Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga Review: 2-in-1 Workstation

by Reads (14,124)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 9
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 5
      • Usability
      • 8
      • Design
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 6
      • Features
      • 8
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 7.14
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Excellent performance
    • Color-accurate display
    • Solid construction
    • Great keyboard
  • Cons

    • Heavy for a 2-in-1 design
    • Mediocre graphics for a workstation
    • Unimpressive battery life

Mobile workstations traditionally look like oversized notebook PCs because they’re equipped with high-performance processors and dedicated graphics for those professionals who need to do complex 3D rendering in the field. It was only a matter of time before those working professionals started to demand the flexibility of a 2-in-1 that can convert into a tablet but still deliver workstation-class performance. This is where Lenovo’s ThinkPad P40 Yoga comes in.

Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga

Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga

Build and Design

At first glance the 14-inch P40 Yoga is clearly a member of the ThinkPad family thanks to the matte black carbon fiber and magnesium alloy chassis, strong metal hinges and the classic red ThinkPad Trackpoint in the middle of the keyboard. In fact, the P40 Yoga looks a great deal like a slightly thicker and overweight version of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga that we previously reviewed.

While it might look beefier than most 2-in-1 laptops, the P40’s starting weight of just under 4 lbs. is lighter than any 15-inch mobile workstation currently offered by HP or Dell. Still, if you’re looking for a lightweight notebook and don’t need cutting-edge 3D performance then Lenovo’s own ThinkPad X1 Carbon or the HP Spectre X360 are noticeably easier to carry.

Like all Yoga models, the P40 Yoga features a 360-degree hinge system that lets you flip the screen into four different positions (notebook, tent, stand, and tablet). The keyboard tray surrounding the keys moves up and rests flush against the keys (a feature Lenovo calls Lift’n’Lock) to prevent you from accidentally pressing the keyboard keys when you’re using the P40 in tablet mode. Our only minor complaint about the convertible design of the P40 is that the weight of roughly 4 pounds starts to feel a bit burdensome after about an hour of holding the tablet.

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The screen lid is thicker than what we’ve seen on consumer-grade 2-in-1 designs, but the screen still suffers from “ripple” distortion if you press on the back of the screen. Lenovo claims to test all ThinkPad models with an “8-corner drop test” prior to release and that the P40 Yoga passed MIL-SPEC 810G durability tests for extreme temperatures, humidity, shocks and vibrations.

Ports and Pen

Despite being a relatively thin 2-in-1 design, the P40 Yoga includes a wide variety of ports. About the only major omission is a standard Ethernet port, but the P40 Yoga isn’t the only 2-in-1 to sacrifice Ethernet to keep the chassis as thin as possible. The left side of the notebook includes the power jack, a Lenovo OneLink+ docking port, a USB 3.0 port, headset audio jack, memory card reader and the charging port for the included pen. The right side of the P40 Yoga features the power button, volume rocker switch, two USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, full-size HDMI and a Kensignton lock slot.

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As mentioned above, the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga comes bundled with an active stylus called the ThinkPad Pen Pro. This 4.5-inch long pen features 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and allows you to make detailed sketches and notes that look more realistic than what you get from a generic plastic stylus on a standard touchscreen. The ThinkPad Pen Pro weighs less than an ounce and includes a left and right click mouse button integrated into the body of the pen. Unfortunately, we found this pen to be a little too thin to use comfortably over extended periods of time.

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The pre-installed WRITEit app does a commendable job recognizing a variety of handwriting types and translating those scribbles into text. While many 2-in-1 notebooks support pens, most lack the built-in storage and charging features found on the P40 Yoga. The built-in storage bay also doubles as a charging port for the stylus. Lenovo claims that the pen will charge in 20 seconds and last for 19 hours, but I repeatedly noticed inconsistent response from the pen after a little more than 10 hours of regular use. Still, the pen responded as normal immediately after a quick 20-second charge so it wasn’t much of an issue.

Screen and Speakers

The 14.1-inch IPS WQHD touchscreen display in our review unit of the ThinkPad P40 Yoga delivers exceptional resolution at 2560 x 1440 pixels with excellent color accuracy. Although we would have preferred to have a display with a matte surface, text looks sharp, images look incredibly detailed, and colors look vibrant without being oversaturated. The greater-than-HD resolution also means that you’ll have an easier time multitasking with multiple windows on the screen at once. We measured the maximum screen brightness in our review unit at just under 260 nits.

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Like most IPS displays, the 14-inch screen inside the P40 Yoga delivers exceptionally wide viewing angles with minimal color distortion. Unfortunately, the glossy surface of the display panel is highly reflective and causes viewing problems at wider viewing angles under normal or bright light. If you’re working in absolute darkness (as our sample images show) then the mirror-like screen won’t cause much of a problem.

The bottom-facing stereo speakers deliver clear and adequately loud sound when the notebook rests on a desk or you’re holding the P40 Yoga in tablet mode. However, due to the placement of the speakers the audio sounds horribly muffled if you’re using the notebook as a “laptop” with the speakers pressed against your legs. Bottom line, get a pair of quality headphones or external speakers if you’re an audiophile. We suspect the average user won’t complain about the built-in speakers unless you’re using the P40 Yoga on your lap.

DSC03940Keyboard and Touchpad

One area where Lenovo consistently excels is keyboard quality. The ThinkPad P40 Yoga is no exception thanks to the full-size keyboard with bright LED backlighting. Key travel is quite good with instantaneous feedback as the individual keys snap back into place after each press. We didn’t run into any major problems with typos or keyboard flex. 

Once again, Lenovo includes both a standard touchpad and a classic red TrackPoint in the middle of the keyboard. The TrackPoint on the P40 Yoga features dedicated left, right and center buttons located above the touchpad.  Those of you who still prefer to use a touchpad will likely use the included ClickPad with integrated left and right click functionality and multitouch gesture support. Our only complaint about the touchpad is that the integrated Clickpad buttons still struggle to differentiate between a right click and left click. So if you use the Clickpad exclusively you should expect the occasional problem as the P40 Yoga interprets a left click for a right click or a right click for a left click.

Performance

The ThinkPad P40 Yoga utilizes a Skylake-U series Intel Core i7 processor and this CPU delivers a good balance of reasonably high performance with low power consumption. Lenovo’s engineers had to find a processor with low thermal output since this 2-in-1 notebook also features the Nvidia Quadro M500M discrete graphics.

The ThinkPad P40 Yoga comes standard with the Intel vPro manageability and TPM encryption if your IT department requires those security features. It also has a swipe fingerprint reader for password-free biometric logins.

The 512 GB SSD in our review unit was reasonably quick during file transfers and the P40 Yoga proved to be quite “snappy” as we switched between apps and opened a variety of large 3D files stored on the SSD.

As you can see from the 3DMark benchmark results below, the ThinkPad P40 Yoga delivers superior graphics performance compared to other thin-and-light notebooks with integrated graphics, but Lenovo’s own ThinkPad P50 has more than twice the performance of the P40 Yoga when it comes to 3D graphics.

DSC03931Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga specifications as tested:

  • Windows 10 Professional
  • 14.1-inch Glossy IPS  WQHD (2560 x 1440) capacitive touchscreen with pen support
  • Intel Core i7-6600U (2.6 GHz base frequency, 3.4 GHz turbo frequency)
  • Nvidia Quadro M500M (2 GB DDR3)
  • 16 GB DDR3L-1600 (max supported)
  • 512 GB SSD
  • Dimensions: 13.30 x 9.3 x 0.78 inches
  • Weight with pen: 4.03 lbs. (1.83 kg), Power Adapter: 0.78 lbs. (353 g)
  • MSRP: $2,084 as tested ($1,484 starting price)

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):
p40wprimechart

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
p40pc8homechart

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance for a variety of general and complex office productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
p40pc8workchart

3DMark11 measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
p403d11chart

3DMark Fire Strike is a newer DirectX 11 benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
p403dfirestrikechart

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
p40cdm

Battery Life

The integrated battery inside the ThinkPad P40 Yoga provides adequate run time for a mobile workstation but falls short of what we’ve come to expect of standard 2-in-1 devices that run weaker integrated graphics. Futuremark’s Powermark battery benchmark shows that the P40 Yoga lasted just 3 hours and 28 minutes after a running a loop of tests to simulate a wide range of uses. Granted, this is essentially a “worst-case scenario” but the P40 Yoga still falls short of other notebooks.

In real world terms a fully-charged battery inside the P40 Yoga will run for 6 hours and 43 minutes of continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi with the screen set to roughly 70 percent brightness.

Powermark battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better battery life):
p40powerchart

Conclusion

At the end of the day the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga is a very unique hybrid PC for a very specific type of user. If you’re someone who needs the dedicated graphics performance of a mobile workstation but also needs the flexibility of a 2-in-1 that you can convert into a tablet then this is absolutely the best choice on the market.

That said, we feel obligated to mention that there are numerous 2-in-1 notebooks that are thinner and lighter than the P40 Yoga and there are a wide range of mobile workstations that deliver noticeably superior graphics performance. Battery life was far from ideal but this is a hybrid device running dedicated graphics. The P40 Yoga is quite simply a compromise … but it’s arguably the best compromise working professionals will find in a device of this type.

DSC03935Pros:

  • Excellent performance
  • Color-accurate display
  • Solid construction
  • Great keyboard

Cons:

  • Heavy for a 2-in-1 design
  • Mediocre graphics for a workstation
  • Unimpressive battery life


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3 Comments

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  1. Jose DanielRodriguez-Delgado

    thanks Jerry. good review. I was a bit surprised you did not mention Surface book in your review as a useful benchmark. another 2-1 with dedicated GPU and excellent build.
    can you comment how you see the two compare in day to day activities? (an obvious difference would be that P40 Yoga has a ISV certified GPU, while Surface book has a more consumer-oriented GPU)

  2. Jose DanielRodriguez-Delgado

    good review. I was a bit surprised you did not mention Surface book in your review as a useful benchmark. another 2-1 with dedicated GPU and excellent build.

  3. JulianPhillips

    Battery life is a real killer here, a shame, as otherwise it would fit the bill for me, good to see that the displays on these are now colour accurate, that has been a big problem with previous versions.