Lenovo ThinkPad P50 Review

The Ultimate Workstation Laptop

There are two types of PC users out there, those who want a powerful PC on their desk and no where else, and those who want something they can take anywhere, but that doesn’t sacrifice power. The latter is common in the business setting, thus the birth of the workstation laptop. These machines are usually relatively bulky but often rival laptops with their power. With their latest workstation, the Lenovo P50, the company aims to push the boundaries of what a laptop can do.

Specs

  • 15.6” IPS Display – 3840×2160, Pantone Color Calibration
  • Intel Xeon E3-1505M Processor – 2.8GHz
  • 16GB RAM (Upgradeable to 64GB)
  • 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Nvidia Quadro M2000M Graphics
  • 5.8lbs

Hardware

The first thing you’ll notice about the P50 when pulling it out of the box is the design. This is a pretty simple laptop, but it screams the classic ThinkPad style which I personally love. The matte black outer casing, while susceptible to dust, feels nice and slides into any bag or carrying case with ease. The entire machine really feels sturdy, like it could take a light drop or two.

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What really blew me away on this laptop however was the weight. I use a workstation laptop daily at my job and most days I leave it at the office overnight because I just don’t feel like lugging it home. With the P50 however, that changes. This machine is both thin and light, at least as far as workstations go. I wouldn’t call it “ultra-portable”, but I wouldn’t have any issue bringing it with my on a business trip or just about anywhere else.

Performance

Out of the box you’ll find Windows 10 Pro loaded onto this machine and it runs like an absolute beast. Boot up times are insane and programs load lightning fast. This is partially thanks to the fact that this machine runs entirely off of an SSD (up to 1TB). While yes, you will make a sacrifice in terms of storage, the trade-off is well worth it.

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My primary usage of the P50 over my few weeks of testing landed under the web browsing category. I was easily able to run a dozen or more Chrome tabs without a single problem. Everything absolutely flew and I never once had a tab require a reload before I needed it once again. I also tried gaming on this machine and things ran like butter. As the avid Rocket League player that I am, I decided to see just how good it would run and at 1080p it’s great, but even playing a UHD the game didn’t skip a beat which was incredibly impressive.

Display

The 15.6” display on the Lenovo P50 was another massive highlight. While this isn’t one of Lenovo’s new AMOLED equipped machines, colors were incredibly vibrant and when playing games or just using the PC I was blown away at just how good everything looked. 4K content was also incredible with all the resolution this display has to play with.

Lenovo has also included a color sensor on this machine so that users will be able to adjust the color temperature of the display to best suit where they are working. Personally I didn’t find it all that useful, but it was a good addition nonetheless.

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The display also gets pretty bright which was great for using outdoors of near a window. It isn’t the brightest laptop out there with others such as the Macbook outshining it, but it was more than enough for most settings I used it in.

Keyboard And Trackpad

One of the biggest highlights of the Lenovo P50 for me was the fantastic keyboard. The layout takes a bit of time to get used to, but once you’ve done that, this will probably end up being one of your favorite keyboards on any laptop. The keys have a solid amount of travel with gorgeous backlighting for night time use.

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Beneath that keyboard you’ll find the trackpad which is solid. The responsiveness is good, the buttons are fine, and there’s even the “TrackPoint” system up above if you need another option. There wasn’t really anything impressive about the keyboard on the P50, but it was good.

Battery Life

Most powerful workstation computers have pretty poor battery life in comparison to other laptops, and the P50 is no exception. It certainly won’t match anything like what an Ultrabook will achieve, but the machine did last quite a while during non-stressful tasks for me. Throw on something intensive and of course it’ll chew up more battery life, but overall battery life was perfectly fine for me.

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The Little Things

Audio

One thing worth mentioning on the P50 is the speakers found above the keyboard. The single strip provides great volume, but the sound is a tad on the tinny side.

Ports

To keep up with everything you need to do, the P50 includes a wide selection of ports including the power port, HDMI out, USB C, an Ethernet jack, 4 USB 3.0 ports, an audio jack, a mini DisplayPort, SD card reader, and an ExpressCard 34 port.

There’s very little to complain about here as you can get just about everything you want to done with these ports, however my sole issue is the placement of some of them. The USB and mini DisplayPort placement along the right side is perfect, but all the other essential ports are mounted along the back. It makes sense when you’re using the laptop at a desk, but anywhere else it’s just annoying. Likewise, the SD card reader’s placement on the left side under the ExpressCard slot is a bit out of place to me as I actually couldn’t find it the first time I tried to use it.

Fingerprint Sensor

Lenovo includes a one-touch fingerprint sensor on the P50 but unfortunately I wasn’t able to test it on my unit due to software problems.

Final Thoughts

The Lenovo P50 is not designed to be a perfect, portable laptop. It’s designed to give you as much power as possible without sacrificing at least some level of portability. In that endeavor, it certainly succeeds, offering more power than many desktops but in a surprisingly compact form factor. Pricing starts around $1,300 and goes all the way up to $2,300. If you’re interested in picking one up, it’s available direct from Lenovo.

Buy the Lenovo ThinkPad P50