Lenovo ThinkPad W540: Performance

October 28, 2014 by Charles P Jefferies Reads (36,895)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 8
    • Usability
    • 7
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.86
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Performance

Our W540 review unit as configured has very good performance for demanding applications. It has a number of notable upgrades bringing its as-configured price about 80% higher than the base model; these upgrades include the upgraded Core i7-4800MQ processor (+$140 over the standard i7-4700MQ); the 3K resolution IPS display with color sensor (+$270 over the standard 1920 x 1080 display); Nvidia Quadro K2100M 2 GB graphics (+$250 over the standard K1100M 2 GB); a Professional edition of Windows (+$50); 8 GB of RAM (+$50); 256 GB SSD (+$320); and finally the Intel 7260AC wireless card (+$30). The ending price is overall reasonable for what’s included; it’s considerably less than a similarly equipped HP ZBook 15 Mobile Workstation and about the same as Toshiba’s Tecra W50. It’s a good value, all things considered.

Although not designed for games, we found the W540 was certainly capable of playing the latest titles; we achieved 35-45 frames per second (FPS) in Battlefield 4 running at a 1600 x 900 resolution and a mix of medium and high settings. The Quadro K2100M graphics in our review unit are significantly more powerful than the standard K1100M and therefore a worthwhile upgrade if your workload involves 3D work or play.

Lenovo W540 topOur review unit of the Lenovo ThinkPad W540 features the following technical specs:

  • 15.5-inch 3K display (2880×1620 resolution, IPS panel, anti-glare surface)
  • Built-in X-Rite PANTONE color calibrator
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-4800MQ quad-core processor (2.7GHz, up to 3.7GHz Turbo Boost, 6MB cache, 47W TDP)
  • Nvidia Quadro K2100M w/ 2GB GDDR5 memory
  • 8GB DDR3L-1600 RAM (1x 8GB: 32GB max. supported – 4x 8GB)
  • 256GB mSATA SSD (Samsung MZ7TE256HMHP)
  • Internal DVD burner (PLDS DVD-RW DU8A5SH)
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 wireless network adapter
  • Integrated Bluetooth 4.0
  • Integrated 720p webcam
  • Integrated fingerprint reader
  • 9-cell li-ion battery (9.21 Ah)
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Dimensions: 14.8″ x 9.8″ x 1.1″
  • Weight: 5.57 lbs.
  • Starting Price: $1,119.20
  • Price as Configured: $2,007.20

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):
Lenovo W540 wprime

PCMark 7 measures overall system performance in Windows 7 (higher scores mean better performance):
Lenovo W540 pcm7

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
Lenovo W540 pcm8 home

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
Lenovo W540 pcm8 office

3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
Lenovo W540 3dm11

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
Lenovo W540 CDM C

Battery Life

We run our new Powermark benchmark in “Balanced” mode to simulate fairly intense user activity to provide a more accurate measure of battery life. This test is a combination of automated web surfing, word processing, video playback, and 3D gaming. Naturally the numbers produced are significantly lower than those from a standard rundown test.

Powermark “Balanced” battery life test results (listed in minutes – higher scores mean better battery life):
Lenovo W540 powermark

The W540 managed 3 hours, 53 minutes which is good for a desktop replacement, especially a mobile workstation. Expect to get up to an additional 2 hours of battery life if running less strenuous tasks with reduced screen brightness.

Lenovo W540 botHeat and Noise

One large fan in the back left corner of the chassis takes care of the heat produced by the W540’s formidable internal components. This fan occasionally turns on during normal usage such as web surfing and stays on while running more demanding applications like photo and video editors. The fan develops a small amount of whine at top speed but is acceptable given the overall low noise level and can be ignored even in quieter environments. The W540’s chassis gets warmer than expected around the fan area especially the left palm rest; it’s borderline uncomfortable after extended periods.


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2 Comments

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  1. gusherod

    I don’t like the annoying document flip keys next to the arrow keys and I won’t be buying another Lenovo with this type keyboard. Otherwise it’s an okay computer.

  2. IgnacioBaztan

    Excellent having the thunderbolt port.
    many here might not be aware that on the Studio and Pro Audio world the last couple of years have seen an important rise in the release of crucial hardware; Apollo line, and recently even MOTU 1248, 828x and now even low cost Zoom Tac-2. Being the main reason the low latency. With thunderbolt finally all-round latencies in digital audio are approaching the 5ms audible range, hence live monitoring, DJ mixing and other is possible. Note that even those with hardware equiped with old Firewire connectors will benefit from cheap (US$40) thunderbolt to firewire adaptors.
    W540 is one of the few Windows’ Laptops able to handle this new tech in a portable and powerful way:
    W440 14″ would be much more portable, just leave out the GPU, and allow its own Intel HD5000 to show how good it is already (for Audio related visual tasks).