Podcast #368 - full GTX 980s in notebooks, Samsung's NVMe 950 Pro, Jim Keller leaving AMD and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2015 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Jim Keller, Zen, Samsung, 950 PRO, NVMe, M.2, vnand, Thrustmaster, tx f458, Lenovo, Thinkpad, x1 carbon, x250, t450s, helix

PC Perspective Podcast #368 - 09/24/2015

Join us this week as we discuss full GTX 980s in notebooks, Samsung's NVMe 950 Pro, Jim Keller leaving AMD and more!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Morry Teitelman

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Manufacturer: Lenovo

A Diverse Lineup

ThinkPads have always been one of our favorite notebook brands here at PC Perspective. While there certainly has been some competition from well-designed portables such as the Dell XPS 13 and Microsoft Surface Pro 3, the ThinkPad line remains a solid choice for power users.

We had the chance to look at a lot of Lenovo's ThinkPad lineup for Broadwell, and as this generation comes to a close we decided to give a brief overview of the diversity available. Skylake-powered notebooks may be just on the horizon, but the comparisons of form factor and usability should remain mostly applicable into the next generation.

Within the same $1200-$1300 price range, Lenovo offers a myriad of portable machines with roughly the same hardware in vastly different form factors. 

First, let's take a look at the more standard ThinkPads.

Lenovo ThinkPad T450s

The ThinkPad T450s is my default recommendation for anyone looking for a notebook in the $1000+ range. Featuring a 14" 1080p display and an Intel Core i5-5300U processor, it will perform great for the majority of users. While you won't be using this machine for 3D Modeling or CAD/CAM applications, general productivity tasks will feel right at home here.


Technically classified as an Ultrabook, the T450s won't exactly be turning any heads with it's thinness. Lenovo strikes a balance here, making the notebook as thin as possible at 0.83" while retaining features such as a gigabit Ethernet port, 3 USB 3.0 Ports, an SD card reader, and plenty of display connectivity with Mini DisplayPort and VGA.


Continue reading our overview of the Lenovo ThinkPad lineup!!

Lenovo Tech World: ThinkPad Tablet 10 Announced

Subject: Systems | May 27, 2015 - 10:02 PM |
Tagged: thinkpad tablet 10, thinkpad tablet, Thinkpad, Lenovo

The announcements keep rolling in here at Lenovo’s first Tech World event here in Beijing, starting off with a next generation version of their ThinkPad Tablet 10.


The 2015 version of the ThinkPad Tablet 10 is based around Intel’s new Cherry Trail SoC platform in form of the Atom Z8500 and Z8700. Alongside the Atom SoC, the Tablet 10 will sport either 2GB or 4GB of RAM depending on the configuration, although it is unclear if the 4GB option will only be available with the Z8700 option. 64-bit support will also be found with the Tablet 10 thanks to Cherry Trail’s support for 64-bit operations as opposed to the previous generation Bay Trail.


The ThinkPad Tablet 10 marks the first integration of Lenovo’s WRITEit software, which they claim allows for easier handwriting input across the entire Windows OS. While we haven’t had hands on with the final version, the tech preview of this that we saw at CES was very promising and looks to be a better solution than the native Windows 10 handwriting support.


Lenovo was also eager to mention that they’ve seen wide adoption with the current ThinkPad Tablet 10 in fields such as large enterprises, airlines and hospitals. In light of this, the Tablet 10 will support technologies such as dTPM for trusted computing, NFC, as well as biometric authentication, and optional Smart Card support.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 10 is set to launch at the start of August, in the same time frame of Windows 10.

Source: Lenovo
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design


Although the target market and design emphasis may be different, there is one thing consumer and business-grade laptops have in common: a drift away from processing power and toward portability and efficiency.  At the risk of repeating our introduction for the massive MSI GT72 gaming notebook we reviewed last month, it seems that battery life, temperature, and power consumption get all the attention these days.  And arguably, it makes sense for most people: it’s true that CPU performance gains have in years past greatly outstripped the improvements in battery life, and that likewise performance gains could be realized far more easily by upgrading storage device speed (such as by replacing conventional hard drives with solid-state drives) than by continuing to focus on raw CPU power and clock rates.  As a result, we’ve seen many mobile CPU speeds plateauing or even dropping in exchange for a reduction in power consumption, while simultaneously cases have slimmed and battery life has jumped appreciably across the board.

But what if you’re one of the minority who actually appreciates and needs raw computing power?  Fortunately, Lenovo’s ThinkPad W series still has you covered.  This $1,500 workstation is the business equivalent of the consumer-grade gaming notebook.  It’s one of the few designs where portability takes a backseat to raw power and ridiculous spec.  Users shopping for a ThinkPad workstation aren’t looking to go unplugged all day long on an airplane tray table.  They’re looking for power, reliability, and premium design, with function over form as a rule.  And that’s precisely what they’ll get.



Beyond the fairly-typical (and very powerful) Intel Core i7-4800MQ CPU—often found in gaming PCs and workstations—and just 8 GB of DDR3-1600 MHz RAM (single-channel) is a 256 GB SSD and a unique feature to go along with the WQHD+ display panel: built-in X-Rite Pantone color sensor which can be used to calibrate the panel simply by closing the lid when prompted.  How well this functions is another topic entirely, but at the very least, it’s a novel idea.


Continue reading our full Lenovo ThinkPad W540 Review!!

CES 2015: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Is Broadwell Powered and Available In New Sizes

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 5, 2015 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: CES, thinkpad yoga, Thinkpad, tablet, Lenovo, ces 2015, broadwell-u

Yesterday, Lenovo rolled out updates to its entire line of ThinkPad laptops, and today Lenovo is unveiling an update to its business-focused ThinkPad Yoga tablet. The update brings a hardware refresh to the 14-inch ThinkPad Yoga while also adding new 12-inch and 15-inch convertibles.

The new ThinkPad Yoga builds upon last year's model, maintaining the look and feel but updating the internal hardware. It now spans from a 12-inch 3.3 pound tablet to a 15-inch 5.07 pound convertible with enough space for a numerical pad. All models are less than an inch thick, with the 12" being the thinnest at 0.7".

Thinkpad YOGA 12_1.jpg

ThinkPad Yoga 12

Display resolution options are capped at 1920 x 1080 across all models, but they are IPS panels with touchscreens.

The multi-mode devices feature a backlit ThinkPad keyboard (1.8mm travel) with track point, a trackpad with physical buttons, a 720p webcam (optional 3D camera on the 15-inch model), stereo speakers (2x 1.5W JBL on 15-inch tablet), and digitizer or Active Pen support.

Port options include two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one HDMI, and a card reader. A Mini HDMI port is used on the smallest ThinkPad Yoga.

ThinkPad YOGA 14_4.jpg

ThinkPad Yoga 14

Lenovo has chosen Broadwell-U to power its business tablets, and you will be able to get up to a Core i7 processor. All models have access to the Intel HD Graphics, and the 14-inch and 15-inch tablets can be configured with dedicated graphics from NVIDIA. The 12-inch and 14-inch ThinkPad Yogas can be equipped with up to 8GB DDR3L while the Yoga 15 can accommodate 12GB and 16GB configurations. Storage options include mechanical, SSHD, and SSDs with storage topping out at 1TB for spinning platter and 512GB for solid state drives (not available on the Yoga 12). Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n or 802.11ac Wi-Fi (depending on the Wi-Fi+BT combo card), and a 1x NGFF slot.

The ThinkPad Yoga tablets will ship with Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro with an optional Windows 7 Pro downgrade available.

ThinkPad YOGA 15_4.jpg

ThinkPad Yoga 15

The new ThinkPad Yoga will be available in February with starting prices at $999 for the Yoga 12, $1,199 for the Yoga 14 and Yoga 15.

The new Yoga 14 has a slight $50 premium over the starting price of last year's ThinkPad Yoga 14, but the new Yoga 12 comes in much cheaper and the larger Yoga 15 can be had for the same price as the new 14-inch model. Many of the popular features are staying the same, including the Lift 'n Lock keyboard, but you are also getting the latest CPU and GPU technology so in all it is likely worth it. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on these machines as we get closer to the launch date.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

CES 2015: Lenovo Launches Improved ThinkPad Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 4, 2015 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: Thinkpad, notebook, Lenovo, ces 2015, carbon, business

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show, Lenovo announced updates and new additions to its Think-branded products aimed at business customers. New ThinkPad PCs, ThinkVision displays, and stackable ThinkPad accessories are launching early this year. 

ThinkPad Notebooks and Ultrabooks

Lenovo, a leading manufacturer of PCs, recently reached a milestone with the production of its 100 millionth ThinkPad, code-named Eve, which will be on display at CES. The company has a plethora of business machines and updates are coming to the entire family of ThinkPads including the X, T, L, and E series. According to Lenovo, the company has opted for 5th gen Core i processors for most of the machines to provide the best performance and vPro capabilities.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a third generation ultrabook that is lighter and faster than before. The 14" ultrabook builds upon its predecessor with an updated (optionally backlit) keyboard, three button clickpad, and up to a WQHD touchscreen display. The X1 Carbon with its carbon fiber cover weighs 2.9 pounds and is 17.72mm thick (18.46mm if you opt for a touchscreen).

It is powered by up to a 5th Generation Intel Core i7 (Broadwell-U) processor, four to eight GB of DDR3 memory, and up to a 512GB PCI-E SSD. 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 OneLink, Ethernet, analog audio, and a 720p webcam round out the system's connectivity options.

For the road warrior that finds the 14" X1 Carbon too unwieldy, the new ThinkPad X250 is a slightly lighter (starting at 2.88 lbs) PC with a much smaller footprint. The X250 features full HD (1080p) displays with optional touchscreens, backlit keys, the latest clickpad, and updated internal hardware. Lenovo is using Intel's 5th Generation Core i processor, HDD, SSHD, and SSD options, up to 8GB DDR3 memory, and its Power Bridge dual battery technology for a speedy portable with respectable battery life. 

ThinkPad X250 3.jpg

Beyond the X-series, Lenovo has added new models to the ThinkPad T, ThinkPad L, and ThinkPad E series. Lenovo has managed to refine the hardware while keeping the same design principles that have made the predecessors successful.

ThinkPad T550 1.jpg

Lenovo ThinkPad T550

The new machines are thinner, lighter, have better battery life, more ports, high resolution display options, and use Intel's 5th Generation Core processors.

Lenovo's business focused products are slated for availability early this year with the majority of hardware coming in the next two months. For laptops, pricing and availability work out as follows:

Lenovo Notebooks Starting Price Availability
ThinkPad X1 Carbon $1,249 January
ThinkPad X250 $1,149 February
ThinkPad T450s $1,099 February
ThinkPad T450 $849 February
ThinkPad T550 $999 February
ThinkPad E550 $599 February
ThinkPad E450 $599 February
ThinkPad L450 $699 February

The new machines are welcome evolutionary updates to the established ThinkPad pedigree. What are your thoughts on the new notebooks?

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

Lenovo Introduces New Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 Tablet PCs

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 9, 2014 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, yoga tablet, Windows 8.1, windows, Thinkpad, lenovo yoga, Lenovo, haswell, Broadwell

At a press event in London (watch the livestream), Lenovo showed off two new convertible PCs – the Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 – aimed at the consumer and business markets respectively that each incorporate evolutionary improvements over their predecessors. The Windows 8.1 PCs will be available at the end of October.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 Tablet PC.png

The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is the company's new flagship multi-mode system, and features build quality and internal processing power enhancements over the Yoga 2 Pro while being 17% thinner (0.5") and 14% lighter (2.62 lbs). Lenovo attributes the size and weight reductions to its new watchband hinge which is uses 800 pieces of aluminum and steel to achieve a thin yet flexible hinge with six focus points that resembles a metal watchband. Additionally, Lenovo has updated the display to a 13.3" multi-touch panel with (QHD+) 3200x1800 resolution. Other external features include JBL stereo speakers, a 720p webcam, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 and DC-input port, one micro HDMI output, and one audio combo jack.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Watchband Hinge.jpg

Lenovo's new hand-constructed watchband-style hinge with six focus points.

Internally, Lenovo is using the Intel Core M-70 (Broadwell) processor, up to 8GB of DDR3L memory, and a 256GB SSD. Lenovo claims up to 9 hours of battery life, depending on usage. The PC will be available in Clementine Orange, Platinum Silver, or Champagne Gold.

Lenovo also announced the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14. While it does not have the kinds of form factor and hinge design improvements as the Yoga 3 Pro, it does maintain the useful Lift 'n Lock keyboard and feature welcome internal upgrades. The ThinkPad Yoga 14 measures 13.3" x 9.4" x 0.82" and weighs 4.1 pounds. The magnesium alloy frame holds a 14" 1920x1080 IPS display with 10-point multi-touch, a 720p webcam, dual microphones with noise cancelation, stereo speakers, a backlit Lift 'n Lock keyboard (which, when in tablet mode, raises the frame flush with the keys which lock in place), full keyboard, trackpad, and trackpoint nub.

RS4597_ThinkPad Yoga 14 Standard_03-hpr.jpg

This PC is noticeably bulkier and heavier than the Yoga 3 Pro, but it trades bulk for processing power, storage, and external I/O. Externally, the PC has one full HDMI video out (which is preferable to having to remember a micro HDMI adapter on the road or to meetings), two USB 3.0 ports, one combo USB 2.0/DC power/OneLink docking connector, one SD card slot, and one audio combo jack. The ThinkPad Yoga 14 is powered by an Intel Core i5 (Haswell) processor, NVIDIA GeForce 840M GPU, either 4GB or 8GB of DDR3L memory, and 1TB hard drive paired with 16GB flash for caching purposes. It comes with Windows 8.1 and "all day" battery life of up to eight hours.

In all, it has some useful updates over last year's model which we reviewed here.

Pricing and Availability:

The Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 will be available at the end of October from Lenovo.com or Best Buy. The Yoga 3 Pro has an MSRP of $1,349 while the ThinkPad Yoga 14 starts at $1,149.

Both systems continue the Yoga family forward, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the Broadwell-powered Yoga 3 Pro performs in particular. I do wish the Lift 'n Lock keyboard technology had trickled down to the consumer models even understanding it would add additional weight and thickness. Obviously, Lenovo felt the tradeoff was not worth it though.

Source: Lenovo
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design


The next candidate in our barrage of ThinkPad reviews is the ThinkPad Yoga, which, at first glance, might seem a little bit redundant.  After all, we’ve already got three current-gen Yoga models to choose from between the Yoga 2 11- and 13-inch iterations and the Yoga 2 Pro top-end selection.  What could possibly be missing?

Well, in fact, as is often the case when choosing between well-conceived notebook models, it isn’t so much about what’s missing as it is priorities.  Whereas the consumer-grade Yoga models all place portability, slimness, and aesthetics in the highest regard, the ThinkPad Yoga subscribes to a much more practical business-oriented approach, which (nearly) always instead favors function over form.  It’s a conversation we’ve had here at PC Perspective a thousand times before, but yet again, it is the core ThinkPad philosophy which separates the ThinkPad Yoga from other notebooks of its type.  Suffice it to say, in fact, that really the only reason to think of it as a Yoga at all is the unique hinge design and affiliated notebook/tablet convertibility; excepting that, this seems much closer to an X240 than anything in Lenovo’s current consumer-grade lineup.  And carrying a currently-configurable street price of around $1,595 currently, it’s positioned as such, too.


But it isn’t beyond reproach.  Some of the same questionable decisions regarding design changes which we’ve covered in our recent ThinkPad reviews still apply to the Yoga.  For instance, the much-maligned clickpad is back, bringing with it vivid nightmares of pointer jumpiness and click fatigue that were easily the biggest complaint about the T440s and X240 we recently reviewed.  The big question today is whether these criticisms are impactful enough to disqualify the ThinkPad Yoga as a rational alternative to other ThinkPad convertibles and the consumer-grade Yoga models.  It’s a tall order, so let’s tackle it.

First up, the specs:


While most of this list is pretty conventional, the astute might have already picked out one particular item which tops the X240 we recently reviewed: a possible 16 GB of dual-channel RAM.  The X240 was limited to just 8 GB of single-channel memory thanks to a mere single SODIMM slot.  The ThinkPad Yoga also boasts a 1080p screen with a Wacom digitizer pen—something which is clearly superior to our X240 review unit.  Sadly missing, however, are the integrated Gigabit Ethernet port and the VGA port—and the mini DisplayPort has been replaced by a mini-HDMI, which ultimately is decidedly inferior.


Continue reading our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga!!!

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design


Alongside our T440s review unit was something slightly smaller and dear to our hearts: the latest entry in the ThinkPad X series of notebooks.  Seeing as this very review is being typed on a Lenovo X220, our interest was piqued by the latest refinements to the formula.  When the X220 was released, the thin-and-light trend was only just beginning to pick up steam leading into what eventually became today’s Ultrabook movement.  Its 2012 successor, the ThinkPad X230, went on to receive our coveted (and rarely bestowed) Editor’s Choice Award, even in spite of a highly controversial keyboard change that sent the fanbase into a panic.

But all of that has since (mostly) blown over, primarily thanks to the fact that—in spite of the minor ergonomic adjustments required to accustom oneself with what was once a jarringly different keyboard design—the basic philosophy remained the same: pack as many powerful parts as possible into a 12.5-inch case while still maintaining good durability and battery life.  These machines were every bit as capable as most other 13- and 14-inch notebooks of their time, and they were considerably smaller, too.  About the only thing they lacked was higher-resolution screens, discrete graphics, and quad-core CPUs.


But with the X240 (and the T440s), portability has truly taken center stage, suggesting a complete paradigm shift—however subtly—away from “powerful (and light)” and toward “light (and powerful)”.  Coupled with Intel’s Haswell CPUs and Lenovo’s new Power Bridge dual-battery design, this will certainly yield great benefits in the realm of battery life.  But that isn’t all that’s different: we also find a (once again) revamped keyboard, as well as a completely new touchpad design which finally dispenses with the physical buttons entirely.  Like in the X230’s case, these changes have roiled the ThinkPad purists—but is it all just a matter of close-minded traditionalism?  That’s precisely what we’ll discover today.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X240 Ultrabook!!

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design


Arguably some of the most thoughtful machines on the market are Lenovo’s venerable ThinkPads, which—while sporadically brave in their assertions—are still among the most conservative (yet simultaneously practical) notebooks available.  What makes these notebooks so popular in the business crowds is their longstanding refusal to compromise functionality in the interest of form, as well as their self-proclaimed legendary reliability.  And you could argue that such practical conservatism is what defines a good business notebook: a device which embraces the latest technological trends, but only with requisite caution and consideration.

Maybe it’s the shaky PC market, or maybe it’s the sheer onset of sexy technologies such as touch and clickpads, but recent ThinkPads have begun to show some uncommon progressivism, and unapologetically so, too.  First, it was the complete replacement of the traditional critically-acclaimed ThinkPad keyboard with the Chiclet AccuType variety, a decision which irked purists but eventually was accepted by most.  Along with that were the integrated touchpad buttons, which are still lamented by many users.  Those alterations to the winning design were ultimately relatively minor, however, and for the most part, they’ve now been digested by the community.  Now, though, with the T440s (as well as the rest of Lenovo’s revamped ThinkPad lineup), we’re seeing what will perhaps constitute the most controversial change of all: the substitution of the older touchpads with a “5-button trackpad”, as well as optional touchscreen interface.

Can these changes help to keep the T440s on the cusp of technological progress, or has the design finally crossed the threshold into the realm of counterproductivity?


Compared with nearly any other modern notebook, these specs might not hold many surprises.  But judged side-by-side with its T430s predecessor, there are some pretty striking differences.  For starters, the T440s is the first in its line to offer only low-voltage CPU options.  While our test unit shipped with the (certainly capable enough) Core i5-4200U—a dual-core processor with up to 2.6 GHz Turbo Boost clock rate—options range up to a Core i7-4600U (up to 3.30 GHz).  Still, these options are admittedly a far cry from the i7-3520M with which top-end T430s machines were equipped.  Of course, it’s also less than half of the TDP, which is likely why the decision was made.  Other notables are the lack of discrete graphics options (previously users has the choice of either integrated graphics or an NVIDIA NVS 5200M) and the maximum supported memory of 12 GB.  And, of course, there’s the touchscreen—which is not required, but rather, is merely an option.  On the other hand, while we’re on the subject of the screen, this is also the first model in the series to offer a 1080p resolution, whether traditional or touch-enabled—which is very much appreciated indeed.


That’s a pretty significant departure from the design of the T430s, which—as it currently appears—could represent the last T4xxs model that will provide such powerhouse options at the obvious expense of battery life.  Although some markets already have the option of the ThinkPad S440 to fill the Ultrabook void within the ThinkPad 14-inch range, that notebook can even be outfitted with discrete graphics.  The T440s top-end configuration, meanwhile, consists of a 15W TDP dual-core i7 with integrated graphics and 12 GB DDR3 RAM.  In other words, it’s powerful, but it’s just not in the same class as the T430’s components.  What’s more important to you?

Continue reading our review of the ThinkPad T440s!!!