Performance – Processor, General, Storage Devices
Here’s where the W540 is meant to shine. All the battery life tests in the world wouldn’t matter if the W540’s performance wasn’t up to snuff. Is it?
The base W540 configuration includes an Intel Core i7-4700MQ CPU, a 1080p display, a Quadro K1100M 2 GB, and 8 GB of DDR3L RAM, along with a conventional 500 GB 7200 RPM HDD. Our configuration (as we’ve already explored) is a bit beefier, with an i7-4800MQ, a Quadro K2100M, the aforementioned 3K screen, and a 256 GB SSD. Although it’s a workstation with a dedicated GPU, the most logical comparison would still be to other business models, as the W540 really isn’t meant for gaming. As a result we’ve focused our comparisons on the previous ThinkPads we’ve reviewed (T440s, X240, among others) as opposed to the swath of gaming laptops.
Performance – Processor
The Core i7-4800MQ has been covered widely before on PC Perspective. Briefly, it’s a quad-core Haswell architecture CPU with a clock rate of 2.7—3.7 GHz (or 3.6 GHz/3.5 GHz for 2/4 active cores). It carries a TDP of 47 W, which is on the high end for mobile CPUs these days.
Let’s see how the W540’s i7-4800MQ holds up in the usual array of tests.
We’ve been doing less and less of this benchmark recently, but for comparison’s sake, we included it for the W540. The power of a full-voltage, quad-core CPU as compared to the field of low-voltage dual-core competitors is immediately evident in this test. The i7-4800MQ more than doubles the scores of the second-place business competitor, which happens to be the X230 from a couple generations ago (before the switch to low-voltage CPUs in the ThinkPad X series).
Cinebench is a bit more modern and arguably more interesting. Here, we see the W540 hanging with the GT72 and its Core i7-4710HQ, which technically should be weaker. The differences in our results are not significant between the two notebooks however; the conclusion is simply that both are ridiculously fast. Again, the low-voltage entrants can’t hold a candle, with less than half the performance in the Multi-CPU test (something else we discussed at length; we attributed it to what we termed a “Philosophical Shift” in the design of the ThinkPad notebook line).
Although Peacekeeper is a browser benchmark in and of itself, it very heavily measures single-threaded CPU performance. As such, it’s not surprising to see the W540 conquer all of the lower-voltage ThinkPads, whose clock rates don’t exceed 2.6 GHz at best. The GT72 again beats the W540 by a small margin, but not enough to communicate anything significant.
No one should reasonably expect any conventional storage solution to provide the firepower to unseat the MSI GT72 2QE’s ridiculous (read: overkill) quad-SSD implementation, but the ThinkPad W540 performs respectably regardless. It’s around 10% above that of the T440s and X240, both of which were very fast machines in their own right. Subjectively speaking, we have nothing to complain about. Applications are quick to launch and startup/shutdown/sleep/resume times are very fast.
Performance – Storage Devices
Let’s take a closer look at the W540’s storage device: a Samsung PM851 256 GB SSD (SATA 6 Gbps). This is a popular SSD, though it isn’t among the very fastest thanks to some write speed bottlenecks.
The W540’s total score of 923 is good, placing it in the mid-high range of competitors in this particular benchmark… though it can’t touch the X240, whose drive handled 4K queued reads considerably better than the W540’s, leading to a much higher overall read value (alongside a nearly identical write value). We left the GT72’s score out of our chart for sake of mercy.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
These results look familiar… they’re the same as every other Samsung PM851 we’ve reviewed! Again, Writes are curiously capped at around 270 MB/s, whereas reads top out at nearly double that value.
We were unable to get CrystalDiskMark to run on this machine, so we’ve omitted this test. Results are generally congruent with those from AS SSD and ATTO anyway.