77
6.0
final rating

reviewed on
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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Speed and features Great, but that is Intel's fault <g>. great!
  • Design and form factor Today on shutting down the W540, I get the Windows blue shut down screen with the comment: "Operations are in progress, ..." NO HD light! awful!
  • Battery life No comments so-so
  • Display Mushy colors, nice calibration feature, but my personal choice is to view as a slide, so a glossy screen if my personal preference. good
  • Durability No comments so-so
  • Expandability M.2, great, 4 SODIMM, great, bad access to removable DVD! good
  • Noise I do not hear a peep! The fan is quiet, and the SSD silent (obviously).. But I have no idea of i/o's, NO HD light. great!
  • Portability (size / weight) No comments great!
Detailed review
Today on shutting down the W540, I get the Windows blue shut down screen with the comment:

"Operations are in progress, pleases wait. The machine will be turned off automatically after the operations are complete."

OK, so I waited 20+ minutes.... Mouse logo spinning, but no idea what i/o's are going on. Fast disk access? Slow disk access, intermittent disk access? Or is it locked? CtrlAltDel has no action. Mouse cursor does move.

So did a cold boot/restart (still not knowing what was happening in the Black Box). Must have locked up restarting, as I waited 10+ minutes with NO IDEA what was going on, a REAL "black box".

Cold booted again, and tried a Safe Mode. Worked!, and did a check disk - said not errors????. All OK now.... but WHERE IS THE HD LIGHT!!!!!!!

(+) Good (-) Bad Not in any particular order, alphabetical:
+ 32gb memory self install (CT102464BF160B 8gb DDR3 1600 1.35v)
+ Camera is decent for Skype, et al.
+ Color autocalibration is an interesting feature (X-Rite)
+ CPU nice and fast, but that is an Intel feature.
+ Fan intake mostly in back, not under. Great for lap use on the road, or dusty desktops, keeps vents clean.
+ Lightroom CS and CC works OK.
+ m.2 SATA, albeit, only 42mm size, 128gb max on 03/2014.
+ Nice bright IPS screen, but dull for photography.
+ Nice solid full size keyboard with num keypad.
+ Runs cool compared to AMD chips, quiet!
+ Screen is good, albeit fuzzy and not crisp (MS, Intel & NVIDIA issue)
+ Updates drivers and Patches using "Think Vantage" from Lenovo.
- Actually a downgrade in quality from the W530, rough seams of top of palm lid.
- Annoying fingerprint logo at start up that cannot be personalized.
- Changing drive bay requires removal of flimsy memory/HD panel, may break plastic tabs, uses a tiny bay screw.
- CPU throttling issue, not visible to the average user. Visible with diags.
- [Fn] lock is inverted, so a green light on key has to be illuminated to have standard Fn button operation (!}
- Keys do not cover the lights under, if at a 45degree angle, strong light glare from keyboars LED, particularly the Fn keys.
- Lettering of F Keys tiny, read invisible. Priority given to what use to be hardware dedicated keys/switches.
- Meaningless "projector" button that does the exact same as Win+P (!)
- Missing HD activity light <- MAJOR Feature failure. It's a black box ready for malware and viruses.
- Missing power 'on' light on PSU brick (safety hazard)
- Missing right/left mouse button, they literally are virtual & slows application use.
- No Blue Tooth light. <- ibid.
- No enable/disable touch-pad (!)
- No lid lock, no area for fingers to grab screen, hard to lift w/o flexing screen.
- NO POWER "ON" LED when shut down. Have no idea if DC input is working, or if brick is working (no LED)
- No sleep/hibernate button you have to use Fn-4 which is not on by default or dedicate the on/off switch.
- No Wifi hard disconnect switch <- 2nd MAJOR failure for hackers. WiFi locks up, is OS locked (!)
- No WiFi indicator light showing activity (software based) <- ibid (!)
- On/Off light covered by finger. When recovering from a crash, cannot see when hard shut off when holding for 'x' seconds!
- Oodle of crapware, and foreign language file. Needed: A batch file to for cleanup.
- Photoshop CS works, but unusable on high res IPS screen.
- Power on light UNDER finger, when going into hard reboot, often goes into sleep/hibernate instead.
- Screen flexes when you grab one corner and lift it
- Single jack for both earphones and microphone. This is a 3.5mm 4 pole plug. Poor contact, crackling. Not good for audio visual applications.
- Touch-pad accidentally activates with palm and clicks/drags over the screen.
- Touch pad actually useless, mouse is mandatory for REAL work.
- USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports not identified with industry standard 'Blue' for USB 3.0
- When programming, compiling, shut down updates, et al. no sign if crashed due to missing light.
~ Some programs do not recognize the HiRez screen. Tiny letters, compacted fonts, overlapping fonts (this will be solved over time as more computers have HiRez)

Lack of indicator lights (or proper audio i/o jack) is a very annoying issue for a $2,300 WORKSTATION. The issue occurs when running large Statistical analysis, Malwarebyte scan, Database conversion or analysis, software installs, upgrade/updates, programming & compiling error prone code and other such real world Workstation tasks.
review history
2014-03-21
Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review
2014-03-03
Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review