P50

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:

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.

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


“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!

IMG_20160306_222322

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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