Lenovo ThinkPad P1 review: A slim mobile workstation that packs a punch

Hardware Reviews / Reviews / Tech

Lenovo’s ThinkPad keyboards easily beat Apple’s keyboards any day of the week.

TA-ratings-93

Professionals in all fields often times require a mobile workstation that is powerful, slim, and well-built. That’s why Lenovo builds their ThinkPad lineup of laptops and mobile workstations. The company sent us the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 for review, and it is absolutely fantastic.

For the regular consumer, a spec’ed out Lenovo ThinkPad P1 may be a bit pricey, but professionals will not have a problem investing their money into this mobile workstation. Read on for the full review of the Lenovo ThinkPad P1!

Specifications

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 has the following features and specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8850H 6 Core Processor with vPro (2.60GHz, up to 4.30GHz with Turbo Boost Technology, 9MB Cache)
  • GPU: NVIDIA Quadro P2000 4 GB
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4 2666 MHz
  • SSD: 2 TB PCIe SSD
  • Display: 15.6″ 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS multi-touch, anti-reflective, anti-smudge, 300 nits, 100% Adobe color gamut, 10-bit color depth
  • Audio: Bottom mounted speakers
  • Battery: Up to 13-hours
  • Keyboard: Backlit
  • I/O
    • Power
    • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (TypeA)
    • 2x Intel Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C)
    • HDMI 2.0
    • Headphone/Mic jack
    • 4-in-1 MicroSD card reader (SD, MMC, SDHC, SDXC)
    • Mini Gigabit Ethernet
  • Dimensions
    • Height: 0.70″
    • Width: 14.2″
    • Depth: 9.70″
    • Weight: Starting at 3.76 lbs

What’s In The Box

  • Lenovo ThinkPad P1
  • Power supply and cable
  • Documentation and Quick Start Guide
Lenovo ThinkPad P1
Probably the best keyboard on a laptop right now.

Design

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 follows the ThinkPad design language with no deviation. It’s still a black aluminum slate, which gives it a nice stealthy and industrial look. I personally love the way ThinkPads look these days. Years ago they were bulky, plastic chunks, but now they’ve matured very nicely. The build quality is top notch, and the machine feels slim even with its legacy ports.

The bottom of the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 has a nice, long vent which helps with cooling. That same vent extends back towards the display where you’ll find another long vent through which hot air is pushed away from the system. The rubber feet are excellent in size and help keep the P1 from slipping around on a desk or table. The speakers for the system are also located on the bottom. They’re sort of angled to make them side-firing.

The top lid of the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is fairly plain. The only thing of note here is the ThinkPad logo which is blacked out and has the glowing red dot over the “i”. I love the blacked out logo as opposed to the traditional silver logo. It adds to the stealthy look of the laptop.

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On the right side of the P1 you’ll find some of your I/O. The full-size SD card slot and two USB 3.1 Type-A ports. Over on the left side of the laptop is more I/O. The power port, two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, HDMI 2.0 port, Mini Gigabit Ethernet port, and a headphone jack. There is a fingerprint scanner located next to the keyboard and it works great.

As I mentioned, the build quality is spot on. There’s isn’t much flex in the chassis and all of the materials feel top notch. The keyboard is fantastic! ThinkPad keyboards are now my favorite laptop keyboards, hands down. I used to love Apple’s keyboards until they went to their new style a few years ago. Lenovo’s ThinkPad keyboards easily beat Apple’s keyboards any day of the week.

Finally, the trackpad. I’ve had a lot of negative things to say about PC trackpads in the past. But over the past few years, many OEM’s have improved them significantly. The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 trackpad is damn near perfect. I’ve always been a fan of MacBook Pro trackpads and the P1’s trackpad elevates itself to the same performance, bravo.

Overall, this is what I come to expect from Lenovo and the ThinkPad lineup. The P1 is well-built, looks stealthy, uses premium materials, and has a plethora of I/O that’s useful for all.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1
The 4K display included in our review unit is amazing!

Display

Our Lenovo ThinkPad P1 came with the top of the line 15.6″ 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS multi-touch, anti-reflective, anti-smudge, 300 nits, 100% Adobe color gamut and 10-bit color depth display. You can configure it with an FHD 1920 x 1080 display if you’re looking to save a few bucks. While we love the 4K display, not everyone will need 4K and FHD should work just fine for most cases.

The display here is glossy, which is fine, but I do prefer the matte finish. Viewing angles are good and with a brightness of 300 nits, it does a decent job in brighter light. I do prefer displays with a bit more nits, and 400 is really my minimum. The reason being is, the brighter the display the better it does in outdoor situations where the ambient light is brighter. Still, the 300 nits on this panel is acceptable.

The display does deliver 100% Adobe color gamut and 10-bit color depth. This is especially good for those who are using Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro. Having accurate color is important to that workflow and the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 delivers. The display on the P1 is absolutely perfect for those creatives looking for a high-resolution display with color accuracy.

Our model was touch capable, should you like interfacing with your laptop via touch. Responsiveness was excellent along with scrolling and gestures. There was no lag at all when using the touchscreen and touch points were precise, meaning when I tapped on something, it registered exactly where I tapped on and not outside that area. There was no stuttering or lag in scrolling, everything was buttery smooth.

Colors are vibrant out of the box, you can adjust that to your liking in settings. Contrast was spot on with blacks being very deep and murky as they should be. Whites were crisp and clean as they also should be. Watching video content in 4K on this display is a joy. So no worries if you’re on a business trip and want to catch up on some 4K Netflix shows. The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 has you covered.

Overall, this 4K display is fantastic. If you don’t need 4K there is still the FHD option. Though I’d say, if you can manage to afford the upgrade, the 4K is worth it. Of course, not over upgrading your RAM and SSD first, but it is worth it if your pockets are deep enough,

Software/Ecosystem

Our review unit came loaded with Windows 10 Pro. We’ve gone over Windows 10 enough and there’s not much more to say about it. It has its ups and downs but is still the best Windows version to date.

One thing I need to credit the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 for is the lack of bloatware. Our review unit came with little to no extra software which is fantastic! In the past, I’ve blasted Lenovo for including senseless software that does little to nothing. I’m pretty happy that this laptop was clean with only the usual software present.

Overall, Windows 10 Pro, great! Lack of bloatware, fantastic!!

Performance

Our Lenovo ThinkPad P1 came sporting the Intel Core i7-8850H 6 Core Processor with vPro (2.60GHz, up to 4.30GHz with Turbo Boost Technology, 9MB Cache). It also houses 32GB DDR4 2666 MHz RAM and a 2 TB PCIe SSD. Finally, for the GPU you have an NVIDIA Quadro P2000 with 4 GB dedicated memory. These specs are top of the line and probably more than most users would need. You can configure the RAM up to 64GB and a second 2TB SSD if you so choose, but that’s ludicrous for most users.

You can configure the P1 with lesser specs and still get a good machine out of it. The configuration we have is excellent for heavy graphics work. So content creators, photographers, engineers, those types of users will get the most out of something with specs like this.

It goes without saying that day-to-day tasks like web browsing, email, streaming video, word processing, all of these worked flawlessly on the P1. Giving it a slightly bigger challenge, Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, all worked smoothly here. Even with heavy and multiple files open, the P1 had no problem getting through it all. The fans do kick in when there is a load on the machine during use of heavy programs. It’s not a problem, though, unless you dislike fan noise.

Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is an amazing performer, and even the entry level configuration will be enough for most users. For power users, I’d say bump up the specs as far as your wallet allows.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1
Speakers are located on the bottom but angled out a bit.

Speakers/Sound

So, I’ve ranted about laptop speakers in the past. Mostly because they all seem to be located on the bottom. This, of course, means they’ll always be firing down on your lap or desk/table. Sure, there are feet that elevate the bottom and create sort of a channel for sound to get distributed, but it’s just not the same as top-mounted speakers.

That being said, Lenovo did angle these speakers a bit to sort of fire off sideways. It’s an improvement but still not as good as top-mounted speakers. The speakers on the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 sound decent but not perfect. They’re tinny, not enough bass response, and aren’t suitable for serious audio intake.

But that’s fine. This laptop isn’t meant to be a multimedia, audiophile type machine. If you need better sound than what is being delivered, then a pair of headphones is recommended. Overall, these will do fine for video conferencing, YouTube videos, and small tasks like that. If you want to get the spatial depth of a movie or song, use headphones.

Camera

Not much to report on the camera front. It’s your basic webcam good enough for video conferencing, Skype, Discord, all the usual suspects. It’s a laptop webcam, it does what it needs to do and nothing more.

Battery Life

Battery life is going to depend a lot on your settings here. You could dial back brightness and roll back the resolution to FHD. That will increase the life you see. It also matters what software your running. Anything like Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro will suck battery fast. So don’t expect huge battery life when putting a major load on the P1.

I ran the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 at full bore everything. Brightness at full and 4K running all of the time. Lenovo says you should get up to 13-hours. I saw an average of 11-hours in my normal use. When putting the laptop under stress, the battery life fell fast, but I expected it to. Overall, I think battery life is acceptable here and in some cases, better than the P1’s competition.

Price/Value

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 starts at $1,659USD and can be configured all the way up to $4,800USD. These laptops aren’t for your normal home user but intended for business and power users. I think the price reflects the value here. Especially when you consider the competition and their pricing and offerings. That $4,800 price tag seems high, but when you compare it to something like a high-end MacBook Pro, there’s much more value in the P1 than Apple’s offering.

Wrap Up

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is an amazing mobile workstation. It has the power to satisfy power users. It has the looks to appeal to those who care about what their laptop looks like. It’s priced to compete with the best the industry has available. The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is a highly recommended laptop and well worth your hard earned dollars.

*We received a review unit of the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 for the purposes of this review.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1

Starting at $1659USD
9.3

Design

9.5/10

Display

9.5/10

Software/Ecosystem

9.5/10

Performance

10.0/10

Speakers/Sound

8.5/10

Camera

8.5/10

Battery Life

9.0/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Beautiful industrial design
  • Solid build quality
  • ThinkPad keyboards are awesome
  • Amazing display
  • Legacy ports
  • Good battery life
  • Trackpad is excellent

Needs work

  • May be pricey for some
  • Just okay speakers
  • Standard webcam

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