Not too long ago, Lenovo invited NYCPPNEWS to Nice Shoes, a well-regarded color grading house and full-on production studio in Manhattan. We had a chance to tour all of the floors of the Manhattan-based creative house, then got into details about the soon-to-be released Lenovo ThinkPad P1.
This thin and light mobile workstation was touted as able to easily handle the studio’s work, according to Nice Shoes’ CIO/CTO Robert Kreske. He spotted it for its chops to handle everything from 5K and 6K workflows (an increasing reality for them) to on-set editing, augmented reality and VR.
With that sort of enthusiasm, I had to see what Lenovo’s new line of ultra-light mobile workstations was all about. Recently, I got a chance for that hands-on review. This time, I created a video (see below), which is sometimes an easier way to see where a piece of gear fits in for your particular case.
Until a few years ago, mobile workstations had a bad name among creatives. Heavy and underpowered, the machines were workstations in name only. With a name meant to remind you of their stablemates in the machine room, this gear was mainly good for editing proxy videos or doing a basic setup or review but little else in an app like Maya.
That’s all changed. We’ve reached a time of “peak mobile workstation” – CPU transistor counts now range well into the billions, new SSD designs offer huge improvements in throughput and storage, while even hot-running discrete GPUs have been tamed for the road.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad Series – Smaller, Power Packages
Lenovo’s ThinkPad P-series of desktop replacement-class mobile workstations includes the top-of-the-line model, the ThinkPad P72. Introduced in August, this is no lightweight laptop (versions start at 7.5 lbs.), but the P72 remains the most expandable. Choices include up to 128GB of RAM, internal RAID arrays and a super-duper graphics card, the NVIDIA Quadro P5200, packed with 16GB of RAM. For those looking for a somewhat smaller footprint, check out the ThinkPad P52 which includes, among other things, a 6 GB P3200.
The third and newest member of Lenovo’s ThinkPad P-Series of mobile workstations is the ThinkPad P1, which we’ll delve into here. It’s one of the few mobile workstations that could be considered an ultrabook; remarkably thin and light (starting at 3.7 lbs.), it still offers the workstation power to take on today’s most complex apps.
Design and components
The exterior design of the ThinkPad P1 is very similar to the Lenovo X1 Extreme, also recently introduced. The difference is what’s inside. Whereas the X1 employs Intel Core i7 processors and GeForce graphics, the P1 is available with Xeon processors (which can run with more RAM) and NVIDIA Quadro-level GPUs. My review unit had an 8th generation six-core Xeon E-2176M and a 4 GB Quadro P2000 GPU sporting 768 CUDA cores.
In addition, the P1 allows for a remarkable amount of RAM, 64 GB of ECC (error correcting) memory (the unit reviewed had 32 GB). There is also the ability to install two 2 TB NVMe PCIe SSDs for a total of 4 TB of storage. If you have used NVMe SSDs before, you know how amazingly fast they are.
That’s a nice amount of storage for the machine; the drives can also run as RAID arrays. If you want to use more storage you can always add external devices via the two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the side of the machine. Thunderbolt 3 connections are so fast, they’re practically like an external PCI bus.
The 4K 15.6 inch display of the Lenovo P1 is also admirable. Available in touch as well as anti-glare, its 3840 x 2160 pixels cover 100% of Adobe RGB. The display also delivers 400 nits of brightness with 10-bit color, so not only are images nice and bright, but subtle color shifts and gradients appear smooth with minimal banding issues. There is an FHD (1920 x 1080) version of the display available which will cut down on battery drain, if that’s a concern.
What’s So Great? Lots.
There’s lots more that I could highlight and even repeat for emphasis: a small, proprietary 135W power adapter that uses Lenovo’s own charging port (USB Type-C ports can’t handle that much power), Gigabit Ethernet port, 80 Wh battery, and an 8th Gen Intel Core or Xeon processor that can reach up to 4.6GHz speeds. The fact that the Lenovo P1 is thin (0.72 inches) weighs only a bit more than a MacBook Air still makes me shake my head when I remember the ‘old days’ of just a few years ago.
The Lenovo Thinkpad P1 is one stylish mobile workstation “ultrabook” that you won’t mind taking to the office or on location. Sure, it’s bigger siblings, the ThinkPad P52 and P72 offer greater expandability and more powerful GPUs, but they’re also heavier to lug around and not as sleek. The P1 gets my nod as the one I’ll want to take with me.
Click here for information on the P1 and current prices on Lenovo’s website.
In addition, benchmark scores for CineBench and OctaneBench are also analyzed as well as images and close ups of the internals of the machine. Bottom line: watch the video!