In a world that seems to be increasingly flooded with similar laptops among all parties, it becomes a bit more difficult to find something that’s truly suitable to you and your own personal needs. The only significant differences come from finding different operating systems, that also bring with it a different level of hardware as well. Even in the world of 2-in-1 devices we’re seeing a larger profusion of devices that claim to do it all, and do it well. But underneath the marketing it appears that they’re all quite similar in specs. So how does one differentiate such similarly classed hardware? The little details, because those are what really matter when trying to select the perfect system for both work and play. So let’s review the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga, a laptop that has the potential to be more than the sum of its parts.
How does the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 stack up to the competition?
The P40 is primarily a business laptop, one that allows you to have the utility of a tablet, complete with a Wacom-enabled active-pen, so that you can do a variety of different tasks. The resurgence of the might pen is no accident. It’s a useful device that we’ve been making use of for centuries. For some it’s a natural way to interact with a device, much more so than simple touch, and gives a level of control that can’t be seen in everything. It’s far more useful as a pointing device and pulls equal import as a writing utensil.
The Lenovo ThinkPad P40 is being positioned as an on-the-go workstation that can fulfill all the basic needs of any user. They’ve even included a dedicated NVIDIA GPU for those more demanding rendering and compute tasks, though it’s backed by its 2GB of DDR3. It’s bolstered by the ability to transform into a tent, a stand or a tablet at your whim. That adds a bit of utility to the platform, especially with a 14” screen such as this. Which, as we’ll see much later, is a sight to behold and a perfect match for the laptop. It has a slew of ports, an integrated pen, a nice-sized screen and plenty of power.
Review Unit Specifications
Our model has the optional i7-6600U, 16GB of DDR3L RAM, a 512GB Samsung PM841 SATA SSD, a 14-inch 2560x1440P screen, an NVIDIA Quadro M500M with 2GB of dedicated DDR3 RAM all within a snazzy, very familiar chassis with one of the best keyboards around. It’s well endowed, though with a lower-power U-series Skylake processor. All told, this should be more than sufficient for even slight rendering tasks. The dedicated GPU gives it immense potential as a mobile, and truly mobile, compute development platform. As tested it lists for $2224.00 and has been seen for as low as $1668.00 on their website.
Lenovo ThinkPad P40
|Intel Core i7-6600U Processor (4MB Cache, up to 3.40GHz)|
|Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (downgrade rights to Windows 7 available)|
|Intel HD 530 + NVIDIA Quadro M500M w/ 2GB DDR3|
|16GB PC3-12800 DDR3L 1600MHz SODIMM|
|14.1” WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS Glossy Touch, 720p HD camera|
|512 GB SSD (SATA3)|
|Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC(2x2) 8260, Bluetooth Version 4.1 vPro|
|USB 3.0, Always On, 3.5mm Audio connector, 3 x USB 3.0, 4-in-1 memory card reader, mini DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0, Security lock slot|
|720p w/ dual array microphones|
|16.38 (W) x 10.85 (D) x 1.18-1.35 (H) inches|
|~$2000 as tested|
The Lenovo ThinkPadP40 has an incredibly robust chassis that’s supported by an internal frame that’s about as sturdy as you can get. The chassis is MIL-SPEC rated and can withstand a fair amount of vibration, dust and can even withstand a tiny drop, though you’re best to be careful nonetheless. Being that it’s of the Yoga family of devices, that means that there needs to be a means of transforming into one of the myriad modes. The hinge has two connections that are made of aluminum and seem to be fairly strong. There’s been some complaints in the wild of some strange behavior due to the way that it’s connected, by two points. But during the weeks that I’ve had this sample, there’s been no issues whatsoever. No jutting of the hinges or other physical deformities. There’s very little, if any perceptible, flex in the chassis and passes the two finger test with east. It’s also passed the dog napping test, and makes a great, warm pillow for wayward puppies needing a nap. The finish is a nice soft-touch material and appears to be quite durable. A misguided dog liked to walk on it at times, and those ferocious claws did nothing to the material.
The screen is quite good, but some might be bothered by the “large” bezels surrounding it. Those bezels, though, are perfect for when it’s in tablet mode. It’s much easier to hold without accidentally pressing something on the screen, and is actually easy to hold with one hand. It’s even comfortable to hold with one hand and write with the other. As a transforming device, it works well and fulfills all the disparate roles quite well.
Touch screens alone are appreciated because of how natural it is to touch whatever I’m working with now. I always find that I’m pressing on the screen to close a window, click on an element on a webpage or any number of things. It’s normal now, so just having that is a huge plus, even if there are those that would tell you having a touch screen is a bad idea.
A good touchpad seems to be a rarity on Windows laptops. All major brands tend to work a little differently, and have their own quirks. They’ve also been poorly implemented up until recently. And if you’re an Apple user as well, the it’s difficult to find something to match the smoothness, integration and responsiveness of those devices. You get spoiled. Lenovo has opted for an Elan unit that’s fairly sizable. It’s also mostly responsive, and also acts as a clickpad. The materials it’s made out of lets your fingers glide over it without issue, or much friction. You can set the delay for when it starts to recognize finger movement, which works well, and setup all the various multi-touch gestures. It’s reasonable well-rounded except that it can sometimes be highly sensitive with the double click to select gesture. Sometimes you’ll inadvertently start moving around or selecting text when you didn’t mean to. It’s frustrating, though not deal breaking. You can also change the delay before that’s activated. It just takes some playing around to get it setup right. It’s a weak point, for me, on any Windows laptop. But there’s been massive improvement and this Elan touchpad isn’t bad!
If you’re a Lenovo Diehard, then you’ll be happy to know that the Trackpoint is alive and well. It even has its own three dedicated buttons that work well. It’s just as accurate and awesome to use as ever, and is every bit the useful method of input.
Digitizer Pen Experience
The pen does add a certain amount of utility to the device despite being what might seem a useless inclusion for most. That said, notetaking is rather easy with the pen being incredibly responsive. The screen is slightly slick, as most glass tends to be, but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Windows is naturally intuitive with a digitizer and the included, and powerful I might add, handwriting recognition is very valuable to those that still enjoy physically writing things down. I used it to take notes in a number of classes to great effect, and actually found it quite nice to have around. I can write faster than I can type for a lot of things, and I can end up taking notes on just about anything. It’s not quite as robust an experience as the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book, but it’s just as good as the iPad Pro, if not better due to this being a full desktop platform. For those that draw, it’s accurate and is pretty nice to use. I don’t, but it seems to be a good approximation for a good Wacom tablet, though not quite as robust or useful. It’ll do in a pinch for artists. Or so my wife tells me.
The pen is battery powered, though easily recharges within a minute and can last for nearly 20 hours. I never felt hindered by its battery capacity.
Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Connectivity
There’s an entire wealth of connectivity on the sides of the Lenovo ThinkPad P40. Having a bevy of ports is precisely a top requirement for mobile workstations. Though we want thinner, sometimes it’s a huge plus to have the option to expand your capabilities on the road. Even if it’s only for small amount of time. It also lets you use it as your main machine, should you so choose.
On the right side we have the power button, which needs a firm, longer press to activate, the volume rocker, two USB 3.0 ports, a mini-DisplayPort, HDMI and the Kensington Lock.
On the left side we see the power connector, a OneLink+ connector, a single USB 3.0 port, 3.5mm combo jack, an SD card reader and the slot for the digitizer pen, made by Wacom and quite sensitive.
OneLink+ vastly increases you productivity, letting you connect a dock that allows for up to three monitors to connect, RJ45 and several more USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports. It’s also capable of charging the laptop, which leads me to believe that it’s PCIe-based, and probably a proprietary derivative of Thunderbolt 3, without explicitly being that.
The display is a site to behold, even if it’s not quite OLED (available on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga). It’s an IPS unit with strong off-center color reproduction and very little IPS glow. Thankfully, Windows can easily handle the resolution scaling, so it doesn’t look out of place. Things are easy to use with both the pen, fingers and of course the trackpad. Testing concluded that it reproduces around 104-percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is incredibly high and helpful for those interested in creating things.
Further testing showed that the Delta-E color accuracy before being calibrated was at a surprising 1.1, incredibly accurate out of the box. With that, it was able to pump out 263 nits of brightness with a black-level of 0.25 cd/m2. The contrast ratio was a wonderful 1012:1, which isn’t terribly bad! In fact, that’s quite good!