Performance – Synthetic GPU and Gaming

Synthetic GPU Benchmarks

The ThinkPad W540’s workstation-class discrete graphics range from the K1100M to the K2100M.  Our configuration included the latter, more powerful option, and it’s a quality midrange professional graphics adapter.  This is a Kepler-based 28nm GPU with 2 GB of GDDR5 VRAM.  Furthermore, the TDP of 55W means that it still remains manageable for the smaller 15.6-inch machine while in use (as compared to the top-end adapters with TDPs of around 100W).  Optimus switching is available; Intel HD Graphics 4600 picks up the slack whenever dedicated graphics are not warranted.

Obviously the W540 is not a logical choice if your primary goal is gaming; there are far better candidates available for comparable prices that offer better performance and targeted feature sets if that’s what you’re after.  We won’t focus heavily on it in our review for that same reason.  Still, thanks to its respectable GPU, it hardly breaks a sweat when running most games even on high settings.  Let’s begin with synthetic tests for a scope of where we’re headed.


Not bad at all.  With a Fire Strike score of 1704, the W540 is clearly equipped to handle demanding 3D games.

3DMark 11

Considerably lower here, but again, far better than anything else in the ThinkPad line that we’ve tested to date.

Gaming Benchmarks

Now let’s turn to a couple of actual game benchmarks.  The two we chose for this machine are Metro 2033 and Bioshock Infinite.

Metro 2033

Metro’s Subway benchmark still spanks just about any laptop that attempts it without a truly high-end GPU at its disposal, and the W540 merely manages 12.67 fps here at 1080p as detailed.  That’s around 23% below the MSI GE40, so it’s nothing to get excited over.

Let’s turn to something a bit more reasonable.

Bioshock Infinite

This fantastic game records over 25 fps on Ultra settings at 1080p resolution, so it’s nearly playable even there.  At 1600×900, it’s almost 33 frames—so 60 is nowhere in sight—but playing around with the settings will definitely get you to palatable fluidity even at 1080p.  Having said that, this is no GT72 we’re dealing with here: again, it’s a workstation, and it’s meant for professional applications primarily, not necessarily gaming.

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