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Review: Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Mobile Workstation

Review: Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Mobile Workstation

Lenovo has typically gone head-to-head with HP with its cellular workstations. But these efforts have fallen in need of the mark for some high-end media-intensive purposes. That would change with the introduction of the Lenovo ThinkPad P1. The P1 competes immediately with the HP ZBook Studio G5. The match is shut sufficient that you could be need to try the P1 to see if it’s a greater match in your wants — should you’re in search of a light-weight, however highly effective, cellular workstation.

When it comes to uncooked energy, the 2 fashions share most of the similar elements. Each may be outfitted with the latest-generation Intel Xeon E-2176M 2.7GHz CPU and NVIDIA Quadro P2000 GPU. (The Studio G5 can go a notch greater on the CPU finish with the Xeon E-2186M 2.9GHz processor.) Each can broaden all the best way as much as 64 GB of DDR4 RAM and four TB of NVMe-based SSD storage.

As for the variations, the ThinkPad P1 is considerably lighter (when evaluating comparable configurations) and barely smaller. The P1 additionally has a superior keyboard. In its favor, the Studio G5 has some superior choices that aren’t obtainable on the P1, together with an built-in privateness display and the power to swap out the second drive for extra battery capability.

Each fashions supply an non-compulsory 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) display, although there are vital variations between these shows. In the event you favor a shiny display, the P1 could also be your inevitable selection. The P1’s shiny display supplies richer, extra saturated colours, however the glare it produces could be a problem in some environments, resembling in vibrant daylight or whenever you’re caught on an airplane. The Studio G5’s matte display has a lot better glare safety than the shiny display on the P1.

The 4K screens on each fashions have a 10-bit colour depth. The P1 display goes farther, supporting Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR, the place the Studio G5’s display isn’t suitable with any of the present HDR requirements. The 4K show on the P1 is a capacitive-type touchscreen that helps as many as 10 finger gestures at a time. The Studio G5 doesn’t have a touchscreen choice for its 4K display. However, the 4K display on the Studio G5 is 50% brighter than on the P1 (600 nits versus 400 nits). Each screens cowl 100% of the Adobe RGB shade gamut. Nevertheless, when you want a show that covers a lot of the P3 shade area (92 %), chances are you’ll favor the 4K display on the Studio G5. Lenovo doesn’t specify how a lot of the P3 colour area is roofed by its 4K display.

Nuts and Bolts

When you’re accustomed to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, you recognize that Lenovo is well-versed in making its laptop computer computer systems extraordinarily skinny and lightweight. Whereas it might be terrific to have a cellular workstation that weighs simply two kilos, that’s merely not potential if you add in a workstation-class pc processor, devoted graphics processor, high-resolution show, further RAM, potential for four TB of storage, and a bigger battery to hold the load. The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 does have a surprisingly low beginning weight of three.76 kilos with a chassis that’s simply 18.four mm thick. By comparability, the ZBook Studio G5 has a beginning weight of four.four kilos and is barely thicker at 18.9 mm.

The P1’s weight and thickness are spectacular, however you must marvel if it took a system design hit — a less-sturdy chassis, or louder, extra lively inner followers — so as to push the shape issue that a lot farther. So far as I can inform, the carbon-fiber prime cowl and magnesium-alloy backside weren’t compromised in any approach to attain the unusually low beginning weight. And, based on Lenovo, the P1 has handed the necessities for 12 military-grade stress checks.

In fact, there are all the time some compromises when you might want to maintain the dimensions as small as attainable. On this case, the built-in stereo audio system are mounted beneath the unit, versus being on prime or on the 2 sides. That’s not an issue when the P1 is sitting on a tabletop, the place the reflective floor may help to broaden the stereo separation. Nevertheless, the audio system can sound a bit muffled when the P1 is positioned in your lap or one other sound-absorbing floor.

When it comes to its general design, the ThinkPad P1 is actually a ThinkPad X1 Excessive with workstation-class elements. The Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU within the X1 Excessive are swapped out for a quicker Core i7 or Xeon E-2176M CPU and both an Nvidia Quadro P1000 or P2000 GPU. Two RAM slots permit as a lot as 32GB in every. And there are two NVMe SSD slots, which permit as a lot as 2 TB in every.

Our assessment unit was well-equipped for heavy-duty media manipulation. It had the quickest CPU choice: the Intel Xeon E-2176M six-core processor with vPro. That processor often runs at 2.70 GHz, however it will possibly go as excessive as four.40 GHz with Intel’s Turbo Increase Know-how. It additionally got here outfitted with the quickest GPU choice: the Quadro P2000 Max-Q with four GB. Although solely half the utmost, the evaluate unit had a greater than a enough 32 GB of DDR4 RAM and a couple of TB of NVMe SSD storage.

Maxing out the reminiscence and storage would have added a whopping $2,805 to the worth, so the system as configured for assessment can be extra sensible for many consumers. The evaluation unit additionally got here outfitted with the UHD display quite than the HD display, although that did improve the worth by $670. It’s not only a matter of pixel decision between the 2 IPS LCD show choices (3840 x 2160 versus 1920 x 1080). The UHD model helps 100 % of the Adobe colour gamut, whereas the HD model helps solely 72 %. The UHD is 400 nits versus 300 nits for the HD model. And the UHD is a touchscreen, whereas the HD is just not contact suitable.

Because the UHD choice for the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 competes instantly with the UHD DreamColor choice for the HP ZBook Studio G5, I had hoped to match the colour gamuts between the 2 cellular 4K screens. Each help 100 % of the Adobe RGB shade gamut, however a greater measure for 4K video work can be the more-demanding (and more-videocentric) DCI-P3 shade gamut. The ZBook Studio helps 92 % of the P3 colour gamut. For comparability, the DCI-4K DreamColor desktop monitor (the HP DreamColor Z31x Studio Show) helps 99 % of the P3 colour gamut. Sadly, the P3 specification isn’t listed on the Lenovo web site, and I used to be unable to get the colour gamut protection from Lenovo.

Extra subjectively, the UHD display on the P1 does have wonderful colour saturation and differentiation. The displayed photographs stood out nicely with each shifting and static content material. A few of the satisfying pop from the colours did come from the shiny display, which is prone to glare. Outdoors in robust daylight, it was typically a problem to place the P1 in order that I might see the display clearly. That stated, the response time was excellent for a cellular 4K display. And there was no on-screen flickering with any video content material that I threw at it. General, apart from its sensitivity to glare, the UHD display on the P1 was fairly spectacular.

Quick and Livid

Velocity is likely one of the key requirements for any workstation. (The opposite key commonplace is reliability.) A quicker workstation will allow you to get the identical quantity of labor completed in much less time. Or it’s going to aid you get extra work finished in the identical period of time. Given the evaluation unit’s Xeon E-2176M cellular processor, quick DDR4 RAM, and Quadro P2000 graphics processor, this specific configuration ought to slice by means of work shortly. That’s definitely mirrored in its excellent Cinebench scores. Utilizing the present 64-bit model of Cinebench (model 15.038), the P1 racked up a really quick 135.61 fps on the OpenGL benchmark and an equally spectacular 1178 cb on the CPU benchmark. I don’t have comparative benchmark scores from the HP ZBook Studio G5. Nevertheless, going again to final yr’s HP ZBook Studio G4 (which used previous-generation elements), the P1 is considerably quicker — 135.61 fps versus 82.31 fps, and 1178 cb versus 730 cb.

These stellar outcomes have been achieved when the P1 was related to AC energy. Once I pulled the plug and the P1 fell again on its inner battery energy, the Cinebench scores dropped to 60.11 fps on the OpenGL check and 677 cb on the CPU check. That’s nonetheless comparatively quick for a cellular workstation. Once I ran the battery-powered Cinebench exams, the P1 was on its “best performance” battery setting with the display configured for 80 % brightness.

Cinebench is a wonderful benchmark for evaluating graphics rendering. And it’s out there totally free on-line. You would run it in your present system to find out how your workstation may examine with this specific P1 configuration.

Lenovo claims that the P1 (on discrete graphics) can final so long as 7.36 hours with its inner 80 watt-hour battery. That may possible be true for a reasonably outfitted P1 when operating a much less demanding workload. When you have a totally loaded P1 operating system-intensive media duties, you might have a considerably shorter battery life. A greater check for StudioDaily readers may be a video playback benchmark. I performed a 1080p video file at full display (3840 × 2160) with the show set to 80 % brightness. The battery lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes earlier than the P1 shut down by itself.

That will not sound excellent when in comparison with a typical shopper laptop computer. Take note, nevertheless, that there are all the time trade-offs. We would like lightning quick speeds in a featherweight design with a particularly lengthy battery life. With the present applied sciences, you possibly can select solely two of the three (velocity, weight, or battery life). Or you’ll be able to settle for a mixture of compromises, among the many three, that might be a very good match in your wants. With the P1 greater than exceeding expectations in each velocity and weight for a cellular workstation, an almost six-hour battery life for video playback is a good tradeoff.

Odds and Ends

Even with its skinny and light-weight chassis, the P1 does present an honest assortment of ports, connectors, and jacks. They embrace a single HDMI port, two Thunderbolt three (Sort-C) ports, and two USB three.1 Gen 1 (Sort A) ports. The tiny Ethernet port requires a specialised dongle that Lenovo consists of with the P1. With this dongle hooked up, you need to use a normal RJ45 Ethernet cable. It is perhaps a good suggestion to select up a spare dongle, in case you misplace the one which comes with the system. There’s the standard mini-combo mic/headphone jack and a full-size SD card slot.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 keyboard

An distinctive keyboard, with trademark pink nub.

As you’d anticipate with the ThinkPad identify, the P1 has an distinctive keyboard. Which will or will not be a excessive precedence for you, however over time, chances are you’ll discover it to be a worthy function, particularly in the event you are typically away out of your desktop pc for lengthy stretches at a time. The P1 additionally has the ThinkPad’s iconic purple nub-like pointer (the TrackPoint), which many individuals (myself included) favor over the extra ordinary touchpad. To not fear, the P1 has each. And you may simply transfer forwards and backwards between the 2.

You possibly can open up the P1 and carry out restricted upgrades. You’ll should take away seven screws on the underside of the unit so as to entry the 2 SSD slots, two RAM slots, and Wi-Fi card slot. The evaluation unit got here with a single 2 TB SSD, which left the opposite slot open for a second drive. Since you possibly can customise the RAM and SSD once you order on-line, you may attempt to hold these second slots open, so you possibly can extra simply add reminiscence and storage afterward, as costs come down or your wants change.


The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is each highly effective and very moveable. It does lack a number of the extra superior choices on the HP ZBook Studio G5, such an built-in privateness display and the power to swap out the second drive for extra battery capability. In its favor, the ThinkPad P1 is lighter and barely thinner than the Studio G5, which may make an actual distinction for those who’re carrying it with you all day.

For these working in 4K, the most important distinction between the 2 fashions is perhaps the show. The DreamColor display on the Studio G5 is 50% brighter with a matte-finish that’s higher suited to deal with glare. However, if you would like a touch-sensitive 4K display or compatibility with Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR, the P1 could also be your more sensible choice.

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