Thinkpad

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


“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

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 :)