Lenovo debuts new Thinkpad mobile workstations

Solidworks is holding its annual Solidworks World designers' conference right now in lovely Los Angeles, and Lenovo is one of the show's major sponsors. The company took the opportunity to annouce major updates to its mobile workstation lineup, known as the Thinkpad P series. Unsurprisingly, the new models are called the Thinkpad P71, P51, and P51s. The new series includes Lenovo's thinnest and lightest mobile workstation, as well as the company's first laptop certified for VR development.

Starting off with the big boy, the Thinkpad P71 is a highly-configurable mobile workstation. It comes with a 17" frame that can house 1920×1080 or 3840×2160 IPS panels. CPU options for the P71 include Kaby Lake Core processors or a Xeon E3 v6 processor. The machine's four SO-DIMM slots can accept up to 64GB of DDR4 memory at 2400 MT/sec, although there's no mention of ECC support. Buyers can configure the P71 with up to four storage devices, including a pair of 1TB NVMe SSDs in a RAID 0 or 1 configuration.

The P71 is certified by Oculus, HTC, and Nvidia for VR content creation, and to that end it can be configured with a Quadro P5000 graphics card. That's essentially a Quadro-ified GeForce GTX 1080, except with twice the memory (16GB) of the consumer version. Folks can make use of all that graphical horsepower by connecting devices to the P71's HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, or Thunderbolt 3 jacks. Using a Thunderbolt connection for a display won't leave you wanting for high-speed connectivity, though, because the P71 comes with two of 'em.

Folks for whom the P71 is just too big can step down to the P51. Its 15" IPS display can come in 1920×1080 or 3840×2160 resolutions, just like its bigger brother. Lenovo also offers a 1920×1080 touch-screen option on the P51. The same CPU options from the P71 are available here too, as well as the same four SO-DIMM slots. However, given its smaller size the P51 does lose one storage bay. The graphics also take a downgrade in this model: the fastest Quadro available for the P51M is the Maxwell-based Quadro M2200. That chip appears to be built on a GM206 GPU like the GeForce GTX 960, and connects to 4GB of GDDR5 memory.

Stepping down once again we have the P51s. Lenovo says the Thinkpad P51s is its lightest and thinnest mobile workstation at 0.79" (20mm) thick and 4.3lbs (1.95kg). This machine offers seventhth-generation (Kaby Lake) Core i7 processors, up to 32GB of 2133 MT/s DDR4 memory in two SO-DIMM slots, and 2TB of storage split between an HDD and an NVMe SSD. It also uses a 15.6" display, and has the same display options available as the standard P51. Those displays will be connected to a Quadro M520, which is a miniature Maxwell part with 384 shaders and 1GB of GDDR5 memory. Curiously, the P51s can be ordered with Windows 7 pre-loaded.

All three of the laptops come with Gigabit Ethernet jacks, plus Intel 8265-powered 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. All three also include cellular WAN connectivity. Lenovo says it expects the new machines to begin shipipng in March. The lightweight P51s will start at $1,049, the midrange P51 will start at $1,399, and the high-end P71 will start at $1,849.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    The thing is (from experience) that unless you’re rocking a serious piece of software that needs a Quadro, and most probably needs more Quadro than you can actually get in a laptop, you are better off with Intel graphics. The baby GM108 in the P51s is almost certainly going to be struggling to outperform the Kaby HD630 IGP and will probably lose to the Iris Plus 640 in higher Kaby models.

    All the big CAD/CAM/Design/Modelling software vendors have changed or updated their engines over the last decade because industry has shifted away from powerful workstation to people working in the field, or working from home. If their software isn’t usable on integrated laptop graphics, it’s going to get replaced by software that is.

    As it stands, Quadro is a huge snake-oil sales campaign now and the last bastion of defence for it is “but you’re paying for support”. No you’re not, trust me – I’ve had to use that support. You can (if you’re me) even have one Quadro to entitle you to the “enhanced validation and support” and then discover that is useless and that the real issue is not the Quadro or the Geforce but a broken feature in the application which is eventually patched for all graphics – whether that’s an Intel IGP or a $6000 Quadro.

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 3 years ago

      That would be very interesting if they do a P51 with some of that eDRAM cache … screw Quadro, like you say. Maybe I could sneak that buy at work this fall…

      Though describing the graphics in a “work” laptop as some kind of Geforce does make it sound like a toy. 🙂

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      Maybe the barely above Intel IGP Nvidia chip is in there for CUDA support? Many renderers are much faster on a GPU, but accross GPUs don’t see much gain from low end to high end so long as there is one. Intel IGPs are actually shockingly good at OpenCL for their graphics performance class, so you get both a good OpenCL renderer and a good CUDA renderer –

      [url<]https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015-Retina-MBP.010.png[/url<] Your point about not gaining much over a Geforce of course remains. Maybe it's just the extra testing, on AMDs Radeon Pro site I think it said they were put through twice the stability testing as regular Radeons.

        • Chrispy_
        • 3 years ago

        Yeah, but extra stability testing is pointless when it’s the same silicon as the regular radeons:

        If it’s unstable, you RMA it regardless.
        If it’s a software/driver fault, the unified driver means that the problem affects Radeons and Pro models equally.

        CUDA is a valid point, though I think the number of CUDA apps has dropped in favour of OpenCL or CPU compute again, simply because Nvidia have optimised their mainstream chips for gaming at the expense of compute. Kepler > Maxwell > Pascal unless we’re talking about the $4000$ Tesla/Grid/Quadro compute-specific models aimed primarily for rackmount servers.

          • Ninjitsu
          • 3 years ago

          I thought Quadro stuff uses different drivers? (it doesn’t [i<]need[/i<] to, afaik).

    • NovusBogus
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]Curiously, the P51s can be ordered with Windows 7 pre-loaded.[/quote<] A better question would be why the other two can't. Surely they're not expecting corporate clients to use a nonstandard OS.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      My employer has been deploying Windows 10 on every new PC since around October 2015. My old-ass Sandy Bridge Latitude is still on Win 7, but it’s due to be replaced later this year. I’m sure I’ll end up with Windows 10.

        • Tom Yum
        • 3 years ago

        Good for you. Our employer of approximately 50,000 employees is still using Windows XP, but its ok because we are upgrading next year…to Windows 7. Kaby Lake compatibility is not a problem though, because we are still rocking Core 2 Duo E8400’s. Worst IT division in the world.

      • tacitust
      • 3 years ago

      Lenovo still provides the Windows 7 “downgrade” option (for a fee) on most of its Thinkpad line.

      • barich
      • 3 years ago

      Supposedly Windows 7 isn’t supported on Kaby Lake at all, which is why it’s curious (to me, anyway).

      I’d hate to work for a company that is rolling out 2017 hardware with an eight-year-old, soon to be unsupported OS.

      • Chrispy_
      • 3 years ago

      Asus chalked up a black mark in my book for switching from synaptics trackpads in their UX305 models to an in-house Asus trackpad.

      Guess what, Asus can’t be bothered to write W7 drivers for their own trackpad, so I can’t use those two Zenbooks in our office pool. Not only do I not think W10 is ready for corporate environments yet (when comparing to W7), I also have some contractual obligations to use 7.

      Microsoft (and vendors) need to stop thinking they can force upgrades through shady decisions. A lot of people don’t want what they’re pushing, and a few people don’t even get a choice. Like it or not, in the enterprise world, W7 is king of the hill by such a huge margin it’s almost comical. Laptops that can’t W7 are dead on arrival, period.

    • BillyBuerger
    • 3 years ago

    Just got a P50 for a new employee last week. Didn’t know that the M.2 slots require a tray to mount them. Had to scramble to find one and pay a lot for next day shipping to make the upgrade. That was annoying. But it’s a nice laptop.

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 3 years ago

    A couple months ago they declined to buy a P50 for me at work. 🙁 Thin clients, they want thin clients basically. Sad.

      • Kretschmer
      • 3 years ago

      Thin clients are great for working remotely, though. Why hunch over a 15″ laptop when you can work at your desk with 34″?

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 3 years ago

        I like the combination of 15″ laptop with 24″ cheapo screen on the side. Thinkpad keyboards and eraser all the way, baby.

      • tacitust
      • 3 years ago

      So you’re enjoying your new Thinkpad 11e Chromebook, then?

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 3 years ago

        No I got another W530 from the retirement pile. Works perfectly fine, they can keep their undersized crap laptops until there is some hardware improvement to talk about.

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