Lenovo Thinkpad W700 Mobile Workstation

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When you think of a high-powered graphics workstation, the first thing which typically comes to mind is a huge, bulky tower chassis, packed to the brim with multiple processors, high-end graphics cards, and multiple hard disks. For the most part, this assumption is still fairly accurate, as these are the components which designers and artists usually require, and they aren't available anywhere else. Thus, artists have more or less been chained to their desks and their big, perfectly calibrated monitors.

This isn't to say that there aren't options for the mobile workstation user, however, they have never really been up to par with what you could accomplish with a full tower. Almost every major notebook provider out there has a mobile workstation product, although for graphic artists, the only truly well respected product lineup has been Apple's MacBook Pro series. Even with the most high-end MacBook Pro, however, you're limited to what you can physically stuff into such a small form factor. The solution? Go bigger. That's just what Lenovo has done with their massively large (and equally impressive) Thinkpad W700 model - the first laptop we've seen which not only meets, but surpasses what Apple's MacBook Pro can offer to the graphics professional.

While Apple tends to target the style-conscious designer types, Lenovo is going the other direction, providing a no-frills, high-end laptop which is absolutely packed with high-end hardware. This isn't to say that the Thinkpad W700 is un-attractive (it has its rugged, industrial charm), but it's clear here that style is not Lenovo's primary focus. So, what is Lenovo's primary focus? Performance. Lenovo is offering hardware options which Apple isn't close to touching with their new W700. With the Lenovo W700, you can configure systems with quad-core processors, up to 8GB of memory, multiple hard drives in RAID, and Nvidia's latest lineup of mobile QuadroFX graphics processors, none of which are available on the PowerMac lineup today. Not only does the W700 offer what Apple can't, it also offers configuration options which are unique to the rest of the PC space as well.

Some may assume that Lenovo is taking a brute-force approach to the mobile workstation market, but this is clearly not the case with the W700. Helping to refine this model are options for ultra-high resolution displays, optional hardware display color calibration (a Lenovo first), and an optional Wacom digitizer (another Lenovo first), all of which clearly show that Lenovo has the right frame of mind when attacking the mobile workstation market. In terms of its specification, the Thinkpad W700 looks very impressive - and we were lucky enough to get our hands on one of the first shipping models, which we will now analyze in  great depth on the following pages. Enjoy!


Lenovo's (very-large) Thinkpad W700 Notebook - iPhone used for size comparison purposes.

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mazuki 6 years ago

i think i want to cry....it's so beautiful

Jimbo 2 6 years ago

Most thorough review of the W700 I've seen to date.          
          
One question: If I buy the W700 with one hard drive and want to add a third-party second drive myself, how do I obtain the rubber/plastic bumpers Lenovo uses to physically secure the drive in the drive slot? Are they just sitting there waiting for me in the drive slot when I remove its cover? (I'm not interested in RAID.)          
          
I'm hoping that Lenovo doesn't force you to buy add-on internal hard drives directly from Lenovo.          
          
Thanks.

 

epic 6 years ago

It's a Thinkpad so rest assured you'll be able to buy any adapters/sleds/sleeves needed from Lenovo if they are not supplied -- at a price of course. As a guide, the price for an Ultrabay SATA HDD adapter (to fit a 3rd harddisk in the ultrabay slot) is around $50. I'd hope the mounting kit for the primary and secondary bays would be cheaper though.

Dave_HH 6 years ago

Thanks for the kind words, Jimbo and thanks for the detailed response, epic! Since we received the system with two drives in it, we're not sure how it would be shipped with an empty second bay. However, we would be surprised if the sled wasn't there since it's part of the configuration really.

We'll see if we can verify with our Lenovo contacts, regardless.

epic 6 years ago

According to the Hardware Maintenance Manual for the W700 the hard disk bays uses the same rubber rails for mounting as on other current TPs namely FRU 41V9756 which are available for around $30.

You may also need a thin sled/caddy which fits on the hard drive and provides a handy tab for easy removal -- at least this is what you get in other Thinkpads.

chrisconnolly 6 years ago

Hey Jimbo :

I'll more or less echo what Dave says on the matter. Lenovo shipped the system with two drives by default, so we're not positive on how they would ship if only one disk was ordered. I'm leaning towards that they would include the extra drive bay adapter by default, either pre-installed or in the box with accessories, but we're not 100% on the matter.

shanewu 6 years ago

We're evaluating the W500 at my work, and it appears to be a decent machine as well. Not sure why, but Lenovo switched from NVIDIA in the T61p to ATI with the W500. And the W500's ATI card doesn't seem to be implemented very well (issues with custom settings in drivers to set up CATIA optimization).

What video card does the Macbook Pro have? It's not the $1000+ 3700M is it?

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