9.0
final rating

reviewed on
this review has been viewed 6666 times

Criteria Comments Rating
  • Speed and features No comments great!
  • Design and form factor keyboard and mousebuttons are a big step backward so-so
  • Battery life No comments great!
  • Display No comments great!
  • Durability a bit less 'built as tank' compared to previous thinkpads good
  • Expandability No comments good
  • Noise No comments good
  • Portability (size / weight) No comments great!
Detailed review
My previous thinkpad was a W701 with 17" WUXGA (1920x1200).
Lenovo dropped the W7x line and I needed a replacement.
Compared to the W701 this machine is:

+ much more compact (both machine and power adapter)
+ better battery life

+ color calibration works great
+ better form factor, now you can actually find a bag whch can hold it ;)
+ finally capable of 32 gb memory in 4 memory banks
+ fantastic display for photo postprocessing
+ potent machine!

- keyboard layout (pgup/pgdown buttons moved away from home/en/escape)
- keyboard can be lit, but I preferred the thinklights

- keyboard touch (less than my previous thinkpads)
- IPS 15.5 display much better resolution but on a smaller screen
- mouse buttons on the touchpad suck
- no indicator lights for bluetooth, wifi, external power or even hdd
- second hdd only as mSata or in multidrive bay
- left palmrest getting hot

- Default W7 install, lenghtly procedure to get W8.1 on it
- it cannot hold CF cards directly, now I need a cardreader for that

- microphone input gone
- battery sticks out at the back
- build quality seems a bit less robust than previous models, time will tell.....

The biggest minus for me is the keyboard/touchpad, further more a very powerful machine in a compact form factor.

Comments (12) subscribe to this review's comments

movedor

I am surprised your rating is 9.0 when it has one major drawback: the keyboard and touchpad, which to me is one the major reasons to choose Thinkpads over other options in the market today.

I was considering buying this laptop. I have myself W520 but now I am in boubt. Keyboard and touchpad are key to me.
entropy69

I'm not using the touchpad at all. I've always been a huge trackpoint fan. Location of pgup pgdn buttons is breaking a 20 years design constant: nasty in the beginning but you get used to it. Screen and performance are a dream, The only real minus are the mousebuttons integrated in the touchpad, I liked the dedicated mouse buttons much better.
In the office I use an external (trackpoint) keyboard:)
StevenMiles

Entropy, what external keyboard with the trackpoint do you use?
entropy69

An ancient IBM SK-8835, works like a charm. I suspect the usb travel keyboards with trackpoint works equally well (I use one in a 19" drawer to operate my rackservers).
StevenMiles

Thanks! Just what I was looking for: exactly like the T60p I'm typing on right now. If I opt for a W540, I might use it with an external monitor and this keyboard when I'm at work!
ThinkpadVeteran

DIG that plug-in keyboard. In my space I don't have that 'luxury' so that made me give it a much lower rating. Harsh maybe but jeez I'm so disappointed with the new W540.

It's hard to understand the ratings for the W540 - even on Lenovos own website. There are supposedly 8 reviews but clicking on them only shows 3 - and those 3 are only all positive. Something smells fishy here!
ArtemOgre

There were more reviews. I have seen them with my own eyes. But to be honest they were not constructive at all.
entropy69

A lot of critics (including my own) magically disappeared from the lenovo forums. The performance and display of this W540 are great, build quality is not what is was before. I'm really disturbed by the fact that Lenovo simply ignores critics and normal questions from serious customers (fans/addicts) who are willing to pay the price for top quality.

That said: compared to the W701 I now have a highly portable true mobile workstation (excellent for both my development and photo work), which runs very efficient on batteries. I'm somewhat used to the new keyboard now, and disabled the touchpad. The only serious minus are the touchpad integrated mouse buttons.
StevenMiles

Entropy, is the very high pixels per inch a problem? Tiny type and icons in some programs?
entropy69

it's crisp but very small at 100% StevenMiles, 125% on windows 8 is perfect and still gives loads of space.
yoshm

Hey @Entropy69 - Thanks for a comprehensive review. Now that you've had it for a couple months longer - have you gotten fully used to the keyboard? Did they release a BIOS upgrade to address the hot palmrest problem? How hot does it get? Any new insights from your additional time with the machine?
entropy69

  • Fully used to the keyboard now, also the pgup pgdn button location, Still missing some alternative buttons like ctrl-break, the break key is missing!
  • The trackpoint integrated mouse buttons really suck the touch is not ideal and accuracy
    Probably also because of scaling (125% displaysize) and using (vmware) virtual machines. Especially right clicking tables for the context menu's in the sql server management console can be annoyingly inaccurate.
  • Palmrest temp ok during normal use, getting hotter with intensive graphics work. Not so hot you cannot put your hand on it anymore, but noticably hotter.