I installed a MyDigitalSSD Smart 128GB mSATA drive as the boot drive and 16GB of Samsung Low Voltage 12800 RAM. I ran updates on Windows and ran all of the Lenovo updates, including the Nvidia Driver. I also implemented a 4GB RAMDisk for temporary files. The resulting WEI score was:
I haven't played around with the system too much. I have spent most of my time tweaking Windows 7 and doing updates and the above benchmarks. I haven't used many laptops, so my comparisons are to 2 old laptops; an Acer Travelmate 8200 and a HP dv9000.
Build quality: This Thinkpad is by far a more sturdy design than my other 2 laptops. I have noticed a creaking noise when picked up by the front right corner with the display open. I think it is coming from the ultrabay adapter, but I am not sure. The right side of the base does flex a little under medium-hard pressure. The left side feels extremely solid, with the exception of the very front left corner (where the smartcard reader is), which flexes slightly under pressure. The display lid is very sturdy. My old HP display wobbles when I walk by the table it is on. The W530's display stays very firmly in place when open, even if I shake it.
Size: After reading about all of the "Ultrabooks" out there, I thought this laptop would be a bit bulky. Compared to my other 2 laptops though, it is quite small. It is noticeably smaller than my old Acer, which had a 15.4" 16:10 display. The W530 is about 1" shorter in width, .25" smaller in depth, but about .5" longer in length. It obvious going to much smaller than my 17" HP. It also feels significantly lighter.
Display: The display is beautiful. I don't have any measuring equipment for the display and I am not an expert on displays, but in my opinion and side-by-side comparison with my 17" HP, this is a great display. It is considerably brighter than both of my other laptops. The colors and contrast are much better than my old Acer, but only slightly better than my old HP. I bought my HP refurbished with a panel upgrade that was never offered on the original dv9000. Horizontal viewing angles cover the full 180 degrees. Vertical viewing angles are another story. Contrast is quickly lost and colors change slightly as the screen is tilted away from perpendicular to the line of sight. Most laptops have this issue, unless they have an IPS display.
Unfortunately, the company that sells the color calibrator that can be integrated with the W530 is sold-out, and so is Lenovo. Oddly, they were still offering it on the W520 when I bought the W530, but I was told by the online sales assistant that is a bigger 2011 year model calibrator, and the one for the W530 is a smaller 2012 model. I configured my model so that I could install a calibrator later, if they ever become available.
Performance: See Benchmarks at beginning of post. Based on the 3DMark score, the Quadro K1000 fits between last years fermi-based Quadro 1000M and 2000M. I imagine driver updates over the next few months will bump it closer to the old 2000M. Watching the 3DMark11 benchmark run was brutal at 4-6 FPS. Upgrading to the K2000M would be wise if you plan on using the W530 for gaming. My needs are for non-intensive 2d and 3d modeling. The HD4000 graphics would probably suffice for me, but it is nice to know there is more graphics power available if needed in the future.
Battery Life: I have not recorded the battery life yet. Has anyone done this with their W530?
UPDATE: I just ran Prime95 with RealTemp twice (battery and plugged in) to monitor CPU temps and evaluate if there was any throttling.
Pluged In: The Max CPU temp reached was 80 C. I did not notice any throttling. The speed peaked around 3500 MHz and slowly declined to roughly 3200 MHz as the peak temp was reached. The laptop case heated up a bit a top, and more on the bottom, but not to an intolerable temp if used on lap (test was done on a desk). Also, the fan became noticeable, but not obnoxiously loud. The fan under light load is only slightly louder than ambient noise, to the point where you don't notice it unless you are listening for it.
Battery: The Max CPU Temp was 60 C. The Max freq was 2200 MHz, with each successive test that RealTemp ran running slower than the last. I imagine Lenovo designed the laptop to run the CPU slower on battery. The battery meter estimated 1 hour of battery life on full charge right after the test began. The fan did spin up a little during this test, but did not become much louder than when under a light load.
Note: Core #2 and #3 averaged around 5-6 C hotter than #1 and #4. I imagine there is a reasonable explanation, such as being closer to a component on the die that gets even hotter (L3 Cache maybe?). Any ideas?
Last edited by crazy1; 5th July 2012 at 07:29 PM.
Reason: Updated Benchmark Info
My first battery life measurement is complete. My 6-cell battery lasted roughly 3hrs 10min. During this time I did the above mentioned prime95 test, watched ~1hr of streaming videos from Hulu, and surfed the internet. The prime95 test consumed about 15% of my battery in about 10 minutes. Also, my screen brightness was at 12 (out of 15).
The power brick is big. It's the biggest power brick I've ever seen. It's about as thick as the W530, about 3" wide, and 7" long. I'm guessing the weight is between 1-2 lbs. It would be inconvenient to travel with unless you are using a backpack.
I will be traveling with the W530 on vacations and business trips. Fortunately, the power brick can be stored in my luggage.
For the SSD, I used "Paragon Migrate OS to SSD" software. I used the recovery partition to build a bootable USB recovery drive (I don't have a DVD drive), but for some reason the USB drive wouldn't boot. I can't remember the error message. Anyway, I couldn't find a quick answer to why the USB drive didn't work, and I was anxious to get the SSD running, so I found the Paragon software to be a quick solution. I thought about a fresh Windows 7 install, but I didn't want to lose some of the Lenovo software/features.
I haven't run any Storage specific benchmarks to see if there were any ill effects, but everything seems to be running fine. I would hope that software with the specific purpose of migrating an OS to an SSD would do it correctly. But, you never know...
I am concerned of what might happen if I remove the system partition off of my HDD. It didn't get transferred over in the migration. I will have to look into it more. I also used this guide to help me tweak windows for better SSD optimization.
Last edited by crazy1; 6th July 2012 at 12:35 AM.
If on battery are you stuck with the Intel GPU only or can you switch to the Nvidia GPU while still on battery?
So I take it from your second answer that YES it's embarrassing to use the power brick in public
You can either have the W530 use the Intel GPU only, nVidia GPU only, or keep Optimus enabled. I tend to switch manually via the BIOS, because I don't like how Optimus treats the programs/games I use.
As for "embarrassing", I don't see why computer looks are that important. I mean, a computer is just a means to an end, not an end to themselves. It'd be equivalent to a DIYer asking if a particular style of hammer would get him laughed at; doesn't make sense at all, so long as it's functional. I wouldn't know why anyone at anywhere would laugh at a W530, considering it's likely to be much more powerful than anything they own, computing-wise. I love my W520, and it's pretty unique on my campus, since everyone either has a Latitude, Precision, or MBP.
As another rant, I'd be the one with the final laugh because while I may not have a fashionable computer, I at least have a degree that'll get me a job (engineering) instead of wasting my life away as a "struggling writer or artist" wasting my money on fashionable toys and over-priced coffee. If a person chooses their tools based solely on what's popular at the time, they are bound to fail. Fashion is a fad, all of it. Something looks great one day and everyone must have it (90s beige desktops, for example), and today they're ugly and you wouldn't be caught dead using one, and so on. But back on track, if fashion is important and computing power isn't, a workstation laptop probably isn't for you.
Anyway, Keruig makes for better coffee anyway, at $0.50/cup.