If a laptop could have a favorite song, the 17.3-inch Lenovo ThinkPad P71's jam would be Queen's "I Want It All." This powerful workstation (starting at $1,511; $4,643 as tested) rocks a vibrant 4K display, a superpowerful Intel Xeon E3-1535M v6 processor, a Color By Pantone sensor for display calibration, a comfy keyboard and a VR-ready 16GB Nvidia Quadro P5000 GPU. But does all of that combine for an experience worth its high price tag? Yes.
The 17.3-inch ThinkPad P71 is such a big slab of machine, I wonder if Acme products has sold one to Wile E. Coyote for his next adventure. Its soft-touch carbon-fiber lid feels great. I just wish its keyboard deck used the same material instead of plastic. While the deck has a slightly grainy texture, the plastic on the underside bears a smoother finish.
Weighing 8.0 pounds and measuring 1.2 inches thick, the ThinkPad P71 is heavier, yet thinner, than the HP ZBook 17 G4 (7.1 pounds, 1.3 inches) and the Dell Precision 7720 (7.6 pounds, 1.4 inches) but lighter than the MSI WT73VR 7RM (8.8 pounds, 1.9 inches).
On the right of the ThinkPad P71, you'll find a Mini DisplayPort, a headphone jack, an SD memory reader and three USB 3.0 ports. The rear houses dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI port, an Ethernet jack and a proprietary AC power port. A single USB 3.0 port sits on the left.
To the left of the ThinkPad P71's touchpad, you'll find its Pantone color calibration sensor. The laptop's fingerprint sensor is located along the bottom-right corner of its keyboard.
Display and Calibration
The ThinkPad P71's 4K display produces vivid, clear images. When watching the 4K science-fiction film Tears of Steel, I noticed the electric pink of a giant floating brain, green trees; bright, clear-white spotlights; and inky, shadowy corners. I could even see tiny details, such as the lines of corduroy pocket flaps, the veins of leaves and tiny text projected in the air.
According to our colorimeter, the ThinkPad P71 produces 183 percent of the sRGB spectrum. That edges out the ZBook 17 G4 (173 percent) and handily beats the 128-percent category average, the MSI WT73VR (108 percent) and the Precision 7720 (126 percent).
The ThinkPad P71 emits up to 283 nits of brightness, which isn't much lower than the 288-nit average for desktop-replacement laptops but is farther below the 317-nit Precision 7720. However, it's brighter than the 256-nit ZBook 17 G4 and the 262-nit MSI WT73VR 7RM. The viewing angles on this matte IPS display are fantastic, with colors staying strong at 75 degrees to the left and right.
If your P71 comes with a Pantone Color Sensor (standard for some models, $70 extra for others), you get the Color Calibrator app, which allows you to set a new white point for your display (D50 for graphic artists, D65 for photographers, D75 for cooler temperature, and Native, which is the default).
You can also change the gamma tone response (options include 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2, the latter of which is the default). These refer to specific color ranges and spaces, so professionals can see their content exactly as they like.
Security and Durability
Although all models of the ThinkPad P71 include a discrete Trusted Platform Module (TPM, a secure chip that protects sensitive information), only ThinkPad P71 models with compatible CPUs (Intel Core i7-7820HQ, Xeon E3-1505M and Xeon E3-1535M) include vPro technology for remote management by IT professionals.
The ThinkPad P71 also offers rugged durability. It passed 11 of the U.S. military's MIL-STD-810G tests for equipment, which means this laptop can be operated in extremely hot (140 degrees Fahrenheit) and extremely cold (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures, as well as survive drops, withstand blasts of sand and endure severe humidity.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The ThinkPad P71 continues the brand's tradition of excellent keyboards and input options. I can never get used to typing on a machine with a pointing stick interrupting the middle of the keyboard, so I removed the TrackPoint nub. After doing so, my typing speeds on the 10fastfingers.com typing test jumped from 72 words per minute to 78 wpm.
Its keys offer a comfortable typing experience, thanks to their 72 grams of required actuation force and 2.2 millimeters of travel. These measurements are well above the minimum numbers (60 g; 1.5 to 2.0 mm) we look for.
The workstation's 3.9 x 2.2-inch touchpad sits above and below two sets of left-, right- and middle-click buttons, which offer a satisfying feel to each click. The touchpad tracked my desktop-navigation input accurately and responded correctly to Windows 10 swipe gestures.
The ThinkPad P71's speakers did not impress me; they couldn't fill our medium-size conference room with sound. When I played Charli XCX's "Boys" and Run The Jewels' "Chase Me" on the ThinkPad P71, I noted that although the vocals and synths sounded accurate, both the bass and the drums hit too softly.
The audio presets in the Lenovo Settings menu didn't help; the Dynamic and Movie modes only distorted the vocals more, and the Voice setting lowered everything other than speech.
Armed to the teeth with an Intel Xeon E3-1535M v6 CPU and 32GB of RAM, the ThinkPad P71 we tested offers impressive performance. This kind of horsepower is meant for superdemanding software programs, such as the industrial design tool AutoDesk and all of the Adobe tools. So, of course, I saw zero slowdown or stutter when splitting my screen among a dozen Google Chrome tabs (including TweetDeck, Slack and Google Docs) and a 1080p YouTube video.
The ThinkPad P71 made a strong showing on the Geekbench 4 general performance benchmark, with a score of 15,972. That's similar to the 15,839 from the ZBook 17 G4 (Xeon E3-1535M v6, 64GB of RAM), and above the 12,979 desktop-replacement average. The Lenovo machine's score also beats the 14,649 from the MSI WT73VR 7RM (Core i7-7820HK) and the 10,489 from the Precision 7720 (Intel Xeon E3-1535M v6, 8GB of RAM).
The 1TB PCIe TLC OPAL2 SSD in our ThinkPad P71 duplicated 4.97GB of files in 11 seconds, for a rate of 463 megabytes per second. That's slower than the 509-MBps category average, the 848 MBps from the ZBook 17 G4 (512GB PCIe m.2 SSD) and the 1,696 MBps from the MSI WT73VR (512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 SSD). The Precision 7720 (256GB M.2 PCIe SSD) turned in a slower rate of 170 MBps.
Productivity users should see good performance in the ThinkPad P71, as it matched 20,000 names to addresses in OpenOffice (our custom macro test) in 3 minutes. That's a second longer than the ZBook 17 G4 (2:59) took but shorter than the 3:25 category average and the times posted by the MSI WT73VR (3:24) and the Precision 7720 (4:08).
Graphics and Gaming
The Nvidia Quadro P5000 GPU with 16GB of VRAM in the ThinkPad P71 we tested make it a powerhouse for all kinds of uses. On the 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra graphics test, this workstation notched 3,588, which is slightly below the 3,643 from the ZBook 17 (Nvidia Quadro P5000 GPU) and the 3,622 from the MSI WT73VR (Nvidia Quadro P5000 GPU). But the P71 did fare better than the the Precision 7720 (Nvidia Quadro P3000 GPU), which notched a score of 2,143.
On the SteamVR Performance Test, the ThinkPad P71 proved its mettle for virtual content, with a score of 10.2 out of 11. That translates to enough power to run VR experiences smoothly, and beats the category average (9.4), the MSI WT73VR (6.4) and the VR-incapable Precision 7720 (5.6).
The frame rates we found when testing the ThinkPad P71's gaming performance beat our 30-frames-per-second playability threshold. Hitman (ultra,1080p) played at a smooth 91 fps, beating the 82-fps average. Rise of the Tomb Raider (very high, 1080p) was more sluggish, at 42 fps, while Grand Theft Auto V played at a solid 55 fps.
For a behemoth of a notebook, the ThinkPad P71 lasts pretty long. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing at 100 nits), it turned in a time of 5 hours and 57 minutes, beating the 4:16 desktop-replacement average, the 4:59 from the ZBook 17 G4 and the 3:18 from the MSI WT73VR. The Dell Precision 7720 lasted a much longer 9:34.
The 0.9-megapixel webcam in the ThinkPad P71 is OK at capturing tones and details. The Super Mario Bros. design on my shirt pocket reproduced accurately with correct tones of Mario and Luigi's red and green caps and their brown moustaches, and the small pattern on their warp pipe rendered clearly.
The ThinkPad P71 stays cool, properly managing the heat generated by its abundance of power. After we streamed HD video on it for 15 minutes, our heat gun registered temperatures on its touchpad (81 degrees Fahrenheit), G and H keys (85 degrees) and underside (89 degrees) that all fall under our 95-degree comfort threshold.
As usual, you get Lenovo's Companion app for system info and support, its Settings app for options not found in Windows 10's settings and its App Explorer (a Windows App Store alternative that you don't need). Of course, freemium games come too, including March of Empires, Minecraft and Candy Crush Soda Saga.
The $4,643 ThinkPad P71 we tested has an Intel Xeon E3-1535M v6 CPU, a 3840 x 2160-pixel display, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe TLC OPAL2 SSD, an Nvidia Quadro P5000 GPU with 16GB of memory and the Pantone color sensor.
The $1,511 entry-level model comes with a Core i7-770HQ CPU, a 1920 x 1080-pixel display, 8GB of RAM, a Quadro M620 GPU with 2GB of memory, and a 500GB, 7200-rpm hard drive. CPU Upgrades are available for the Xeon E3-1505M ($290 extra) and the Xeon X3-1535 (for $690) we tested.
The $4,643 ThinkPad P71 gives big-budget professionals a fantastic screen for their work, a comfortable keyboard for producing their projects and tons of horsepower. We just wish the SSD were a bit faster, especially at this price.
For faster storage, you could go with the HP ZBook 17 G4, but a similarly configured model has a dimmer display than the ThinkPad P71 and costs a whopping $4,895. But power users looking to create content in the digital realm will find plenty to love in the ThinkPad P71.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag