My Thinkpad P72 review

Discussion in 'Lenovo' started by bobbie424242, Dec 22, 2018.

  1. bobbie424242

    bobbie424242 Notebook Guru

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    I received 2 weeks ago the P72 I ordered on Black Friday and since have spent some time with it. Specs:

    - i7-8850H
    - Quadro P600
    - 4K screen
    - 16GB RAM (the DDR4 RAM is rated 2666 Mhz but configured at 2400. Brand is Samsung)
    - 1 TB Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD (installed by me)
    - 1 TB SATA HDD, 7200 RPM (Seagate)

    This machine replaces my MacBook Pro 2014. I needed a faster machine and wanted it to have: a 17" screen, an excellent keyboard, good thermals, to be durable and repairable.
    So I naturally chose the P72, as thin and light is not a requirement. I also hesitated with comparable Dell Precision and HP Zbook offerings. This is my first Thinkpad ever, and I'm now part of the club (cult?) !
    I will be using this machine mainly for coding, using Eclipse, with some semi-heavy compilation workloads. I also have a powerful gaming PC, thus I did not need a dGPU so I chose the lowest option available, the Quadro P600. I would have liked the ability to order without a dGPU. I ordered the machine with a SATA HDD for 2 reasons. First, it is cheaper to install its own SSD and I got the 1 TB 970 EVO for really cheap. Second, you get the HDD cable that is not there if you order a pure SSD config. Installing the SSD took 5 minutes and installing Windows on it from a USB drive was a breeze.

    The build quality is awesome: it is build like a tank which I really enjoy at a time everybody seems to drool over light and thin (often for good reason: portability). It feels less weighty than I think it would (still 3.4Kg) and not a problem to carry around the house from desk to desk. The laptop feels massive but not MSI (and others) top of the line gaming laptop massive. I love how sober it looks, the total opposite of in your face gaming laptops.

    The 4K matte screen and its 260 dpi is very good. I cannot stand low DPI screens anymore and 4K was a must for me. Viewing angles are OK. You're not going to work looking at the screen sideways anyway. The panel is wide gamut thus has very saturated colors. This is not a problem for me as I spend my time looking at text, but could be annoying for some as most regular programs are expecting sRGB. There is a lengthy discussion on this here. The panel although very good is not 10-bit as advertised by Lenovo: it is 8-bit. Other than that, the panel seems to be a step up from the P70/P71 and does not use PWM for brightness. The panel can also go quite bright at max brightness. Since the screen is matte with some light anti-glare coating, it has very little glare even in a well lit room with lot of natural light coming from windows. The panel backlight does not also seem perfectly uniform, being slightly more dim on the sides than the center. But this is not something you would notice most of the time. My panel also have a bit of backlight bleed in some locations of the bottom edge (especially the lower left corner) but this is not something that can be seen in normal lighting conditions and viewing angle. I wonder if this small bleed is not due to the plastic frame pressing against the panel too much.
    Overall, I'm rather happy with that panel. It's a quality panel and really comfortable to work on for prolonged time. Much more than my 4K 24" and 27" monitors that emit too much light for my tired and very sensitive eyes.

    The keyboard is excellent as expected and good to type on although I wished it was a bit less cramped especially given the available size on this big laptop. I really like the trackpoint although I never used once before. I can see myself being efficient with it after more use. The palm rest plastic while comfortable seems to be oil magnet but I suppose this is well known. It can be cleaned very easily anyway with a soft cloth lightly moistened with appropriate cleaning agent.

    The machine is silent in light usage condition. When the fans trigger, they sound like light "wind" blowing and very unobstrusive. No jet sounding like the X1E/P1. At idle or light usage like writing this post in Firefox, CPU temp is on the low 50 degrees, which may be considered a bit high. Maybe a repaste would help but this is not something I feel capable to do myself, at least for now. In any case it's not really a problem as the fans start to kick in way past that

    Now benchmarking. Stock Cinebench score is 1050-1100 which is a bit low. Intel XTU shows that this is caused by Power Limit throttling. This can be alleviated with a -0.125mv undervolt, resulting in a CB score of about 1250. At -0.135mv undervolt, a 5 min XTU stress test shows neither power nor thermal throttling, with CPU temps remaining in the 78-92 degrees range and max core frequency at a flat 4 Ghz.

    I have only used the laptop on AC power, so no data on the battery yet. Also did not use the camera. The fingerprint reader works fine for login on Windows: it's fast and never misses

    The speakers are really disappointing with sound seeming to come mostly from the right due to their weird placement that makes zero sense. If you want good sounding speakers that will not be it. Lenovo dropped the ball on this.

    The laptop has plenty of connection ports, some of them (Ethernet, 2xUSB, mini DP) placed on the right side, which is rather super annoying when you use an external mouse. I wished these port were on the back or the left side.

    I also installed Linux on it, specifically OpenSUSE Tumbleweed, the rolling version of OpenSUSE with the latest kernel and software. This was really painful to install and setup due to Optimus and the 4K screen (both unrelated) but after a bit of effort I have now a nice i3wm setup. I have detailed some of the install pain points there

    EDIT: benchmarks (-135mv undervolt): https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/13277450
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  2. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    I have a P70 with a similar enough configuration (4K screen, in particular) that I'm running Leap 15.0 on right now.

    How are you undervolting the processor in Linux? I don't have throttling problems; my Xeon E3-1505Mv5 runs at 3.1-3.4 GHz under heavy CPU load (e. g. running heavy software tests, where I'm running all of the threads flat out).

    Optimus is unquestionably a pain. I never got an external monitor to work in Optimus mode; I switched to dGPU only (still hybrid in the BIOS) and did get everything working the "easy" way, with a few tweaks. Doing it the hard way requires that you boot to runlevel 3 to install the driver whenever you upgrade the kernel. I have written up a HOWTO on it, which I haven't had a chance to publish. Nouveau has its own problems, starting with how slow it is, but I haven't had the problems you mentioned (that was at work, on Fedora 27-28, on a P50).

    You can calibrate your screen with DisplayCAL; you will need a colorimeter to do it with, though. If the P70 screen isn't as good as the P72, I'd really like to see *that* screen! It's quite spectacular IMO. I don't believe the built-in colorimeter works on Linux, but from what I've read, that's a small loss; it produces very poor results on Windows and a lot of people are very surprised Pantone would put its name on it.
     
  3. bobbie424242

    bobbie424242 Notebook Guru

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    Undervolting is super easy with undervolt and it can apply it on boot. The i7-8850H with its 6 cores busy can go up to 4Ghz and get very hot. Hence an undervolt being really useful. And it keeps the CPU cooler even at idle. s-tui is a good tool to monitor CPU and do stress test to check the effects of undervolting.

    dGPU only is the less painful solution and what I'm using right now (although Linux is more of an ongoing side project with the possibility of switching to it as I do most of my work on Windows). I did not try using the various workarounds to use the iGPU yet but it does not seem to easy (Bumblebee, suse-prime and the likes).
    Installing the NVIDIA driver the hard way is not that hard once you know how to do it. It must be done on Tumbleweed on each kernel update and assuming the driver is compatible with the kernel (eg, it compiles), it's not difficult. I have not yet tested multi-monitor yet but will soon. The issue I had with Nouveau (CPU being hosed by a kernel process after a while) seems to be a Kernel bug introduced in 4.18 and maybe fixed in 4.20.

    I don't really need calibration because I'm using this laptop for coding and staring at text :)
    The P72 does not have a built-in colorimeter anymore, maybe for the reasons you mention.
     
  4. kaann

    kaann Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hi, I'm a cad designer and i use Nx and Solidworks.
    I'm in conflict between Lenovo P72 and Dell 7730.
    Same specs and almost same price.
    Xeon E-2186M 1TB NVMe 64GB ecc RAM NVIDIA P5200 UHD

    Which one would you choose?
    Especially for UHD screen i want to know your experiences.

    Regards,
     
  5. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    I don't think you could go wrong either way. I have a Lenovo P70, after having had a run of Dells; I also saw the Dell 7510 UHD screen, and both UHD screens are excellent. The buzz that I've generally read is that the Lenovo keyboards are better while the Dell screens are, but again, you won't go wrong either way.

    I went with the P70 for reasons of storage capacity (for photography and some video); the P70 could take 2x2.5" drives in addition to 2xM.2, while the 7710 could only take one 2.5" plus a pair of M.2's. The shoe is partially on the other foot now, though; both can take 1x2.5" drive, but the 7730 can take 3xM.2 while the P72 can only take two. So if you think storage might be an issue down the road, there is a real difference.
     
  6. bobbie424242

    bobbie424242 Notebook Guru

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    The 4K screen on my P72 has quite a bit of backlight bleed. Not something that you would notice in daylight, but at night in a low lit room with the brightness cracked up a bit, I can sometimes spot it on dark backgrounds. It's not bothering me enough to get it replaced, especially since most of the time I use an external monitor.
    Other than that, the P72 has been an excellent workhorse. But as rlk mentioned, I do not think you can go wrong with the Dell either, or HP ZBook comparable models.
    EDIT: one thing the Dell seems to have going for it regarding the 4K panel, is that Dell offer a sRGB emulation mode with Dell Premier Color (I think). No such thing for the ThinkPad P series despite some users asking for (the use case being not having overly saturated color on Windows in non color managment aware apps, due to the wide gamut).
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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