At the world’s most important computer graphics conference of the year, SIGGRAPH, Lenovo is launching a couple now high-powered workstations aimed specifically at this market. Formerly known as the W-Series, the new generation of workstations will be launched as the P-Series, to unify the naming between the desktop and mobile products.
Next-Gen CPU and GPU
Inside, users will find the latest chips. This launches with the Intel Xeon for laptops (model E3-1500M Intel Core Gen6), a newcomer for this specific branch of the Intel processor family. We haven’t seen any independent benchmarks yet, but we’re looking forward to seeing if the results will live up to the Xeon name. The CPU can access up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM memory (4 slots).
NVIDIA will provide the graphics processor (GPU) with a Quadro chip, which is designed specifically for CAD and compute workloads. Beyond the hardware, it is the drivers which are certified by major CAD software vendors that would justify the cost over a regular consumer GPU.
Plenty of storage options
Since the workstations are not really slim by today’s standards (they occupy a volume not unlike a 17-inch MacBook Pro from some years ago…), there is ample space for storage options:
- 2x m.2 SSD bay (PCI gen3x4)
- 1x 2.5” HDD bay
- 1x optical drive, convertible to a second 2.5” HDD bay
That’s a potential 3TB in the system, which can be configured in RAID if the user wants to. I haven’t seen all the RAID options, but I’ll assume that most are supported given how mature this technology is.
In appearance, the Lenovo P70 looks pretty much like a large Thinkpad. It uses the same kind of magnesium casing and black surface treatment typical of that line of product and seen on many other “business” laptops. It’s a very sturdy surface, according to my own experience with the Lenovo Carbon X1.
The keyboard is also typical of the Thinkpad line of product. It is one of the most comfortable designs in the laptop industry, and the slight curve of the keys, the spacing, the touch is just excellent. I wish that Lenovo could use this on all their laptops, but this design needs just a little more depth, so the consumer Yoga line can’t really accommodate it, at least for now.
If you are observant, you may see a 3 button clickpad. This only available on workstations, most likely because many CAD software come from the Linux world, which has 3 buttons. On the extreme right, there’s a touch fingerprint sensor, which should be many times more accurate than the swiping one.
Optionally, some models come with an integrated color calibrator. It’s an optical sensor that can be used by simply closing the lid and running the calibration app, which will calibrate the screen automatically to the chosen Pantone color space. LCD display colors do shift over time, so this keeps them accurately easily calibrated. Lenovo has been doing this for over 5 years now, but it’s worth pointing out.
It is worth noting that both the P70 and P50 have passed some mil-spec certification, and can be thought of being extremely durable, although I wouldn’t use the term “rugged” without knowing exactly which certification they passed.
I’ve seen the 4K IPS version in person, and it looked great. Typically most high-end workstations come with some of the best displays. They can also be a bit brighter or have a better consistency because it’s OK to be just a little thicker than the consumer models.
Not surprisingly, such a large computer has ample room for ports, so here are the important ones:
- 4x USB Type A (1 always-on charging)
- 2x USB Type C, which are used for Thunderbolt 3 as well. Two because input for capture device and export to storage or monitor.
- 1x HDMI 1.4
- 1x Mini DisplayPort™ 1.2
- 1x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
- 1x ExpressCard / 34 mm (to keep compatibility in the manufacturing space)
The Lenovo ThinkPad P70’s size is 416 x 275.5 x 31.5 mm, and it weighs 7.5 Lbs (3.4 Kg), so it’s very substantial in a backpack. It has a 96Wh battery, but since the maximum computational load can be very high, I don’t think that most users will not be far from an outlet.
The Thinkpad P50 is essentially the same workstation, but of course, it is more portable and due to its smaller body, it has less ports. The CPU and GPU configuration are almost identical (hint: the maximum GPU config isn’t as high), but the storage options are not as vast, with no optical drive bay option due to the reduced internal volume.
At 377.4 x 252.3 x 25.9 mm for 5.6 Lbs, the 15.6-inch Lenovo P50 is much more comfortable to carry around as the P70 while retaining most of the same capabilities, minus a few ports, some screen real-estate and a larger battery.
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