This latest update to Lenovo’s ThinkPad family is a specialist piece of kit. With an exceptional 15.5-inch 2,880 x 1,620 display and an X-Rite Pantone colour calibrator built in, it’s ideal for colour-critical workflows. Simply choose a profile, close the lid and it does the rest, making a few re-assuring beeps along the way.
The IPS panel is stunning: colours are vivid and jagged edges on wireframe CAD models almost invisible. Unfortunately, the cost of having so many pixels on screen is a drop in performance. We experienced slow downs ranging from 15%-35% when going from 2,880 x 1,620 to standard HD. This will vary according to applications and models and it may have no impact on some workflows. However, if it is an issue, you can always downgrade to an HD display.
Storage is fast, provided by a single 256GB Samsung SSD. There’s also room for a second 2.5-inch drive but, surprisingly, no mSATA.
The machine is optimised for mobile workers. It has fast Intel Dual Band AC 7260 WiFi and mobile broadband built in so you can send/receive data wherever you can get a 3G/4G signal. Lenovo also places a big emphasis on battery life, automatically clocking down the Intel Core i7-4800MQ CPU by 75% when not plugged in, though this can be changed in the BIOS to give priority to performance.
Overall, we had mixed feelings about the W540. We loved the display and colour calibrator, but found the accuracy of the touchpad unreliable, often resulting in us picking the wrong CAD geometry. As a result, we ended up using an external mouse whenever we could.