ThinkPad P1 Mobile Workstation

“Raw power – Count on the ThinkPad P1 workstation for mission-critical reliability and powerful performance, with the added freedom of mobility that only our thinnest and lightest workstation can provide.”

lenovo thinkpad p1

I was very fortunate this year to rock the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 workstation for my presentations at Autodesk University.

What is the ThinkPad P1? Only the latest Intel Xeon processing and NVIDIA graphics. All put into an ultra-thin, super-light, mega-portable case – wrapped in Lenovo’s signature black carbon fiber finish. Lenovo does not lie when they say “this ultra-portable workstation is a must-have powerhouse for today’s most agile businesses.”

How light is it? So light that I literally checked my backpack dozens of times a day as I was sure that I lost it or misplaced it. Each time I checked, it was there. I have joked many times that it is possible is too light!


Thin in Size – Thick with Features

Lenovo claims that this is their thinnest and lightest workstation. Hard to argue with that statement. At 14″ x 10″ x 0.7″ and 4 lbs (1.81 kg), it is hard to believe that the ThinkPad P1 packs the punch of a workstation. Not only is it Lenovo’s thinnest, but its also one of the thinnest and lightest laptops of its class in the market today.


The ThinkPad P1 has been tested and proven to seamlessly render data-intensive applications. It is ISV certified for use with ArcGIS, AutoCAD, CATIA, Creo, Inventor, Microstation, NX, PDMS, Revit, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, and Vectorworks.

I had no issues navigating through AutoCAD, Inventor, and Fusion 360 drawings and models. I ran Vault, trialed Autodesk VRED. and watched many an hour of Netflix. Note, with the included Dolby Vision technology Netflix looked amazing!


Despite the slim size ( 0.7″ / 18mm thick), the ThinkPad P1 has a surprisingly wide variety of inputs. The only dongle required (and its included) is for ethernet. It is a bit annoying to require the dongle, but honestly, as its a laptop (and portable) I ended up using wifi more often than being hard wired.

The left side inputs include a headphone jack, HDMI 2.0, two Thunderbolt 3 ports,  and the AC power connector port. The right side provides the SD card reader, two USB 3.1 (Type-A) ports, and a Kensington lock. Just to the right of the keyboard is the stock fingerprint sensor.

Rapid Charge

Lenovo even found a way to reduce the power supply, shrinking the size of the power brick by more than a third compared to other Lenovo units.

Lenovo’s 13-hour battery life claim is bit ambitious, but when I wasn’t running Inventor it definitely was close. I was also very impressed with its power management, although this is maybe more of a high-five for Windows 10.

The 80 watt-hour internal battery charges (with Lenovo’s Rapid Charge technology) to 80% capacity in just an hour.

Exceptional Display and Amazing Sound

The unit I am using provides a stunning 15.6-inch 4k UHD (3840 x 2160) touchscreen display. Colours are super-vibrant with 100% Adobe colour gamut and 400 nit.

The graphics are possible with the (up to) NVIDIA Quadro P2000 with 4 GB memory. Lenovo provides two options for selection when buying the P1:

  • 15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare, 300nits, 72% color gamut
  • 15.6″ 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS multi-touch, anti-reflective, anti-smudge, 400 nits, 100% Adobe color gamut, 10-bit color depth

I’m not one for overly bright displays, but many have found the display a bit dim. However, the detail and vibrant colours are stunning. This was especially noticeable when I spun up a couple models in VRED. Its hard to describe, and this picture doesn’t do it complete justice, but let’s just say it definitely catches your eye.

Lenovo claims “amazing audio” with the ThinkPad P1, but let us be honest… it is still a laptop. The bottom-firing speakers are definitely loud enough and the audio quality good, I just wouldn’t be throwing out the amazing word.

However, plug in a good set of headphones and the included Dolby Atmos does definitely provide a solid listening experience. This may just deserve the “amazing” tag.

The Specs

This unit scored a 17,893 on the Geekbench 4 performance test, beating the workstation average (17,172). Remember, this is a laptop, not a desktop, so beating the average is very impressive.

The dimensions: 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.7” / 361.8 x 245.7 x 18.4 (mm) [W x D x H]. It starts at 3.76lbs (1.7 kg)

The three off-the-shelf versions (note, they can all be customized):

  • Intel Core i5-8400H, Windows 10 Pro, 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch IPS screen, Nvidia Quadro P1000 graphics, 8GB RAM, 256GB NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Intel Core i7-8850H, Windows 10 Pro, 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch IPS screen, Nvidia Quadro P2000 graphics, 16GB RAM, 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Intel Xeon E-2176M, Windows 10 Pro for Workstations, 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch IPS screen, Nvidia Quadro P2000 graphics, 32GB RAM, 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD

The processor is either an Intel Core i7 or the Intel Xeon E-2176M.

  • (up to) 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8850H 6 Core Processor with vPro (2.60GHz, up to 4.30GHz with Turbo Boost Technology, 9MB Cache)
  • Intel Xeon E-2176M 6 Core Processor with vPro (2.70GHz, up to 4.40GHz with Turbo Boost Technology, 12MB Cache)

Lenovo is the first to offer 6 physical cores and 12 threads with a thermal design power (TDP) of 45-watts. This balances power and performance. Xeon processors support error correcting memory, meaning it automatically detects and repairs errors, leading to your system running longer and more reliably.


Other important specs:

  • storage up to 2 TB PCIe SSD
  • memory up to 64 GB DDR4 2666 MHz
  • memory (Xeon only) up to 32 GB DDR4 2666 MHz ECC

Lenovo decided to implement user-upgradeable SO-DIMM memory modules (not soldered-down chips). So unlike other players in the market, the RAM is upgradeable.

The Green Certifications include EPEAT, ENERGY STAR 6.1, GREENGUARD, and it is RoHS compliant.


Workstation Power has Never Looked So Good

The ThinkPad P1 offers the standard ThinkPad look with the carbon fiber/graphite hybrid material. This gives it a soft-touch, matte-black type finish. The new aluminum alloy bottom cover keeps it running cool by dissipating the heat more efficiently.

It is attractive. It catches the eye. It makes others who don’t have one jealous!


The only complaint, it is not smudge proof, and it gets fingerprinted quickly.

This isn’t a Yoga, nor can you flip the screen all the way around to make it a tablet, but it does hinge for a full flat 180-degrees.


Other than the odd placement of the function key (which should be Ctrl) the backlit keyboard is what you expect from Lenovo. Responsive keys – yet comfortable. As its also quite thin, you’ll have no issues typing on this system for hours.


Fortified for the Toughest Ordeals

Lenovo inflicts some of the most stringent product testings on ThinkPads.  The ThinkPad P1 endured 12 military-grade testing requirements and passed more than 200 quality checks to ensure it performs in extreme conditions.

“From the arctic wilderness to desert dust storms, from zero gravity to spills and drops, you can trust this mobile workstation to handle whatever life throws your way.”

ThinkPad Durability

  • Military certification with MIL-STD 810G
  • Multi-layered carbon fiber top cover protects the device
  • Aluminum alloy bottom cover for dissipating heat

This testing includes humidity (Relative humidity of 91–98% at 20–60°C), vibration, solar radiation, altitude (15,000 feet), extreme temperatures (25°C–60°C), mechanical shock, fungus (yes fungus!), and sand and dust.


Final Thoughts

Pros: Outstanding (powerful) performance, slim and lightweight, world-class keyboard. Great video. One sexy looking unit

Cons: runs warm. pricing makes it a bit niche.

One of the thinnest and lightest workstations on the market. It looks like a premium ultrabook but is actually a workstation. It provides power, yet is extremely portable.

What else can I say? The 4k display pops. The carbon fiber case and system design are sexy. The keyboard plus thin case makes for a comfortable experience. The Xeon plus Quadro combo packs a punch.

It was created for the business user needing the power to run their high demanding applications. It is for the designer who needs the best highest-res displays. Starting at a reasonable $1699, but to run CAD sufficiently you’ll be looking at probably twice this. It is not cheap, but compared to others in this same space it is on the lower end of price. If you are in the market for a new workstation and want to save space or will be mobile often, this is a unit to consider.




Disclaimer: Lenovo provided Design & Motion with a unit for the purpose of testing & writing a product review…. nothing more.  In no way have they imposed any restrictions on this article nor was payment received for this review.