Lenovo ThinkPad E540

This heavyweight foregoes mobility, allowing the use of high-end hardware at a very nice price.


6.9
CNET Rating

View more from Lenovo »


Despite the laptop world's obsession with cramming faster hardware into ever-smaller spaces, sometimes the best laptop for the job is a big, hulking brute. There's no denying that a full-sized keyboard is easier to type on, while a large screen usually makes it simpler to run simultaneous programs. Those in the market for one of these behemoths might like to consider the slab of a laptop that is the E540, a design where mobility apparently featured far down the list of design goals.

Design and features

The 15.6-inch touchscreen determines the large size of this laptop, yet strangely Lenovo hasn't installed Windows 8 to make the most of it; the OS on our review sample was the rapidly aging Windows 7. Touching the screen reveals a small cursor, and its jagged motion suggests the touch sensitivity of this screen isn't quite as new or accurate as other competing displays. For such a large screen the low resolution of 1366 x 768 is a real disappointment, obviously compromised to enable a touchscreen at a lower price. Once again we see Lenovo wheel out its generic all-black plastic construction, used to deliver a very plain, business oriented case.

Our favourite Lenovo feature, the Precision Keyboard, is present and accounted for; when combined with the large keyboard size it makes the E540 a touch-typist's delight. Lenovo also includes the usual pointing stick, as well as their less than impressive touchpad design. Our biggest issue with Lenovo's touchpads is left clicking — doing so sees the entire touchpad depress, rather than just the bottom left corner, which can make it hard to tell whether it's been clicked in the right place.

Connections, performance and battery

One benefit of a large laptop is the ability to cram more components inside, and Lenovo has made the most of this. Intel's Core i5-4200M is a very speedy processor for a laptop, with a maximum speed of 3.1GHz spread amongst its two HyperThreaded cores. 4GB of DDR3-1600MHz is understandable given the affordable price tag, but we're very pleased to also see NVIDIA's GT740M discrete GPU included. Finally, the thick base has plenty of room for an optical drive, in this case a combination CD/DVD burner.

Sadly our review sample had major issues with our overall system benchmark, PCMark 8 Home. Despite reinstalling it several times and reverting to earlier system restore points, we couldn't get it to run without crashing, a very disappointing result considering the hardware within should have delivered speedy results. Thankfully our casual gaming benchmark, 3DMark Cloud Gate, did work, with the score of 5597 being one of the fastest we've seen at this price point. We're guessing the PCMark 8 issues were a result of our review sample having been messed up by earlier journalists, and believe a freshly installed version of Windows 7 wouldn't have any of the issues we saw. Battery life was very acceptable for such a speed demon, delivering 257 minutes in the PowerMark benchmark.

One final benefit of the large dimensions is connections — there's room for a plethora. The E540 comes with twin USB 3.0 and a single USB 2.0 connection, along with VGA and HDMI out. Gigabit Ethernet is also included, as is a headphone output.

PCMark 8 Home Accelerated Test

  • CRASHED
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E540
  • 1690
  • Sony VAIO Pro 11
  • 1844
  • Toshiba Satellite U50D
  • 2215
  • HP Spectre 13
  • 1727
  • Sony VAIO Multi-flip Fit 13
  • 2394
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
  • 1889
  • ASUS Vivobook S551LB
  • 1602
  • Dell XPS 11
  • 2231
  • Gigabyte U24Ti5
  • 2625
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

(Longer bar equals better performance)


3DMARK 2013 Edition - Cloud Gate

  • 5597
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E540
  • 2080
  • Sony VAIO Pro 11
  • 2432
  • Toshiba Satellite U50D
  • 4030
  • HP Spectre 13
  • 3847
  • Sony VAIO Multi-flip Fit 13
  • 4667
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
  • 5101
  • ASUS Vivobook S551LB
  • 2165
  • Dell XPS 11
  • 4590
  • Gigabyte U24Ti5
  • 4643
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

(Longer bar equals better performance)


PowerMark - Battery Life (minutes)

  • 257
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E540
  • 231
  • Sony VAIO Pro 11
  • 261
  • Toshiba Satellite U50D
  • 276
  • HP Spectre 13
  • 229
  • Sony VAIO Multi-flip Fit 13
  • 243
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
  • 270
  • ASUS Vivobook S551LB
  • 289
  • Dell XPS 11
  • 198
  • Gigabyte U24Ti5
  • 253
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

(Longer bar equals better performance)


Conclusion

If you don't mind lugging this 2.44kg brute around with you, the E540 delivers a powerful package at a very competitive price. Unfortunately it's pipped at the post by the more affordable Gigabyte U24Ti5, although the E540 is the quicker of the two thanks to the 128GB SSD. Either way you're getting a powerful laptop around the AU$1000 price point that will also happily play your casual games, which could be a good for prospective student buyers. Or a bad thing, depending on their level of self-discipline...

Previous Story

Sony Vaio Pro 11

Computers
Next Story

Best ultrabooks



Add Your Review

Avatar
 

Be the first to review or comment on this product!


* Below fields optional


Post comment as


Sponsored Links

Recently Viewed Products