Design

I think branding is one of the most difficult things for any company to accomplish. When Lenovo purchased the ThinkPad lineup from IBM over a decade ago, they didn’t just purchase the laptop lineup. They also purchased the ThinkPad brand. There is pretty much no chance of mistaking a ThinkPad, and the P70 model features the same styling and unmistakable feel of the rest of the ThinkPad lineup. It has the same matte black finish, and the strong chassis as others in the lineup.

This is not a thin and svelte laptop though; it’s made for work. At 3.43 kg, or 7.56 lbs, there would be no doubt about when this laptop was in your travel bag. Mobile workstations are not really designed for ease of travel, but just the fact that they can travel while providing the performance required by the end user is enough. It’s large and heavy enough to keep the workstation class components cool.

The display doesn’t feature especially thin bezels, but the matte black finish isn’t distracting either. There is a larger bezel on the top and bottom, with the top featuring the webcam. You can open the display 180° if necessary.

Under the lid, we see the traditional ThinkPad keyboard, which features dished keys and two-level white backlighting. Being a 17-inch notebook, there is plenty of room on the right for the number pad, and unlike many, Lenovo keeps the full size zero key which is most appreciated. Keyboard layouts are often a sore spot, but Lenovo has done a good job with the P70 layout, which also features good size arrow keys, and well-marked function keys at the top. Traditionally, ThinkPads have the Fn key on the very far left, next to the Ctrl key, and that is the case here as well. If you are more used to them being the other way around, you can reverse their function in the BIOS.

One of the highlights for me on any ThinkPad is the TrackPoint navigation stick. I find it to be much more precise than a mouse, and you can go from typing to mouse without removing your keys from the keyboard. There are left, right, and center buttons right under the space bar to use with the TrackPoint, and while it’s not for everyone, those that like it will not be disappointed in the implementation here. It’s very natural, fast, and accurate.

For those that prefer a trackpad, the ThinkPad P70 delivers a quality unit here too. It’s somewhat compromised in absolute size, due to the TrackPoint buttons taking some of the space away at the top, and the buttons on the bottom removing more space, but the surface is great to glide over and the use of physical buttons will be appreciated by many.

Also on the keyboard deck are two more features. The first is very welcome – and again something that we’ve seen on ThinkPads for years – and that is a fingerprint reader. The difference now is that Lenovo has moved from the swipe-over style to a capacitive press and unlock type, and it is much easier to activate, and less prone to error, than the slide-over model; at least in my experience. I found with the slide ones you had to be conscious of the direction your finger moved over the unit, but with the capacitive models, it’s not an issue any longer.

The other feature on the keyboard deck is a built-in X-Rite color calibration sensor. X-Rite is the same company that makes the colorimeters and spectrophotometers that we use for all of our display testing, so it was excellent to see a built-in option. You can always buy a USB meter of course, but having it built-in should be a nice benefit. We’ll check in with it later on the display section.

Being a workstation, there is also plenty of access on the bottom. Removing a few screws gives you direct access to the hard drive bays, as well as the SODIMM slots, and WiFi and M.2 drive slots. Workstations are a big investment, so it’s nice that maintenance will be easy for the future.

Overall, the design is distinctly ThinkPad. Lenovo hasn’t strayed too far from what made the brand successful in the past, and really the only thing that you could nitpick on the design is that it isn’t offered with a 16:10 aspect display, but unfortunately for us, that aspect ratio seems to have died off in laptops over the last several years.

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  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Anandtech has been going downhill for years. They are turning into just another backwater tech site. Reply
  • zanon - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Seriously, this new 3rd party "promoted stories" thing is pretty bad, much worse then anything in the past. On my main system I block ads in general for security reasons, but I've tended to whitelist Anandtech previously on other systems like mobile which is locked down enough that I'm less concerned. Today though:
    >Oh boy, an interesting review
    >Scroll down
    >Promoted Stories
    >25 WOMEN WHO FORGOT THE CAMERA CAPTURES ALL!!!!

    :\. God damn it Anandtech don't be like this too.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    "moatads kept trying to download onto my machine"

    By any chance is that moatad.js? I've seen this report elsewhere before; apparently it's a MIME type error that's triggered when trying to load an external JS file, causing it to download instead. Moat itself is an analytics company, hence the external JS to begin with (ala Google Analytics)
    Reply
  • rearden - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    I will say buyer beware. I have a client with a Lenovo P70 purchased in January. Three weeks ago the system wouldn't boot (not even POST). We had to wait a week for parts, despite a Next Business Day Warranty. The system board was replaced and was working great ... until this Monday when the system, again, wouldn't boot. Am currently waiting for parts before Lenovo can repair the machine. Maybe he got a lemon, but we're waiting for another new system board in the timespan of 1 month on a system only 6 months old. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    You have anecdotal evidence from a grand total of 1 user. Not exactly a scientifically reliable number. Reply
  • dave_the_nerd - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    It helps if you avoid spilling coffee on it. Reply
  • smilingcrow - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    But the fact that they had to wait a week for a part on a new model Business Class Workstation with a NBD warranty is a cause for concern. That is something that has never happened to me with Dell even on their consumer class laptops.
    It could be an odd occurrence but to happen twice in a month is enough to cause concern.
    Reply
  • milmil - Friday, July 1, 2016 - link

    You are quick to dismiss it but yet you do not own one. There is indeed an issue and it took me 2 laptops and extra 2 motherboard replacements to make sure it is a fact. Reply
  • milmil - Friday, July 1, 2016 - link

    I have had the same issue, one P70 with i7 bricked and one with Xeon 1505M then 2 motherboard replacements for the Xeon one, same story. It turns out it is the bios update that does the job. I am arguing for a refund of the laptop and the peripherals. Also look at the Lenovo forum, similar stories. It is such a pity because this is the best laptop ever (when it works that is). Not very happy with how Lenovo is handling the issue. They are wasting their time and money as well as my time and money. Sad...very sad. Reply
  • adamto - Friday, July 1, 2016 - link

    I have P50 with touch screen and Pen and I love it,

    Here is my review as Surface Pro 2 owner who upgraded to P50!

    1) P50 is really powerful. I wasted my life with surface Pro. It was like being in loop at same level. P50 simply allow me to do double in half time.

    2) 15 inch FHD screen is prefect beside my Dell WQHD 27 inch monitor. Both have similar DPI. It mean happy remote desktop and Virtual machine and Linux desktop.

    3) As surface Pro user, I love touch input, Touch input is very useful when I use P50 on lap OR testing touchy apps!

    4) P50 and P70 are the only workstation laptop that have wacom pen option. The pen is very useful to edit 3d object when laptop is on lap where you can not use mouse or touch pad for such job. Point the pen to object and edit it directly on the screen. ( I don't use pen for drawing)

    5) FHD screen means double battery life on the go which is more important for P50 to be used as portable device.

    6) I'm in heaven with 4T SSD storage. All data everywhere. No more extra cable and case and disconnect issue that I had using Surface Pro

    7) Battery life is double than Surface Pro while using a desktop like VM!

    8) Windows score inside VM is bigger than windows score of physical Surface pro ( about 8). It is like having several Surface pro for free at same time!

    9) Surface Pro screen is glossy while touch screen on P50 is half Matt and it make very big difference.

    10) Removable battery is awesome. Fully day battery life with two batteries!

    11) I love fact that screen can open up to 180 degree. Looking forward for P51 with 360 degree screen with exact same design and nothing less!

    Bad:

    1) Black looks gray even when laptop is off. This make screen washed out at open air ( It is good at indoor) Still I am happy because I mostly use it indoor! Looking for P50 with AMO LED screen.

    2) Unlike Surface Pro, There is no car charger for P50. This is the biggest issue that I have with p50 right now. There is a airplane mode but it dont work too, because it don't allow to charge the P50 using airplane socket. However it is possible to charge the device using P50 adapter and a 200W car inverter but whole package is bulky. Lenovo need to provide a solution for people like me!

    3) Unlike Dell computer, USB C booting is not enabled at Bios! Why this is not documented? isn't USB type C suppose to cover whatever USB 3 do? for example I can not boot my portable Linux from external Type C SSD to enjoy full performance. That was one the reason I wanted to get P50 with The Thunderbolt / USB Type C port. I think this is important feature for people who like to enjoy a independent and fast OS on the go. Dear Lenovo please enable this feature at BIOS!

    4) Raid option is hidden at Bios.

    5) You have to order device with exact GPU you need right now. Upgrade wont be possible due to bios white list issue!

    Final Words) Thank you Lenovo for creating such awesome device. It help me to do my job faster and have more time to enjoy! It gave me opportunity to touch new area and learn and earn more!!. Looking forward P51 with fix for above issues!
    Reply

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