Lenovo ThinkPad P53: The fastest 15-inch workstation

Lenovo updates its range of mobile workstations for professionals by presenting, with ThinkPad P53, a system as powerful as it is flexible. Xeon processor with 6 core architecture, Quadro RTX 5000 video card and integrated storage configurable up to Raid 5 combine with the proverbial quality of ThinkPad family products.

A few years ago, when discussing with an operator in the sector, it emerged that many notebooks designed for the audience of the most passionate gamers were bought in the Italian market for uses that are very far from the gaming ones. Those professionals who needed a transportable but powerful system far more than traditional notebooks chose the high-power components, both for CPU and GPU.

Lenovo ThinkPad P53

At that time, notebook gaming systems were characterized by two distinctive elements: important dimensions and weight on one side, presence of bright colors and LED lighting on the other. All features that were certainly not interesting for professional operators, called for a compromise choice in order to have powerful notebooks capable of managing the required workload.

However, there are plenty of portable notebooks on the market that can be defined in all respects as mobile workstations, with top-of-the-range hardware in terms of processing power but with technical and design solutions suited to the target of professionals. In the range of ThinkPad notebooks, which Lenovo addresses to business users, we find the P family: it is composed of several models that are proposed as mobile workstations.

Lenovo recently updated the family, announcing with ThinkPad P53 what is referred to as the most powerful 15.6-inch mobile workstation available on the market. ThnkPad P53 is offered in various configurations that can include discrete GPUs up to the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 model and Intel Core i9 processor, with an Intel Xeon family CPU as an alternative.

We tested one of these systems, equipped with the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 card in combination with the Intel Xeon E-2276M processor with 6-core architecture (12 threads). The computing power is therefore definitely overabundant, but this is offered without losing the classic features found in the ThinkPad family PCs that have been so successful over the years.

Template ThinkPad P53
Screen 15.6 inches, 4K IPS
Resolution 3840×2160
CPU Intel Xeon E-2276M
GPU NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000
Connectivity Lan Gigabit
WiFi 802.11ac
LTE modem (optional)
System Memory 64GB DDR4-2666
Storage SSD NVMe 512GB
Battery 90Wh
OS Windows 10 Pro
Weight 2.45Kg
I 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
4-in-1 media card reader
HDMI 2.0
RJ45 Ethernet
Smart card reader
Audio combo jack
Video Camera HD 720p
Dimensions 377.4 x 252.3 x 25.8 mm

Lenovo ThinkPad P53

In ThinkPad P53 we find the technical and design features that characterize the Lenovo solutions of the ThinkPad family, with obviously a more pronounced vertical development due to the rich internal hardware. The thickness is just under 2.6cm, higher than an ultrabook but absolutely not such as to create problems in transport thanks to the weight of 2.45Kg.

The external structure is literally dominated by the keyboard, which extends laterally by integrating a numeric keypad on the right side. It is characterized by the typical response of the Lenovo ThinkPad products, therefore from reference, with the iconic red pointer positioned in the center. The underlying Touchpad has not very large dimensions, with a shape not particularly extended laterally and the integration of the two function keys as above as below. These are very functional and practical components, which certainly do not regret an external keyboard in traditional typing and navigation operations.

Not missing a large number of connection ports for peripherals and external accessories: on the left side we find two USB Type-A ports, the HDMI connector for a secondary screen, the SD memory card reader and one for smart reader cards. On the right, Lenovo has installed a USB Type-C connector and headphone and microphone jack, moving the connector for the power supply, the Gigabit network card and two other USB Type-C ports that also manage the Thunderbolt connection to the rear. All USB Type-C ports can also be used to connect secondary screens to ThinkPad P53, using the DisplayPort connection.

The general feeling is of a remarkable solidity, with the combination of metal in the lower part and plastics not only very robust but pleasant to the touch. In particular this applies to the shell of the screen, a part that often remains in direct contact with the hands when the notebook is closed and transported. If the hardware specifications are those of a very powerful workstation, the external appearance and the choice of materials only confirms the specific intended use of this product.

The heart of the ThinkPad P53, at least in the configuration tested here, is the Intel Xeon E-2276M processor. It is a CPU with 6 core architecture and capable of handling up to 12 threads in parallel, characterized by a base clock frequency of 2.8 GHz but capable of pushing up to 4.7 GHz of Turbo frequency with just one core used at 100% potential. The TDP is equal to 45 Watts, a value compatible with the internal dimensions of the ThinkPad P53; it is possible to configure this mobile workstation also with Intel Core processors, including solutions from the Core i9 family that integrate up to 8 cores internally. In this case, it is possible to configure ThinkPad P53 with the Intel Core i9-9880H CPU with vPro technology, a processor with 8 core architecture characterized by a base clock frequency of 2,

The GPU component, as reported, is based on the new NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 model: it is a chip based on Turing architecture, the same as the GeForce RTX proposals (the chip is the TU104 one) but with the peculiarity of offering certified drivers that are specifically developed to offer stability and performance with professional applications.

Of this video card are available different versions for notebook systems, with TDP values ​​starting from 80 Watts of the model used in ThinkPad P53 up to 150 Watts of the most powerful version. Notwithstanding the number of CUDA cores integrated, clock frequencies change according to this scheme:

Template TGP Clock Base Clock Boost
Quadro RTX 5000 Mobile 150W 1350MHz 1770MHz
Quadro RT X5000 Mobile 110W 1035MHz 1545MHz
Quadro RTX 5000 Mobile Max-Q 90W 930MHz 1455MHz
Quadro RTX 5000 Mobile Max-Q 85W 765MHz 1395MHz
Quadro RTX 5000 Mobile Max-Q 80W 600MHz 1350MHz

Lenovo ThinkPad P53

For all the cards we find an allocation of video memory equal to 16 Gbytes, twice that integrated in the GeForce RTX 2080 cards based on the same GPU. The memory bus of the GDDR6 modules is always 256bit, with an effective clock frequency of 14Gbps, which brings a maximum bandwidth of 448GB / s. The version adopted by Lenovo in ThinkPad P53 is the one with the lowest TGP, 80 Watts: in this way it is possible to make available all the 3,072 CUDA cores, while maintaining an overall consumption that is compatible with a notebook thickness of less than 26 mm.

Being a workstaton, the amount of onboard system memory is a very important element for overall performance. In the configuration analyzed here there are 64 Gbytes of DDR4-2666 memory, divided into 4 modules; it is possible to use modules with a larger capacity up to a total of 128 Gbytes.

Onboard storage provides as much configuration flexibility, thanks to the 3 M.2 slots that can be configured in Raid with Raid 0, Raid 1 or Raid 5 modes depending on personal preferences and the need for data redundancy. In the configuration analyzed in this article, only one SSD is installed, a Samsung 512GB capacity model that manages to touch the 3 GB / s threshold in the test for writing sequential data.

The Xeon processor offers power to sell, recording the best overall values ​​among the notebooks tested to date. This is not surprising given the presence of 6 cores, with 12 parallel threads that can be exploited by the CPU, and the very high clock frequency at which the processor operates even at full load.

The cooling system adopted by Lenovo for the Intel Xeon CPU operates with remarkable efficiency, allowing the processor to stabilize the operation with all the cores occupied 100% at a frequency of about 2.6 GHz, keeping the temperature below 90°. This is a result of great importance considering the power made available and the overall dimensions. The cooling system is not noticeably noticeable in these conditions of use, with the hot air expelled from the back and the side of the notebook, keeping away from the user’s hands. No problem also for the surface temperature of the chassis, which remains within an overall low value while making full use of all the components integrated in the ThinkPad P53.

The architectural features of the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU are the same as those of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 chip: both are TU104 models, with a slightly different number of CUDA cores as are the clock frequencies and the amount of video memory. The results with games are therefore very valid, with frames at second mids that at the resolution of 1920×1080 used in the tests are able to ensure an always fluid gaming experience.

ThinkPad P53, as we have seen, is more than suitable for gaming due to its hardware configuration but expresses the best in the workstation environment. An example of this comes from the results of the Viewperf 13 benchmark, which in some of the tests benefit from the certification of the Quadro drivers with results that are far higher than can be achieved with a GeForce RTX 2080 desktop. The high processing power with 3D graphics of Lenovo ThinkPad P53 is also useful in the areas of virtual reality: this is a system that lends itself very well to such uses in the company and the presence of an HDMI connector on the left side seems just designed to connect such a viewer.

No problem for the heat dissipation generated by the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 video card during heavy use. The temperature gradually rises, without the cooling system generating too much operating noise, while the GPU clock frequency continues to fluctuate but tendentially above the boost clock value of 1350 MHz and above all, above the 600 MHz they represent the default clock frequency for this GPU.

The 87.5Wh battery integrated in the Lenovo ThinkPad P53 provides an adequate reserve of energy to work or spend time even away from a power outlet. The results we have obtained in our traditional tests are very valid, taking into consideration the dimensions and the hardware equipment that makes up this mobile workstation.

Lenovo ThinkPad P53

Lenovo P53 is equipped with a 15.5-inch IPS panel with a native resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and support for Dolby Vision HDR. The panel has a matte finish, which helps to effectively dampen any reflections from external light sources. The following measures have been carried out in SDR mode, since the activation of the HDR mode in Windows 10 involves the automatic and uncontrollable intervention of automatic adjustments that do not allow to obtain reliable measurements.

The first measure concerning the balance of the RGB components shows a fairly good overall behavior for the panel of this laptop. We see in fact that in the face of a rather regular green, we have a surplus of blue and a deficiency of red, but in a deviation contained in 10% (only at the lowest level of the gray scale the blue is slightly more preponderant). This means that the human eye (but generally by the most trained eyes) can perceive the possible dominants without however negatively affecting the viewing experience.

The measurement of the gamma curve shows a regular trend, although compared to the reference we are in the presence of a yield that is very slightly less contrasted and therefore with a range slightly lower than the standard value of 2.2. Also in this case it is absolutely not problematic behavior. The maximum luminescence reaches over 560 candles per square meter, while the black of 0.43 nit decrees a contrast ratio close to 1300:1.

Gamut analysis reveals a rather interesting picture. Although Lenovo declares 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space (the yellow triangle in our chart), this is not confirmed by our measurements. We are however in front of a very extended triangle, which therefore shows a high saturation of the colors, which however sin a little in precision, departing from the references (in particular green and cyan, while red “stops” to space color REC BT.709). The white point is characterized by a dominant cyan, result of the RGB balance seen previously.

The more in-depth analysis of chromatic fidelity shows a picture of good quality: we see in fact that the value of DeltaE is almost never problematic and although the panel cannot be formally considered perfectly faithful, it nevertheless offers a respectable chromatic reproduction. It should however be said that since this is a workstation system also dedicated to the production of content, we would have preferred to find a greater number of samples below the fateful DeltaE 3: probably a better balance of the RGB components (unfortunately not feasible due to the lack of software utilities appropriate) would help improve the picture.

ThinkPad P53 is the most recent Lenovo proposal in the professional workstation sector, an evolution of the ThinkPad P52 model. The main innovations are under the body, in the form of updated CPU and GPU that provide a higher processing power. According to Lenovo, the new Thinkpad P53 is the most powerful 15.6-inch mobile workstation on the market, and it is not hard to believe this in light of the specifications and results of our tests. Where this product stands out is in the overall balance: it provides very high power with an external structure, in terms of bulk and weight, which is really mobile. The external construction not only incorporates the design guidelines typical of the ThinkPad proposals, but also offers the proverbial robustness.

Removing the metal plate at the bottom, it is very easy to access the M.2 type SSD slots, as well as two memory slots for DDR4 modules; the other two modules are mounted on the opposite side of the PCB, which can be accessed by removing the keyboard. Also from this area it is possible to intervene on the module of the WiFi network card, as well as on the LTE connectivity module. It is easy to update and expand this notebook, so as to respond to future needs: this is all the more true considering the integrated storage, which with the 3 M.2 slots and the possibility of configuring Raid 5 chains responds well to those scenarios of use where the speed of onboard storage is a fundamental prerequisite for ensuring adequate personal productivity.

All this quality is paid for, as is expected of a product intended for a professional target. ThinkPad P53 is offered with a price list that starts at just under $1799.

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