After reviewing the Lenovo ThinkPad P50, I decided to double the RAM from 16GB to 32GB. You can buy it with more RAM, or install it aftermarket. The RAM that came with mine was Samsung brand, but I bought and added Kingston DDR4 RAM with no issue.
Depending on your RAM configuration, you may just need to add RAM to the bottom of the laptop – as mine already had the sticks under the keyboard.
Lenovo have some great guides on how to take the laptop apart, which I followed:
This is the phrase that sits in my head when I think about what the Lenovo ThinkPad P50 is. If the Yoga 900 is a Ferrari, then the P50 is a Monster Truck.
I’m getting ahead of myself here, so I’ll take a deep breath and start again.
Lenovo has released two high specc’d laptops – the ThinkPad P50 and ThinkPad P70. I was lucky enough to receive a P50 to review care of Lenovo, once I wiped the drool off my mouth.
“High specc’d” doesn’t do these laptops justice either. Although they come in a wide range of configurations, here’s what I have:
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5 Processor (8MB Cache, up to 3.70GHz)
Windows 7 Professional 64 preinstalled through downgrade rights in Windows 10 Pro
15.6″ FHD (1920×1080), anti-glare, IPS
16GB DDR4-2133MHz ECC SODIMM (8GBx2)
NVIDIA Quadro M2000M 4GB
720p HD Camera with Microphone
Backlit Keyboard with Number Pad – English
3-button TrackPoint pointing device and 3-button multi-touch touchpad
Integrated Fingerprint Reader
Hardware dTPM Enabled
1TB 5400rpm HDD
256GB SSD OPAL2.0
170W AC Adapter – ANZ (3pin)
6 Cell Li-Polymer Battery, 90Wh
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260, 2×2, Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.0
Let’s go over some of these settings.
CPU – An Intel Xeon, a server CPU in a laptop! Xeons are normally reserved for servers, but Intel has now released a line for mobile workstations. You can read Intel’s announcement here.
OS – This one came with Windows 7, but a Windows 10 Pro license. It’s now running Windows 10, but good for those who need or want to run the older but reliable Windows 7, fully supported.
Screen – 15.6″ is a decent size for a laptop. The bezel around it is reasonably thin, and the actual image quality I am impressed with. There are options for a touch screen, or a higher res 3840×2160 screen – but 1920 x 1080 has less issues at the moment, especially when remote desktopping to other servers that won’t like the super high res.
RAM – 16GB came with this, but I’ll be adding in another 16GB for a total of 32GB. The laptop can go all the way up to 64GB(!!) and has 4 RAM slots, so you can put in 4 sticks of 16GB. I’ll *only* have 4 sticks of 8GB – but this amount of RAM is great for someone looking to run a bunch of virtual machines off their PC, or do some very high end artist work (images/video/3D rendering etc).
Video Card – The Intel Xeon CPU has an onboard Intel® HD Graphics P530, but beyond that, there’s also a dedicated NVIDIA Quadro card, with 4GB of RAM attached. Not designed for gaming, but will still do a decent job of it. The Quadro card gives the laptop the ability to support “four independent displays; Max resolution: 3840×2160@60Hz (DisplayPort via Mini DisplayPort cable); 3840×2160@60Hz (Thunderbolt); 3840×2160@30Hz (HDMI)” which is a big WOW!. You will need a few different cables to make this happen, but 3 extra screens at such a high res, straight off this laptop is very impressive.
Fingerprint Reader – A simple addition, but works really well. Check out my video here.
Primary Disk – Yes that’s right, just the primary for starters since you can have up to three. I *only* have two but that’s ample for what I need. The primary disk, running the OS is a 256gb SSD. There is an even faster SSD option, the 512GB SSD running over PCIe. If you want to know what that is, put on your reading glasses and check this article out – there’s a lot to learn.
Secondary Disk – Spinning disks still have their place, and I have a 1TB HDD in this. Still fast enough for most things that don’t need the crazy SSD type speeds of reading and writing. Perfect for storing things like movies, television, and virtual machines!
Weight – As I have the bigger 6 cell battery, this weighs in at 2.67kg. It’s not designed to discreetly fit into a small bag, you can’t contain a beast like this that way!
Other things like wireless, bluetooth, backlit keyboard are all standard (although you may have noticed this is big enough to have a full keypad too!).
Let’s see some more pictures!
P50 170w battery pack above a normal 65w Lenovo adapter – this thing needs juice!
Top of the P50
Bottom of the P50 – dock connector visible
Keyboard, trackpad, fingerprint reader – all great!
Backlit keyboard glowing in the dark
Right Hand Side – 3.5mm Audio out, 2 x USB3, Mini DisplayPort
Left Hand Side – ExpressCard/34 slot (above), 4-in-1 reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC) (below), Smartcard reader
Back of laptop – USB 3 (always on), USB 3, Ethernet, USB Type-C/Thunderbolt, HDMI, Power
Thoughts – There’s a few similar laptops in this space, but not many. These are perfect for the heavy user, and personally as an IT Pro, I love it. It has enough grunt to run up a full test environment where I can muck around with different servers and software, but all be enclosed on a device that sits on my desk, and can be moved around with ease.
It seems to be very well built and incredibly responsive when mucking around on it. I forgot to mention the battery life – I’ve left it on my desk for days unplugged, and it still has over half its battery life. The claim is “6-cell Hybrid Graphics: up to 13.2 hours” which is really good!
These aren’t cheap, but you’re paying for the high end hardware. They’re very customisable on the web though, so you can pick and choose the bits you do and don’t want.
Got any questions for me about the P50? Feel free to ask below!
Update 24th May 2016
As requested in the comments, here’s the RAM latency from CPU-Z after mixing Lenovo and Kingston RAM
A new 13.3″ laptop from Lenovo arrived for me, so I thought I’d put it through it’s paces and see how it compared. Don’t confuse this with the Yoga 900S which is due out soon
The laptop arrived in a simple plain white but stylish looking box:
Inside, was a silver Lenovo Yoga 900. It could have been gold, or orange like my older Yoga Pro 2 which I’m a huge fan of, but the silver is still very nice. The Yoga 900 follows on from the Yoga Pro 3, which I reviewed and compared to the Yoga Pro 2. The Yoga 900 is more of a refresh to the Yoga Pro 3, providing an i series Intel CPU rather than the M – (more power!) at the cost of a little more weight and thickness. Regardless of this, it’s still a really thin and light laptop, which I’d prefer to have the extra power of an i5 or i7 CPU in anyway.
It’s still a very slick looking consumer laptop, just like it’s predecessors. This has already ended up being my primary laptop to use at home on the couch!
Lenovo Yoga 900
Let’s have a look at the various hardware aspects:
Keyboard/Trackpad: Nothing much has changed with the keyboard, and that’s a good thing. One of the first settings I change in the BIOS is to toggle the top row of keys to be function keys primarily (F1-F12) as I tend to use these more than the other options such as screen brightness or volume. Personally, this style of keyboard I find very quick to type on – the keys aren’t very clicky, but are spaced out enough and still give enough tactile feedback to make typing smooth and fast for my style. Keyboard is backlit and has the normal high/low/off options.
The trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons, but is still nice enough to use. As you can tell from the picture below, my greasy mitts quickly left a mark on the trackpad, but that can be easily wiped off. Looking at someone with a more professional review and getting paid to do it, they had similar marks so I don’t feel as bad :) This is the case for most laptops these days anyway.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Screen: This is a very glossy screen. It was hard to take a picture of it on a good angle due to the reflection, but that was only while taking the photo. It wasn’t actually as bad while using it. The screen resolution is a very high 3200×1800, very clear, crisp and bright. My picture doesn’t really do it justice! Touch screen too, so if you flip the lid into tablet mode, you can easily navigate around or read an ebook.
Yoga 900 Screen
Yes, I do like what I see!
Ports: On the right side, there’s power, the setup/bios button, orientation lock, audio out and a USB 3 port:
Yoga 900 right side ports
On the left side, we have a power cable (same as Yoga 3) which doubles as a USB 2 port, a USB 3 port, a USB Type-C port and a SD Card slot:
Yoga 900 left side ports
It was at this stage I was wondering what happened to video out. This was the first laptop I’d had with the USB Type-C, so my suspicions were that this new port was the answer – and it is. USB Type-C is forming to be the new de facto standard USB port. Apple Macs already have it, Windows Lumia 950/950XL phones do too, along with a bunch of other new devices. It pushes though audio and video as well as data (I know, audio and video ARE a type of data) which means this single port can do a lot. Even better, a cable or device plugged into this port will work either way around, so no longer will you need to hope you’ve got that USB stick the right way around. To top it off, it’s twice as fast as USB 3 at 10Gbps.
Other Hardware: Of course there’s the watch style hinge, which still works as solidly as it did on the Yoga Pro 3, it’s hard not to notice it:
Yoga Pro 900 hinge
There’s also two JBL speakers on the base of the unit which provide some rather decent stereo sound, which end up behind the top of the screen when in tablet mode:
Yoga 900 speaker
As I mentioned before, this is still a very light and thin laptop at 324W x 225H x 14.9D mm – much thinner than the new SurfaceBook Pro as a comparison:
SurfaceBook vs Yoga 900
All the tech specs are available from Lenovo, but the model I have contains:
Intel® Core™ 6th Gen i5-6200U Processor (also available in i7)
13.3″ QHD+ (3200×1800) Display
Intel HD Graphics 520 processor
8GB, PC3-12800 1600MHz LPDDR3 (16GB exists, but not available in AU yet)
256GB SSD (512GB option)
Li-polymer, 4-cell (66Wh – Up to 9 hours) battery
Quite decent specs! It is only $200AU more for the i7 which you should consider if you need the extra grunt, or want a bit more longevity out of the laptop.
Usage: I set up the laptop with my Microsoft account, and tried a little Hearthstone with both the touchpad and touch. Worked perfectly. Battery life seemed to be really good, as I had been carrying it around in my bag for a week before getting the chance to play, and it was at around half charge – and lasted about 3 hours. Hearthstone pushes the laptop a fair bit, so I wasn’t expecting to get that close to 4.5 hours.
From what I’d want from a regular use laptop (that’s not a gaming laptop, or crazy high specc’d with the matching size and weight), the Yoga 900 ticks all the boxes – but just make sure you invest in something like a USB Type-C to HDMI type connector if you need to do video out, so you can plug into everything else you have.
Should You Buy It? On this one, I’m going to say most likely “yes”. I’d suggest this over the Yoga Pro 3 due to the newer and better CPU. It’s at quite a reasonable price considering the US$ for Australians at $2199, and in the US it’s currently $1099. The screen doesn’t detatch, but to me this is unnecessary if you can fold it over into tablet mode and still have a powerful, light and thin device to use compared to the SurfaceBook. The upcoming Yoga 900S is going to be less powerful with the Core M cpu, so I’d only pick that if you had very basic requirements and really wanted a ridiculously thin laptop. Also Intel’s 7th gen CPU isn’t due until late 2016, and even then it’ll take a while to turn up in different devices – so you’re future proofed for a while.
Got any questions or comments? Ask and I’ll do my best to answer!
I managed to get my hands on a new Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260, so here’s my thoughts on the current Yoga situation and the Yoga 260:
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260
The consumer series of Lenovo Yogas has been making leaps and bounds – from the Yoga Pro 2 I reviewed, up to the new Yoga 900S – many models have come out, all with their improvements from the previous, and attracting a lot of attention.
However, the Yoga 260 and 460 are the first ThinkPad series of Yoga laptops since the ThinkPad Yoga 14 (along with the 15 and 12 models) which were decent laptops, but didn’t get too much fanfare. It was a little on the hefty side for weight, and a little bit chunky which made other options such as the drool-worthy X1 Carbon more attractive, despite not having a tablet mode.
It was still an improvement however, over the earlier ThinkPad Yoga which was too weighty and thick to be a decent hybrid laptop. When I first saw one of these, it wasn’t really a consideration. At the time, the ThinkPad Helix seemed to make more sense with it’s proper tablet mode and crazy battery life, due to having a second battery in the keyboard base.
That has all changed – CES 2016 had a plethora of laptops launched, including the highly regarded ThinkPad X1 Yoga – but you can’t get those yet.
Before all those were launched, the ThinkPad Yoga 260 started coming out in Q3 2015 (not that I could get one until Q1 2016!) and were the first ThinkPad Yogas along with the larger ThinkPad Yoga 460 to feature Intel’s 6th Gen CPU, codenamed Skylake.
It is worth pointing out, that any Lenovo laptop under the ThinkPad name are incredibly robust, and have standards to Mil-SPEC and beyond Mil-SPEC, which is impressive that they now have such thin devices that still meet these standards.
ThinkPad Yoga 260
So here I am, with a Yoga 260 sitting next to me. First impressions of the device are that it’s not as small as I expected for a 12.5″ device, but it’s still reasonably light. I’ve spent some time playing around with it, so I’ll try to cover the bits and pieces I’ve found interesting about this particular model.
I’ve put all the specs at the bottom of this post, as there’s a lot of them! Points of interest are:
Keyboard – it’s a nice keyboard, the standard I’d expect from a ThinkPad. Keys are nicely spaced and easy to type on. The trackpad is very clicky which I like – it’s a proper click when you press into it rather than a light click. It has the two proper left/right buttons for those who prefer it, but the standard gestures and left/right click work on the main trackpad too.
ThinkPad Yoga 260 Keyboard
Screen – I don’t like the lower end 1366 x 768 option, but love the 1920 x 1080. Perfect res without being over the top (I don’t think you need more than this on a 12.5″ screen). It doesn’t have a particularly thin bezel, comparing against a 3 year old X1 Carbon, the Carbon is a lot thinner. I’d be curious to know what reasons the engineers chose to not go thinner. At the same time it’s not too thick, but makes the laptop more of what I’d expect from a 13″ size overall.
ThinkPad Yoga 260 12.5″ Screen
Pen – The Yoga 260 comes with an inbuilt powered pen. It’s a supercapacitor stylus using Warcom technology. I calibrated it once after turning on the laptop to improve the accuracy, and it’s very accurate (video below). It’s compact, but personally I prefer the bigger Microsoft Surface Pen – but, I don’t know if that would actually fit inside the laptop. Lenovo’s pen fits snugly into the base of the laptop and you wouldn’t know it was there unless you looked. They’re different use cases I believe – Lenovo’s pen is better for ad-hoc use, where Microsoft’s pen is more designed as a mouse replacement. I also tested, you can’t use a Microsoft Pen on the Yoga 260 :)
The pen requires charge, but uses a super capacitor rather than a battery. Engadget has a great supercapacitor stylus of the technology. It will go for 2 – 4 hours and then need a charge; 15 seconds of charging will give you 80% of the life back, or full capacity in 5 minutes.
Ports – Apart from the discreen pen slot (which I’m calling a port because it charges the pen), there’s quite a few ports on this device. There’s the micro SD slot which is handy if you have another device that uses one (such as a camera), and a SIM slot so you can have 4G straight from your laptop. The other ports are standard, there’s both HDMI and Mini DisplayPort which is nice for options, and the newer dock connection along with 2x USB3. There’s also a very long slot for a card reader, but as this is an optional addon I don’t think mine has the internal card reader.
ThinkPad Yoga 260 Pen and right hand side ports
ThinkPad Yoga 260 left hand side ports
Yoga Mode – As with all Yogas, this laptop does a full 360 on the screen to put it into tablet mode.
Yoga 260 doing a Yoga pose
When in Yoga mode, the keys will sink in to the chassis and not protrude at all:
… and when it’s taken out of Yoga mode, the keys pop back up again:
No complaints about the Yoga mode at all, it has always made sense as an easy way to convert from laptop to tablet mode, and works really well.
Thickness – I compared the laptop to an original X1 Carbon, and the thickness was close to identical. It’s not as thin as a newer Yoga 900/900S, but again this is designed to be tougher:
Yoga 260 vx Carbon X1 1st Gen
As taken from Lenovo’s website, here are all the specs. I’ve underlined the parts where there are options to show what I’m using:
ThinkPad Yoga 260 Tech Specs
THINKPAD YOGA 260 CONVERTIBLE ULTRABOOK
6th Gen Intel® Core™ i3-6100U Processor (3M Cache, 2.3GHz)
ThinkPad Pen Pro, active pen for multi-touch display
Hinge / mode
Yoga hinge, 360 degree / Laptop, tent, stand and tablet
Intel HD Graphics 520 in processor only, supports external digital monitor via HDMI, Mini DisplayPort;
Supports dual independent display Max resolution: 3840×2160 (Mini DisplayPort)@60Hz 4096×2160 (HDMI)@24Hz
Up to 16GB, 2133MHz DDR4, one DDR4 SO-DIMM socket (8GB)
Integrated, HD720p resolution, fixed focus
128GB / 192GB / 512GB SSD, SATA3
256GB SSD, SATA3 Opal 2.0 Capable
Dimensions (W x D x H)
309.9 x 220 x 17.8 mm
Starting at 1.32kg
4-cell Li-Polymer battery (44Wh)
Up to 10 hours3
45W or 65W AC adapter
6-row, LED backlit, spill-resistant, multimedia Fn keys
TrackPoint® pointing device and multi-touch with 3+2 buttons click pad
Touch style fingerprint reader on the keyboard bezel
HD Audio, Conexant® CX11852 codec, Dolby® Home Theater® v4 / stereo speakers, 2W x 2 / dual array microphone, combo audio / microphone jack
Trusted Platform Module, TCG 1.2-compliant and Software TPM 2.0
Ambient Light Sensor
3D accelerometer and 3D magnetometer, 3D compass, 3D gyrometer
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260, 2×2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.0, no vPro
MIL-STD-810G military certification
2 x USB 3.0 (one Always On)
microSD, supports UHS-I SD card
Combo audio/microphone jack
Optional Card Reader
Note: Build your own with USB 3.0 Ethernet dongle, or purchase with a ThinkPad USB 3.0 Ethernet adapter (4X90E51405). Otherwise, use Ethernet (RJ45) port via optional OneLink Dock / Universal Port Replicators.