Lenovo ThinkPad W540

21 March 2014

A specialist piece of kit. With an exceptional 15.5-inch 2,880 x 1,620 display and an X-Rite Pantone colour calibrator built in

Product Lenovo ThinkPad W540
Company name Lenovo
Price £2,349

This latest update to Lenovo’s ThinkPad family is a specialist piece of kit. With an exceptional 15.5-inch 2,880 x 1,620 display and an X-Rite Pantone colour calibrator built in, it’s ideal for colourcritical workflows. Simply choose a profile, close the lid and it does the rest, making a few re-assuring beeps along the way.

The IPS panel is stunning: colours are vivid and jagged edges on wireframe CAD models almost invisible. Unfortunately, the cost of having so many pixels on screen is a drop in performance.

We experienced a 35% and 15% respective slow down in SolidWorks and Creo when going from 2,880 x 1,620 to standard HD. This will vary according to applications and models and it may have no impact on some workflows. However, if it is an issue, you can always downgrade to an HD display.

Storage is fast, provided by a single 256GB Samsung SSD. There’s also room for a second 2.5-inch drive but, surprisingly, no mSATA.

The machine is optimised for mobile workers. It has fast Intel Dual Band AC 7260 WiFi and mobile broadband built in so you can send/receive data wherever you can get a 3G/4G signal. Lenovo also places a big emphasis on battery life, automatically clocking down the Intel Core i7-4800MQ CPU by 75% when not plugged in, though this can be changed in the BIOS to give priority to performance.

Overall, we had mixed feelings about the W540. We loved the display and colour calibrator, but the touchpad can be hugely frustrating, so use an external mouse whenever possible.

To view comparative scores from other workstations please click here
For details of all our specific CAD/CAM/CAE benchmarks click here


This review is part of a comprehensive buyer’s guide to mobile workstations.
Below are links to the rest of the content

Ultra mobile workstations (14-inch and 15-inch)
HP ZBook 14
Dell Precision M3800

Mid-range 15-inch mobile workstations
Schencker W503
HP ZBook 15
Dell Precision M4800

High-end 17-inch mobile workstations
Scan 3XS MGW-10
Dell Precision M6800
Workstation Specialists WS-M1760

Click here to download a PDF of the entire mobile workstation buyer’s guide which includes a comprehensive matrix of all the specifications

Specifications

» Intel Core i7-4800MQ (2.70GHz up to 3.7GHz) (4 cores, 8 threads)
» 8 GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3 1600MHz
» Nvidia Quadro K2100M (2GB GDDR5)
» 256GB Samsung SSD DVD Multiburner
» Graphics driver 332.21
» Screen 15.5” 3K (2,880 x 1,620) IPS display with built in Pantone colour calibrator
» Keyboard / Mouse Spill-resistant, ergonomic keyboard with numeric keypad. TrackPoint pointing device and TrackPad with 5-point click integration
» Battery 6-cell (56 Wh) battery (optional 9-cell)
» Wireless Intel Dual Band AC 7260 WiFi Ericson N5321GW WWAN: Bluetooth
» Ports 2 x USB 2.0 + 2 x USB 3.0 Thunderbolt RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
» Expansion / security 4-in-1 card reader Express Card (SmartCard)
» Display outputs VGA, DisplayPort, Mini DP
» Docking port underneath
» Size (W x D x H) 377 x 248 x 28mm
» Weight (machine + power adapter) Starting at 2.53kg + 0.72kg
» Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
» 3 Year On-site

CPU benchmarks

(secs - smaller is better)
CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) - (i) 176 (ii) 284 (iii) 412
CAE (SolidWorks 2010 Simulation) - N/A
Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) - 285

Graphics benchmarks

(bigger is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2013 - SPECapc graphics composite) - 2.58
CAD (Creo 2.0 - SPECapc graphics test) - 4.77

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