We ran the W540 through a series of battery tests to find out just how long the nine-cell Li-Ion battery would last. Each test started with a fully charged battery and the BIOS and system set to power saving modes to simulate conditions out in the field away from an AC power connection.
After each test, the battery was again fully charged and then the next test was started. PowerMark tests would run until the battery was at 15 percent charge.
PCMark 8 battery life testing uses third-party applications from the Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office to simulate typical applications and workloads.
Lenovo estimates the battery life to be approximately 6 hours. We found that this estimate is close to what we experienced in our tests, and in some cases, it lasted longer. Of course, your battery life will depend on what you are doing with the W540.
We found the battery life to be as much as two to three times longer than some gaming laptops we have seen, so this is a big plus for the W540.
The ThinkPad W540 mobile workstation is a substantial upgrade over the W530; a more powerful CPU and 256GB SSD increase performance a great deal.
Lenovo put together a list of components that matched very well for the W540. The CPU, RAM, and SSD by itself is a nice package, and then the NVIDIA Quadro K2100M with 2GB of RAM to increase graphics performance and provide professional level graphics output to drive the gorgeous 15.5" 3K IPS (2880 x 1620) display is the icing on the cake.
This selection of components works very well to give this mobile workstation excellent battery life. The ability to go all day on a single battery charge is not only important, but it is necessary when out on location and away from an AC wall socket. There is nothing worse than running low on battery power while there is still work to do.
To increase performance even more, there are several options. You can replace the optical drive with the Bay Adaptor IV to integrate a second hard drive or a second SSD. However, this should be done when ordering the W540. We found that the single 256GB SSD that ours came with had plenty of performance, so going to a RAID 0 setup was not really needed. Plus, it would have extra power draw and shorten battery life. Lenovo offers additional SSD upgrades at the time of purchase. If you decided later to swap out the original SSD, a mount provided by Lenovo is required and not sold separately.
Our first choice in upgrading would be additional RAM. These are simple to install, so this should not be a problem to do. There is also a CPU upgrade to the Intel Core i7-4900MQ at the time of purchase. It is only slighter higher performing that the 4800MQ, but it does have a larger cache at 8MB and a 100MHz faster clock speed. The next thing is that it is lightweight at only 5.57lbs. The W540 is no problem to take out of its carrying case, hold it in your arms, and flip the screen open to enter data or show a client a quick presentation. It is also rugged enough that, if by chance you happen to drop it, it will survive the fall.
When we began doing this review, we found the system responded so well that our first thought was the W540 could replace some of our desktop workstations in the lab. We ran all sorts of Adobe products, Photoshop, and Illustrator, and we found the high resolution of the screen really made our work much easier on the W540. The NVIDIA Quadro K2100M with 2GB of RAM gives a nice boost to applications that can use it. As you saw in our Sony Vegas Pro 13 benchmarks, it cuts render times down a great deal, making it a huge time saver. Adobe Illustrator also was very quick to respond to previews and when working with large files.
The W540 does not come with many junk applications that you usually uninstall right away. We are happy that it comes with PowerDVD so that you can watch movies or create DVDs on location. It does come equipped to upgrade to Windows 8 at any time should you decided to do that. The W540 does not have a touchscreen, so you will not see any benefits of that in Windows 8.
Having added security features is also a big plus. We like the fingerprint scanner so that we can lock our W540 down for our use only. It also comes with Intel vPro technology, which makes enterprise-level manageability convenient and cost saving. You can manage, protect, repair, or locate your deployed laptops from anywhere in the world.
Additional accessories for the W540 include noise-canceling earbuds, a business top load case, and a wireless touchpad that works in Windows 8. Lenovo offers a great line of support for their laptops also. The W540 comes with a limited 36-month warranty that can be extended to 5 years and added premium warranty support.
About the only complaint we have is the price. Yes, the W540 has a premium price tag attached to it, but if you want quality and performance, you have to pay for it. You do have some other choices; these amount to gaming laptops. These can cost a bundle also, generate far more heat, have extremely limited battery life, and weigh far more than the W540. It may be nitpicking a little bit here, but for the price of the W540, it would be nice if it came with the earbuds and perhaps the carrying case. The ThinkPad W540 mobile workstation is an excellent laptop that stands above the others in quality and performance.
PRICING: You can find the ThinkPad W540 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The ThinkPad W540 retails for $1,816.28 at Amazon.