I expected more from the Lenovo ThinkPad P72, especially for the price. For $4,999 (starting at $1,699), Lenovo's new workstation provides a powerful Nvidia Quadro P5200 Max-Q GPU and a pleasantly clicky keyboard all packed into a military-durable chassis with some neat security features. However, you'll have to deal with a duller-than-average, 17.3-inch display and hollow speakers for the price of a used car. Overall, the ThinkPad P72 offers great graphical capabilities, but you could do better for the money.
Price and Configuration Options
The ThinkPad P72 that I tested costs a pricey $4,999 and comes with an Intel Xeon E-2186M processor with vPro, a Nvidia Quadro P5200 Max-Q GPU with 16GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a 1TB 7,200-rpm HDD and a 4K display.
The base model is $1,699 and drops you down to a Core i7-8750H CPU, a Quadro P600 GPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p display. Meanwhile, the decked-out version costs a meaty $7,674, and brings our configuration up to 128GB of RAM, two 2TB SSDs and one 2TB HDD.
Lenovo's ThinkPad P72 is exactly what you'd expect a ThinkPad workstation to look like: thick and black. Its soft-to-the-touch plastic hood is home to nothing but a steel ThinkPad logo with a blinking red LED as well as two gray hinges that hold the chassis together.
The interior has more or less of the same factory look, with the keyboard and speaker vent sharply carved into the deck. There is some color, however, on the pointing stick and its buttons. And I understand that there had to be room for the IR camera, but I wish that the bezels were slimmer.
While the ThinkPad P72 (7.7 pounds, 16.4 x 11.1 x 1.0~1.2 inches) did slim down a little bit from the ThinkPad P71 (7.95, 16.4 x 10.8 x 1.2 inches), it's still quite a thick machine compared with the Dell Precision 7730 (7.5 pounds, 16.3 x 10.8 x 1.2 inches) and HP ZBook 17 G5 (7.7 pounds, 16.4 x 11.3 x 1.3 inches).
This workstation has all kinds of ports.
On the right side, there's an RJ45 Ethernet port, a Mini-DisplayPort, a 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC), two USB 3.1 ports and a headphone jack, while the left features one USB 3.1 port and an optional Smart Card reader.
The back has one USB 3.1 port, an HDMI 2.0 port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports and the power jack.
Security and Durability
Lenovo arms the ThinkPad P72 with a glass-fiber reinforced polymer lid and a magnesium aluminum alloy bottom that passed 12 MIL-STD 810G tests. That means it can survive extreme temperatures, high altitudes, mechanical shocks, sand and dust, fungus, an explosive atmosphere and solar radiation.
This machine also has a swath of security features, like vPro for remote management, a match-on-chip fingerprint reader, an IR camera for Windows Hello and a dTPM 2.0 (a microcontroller that stores encryption keys). The only thing that the ThinkPad P72 is missing is a privacy shutter for the webcam.
The ThinkPad P72's 17.3-inch, 4K matte display exhibits solid color and brightness for a standard laptop, but other systems deliver better workstation-class performance.
During the establishing shot of Gotham in the trailer for Joker, each building had sharp and distinct outlines surrounding the windows that popped as the sun set in the background. In another scene, the Joker's red-and-orange outfit glowed center screen as he walked down a dimly-lit hallway infested with visible cracks even in the darkest corners.
Although the ThinkPad P72's panel looked colorful in real-world testing, its screen covered only 123 percent of the sRGB color spectrum. That percentage would be good for a normal laptop, but it pales in comparison to the workstation average (147 percent), the ZBook 17 (171 percent), the ThinkPad P71 (183 percent) and the Precision 7730 (211 percent).
At 311 nits of brightness, the ThinkPad P72's panel couldn't meet the 340-nit category average. It didn't get past the Precision 7730 (330 nits) or the ZBook 17 (342 nits), but it did surpass its predecessor's 283 nits.
Keyboard and Touchpad
My fingers glided across the ThinkPad P72's keyboard, and didn't want to stop dancing on its comfortably clicky keys for a second. However, the keyboard's backlighting could be a little stronger, and I wish that the Ctrl was placed before the Fn key because that's how most keyboards are designed.
I blazed through 78 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, topping my 77 wpm average. That can be attributed to the keys, which measured for 1.5 millimeters of travel (within our 1.5 to 2.0 mm comfort zone) and required 70 grams of force to actuate (above our 60g minimum).
The ThinkPad P72's pointing stick worked fine, but its discrete buttons feel soft and mushy.
Meanwhile, the ThinkPad P72's 4.0 x 2.3-inch touchpad felt as smooth as glass; my fingers naturally slid across it without any resistance. It has three discrete buttons placed close to the edge of the deck, and while it may be too close for some, it actually makes the touchpad more comfortable to use.
However, I am annoyed that it has a scroll button between the left and right click. If I'm going to scroll, it's going to be with my fingers and not the button, so there's no reason to disrupt the space between the two buttons. Speaking of scrolling, the touchpad responded well to Windows 10 gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger tabbing.
The ThinkPad P72's top-firing speakers delivered disappointing audio quality. Even though the laptop filled a small office with The Neighbourhood's "Sweater Weather," it could have been louder. I knew something was off as soon the percussion dropped during the intro, as the bass sounded stunted and hollow. And even though the high vocals were crisp, the instruments that supported it in the background started to clash and sound like garbled noise with the occasional drum beat.
The Lenovo Vantage app offers Dolby Settings to tune the audio via five presets: Dynamic, Movie, Music, Gaming and Voice. While switching between the presets didn't seem to help in getting desirable audio, turning it off completely made it evident that the app helped highlight mid and highs on the track.
Outfitted with an Intel Xeon E-2186M processor and 16GB of RAM, the ThinkPad P72 had no issue juggling 40 Google Chrome tabs and five YouTube videos while I booted up a game of Microsoft's Solitaire. However, the benchmarks aren't exactly compelling compared with the competition.
The ThinkPad P72 stumbled on the Geekbench 4.1 performance test, scoring 18,176, which falls below the 20,161 workstation average. The Precision 7730's Core i9-8950HK (24,800) and the ZBook 17's Xeon E-2176M (22,382) did significantly better as well.
On the HandBrake benchmark, however, the ThinkPad P72 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in just 10 minutes and 25 seconds, blowing past the 11:36 category average as well as the ZBook 17 (13:27). The ThinkPad couldn't top the Precision 7730's stellar 8:59.
MORE: Lenovo ThinkPad P52
Lenovo's 512GB SSD took 9 seconds to copy 4.97GB of data, translating to a 565 megabytes per second transfer rate. That's a bit slower than the 635 MBps workstation average. The Precision 7730's 512GB SSD (565 MBps) and the ThinkPad P71's 1TB SSD (463 MBps) didn't do much better, but the ZBook 17's 512GB SSD scored a strong 848 MBps.
Armed with an Nvidia Quadro P5200 Max-Q GPU with 16GB of VRAM, the ThinkPad P72 tore through the 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra graphics benchmark with a score of 4,127, nearly doubling the 2,299 workstation average. Meanwhile, the Precision 7730's Quadro P5200 (3,953), the ThinkPad P71's Quadro P5000 (3,588) and the ZBook 17's Quadro P4200 (3,760) couldn't keep up.
If you want to game on this machine in the off hours, the ThinkPad P72 is more than capable. On the Dirt 3 benchmark, the ThinkPad P72 averaged a solid 236 frames per second, peaking over the 199-fps category average as well as the Precision 7730 (223 fps). However, it landed short of the ZBook 17's performance (255 fps).
The ThinkPad P72 offers below-average battery life for a workstation, but it's comparable to 17-inch competitors. After the ThinkPad P72 continuously surfed the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, its battery lasted only 4 hours and 19 minutes. That runtime is nearly 2 hours short of the 6:05 workstation average. However, the Precision 7730 (4:14) and ZBook 17 (4:31) didn't do much better. You should also be able to get more battery life from the 1080p version.
The shots taken with the ThinkPad P72's 720p webcam look like mush. Half of the ceiling was blown out because of the lighting, and the whole image, especially my face, looked like it had a watercolor-painting effect.
Despite that, the blue and black on my plaid shirt were particularly bold in the image.
The ThinkPad P72 can get a little warm under pressure. After I streamed a 15-minute 1080p video, the underside measured 108 degrees Fahrenheit, hitting above our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard and touchpad were also a little warm as well, hitting 104 and 92 degrees, respectively. The hottest it got was 118 degrees, located on the upper right underside.
Software and Warranty
Lenovo is pretty good about not piling on branded software, so all you really have to deal with is Lenovo Vantage. This app lets you customize battery usage, enable wireless network protection, run hardware scans, check the warranty and services that Lenovo offers and even adjust color temperature on the display.
Surprisingly, the ThinkPad P72 doesn't come with any traditional Windows 10 bloatware games, but it does include a plethora of Microsoft-branded apps like Microsoft Solitaire, Microsoft To-Do and Microsoft Whiteboard.
The Lenovo ThinkPad P72 nets you strong graphics performance, a comfortable keyboard and a bunch of security features packed into a durable design. However, the $4,999 price is hard to justify, given the laptop's less-than-stellar display and lackluster audio.
If you're going to spend a pretty penny, go for the Precision 7730 ($5,443). It'll give you better overall performance (Core i9-8950HK CPU, 32GB of RAM), on-par graphics performance and a ridiculously colorful 4K display packed into a lighter design, although it's battery life is in the same range as the ThinkPad P72.
You could also spring for the 15-inch ThinkPad P1 ($3,209) and save almost $2,000. It actually has a stronger overall performance (Xeon E-2176M CPU, 32GB of RAM), a faster SSD and a more vivid 4K panel than the ThinkPad P72. However, you'd be losing out on some graphics performance, as it has a Quadro P2000 GPU.
If you want top-notch graphics performance, the ThinkPad P72 is a solid option, but it's not our top workstation pick for this size display.
Credit: Laptop Mag