Lenovo Thinkpad W700 Mobile Workstation
Processor and Memory
Having a big, beautiful display like the Thinkpad W700 is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to pleasing high-end graphics workstation users - the other main aspect is performance. Graphics workstation users are typically some of the most demanding on their systems, as you are constantly thrashing your system's processor, memory, graphics processor, and storage subsystem - depending on your application of course. Every link in the chain must be up to par, otherwise you'll see slowdowns, and well, you should not see performance slowdowns on a machine with a price-tag this high.
The first link in the chain is the processor, and Lenovo gives quite a few options here. The least-expensive chip you can configure this system with is a 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile processor, whereas on the high-end you can go up to 2.53 GHz Core 2 Extreme Mobile quad-core processor, which effectively doubles the amount of raw processing power (at an additional - $1,083). You can also opt for a 3.0 GHz dual-core Core 2 Extreme Mobile processor if you want high-clock speeds but don't need two extra processing cores under the hood.
Our system was equipped with the mid-range Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 Mobile processor, which runs at 2.8 GHz, has 6 MB of L2 cache, and runs at 1066 MHz front side bus speed. The Core 2 Duo Mobile T9600 chip sells for about $550 on its own today, and runs off Intel's mobile "Penryn" core architecture, which means this chip is manufactured on Intel's newest 45mn manufacturing process and supports all of their latest technologies, including hardware virtualization, 64-bit processing, SSE4.1 support and Dynamic Acceleration technology. At 2.8 GHz, the chip is definitely speedy enough to handle most workstation tasks without issue - and it's all packaged together in a chip which consumes a maximum 35W TDP (Thermal Design Power). This is a lot for a mobile processor, compared to the single-digit wattage levels seen in Intel's new Atom designs, but for this much processing power, it's actually quite good. Desktop-level equivalents of this chip will have 65W+ TDP levels.
Core 2 Duo T9600 - Full Speed at 2.8 GHz
Core 2 Duo T9600 - Idle at 1.6 GHz
On battery power, the chip will automatically clock itself down to 1.6 GHz when not in heavy use, which allows for significant improvements in terms of heat production and power consumption. If you're using it as a full-on desktop replacement, Lenovo's software lets you run the chip in "Maximum Performance" mode, which runs everything at its highest levels without any on-the-fly clock speed alterations. Keep in mind that if you run at this level, you will likely feel quite a bit of heat being emitted from the unit's exhaust vents, and on battery life, this will limit you greatly. However, if you need performance, Lenovo does very little from getting in the way of you using it, which we whole-heartedly appreciate.
Pump that CPU up to full speed with Lenovo's Power Manager.
The Intel Core 2 Mobile T9600 processor is connected an Intel 945-series chipset which houses the system's memory controller. Lenovo claims (via PDF's on their website) that this machine to be configured with up to 8 GB of DDR2-1066 memory in a dual-channel configuration, although their website only appears to offer up to 4 GB options at this time. In terms of raw memory bandwidth, this gives you peak levels of 17 GB/s between the memory controller and the modules, greatly above most notebooks. Lenovo uses fairly high-latency Samsung memory modules, which by default were running at CAS 7-7-7 timings, but this is somewhat of a nitpick. 4-8 GB of DDR2-1066 memory in a notebook is, well, very impressive, as you only see these sorts of abilities in tower systems. Our system was equipped with 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) memory modules, which was still plenty given what we threw at the system.
As one would expect on a system which supports more than 4 GB of memory, Lenovo does offer 64-bit operating system options, which are needed to take advantage of memory capacities at (or over) 4 GB. Our system was equipped with Windows Vista Ultimate x64 Edition, and everything ran beautifully out of the box, but we'll get into the software side of things a bit later.