September 11th 2013 8:40 am

77
9.0
final rating

reviewed on
this review has been viewed 2909 times

Criteria Comments Rating
  • Speed and features One of the best on the market and among them probably the lightest great!
  • Design and form factor No comments good
  • Battery life No comments good
  • Display Very crisp great!
  • Durability No comments good
  • Expandability No comments good
  • Noise No comments good
  • Portability (size / weight) The performance/weight ratio is probably unmatched currently good
Detailed review
Reviews of Thinkpad W540 are up to now pre-dominantly negative, which made me hesitate for buying it. After I actually bought it, I was first frustrated as well, but later on my opinions improved. My comments are:
  • Most people complain about the inclusion of Num pad. I find it actually quite convenient for number crunching. I don't need to look at the keyboard anymore. That's an efficiency gain.
  • That the Num pad makes the typing shifted to the left came first as inconvenient. But then in my programming environment I put the editor to the left and command pane, workspace pane etc to the right, such that I still look straight at what I'm typing. This solves pretty much the problem
  • The keyboard touch is indeed less nice than the older Thinkpads, but still better than the Mac keyboard as Thinkpad has all what I need, i.e. PgUp, PgDown, etc, which makes me don't feel any need for using an external keyboard
  • The trackpad frustrated me at the beginning as well due to the difficult multi-finger gestures. But then we realized that it was because it was ill-tuned when it comes out of the box. Some elaborate configuration helped make it comfortable to use. Now I have all multi-touch gestures activated. But after all still less good than on Mac. That the click is soft is also a plus for me. On Mac one can hardly click at all.
  • That there are no physical indicators doesn't disturb me at all. On the contrary, I don't get distracted by them anymore. Another efficiency gain. Mac doesn't haven them either.
  • That the battery sticks out doesn't disturb me either. On the contrary I find it quite convenient for holding the laptop horizontally on my forearm. The Macbook feels on the contrary slippery and missing grip
  • What keeps frustrating me is actually not due to W540, but due to Windows. I have Windows 7, a lot of texts and software don't scale well to the high screen resolution. Even for Chrome we had to make an elaborate Google search to make it look normal (enter chrome:\\flags in the address bar, then enable "HiDPI support"). Still haven't found the trick for Matlab. Its ribbons are so tiny small that naked eyes cannot read
Overall I think W540 has a great offer in performance and portability. The usual critic points are possible to circumvent. Lenovo should learn more from Apple to improve the user experience from the out-of-the-box moment.

Comments (5) subscribe to this review's comments

sugarsmoking

I agree 100%.

It is not perfect but it's very freaking good. I would like the indicators for HDD, Caps and Numlock though.
Parfumeur

Dunno, but rescaling the fonts was easy (200% works for me). Some programmers use the 'handicap' friendly features in the setup section. However, Photoshop CC does not rescale, and Adobe is aware, and working on a solution as of 2014/03.

For me. the missing lights are a disaster, and so is the hardware WiFi cut off. My W540 now has a pTouch tape with the [F] Keys numbered. The Event Viewer and Administrative Log is full of errors due to those missing light and not knowing when the unit is crashed when programming. The worse,is when doing updates, and the system tells you TO WAIT, NOT TO TURN OFF, when in fact it is crashed. Not a real Workstation. I think some, after spending so much money, refuse to admit they made a mistake, and just dig themselves into a bigger Lenovo "black hole". I could not return mine, w/o a restoking fee. It's on sale in the NJ Craigs List.
kalipot

For me Matlab and Mathematica's rescaling is important, or rather their non-rescaling is annoying. Any help is welcome. I do not think I made a mistake buying W540 and I haven't encountered any of your problems. I'm so sorry for you.
kalipot

An important update that I've just made further improved significantly my experience with w540: that is the upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1. This is a must to do! All scrolling gestures work like a wonder without any tuning. It can almost match Apple's scrolling! Scaling issues disappeared, all texts look perfectly on scale (one just has to "Disable scaling on high resolution" for some applications such as Chrome). One might like Windows 8.1 or not, but w540 is made for it, not for Windows 7. After you upgrade, you know what you paid for.
mpdonahue

I've come to appreciate the track pad after adjusting the controls and a little practice with the two finger scroll and right click. I'm now even faster than using the mouse due to the smaller hand movement.
My only complaint is the lack of any indicator on the keyboard for the caps and num lock. A small LED on the keyboard just like the function lock would be great.
The horse power and better heat dissipation make this a no regrets purchase.