September 11th 2013 8:40 am

77
2.0
final rating

reviewed on
this review has been viewed 14756 times

Criteria Comments Rating
  • Speed and features No comments great!
  • Design and form factor No comments awful!
  • Battery life No comments good
  • Display No comments great!
  • Durability No comments awful!
  • Expandability No comments good
  • Noise No comments good
  • Portability (size / weight) No comments good
Detailed review
Be careful of fake positive reviews for the W540. Broken English and/or minimal actual review rating explanations are a dead giveaway!

This computer is such a piece of crap Lenovo is actually removing negative reviews of the computer from their own website!!!!!!! That's how you know it's bad.

Why do you think the new W540 is only about 250 bucks more expensive than the old W530? There is a good reason: it is not as good as it should be. Maybe the W550 will be better?

This desktop replacement workstation is a re-design of the great IBM Workstation series Thinkpads (called IBM Thinkpads before Lenovo bought Thinkpad).

This re-designed laptop is basically unusable unless you plug in an external keyboard.

The 3K display is great, the processor options are great, the graphics card options are okay (not the best but not the worst).

The REAL thing that makes this whole Thinkpad garbage is a few things: a keypad takes up a LOT of space on the right side of the laptop and the keyboard therefore is heavily skewed to the LEFT SIDE. If you try to type on this keyboard it's a joke - it's completely harmful to your wrists and your neck as you are typing over to the side, but trying to look at the middle of the screen.

If you need a keypad you can always get a dedicated keypad, why inconvenience everyone else who may actually want to use the )@&@%$ keyboard heavily!

The keyboard is also poor quality and gets dirty quickly compared to earlier versions of the W-series thinkpads (like the W510, W520, and W530 - the older T-Series were even better). Maybe I'm just an old-school person who types a lot but I can tell the difference. The back lighting for the new keys is unnecessary - that is if you know how to type. I guess if you don't this feature could be useful. I would rather have the older Thinklight (brilliant older feature by the way)!

I would give this laptop and even WORSE review if I actually used the trackpad. I am used to the 'pencil eraser' trackpoint so it's not a big deal. But! The new trackpad is atrocious - the physical buttons are gone and the calibration is off - this thing can't be used. Very bad for people who are used to trackpads with physical buttons (I think most laptops have physical click buttons in).

The legendary IBM Thinkpad magnesium/titanium (can't remember) internal frame and tank-like construction is also COMPLETELY MISSING on the W540. The W540 is weak - it flexes and will easily bend is some areas - especially around the 3K screen (which will also flex which is not good at all).

The old indicator lights are also gone, so you have no idea what's going on with your hard drive or other things by looking at your keyboard area.

The whole thing feels like a poor copy of a copy of a copy of the legendary excellent touch, feel, and construction of the original IBM Thinkpad computers.

I guess it was only a matter of time that Lenovo would try to save money and tarnish the Thinkpad name. What a shame, this is the last one that I will use unless they improve the next one back to the old quality and usability.

The other complaints I have will probably go away with new BIOS updates and such - like temperatures getting hot. I will try to get rid of this machine anyway - I can't stand it! Hope you have better luck - or better yet buy something else altogether. The old reasons to buy Thinkpads are gone.
review history
2014-01-21
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Comments (9) subscribe to this review's comments

azetair1

Yes i totally agree with you and your review iv been contemplation buying a thinkpad for months now and its been between the w's and the t's and i went with the w's but just by looking at the w540 pictures i know the keyboard and mouse buttons are not for me and going away from the good old thinkpads. If it wasnt for the thinkpad i would not even consider lenovo. Which is why im about to make the sacerfice of a 4th gen processor and go for the 530 because i know the 540 wont cut it. But to make things worse lenovo has deleted at least 10 negative reviews that said exactly what we are saying which makes me concern for the of the reviews of the w530 but i need a computer and the 530 looks ok from all the outside reviews iv seen for it too.
JIMF14D

Good review. I noticed the same thing of missing W540 reviews. There had been 8 or 9 but now only 3. If you look at reviews for T540P which is externally very similar to W540, it is only getting 2.5 stars with 25 reviews with the track pad thing getting the worst marks. In looking for replacements for well worn W510, we just bought two W530s instead of the W540 after seeing the track pad comments. Very happy with it. The msata slot is only SATA II but hard to tell the difference in operation with small SSD cache. Lenovo will have to rethink the 540 line I suppose the honest reviews stay so low. I am a long time Thinkpad lover so I hate to see Lenovo drop the ball on new ones!
SamuelAB

I've read a lat about the keyboard "problem", but I still do not fully understand what the issue is. Are you writing with the computer on your lap or on your desk? I think a lot of people though it was pretty ridiculous to see all the complaining about potential neck problems on the Lenovo W540 Answers/Questions. If you're able to provide visuals (photos, diagrams, etc) of what the problem is, ergonomically, it would clarify the issue.

Personally I was thrilled to finally see a numpad on a 15" laptop that has a pro graphic card. I have to render long periods of time and certain CAD software like Blender are pretty much worthless without a numpad. The 17" pro machines are usually a lot more expensive and too heavy to be portable. It's surprisingly hard to find a Quadro card and a numpad on a 15" laptop.
PK3

I bought this laptop and you are dead on, this keyboard is lousy, I hate the new track-point as they removed the buttons. the off center is also a major issue and I'm either going to return it or buy a Bluetooth keyboard to use with it. Not sure why they ruined such a good thing...
Heider

What a great review, and thanks for having the time to write it.

It's a shame that Lenovo aren't listening and things are getting 10 times worse; cheaper (quality wise) whilst price isn't getting any lower (the machine I wanted to buy and went to their website today was about £2100 in total).

I'm used to my T61p, but that's about 8 years old now it was the top of the range when I bought it, although it's a wicked machine and I rely on it so much, but I think it's crying out for an upgrade. So, I was thinking about gettin the W540 as it's the top of the range for today's laptops.

I liked the idea of having a 3K display area, and thought I should really buy it, but when I went to the Keyboard option and seeing no proper description there, immeidately put me off, so I went online and saw your review, thanks for the info, this stops me from buying a cheap laptop with tons of money....

I work for a big company, they give me the W530 to work with, but it's keyboard is so awful that I actually chucked it my loft and use it as a server now, this way I can still use my T61p to control it, whilst enjoying some power.

It's a shame that Thinkpad's are getting extremely crappy since Lenovo has taken over, I feel so sad, and wish I could do something to fix this myself. Perhaps doing some digging into the hardware to replacing the keyboard with my old one or something?!... not sure, but at least now I will wait to see if there is anything better to come out as the keyboard is hopeless.

P.S. SamuelAB: Do you work for Lenovo?!...

Cheers
Heider
retaildesigner

I don't get the complaints about the Keyboard or Track-pad. I do agreed that this is a budget machine and it current price point does reflect this to some point. It is not the sleekest looking machine, the shell is not designed in Cupertino for sure.

I was reading these posts holding off on my purchase. I researched comparable machines and I just kept coming back to the W540 mostly because of cost and performance ratio. Off-set keyboards and track pads are now a norm in the laptop world. Anyone that has purchased a laptop in the last 24 months should be well aware of this. Check out the Dell M6800 as only one example. This is they way of the future lol. I type with 3 monitors on my desk at the office, I am rarely centered with the one I'm looking at while typing.

The trackpad works great and I actually love it over 2 other laptops I own. I only like one better and that is my 13" Macbook Pro. Guess what!? the MacBook pro's track pad is probably what inspired the design of this one. One big touch surface that clicks nice and simple for everything but CAD and 3D software which will always require a mouse for efficiency. I'm not a long-time user of ThinkPad, this is my first one ever. I was in fact primarily in the past an Apple person. I must say the W540 is great and is responding to what people like myself want in a machine better than HP and Dell in my opinion. I would have bought a MacBook Pro if Apple actually included quality level GPUs for 3D rendering.

A people are keeping a professional level computer in use for almost a decade??? I'm not being mean at all but this is not who the manufactures are marketing too. I replace my set-up at min every 5 years... more like every 2 -3. Technology is moving far to fast for any professional machine to be really relevant much after a few years.

I know many "ThinkPad Veterans" will disagree with my post. But for those young Designer's and/or Architect's looking for a budget strong machine they should have some perspective that better aligns with what they are looking for. Requiring a centered keyboard is borderline joke-able.

I do not work for Levono... I am a US citizen born and raised... Live in Los Angeles and design retail store around the world. To to qualify my response :)
AlphaGeek1

Crimony! "Off-set keyboards and track pads are now a norm in the laptop world." What kind of statement is that? Just because people make really poor choices driven by marketing managers with art degrees (rather than engineers and researchers), does not make it right anymore than saying, "Burn and pillage is now the norm in the world." It is NOT a joke. It is a functional usability requirement that apparently doesn't work with the marketing team who are now making engineering decisions. I have an idea: let's have orthopedic surgeons decide how to align the keyboard. Does that sound like an outlandish thing? I thing it actually makes sense in the same way that having people who are versed in visual perception and the cognitive physiology of human sensory processing be the mainstay of UI design, but I digress.

There's an old adage that I think applies to the notion of change for the sake of change (another really bad idea, by the way): If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Prolific != correct. Bad ideas are just plain bad ideas. Repeating them and re-packaging them doesn't make them better, just more tedious to eradicate.
melajara

Thank you for this review.

You are so right, this is such a shame from Lenovo to have ruined the excellent build quality of the T61p chassis, with the dubious w500 series and especially the ugly w540!

After 7 years with several T61p, W510, W700, I settled for a DELL precision m6800 as my next workstation, the brand I used before switching to the Thinkpad, I'm feeling to travel back in time in doing so.

Nevertheless, I'm typing this comment on one of my several faithful T61p and I will continue to use them to write blog posts, code and books, as this keyboard is such an invitation to JOYFUL TYPING :-)