Lenovo Thinkpad W540 Review – Poor design with great specs

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

I have been personally using a Lenovo Thinkpad W540 everyday for the last two months after having supported a few deployed out in the field prior to that.  After having had to use it for two months, I want to offer my sincerest apologies for the people that we bought them for prior to this.

The Thinkpad W540 is touted as a “Mobile Workstation” and the specifications certainly support that – up to an Intel i7 quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM, nVidia graphics and available with SSDs.  However, beyond the specifications many of us look for are a few fatal flaws with this laptop.

First and foremost, the Synaptics touch pad used on the laptop is nothing short of atrocious.  Attempts to integrate advanced features have left the touchpad nearly unusable – even things like dragging windows or highlighting text is near impossible.  Next,Lenovo chose to remove all additional function buttons you find on many laptops such as Wi-Fi switch, sound and brightness controls and chose to share those with normal function (“F#”) keys.  The problem with this approach is I now need to use an extra keystroke to use the F# keys which I use much more often than sound or brightness control – a very poor usability choice in my opinion.

The biggest flaw however with this laptop is stability.  When we started to deploy these to the field we were getting reports of freezing, or even crashing on a regular basis.  I chalked this up to “PEBKAC” – after all its pretty much the same hardware in any laptop – Intel processors, memory, drives etc.  We would update the BIOS and send the user on their way until a few days later when more complaints of freezing and crashing would come in.  Having personally used this computer for two months now, those problems seem legitimate.  On at least a weekly basis I am forced to hard power off my laptop because it crashed.  On my previous Dell  Latitude e6530 I only ever had to reboot for patches.

Other minor annoyances include recognizing multiple monitors (also Lenovo) through the supported docking station, often requiring me to re-dock or sometimes reboot to recognize the second monitor as well as often running into video driver problems that requires a re-install.

The Thinkpad W540 has amazing specifications, but the usability of the laptop can be quite painful.  If you are considering this laptop, it may be worthwhile to scratch it off your list.

Lenovo Thinkpad W540 Review – Poor design with great specs