screen that has a decent bezel.

The laptop is also pretty much a ThinkPad T570 with a Quadro graphics card in it, so if you’d rather the consumer Geforce option, check that out too. If you’re looking at videos on how to take this laptop apart, the T570 is identical.

Lenovo ThinkPad P51s vs P51 or P71: If you’re wondering which to get, the main decision is purely tech specs based. The P51s can take 2 RAM sticks, for a max 32GB RAM. The P51 however has 4 slots, which doubles the max to 64GB.

It’s similar with the hard drives – a single drive in the P51s, versus the P51 that can hold either; a combo of two M.2 drives and one 2.5″ drive, or two 2.5″ drives. The third spec factor is the dedicated graphics card which in the P51 has 4GB RAM rather than the P51s’ 2GB. The M2200 is also a higher end card than the M520, and worth looking up comparisons on performance.

Finally the CPU, although the P51s can take a high end i7, it’s still not the Xeon you can get in the P51. Deciding what you want and need in specs, or leaving your options for upgrading in the future. If you don’t need the high end options, the P51s is a great choice which comes in a much thinner form factor, and a bit less weight.

All the above applies to the P71 too, just with a larger 17.3″ screen.

Feel free to ask any questions below about the laptop, and I’ll leave a banner here that should update on any Lenovo Australia deals currently on offer:

5 thoughts on “Lenovo ThinkPad P51s Review

  1. Hello Adam, I just ordered this laptop today. I went for an 8gb ram with 512gb hdd. Could you tell me what your experience has been so far with the p51s? I really like the laptop but i’m quite skeptical about it at the same time.

    1. It works well for me, is there something I didn’t cover in the review? What are you skeptical about? Happy to answer :)

  2. Your review was great, in fact one of the really good ones available. I just want to know if the battery backup is as good as lenovo states it to be. I saw a youtube review which said that going for the p51s would be a bad choice. Just need some confirmation. Thank You.

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