I just ran out the door with a Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Mobile Workstation tucked under my arm. That’s no surprise to most people today but, at the same time, it’s comical that I can sprint to a meeting clutching a mobile workstation housing a 2.7Ghz 6-core processor, 64GB RAM, and 2 terabytes of SSD storage. I can though, and Lenovo has slammed this new ThinkPad right in the sweet spot of mobile workstation bliss with an option 3D professional can easily use as their primary tool for ‘Getting Things Done.” Let’s take a look at what this ThinkPad has to offer.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1
The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Mobile Workstation… in all of its glory.

OVERVIEW

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is a 15.6″ ultralight mobile workstation announced August 2018 and the latest to join the family of ThinkPad P-series mobile workstations, which includes the P52, P52s, P72, and P51. The P1 is the thinnest and lightest of the bunch while boasting the power and capabilities of its older siblings. Balanced on power and size, the base configuration sits right between The P52 and P52s and gives them all some features to be completely jealous about. Though that numbering seems a bit odd, there’s a reason for it.

You see, the ThinkPad P1 is a near identical twin of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme (15.6″), an upgrade of the popular ThinkPad X1 Carbon (14″) business-class Ultrabook, first launched in 2012 and updated every year since 2014. Save for the higher end CPU and GPU options for the P1, The ThinkPad P1 and ThinkPad X1 Extreme are the same.

On a side note, the 7th Gen of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon was revealed at CES 2019 with a thinner chassis, latest tech, and estimated release date of June 2019. With the ThinkPad X1 Carbon leading the ThinkPad pack, you can see where the P1 designation comes from, why its foundation was brought over to the P-series lineup, and you could likely venture a pretty good guess on what’s to come in the next gen of the P1 ThinkPad. We’ll take a look at how each compare, but first let’s look at the setup Lenovo sent over.

What’s in the Box?

The ThinkPad P1 we’re looking at today houses an Intel Xeon E-2176M CPU (2.7 GHz, 12MB cache, 60core/12-thread) using 32GB DDR4 RAM with a NVIDIA Quadro P2000 (4GB) graphics card pushing the bright 400nits UHD (3840×2160) touchscreen display. It’s running Windows 10 Pro on a 2TB Samsung M.2 SSD and has space for another 2TB SSD. As configured, this ThinkPad would run you a cool $3314.

The standard options include Windows 10 Pro, a front-facing 720p camera with IR and mic (no camera shutter with the UHD display option), a 85-key backlit keyboard, and fingerprint reader. Ports include 2x Thunderbolt 3, 2x USB-A 3.1, 1x HDMI 2.0, a mini Gigabit Ethernet (adapter incl.), a 3.5 mm audio jack, and an SD card reader.

All of this together weighs in at a mere 4 lbs (1.81 kg). Still lighter than the base weight of any other P-series ThinkPad.

The sublime, symmetrical internals of the ThinkPad P1, easily accessible via six small screws on the bottom panel. Notice the dual fans and air channels, massive battery, and expansion port for additional M.2 storage (highlighted yellow).

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Specs

On specs alone, the ThinkPad P1 sits comfy between the P52 and P52s while introducing you to the sleeker design of the ThinkPad X1. The table below breaks down the max available features. You can view additional specs here.

CategorySpec
Size14.24 inches x 9.67 inches x 0.74 inches
(361.8 mm x 245.7 mm x 18.7 mm)
Display15.6 inches
3,840 x 2,160 (4K)
Touch, IPS, anti-reflective
OSWindows 10 Pro (or Home)
ProcessorIntel® Core™ i7 (up to 4.3 GHz, 9MB cache, and 6 cores/12 threads)
Intel® Xeon™ E (4.4 Ghz, 12MB cache, 6 cores/12 threads)
RAMUp to 64 GB DDR4 (2666 MHz)
StorageUp to 2x 2TB PCIe SSD M.2
GraphicsUp to NVIDIA Quadro P2000
Max-Q
4 GB GDDR5 VRAM
PortsTwo Thunderbolt 3 (4x lanes PCIe each)
Two USB-A 3.1
HDMI 2.0
Mini Gigabit Ethernet (requires adapter)
3.5 mm audio jack
SD card reader
Smart Card reader (optional)
SpeakersDual 2W speakers
Dolby Audio Premium
WirelessIntel Wireless-AC 9560
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 5.0
Camera720 HD with IR and Mic
ThinkShutter option for FHD display
Keyboard6 row, spill-resistant
backlit, 85-key
2.2 mm key travel
SecurityIR camera for Windows Hello
Fingerprint reader
Battery4-cell LiPo
80 Wh
135 W charger
WeightFrom 3.76 pounds (1.7 kg)
PriceStarting at $1,279.00 Lenovo | Amazon

How Do ThinkPad P-Series Workstations Compare?

What you may be curious about is how the specs break down across the P-series line of workstations. Though there are plenty of configuration options to tweak across them all, you’ll find each to max out at a specific point – we’ve used those max options to better compare each.

 Lenovo P Series Mobile Workstation Comaprsion
(max options unless otherwise shown)
 P72P52P1P52s
CPU8th Gen Intel® Xeon® E-2100M (6-core)
8th Gen Intel® Core™ (6-core)
8th Gen Intel® Xeon® E-2100M (6-core)
8th Gen Intel® Core™ (6-core)
8th Gen Intel® Xeon® E-2100M (6-core)
8th Gen Intel® Core™ (6-core)
8th Gen Intel® Core™ (4-core)
GPUNVIDIA® Quadro® P5200NVIDIA® Quadro® P3200NVIDIA® Quadro® P2000NVIDIA® Quadro® P500
Memory4 SODIMM, 128GB Max, 2400MHz4 SODIMM, 128GB Max, 2400MHz2 SODIMM, 64GB Max, 2667MHz2 SODIMM, 32GB Max, 2400MHz
StorageMax 3 drives
Max HDD = 2TB (2TB)
Max NVMe SSD = 4TB (2TB)
Max 3 drives
Max HDD = 2TB (5400RPM)
Max NVMe SSD = 4TB
Max 2 drives
Max NVMe SSD = 4TB
Max 1 drive
Max HDD = 2TB (5400RPM)
Max NVMe SSD = 1TB
Display17.3”
FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, 300nits, 72% NTSC color gamut
4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS, 400nits, 100% Adobe color gamut, 10-bit color depth
15.6”
FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, 300nits, 72% NTSC color gamut
4K UHD Touch (3840 x 2160) IPS, 400nits, 100% Adobe color gamut, 10-bit color depth
15.6”
FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, 300nits, 72% NTSC color gamut
4K UHD Touch (3840 x 2160) IPS, 400nits, 100% Adobe color gamut, 10-bit color depth
15.6”
FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, 250nits, 45% NTSC color gamut
4K UHD Touch (3840 x 2160) IPS, 300nits, 100% Adobe color gamut, 10-bit color depth
Battery8 Cell (99WHr)6 Cell (90WHr)4 Cell (80WHr)4 Cell (32WHr) Front
6 Cell (72Whr) Rear
WeightStarts at 7.5lbs (3.4kg)Starts at 5.4lbs (2.54kg)Starts at 3.76lbs (1.7kg)Starts at 4.3lbs (1.95kg)
List PriceStarts at $1530Starts at $1160Starts at $1279Starts at $1029

How Does the ThinkPad X1 Extreme and ThinkPad P1 Compare?

Even more interesting than how the P-series lines up with each other is how the ThinkPad X1 Extreme and ThinkPad P1 match up. They are, after all, the same in nearly all aspects. Though there are also plenty of configuration options for each, each can be configured with the same hardware, save for the graphics card. We’ve configured each to match as close as possible just to show the similarities.

Lenovo X1 & P1 Comaprsion
(Configured to match specs)
CategoryX1P1
CPU8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-8850H (6-core, 2.6 GHz)8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-8850H (6-core, 2.6 GHz)
GPUNVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050Ti (4GB)NVIDIA® Quadro® P2000 (4GB)
Memory32GB, 2666MHz32GB, 2666MHz
Storage1TB SSD M.21TB SSD M.2
Display15.6”
4K UHD Touch (3840 x 2160) IPS, 400nits, 100% Adobe color gamut, 10-bit color depth
15.6”
4K UHD Touch (3840 x 2160) IPS, 400nits, 100% Adobe color gamut, 10-bit color depth
Battery4 Cell (80WHr)4 Cell (80WHr)
WeightStarts at 3.76lbs (1.7kg)Starts at 3.76lbs (1.7kg)
List PriceAs configured $3096As configured $3074

HIGHLIGHTS

The Design
The matte-black, soft touch finish is a welcome change from the shiny sleekness of the other P-series ThinkPads and certainly adds to the feel of quality. The display glass pushes the bezel to a near-indistinguishable edge on a screen that is hinged to lie completely flat against the tabletop. Ports on each side are positioned far enough back off the front edge to leave room for mousing about whether right or left handed. The power button is top-right, large and lit.

The Keyboard
Hands down, best ever keyboard from Lenovo. The keys are responsive with strong feedback, beautifully backlit, and seamless to boot. Quiet as well. You lose the numpad on the P1 but gain a deck that’s centered on the screen, which I tend to prefer for mobile. I’ve gotten used to Lenovo’s ‘unique’ FN/Ctrl-key locations now (swapped compared to most standard keyboards), but if you still want to change that, Lenovo provides easy instructions on how to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys via the BIOS.

A simple, but backlit, 85-key keyboard with great response.

The Display
The 4K UHD (3840×2160) display brings out beautiful pops of detail and bright colors. 400 nits is brighter than a lot of screens but occasionally found myself wanting to go brighter and always had the brightness maxed. It’s a 4k screen that handles 8k @60fps wonderfully (using a downloaded version of this video). Outside of saving $285, the FHD (1920×1080) option seems unecessary, but you’ll loose the option for a camera with shutter if you do opt for the UHD touchscreen.

Handles high-resolution 8k video beautifully.

6-Core Power
With the Intel i7 options (8th gen 8750H or 8850H), you get a solid 6-core/12-thread block to power your processes. Opting for the i7-8850 unlocks the option to add the Quadro P2000 – a total $250 upgrade – that’s worth it for the additional peak of power. Opting for a Xeon (E-2176) processors jumps you up to the $2k base price tier but would provide the 6 core/12 thread power along with 4.4 GHz and 12MB cache.

Utilizing 100% of all 12 CPUs (6 cores/12 hyperthreaded) @30fps in the KeyShot Camera benchmark.

Flex Performance Cooling
I’m used to laptops that double as a heating pad for your legs. The ThinkPad P1, however, attempts to alleviate that effect with two large fans (as seen in the image up above) and a bottom grill that spans nearly the entire width of the base. You can guess the caveat to two large fans, rotating at high speeds – noise. As long as you’re pushing those CPU or GPU cores, you’ll have air being pulled across your legs or tabletop. I’m used to this in a 17″ lappy, but

The product tour video is an excellent overview of the tech and construction of the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (and a testament to their design language). “It is thin, light, strong, and cool.”

CONCLUSION

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a mobile workstation lighter and more power-packed that the Lenovo ThinkPad P1. It checks off all the professional requirements for on-the-go 3D modeling, 3D rendering, and A/V editing while keeping you tasking like a boss.

It wasn’t too long ago that we reviewed the HP ZBook x2. At the time the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 wasn’t out but Lenovo was surely aware of it and not having any of that business. The P1 doubles up on almost all the power specs and pops it in both cheeks on size, weight, and price.

If you stick with the Core i7 option you could keep the price below $2k, but if you opt for the Xeon E, your base price starts at $2k. As shown above, you don’t save money on configuring up a ThinkPad X1 Extreme either – In fact, configured similarly, the ThinkPad P1 actually comes in at a little lower cost.

SSD storage is the standard now folks, and though they’ll still drive up the price compared to having an HDD, I expect the cost to drop as they become more prevalent. Still, you’ll pay a premium for a high-capacity SSD added to the ThinkPad P1 (a $700 increase from 256GB to the 2TB option) and double that if you want two drives for a RAID configuration.

I know some have complained about the soft-touch, matte finish smudging easily- it can, but as long as you’re not sweating profusely or mindlessly typing with a bag of potato chips in your hand, it’s nothing that can’t be wiped away. If I had to nit-pick about anything, it would be the fan noise when pushing the CPU. The upside to that is a cooler base than you’re likely used to.

Though you could get carried away with the options for the ThinkPad P1, there is enough variation that a reliable, cost-effective system can be built for those on the go. The Intel Core processors will keep the cost down but the Intel Xeon E option would be my preferred upgrade, putting this ThinkPad in the $2000+ territory right off the bat, and other options like more storage and the 4k UHD touchscreen bring it closer to $3000. That’s less than I’ve spent on some for much more power. And I still can’t get over having all of this in a 4-pound package.

To this day, I still use a Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga as my mobile workstation, but would replace it in a heartbeat with the added power and performance of the ThinkPad P1. If you’re a 3D professional on the go and looking for a mobile workstation that matches the requirements you need, the ThinkPad P1 is an excellent, lightweight, very capable option with a lot of power and one I’d definitely recommend.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1

Lenovo ThinkPad P1

Price: Starting at $1,279.00 Lenovo | Amazon
More information: Lenovo ThinkPad P1

Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.