The Lenovo ThinkPad W530 is the 2012 update to the popular W-series of ThinkPad workstation style laptops, it evolves upon and replaces the W520. As many are aware by now, the biggest change to occur across the ThinkPad lineup is a new 6-row chiclet style keyboard. The W530 has the exact same keyboard that shows up on the smaller 12.5” X230 and 14” T430, and when I say exact I do mean that – the keyboards are interchangeable and the same size despite the size difference between these notebooks. A lot has already been said about the keyboard changes so we’ll skim over that by saying the feel is still about the same as before, the biggest difference is relocated or missing keys. The Home and End keys are moved and the ScrLk and Pause buttons are gone for instance – for more in depth analysis of the keyboard changes please read the X230 review and everything you see there applies here.
Moving along, you’ll probably also be aware that the internals of the W530 have changed and you now get the latest Intel Ivy Bridge lineup of processors and Nvidia Quadro K1000 or K2000 dedicated graphics. You can get up to an extreme quad core Intel Core i7-3920XM processor (2.90GHz, 8MB Cache) for those that run seriously demanding applications. The W530 is intended for engineers and designers that have to push computing to its limits, as such you can configure options such as 32GB of RAM, Internal RAID, dual hard drives, SSD – Lenovo does not hold back on configuration ability. The appeal of the W530 to many people is quite obviously the fact it is so easy to upgrade or configure to your specific needs, which is a common trait of ThinkPads but this is even more so the case with the W530. Our particular W530 configuration comes with the following specs:
- Processor: Intel Core i7-3520M 2.90GHz
- Screen: 15.6” 1600 x 900 resolution 220 nits brightness
- Graphics: Nvidia Quadro K1000M 2GB VRAM
- Memory: 8GB RAM
- Storage: 500GB 7200RPM Hitachi TravelStar Z7K500
- OS: Windows 7 Professional
- Optical Drive: DVD Burner
- Battery: 6-cell Li-Ion
- Weight: 6lbs
- Dimensions: 9.65” x 14.68” x 1.25” – 1.40” (Width x Depth x Thickness)
The screen is upgradeable to Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, that’s a $200 upgrade on Lenovo.com right now. The 1600 x 900 screen we have is certainly not bad, it has decent viewing angles and accurate color reproduction, however the 1920 x 1080 is brighter, has wider viewing angles and has 95% color gamut so if you’re really into nice screens that’s the one to get. Speaking of color accuracy, there’s a color sensor built into the W530 itself that enables you to easily calibrate colors so it’s consistent across programs. More on how that color calibrator works in the full review.
The design of the W530 is, well, boring. It’s black and boxy and that’s pretty much how ThinkPads have looked since 1990-something with tweaks here and there of course. No matter, it’s a tried and true design and this laptop is all business and work, why pretend to be anything other than that if you’re not? The thickness of the W530 comes in at 1.25” to 1.40” while the weight is about 6lbs with the 6-cell battery. It’s light enough to carry around the office but this sure isn’t meant for using on an airplane. There’s a reason the W530 is referred to as a desktop replacement workstation.
The ports selection of the W530 is of course excellent. You get the following ports on each side:
On the left side is mini DisplayPort, VGA monitor out port, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, FireWire (IEEE 1394)
On the right side is an ExpressCard 34mm slot, 4-in-1 SD card reader, dual headphone / microphone jack, Ethernet LAN RJ-45
On the back is a powered USB 2.0 port
There are no ports or slots on the front side, though you can see there’s a latch for opening the screen on the right side there
It might have been nice to see a ThunderBolt port on the W530, but then again ThinkPads are enterprise focused and such entities generally don’t want anything to do with new port technologies, it’s all about legacy ports. That said, the ThinkPad T430s does offer a ThunderBolt port option in case you were looking.
To measure performance we ran a few benchmarks, the full suite of performance numbers will be published in the full review but for now we’ll reveal the PCMark Vantage and 3DMark Vantage scores so you can get an idea for how this particular configuration is able to score.
3DMark Vantage – Measures 3D graphics performance, higher scores are better
|Lenovo ThinkPad W530 – Intel Core i7-3520M 2.90GHz , Nvidia K1000M, 8GB RAM, 7200RPM HD||5,218|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X230 – Intel Core i5-3320M 2.60GHz, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM HD||3,165|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X220 – Intel Core i5-2410M 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM HD||1,611|
|Dell XPS 15 (Intel Core i7-2670QM, Nvidia GT 525M 1GB RAM, 8GB RAM, 7200RPM HD)||4,211|
|HP Envy 17-3000, Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD||6,970|
|Dell XPS 17 (Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, Nvidia 550m, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM)||4,747|
|HP Pavilion dv6t Select Edition – Intel Core i5-2410m, Intel HD 3000 Graphics, 6GB RAM||1,845|
PCMark Vantage Benchmark Results – Higher scores indicate better performance
|Laptop||PCMark Vantage Score|
|Lenovo ThinkPad W530 – Intel Core i7-3520M 2.90GHz , Nvidia K1000M, 8GB RAM, 7200RPM HD||9,934 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X230 – Intel Core i5-3320M 2.60GHz, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM HD||7,603 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X220 – Intel Core i5-2410M 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM HD||5,764 PCMarks|
|SONY VAIO SA – Intel Core i5-2430M, AMD 6750M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD||7,007 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM||6,056 PCMarks|
|Dell Vostro 3450 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30Ghz, 4GB RAM||5,901 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron N411z – Intel Core i3-2330m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM||5,285 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T420 – Intel Core i3-2310m 2.1GHz, 2GB RAM||3,204 PCMarks|
While those benchmark scores above are very respectable, there is of course room for improvement if you make some upgrades to your W530 configuration. For instance, using an SSD or upgrading to a faster K2000M graphics card or Extreme Core i7 Quad Core processor will add a nice jolt.
Obviously this is just scratching the surface in regards to information and analysis of the W530, when we’ve had more time to use and test the W530 the full review will be published along with comparisons to the older ThinkPad W520 it’s replacing. Until then, I leave you with this video overview of the ThinkPad W530: