Laptops are an important part of our work environments, so it is important to make sure we get the right one. There are a lot of laptop builders and sometimes it is hard to know which ones are good. Today I will be looking at the Lenovo ThinkPad W530. It is a workstation class laptop so it comes with some hefty specs. We will see if those specs translate into powerful performance.
- 15.6″ HD, HD+, or FHD display
- Up to 3rd generation Intel Core i7 quad core extreme
- Up to NVIDIA Quadro K1000M or K2000M 2GB graphics
- Up to 1TB HDD (with 2 HDD option), 256GB SSD
- Up to 32GB memory
- Integrated 720p HD webcam with face tracking
In the past, having a 15″ screen meant you could hot have an HD display. However with recent advancements in pixel density that is no longer a concern. The 15.6″ screen on the W530 has a native resolution of 1920×1080 which allows it to display a full 1080p movie without any problems.
The Quad Core processor and the Quadro graphics chip are what powers the W530. The CPU and GPU are the heart of any system and from the specs they look fairly good.
The W530 also includes a Low-Light 720p camera, it should be good enough for chatting online and recording some video, but I wouldn’t rely on it for much more than that.
The last feature I will mention here is the built in screen calibrator. This is the very first laptop that I have seen that has a built-in screen calibrating tool, and for graphics professionals it will be a great thing to have.
The W530 has a very plain, but classy design. It is all black with a matte finish. This helps to reduce glare and stop fingerprints from smearing the surface.
The top is covered in soft-touch carbon fiber black and has the Lenovo and ThinkPad logo.
The right side has an ExpressCard/34 slot, a 4-in-1 SD card slot (SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC), DVD drive, Ethernet port, and kensington lock.
The left side has a mini DisplayPort connector, VGA, 2xUSB 3, 1xUSB 2, a FireWire connector, and a Wi-Fi on/off switch. There is also another slot above the Firewire port, but I don’t know what it is.
The back has another USB port, the battery, and a power plug.
If you flip over the ThinkPad W530 you will see that there are two access panels on the right and a switch on the left. The top panel covers the memory. The lower panel covers the hard drive. The switch on the left is for ejecting the DVD drive in case you want to replace it with a new one, or something else.
When I opened it up for the first time I really got an idea of just how well layed out the W530 is. You see, not only does the W530 have (what looks like) a full size keyboard, but on either side of the keyboard is a large space for the speakers. It is nice to finally see a laptop with more than just a couple dinky speakers.
Below the keyboard is the touchpad and two sets of mouse buttons, one for the touchpad, and one set for the track ball. To the right of the trackpad is the screen calibrator, and a fingerprint reader.
Many laptops have fingerprint readers, but this is the first laptop that I have seen with a built-in screen calibrator. Fortunately, using the calibrator is fairly easy and the software will remind you regularly to calibrate the screen. To do so you simply close the screen with the calibration software running and it will start the process. When it is done it will beep to let you know you can start using it again.
Above the keyboard is a mute button, volume buttons, microphone on/off button, a SimpleTap UI button, and a power button.
The SimpleTap UI button starts a new interface that is nothing but a bunch of large icons. I can only think that this is so that it will be touch friendly. However this screen is not a touch screen, so I really don’t seen the point. Actually, it reminds me of the Windows 8 design, which I also don’t like, it seems like everyone wants to put touch interfaces on non touch devices. SimpleTap even has its own app store.
Above the screen is the usual webcamera.
Before I get into the performance of this mobile workstation I usually like to give kudos to builders that don’t load up their systems with a bunch of free software that constantly nags you to upgrade. Usually this behaviour is limited to consumer level hardware and not something I have to worry about with business computers. However, when I turned on the W530 I was greeted by the all too familiar Norton nag screen. Each time you restart there is also a large widow that opens, right in the middle of the screen, and gives you a big guilt trip about how your computer is not safe unless you use Norton’s software. I am disappointed that Lenovo would put this stuff on a business machine.
So with everything else out of the way, we now move on to the testing portion of the review. Here are the specs for the system that I was given:
- Windows 7 Home Professional (64 bit)
- 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-3920XM
- 16GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM
- 500GB 7200rpm
- NVIDIA K200M
- 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080)
- Optical Drive: DVD Multiburner
- Wireless: Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205
- 9-cell battery
- Warranty: 3-year
- Price as configured: $2,593
According to the specs it looks like a fairly powerful system. I expect the ThinkPad W530 to perform fairly well in the performance tests.
The first test is 3DMark 11, this test puts the graphics chip and CPU through several 3D and gaming related tests. Because of the specs above I expected to get a middle of the road score. So when I saw the score of 1993 I was satisfied. I thought it was interesting that in the results it lists the GPU as an Intel HD Graphics 4000. At first I thought this was a mistake because the specs say it has an NVIDIA K200M graphics chip. So I had to do some research. Apparently this laptop uses both chips and the NVIDIA Optimus technology, this technology is suppose to switch between the lower power Intel chip, and the Nvidia chip automatically when more graphics power is needed.
The next test is PCMark 7, this test again tests the computer but instead of focusing on 3D and graphics it focuses on things like photo manipulation, movie playing, email reading, and web surfing. Because of this I expected the computer to do slightly better than before. The PCMark score of 3023 is adequate for a machine with these specs.
Another test that I like to run is called Cinebench. This one simulates the processing power of rendering a movie, and large graphics. These are things that workstation are often used for, so I thought it would be relevant.
To test the hard drives I always use Crystal mark. Hard drives are often the slowest part of any computer, so getting the fastest ones possible can only help.
For my final test I tested the battery life on the ThinkPad W530. Even with the 9-cell battery I really don’t expect the battery to last very long because of the CPU and graphics card. I used MobileMark to test the battery life and when it finished it gave me a time of 300 minutes. This is actually really good, and would last through a couple movies or a couple hours of work. I had the screen brightness at about half and Wifi on, so you could probably squeeze a bit more out of it by adjusting those settings.
Warranty and Support
The Lenovo ThinkPad W530 only comes with a 1 Year Warranty, and it is very basic. The 1 year warranty is upgradeable to 4 years, including onsite service. This upgrade will cost you a bit, but I think it is worth it.
Just like all the other large computer makers, support comes through phone, email, and website resources, or an on-site technician if the issue cannot be solved any other way.
After all is said and done I think this would work as a portable workstation. It is powerful enough to accomplish all your tasks. With its powerful processor and graphics chip, the HD screen, and screen calibration capabilities it is setup to be a superb machine. I recommend you take a look at it the next time you are in the market.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|