P50

Lenovo X1 Tablet Review

A few months back, I reviewed the Lenovo X1 Yoga which was my pick of the latest X1 series of laptops (and still is). That doesn’t discount the other Lenovo offerings though, as they may be better suited to other people’s requirements more than mine.

One of those options worth looking at is the Lenovo X1 Tablet. At the time of writing, the Australian store is completely sold out of them, so they must be doing well :) Somehow I was still lucky enough to be sent one from Lenovo, and I’m glad they did.

20160926_171954Lenovo X1 Tablet Side On

The X1 Tablet is Lenovo’s take on the Microsoft Surface. A lot of ideas are borrowed, and then improvements on top. Let’s look at the specs first, then the form factor.

CPU

This has a Core m CPU – the 3 options are:

Intel Core m3-6Y30 Processor ( 900MHz 1866MHz 4MB)
Intel Core m5-6Y54 Processor ( 1.10GHz 1866MHz 4MB)
Intel Core m7-6Y75 Processor ( 1.20GHz 1866MHz 4MB)

The new mobile fanless CPUs are a lot better than they were a few years ago. Even the Apple Macbook uses them, and those CPU speeds are a base speed, not the turbo speed they’re capable of pushing to. Which one should you pick? Tough choice as the cost differences aren’t small, but apply the same logic you would as the ‘i series’ between i3, i5 and i7. Apart from a fanless design, you get a lot more bang for your buck battery wise.

Display and Screen

Just the one option here:

12.0″FHD+ IPS LED 2160×1440

20160928_15432812″ Screen

It’s a very high res which will more than meet your requirements for a 12 inch screen.The screen only comes in touch enabled, but you also get a nice pen to use. It’s similar to the Surface 3/4 pen, uses a AAA battery that can be replaced, and is nicer than the smaller pen that comes with the X1 Yoga:

20160927_085552-customBack: X1 Tablet Pen. Front: X1 Yoga Pen.

The Yoga X1 pen is smaller so it can discreetly fit into the laptop, while the X1 Tablet pen sits in an optional loop on the side of the laptop:

20160926_171934-custom

If you don’t like the loop, you don’t have to use it as it’s interchangable with a blank plate in the keyboard, which is a nice touch.

Memory and Hard Drives

The memory options are:

  • 4.0GB LPDDR3-1866 LPDDR3 1866MHz
  • 8.0GB LPDDR3-1866 LPDDR3 1866MHz
  • 16.0GB LPDDR3-1866 LPDDR3 1866MHz

If you’re doing anything beyond basic web browsing and Word/Excel type work, or like to have a lot of things open go the 8gb. 16gb should only be needed if you’re doing high end work.

Same with the hard drives. The default options are:

  • 128GB SSD SATA III
  • 256GB SSD SATA III

You can go all the way up to 1TB too.

If you don’t need a lot of local storage, you might be fine with the 128GB. You can always use an external hard drive or USB stick (USB 3.0 is very fast for read/write), but if you want to keep a lot locally on the device, go the 256GB.

Size and Weight

The tablet part by itself is 767g which is a lot lighter than any ‘i series’ laptop. The keyboard brings it up to 1.07kg which is still incredibly light. In comparison, the very light and thin X1 Carbon 4th Gen weighs in at 1.21kg.

Being a 12″ hybrid laptop the dimensions are quite small:

  • Tablet :
  • (mm) : 291.5 x 209.5 x 8.45
  • (inches) : 11.47″ x 8.25″ x 0.33″
  • Tablet + Keyboard
  • (mm) : 291.5 x 209.5 x 13
  • (inches) : 11.47″ x 8.25″ x 0.51″

20160929_094234-customX1 Tablet on a X1 Carbon Gen 1 on a ThinkPad P50

Battery

You’ll get a 2 cell Li-Polymer battery, which gives 10 hours of battery in tablet mode, and 5 hours in ‘productivity’ mode, which means the keyboard is attached. If that’s not enough battery life for you, then you’d better have a look at the Productivity Module!

 

Productivity Module  – 5 Hours Battery Life, HDMI™, OneLink+ and Full-size USB

Presenter Module – A Pico Projector Capable of 60″ Display from 2 Meters, Full-size HDMI™ (in/out)

Sadly these aren’t available in Australia (yet or at all?) but they both sound very cool. The productivity module adds another 5 hours of battery and a few extra connectors (including a OneLink+ dock connector which isn’t available otherwise). The projector also looks great, check out this clip from The Verge showing off the modules (I believe the 3D RealSense Camera has been abandoned):

Other Bits and Pieces

There is an optional sim slot for those people who want to be mobile and have internet access, which is discreetly hidden behind the stand. The keyboard is one of the standout parts of the X1 Tablet, where it’s as close as possible to the nice ThinkPad keyboard experience while being a thin and light addition. The keyboard attaches via magnets and pins, again similar to the Microsoft Surface. There’s also a fingerprint reader which can be used for Windows Hello, and an inbuilt camera/microphone.

20160926_172009-customBack of the X1 Tablet

20160926_172039-customSide on

20160926_172204-customX1 Tablet display on top of the ThinkPad P50

20160929_094151-custom-customX1 Tablet Keyboard

Thoughts

I was first put off by the ‘m series’ CPU, but after using it and doing a bit of research, it’s a LOT better than I expected. It didn’t feel like I was using a slower chip at all. The form factor is quite nice, 12″ is a good portable size and the kickstand is very sturdy and secure, and lets you adjust smoothly to whichever angle you like (it doesn’t click in certain angles only). The keyboard has a design that lets you raise it from being flat which gets even closer to a chunky keyboard feel, and is even backlit. The Trackpad is of high quality as per usual in the ThinkPad series.

This is a really good ‘take into meetings’ device for note taking, and if you had the projector module it could add a lot of value for small presentations. It is powerful and useful enough to be your device that does ‘all the things’ too without feeling like you’re using a tablet with a keyboard addon (looking at you, iPad). A lot of people like the 12″ screen form factor with the tablet hybrid mode, and this is the best style of it I’ve seen so far (I was never a fan of the old Thinkpad Helix).

If you don’t need as much CPU grunt, and want a highly portable device that covers a lot of different situations, I’d definitely recommend this laptop/tablet/hybrid.

 

If you’re looking to buy the X1 Tablet direct from Lenovo, here’s some deals to check out:

AU Deal: Updates too frequently, check the link on the side of my blog for this week’s deal.

US Deal: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Sale! Save 15% off using eCoupon SAV30THINKPAD on select ThinkPad Laptop + Free Shipping! Expires Nov 3rd 2016

 

Lenovo P50 RAM Install


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:

Step 1 – Remove Battery

Step 2 – Remove Bottom Cover

Step 3 – Take Keyboard Off

Here’s a video I created on opening up the laptop and adding the RAM based on this:

 

Any questions please ask below!

Update: As Eric Xu pointed out to me, there’s also the great Lenovo Service Training Guide you can check out too :)

Lenovo ThinkPad P50 Review


IMG_20160306_222322

“That’s not a laptop…. that’s a laptop.”

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!

20160311_124430P50 170w battery pack above a normal 65w Lenovo adapter – this thing needs juice!

IMG_20160306_222121Top of the P50

IMG_20160306_222222Bottom of the P50 – dock connector visible

20160311_130144

Keyboard, trackpad, fingerprint reader – all great!

IMG_20160306_222517Backlit keyboard glowing in the dark

20160311_131102Right Hand Side – 3.5mm Audio out, 2 x USB3, Mini DisplayPort

20160311_131050Left Hand Side – ExpressCard/34 slot (above), 4-in-1 reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC) (below), Smartcard reader

20160311_131111Back 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

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