Lenovo Thinkpad W700 Mobile Workstation
Another necessity for a high-end graphics workstation is a GPU which is up to snuff. Lenovo, once again doesn't disappoint in this arena, as our Thinkpad W700 notebook was configured with an Nvidia QuadroFX 3700M graphics processor with 1 GB of graphics memory. The QuadroFX 3700M is based on Nvidia's G92 graphics architecture, which is also the basis of the GeForce 9800-series of cards for the gaming market. The implementation is certainly different, in terms of interface, drivers, and also some differences on the hardware level, but you can be assured that you're dealing with a fairly high-end GPU architecture at its core. Technologies such as Shader Model 4.0 / DirectX 10 and OpenGL 2.1 support are included here, and if you're into the whole GPU-computing thing, since you're on an Nvidia GPU, you've got CUDA support too.
Nvidia's QuadroFX 3700M supports 128 unified shaders, and runs at a default clock speed of 550 MHz. Shaders are clocked at 1375 MHz, and the 1 GB of GDDR-3 memory onboard runs at 800 MHz. As the QuadroFX 3700M runs on a 256-bit memory interface, you are able to hit peak memory bandwidth levels of 51.2 GB/s, which is absolutely impressive to see in the mobile space. The downside? The chip has a maximum TDP of 75W, more than double that of the system's dual-core processor - which means that under full load, your GPU is consuming more power and creating more heat compared to your CPU. When we looked at power consumption numbers through our wattage meter, the system really started to consume significant amounts of power when the GPU was running full-throttle.
GPU Specifications and Configuration Options through Nvidia's Forceware 175.31
The QuadroFX 3700M utilizes the MXM architecture, which is more or less a customized PCI Express interface for mobile devices. In theory, this does mean that the graphics chip can be removed and replaced if necessary. Since the graphics chip isn't hard soldered onto the motherboard, Lenovo can offer a range of GPU options for potential buyers. The QuadroFX 3700M is the high-end option, adding an additional $340 to the base cost. If you want to drop a little bit of the GPU power, you can go for the QuadroFX 2700M GPU, which effectively halves your GPU computing power and cuts your memory size down to 512 MB, but either way, you're dealing with some very good graphics chips in this thing.
While it's definitely not this machine's primary focus, when equipped with a QuadroFX 3700M, this notebook also becomes pretty respectable for gaming as well. Nvidia's QuadroFX driver set is not designed or optimized for gaming environments, but you can certainly handle DirectX 10 games without issue here. Our stock configuration scored 10,429 in Futuremark's 3DMark06, which is certainly respectable for a laptop, as this will outpace many mainstream desktop computers in gaming power. While this graphic chip may have some trouble running extremely GPU intensive titles like Crysis at full 1920 x 1200 resolution, the vast majority of games out there will run fine at this resolution with this GPU under the hood. If you opt for the less expensive QuadroFX 2700-series GPU, don't expect to be gaming at full-resolution on this screen. The LCD panel does downscale quite nicely to handle lower resolutions, however.
Not only does Lenovo provide a standard 15-pin VGA output, but it also has a dual-link DVI port and DisplayPort digital connections on the back of the system. This allows the Thinkpad W700 to output full-screen to the highest resolution 30" LCD panels on the market today. We connected the W700 to a Dell 30" LCD and ran it at full 2560 x 1600 resolution as a secondary screen along with our standard 1920 x 1200 integrated display, and the entire system worked beautifully. While DisplayPort enabled monitors are few and far between at this point, they are hitting the market in volume now and support for this standard shows how forward thinking Lenovo is with this model.
(Left to Right) DisplayPort, VGA, Dual-Link DVI, Gigabit Ethernet Ports