Thinkpad

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen2 Review

In 2016, the first Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga (which I reviewed) was released in the ThinkPad lineup. It was my pick of laptops, being a solid all-rounder.

It’s 2017 now, and the second generation of this laptop has been out for a few months now. You can buy it straight from Lenovo or other suppliers… but is it still as good, and what’s changed in this latest generation?

Let’s start with the tech specs:

Processor
  • 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-7200U Processor (3M Cache, 2.5GHz, max. 3.1GHz)
  • 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 – Lenovo recommends Windows 10 Pro.
Display
  • 14″ FHD (1920×1080), glossy, 270 nits, 700:1 contrast ratio, narrow bezel FHD panel (on models with no WWAN only), IPS
  • 14” WQHD (2560×1440), glossy, 270 nits, 700:1 contrast ratio, IPS
Multi-Touch
  • Capacitive touch panel, supports 10-finger gesture
Hinge / mode
  • Yoga hinge, 360 degree / Laptop, tent, stand and tablet
Pen
  • ThinkPad Pen Pro
Graphics
  • Intel HD Graphics 620 in processor only, supports external digital monitor via HDMI or USB Type-C; supports 3 x independent displays; max. resolution: 4096×2304@60Hz (USB Type-C), 4096×2160@24Hz (HDMI)
Adaptor (optional)
  • HDMI to VGA adaptor
  • USB-C to VGA adaptor
  • USB-C to DisplayPort adaptor
Memory
  • 8GB / 16GB, LPDDR3 1866MHz, soldered to systemboard
Webcam
  • HD 720p resolution, fixed focus
  • IR camera and HD 720p camera (option is available on models with narrow bezel FHD panel only)
Storage
  • M.2 SSD / SATA 6.0Gb/s: 128GB
  • M.2 SSD / PCIe NVMe: 256GB OPAL2 / 512GB OPAL2 / 1TB OPAL2
Optical drive
  • None
Dimensions (W x D x H)
  • FHD/WQHD: 333 x 229 x 17.05 mm
Weight
  • FHD/WQHD: 1.42 kg
Case colour
  • Black
  • Silver
Case material
  • Carbon-Fibre Hybrid
Battery
  • 4-cell integrated battery (56Wh)
Battery life
  • FHD: up to 15 hours
  • WQHD: up to 14 hours
AC adaptor
  • 45W Type-C
  • 65W USB Type-C (support Rapid Charge)
Keyboard
  • 6-row, multimedia Fn keys, spill-resistant, wave keyboard, backlit
UltraNav
  • TrackPoint® pointing device and multi-touch with 3+2 buttons click pad
Fingerprint reader
  • Touch style fingerprint reader on keyboard bezel
Audio support
  • HD Audio, Dolby® Audio Premium / stereo speakers, 2W x 2 / dual array microphone, combo audio/microphone jack
Ethernet
  • Gigabit Ethernet via Ethernet (RJ-45) adaptor
Wireless LAN
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265, 2×2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.1, M.2 Card
  • Intel Tri-Band Wireless-AC 18265, 2×2, WiGig™ + Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.1, M.2 Card (available only on models configured with vPro processor)
Wireless WAN
  • Sierra EM 7430 (optional)
SIM card slot
  • Micro-SIM card slot (models with 4G card only)
NFC
  • None
Ports
  • 2 x Intel Thunderbolt 3
  • 3 x USB 3.0 (1 x AlwaysOn)
  • HDMI
  • microSD
  • microSIM (models with 4G card only)

Processor wise, we’ve jumped a generation too, now on the 7th Gen Intel series of CPUs. Pretty standard there. The 8th Gen has already started releasing Q4 2017, but that’s early days with both series being released in the same year, and companies like Lenovo need time to incorporate these into their products.

The display options are good too, the two resolutions I’m happy to pick from. OLED is supposed to be available, but I have personally not seen one in real life, nor can I find any information in Lenovo’s tech specs on it, so you’ll have to read some other reviews to get a take on that. From everything I’ve read though, it’s highly praised. Hopefully I’ll get to see one soon!

Touchscreen, 360 degree hinges and the stylus are standard again, which makes this device particularly versatile. It’s still my preferred style of hybrid laptop/tablet as no functionality is lost in laptop mode, and you don’t need to undock/dock and worry about where half the device gets stored.

Graphics is still on board, which these days is more than enough unless you’re doing high end graphic design or gaming. Having a full HDMI port is nice too, instead of finding adapters or the right cable when outputting video – full size HDMI is today’s standard.

RAM wise, 8GB and 16GB options are all you need, again unless you’re doing some real high end work, or trying to run several virtual machines at once. Storage is the same as last year, no complaints there.

The size of the newer Yoga is identical to last year’s, apart from this new one being thicker. THICKER? Yep, a little, 0.25mm. It’s also heavier by 6 grams. I don’t think you’re going to notice either of these changes though, here’s then Gen 1 and Gen 2 stacked together:

X1 Yoga Gen 2 on top of a X1 Yoga Gen 1

You might be wondering why the newer one is slightly thicker and heavier, and I believe this is because of the keyboard.

It’s called a ‘Wave Keyboard’ and it rises and falls with the opening and closing of the screen. The idea of this is to protect the keys from damage when in tablet mode:

I like it, and the keyboard itself still feels normal despite having this extra ability.

Battery life has been improved again, and quite drastically – a claim of 4-5 hours more than the previous generation. Quite impressive!

Here’s a full photo of the keyboard:

After using this for a while, I have no faults to pick. Caps Lock is where it should be, as well as page navigation buttons (such as home and page up). The keys are nice to use, trackpad is a great size and has the physical mouse buttons if you prefer. There’s also a fingerprint reader that works great with Windows 10 Hello for almost instant logins.

If you’re trying to identify a X1 Yoga Gen1 vs a X1 Yoga Gen2 (beyond checking the side for USB-C!) it’s easy to see via the keyboard. For one, the PrtSc (print screen) button is different:

X1 Yoga Gen 1 PrtSc

X1 Yoga Gen 2 PrtSc

Or, you can look at the F12 button, the newer Yoga has a star:

X1 Yoga Gen 1 F12

X1 Yoga Gen 2 F12

Let’s have a look at the sides of the laptop:

Left Side: USB-C in, USB-C out, USB 3, USB 3 with power out (can charge a phone without powering on laptop)

 

Right Side: Stylus, Power, 3.5mm Headphone Jack, Ethernet adapter port, USB 3, Full Size HDMI

Back – Hinges, Protected Slot for SD and SIM

As you may have noticed, the old rectangle power cable port has gone, replaced by USB-C. This is the new industry standard, and it’s good to see Lenovo be a part of that. USB-C charges quickly, and if you have a phone with the same port, can be used to charge that too. The rapid charge claims to get to 80% charge in 60 minutes which I’m very happy with, and experienced similar charge times in real life.

Also there’s no full size network port – the laptop would have to be thicker because of this, so I can live with a dongle on that. Most of the time the laptop is being used portable on Wifi, or at a workstation and using a dock, so this isn’t a dealbreaker.

Speaking of docks, that’s what the USB-C out port is for. My experience so far with those docks has been much better than the older USB 3 models which seemed to lock up occasionally, and there’s the added bonus of running power and data over 1 cable!

I haven’t picked on this year’s X1 Yoga because there’s really that little to pick at. The 7th Gen CPU only supports Windows 10, so you can’t use Windows 8.1 or 7, but that’s an Intel CPU/Microsoft limitation across all laptops and desktops now. Beyond that, I really like this laptop – even more than last year’s. At my work, this is our standard laptop purchase now, which is why I’ve been able to review it, tied into a Windows 10 rollout (It wasn’t given to me by Lenovo).

I can honestly say that I believe this is the right time to upgrade if you’re thinking about it. This laptop will last many years, incorporates all the new features and connections that I think are worth considering, and doesn’t leave anything behind. You won’t be disappointed with this laptop!

Win a Lenovo ThinkPad E560 – AU/NZ Only

Several weeks ago, I compared the Lenovo ThinkPad E560 vs HP ProBook 450 G3 where both laptops came out pretty evenly well, with a few pros and cons depending on your preferences.

I’ve decided (with Lenovo’s blessing) that the Lenovo ThinkPad E560 should be given away as a prize to an Australian or New Zealand resident!

Sorry to other countries, but I’m personally paying for shipping on this and don’t know how much postage would cost to all corners of the globe, plus the power pack has the Australian/New Zealand connector on it :)

The laptop you might win!

I’ve personally reset the PC and put it back in it’s box, ready to be shipped at the end of the month.

Here’s the specs on this particular laptop (taken from Lenovo AU’s E560 site and only relevant specs left in):

DESCRIPTION THINKPAD E560 LAPTOP
Processor
  • 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6200U Processor (3M Cache, 2.3 GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (2.8 GHz)
Operating System
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Display
  • 15.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare, 220 nits
Ports
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC)
  • Lenovo OneLink Docking Port
  • VGA
  • HDMI
  • Combo audio/microphone jack
  • Ethernet (RJ45)
  • Security keyhole
Graphics
  • Intel HD Graphics or Intel HD Graphics 520
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 M370 2GB GDDR5
Memory
  • 8GB, PC3-12800 1600MHz DDR3L
Webcam
  • 720p HD Intel® RealSense™ 3D Camera
Storage 3
  • 1TB 5400 RPM HDD
Optical Drive (optional)
  • DVD Burner, fixed, not removable, tray-in
Dimensions (W x D x H)
  • 377 x 255 x 23.8~27.1 mm
Weight
  • Starting from 2.3kg
Case colour
  • Graphite Black
Battery
  • 6-cell Li-Ion battery – 75+ (48Wh) internal battery
Battery life
  • Up to 9 hours
Keyboard
  • 6-row, spill-resistant, multimedia Fn keys
UltraNav™
  • TrackPoint® pointing device and multi-touch with 3+2 buttons click pad
Audio support
  • HD Audio, Dolby® Advanced Audio™ v2 certified / stereo speakers, dual array microphone, combo audio/mic jack
Ethernet
  • Gigabit Ethernet
Wireless LAN
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 (1×1 WiFi, 802.11ac) with Bluetooth 4.2
Warranty Expires
  • 2017-03-29

 

How do you win this laptop? Do one or more of the below actions to enter! (a like on my Facebook page would be nice, but isn’t mandatory. It’s a feed of the posts I publish here)

Win a Lenovo ThinkPad E560 Laptop!

Note: if you’re having problems with entering, try turn off your adblocker for a moment.

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 Thinkpad E560 vs HP ProBook 450 G3

 

After looking for a budget but decent business laptop in Australia, I came across these two devices and thought it’d be worthwhile to compare.

The Lenovo ThinkPad E series is Lenovo’s entry level laptop type for business. If you don’t need super thin and super tough, but still want something that is customisable to your needs, these are great as entry level devices. The E560 is the latest 15.6″ model in the E series with an Intel CPU.

On the other hand, the HP ProBook 450 G3 is part of HP’s ProBook series, which is their version of the budget business laptops. I couldn’t work out what the G3 stood for after some research, if you know please share! :) The 450 G3 is also a 15.6″ laptop, customisable to the specifications you choose.

20160815_173054 (Custom)Back to Back – E560 & 450 G3

After getting my hands on both laptops, there were a lot of similarities. I’ll run through some comparisons below. Specs have been sourced from the Lenovo and HP websites.

20160815_173019 (Custom)Side by Side – E560 & 450 G3

Weight and Dimensions

E560
37.7cm x 25.5cm x 2.38~2.71cm
Starting at 2.30 kg

450 G3
37.8 x 26.43 x 2.38 to 2.48 cm (front to rear) (non-touch);
37.8 x 26.46 x 2.55 to 2.65 cm (front to rear) (touch)
Starting at 2.07kg

The HP is a bit lighter to start with, but without a scale and comparing the two build I had, they felt very similar. The HP seemed to have more weight at the back while the Lenovo was more centered. Alternatively, the Lenovo is slightly smaller in length and width, but height varies from shorter to taller depending on the E560 config. To me, all of these aren’t deciding factors between the two.

Winner – Too close to call

CPU

The processor options between the two are identical for the Skylake 6th generation ‘i series’ of Intel CPUs. i3, i5 and i7 are all choosable with the same variant on both models. The HP also has a Pentium processor option, but this is very low end and I personally wouldn’t consider this.

Winner – Both

RAM

Again, both laptops can go up to 16GB of DDR RAM. Interestingly, the Lenovo is DDR3 1600Mhz while the HP is DDR4 2133Mhz. This might sound major, but the performance difference between the two is negligible when benchmarked. Not a deciding factor between the two here, even though it’s nicer to have a newer technology :)

Winner – HP slightly

Storage

450 G3

  • 500 GB SATA (7200 rpm)
  • 500 GB up to 2 TB SATA (5400 rpm)
  • 128 GB up to 256 GB M.2 SATA TLC SSD
  • 500 GB SATA SSHD (5400 rpm)

E560

  • 500GB 7200 RPM HDD
  • 500GB 5400rpm Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) with 8GB NAND flash memory
  • 1TB 5400 RPM HDD
  • 192GB SSD (although I could find a 256GB SSD option)

Yet again, we’re seeing similar options. I wouldn’t go past SSD, but you do pay a small premium for that. For an entry level business laptop 128GB is probably enough too, but the 256GB is a nice bit of extra room. The HP has the newer M.2 SATA style SSD, but again there is very little difference in that versus the SATA SSD contained in the Lenovo.

Winner – HP slightly

Display

450 G3

  • 15.6″ diagonal HD anti-glare flat LED-backlit (1366 x 768)
  • 15.6″ diagonal full HD anti-glare slim LED-backlit (1920 x 1080)
  • 15.6″ diagonal HD flat LED-backlit touch screen (1366 x 768)

E560

  • 15.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare, 220 nits
  • 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, Anti-Glare, 250 nits

 

20160815_172738 (Custom)450 G3 & E560 displays

I couldn’t visibly tell a difference in quality between the two. The HP is the only one with a touch option, but you’ll pay for that benefit. If you need touch, then the 450 G3 is the only choice. Otherwise, I’d recommend either with a 1920 x 1080 resolution

Winner: Both, (HP if you need touchscreen)

Graphics

450 G3

  • Onboard Intel HD
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 M340 (1 or 2 GB DDR3 dedicated, switchable)

E560

  • Onboard Intel HD
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 M370 2 GB GDDR5

 

As the Intel HD graphics is part of the CPU, those are again identical between the two models. If you need more grunt though, the E560 has the clear advantage of a better discreet graphics card. Many businesses may not care about this, but if you’re doing modeling or other GPU intensive tasks, this could matter

Winner: Both, (Lenovo if you need a dedicated GPU)

Ports

450 G3

  • 2 USB 3.0
  • 2 USB 2.0
  • 1 HDMI
  • 1 headphone/microphone combo
  • 1 AC power
  • 1 RJ-45
  • 1 VGA
  • 1 multi-format digital media reader

E560

  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC)
  • Lenovo OneLink Docking Port
  • VGA
  • HDMI
  • Combo audio/microphone jack
  • Ethernet (RJ45)
  • Security keyhole

20160815_172940 (Custom)20160815_172925 (Custom)20160815_172909 (Custom)E560 on top of the 450 G3

Having lots of useful ports is important. The Lenovo has an extra USB 3 port at the cost of two USB 2.0 ports. Personally I’d rather the 3 x USB 3.0 but if you need a wired keyboard and mouse, then those would be better used on the HP’s two USB 2.0 ports, leaving two USB 3.0 free. The Lenovo having the Onelink Docking Port is good if you want a dock, otherwise on the HP you’d have to use one of the USB 3.0 ports for this.

Winner: Too close to call

Camera

450 G3

  • 720p HD webcam

E560

  • Integrated 720p HD Camera, with Dual MIC
  • 720p HD Intel® RealSense™ 3D Camera

The quality of the two cameras are the same, but the Lenovo has an optional Intel RealSense 3D Camera. The model I had was set up this way, which gives you Windows Hello sign in – look at the camera for a second and you’re logged in without touching the laptop. This is one of those features that you won’t be bothered about until you have it, then you’ll be annoyed when you use another computer missing the feature!

Winner: Lenovo (if you want to pay extra for RealSense)

Keyboard and Trackpad

 

20160815_172837 (Custom)HP ProBook 450 G3 Keyboard and Trackpad

20160815_172844 (Custom)Lenovo ThinkPad E560 Keyboard and Trackpad

These are more of a personal preference, but to me the Lenovo keyboard and trackpad were a lot nicer than the HP’s. The trackpad itself feels of higher quality, as do the keys. The HP does have an optional backlit keyboard though, so if you’re doing a lot of typing in the dark, that may trump the quality and feel of the Lenovo. The lenovo also has a pointing stick, and full arrow keys which you can see in the photos above.

Winner: Lenovo

Wrap up

There were some other features I didn’t mention, such as both having a DVD drive – but this doesn’t help you choose between the two. The Lenovo is most customisable online where each option was a tickable addon, clearly showing the cost when purchasing. HP seemed to be more clunky, where I could only find a single model for sale that couldn’t be customised. Speaking to them online or contacting them may be a way to get the particular features you want.

Due to this, I couldn’t spec both up the way I’d want and give a price comparison. Here’s the optional specifications I’d pick which both models support, which should be best bang for buck:

Processor : Intel Core i5-6200U Processor (3MB Cache, up to 2.80GHz)
Operating System : Windows 10 Professional 64
Hard Drive : 256 GB Solid State Drive, SATA3 OPAL2.0 – Capable
Display : 15.6 FHD (1920×1080) IPS Non-Touch
Memory : 8GB PC3-12800 1600MHz DDR3L (1 DIMM)
Graphics : Intel HD Onboard

Of course, the dedicated AMD GPU would be nice, and depending on price I’d add one on too.

If you haven’t guessed by now, there’s no clear winner. I’d be choosing on price primarily, and if it happened to be the same, the above information will hopefully help you pick one over the other, depending which little extras you want. Both are solid laptops, and with the right specifications neither would be a regrettable purchase.

 

I was also asked this on Twitter about the comparison of the two laptops:

 

 

My answer on this is the same, both would be a great fit and I’d choose on price. The laptop can be connected to your TV via HDMI, and a remote connected via USB dongle to control something like Kodi.

If you have any questions or comments, please write below!

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

Untitled

 

Windows Hello with Fingerprint Reader

I made a very quick video showing how fast it is to log onto a Windows 10 PC that has a Fingerprint reader.

The laptop in use is a Lenovo ThinkPad P50 which I will be reviewing soon!

I log on all the time now doing this, you can actually put your finger on at startup before seeing the lock screen and it’s even quicker.

Side note – I need something better than the Samsung Galaxy S6 to make these videos on :)