We’re becoming an increasingly mobile workforce, and thus we’ll need the tools to be able to do our jobs efficiently and effectively. Enter the Lenovo ThinkPad P70, an evolution of a successful line of laptops that attempt to blend together mobility with actual real power. Is this 17.3-inch workstation truly as extraordinary as it may seem on the outside?
Lenovo ThinkPad P70
Lenovo has been offering true mobile workstations for professionals the better part of 8 years with the W series of ThinkPads. These began life as massive yet incredibly powerful machines with everything you could ever need, including lots of storage, to create and design while not at home. In fact, in a way they were great workstations all around for many different industries and for many different reasons. Mobile workstations that have the power to do what you need them to do, such as rendering in AutoCAD, creating games in any one of the different and demanding engines or “just” creating and rendering video from 4K or lower video sources is an absolute blessing, but it isn’t always necessary.
Generally we design things while sitting at our desks at home, creating and sculpting, making things with our desktop PC’s with copious amounts of cores and even more GPU cores stuffed inside a box that’s like a wind tunnel, with everything easily nice and cool. But then there are those mobile workers, those individuals who have a requirement for powerful computing power that they can take with them, whether to show clients or to gather additional data to add to computationally intensive applications. We can’t all simply stay at our desk for everything, as logical as that might seem. Traveling is part of some career fields. And what of those jobs that don’t let you put your work on your personal computer at home? This lets you take it home from the office and have all the security goodies they need to keep that precious data in check. It’s smart, really.
The ThinkPad P70 itself is well-equipped, with a plethora of very fast options that make it a very good mobile companion while out on the road.
Review Unit Specifications
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5 (8MB cache, 2.8GHz to 3.7GHz)
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (downgrade rights to Windows 7 available)
Intel HD Graphics P530 + NVIDIA Quadro M4000M w/ 4GB GDDR5
16GB DDR4 2133MHz SDRAM (1x16GB) w/ ECC
17.3-inch 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) IPS w/ X-Rite PANTONE color calibration
512GB NVMe PCIe SSD
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC (2x2) 8260 + Bluetooth 4.1 vPro
USB 3.0, Always On, Smart Card reader, 3.5mm Audio connector, 2 x USB 3.0, 4-in-1 memory card reader, ExpressCard slot, mini DisplayPort, Security lock slot
720p w/ dual array microphones
96Whr (8-cell, removable)
16.38 (W) x 10.85 (D) x 1.18-1.35 (H) inches
3 years (1-year battery)
$3,849 MSRP as tested
It’s almost a perfect combination of mobility and power, and fusion of what you need to truly create things on the road and being able to do it not on battery. Make no mistake, however, though it sips power while doing normal office work, that wouldn’t last very long once you start cranking up the GPU or CPU clockspeeds. Despite that, it’s a workstation meant to be taken and setup in a hotel or a site that’s not your own. And it happens to really excel at that.
The monolithic design is something that Lenovo, and IBM in years before, have been doing forever. It’s stood the test of time with only minor updates and the sturdy construction makes it easy to handle. Though dimensionally it’s big, you don’t have to worry about where you pick it up from or how you hold it. It won’t break easily, even if you’re holding it gingerly by the screen with it open. On the outside it’s adorned with a very classy ThinkPad logo that’s been on all of these laptops since time immemorial. The dot on the i lights up in an understated, classy way.
The design is familiar, in the way that something might feel comfortable and like home. If you’ve never used a Lenovo business laptop, then you’ll know the feeling. The keyboard is the new island style that they’ve stuck with over the past years. It’s just as comfortable to type on as you’d expect. It’s nearly perfect as far as laptop keyboards go. Of course there are two sets of physical buttons on the trackpad as well. One set is for when using the ever-present red trackpoint. It’s nice to see physical buttons on trackpads these days, considering most manufacturers are ditching those for other methods of interaction.
Open it up to a gorgeous 4K display that has it’s own color calibrator, made by X-Rite, integrated into the palm-rest. That’s a huge plus for doing color critical work, like putting together the unboxing video below. You can very easily calibrate or recheck the calibration. Just open the software, follow the steps, close the lid and wait for the beep. Then you’re calibrated. Easy as that, and nearly foolproof. The screen itself is very gorgeous. It’s a matte IPS screen, of course, and capable of 99.9% of the sRGB color space. It had a brightness of 339 nits, a measured black value of 0.4cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 913:1.
Scaling wasn’t a terrible issue, though at 17.3-inches, you’ll need to set at least 150% in the OS itself, and those applications that don’t support it tend to look quite small. The quality of the display, though, is rather amazing. There was very little backlight bleeding and, of course, being IPS it had very wide viewing angles.
On the other side of the massive and very comfortable Synaptics trackpad is a rather elegant looking capacitive fingerprint reader. No longer the inverted canyon that we’re used to seeing. It uses Windows Hello in order to integrate with the greater OS. That means you can use it to log-in and interact with anything in Windows. The installed Lenovo software expands that functionality to let you use your fingerprint for much more. When something you are is combined with something you know and something have, then you have nearly the perfect method of authentication. It’s all very easy to configure here, too.
Intel making Xeon’s a mobile phenomenon isn’t really anything more than enabling ECC support and ensuring all of the goodies that make a Xeon, well, a Xeon are also enabled internally. It’s an i7 with ECC RAM capability, which isn’t anything to scoff at in and of itself. But don’t think it’s a magical upgrade in terms of processing power. Generally speaking, if this is a true Xeon at heart, then it’ll be a better binned chip and thus work a bit more efficiently and withstand a bit more heat a little better. In the end you get a much higher quality part. And the best thing is that it can game with the best of them. Because why would you want to just do work while you’re away?
Inside you’ll find a very well configured laptop with a large cooler that encompasses the Intel Xeon E3-1505M, and seems enough to keep it cool when the workload increases. A big heatsink also sits appropriately atop the GPU with it’s own large fan to help expel heat. It’s a good setup that also has the pleasure of being nearly silent when in operation, despite the amount of heat it’s shooting out the back, which is definitely not on your legs, should you decide to place it there. It’s not uncomfortable to rest there, either. But the weight might be a bit of a bother for some, though.