Notebookcheck

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550 Notebook Review

Till Schönborn (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 03/10/2015

Two steps forward, one step back. Lenovo replaces a standard CPU with a ULV processor in yet another ThinkPad. Thus, the Edge E550 sacrifices some performance in favor of power consumption and emissions. The inexpensive office laptop nevertheless makes an overall solid impression.

For the original German review, see here.

Even if the name is virtually identical, the basic office laptops from the ThinkPad Edge lineup only have little in common with traditional business machines like the ThinkPad T450s. Instead, Lenovo wants to capitalize on the lower price ranges with its well-known name - that is not at all reprehensible as long as the price-performance ratio is correct.

The manufacturer now introduces yet another scion of the lineup dubbed ThinkPad Edge E550 (also simply known as ThinkPad E550). The most significant modification is doubtlessly the change to Intel's Broadwell ULV platform in contrast to the precursor that was still based on standard voltage CPUs from the Haswell generation. The entry-level configuration at hand incorporates a Core i3-5005U alongside 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD storage device. The matte, 15-inch screen has a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. This model is available to students and pupils for around 550 Euros (~$583) in the frameworks of Lenovo's Campus program (no operating system). Standard configurations tend to be a bit more expensive. An overview of the alternative configurations is listed in the chart below.

In the following test, we would not only like to let the ThinkPad E550 compete against contenders like HP's ProBook 450 G2 and Acer's TravelMate P256-M. We would also like to compare it with the former ThinkPad Edge E540 with special focus on the impact that the economic hardware has on performance and emissions.

Overview of configurations (w/o Education Discount, excerpt):

ThinkPad E550 (20DF0051GE) ThinkPad E550 (20DF004TGE) ThinkPad E550 (20DF004UGE)
Core i3-5005U Core i5-5200U Core i7-5500U
4 GB RAM 4 GB RAM 8 GB RAM
500 GB (HDD) 500 GB (HDD) 1000 GB (HDD)
HD Graphics 5500 Radeon R7 M260 Radeon R7 M260
TN screen, 1366x768 pixels TN screen, 1920x1080 pixels TN screen, 1920x1080 pixels
starts at 600 Euros (~$636) starts at 780 Euros (~$827) starts at 920 Euros (~$976)

Case

Plastic casing with mediocre build quality
Plastic casing with mediocre build quality

The Edge E550 is one of the few ThinkPads of the 2015 generation where Lenovo visibly reworked the casing. Principally, the matte-gray chassis is still based on a plastic construction (PC / ABS) that does not have additional metal struts. Despite that, the display and base unit prove to be very rigid. The surface first yields noticeably when high pressure in places or excessive warping attempts are made. The manufacturer has obviously favored stiffness over mobility here. The 2.38-kilogram heavy and 27-millimeter thick E550 is not exactly portable.

Considering the low purchase price, the display's tightly pulled hinges are also convincing. Although they do not allow one-hand opening or an opening angle beyond approximately 135 degrees, they have a firm hold on the lid even during strong vibrations. We did not like the sharp edges on the outer bezel where the front and back of the two-piece display meet as much. Also, we discovered similar manufacturing flaws, such as inaccurate material transitions or uneven gaps, on other parts of the casing. This does not lead to functional restrictions, but a better quality control would be welcomed.

Connectivity

ThinkPad OneLink Pro Dock
ThinkPad OneLink Pro Dock

Still only two of the three USB ports support the high-speed USB 3.0 standard, which does not seem very logical in view of the modern Broadwell platform. It's also too bad that both the VGA (analog) and HDMI (digital) video outputs only officially support a maximum resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. Unfortunately, the ThinkPad does not feature a (mini-) display port, which is particularly needed for high-resolution monitors. However, none of the contenders have one, either. The interface diversity is completed with the usual standards like Gbit LAN, a headset jack, and card reader (SD/MMC).

Although the E550 does not have a conventional docking port, the listed connectivity can be expanded. Lenovo installs a special power-in socket for this purpose. So-called OneLink Docks - a small box that is placed beside the laptop - can be connected to it. The pro-version sold for around 130 Euros (~$137) even features the missing display port.

Front: card reader
Front: card reader
Left: Kensington lock, Gbit-LAN, VGA, HDMI, 2x USB 3.0
Left: Kensington lock, Gbit-LAN, VGA, HDMI, 2x USB 3.0
Rear: no interfaces
Rear: no interfaces
Right: headset jack, DVD burner, USB 2.0, power socket/OneLink
Right: headset jack, DVD burner, USB 2.0, power socket/OneLink
Speedy Wi-Fi connection (802.11 ac)
Speedy Wi-Fi connection (802.11 ac)

Communication

A mini-PCIe wireless adapter from Intel is inside our review sample. However, it is not the current top model Wireless-AC 7265 but the slightly less expensive Wireless-AC 3160 version. Although it supports exactly the same radio standards in form of Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz), it only achieves 433 Mbps gross because it is limited to single-stream transmissions. This is not a major drawback in practical use. The module only lagged behind the bigger model by roughly 10 to 15 Mbps with the ascertained 30 Mbps (TP-Link Archer C7, 802.11 ac) in ideal reception conditions. Furthermore, we can confirm that the ThinkPad has a stable and high-range connection.

As so often, the 0.9-megapixel webcam installed in the display bezel, unfortunately, only provides very moderate results. Lack in detail, faded colors, and strong noise characterize the image impression, making it at most suitable for Skype and co. However, the very clear dual-array microphone did not give us reason for complaint.

Security

Despite the ThinkPad label, the E550 is more a member of the consumer category, and thus it hardly has any security features. A TPM or fingerprint scanner are only found in exclusive models.

Accessories

Our Campus model without an operating system is not shipped with driver CDs or any other accessories. The needed drivers and system tools for installing Windows 8.1 64-bit at a later date are, however, easy to find on Lenovo's support website. The manufacturer also still completely supports Windows 7.

Maintenance

Opened maintenance covers
Opened maintenance covers

There are two maintenance covers on the device's underside, which enable accessing the most important hardware components. A 2.5-inch, 7-millimeter hard drive, Wi-Fi module and working memory (1 of 2 banks filled) but not the casing's fan belong to that. Interesting: soldering points on the motherboard indicate a preparation for an M.2 slot, which our model did not have. It is possible that configurations with a mobile network adapter or an M.2 SSD are planned in the future.

Warranty

As standard for this price range, The E550 only includes a 12-month warranty. However, extending this period with one of the fairly inexpensive upgrade packages (bring-in service: 24 / 36 months starts at 32 / 58 Euros, ~$33 / ~$61) would seem recommendable.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The looks and layout of the E550's keyboard are identical with those of higher-priced ThinkPads, such as the T550. However, there are some differences, which is not surprising considering the massive price difference. In addition to the lack of a backlight, it primarily concerns the typing feel that cannot quite compete with the pricier sister model. Although our review sample stands out with its long drop and firm stroke, the pressure point let us slightly miss the rich, mechanical feedback of the T series. That also became evident in the somewhat higher-pitched clattering when typing energetically. But we are complaining on a high standard. Compared with the direct contenders, the keyboard alongside its integrated number pad makes an impeccable impression and thus allows typing swiftly.

Touchpad

Like in all ThinkPads of the 2015 generation, Lenovo also installs the revised UltraNav unit in the E550, which again features dedicated TrackPoint keys. The keys' soft and accurate response prove to be a real plus point after a short time, and we ask ourselves why the manufacturer did not modify the touchpad in the same manner. Instead, a so-called ClickPad is still used where the buttons are incorporated into the 10 x 5.6 centimeter input area. In particular, drag'n'drop is slightly more difficult, but the pad functions overall more reliably than in the past - likely also due to the updated driver. More experiences regarding both input devices can be found in the review of the ThinkPad T450s.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad and TrackPoint
Touchpad and TrackPoint

Display

The E550 features either a WXGA (200 cd/m²) or a Full HD screen (220 cd/m²), depending on the configuration. However, the latter is primarily reserved for the higher-priced configurations. Our relatively reasonably priced review sample proved to be a welcome exception and displays a whole 1920x1080 pixels on the 15.6-inch screen. The resulting pixel density of 141 ppi (WXGA model: 100 ppi) is a successful compromise of focus and font size - which is an important issue since many older applications cannot be scaled at will under Windows 8.1.

Apart from the decent resolution, the TN-based, Full HD screen from AUO is not really compelling. The ThinkPad's maximum brightness of just 210 cd/m² is slightly outclassed by both the TravelMate P256-M (230 cd/m²) and ProBook 450 G2 (225 cd/m²). Nor is the contrast ratio of 331:1 exceptionally high and gives the E550 a lackluster and weak image impression. Black areas never look really rich and always look a bit grayish particularly in low-light conditions. However, the purchase price should be kept in mind - a high-quality IPS screen like in the Dell Latitude E5550 has its price.

204
cd/m²
214
cd/m²
213
cd/m²
208
cd/m²
228
cd/m²
206
cd/m²
206
cd/m²
208
cd/m²
203
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 228 cd/m² Average: 210 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 228 cd/m²
Contrast: 331:1 (Black: 0.688 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 10.04 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 10.65 | - Ø
38.8% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.53
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
1.920 x 1080 Pixel (TN-Panel)
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
1.920 x 1080 Pixel (TN-Panel)
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
1.920 x 1080 Pixel (TN-Panel)
Dell Latitude 3540
1.920 x 1080 Pixel (TN-Panel)
Screen
1%
-2%
41%
Brightness210230
10%
225
7%
222
6%
Brightness Distribution8982
-8%
84
-6%
80
-10%
Black Level *0.6880.66
4%
0.72
-5%
0.33
52%
Contrast331352
6%
353
7%
727
120%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *10.0412
-20%
10.73
-7%
4.63
54%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *10.6512.65
-19%
11.23
-5%
5.07
52%
Gamma *2.533.092.212.54
CCT12807 51%14904 44%13321 49%8415 77%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)38.853
37%
36.2
-7%
44.95
16%

* ... smaller is better

AdobeRGB coverage
AdobeRGB coverage
sRGB coverage
sRGB coverage

The screen exhibits an intense bluish cast with the default color profile, and that is one of the reasons for the strong shifts in our color and grayscale measurements (DeltaE 10.04 and 10.65). Calibrating the screen improves the RGB balance and results in considerably lower DeltaE rates. However, the screen remains unsuitable for professional image editing due to its limited color space (AdobeRGB: 38.8%; sRGB: 55.7%).

ColorChecker (non-calibrated)
ColorChecker (non-calibrated)
Saturation Sweeps (non-calibrated)
Saturation Sweeps (non-calibrated)
Grayscale (non-calibrated)
Grayscale (non-calibrated)
ColorChecker (calibrated)
ColorChecker (calibrated)
Saturation Sweeps (calibrated)
Saturation Sweeps (calibrated)
Grayscale (calibrated)
Grayscale (calibrated)

Despite its AR-coated surface, the ThinkPad Edge is not recommendable for outdoor use. That is not only due to the laptop's size and weight, but also the screen's brightness of just over 200 cd/m². That is simply too little to ensure unrestricted legibility particularly on sunny days. Thus, the user would either have to look for a shadowy place or stay at the desk from the outset - that is definitely more the E550's comfort zone.

Outdoors in lightly overcast conditions
Viewing angles: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Viewing angles: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550

For technology-related reasons, a TN screen will never achieve the same viewing-angle stability as an IPS screen. However, there are sometimes extreme differences even among screens with the same build. Our review sample exhibited severe image deviations in the slightest vertical shifts, and it is not advisable to move too much horizontally, either. That is not a very satisfactory result even for a TN-based model.

Performance

2.0 GHz maximum clock, no Turbo
2.0 GHz maximum clock, no Turbo

After testing several Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs from Intel's new Broadwell generation in the past few weeks, we are now facing a slightly cheaper version for the first time with the Core i3-5005U. The 2.0 GHz dual-core does not feature a CPU Turbo, which is typical for Core i3s. However, it does have Hyper-Threading for processing up to four threads simultaneously. As an economic ULV model, the chip, built in a cutting edge 14-nanometer process, has a TDP of a low 15 watts, including PCH.

The processor-integrated HD Graphics 5500 is responsible for graphics calculations. Of the actual 24 execution units (EUs) of this mid-range GPU configuration level, one is disabled in the Core i3 models, and thus only 23 EUs with a clock rate of 300 to 850 MHz are effectively available. Lenovo additionally installs a dedicated AMD Radeon R7 M260 with a performance level between an Nvidia GeForce 820M and GeForce 830M in some models. 

A single 4 GB, DDR3L-1600 module has to cover the RAM requirements of Windows and programs, and thus the memory controller only operates in the slow single-channel mode. The 500 GB hard drive does not exactly excite us, either. At least both components can be upgraded easily like we described in the section concerning maintenance.

System information: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300

Processor

Always stable 2.0 GHz, regardless whether AC or...
Always stable 2.0 GHz, regardless whether AC or...
...battery mode.
...battery mode.

It could be said that the different Core i3 models are perhaps the most interesting models of the recently introduced Broadwell lineup. Unlike the Core i5 and Core i7 members, Intel has considerably increased the clock rates of some - from the Core i3-4005U (1.7 GHz) to the Core i3-5005U (2.0 GHz) by almost 18%, for example. Then there is the approximately 5% higher per-MHz performance of the improved micro-architecture. As expected, that equals a total advantage of about 23% in contrast to the mentioned Haswell precursor, which is found in the TravelMate P256-M, among others.

That is, however, only one side of the coin - after all, we do not want to forget that the ThinkPad E lineup was equipped with standard 37-watt processors until now. Just a Core i3-4000M (2.4 GHz) outruns the i3-5005U by 10 to 15%. Comparisons with the Core i7-4702MQ quad-core behemoth (2.2 - 3.2 GHz) should not be made from the outset. This is the price for a longer battery life and lower temperature development - but more about that later.

Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Intel Core i3-5005U
0.96 Points ∼4%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U
0.76 Points ∼3% -21%
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
Intel Core i5-5200U
1.29 Points ∼5% +34%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540 20C60041
Intel Core i3-4000M
1.06 Points ∼4% +10%
Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E540 20C6003AGE
Intel Core i7-4702MQ
1.34 Points ∼5% +40%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Intel Core i3-5005U
2.27 Points ∼3%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U
1.85 Points ∼3% -19%
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
Intel Core i5-5200U
2.86 Points ∼4% +26%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540 20C60041
Intel Core i3-4000M
2.55 Points ∼4% +12%
Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E540 20C6003AGE
Intel Core i7-4702MQ
6.15 Points ∼9% +171%
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Intel Core i3-5005U
82 Points ∼44%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U
68 Points ∼37% -17%
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
Intel Core i5-5200U
109 Points ∼59% +33%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540 20C60041
Intel Core i3-4000M
95 Points ∼51% +16%
Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E540 20C6003AGE
Intel Core i7-4702MQ
120 Points ∼65% +46%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Intel Core i3-5005U
208 Points ∼13%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U
172 Points ∼11% -17%
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
Intel Core i5-5200U
260 Points ∼17% +25%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540 20C60041
Intel Core i3-4000M
236 Points ∼15% +13%
Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E540 20C6003AGE
Intel Core i7-4702MQ
578 Points ∼37% +178%
X264 HD Benchmark 4.0
Pass 2 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Intel Core i3-5005U
12.96 fps ∼9%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U
10.88 fps ∼8% -16%
Pass 1 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Intel Core i3-5005U
69.7 fps ∼33%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U
57.27 fps ∼27% -18%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
4183 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
8966 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
3978 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
6837
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
3982
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3116
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
15.62 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.27 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
0.96 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
208 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
21.6 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
98 %
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
82 Points
Help

Storage Devices

HD Tune benchmark
HD Tune benchmark

Instead of a swift SSD or SSHD, a conventional 2.5-inch hard drive with a capacity of 500 GB spins in the E550. At least the Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 is a relatively fast 7200 rpm model, unlike the drive in Acer's TravelMate P256-M with only 5400 rpm.

Both the access times and the average transfer rates benefit from the higher speed. With 16.0 milliseconds and 98.5 MB/s (Acer: 18.3 ms and 83 MB/s) it belongs to the fastest members of its kind although the difference to any flash-memory based alternative remains eminent. It's too bad that Lenovo does not have a model with a 128 GB SSD in its lineup - the extra cost would likely only be a few Euros.

Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
Transfer Rate Minimum: 55 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 134.5 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 98.5 MB/s
Access Time: 16 ms
Burst Rate: 281 MB/s
CPU Usage: 3.9 %

System Performance

The system is not quite as responsive as some demanding users are perhaps used to because of the lack of an SSD. However, it is very possible to work productively with the ThinkPad when Windows and the needed applications are loaded. Simple multitasking with office software, a browser and media player is barely a challenge for the hardware as expected. The processor and working memory soon find their limits with too many simultaneously running programs, though. Therefore, we deem upgrading to a total of 8 GB of RAM for a price of approximately 30 Euros (~$31) as a sensible investment in case the laptop is to be used for a longer time.

PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2784 Points ∼35%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U, HD Graphics 4400, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
2098 Points ∼26% -25%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540 20C60041
Intel Core i3-4000M, HD Graphics 4600, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2538 Points ∼32% -9%
Dell Latitude 3540
Intel Core i5-4200U, Radeon HD 8850M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVX-75JC3T0
2627 Points ∼33% -6%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
3321 Points ∼54%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U, HD Graphics 4400, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
2624 Points ∼43% -21%
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
Intel Core i5-5200U, HD Graphics 5500, Samsung SSD PM851 128 GB MZ7TE128HMGR
4125 Points ∼67% +24%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2870 Points ∼35%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U, HD Graphics 4400, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
1838 Points ∼23% -36%
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
Intel Core i5-5200U, HD Graphics 5500, Samsung SSD PM851 128 GB MZ7TE128HMGR
3377 Points ∼41% +18%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2544 Points ∼45%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U, HD Graphics 4400, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
1869 Points ∼33% -27%
HP ProBook 450 G2 L3Q27EA
Intel Core i5-5200U, HD Graphics 5500, Samsung SSD PM851 128 GB MZ7TE128HMGR
2973 Points ∼52% +17%
PCMark 7 Score
2784 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2544 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
2870 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3321 points
Help

Graphics Card

Tears of Steel (4K, H.265): smooth despite high CPU load
Tears of Steel (4K, H.265): smooth despite high CPU load

Upgrading the working memory would involve another advantage: Since the integrated HD Graphics 5500 graphics unit has to share the tight memory bandwidth with the processor, installing a second module would boost the 3D performance by a good 20%. In view of the modest performance level, which is only 15 to 20% higher than that of the old HD Graphics 4400, these gains are very welcome. For comparison: The low-end Radeon R7 M260 GPU optionally available for the E550 calculates twice as fast in some benchmarks.

Just as interesting is a comparison between the ThinkPad and the ProBook 450 G2 with a marginally stronger version of the HD Graphics 5500 in its Core i5-5200U. Despite the additional Shader cluster (24 vs. 23 EUs) and a 50-MHz higher clock rate (900 vs. 850 MHz Turbo), the GPU performance difference of both laptops is only insignificant - when opting for the Core 5 then it will primarily be due to its processor's higher performance.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500
909 Points ∼4%
Acer TravelMate P256-M
Intel Core i3-4005U, HD Graphics 4400
802 Points ∼4% -12%
HP ProBook 450 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U, HD Graphics 5500
958 Points ∼4% +5%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540
Intel Core i3-4000M, HD Graphics 4600
828 Points ∼4% -9%
Toshiba Satellite Pro C70-B-111
Intel Core i5-4200U, Radeon R7 M260
1966 Points ∼9% +116%
3DMark (2013)
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500
540 Points ∼2%
HP ProBook 450 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U, HD Graphics 5500
561 Points ∼2% +4%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540
Intel Core i3-4000M, HD Graphics 4600
523 Points ∼2% -3%
Toshiba Satellite Pro C70-B-111
Intel Core i5-4200U, Radeon R7 M260
905 Points ∼4% +68%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500
3886 Points ∼11%
Acer TravelMate P256-M
Intel Core i3-4005U, HD Graphics 4400
3366 Points ∼10% -13%
HP ProBook 450 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U, HD Graphics 5500
4399 Points ∼13% +13%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540
Intel Core i3-4000M, HD Graphics 4600
4114 Points ∼12% +6%
Toshiba Satellite Pro C70-B-111
Intel Core i5-4200U, Radeon R7 M260
4406 Points ∼13% +13%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500
37420 Points ∼19%
Acer TravelMate P256-M
Intel Core i3-4005U, HD Graphics 4400
29560 Points ∼15% -21%
HP ProBook 450 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U, HD Graphics 5500
41489 Points ∼21% +11%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540
Intel Core i3-4000M, HD Graphics 4600
35381 Points ∼18% -5%
Toshiba Satellite Pro C70-B-111
Intel Core i5-4200U, Radeon R7 M260
44839 Points ∼23% +20%
3DMark 06 Standard
5458 points
3DMark Vantage P Result no PhysX
3574 points
3DMark 11 Performance
909 points
3DMark (2013) Ice Storm Standard Score
37420 points
3DMark (2013) Cloud Gate Standard Score
3886 points
3DMark (2013) Fire Strike Standard Score
540 points
3DMark (2013) Fire Strike Extreme Score
250 points
Help

Gaming Performance

In consideration of the weak graphics solution, we focused primarily on older titles like Dota 2 for our gaming benchmarks. These can at least usually be rendered smoothly using 1024x768 pixels and low details. However, users who have serious gaming intentions should look around for a laptop with a dedicated GPU.

Tomb Raider - 1024x768 Low Preset (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500
40.2 fps ∼6%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540
Intel Core i3-4000M, HD Graphics 4600
42.3 fps ∼7% +5%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U, HD Graphics 4400
38.2 fps ∼6% -5%
Toshiba Satellite Pro C70-B-111
Intel Core i5-4200U, Radeon R7 M260
77.8 fps ∼12% +94%
BioShock Infinite - 1280x720 Very Low Preset (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540
Intel Core i3-4000M, HD Graphics 4600
27.21 fps ∼8%
Acer TravelMate P256-M-39NG
Intel Core i3-4005U, HD Graphics 4400
28.96 fps ∼9%
Toshiba Satellite Pro C70-B-111
Intel Core i5-4200U, Radeon R7 M260
64.11 fps ∼19%
Diablo III - 1366x768 Medium / low (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500
30.1 fps ∼11%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540
Intel Core i3-4000M, HD Graphics 4600
28.63 fps ∼10% -5%
Dota 2 - 1366x768 Medium / On, Render Quality: 70 % (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Intel Core i3-5005U, HD Graphics 5500
27 fps ∼23%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540
Intel Core i3-4000M, HD Graphics 4600
26.53 fps ∼22% -2%
Toshiba Satellite Pro C70-B-111
Intel Core i5-4200U, Radeon R7 M260
51.9 fps ∼43% +92%
low med. high ultra
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 26.913.48.54.2fps
Diablo III (2012) 47.130.12415.2fps
Counter-Strike: GO (2012) 614132.317.4fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 40.220.813.26.7fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 13.9118.24.15fps
Dota 2 (2013) 44.82713fps
Total War: Rome II (2013) 31.923.217.95.5fps
F1 2014 (2014) 38251412fps

Emissions

System Noise

The homogeneous idle noise might be taken for a slow-running fan at first - but it is not at all enabled during low load. The noise is produced by the quiet yet audible fast-spinning hard drive. Replacing it with an SSD would make the E550 absolutely silent in most everyday situations.

The bulky, 15-inch chassis apparently does not have problems with the ULV processor's waste heat during load, either. The maximum noise level of 33.8 dB(A) is considerably restrained even in extreme situations. However, the contenders from Acer and HP manage that, as well.

Noise Level

Idle
31.3 / 31.3 / 31.3 dB(A)
HDD
31.9 dB(A)
DVD
36.4 / dB(A)
Load
32.8 / 33.8 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft SL-451 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test

Only good things can be said about the temperature development. We did not ascertain a significant temperature increase on the casing's surface no matter to what extent the hardware was loaded. The Core i3-5005U had a core temperature of just 54 °C in our one-hour stress test via Prime95 and Furmark. Intel specifies a limit of up to 105 °C. Consequently, overheating is unlikely even in midsummer. The CPU's throttling is related to the low TDP; the graphics unit can utilize the biggest part of its clock headroom in order to stay within the 15 watts specified for the entire chip, and thus it still achieves 750 MHz. We did not ascertain a significant temperature increase on the casing's surface no matter to what extent the hardware was loaded.

Max. Load
 31.8 °C26 °C24.2 °C 
 32.7 °C30.7 °C24.2 °C 
 30.8 °C31.5 °C23.6 °C 
Maximum: 32.7 °C
Average: 28.4 °C
23.8 °C25.8 °C28.2 °C
24 °C32.1 °C34.3 °C
24.4 °C32.6 °C27.9 °C
Maximum: 34.3 °C
Average: 28.1 °C
Power Supply (max.)  43 °C | Room Temperature 20.8 °C | Fluke 62 Max

Speakers

In the course of redesigning the casing, Lenovo now installs both stereo speakers above the keyboard so that they emit their sound directly at the listener. On the one hand, the sound benefits from that and now seems more spatial and clearer than previously even if the speakers still particularly emphasize the mid-frequencies. On the other hand, the formerly already very high maximum volume has increased even more. However, the user will not have much of an advantage from that in practical use. The last 20% of the volume control should better not be used to prevent audible distortions and unpleasant clanging sound.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Switching to the Broadwell ULV platform is reflected in considerably lower consumption rates. The 15-inch laptop is satisfied with just 3.3 to 7.0 watts when idling, which is 1 to 2 watts less than its precursor. However, the ThinkPad cannot compete with the sensationally low rates of the ProBook 450 G2 (2.4 - 5.0 watts) - that is likely due to the higher screen resolution and the lack of an SSD.

After short peaks of up to 35.6 watts, the load power consumption drops to the class average of almost 30 watts. That is no problem for the included 45-watt power supply, which even has enough reserves for additional peripherals or recharging the battery simultaneously.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 3.3 / 6.5 / 7 Watt
Load midlight 27.3 / 35.6 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Extech Power Analyzer 380803

Battery Life

Lenovo states that its E550 achieves a runtime of up to 9 hours with its 48 Wh battery - a rate that we could even surpass under ideal conditions. A whole 12 hours and 28 minutes passed before the battery was depleted in Battery Eater's Reader's test (energy-saving mode, minimum brightness, Wi-Fi off).

The user can count with roughly 6 hours in routine use, i.e. adapted screen brightness (approx. 150 cd/m²) and light load (browsing, videos). Not a bad rate, but the more efficient ProBook 450 lasts about an hour longer under comparable conditions.

Battery Eater's Classic test achieved a minimum runtime of 2 hours and 8 minutes (high performance, maximum brightness, Wi-Fi on). The battery is recharged in about the same time.

Reader's test
Reader's test
Wi-Fi test
Wi-Fi test
Wi-Fi test v1.2
Wi-Fi test v1.2
H.264 test
H.264 test
Classic test
Classic test
Charging
Charging
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
48 Wh
Acer TravelMate P256-M
52 Wh
HP ProBook 450 G2
40 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540
48 Wh
Battery Runtime
WiFi395368
-7%
456
15%
263
-33%
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
12h 28min
WiFi Surfing
6h 35min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
5h 10min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
5h 28min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 08min

Verdict

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550

Of course, buyers cannot expect the quality of a two to three times more expensive business model from a laptop for just below 550 Euros (~$583) - even if both bear the image-laden ThinkPad label in their name. Lenovo has nevertheless managed to set up a rock-solid work device that delivers a satisfactory to very good performance in every office exercise.

We particularly liked the impeccable input devices and the low noise and temperature development that is not least owed to the Broadwell-based hardware. However, it is doubtful if every customer will welcome this change. The performance of the E550 lags behind its direct precursor, which will likely not only be the case for our Core i3 model but for all configurations, as well. Especially the discontinuation of the extremely swift quad-core processors leaves a hard-to-bridge gap in the product lineup.

Most other shortcomings are due to the low price point and also just as present in comparable contenders. For example, the casing has minor manufacturing flaws in detail, the screen is too dark and its contrast is too low, and the warranty period of only 12 months is very meager. At least the last point can be eliminated for a reasonable surcharge.

The bottom line: We will not deny the ThinkPad E550 a purchase recommendation, but a comparative look at the countless alternatives from HP, Acer or Dell is nevertheless advisable.

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In review: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550. Test model courtesy of CampusPoint.de
In review: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550. Test model courtesy of CampusPoint.de

Specifications

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 5500, Core: 300 - 850 MHz, single-channel memory, 10.18.10.4013
Memory
4096 MB 
, 1x 4 GB DDR3-1600, 1 of 2 slots filled
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, AUO B156HTN03.6, TN screen, LED backlight, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Broadwell-U PCH-LP (Baseline)
Storage
Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630, 500 GB 
, 7200 rpm
Soundcard
Intel Broadwell PCH-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headset jack (3.5 millimeter), Card Reader: 4-in-1 (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC)
Networking
Intel Ethernet Connection I218-V (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Optical drive
HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GUA0N
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 27 x 377 x 256 ( = 1.06 x 14.84 x 10.08 in)
Battery
48 Wh Lithium-Ion, 6 cells
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 0.9 megapixels
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, 45 watt power supply
Weight
2.38 kg ( = 83.95 oz / 5.25 pounds), Power Supply: 220 g ( = 7.76 oz / 0.49 pounds)
Price
539 Euro

 

The E550 looks like...
The E550 looks like...
...the usually much pricier models of the ThinkPad family...
...the usually much pricier models of the ThinkPad family...
...almost to the last detail.
...almost to the last detail.
The addon "Edge" or "E Series," however, reveals...
The addon "Edge" or "E Series," however, reveals...
...that it is in fact a relatively inexpensive office laptop.
...that it is in fact a relatively inexpensive office laptop.
The customer will thus have to...
The customer will thus have to...
...make compromises in quality.
...make compromises in quality.
The casing is exclusively plastic.
The casing is exclusively plastic.
However, the display's very accurate hinges...
However, the display's very accurate hinges...
...do not give reason for complaint.
...do not give reason for complaint.
It's only too bad...
It's only too bad...
...that the maximum opening angle is limited to roughly 135 degrees.
...that the maximum opening angle is limited to roughly 135 degrees.
For the first time, a device from the E500 lineup...
For the first time, a device from the E500 lineup...
...features economic but also less powerful ULV CPUs.
...features economic but also less powerful ULV CPUs.
A look at the input devices:
A look at the input devices:
The keyboard convinces with its long drop and clear pressure point;...
The keyboard convinces with its long drop and clear pressure point;...
...the touchpad proved to be accurate and sleek.
...the touchpad proved to be accurate and sleek.
A TrackPoint is available as an alternative.
A TrackPoint is available as an alternative.
A DVD burner and...
A DVD burner and...
...VGA-out are not found in many laptops nowadays.
...VGA-out are not found in many laptops nowadays.
The "OneLink" port for a docking station is beside the power socket.
The "OneLink" port for a docking station is beside the power socket.
Not much effort...
Not much effort...
...is needed to open both maintenance covers on the underside.
...is needed to open both maintenance covers on the underside.
An empty RAM bank facilitates upgrading,...
An empty RAM bank facilitates upgrading,...
...but the hard drive can only be removed and replaced.
...but the hard drive can only be removed and replaced.
An M.2 slot is prepared on the board but was not installed in our sample.
An M.2 slot is prepared on the board but was not installed in our sample.
A transmission speed of 30 Mbps is extremely impressive for a single-stream adapter in 802.11 ac standard.
A transmission speed of 30 Mbps is extremely impressive for a single-stream adapter in 802.11 ac standard.
The ThinkPad's 48 Wh battery...
The ThinkPad's 48 Wh battery..
...lifts the laptops rear a bit.
...lifts the laptops rear a bit.
A practical runtime of about 6 hours can be expected.
A practical runtime of about 6 hours can be expected.
The Core i3 compensates its lack of performance with its low power consumption.
The Core i3 compensates its lack of performance with its low power consumption.
A 45 watt power supply is enough to easily cover the power requirement.
A 45 watt power supply is enough to easily cover the power requirement.

Similar Laptops

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

Acer TravelMate P257-M-56AX Notebook Review
HD Graphics 5500, Core i5 5200U
Toshiba Tecra A50-C Notebook Review
HD Graphics 5500, Core i5 5200U
Lenovo E50-80 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 5500, Core i5 5200U
Fujitsu Lifebook A555 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 5500, Core i5 5200U

Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Pro

+Stiff casing build
+Docking station port
+Fast Wi-Fi
+Crisp keyboard
+Very low temperature and noise development
 

Cons

-Minor flaws in build
-Dark, viewing angle dependent screen
-Slower than the precursor
-12-month warranty only

Shortcut

What we like

Barely another office laptop from the 500-Euro (~$530) range can offer a comparably high-quality keyboard.

What we'd like to see

The performance of the Core i3-5005U might be enough for routine office and multimedia applications, but the chip soon finds its limits in more demanding software. The 37-watt processor in the precursor had considerably bigger performance reserves for an identical price tag.

What surprises us

The 802.11 ac-capable Wi-Fi adapter excels with its outstanding speed and good range despite the restriction to single-stream transmissions.

The competition

HP ProBook 450 G2

Acer TravelMate P256-M

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540

Dell Latitude 3540

Rating

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550-20DGS00300 - 02/25/2016 v5
Till Schönborn

Chassis
80 / 98 → 82%
Keyboard
87%
Pointing Device
83%
Connectivity
49 / 81 → 60%
Weight
61 / 67 → 87%
Battery
83%
Display
75%
Games Performance
54 / 68 → 79%
Application Performance
62 / 92 → 67%
Temperature
93%
Noise
92%
Audio
66%
Camera
50 / 85 → 59%
Average
72%
82%
Office - Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E550 Notebook Review
Till Schönborn, 2015-03-10 (Update: 2015-03-13)