Lenovo ThinkPad W540: Who Needs A Desktop?

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Performance Summary and Conclusion

If you're doing any kind of work that requires a fast mobile processor and relatively powerful graphics, then Lenovo's Thinkpad W520 may be for you. While it wasn't the most eye-opening of laptops for general performance, its integrated Nvidia Quadro card is a game-changer the second you fire it up.

Though we wouldn't mind a little more battery life, a much better trackpad, and a Blu-ray option for an optical drive, Lenovo's big, beastly laptop comes with enough fun extras that we're willing to forgive these smaller issues. We liked the inclusion of a colorimeter with our review unit in addition to the laptop's security-focused fingerprint sensor. Lenovo doesn't bombard you with a ton of crappy software, either; its Solutions Center is actually a useful tool, rather than just some throwaway item that replicates what you might already be able to find in Windows itself.

The laptop's IPS display runs a huge, lovely resolution, though that has the added byproduct of making your fonts look a little tiny on Windows. Windows' scaling isn't an ideal treatment, so just know that you might be doing a little close-up work with the laptop (or some font customizing) if your eyesight is an issue. Otherwise, the display looks and performs great.

We question the need for a VGA output on a laptop that's so focused on graphical work, but the rest of the Thinkpad's external connectivity is pretty good. A DVI or HDMI port would have been a nice inclusion (or a great replacement for that VGA port), but we do like the fact that this laptop comes with support for both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt/Mini-DisplayPort.

You're going to want to cancel your gym membership once you've spent a few weeks lugging the Lenovo Thinkpad W520 around. However, you're getting a lot of performance for your sacrifice. While this laptop might be overkill for a person who just needs a general Windows device to carry around and surf the Web on, this is a great laptop for those looking for a real mobile workstation.

  • Strong Graphics Performance
  • Built-in colorimeter complements lovely IPS display
  • Thunderbolt and USB 3.0
  • Helpful bundled software and decent battery life
  • The price tag will put this system out of reach for most shoppers
  • Annoying touchpad design
  • No Blu-ray option
  • No DVI port, but VGA instead
  • A bit bulky to carry around

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