Lenovo Refreshes High-Powered P-Series ThinkPad Workstations

The Xeon-powered workstations all have Thunderbolt 3 ports and upgraded graphics processing.

Have you been holding out to buy a new work laptop? Well, if you’re an engineer, graphic designer, or any other sort of person who really needs all that power that hardware makers love to advertise, Lenovo is giving you something to think about this week. They’re refreshing their P-series ThinkPad mobile workstations with the P51, P51s, and P71, and they’re all getting power boosts and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Lenovo P-series workstations are defined (in recent years) by having work-optimized Intel Xeon processors and Nvidia Quadro graphics processing, along with all the usual ThinkPad goodies like MIL-SPEC certification for durability, physical touchpad buttons and the TrackPoint. This year, Lenovo is moving to Intel Xeon E3-v6 processors, with the exception of the P51s, which is meant to be more mobile (all three can be configured with 7th generation Intel Core i7 CPUs). The 17″ P71 can be configured with up to Nvidia Quadro P5000M graphics, while the P51 and P51s get up to M2200M and M520M, respectively. The P71 and P51 will also have up to 64 GB of RAM along with either a 1 TB HDD (a second HDD is available on the P71) or up to 2 TB of PCIe SSD storage — the P51s will only get up to 32 GB, but can be equipped with a 1 TB PCIe NVMe SSD. The P51s can be equipped with an IR camera for use with Windows Hello, which lets you log in using facial recognition, while the P71 will get a dual-fan cooling system that will definitely be put to good use.

ThinkPad P51
ThinkPad P51

All that processing power needs to be put to good use. All three models can be equipped from anywhere to a 1080p display to a 4k display (15.6″ for the P51 and P51s, 17.3″ for the P71), and the P51 and P71 feature X-Rite Pantone color calibration. If you opt for a 1080p display, you can choose to get a touchscreen, as well. All three machines are ISV-certified for a number of professional software companies, too, so they should all be up to whatever task is put in front of them.

Being stuffed with hardware, the workstations are quite a bit thicker than most laptops these days. But, that allows for a lot more space for ports. The P51 and P71 are thick enough to allow for ports on the back, making them the most work-ready. The P71 has four USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a Mini DisplayPort, two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, an ethernet port, a docking connector, a combo audio port, a SmartCard reader, and an ExpressCard 34 mm reader. The P51 has the same lineup, but only has one Thunderbolt 3 port. The P51s also has only one Thunderbolt 3 port, but also cuts one USB 3.0 port, the Mini DisplayPort, and the ExpressCard reader. The big win here is the presence of the Thunderbolt 3 ports, which provide much faster transfer speeds.

ThinkPad P51s
ThinkPad P51s

The P-series can be good for independent contractors, but as usual, it’s employers who will be paying lots of attention. This year’s Xeon CPUs cut down a fair bit on power usage, which could be a big deal for medium or large companies concerned with their energy bills. The P71 will be an intriguing option for fledgling VR developers — Lenovo is advertising it as VR-ready, and it’ll have the power to allow developers to work on their games from a mobile workstation. The P51s will require a fair bit of compromise in the power department, but it could still be an option for engineers or graphic designers who move around a lot and want something lighter.

The Lenovo ThinkPad P51s will be the first of three out, coming in March and starting at $1,050. The ThinkPad P51 and P71 will be out in April starting at $1,400 and $1,850.

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