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Review Update Lenovo Thinkpad W500 Notebook

W500, Part 2

After we had reviewed a pre-release sample in our first review, we now got hold of an officially available model for this test, which was equipped with Core 2 Duo T9400 CPU and ATI FireGL V5700 graphics card. Read in the following review how this 15 inch workstation made by Lenovo performs compared to various competitors.

Lenovo Thinkpad W500

Note: This review, which especially covers the performance of the finally available hardware in detail, is an update of the already available review of the Thinkpad W500. Please read about about case, connectivity, input devices, and display in the original review of the Thinkpad W500.

Performance

The Lenovo Thinkpad W500 can be equipped with Intel processors up to the T9600 CPU with 2.8 GHz and 6MB L2-Cache. So, except of the Core 2 Extreme, all of Intel's most powerful processors are in principal possible. Because also the price raises significantly with the performance of Intel's Centrino 2 series, you should especially take care of a good price/performance ratio when selecting this component. Further information about the current Intel Centrino 2 processor series are available in this article.

Being a mobile workstation which was especially designed for CAD and 3D graphics applications the Lenovo Thinkpad W500 also comes with a CAD-optimized graphics card by ATI. The FireGL V5700 graphics card is in fact a Mobility Radeon HD3650 with optimized drivers, whose performance gain should especially be handy for professional OpenGL based graphics applications.

Performance 3DMark 2006
Performance 3DMark 2006

In the 3D Mark 2006 benchmark from Futuremark the W500 with ATI FireGL V5700 achieves about the same performance than the Lenovo Thinkpad T500, which is equipped with an HD3650 graphics chip from ATI.
However, the Cinebench R10 benchmark proves that the optimized drivers are more than mere formality. In the OpenGL shading test the W500 achieves with 5049 points about 10% more than the Lenovo Thinkpad T500 with HD3650 graphics. Also in the figure the performance gain of 10% of the T9400 CPU compared to the P8600 CPU in the T5000 gets evident.

The Dell Precision M4400, which is so to say the direct competitor of the Thinkpad W500, is clearly in front in this aspect. The Quadro FX 770M graphics from nVIDIA brings an excellent result of 6180 points in the shading test.

Cinebench R10
Cinebench R10

A very interesting result is brought about by the Viewperf 10.0 benchmark from SPEC. The figure shows a huge difference between T500 and W500, or between Mobility Radeon HD3650 graphics and CAD optimized FireGL V5700 graphics card. The professional graphics card is in all fields better than the consumer version and can outperform it by much. The biggest difference is thereby in the 3D graphics program Maya.

Furthermore, it turns out that the Quadro FX770M Grafik from the competitor nVIDIA looses more and more its top position in the practical tests of graphics applications. The nVIDIA solution is only in CATIA and EnSight still clearly better.

SPEC Viewperf 10.0 Comparison
SPEC Viewperf 10.0 Comparison

In the equipment that was available to us the Lenovo Thinkpad comes with two gigabyte DDR3 RAM provided by a single memory module. Thanks to the Intel Montevina platform the Thinkpad W500 can be upgraded to a maximum of 8 gigabyte RAM. Thereby it supports DDR3 modules up to PC2-8500 1066 MHz.
If you equip this notebook with more than 3 GB RAM, you should absolutely use a 64 bit operating system, because otherwise the additional RAM cannot be utilized.

Lenovo also offers a variety of built-in mass storage devices. Lenovo lists, e. g., 80-320GB models with 5400 rpm and 160-200GB hard drives with 7200 rpm or a 64 GB Solid State drive. All of them have a shock sensor, which recognizes shocks, and moves the read/write head off in time in order to avoid data loss. Of course SSDs do not require this, because they to not consist of mechanically parts and are so insensitive to shocks. Lenovo and also many other distributors also equip the W500 in terms of hard disk according to the individual customer preferences .

The Hitachi HTS722016K9S hard drive inside our test sample with a speed of 7200 rpm achieves a very good access time of 15.1 ms and an average transfer rate of 44.3 MB/sec in the HDTune benchmark test.

CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
GPU-Z
HDTune
System Information: Lenovo Thinkpad W500
3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE24429 points
3DMark 0310864 points
3DMark 058624 points
3DMark 06
 
2150 points
3DMark Vantage1017 points
Help
3DMark Vantage in comparison
Lenovo Thinkpad X100e - 2876-27G (min)
 MV-40, Radeon HD 3200
98
   ...
HP ProBook 6550b WD703EA
 450M, Mobility Radeon HD 540v
1008
Asus UL50Vt-XO037V
 SU7300, GeForce G210M
1008
Asus P42JC-VO012X
 450M, GeForce 310M
1012
Lenovo Thinkpad W500 4061-2JG
 T9400, Mobility FireGL V5700
1017
Asus U36JC-RX081V
 480M, GeForce 310M
1019
Asus UL80Vt-WX028V
 SU7300, GeForce G210M
1021
Lenovo G585-M8325GE
 E2-1800, Radeon HD 7340
1023
   ...
Schenker XMG U702 (max)
 3960X, GeForce GTX 680M SLI
36739
PC Mark
PCMark 056150 points
PCMark Vantage3240 points
Help
PCMark Vantage in comparison
Sony SV-S1311G4E (min)
 2350M, HD Graphics 3000
811
   ...
Acer Aspire 5552G-P344G50Mnkk
 P340, Mobility Radeon HD 5470
3188
Lenovo ThinkPad SL300
 P8600, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
3225
Asus UL50VF
 SU7300, GeForce G210M
3229
Lenovo Thinkpad W500 4061-2JG
 T9400, Mobility FireGL V5700
3240
Apple MacBook 2009-10
 P7550, GeForce 9400M (G) / ION (LE)
3248
Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch 2009-06
 P8700, GeForce 9400M (G) / ION (LE)
3263
Sony Vaio VPC-YA1V9E/B
 380UM, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics
3265
   ...
One K56-3F (max)
 4700MQ, GeForce GT 750M
23558
Cinebench R10
 SettingsValue
 Rendering Single 32Bit2798 Points
 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit5246 Points
 Shading 32Bit5049 Points
160 GB - 7200 rpm
Transfer Rate Minimum: 24.9 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 57 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 44.3 MB/s
Access Time: 15.1 ms
Burst Rate: 69.3 MB/s
CPU Usage: 6.4 %

Gaming Performance

If you occasionally want to play the one or other computer games, this workstaion with FireGL V5700 graphics card is a rather useful platform. But, your expectations in gaming performance should not be too high.

Unreal Tournament 3 ran on a resolution of 800x600 pixel absolutely smooth with about 50-62 frames per second on standard details (Stufe 3/5). Increasing the resolution to 1024x768 the frame rate fell to still playable 45-60 fps. From 1280x800 pixels the performance dropped to stuttering 35-60 fps.

The results of the Call of Duty 4 - Modern Warfare test are similar. While it achieves a still rather playable performance of 30-55 fps on a resolution of 1024x768 pixel and with deactivated anti-aliasing, the W500 was brought to its knees at the latest when you activate anti-aliasing, whereby the frame rate dropped to hardly playable 15-35 fps.

Spieleleistung

Emissions

System Noise

Once thing the designers of the Lenovo Thinkpad W500 have to be awarded for is that they made a good job in terms of noise emissions. Although the fan runs with hardly any interruption in idle mode and under moderate office load, its noise level of about 32.6 dB(A) is rather decent and absolutely not annoying.

So we got anxious to see how the Thinkpad W500 does under load and ran a lot of benchmarks and games. Nevertheless, the fan did still not get noticeable loud. Although the fan speed increased, we just measured a maximum noise level of only 35.0 dB(A). This also conforms to our personal impression that the noise level is definitely alright and only recognizable as a rustling from the background.

Finally, the Lenovo Thinkpad W500 also scores points in the noise emissions aspect while watching a DVD. A measured value of 35.8 dB(A) is also by all means in the green.

Emissionen

Wie wir testen - Emissionen

Noise Level

Idle 32.6 / 32.6 / 32.6 dB(A)
HDD 33.1 dB(A)
DVD 35.8 / dB(A)
Load 35.0 / 35.0 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Also the recorded surface temperatures hint on that the W500 is indeed a powerful workstation. The top side of the base unit has a maximum temperature of about 32.4°C and, so, it feels only slightly warmer. Only the bottom side of the Thinkpad W500 gets with up to 42.9°C a little bit warmer. Considering that the W500 will be probably operated on hard surfaces anyway, this value can be neglected.

Max. Load
 31.8 °C32.4 °C29.3 °C 
 31.7 °C30.8 °C29.8 °C 
 29.8 °C29.9 °C30.5 °C 
Maximum: 32.4 °C
Average: 30.7 °C
31.6 °C41.7 °C39.4 °C
32.9 °C42.9 °C42.2 °C
34.4 °C39.5 °C39.8 °C
Maximum: 42.9 °C
Average: 38.3 °C
Room Temperature 21.5 °C

Loudspeakers

Atypical, but rather good, was the quality of the integrated loudspeakers. Located left and right above the keyboard they radiate a rather passable sound with sufficient volume. So, the W500 is fit for listening to music at low volumes.
The weak basses can finally only be avoided by connecting headphones to the 3.5 mm stereo jacks. In the test the signal was perfect  via these.

Battery Life

Readers Test
Maximum Battery Life (BatteryEater Readers Test)
Classic Test
Minimum Battery Life (BatteryEater Classic Test)

In the standard equipment the Lenovo Thinkpad W500 comes with a 6-cell 5.2 Ah (56.16 Wh) lithium-ions battery. Alike in other models of the Thinkpad series this can be replaced by a 9-cell battery, which could enhance the runtime by 50% in theory. Via the ultra-bay slot the W500 can also be equipped with a supplement battery, which can increase the runtime even more.

Because of the measured battery runtime of the 6-cell battery, it's easy to predict that these options will come into consideration especially if you plan an intensified mobile operation.
In the BatteryEater Readers test, which stands for the expected maximum battery life (minimum brightness, energy saving mode, WLAN off), the W500 achieves a runtime of 212 minutes. Under load in the BatteryEater Classic test (max. brightness, profile top performance, WLAN+BT on) the battery life shrinked even to 71 minutes.

If you watch a DVD with energy saving profile and with maximum display brightness, the test sample ran for 132 minutes on battery. This should be sufficient for a film of average length.
In WLAN mode (energy saving profile, maximum display brightness) we recorded a runtime of about 160 minutes.

So, mobile work with the Thinkpad W500 is limited. But, various upgrade possibilities allow for longer battery life, but at a high price. Because the display is only moderately bright it is also not really reasonable to save energy by dimming the screen.

Akkulaufzeit

Wie wir testen - Akkulaufzeit

Power Consumption

Idle 14.4 / 22.6 / 25.6 Watt
Load 60.2 / 70.4 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
3h 32min
WiFi Surfing
2h 40min
DVD
2h 12min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 11min

Verdict

Overall, the W500 is a worthy successor of the former T61p models.Lenovo delivers a famously robust chassis in the classic Thinkpad design, which can score points above all because of it's ability to resist the stresses arising from everyday use.

With the new digital display port an external screen with a high resolution can be attached to the notebook at the best digital transmission quality. Unfortunately, many ports are on the left side of the case, which might cause troubles for left-handers. Thanks to the docking port also this problems can be easily solved.

We liked the keyboard of our second test sample clearly better than of the first one, which was a pre-sample not intended to be sold. The flection criticized in the former review is now smaller and should not have any impact on the excellent typing feel.

The only advantage of the built-in WUXGA display is its high resolution and the generally good viewing angle stability. But, the provided display brightness was not very conving. Due to a minimum brightness of hardly above 100 cd/m² this display performed even slightly worse than the first test sample in this aspect. This is easily sufficient for working inside. But, if the environment is bright, 20-30 cd/m² would be rather helpful.

An advantage of the W500 is that its hardware is optimized for professional CAD and 3D graphics applications. The built-in FireGL V5700 brings first class results in the benchmarks run and defines therewith the designated fields of operation of the Lenovo Thinkpad W500.
The user will thereby especially like the low system noise of this laptop, which stays on a very low level even under load.

Depending on the load the possible battery life is relatively short to rather useful. Thanks to optional battery solutions, like bigger main battery and ultra-bay battery, the runtime can be increased. According to the benchmark results the Lenovo Thinkpad W500 is an absolutely interesting alternative to the Precision M4400 by Dell. Both notebooks are especially designed for mobile, professional CAD users, and differ much in some aspects, which will finally determine the purchase decision.

 

Lenovo Thinkpad W500
Lenovo Thinkpad W500
Lenovo Thinkpad W500
Lenovo Thinkpad W500
Lenovo Thinkpad W500
Lenovo Thinkpad W500

 

Many thanks to the company Planet Notebook, who kindly provided us with the test sample. Here you can configure and also buy this notebook.

Innovativer Klappmechanismus am HDX9320EG
Innovativer Klappmechanismus am HDX9320EG
Innovativer Klappmechanismus am HDX9320EG
Innovativer Klappmechanismus am HDX9320EG
In Review: Lenovo Thinkpad W500, provided by:
Lenovo Thinkpad W500

Specifications

Lenovo Thinkpad W500 4061-2JG
Graphics adapter
ATI Mobility FireGL V5700 - 512 MB, Core: 600 MHz, Memory: 700 MHz, GDDR3 VRAM, 7.14.10.0603
Memory
2048 MB 
, DDR3, 1x2048MB, max. 8GB
Display
15.4 inch 16:10, 1920x1200 pixel, WUXGA TFT, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel PM45
Harddisk
160 GB - 7200 rpm, 160 GB 
7200 rpm HITACHI HTS722016K9SA00
Soundcard
HD Audio
Connections
1 PC-Card, 1 Express Card 54mm, 3 USB 2.0, 1 Firewire, 1 VGA, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Modem, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: microphone/LineIn, headphones/LineOut, Card Reader: 7in1 Media Reader,
Networking
Intel(R) 82567LM Gigabit Network Connection (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5300 (a b g n ), 2.0 Bluetooth
Optical drive
HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-U20N
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 34 x 255 x 358 ( = 1.34 x 10.04 x 14.09 in)
Weight
2.76 kg ( = 97.36 oz) Power Supply: 400 g ( = 14.11 oz)
Battery
56.16 Wh Lithium-Ion, 6-Cell 10.8V 5200mAh
Price
2000 Euro
Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Business 32 Bit
Additional features
Intervideo WinDVD, Roxio Creator, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Thinkvantage Tools, 36 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
After the tried and true SL-series, Lenovo introduces another product to the notebook category with the W500.
After the tried and true SL-series, Lenovo introduces another product to the notebook category with the W500.
Unfortunately, the panel is not really convincing in terms of display brightness and illumination level.
Unfortunately, the panel is not really convincing in terms of display brightness and illumination level.
The display is available with a resolution of 1680x1050 or with a maximum of 1920x1200 pixels.
The display is available with a resolution of 1680x1050 or with a maximum of 1920x1200 pixels.
The touchpad/trackpoint combination of the Lenovo Thinkpad W500 offers the usual qualities.
The touchpad/trackpoint combination of the Lenovo Thinkpad W500 offers the usual qualities.
Upon practical use, however, a highly probable deformation of the keyboard under pressure stands out.
Upon practical use, however, a highly probable deformation of the keyboard under pressure stands out.
The keyboard appears at first glance to have no remarkable qualities, the usual key-groupings, and a layout typical of the Thinkpads.
The keyboard appears at first glance to have no remarkable qualities, the usual key-groupings, and a layout typical of the Thinkpads.
With the exception of the R-series, all the new Thinkpad models come standard with a UMTS module.
With the exception of the R-series, all the new Thinkpad models come standard with a UMTS module.
A docking port allows for additional interface options.
A docking port allows for additional interface options.
The Thinkpad W500 offers a new digital display port as well as 3 USB inputs directly on the device.
The Thinkpad W500 offers a new digital display port as well as 3 USB inputs directly on the device.
The clamshell design of the display offers additional security and protects the panel against accidental damage, as from a drop, for example.
The clamshell design of the display offers additional security and protects the panel against accidental damage, as from a drop, for example.
The new workstations from Lenovo are specially designed for professional CAD and graphics users and offer a performance-oriented package.
The new workstations from Lenovo are specially designed for professional CAD and graphics users and offer a performance-oriented package.
Outfitted with the performance-capable Intel processors and ATI FireGL v5700 GPU, the W500 is aimed above all at professional CAD users.
Outfitted with the performance-capable Intel processors and ATI FireGL v5700 GPU, the W500 is aimed above all at professional CAD users.

Comparable Notebooks

Devices with Same Screen Size and/or Weight

» Review Sony Vaio VPC-B11V9EB Notebook
Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics, Core i5 520M
» Review MSI GX640-i5447LW7P Notebook
Mobility Radeon HD 5850, Core i5 430M
» Review MSI GT640 Gaming Notebook
GeForce GTS 250M, Core i7 720QM

Price Comparison

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Links

Pro

+Flexural rigid, stable base unit
+Very robust display
+Modular Ultrabay drive slot
+Many communication modules available
+Handy ThinkVantage software
+User-friendly keyboard
+High-quality touchpad/trackpoint combination
+High-resolution WUXGA display with good overview
+Low noise emissions in all operating states
 

Cons

-Nearly all ports are at the left side of the case
-Display is only moderately bright
-Average battery runtime

Rating

Lenovo Thinkpad W500 4061-2JG
11/04/2008
J. Simon Leitner

Chassis
88%
Keyboard
88%
Pointing Device
90%
Connectivity
88%
Weight
78%
Battery
75%
Display
75%
Games Performance
86%
Application Performance
92%
Temperature
86%
Noise
90%
Add Points
88%
Average
85%
85%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Update Lenovo Thinkpad W500 Notebook
Author: J. Simon Leitner, 2008-11-10 (Update: 2012-05-26)