The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15 receives an Intel Core i5 upgrade, bolstering its position as a powerful - and colourful - laptop which will appeal to more than just business users
Gayer than your usual business laptop is Lenovo’s revised ThinkPad Edge 15. It keeps the boldly coloured top that screams for attention, but the silicon inside this updated model has been spruced up with a faster Intel Core i5 processor.
Under the glossy scarlet lid (other, more sober finishes such as black are available) we find the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15 really is ready for business.
First there’s the same great keyboard as the ThinkPad X100e that we couldn’t keep our fingers off. It has gently scalloped tops to its slightly rounded Scrabble tiles, with a smooth sprung action that’s relatively quiet in use.
This is complemented by a reasonable sized trackpad, with two lovely positive-feeling click buttons below. A rubber-nippled trackpoint is a second option for cursor control, set in the middle of the keyboard and backed up by a set of three buttons, for left and right clicking and scrolling in conjunction with the pointing stick.
Lenovo’s designers must have thought themselves clever to incorporate a red LED power-on into the dot of the ‘i’ in the ThinkPad logo. This badge on the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15 sits in the bottom right corner of the wrist rest area at a jaunty 45-degree angle, and is repeated on the lid too. The overall effect is quirky, if not perhaps a little cheesy.
As well as keyboard and input devices tuned for comfort and productivity, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15's matt-finish screen is commendably easy to read. It’s a 16:9 widescreen, hitherto unusual for a business laptop, but bound to become more common as economies of scale mean that squarer displays dwindle in availability.
While these 16:9 screens are great for watching widescreen film and video, it’s not so clear how well suited a letter-boxed screen is to daily report writing and spreadsheet compiling.
Ports are aplenty, with VGA and HDMI video outputs, two USB 2.0 on the right, one on the back and a combined eSATA/USB 2.0 on the left. Also sinister-side is gigabit ethernet, ExpressCard 34 and a headphone jack, while SD cards can be loaded into a slot on the front edge.
Circling the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15's flat top deck – and matched by another around the screen – is a silver-coloured band. This lends an air of strength and security, even if it is made of weaker plastic painted to look like aluminium.
So to the insides. Our sample featured an Intel Core i5-430M which can benefit from a modicum of on-the-fly Turbo Boosting, up to 2.53GHz. You can also find the ThinkPad Edge 15 with lower-cost AMD processors, or an Intel Core i3.
We also noted that Lenovo offers the ThinkPad Edge 15 optionally with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5145 512MB graphics card; but our loaner relied on the GMA HD graphics, integrated right into the main processor.
While Intel’s graphics solutions used to inevitably carry our warning ‘so modern games are out of the question’, we’ve found in recent testing that these latest chips really are as quick as Intel advertising suggests.
Our standard benchmark for real-world graphics performance is the five year-old game FEAR, played at Maximum detail settings. Intel’s prior best effort was the GMA 4500M HD, which could typically muster only 6 frames per second here.
With its Intel Core i5-430M processor, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15 averaged 17fps at Max quality – still a little short of smooth 25fps – but 28fps was available with detail dropped to High.
And in general system performance, our WorldBench 6 benchmark test finished with a score of 101 points, showing desktop performance from this sturdy 2.5kg notebook.
Battery life of the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15 was good, lasting over 4.5 hours (276 mins) in the Mobile Mark 2007 Productivity test.
In the deficit column, Lenovo’s own programs – eg, ThinkVantage Toolbox – may try and make the Windows experience more approachable but they do advertise at you to buy Lenovo products.
We also had issues with Lenovo’s support website, often presenting a ‘page not found’ when we were trying to find drivers after reinstalling Windows.
See also: Group test: what's the best laptop?
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