The Bottom Line
- Exceptional Performance
- Superb Display With Color Calibration
- Very Long Running Times
- Expensive With Upgraded Features
- Very Large Power Adapter
- Battery Pack Extends Out Back Of Hinge
- Intel Core i7-2920XM Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Modular Dual Layer Burner
- 15.6" WUXGA (1920x1080) Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA Quaddro 2000M Dedicated Graphics With 2GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 2.0, One USB 2.0, eSATA, FireWire, ExpressCard/34, Fingerprint Scanner, Color Calibrator
- 14.7" x 9.7" x 1.3" @ 6 lbs.
- Windows 7 Professional,
Guide Review - Lenovo ThinkPad W520 15.6-inch Laptop PC
Apr 29 2011 - For those needing some serious performance in a portable platform, the Lenovo Thinkpad W520 certainly stands out as a mobile workstation. For those looking at ultimate performance, it can be equipped with the Intel Core i7-2920XM quad core processor that is the fastest option available on the market. This certainly puts it close to desktop performance for high demanding tasks such as video editing or rendering. It is matched up with 8GB of high speed DDR3 memory that lets it breeze through multitasking and memory intensive applications. Very few laptops can match this speed although this does carry a very high price tag of roughly $2800 as tested. Of course, there are less expensive configurations that still perform quite well but cost half as much.
Lenovo offers a number of storage options with the ThinkPad W520. For traditional usage, a large 500GB hard drive provides plenty of storage space. The 7200rpm spin rate also gives it solid performance but if you need more, it could be swapped out for solid state drives. There is also room for a 80GB micro solid state drive but it is a fairly expensive upgrade. A standard modular drive bay handles a dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media. High speed external storage is also well covered thanks to two USB 3.0 and an eSATA port for use with just about any type of high performance external storage devices.
Anyone looking to use a laptop for serious graphics works will definitely want to take a look at Lenovo's ThinkPad W520. The upgraded 15.6-inch panel comes with an IPS based LCD panel that provides a very high 1920x1080 resolution and some superb color. An anti-glare coating is standard which is a boon to anyone that has to work outdoors or in less than great lighting conditions. In addition, an optional color calibrator is built into the laptop deck that will keep the display's colors accurate. The graphics themselves are driven by an NVIDIA Quaddro 2000M graphics processor with 2GB of memory. This falls between the consumer GeForce 550M and 555M in terms of cores and frequencies. It will work extremely well for 3D CAD work or accelerating Photoshop. 3D gaming is possible with it but it is not going to be to the performance to the consumer oriented gaming laptops.
The version of the ThinkPad W520 that I worked with came equipped with a larger nine-cell battery pack that provides a very high 94 WHr capacity. The downside is the battery pack extends out behind the hinge of the laptop which makes it a bit less portable. In DVD playback testing, the laptop lasted just under six hours before going into standby mode. This puts it at the same overall level of running time as Apple's MacBook Pro with its integrated battery pack but in a package with much higher performance. One should also be aware that the 130W power brick for this laptop is very large which is something to be aware of for frequent travelers.
Lenovo continues to equip their ThinkPad W520 with their traditional style keyboard design that is so well liked. It is very comfortable to use and quite accurate. With the larger width of the W520, it would have been nice to see them include a numeric keypad as well but it is understanding why they may not have wanted to extend the keyboard all the way to the sides. It also uses the dual trackpoint and trackpad pointing devices that allow one to chose which method works best for them. Both are accurate and comfortable to use.