We tested and compared the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 versus Thinkpad P53 in terms of Performance, Portability, Display Quality, Price, Battery life & more.
Above you can see the Ranking with the results of the test and below you will find the in-depth reports of each Lenovo ThinkPad Laptop.
Ranking First: Lenovo ThinkPad P1
- Best Performance as Working Station
- Color-Rich LCD Display with very high brightness
- High-quality and robust aluminium/GFK housing
- More expensive than ThinkPad P53
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen. 2: The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 has already made its mark in the 1st generation as an especially mobile professional work device and has thereby united many a contradictory feature. Whether the successor model maintains this balancing act and which changes were made, is clarified in this review.
“Workstation muscles in the Ultrabook body” – this is the advertising slogan on Lenovo’s product page for the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 of the 2nd generation. “In fact, the listed technical key data are very seductive: 1.7 kg weight, 15.6 inch display, powerful workstation hardware, an extensive interface configuration and the usual lavish business qualities should not only make ThinkPad fans listen attentively.
The test device is equipped with brand-new components: An Intel Core i7-9850H, an Nvidia Quadro T1000, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, a 512 GB solid-state drive and a high-resolution 4K UHD-IPS display. An identically assembled model in the online shop regularly costs $2500 at the time of testing.
Temporary offers turn out a bit cheaper every now and then. As usual, Lenovo maintains an education program where the eligible group of people from the education sector can get discounted models.
The start of the series starts at just under 2,000 Dollars and is thus, adjusted for equipment (as far as possible), about 200 Dollars below the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, which is largely identical in construction. You’ll also get a well-equipped configuration in the entry-level P1 Gen.2. Intel Core i7-9750H, Nvidia Quadro T1000, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, 256 GB SSD and a FullHD-IPS display are already included in the package.
The Lenovo Thinkpad P1 Gen.2 still presents itself as part of the Chinese manufacturer’s premium series and can refer to an especially long manufacturer’s warranty of 36 months as a business device. In opposition to its predecessor, the device has to be sent in in case of warranty. Lenovo has obviously cancelled the on-site service.
Nevertheless, the scope is a good starting point and can be adapted to personal needs as usual. An extension to a total of 5 years manufacturer’s warranty (basic warranty) costs $150 at the time of testing and a device accident insurance would be available from $100, for example.
Design & Ports / Interfaces
The case of the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is especially slim and basically corresponds to the case of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme. No optical changes have been visible here since the first generation.
The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 comes in an unobtrusive business black with a typical ThinkPad look and should therefore appeal to fans as well as change customers. However, this is accompanied by a rather high susceptibility to fingerprints and dust particles, which quickly show up on the matt black surface.
The 15.6 inch business notebook, trimmed for mobility, has a very good stability with a test weight of just 1.71 kg. The base unit and screen cover can only be twisted slightly with force, the palm rest and keyboard mat are firmly in place and the large continuous display hinge holds the screen firmly in position.
According to the manufacturer, the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen.2 passes a multitude of tests according to the requirements of the MIL-STD-810G standard. The weight difference to variants with a multi-touch display is about 100 grams.
The entire base plate has to be removed to access the components inside. The series cannot offer separate maintenance openings. How to proceed with possible maintenance and upgrades is described in the detailed Hardware Maintenance Manual for the X1 Extreme/ P1 2nd Gen. As before, you should inform yourself about the valid warranty conditions before such interventions.
Although the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen.2 is an extremely slim mobile workstation, the laptop doesn’t have to hide from the larger standard models in terms of equipment. Merely the still missing WWAN option could make some critics wonder. Obviously, no more space could be created for a corresponding slot in the 2nd generation. If necessary, one must switch to external solutions such as the smartphone or mobile WiFi hotspots.
The connection options on the case sides cover a welcome wide spectrum and should hardly arouse any further desires. The two multifunctional Thunderbolt 3 alone already open up a multitude of connectivity options: Network cables (via adapter), displays, fast mass storage, a power supply or docking stations are conceivable here.
This modern connection type is complemented by an HDMI 2.0, two USB 3.1 Gen.1 Type A and a UHS-II memory card reader in standard format. Great: Lenovo still integrates a proprietary power supply and doesn’t block either of the two Thunderbolt 3 ports with a connected power supply in desktop mode.
Fast Thunderbolt 3 mass storage devices like Samsung’s Portable SSD X5 can deliver their full performance thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 interface. With up to 2,840 MB/s, data is transferred extremely fast. This also applies to the memory card reader, which together with Lexars Professional 2000x UHS-II (128 GB) moves up to 270 MB/s.
Intel’s WiFi 6 AX200 (2×2) with Bluetooth 5.0 is used for the wireless interface equipment in the tested Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen.2. Transfer speed, range and stability didn’t show any weaknesses in the test.
Security & Webcam + Sound
The 4k UHD-IPS display built into the test device is equipped with an infrared camera and a 720p webcam. Thanks to the integrated ThinkShutter, the webcam can be locked if necessary.
The security equipment is fortunately oriented towards the needs of business users and offers a comprehensive basic configuration with fingerprint reader, smart card reader, Opal 2.0-compliant mass storage, TPM 2.0 and face recognition (IR camera, Windows Hello). The usual password protection at bios and system level can of course also be used.
The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 has two 2 watt loudspeakers that radiate diagonally to the sides. The sound characteristic shows itself, as usual, a bit high-fidelity, but can come up with quite passable midrange and basses. This is perfectly sufficient for a bit of music, internet movies or video chats.
Presentations in larger circles, on the other hand, fail mainly due to the necessary volume. At a maximum of 75 dB(A), you can only provide sufficient sound in small rooms in quiet surroundings.
External speaker solutions can be connected via 3.5 mm jack, USB or Bluetooth, for example. JBL’s Flip 4 provided an audible improvement in quality and range in the test.
Using external audio devices can lead to disturbing quality losses. With latencies of over 25,000 µs (Latency Mon), you have to expect dropouts, synchronization errors or crackling noises. Deactivating the usual suspects like radio modules or battery did not bring any improvement.
Here, interested parties would have to go for a more detailed troubleshooting and hope for BIOS and driver updates if necessary.
Keyboard & Touchpad
The high quality ThinkPad keyboards are naturally also found in the ThinkPad P1. The keyboard mat lies firmly on the surface, offers a precise pressure point and subjectively a very pleasant typing feel.
This solution is suitable for multi-writers without restrictions and should still be one of the best notebook keyboards currently available after a bit of getting used to it.
Lenovo’s special layout features, such as the interchanged Ctrl and FN keys or the print key placed at the bottom, require a bit of getting used to, especially for those switching over to Lenovo. Ctrl and FN can at least be swapped functionally in the BIOS or in Lenovo’s Vantage tool if necessary. In any case, the large arrow keys and the sensible FN combinations are good. A separate number pad isn’t available in this series.
In contrast to the models of the E or T series, for example, the keyboard’s backlight is a fixed component of the equipment. It is adjustable in two stages and supports the recognizability of the lettering not only in dark working environments.
The touchpad has an input area of 100 x 68 mm. This is comfortably enough for multi-finger gestures. The good gliding properties of the glass surface, the reliable response and the mouse buttons integrated in the click pad are also pleasing here.
As an alternative input method, the user still has a precisely working TrackPoint available. With separate mouse buttons you get the usual successful combination.
The UHD-IPS panel used in the test device comes from the Chinese manufacturer BOE and reaches a maximum brightness of 465 cd/m² in the upper left corner of the screen. This maximum drops to 408 cd/m² at the lower display edge, but still guarantees a pretty decent illumination of 87% at the bottom line.
There are no halos visible at the edges of the display in the black image. Depending on the viewing angle, there is a faint cloud formation and a pink color cast at particularly unfavorable viewing angles. In practical use, this could have a negative effect on dark image content, such as film scenes or image recordings at night.
The gradation of the brightness control is not very practice-oriented in the test device. While the brightness levels 0 to 7 represent the brightness range up to 91 cd/m² quite finely, the levels 8 to 10 cover the remaining brightness range up to 445 cd/m² in three steps. PWM is not detectable in the test device’s brightness control.
The measured contrast can only confirm the manufacturer’s specification of 1,200:1 in the sRGB color space ex works. This is due to the below average black value, which at maximum brightness is at best 0.362 cd/m².
In the AdobeRGB color space, which is optimal for the display, the contrast in the profiled state falls below 1.000:1. This can be unfavorably noticeable especially in pictures, movies and games.
The entire range of displayable colors is able to cover 97% of the sRGB color space, 94% of the AdobeRGB color space and after all 77% of the P3 color space. Thus, fine colour gradations are reproduced in a differentiated manner.
The tested BOE panel is therefore particularly suitable for working in the AdobeRGB colour space. Even ex works, the limit values of an average DeltaE 2000 of 2.3 and a maximum DeltaE 2000 of 3.9 are already complied with for colour-true working. These results can be further optimised by profiling.
In the sRGB and P3 color space, on the other hand, the display does not feel so comfortable and cannot meet the minimum requirements. Lenovo doesn’t provide a tool for changing, using desired color spaces.
Performance & VR
The performance components can’t be combined in as many different ways as one is used to from conventional workstations, but Lenovo still offers a successful selection of equipment options.
According to the data sheet, an Intel Core i5-9400H as an entry solution, an Intel Core i7-9750H, an Intel Core i7-9850H and as a top model the eight-core Intel Core i9-9880H are basically available as processors.
The also planned Intel Xeon E-2276M provides once again an exclusive workstation specialization, which also allows the use of ECC RAM (with error correction) in a second step. Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 can manage up to 64 GB DDR4 or DDR4 ECC RAM. Nvidia’s Quadro T1000 or Quadro T2000 are used as a dedicated graphics unit, but they can’t always be combined with all components.
The Intel Core i7-9850H built into the test device belongs to the most powerful mobile processors currently available. The surcharge to the alternatively available Intel Core i7-9750H makes about $260 for the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen.2 at the time of testing. All other CPU alternatives are not yet available or configurable at the time of testing.
With 6 physical computing cores, which can process up to 12 threads simultaneously, the Intel Core i7-9850H is especially recommended for tasks in which a high parallelization, a distribution of the computing load over several computing cores, is useful. Depending on the specific software, this would be the case, for example, for video rendering, conversions or many programs running simultaneously.
On the other hand, programs that benefit in particular from high processor clock rates are not neglected in this solution. Instead, with a maximum clock rate of up to 4.6 GHz for single-thread tasks, the appropriate hand tool is provided.
As a result, the Intel Core i7-9850H is able to place itself in the top field of the notebook processors tested so far in the benchmark tests. Compared to the Intel Core i7-8850H in last year’s model, it can visibly stand out in almost all test areas. Cinebench R15 64 bit (CPU rendering) scores 194 points (single thread test) and 1,094 points (multi-thread test).
The Intel Core i7-9850H shows itself from a very stable side in continuous load operation with pure CPU tasks. With Geekbench stress test results between 18,300 and 18,700 points, the test device maintains constant performance even over a longer period of time.
Compared to the Intel Core i7-8850H in the ThinkPad P1 Gen.1, this is a good 1,000 points more in the long run. The test device still supplies a solid 18,698 points after the 19th run.
An Nvidia Optimus combination of Intel UHD Graphics 630 and Nvidia Quadro T1000 is used in the test device. This combination varies depending on the configuration. For example, the Intel UHD Graphics P630 works differently in the model with Intel Xeon E-2276M.
The Nvidia Quadro T1000 is based on the Turing architecture and is intended for use in 15 inch notebooks or larger. According to Nvidia, it has 768 shader units, whereas 896 shader units are read out in the test device. Otherwise, it is equipped with 4 GB GDDR5 graphics memory (micron) and achieves a GPU clock of up to 1.530 MHz in the present configuration. Nvidia specifies a consumption range of 40 to 50 watts for the model in the data sheet.
In the test, the GPU clock rate runs continuously at 1.485 MHz to 1.530 MHz and the GDDR5 graphics memory reaches 1.750 MHz. The various benchmark tests always position the Nvidia Quadro T1000 ahead of the Nvidia Quadro P2000 from the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen. 1 in both the consumer and professional area. This is a respectable performance boost, especially considering that the Quadro T1000 is the entry solution in the new ThinkPad P1 Gen.2.
The Nvidia Quadro T1000 delivers a clearly better picture than the Nvidia Quadro P2000 in VRMark Orange, but still clearly misses the VR Ready mark of 5,000 points with a result of 4,330 points. This isn’t surprising, as Nvidia doesn’t mark the Quadro T1000 as VR-Ready in opposition to the RTX models. This solution is thus hardly suitable for VR tasks.
Consequently, only mass storage devices in M.2 format can be used in the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 of both generations. 2.5 inch drives won’t find room here anymore. Lenovo provides two suitable slots for this, which accept models with both SATA and PCIe interfaces. RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations are possible.
Western Digital’s (Sandisk) WDC PC SN720 with a capacity of 512 GB is installed in the test device. With a maximum read speed of 3,447 MB/s and a maximum write speed of 2,517 MB/s, one should hardly have to struggle with performance problems.
The balanced and performance-trimmed overall configuration is capable of delivering high system performance. Only the main memory working in single-channel mode can be seen here and there as a braking element. Because Lenovo uses a 16 GB module here, the test device can be complemented quite easily with a second RAM bar in the free slot and thus solve the problem.
A passable 3,268 points are achieved with PCMark 8 and 4,632 points with PCMark 10. The SPECwpc 2.1, which is aimed at professional needs, certifies the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen.2 a consistently high performance. The previous year’s model can be beaten in almost all partial sequences.
The Dell Precision 5530 with XEON CPU and Dual Channel RAM still keeps its nose ahead almost everywhere.
Heat & Noise levels
The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is an extremely quiet mobile workstation. You usually don’t notice the cooling system during simple office, internet and multimedia tasks. If the fan starts up temporarily in such situations, then usually with a very reserved sound pressure level of 31.4 dB(A).
If, on the other hand, a little more computing or graphics load is required, the operating noise is in the range between 31.4 dB(A) and 35.9 dB(A).
The measured maximum value of 36.8 dB(A) occurs only at the beginning of the stress test and is reduced again and again to 31.4 dB(A) in the course of the test due to the onset of cycle reductions. This is still well bearable for many users in the long run.
The noise characteristics of the cooling system are generally very restrained. High-frequency or other disturbing electronic noises did not occur with the test device.
Although the fan system has a pleasant overall characteristic and the laptop case turns out quite flat, Lenovo manages to transport the waste heat of the Intel Core i7-9850H and the Nvidia Quadro T1000 out of the case sufficiently efficiently even under full load. With a maximum of 54.8 °C on the central bottom and 54.0 °C directly on the air outlet, no restrictions should arise in usual workstation scenarios at the workstation.
The working area around the keyboard also remains within a tolerable range with a maximum of 52.9 °C towards the display, but is then correspondingly noticeable. The predecessor is about 5 °C cooler at these points in the same scenario.
In this context, the question remains open as to which potential for increase is still available in order to be able to cool the combination of Intel Core i9-9880H and Nvidia Quadro T2000 appropriately, for example.
The test configuration proves to be a bit more power hungry in idle despite comparable equipment to the 1st generation test device. With a minimum of 3.0 watts when the display is turned off, it is noticeably above the 1.8 – 2.4 watts of the previous year’s model.
Otherwise, the display again reveals itself to be a central consumption factor when there are less demanding tasks. With a display brightness of 209 cd/m², the consumption increases to 9.8 watts in idle and to 14.0 watts at maximum display brightness.
This is perhaps also the reason why the brightness levels are mostly in the range below 100 cd/m² and only the last three levels deliver 133 cd/m², 209 cd/m² and 455 cd/m².
For standard tasks like video playback, internet surfing and office work, the power consumption is around 15 watts with adjusted display brightness (level 9, 209 cd/m²). For more intensive computing and graphics tasks, one has to calculate with 60 to 90 watts and under full load up to 109 watts are needed. In comparison to last year’s model, this is about 10 watts more at the peak.
The power supply is specified with a nominal output of 135 watts and thus still has enough power reserves in the backhand.
Lenovo has given the P1 series ThinkPads an 80 Wh battery for mobile use. This is screwed on the inside and can’t be changed from the outside. Despite the comparatively high capacity, the test device only offers average battery runtimes due to the above mentioned consumption rates. The consumption can be curbed by certain clock rate reductions in battery operation, but the P1 doesn’t become a long-runner because of this.
For example, it suffices for 2:47 hours in the PCMark 8 Battery Test, 7:48 in WiFi TV streaming and 5:24 hours in the PCMark 10 Modern Office Battery Test. It takes a good 2 hours until the battery is fully charged again, but 85% is already available after 1:18 hours.
In opposition to many a competitor, Lenovo takes the ThinkPad P1’s classification as a workstation seriously, even in battery mode. The test results determined in battery mode show that you can call up over 90% of the actual performance in many scenarios. The results are only significantly reduced in Cinebench’s intensive multi-core CPU rendering and VRMark.
In return, one has to expect a quickly draining battery in such computationally intensive jobs. Working hours of about 1:00 to 1:30 hours should then usually hardly be exceeded.
The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen.2 represents an extremely Lenovo ThinkPad P1 2nd successful model update. If you take the previous year’s model, equipped with a comparable configuration, as a benchmark, you get a noticeable plus in performance at a lower price with the test device. At least if you can do without the display’s multi-touch and pen function.
Lenovo has hardly touched the basic features. The case quality, the interface equipment, the display and many typical business features provide an extremely successful basis. The fact that you also get very good input devices, a long warranty period and certain maintenance options is actually a matter of course for this ThinkPad device class.
Merely the somewhat higher case temperatures, the worse black value of the test panel and the limited warranty scope for on-site service are to be accepted as minor concessions.
All in all, Lenovo’s ThinkPad P1 Gen. 2 is also convincing in the second generation, despite the smaller limitations across the board. Maybe even more than before, as Lenovo has turned important set screws in view of the workstation orientation.
Here you get a workstation in a slim and mobile case without having to give up too many workstation features (and Performance) in return, which is why the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 is ranking first vs ThinkPad P53.
Ranking Second: Lenovo ThinkPad P53
- Very good GPU performance
- Cheaper price than ThinkPad P1
- Excellent keyboard
- CPU power is reduced at combined load
Power-saving Ultrabook CPUs are now found in most notebooks, including Lenovo’s ThinkPad lineup. Accordingly, the devices can also be made thinner and lighter.
Whilst the ThinkPad X1 Extreme manages the balancing act between ultrabook case and very powerful hardware, two models of the P-series in 15.6″ and 17.3″ still represent representatives of the classic “mobile workstation” genre. Here we test the ThinkPad P53 with a 6-core CPU and 15.6″ 4K display.
Design & Ports / Interfaces
The ThinkPad P53 can almost be called a “classic” ThinkPad by current standards: A comparatively thick base part for current notebooks with attached hinges, on which the 15.6″ display is suspended with display edges of 1.5-2.5cm wide, depending on the side.
The offset clearplate under the display with the model name “P53” and a WiFi and hard disk LED reminds of previous models up to the W530. A nice detail: the LEDs can be deactivated in the BIOS.
The P53’s bottom part is very well made. The bottom shell is made of a magnesium-aluminum combination and coated with a smooth, matt black lacquer, which looks very high quality. It gives the lower part its stability – it is so torsionally stiff that it already wobbles if there is a small unevenness in the table. All in all, however, even ex works it unfortunately does not seem to be perfectly straight, which is all the more striking in view of its stability.
However, this doesn’t bother us much in operation. The wrist-rest is made of ThinkPad-typical, slightly roughened plastic, but doesn’t yield a millimeter. Lenovo has done everything right here.
Above the large keyboard with number pad there is a white illuminated power switch and a grille under which the two 2W speakers are located. The fingerprint reader, which turns out unusually small with an area of about 1cm², is located under the arrow keys.
Unfortunately, the display lid isn’t very convincing, as it can be twisted with one hand and also significantly bent inwards by external pressure. Our tester fears long-term damages, such as bright or dark spots in the display, especially in the sensitive, high-resolution, because thicker panels, when the device is often transported in a fully packed backpack.
The lid is held by two attached hinges, which allow an opening angle of up to approx. 190°. Lenovo has perfectly met the resistance of the hinges: The display can be opened with one hand, but is also kept stable in medium vibrations, such as on a bus or train. The lid’s coating is smoother than on older devices, but thus also collects marks quickly and has to be cleaned more often.
The interfaces are sensibly arranged: On the left, there are two USB 3.1 type A ports, an HDMI port – at a sufficient distance so that connected cables and devices don’t block each other – as well as SD and smart card readers. On the right, Lenovo places a USB 3.1 type C port, the nano SIM slot, the 3.5mm jack socket and the eyelet for a notebook lock.
The 170W power supply finds a connection on the rear, and there are also two USB 3.1 Type C/Thunderbolt 3 sockets and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The left and right rear corners are completely used as outlets for the two fans. Nevertheless, there’s still astonishingly much space left on the sides, especially on the back. Our tester would like to see more USB type A interfaces.
The notebook’s bottom is almost completely covered by a large maintenance flap. This gives access to the battery, WiFi and WWAN card, two of the four RAM slots, both M.2 2280 slots (NVMe, PCIe 3.0 x4) for SSDs and the 2.5″ slot for an SSD or HDD.
This is only available on the models with Quadro T1000 and T2000, configurations with Quadro RTX have a different motherboard layout without the 2.5″ slot, but with three M.2 2280 slots. Almost all components are covered by plastic foils. It’s a bit of a pity, however, that the fans are not accessible from below for easy cleaning.
A dedicated docking port isn’t available anymore; the P53 relies on Thunderbolt for this. The ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Workstation Dock (40AN0230EU) comes with a 230W and a 65W power supply – the former charges the P53, the latter supplies the docking station with power. Notebook and dock are then connected via a combo cable, which is plugged into both the power supply socket and a Thunderbolt port.
Overall, the ThinkPad P53 provides a coherent overall picture. The device appears robust, the workmanship is overall very good and the weight is more than okay for a notebook of this size and performance class. Gap dimensions turn out evenly and very small everywhere.
In comparison to an older predecessor model, the T540p/W540, not only has the case color changed back to the ThinkPad-typical black, but the workmanship is also better by classes.
The P53 connects wirelessly to the outside world via an Intel WiFi 6 AX200 that supports 802.11ax WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0. Our test device is also equipped with a Fibocom L850-GL LTE-A card.
Devices without WWAN are not prepared for WWAN according to Lenovo, so they don’t have antennas. As one of a few devices, the P53 also has an Ethernet port, which is provided by an Intel I219 LM chip.
Keyboard & Touchpad / Trackpad
The ThinkPad P53 has a keyboard in the typical 6-row layout of the current ThinkPad series with an additional number pad on the right side. The keyboard is backlit in two levels, which can be switched through with the Fn space bar.
At the height of the F keys, Lenovo has added a quick calculator key (with Fn: =), bracket keys and a standby key (with Fn: backspace) to the number pad – especially the bracket keys are surprisingly practical for working with Microsoft Excel. Lenovo has made the some keys narrower to accommodate this keyboard in the P53’s case.
The keyboard’s typing feel is very convincing to our tester. The keys have sufficient stroke, even if less than e.g. in the older predecessor, the T540p, but offer a very rich stroke. Even longer texts can be written so pleasantly with the keyboard.
The ThinkPad-typical trackpoint of our tester was produced by ELAN. If you’re used to a Synaptics trackpoint, you’ll have to get used to a somewhat different pointer acceleration here – but apart from this getting used to, the trackpoint works perfectly, as you’d expect from a ThinkPad. The buttons are designed as simple click switches, as for example on the X1 Extreme, and could have a richer pressure point.
The touchpad with a “Mylar” coating is also produced by ELAN and strongly reminds of a glass touchpad, but in opposition to these it is fixed. The P53 has separate touchpad keys and even three of them. These are membrane switches with a high-quality appearance.
It’s a pity that the trackpoint buttons don’t also rely on them. The touchpad is sufficiently large and can be used comfortably. A disadvantage of the ELAN driver: It doesn’t offer the possibility to set the scroll speed separately for trackpoint and touchpad, which is possible in the driver from the long-time manufacturer Synaptics.
Windows also offers a setting for the scroll speed, but this then applies equally to both trackpoint and touchpad. What is a pleasant speed at the trackpoint is very slow at the touchpad.
Besides the powerful hardware, the P53 also stands out from the rest of the ThinkPad portfolio when it comes to the display. The best options are a 4K HDR 400 Dolby Vision IPS display with 100% Adobe RGB coverage and 500 cd/m² brightness and a 4K HDR 500 True Black Dolby Vision OLED display with 100% DPI P3 coverage and 350 cd/m² brightness (peak: 400 cd/m²).
Our test device is equipped with the former option, which can otherwise also be found in the ThinkPad P53s and the T590. All IPS panels are matt, whereby at least the HDR panels have a “silky matt” surface on which slight reflections are visible. The OLED panel is a glossy panel with an anti-reflective coating due to its design.
BOE Hydis is responsible for our 4K HDR panel, the panel reports as B156ZAN04.2. At first glance, our tester is struck by a “wow”, as the panel’s expanded color space (wide gamut) is immediately apparent. Windows 10 is set up correctly so that HDR content can be played – the panel delivers an impressive picture.
A measurement with a colorimeter (Datacolor Spyder 5 Pro) results in a sRGB and Adobe RGB coverage of 100%. This makes it suitable for photo and video editing without restrictions. We offer a suitable color profile (Gamma 2.2, white point 6500K) for download here.
The lowest brightness is 7 cd/m² and is therefore also pleasant to use in complete darkness. At full brightness the panel shines with 527 cd/m².
Even in direct sunlight the picture is still recognizable. The uniformity of illumination is not perfect with deviations of -5.6% to +3.6% compared to the center of the display at full brightness, but it is sufficiently good.
Audio, camera and biometrics
Lenovo places two 2W loudspeakers above the keyboard under a large grille. Despite “Dolby Atmos” certification and successfully set up software, they can’t convince, however, they simply lack clarity of trebles as well as volume. When the software is disabled, the sound seems almost tinny.
External loudspeakers are therefore actually mandatory for everything except short YouTube videos. It’s a pity, because the technology is now available, as the X1 Yoga 4th Gen shows. Even if entertainment isn’t the P53’s focus, Lenovo shouldn’t skimp on a flagship here. In return, the two wide field microphones are convincing and deliver a clear sound in a conference call.
Our test device is equipped with a 720p webcam and IR camera for Windows Hello login. As with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 4th Gen, the same camera is used for both functions and can be covered with the ThinkShutter. Unfortunately, the webcam delivers an extremely blurred and washed out picture.
This might still be sufficient for the conversation partners, but the P53’s 4K display makes the 720p picture look like a YouTube video in the lowest quality. Of course, ThinkPads aren’t multimedia devices, but webcams are also important for video conferencing, and especially on such a well-equipped device like the P53, such a blunder is embarrassing.
In return, the face recognition via IR camera works perfectly and detected our tester quickly and reliably in normal light conditions as well as in complete darkness. Only outdoors with backlighting the recognition does not work anymore.
In this case you can fall back on the fingerprint reader, which is embedded in the palm rest to the right of the touchpad. Even if the area turns out to be very small, it works perfectly and allows a quick unlocking of the device.
The Intel Core i7-9850H is a 6-core CPU of the 9th generation “Coffee Lake” in 14nm technology. It clocks with 2.6 GHz and can reach up to 4.6 GHz in Turbo Boost. 12 MB cache support the CPU, which has a TDP of 45W – identical to earlier quad-core CPUs such as the Core i7-7820HQ. A maximum of 128 GB DDR4 RAM with 2666 MHz is supported.
We have tested the Core i7-9850H in Cinebench R20. In mains operation, the CPU achieves an average of 2295 points in the multi-core test and 437 points in the single-core test, which gives a multi-core ratio of 5.25. We documented 2358 points in the multi-core test and 440 points in the single-core test in battery mode with settings for “maximum performance”, thus a multi-core ratio of 5.35.
With settings for “optimized performance” the Core i7-9850H still achieves an average of 2183 points in the multi-core test and 425 points in the single-core test, thus a multi-core ratio of 5.13.
Thus, the ThinkPad P53 convinces all along the line. The CPU’s full performance can be called up in battery mode, as long as the UEFI and Windows energy settings are set accordingly. In our test, the performance was even a bit higher in battery mode than in mains operation, but this probably falls under the measurement inaccuracy.
In the first Cinebench R20 runs, the i7-9850H can even position itself in front of the desktop CPU i7-7700K, but later the performance decreases in the multi-core test because the CPU clocks down. Overall, the multi-core ratio of well over 5 indicates that the cooling system is sufficiently dimensioned to dissipate the waste heat of the strong CPU. The results in the single core test also fluctuate only negligibly.
The Nvidia Quadro T2000 achieves an average of 2206 points with about 32 FPS in Full HD resolution in the Furmark benchmark in battery mode, whereby no performance slump is noticeable even after five runs. The GPU temperature settles between 55 and 60 degrees and the fan runs audibly, but not loudly.
The frame rate increases to about 40 FPS in mains operation, whereby the GPU reaches an average of 2546 points. The performance also remains constant over five runs. Now the fan becomes really loud for the first time in the test, while the GPU reaches a maximum of 85°C – the GPU thus puts a much greater load on the cooling system than the CPU alone.
An Intel SSD Pro 7600p Series with 512GB memory works in our test device. This SSD has TLC memory and is connected via PCIe 3.0 x4. It can only be placed in the midfield in sequential accesses, but scores points in interval accesses.
Very well thought out: The SSD is connected to the mainboard via a heat conduction pad in order to dissipate the high waste heat usually associated with NVMe drives more efficiently. For a second SSD, a thermal pad is included directly on the cover foil. Unfortunately, for the installation of an SSD/HDD in the 2,5″ bay, as usual with the P series, an adapter cable must be purchased separately.
However, this is where the problems started: Such an adapter cable wasn’t available from Lenovo, you could only order the “ThinkPad MWS P52 P72 HDD Bracket” with the part number 4XH0S69185, which comes with a hard disk frame and two SATA cables to connect to the one shown in the picture on the left next to the SSD slots.
While the hard drive frame fits perfectly, unfortunately none of the cables are compatible with the P53. The short cable points in the wrong direction when the SATA connector is correctly aligned to fit the spacer in the case. The long cable can be used to install and connect the hard drive, but then it’s clearly too long and seems too stable not to be damaged when pressure is applied to it. This is not how we wanted to operate the device in the long term.
In the meantime, at least one FRU for the matching adapter is finally available, this is 02DM497. We’ll order the adapter and get back to you with an update as soon as possible!
For realtime audio applications the DPC latencies are of great importance, which should not exceed 500 µs if possible, in order to allow a problem-free working. Here we measured over 30 minutes while typing on this test report with Firefox 69.0.1 and creating a presentation in PowerPoint 2019.
Unfortunately, the P53 clearly misses the limits and thus doesn’t seem suitable for real-time audio in a normal configuration. Apparently, the drivers of the graphic components are mainly responsible.
Noise & Heat levels
Lenovo installs a potent cooling system with two fans in the ThinkPad P53. The larger of the two mainly cools the CPU, while the smaller one is responsible for the Nvidia GPU.
However, the GPU fan’s heatpipe is further connected to the CPU heat sink, so that the waste heat of both components can be distributed throughout the entire system. This of course improves the cooling performance, especially when CPU or GPU are selectively loaded.
When the notebook isn’t in use, even the Core i7-9850H consumes very little energy. The package TDP drops to up to 1.5W and the CPU temperature is then 38°C, while the CPU lowers the clock frequency to up to 800 MHz. The fan stays quiet here, of course. The notebook’s overall consumption (read with Lenovo Vantage) is still relatively high, though: With 0% display brightness, the device consumes about 8W in idle, on a normal working brightness (50%) rather 9-10W.
Presumably, both the backlight of the 3840×2160 pixel high-resolution HDR panel and the calculation of image contents consume a lot of power. However, the battery life is not a major concern with such a powerful device.
Under low load, individual cores of the CPU clock with up to 4.5 GHz and can maintain this frequency even in the long term.
Under multi-core load in mains operation or in battery operation at “maximum performance”, the clock frequency immediately drops to 3.3 GHz (approx. 60W Package TDP) and then drops to 2.9 GHz over the next minute (approx. 40W Package TDP), where it remains even under continuous load.
The package temperature immediately rises to 97°C and remains there even after the fans have started up. Interestingly, cores 3 and 5 are the hottest under full load with 97°C, which results in the package temperature – the remaining cores move between 80°C and 90°C despite also being under full load.
Possibly, our test device didn’t get the “best” CPU. Chapeau to Lenovo that the full performance of the CPU can be called up in battery mode – this is how a workstation device has to work. If you set the energy settings in battery mode to “Optimized performance”, the power limit is reached after about a minute and limits the package TDP to 35W, which corresponds to a frequency of 2.8 GHz under full load.
Under single core load, the loaded core clocks at 4.4 GHz with 25W Package TDP. After a few seconds the thermal throttling kicks in, as the core reaches 97°C, the fan starts running quietly audibly and the frequency drops to 3.9 GHz (18W Package TDP). After about 10 seconds the CPU has cooled down sufficiently so that the full frequency is released again.
This behavior can also be maintained over a longer period of time. With the setting “Optimized performance” in battery mode, the CPU is throttled down faster and longer, so that the fan is even partially silent.
As already in the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, it’s worthwhile reducing the CPU voltage in the P53 with Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU). The CPU of our test device still ran stably at -125mV offset, but was able to clock with 3.2 GHz permanently and achieve a performance increase of about 6% in the Cinebench R20 multi-core test.
At the request of a user of the ThinkPad forum, we still tested the highest possible thermal load on the CPU over a period of 30 minutes with AVX using the “Small FFT” test in Prime95. The thermal throttling already takes effect a few seconds after the start, as the package temperature reaches 97°C. The CPU then clocks at 2.4 GHz with a TDP of 35W and can keep this constant over the test period.
The fans run audibly, but not disturbingly on a medium level – the CPU alone can definitely not load the cooling system. This task again shows that undervolting with Intel XTU is worthwhile: At -125mV the CPU can now maintain a clock rate of 2.8GHz at the same TDP and temperature.
The ThinkPad P53 is equipped with a 90 Wh battery. The P53 thus achieves a battery life of 12h 57min in Battery Eater v2.70 “Reader’s Test”. In the “Classic Test” with load for CPU, GPU and HDD, 1h 35min can still be achieved. The battery is charged from 5% to 100% in 1h 38min.
Our tester achieved a usual runtime of about five hours in everyday use with Office, internet and somewhat occasional image editing. This is okay for a device with such a high performance, but not much in comparison to, say, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme 1st Gen.
As already explained, the big difference is probably explained by the bright 4K display. Nevertheless, we hope that Lenovo will be able to improve the situation with driver updates.
The ThinkPad P53 represents the latest iteration of Lenovo’s mobile workstation series. It’s a great package for those who don’t want to sacrifice desktop-like performance when on the go – from CAD applications to image and video editing to data analysis, the P53 should be up to the task.
Lenovo does everything right in terms of performance, only the case (bottom shell, display lid) and multimedia capabilities should be improved in the successor model, which is why the Lenovo ThinkPad P53 is ranking behind vs Lenovo ThinkPad P1.
However, if you’re looking for a notebook in this cheaper price segment, you’ll find to like the ThinkPad P53, as it is still a great Workstation laptop.