Lenovo ThinkPad T61p review: Lenovo ThinkPad T61p

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MSRP: $2,299.00

The Good High-end components for serious business; internal roll cage protects LCD; 802.11n Wi-Fi for faster wireless throughput.

The Bad Baseline warranty lasts only one year.

The Bottom Line For business users whose work involves intense data manipulation or high-end graphics, the ThinkPad T61p laptop delivers powerful performance in a portable form.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 7
  • Support 7

Lenovo ThinkPad T61p

Two months after we reviewed the Lenovo ThinkPad T61, the company released the ThinkPad T61p, a mobile workstation that features a faster processor, higher-end discrete graphics, and a sharper-resolution display for business users who want a laptop that can handle data- or graphics-intensive applications. The higher-end components proved capable of heavy lifting on our performance benchmark tests, without negatively affecting battery life. Extra muscle aside, the ThinkPad T61p shares all the features found across the ThinkPad line: a sturdy (if boxy) case, an excellent keyboard, and the helpful ThinkVantage suite of support and configuration tools. The ThinkPad T61p isn't for everyone--in fact, many users' needs can be met with less-expensive systems--but video and graphics professionals and other power users will find what they need within the ThinkPad T61p's slender, portable case.

Price as reviewed/starting price $2,275/$1,814
Processor 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700
Memory 2GB of 667MHz DDR2
Hard drive 100GB at 7,200rpm
Graphics 256MB Nvidia Quadro FX 570M
Chipset Intel Mobile 965 Express
Operating system Windows Vista Business
Dimensions 14.1x10x1.4 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.4 inches
System weight/weight with AC adapter 6.4/7.3 pounds
Category Midsize

Like all ThinkPad laptops, the T61p's chassis has been reinforced with an internal roll cage, replacing the traditional solid-magnesium-alloy cover. The laptop's design also includes sturdy steel hinges and a shock-mounted hard drive. The ThinkPad keyboard is still one of the best laptop keyboards available, offering an extremely comfortable typing experience. The T61p also features both an eraser-head pointing stick and a touch pad, each of which has a set of mouse buttons (the top set includes a scroll button in the middle). Above the keyboard are three handy volume buttons--the extent of the system's dedicated multimedia controls--and a blue ThinkVantage button, which summons Lenovo's helpful preinstalled support-and-configuration utility.

The 15.4-inch, wide-screen LCD display offers a sharp 1,900x1,200 native resolution, which is a bit finer than the 1,280x800 resolution common to screens of this size. Such a sharp resolution should be extremely helpful for detailed graphics work, though text and icons were a bit small. We like the screen's matte finish, which offers fewer reflections than the glossy screens found on many laptops.

  Lenovo ThinkPad T61p Average for midsize category
Video VGA-out VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data Three USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat memory card reader Four USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat memory card reader
Expansion PC Card and ExpressCard slots PC Card slot
Networking Modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN Modem, Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

The ports and connections on the T61p are in line with what you'd expect from a business laptop, although we'd have liked to see one more USB port and an S-Video output. Our review unit didn't have Bluetooth (which is an available option), but it did offer a built-in 802.11n (aka Draft N) antenna, for the very latest in fast Wi-Fi connection speeds. You will, of course, need an 802.11n router to take advantage of it.

The ThinkPad T61p is designed for computational heavy lifting, so our review unit came stocked with a top-of-the-line 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo T7700 processor and an Nvidia Quadro FX 570M graphics card with 256MB VRAM. As expected, the ThinkPad T61p posted strong scores on CNET Labs' performance benchmarks, besting the Fujitsu LifeBook E8410 and the Gateway E-475M, and matching the performance of the similarly configured MicroExpress IFL90. Our testing suite doesn't include professional-level graphics programs, but the ThinkPad T61p did perform quite well on our consumer-level graphics tests. Unless you're a graphics professional, however, your needs will likely be met with a much cheaper, consumer-focused system, such as the MicroExpress IFL90 or the HP Pavilion dv6500t.

The ThinkPad T61p lasted almost three hours on our DVD battery drain test using the included nine-cell battery, which sticks out about a half-inch from the rear of the system. The MicroExpress IFL90 held out 10 minutes longer, but the ThinkPad T61p outlasted both the Gateway E-475M and the Fujitsu LifeBook E8410 by nearly half an hour. Our DVD battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.

The baseline warranty for the Lenovo ThinkPad T61p is one year with 24-hour toll-free phone support; we recommend that business users extend the warranty to three years, which is affordably priced at $99. You can also opt for on-site service and additional term extensions. The preloaded suite of ThinkVantage applications helps users troubleshoot problems, and company's support Web site also has an extensive support section.

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
Lenovo ThinkPad T61p

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