Lenovo’s ThinkPad W540 and T540p are two high-end 15” notebooks that look… exactly the same. If you’re in the market for such a laptop, you might have a hard time deciding on which to go with. The only noticeable difference on the body is the presence of a display calibration sensor on the higher-end W540. A calibration sensor allows graphic professionals to better match their colour profile to that of printed media. Everything else looks the same, but there are couple big differences under the hood, mostly in graphics.
The W540 can be configured with a workstation-level NVIDIA Quadro K1100M or K2100M. These cards are beasts compared to the T540p’s GeForce GT 730M or Intel integrated graphics offering. Both models can be configured with ultra high-resolution 2880×1620 IPS displays, or lesser 1920×1080 TN panels. The W540 defaults at that TN panel, but the T540p bottoms out with a disappointing 1366×768. The port layouts on the two models also differ slightly. The mobile workstation has an ExpressCard reader and Thunderbolt port. The T-series does not.
I should mention that the T540p does have one important advantage over the W540, and that’s battery life. While the W540 can push an impressive 6 hours according to Lenovo’s site, the T540p is rated to handle more than double that at 13 hours.
What does that mean for you? Both these units are great machines that will handle plenty, but don’t pay the W540 premium unless you need all the power it has to offer. CAD designers and heavy gamers alike will appreciate the boost in graphics performance, but many of you will be best off saving some cash and having better battery performance instead.