Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Ultrabook Mobile Workstation Review

Introducing The Lenovo Thinkpad W550s

This is a good year for creative professionals that are constantly on the go. After watching the corporate world trot around with thin and light notebooks that sport bleeding-edge hardware and touchscreens, the content creation and workstation set is finally getting to enjoy features in their notebooks that many others take for granted. Lenovo in particular has pumped up its workstation line with a slick ultrabook that is loaded for bear.

Lenovo even heeded the complaints of some critics and reviewers (including ours) about the workstation line’s touchpad and gave it a complete overhaul on both the W550s and beefier W541 model. The W550s is designed to be light and portable while featuring the graphics and processing power that creative pros crave.
lenovo w550s fullsize
A 15.5-inch 3K display gives creative types plenty of screen real estate. The 3K resolution (2800x1620) makes for crisp images and the 315 nits brightness gives the screen pop in most lighting conditions. Interestingly, the screen is technically a little brighter on models that don’t have touch sensitivity: They tend to offer 350 nits. In the case of the W550s though, having a touch-sensitive screen is worth it in our opinion. The display also features IPS technology, giving it extra-wide viewing angles and more accurate color reproduction.

Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Ultrabook Mobile Workstation
Specifications & Features
Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit 
 Display:  15.5-inch IPS 3K 2880x1620 Multi-Touch Display at 350 nits
 CPU:  Intel Core i7-5600U Dual-Core 2.6GHz (3.2GHz w/Turbo)
 GPU:  Nvidia Quadro K620M (2GB RAM)
 RAM:  16GB 12800 DDR3L 1600MHz (2x8GB)
 Storage:  512GB SSD
 Networking:  Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265
 Gigabit Ethernet
 WWAN Capable
 HD 720p
 Ports:  3x USB 3.0 (1x Always On Charging)
 1x Smart Card Reader
 1x mini DisplayPort 1.2
 1x VGA
 1x Gigabit Ethernet
 1x Dock Connector
 Dimensions:  15 x 10.2 x 0.92 inches
 Weight:  5.47 pounds (as configured)
 Battery:  6-cell and 3-cell 72Wh (as configured)
 Software:  Bing Translator, Evernote , Lenovo Solution Center, Lenovo SHAREit, Lenovo Companion, ThinkVantage System Update, Microsoft Office trial, Norton Internet Security 30-day trial
 Important Features:
 Fingerprint reader
 Backlit Keyboard
 Warranty:  1 Year Depot Repair Service
 Price:  $2,514.60 (as configured)

The ThinkPad W550s features an Intel Core i7-5600U processor. It boasts a base clock of 2.6GHz (up to 3.2GHz on Turbo) but it’s a dual-core processor, which is a bit of a departure from the CPUs we’ve seen in recent mobile workstations like the Lenovo ThinkPad W540 and the Dell Precision M3800. Both of those systems run quad-core processors. The i7-5600U is a capable CPU, however, and we’ll get a chance to see how Lenovo’s choice affects the W550s’ performance in the benchmarks.

Workstations typically have different GPUs than other notebooks, and that’s true of the ThinkPad W550s. It features an Nvidia Quadro K620M, which is meant for the heavy lifting that CAD and other content-producing applications involve. The system also includes 16GB DDR3L 1600MHz memory (on two 8GB DIMMs) and a 512GB SSD for fast, but limited storage.
lenovo thinkpad w550s lid

Battery power is always an important part of the buying decision for a business notebook, so Lenovo has a few options in its online configurator. In the case of the model we tested, Lenovo added a 6-cell battery to the internal 3-cell battery. It juts out a bit from the bottom of the notebook, but delivers (according to Lenovo) in the neighborhood of 20 hours or more battery life. That alone make the ThinkPad W550s worth a look. 

The price tag on a baseline ThinkPad W550s is $1,196.10, but the model we tested has enough extras to bump that up to $2,514.60. That’s in the right range for a serious get-stuff-done mobile workstation, but pricier than some workstations we’ve tested recently. Let’s take a close-up look at this beast.

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