REVIEW: Lenovo Thinkpad P1
Orestis Bastounis takes the super lightweight powerhouse for a test drive
it’s not often we cover two workstations from the same manufacturer in such a short space of time, as you might remember we already reviewed the Lenovo Thinkpad P52 in issue 122. But we think this update to the range warrants another piece of coverage.
That’s because Lenovo has taken much of the same powerful workstation internals of the P52, which we found to be very well suited to 3d design, and (really this time) squeezed it down into an Ultrabook-like 15.6 inch form factor, weighing just 1.7kg and 18.4mm thick.
as far as mobile workstations go, the Thinkpad P1 might just take the award for the best-looking mobile workstation we’ve ever seen. The thin chassis works brilliantly with the matte black Thinkpad-style finish, making it look more like an executive folder than a laptop. and the inside looks and feels exactly like a Thinkpad too, with the same style of chiclet Lenovo keys, the buttons above the trackpad and the red mouse tracking button.
But, as with the P52, the immediate stand-out feature of the P1 is the intensely vivid 10-bit 4k touch-sensitive screen that supports 100 per cent of the adobergb colour space. This is only an option, the entry-level P1 models use a non-touch 1080p display that lacks the vibrant colours and has lower brightness. The screen is a £200 upgrade that we’d absolutely recommend everyone choosing – even if you opt for the cheaper model. our only disappointment with the display is that it doesn’t run along the very bottom. There’s a black section over an inch high that wastes some of this space.
The thin design is thanks to the choice of an nvidia Max-q Quadro P2000 4GB graphics card. This is one area that is a slight downgrade on the P52, which came with a beefier P3000. With a Max-q variant of an nvidia graphics card, you get the same features of the desktop variant, but at slightly lower clock speeds giving it a thermal envelope that requires less cooling and power consumption, and therefore better suited to thin laptops. it’s probably not possible to really fit anything more demanding than a P2000 into a chassis this size, but we found the P2000 is still a capable card, well-suited to mid-range rendering work.
The rest of the internal specification is certainly worth talking about as well, as much of what made the P52 great has transitioned across to the P1. There’s the option of intel Core i7, Core i9 or Xeon processors, with four or six cores. You can squeeze in up to 64GB of memory and up to 4TB of storage spread between two M.2 slots. Unlike with apple’s comparable Macbook Pro design, Lenovo has been really generous with the ports as well. Two traditional USB Gen 1 ports are joined by two USB-C ports, hdmi, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an Sd card reader. ethernet is served by a mini port, which requires an adapter.
There’s are a few welcome bonuses too. Firstly, although the P1 isn’t described as rugged, Lenovo goes to some length to say it’s at least durable thanks to a mag alloy construction material. We’d expect it to survive the odd small drop, something that can’t be said of all laptops.
Then there’s the nifty power supply, which is 35 per cent smaller than that of the P52, which is really brilliant news, considering that the brick-like power supplies with many laptops make the prospect of carrying your work around far less attractive.
although the P1 is an expensive prospect, with pricing in line with other mobile workstations of comparable power, it’s not the priciest laptop around. The entry level £1,549 system drops the P2000 to a P1000, has a quad core CPU and just 8GB of memory. Bump all the specs up and it crosses the £3,000 threshold.
it’s this high-end configuration we tested, with a 2.7Ghz six core intel Xeon e-2167m processor, 32GB of memory and a Quadro P2000. We’re pleased to say the P1 lives up to its potential.
Cinebench gave us an overall score of 1,121, which places the chip above any quad-core processor, but behind Ryzen and slightly slower than intel’s desktop Core i7 8700k. Without the same thermal and power constraints, desktop chips can run at faster clock speeds, which does slightly hurt the P1’s performance by a small margin. in Specviewperf 13, we recorded scores that were about 50 per cent slower than the Quadro P3000 in Lenovo’s bigger P52 laptop, as expected. But overall, the Quadro P2000 still performed admirably. opencl performance in Luxmark’s Luxball test put in a score of 8,192, which is below desktop cards, but indicative of being useful in 3d tasks.
Crucially though, while this performance is not breaking any records, the size of the P1 is. Given the choice between a laptop that you can sling in a bag and still use for all your 3d tasks, or one that can output more frames per second but is going to severely weigh you down, we’d have to choose lighter and more portable every time.
Enough power for real 3D work in a slick, lightweight design The stand-out feature of the P1 is the intensely vivid 10-bit 4K touch-sensitive screen
MAIN The display is absolutely gorgeous, with high colour accuracy that professionals needBOTTOM LEFT The P1 delivers a no-compromise 3D design environment with a svelte lookBOTTOM MIDDLE It’s refreshing to see a good selection of ports, even on a small laptopBOTTOM RIGHT Keep your work safe with the integrated fingerprint scanner
BELOW Lenovo is trying to be seen as a real player in 3D systems, and the P1 is a great entry