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When you wish no-compromise performance for CPU- and graphics-intensive tasks like 3D modeling, 4K video editing or running engineering software, you desire a mobile workstation. Using its optional Intel Xeon CPU and Nvidia Quadro graphics, Lenovo’s 15.6-inch ThinkPad P50 is powerful enough to perform cycle-sucking programs easily but lightweight enough to defend myself against the street. While other 15-inch workstations offer similar performance at lighter weights, this $1,322 notebook computer ($2,515 as tested) sticks out because of its best-in-class keyboard and all-day battery life.
The 5.8-pound, 1.16-inch-thick ThinkPad P50 is merely compact enough to be squeezed right into a typical notebook bag or be carried around any office, and is a lot lighter than Lenovo’s 17-inch, 7.6-pound ThinkPad P70. However, other 15-inch workstations are a lot more portable, including the Apple MacBook Pro (4.4 pounds, 0.71 inches thick), the Dell Precision 5510 (4.6 pounds, 0.66 inches thick) and the HP ZBook Studio G3 (4.6 pounds, 0.71 inches thick).
The P50’s raven-black, rectangular chassis follows Lenovo’s classy but staid ThinkPad design language, with splashes of color supplied by the bright-red TrackPoint pointing stick and status lights on the lid and deck. However, a soft-touch surface on the lid — something you do not see of all other ThinkPads — makes this notebook computer more pleasurable to grip. I simply wish the palm rest had the same comfortable texture.
With a glass-reinforced plastic lid and magnesium/aluminum base, the ThinkPad P50 was created to withstand some abuse. According to Lenovo, the notebook computer has passed MIL-STD 810G strength tests for extreme temperatures, humidity, sand blasts, vibrations and shocks.
Lenovo’s workstation gets the sort of security and manageability features that enterprise IT departments require. Most of its CPU options include Intel vPro management technology and TPM encryption. The P50 also comes standard with a single-touch fingerprint reader on the deck.
Keyboard, TrackPoint and Touchpad
The P50 gets the sort of best-in-class, snappy keyboard we expect from a ThinkPad. The large, smile-shaped keys give a deep 1.95 millimeters of vertical travel (1.5 to 2 mm is typical) and strong 60 grams of required actuation force. I felt extremely comfortable taking the 10fastfingers.com typing test, obtaining an interest rate of 93 words each and every minute, which is in my own typical range.
Like the majority of other ThinkPads, the P50 includes a TrackPoint pointing stick and a touchpad. As always, I came across that the tiny red nub provided extremely accurate navigation around the desktop and allowed me to go windows, highlight text or click icons, without lifting my hands from the home row.
If you’re not a huge fan of pointing sticks, you’ll appreciate the ThinkPad P50’s 3.9 x 2.1-inch touchpad. Within my testing, the matte-textured pad responded quickly and accurately to both simple pointer movements and complex multitouch gestures, such as for example three-finger swipe and pinch to zoom. I must say i appreciated its dedicated left, right and middle mouse buttons, that assist it avoid the jumpiness we sometimes experience on other units, where you must press down on the pad to click.
Display and Audio
The ThinkPad P50’s 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 display provided extremely sharp images with vibrant tones and wide viewing angles. Every section of the Windows 10 interface and software looked rich and lively, from the bright blue in the Edge browser icon to the deep green of the Xbox app. A desktop wallpaper of a bright, blue sky above orange-brown cliffs really popped.
When I played a 1080p trailer for Captain America: Civil War, colors just like the red in Iron Man’s suit and the slate blue in Steve Rogers’ mask appeared most evident alive, though not overly saturated. Fine details just like the wrinkles in Robert Downey Jr.’s forehead and the ridges in Captain America’s costume were extremely prominent. The picture remained true, even though I moved 90 degrees left and right.
According to your colorimeter, the ThinkPad P50’s screen can output an extraordinary 183 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is better still compared to the desktop-replacement category average (121 percent), the Dell Precision 5510 (177 percent), the HP ZBook Studio G3 (169 percent) and the 15-inch MacBook Pro (89.8 percent). Any screen that may display over completely is excellent.
The ThinkPad P50 posseses an optional color calibrator included in the deck which you can use to increase the display’s accuracy. WHEN I thrilled the Pantone application and clicked a number of buttons, the program prompted me to close the lid therefore the calibrator could do its work. After just a few minutes, the notebook computer beeped to i want to know that the procedure was complete and that the colors were simply a little richer than before.
Though it offers strong viewing angles, the P50’s display isn’t quite as luminous as some competitors’, registering 276 nits of brightness on our light meter. That number is nearly identical to the brightness of the P70 (277 nits) and slightly much better than the HP ZBook Studio G3 (241 nits). However, the MacBook Pro (317), the Precision 5510 (322) and the category average (293) were all brighter.
Sitting in a thin bar above the keyboard, the ThinkPad P50’s speakers provided tinny but bearable audio tracks that was only loud enough to fill a tiny room. Whenever we played both bass-heavy “Forget Me Nots” and guitar-laden “Smoke on the Water,” the vocals, bass and guitar sounded fairly accurate, however the percussion was distractingly tinny. The preloaded Dolby Audio software offers equalizer presets optimized for Movies, Music, Games and Voice, but we choose the Dynamic setting, which adjusts the output predicated on the content.
The very best surface of the ThinkPad P50 stayed relatively cool throughout our tests. Following the notebook computer streamed video for a quarter-hour, the touchpad and keyboard measured 83 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. However, underneath hit 104 degrees, which is pretty a little greater than our 95-degree comfort threshold but will not be a problem if you don’t try balancing this relatively bulky system on your own lap.
Ports and Webcam
The ThinkPad P50 includes a generous selection of ports; we just wish that almost all of them weren’t on the trunk, where we had to lessen the lid or turn the machine to access them.
The trunk surface houses the energy connector, an HDMI out port, a Thunderbolt/USB Type-C port, an Ethernet jack and two USB 3.0 ports.
The proper side contains mini DisplayPorts, an audio tracks jack and two more USB 3.0 ports, for a complete of four.
The left side only comes with an Sdcard reader, an optional ExpressCard 34 port and an optional smart-card reader.
The laptop’s 720p webcam captured decent images of my face, both beneath the bright fluorescent lights of our office and in my own dark living room. However, much like most other webcams, there is greater than a little pixelation in dark areas.
Using its 2.8-GHz Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe NVME SSD and an Nvidia M2000M GPU with 2GB of VRAM, our review configuration of the ThinkPad P50 is a lot more than fast enough to take care of extreme productivity work as well as 3D modeling. When I ran a 4K offline video in a single window and used Chrome with over twelve tabs open, I didn’t notice a good hint of lag.
The ThinkPad P50 scored a solid 13,378 on Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark that measures efficiency. That’s comfortably above the desktop-replacement category average (12,796), simply a tad greater than the Xeon E3-1505M-powered ThinkPad P70 (13,158) and about on a par with the Core i7-powered 15-inch MacBook Pro (13,352). However, the Dell Precision 5510 (14,316) and the HP ZBook Studio G3 (14,276), both which have the same Xeon E3-1505M CPU, did slightly better.
Lenovo’s workstation can crunch data with the very best laptops available to buy. It took the P50 just three minutes and 23 seconds to complete the Laptop Spreadsheet Macro Test, that involves matching 20,000 names with their addresses in OpenOffice. That’s faster compared to the category average (3:43) and the Dell Precision 5510 (3:40). However, the ZBook Studio G3 and the ThinkPad P70 got the same actual time, and the MacBook Pro was 19 seconds quicker.
Our P50 configuration was included with a 512GB NVME-PCIe SSD, which gives speeds considerably faster than you’ll receive from an average SATA SSD. It took the notebook just 11 seconds to copy 4.97GB of mixed media files, for an interest rate of 457.1 MBps. That’s considerably faster compared to the MacBook Pro (282.7 MBps). However, both category average (528 MBps) and competing machines with the same sort of drive were even quicker; the P70 (848.2 MBps), the ZBook Studio G3 (5090 MBps) and the Precision 5510 (565 MBps) were all ahead.
Using its Nvidia Quadro M2000M GPU, the ThinkPad P50 has enough graphics prowess to perform serious CAD software or do high-end video editing. Lenovo’s notebook scored a good 120,890 on the synthetic 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark. That’s prior to the category average (116,691), the Nvidia Quadro M1000M-powered Dell Precision 5510 (117,636) and the HP ZBook Studio G3 (117,745). However, the ThinkPad P70, using its Quadro M4000M GPU, scored an extraordinary 144,030.
Unlike almost every other mobile workstations, the ThinkPad P50 can last a complete day on a charge. Lenovo’s notebook endured for a complete 8 hours and 25 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, that involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of brightness.
That’s about on a par with the 15-inch MacBook Pro (8:29) and far longer compared to the Dell Precision 5510 (5:34), the HP ZBook Studio G3 (5:08), the ThinkPad P70 (5:53) and the desktop-replacement category average (4:24).
Software and Warranty
Lenovo preloads the ThinkPad P50 with a small number of useful first-party applications no bloatware at all. Lenovo Settings offers you fine control over several features, like the camera, wireless configuration, screen, audio, power consumption and touchpad.
Lenovo Companion runs hardware scans, looks for driver updates and links to user guides and support forums. REACHit can help you manage your cloud storage accounts, and SHAREit enables you to send or receive files directly from other devices, such as for example your phone.
Lenovo backs the ThinkPad P50 with a one-year “depot” warrantee on parts and labor, which ensures that the company can pay for return shipping on something that needs service. Also you can pay extra to upgrade to on-site service, add accidental damage protection and extend the warrantee to up to five years, with prices which range from $19 to $649.
The ThinkPad P50 starts at $1,322.10, but with configure-to-order options on Lenovo.com, it could zoom up over $2,500. The bottom model includes a Core i7-6700HQ, a 1080p nontouch screen, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard disk drive and an Nvidia Quadro M1000M GPU with 2GB of VRAM. Our $2,515 review configuration was included with a 4K display, an Intel Xeon E3-1505M CPU, Nvidia M2000M graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVME-PCIe SSD.
In the event that you buy through Lenovo, you can pick a Core i7 or Xeon CPU, a Quadro M1000M or M2000M GPU or more to 64GB of RAM. Unlike with the ThinkPad P70, you cannot choose an Nvidia M4000M card. You can decide on a 1080p nontouch display, a 1080p touch panel and a 4K nontouch screen. Additionally you get yourself a choice of hard disks and SSDs, with the choice to have among each.
The ThinkPad P50 gives workstation-class performance, a snappy keyboard and a stunning 4K display, together with over 8 hours of battery life — enough to leave its heavy power brick in the home. Creative professionals may choose the MacBook Pro, which is 1.4 pounds lighter and will be offering similar battery life.