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Lenovo ThinkPad P43s review

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goretsky    1,183

Hello,

 

At the end of last year, I received a ThinkPad P43s from Lenovo for review purposes.  After six months of use, now would be a good time to share my impressions and opinions of it.

 

You can view the companion picture album for this review of the ThinkPad P43s at https://imgur.com/a/6eK0Xrd/.

 

The model I received, 20RH-0010US, had the following specs as shipped from the factory:

 

CPU:  Intel Core i7-8665U (4C / 8T, 1.9 / 4.8GHz, 8MB)
GPU:  NVIDIA Quadro P520 2GB GDDR5
RAM:  16GB DDR4-2400 (soldered) + 1 empty SO-DIMM slot
SSD:  512GB M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe with Opal2 support
LCD:  14" FHD (1920×1080) Low Power IPS 400nits Anti-glare, 72% Gamut
WLAN:  Intel 9560 802.11ac, 2×2, Bluetooth 5.0
Webcam:  720p + IR with ThinkShutter
Other:  Fingerprint Reader, Windows 10 Pro (x64)

Dimensions:  13×8.9×0.7 inches, 3.24 lbs (330×226×18 mm, 1.47 kg)

 

This is a model from Lenovo's ThinkPad P-series which consists mostly of 15" and 17" desktop replacement workstation laptops. The P43s represents a 14" slim model, for when users still need workstation features, but in a much slimmer, more portable form-factor.

 

Packaging
The ThinkPad P43s arrived in a sturdy brown corrugated cardboard box.  Inside, the laptop is packed in an anti-static bag sealed with anti-tamper stickers and held in place by green plastic packing inserts and closed cell foam.  While this may not feel like a "premium" experience for such a premium device, it is important to remember that ThinkPads are enterprise systems, and typically go to an organization's IT department for provisioning with line-of-business software,  management and security features, and so forth.  So, fancy packaging is going to be of less importance to the corporation who has ordered several dozens or hundreds of laptops at once:  What is important is that the shipping cartons protect the laptops while in transit, and that they are made from materials that can be easily disposed of through recycling.  Inside, the laptop is secured in an anti-static bag with an anti-tamper sticker on it.  Lenovo gets an A+ for solid shipping materials.

 

Design
Once opened, we see the iconic black ThinkPad wedge shape, with its distinct blend of chamfered, beveled, and rounded edges.  And, of course, the red TrackPoint pointing stick.  While people seem to either love or hate the ThinkPad design with little compromise, there is no denying that ThinkPads have a distinctive look.  The ThinkPad P43s is no different in this regard.

 

Details
Removing the laptop from its protective bag, we can see, from left to right, the following ports:

smart card reader (not installed in this model)

  • USB 3.1 gen 1 Type A port
  • fan exhaust grill
  • full-sized gigabit Ethernet jack
  • Kensington lock slot

 

The inclusion of a full-sized Ethernet jack is welcome.  As laptops get slimmer and slimmer, many reply on using a separate dongle or USB port for wired connectivity.

 

On the opposite side of the unit, we see, from left-to-right, the following ports:

  • Thunderbolt 3 port
  • dock port (contains a USB Type-C port)
  • USB 3.1 gen 1 Type A port
  • HDMI port
  • audio jack
  • Micro SDXC Card reader
     

I am a bit disappointed that a Micro SDXC Card reader was provided, as opposed to an SDXC Card.  The latter is still commonly used for a variety of applications, including photography, and can read Micro SDXC Cards using adapters, which are widely-available and inexpensive.  I order to use SDXC Cards, a separate USB adapter or dock must be purchased.

 

Once opened up, the P43s' six-row island-style keyboard is visible.  The TrackPoint pointing device is nestled between the G, B and H keys, and there is are three buttons for use with it below the space bar.  A fingerprint reader is located to the right of them.  Performance of the keyboard is superb, and the TrackPoint works as well as any I have used before.  The unit came equipped with a TrackPad below the keyboard, but I did not use it.

 

Inside
The rear cover of the ThinkPad P43s is secured by screws and plastic tabs, but is easily enough removed with the proper tools, gaining access to the system board.

Once inside, we can see the 49Wh battery taking up most of the space beneath the wrist rest.  In the center of the system board is a single DDR-4 SO-DIMM memory slot beneath a Mylar sheet.  To the left is an M.2 2280 SSD for storage, and above that, a M.2 2230 slot for a WWAN card.  I installed 32GB DDR4-2666 SO-DIMM into the memory to bring the memory up to 48GB, and replaced the 512GB Western Digital SN730 NVMe SSD with a 2TB Western Digital Black NVMe SSD.  The P43s uses a low-profile M.2 slot for its SSD, which (currently) limits it to 2TB SSDs (the WWAN slot does not accept SSDs).  If you need more storage space, check out the 15" or 17" models from the ThinkPad P-series.

 

Use
I normally use a laptop when traveling, commuting to and from work, etc., which gives me a chance to put them through their paces.  This year has been… different in that regard, as I mostly worked from home.  This made it a little more difficult to judge, but with the ThinkPad P43s I was able to perform the following tasks without issue:

  • run Microsoft Office 2019 and perform typical business tasks
  • attend lots and lots of virtual meetings online
  • run VMware Workstation with 4-5 virtual machines running Windows, with quite acceptable performance
  • run some internal LOB applications developed by my employer without issue (these tend to be single-threaded, but often more bound by disk I/O than anything else)

 

What is interesting about some of the virtual meetings I attended is that I had to run them on battery power and using a cellular hot spot, as my normal home office was unplugged due to lightning storms overhead.  Battery life was fantastic, being at 85% after hour-long meetings, and the webcam was adequate as well.  I did, however, use a headset to block out external noise.  One thing I did not test, though, were any games. That is more the realm of gaming laptops than slim workstations, so I did not bother trying to install any actual games on the unit.

 

The screen looked fine in terms of color and angles.  I did not notice any issues with flickering or eyestrain, even after several hours of use.

I also used the P43s with a ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock Gen 2 (type 40AN), Dell P2416D 24" WQHD LED LCD Display, MK Night Typist Warm White LED Mechanical Keyboard, Kensington M01306 Expert Mouse USB Trackball and Logitech G432 headset, all of which performed without issue.

 

Conclusions and Final Thoughts
The ThinkPad P43s excels when you need a laptop with workstation-like performance, but in a very portable package.  It is more than adequate for productivity and "road warrior" (highly-mobile workforce) needs, and moves into workstation territory with its nVidia GPU and capacity for RAM.  Its slim design comes with what may be a trade-off in storage for some, being limited to 2TB and not having an SDXC card reader built in.  That aside, there's little reason not to recommend the ThinkPad P43s.  If you are looking for a highly-mobile workstation, this one would be hard to beat.

 

Disclaimer:  I received this review unit from Lenovo.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own and independent of Lenovo.  

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky

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