New Computer: ThinkPad W541 (First Impressions)

After the ThinkPad T450 died an early and unfortunate death in early October, a replacement computer was sourced.

The ThinkPad T450 was working flawlessly until it decided to start having some serious video problems back in October. Until then, it was able to handle nearly anything you could dish at it.

Since, I’ve been using the MacBook Air for personal purposes. But the MacBook Air wasn’t a permanent replacement… it lacked the power I needed for many of the programs I use on a daily basis. I frequently work with graphics and audio, not mentioning the occasional video project.

The refurbisher I normally purchase computers through was all out of T450s. I was actually contemplating purchasing a Dell, but didn’t like price tag and the build quality looked inferior (at least in my humble opinion.)

With that and the lack of replacement ThinkPad T450’s or better, I decided to look at the W-series. Although I’ve exclusively purchased T-series ThinkPads in the past, the W-series seemed compelling due to its better specs, dedicated graphics, and numeric keypad. The W541 also features a 15″ display, over the 14″ display in the T450 (and its predecessor, the T420.)

There was two caveats for purchasing a W541. One is a W541 can cost more, although you can pay anywhere from $300 to over $1,000 for one. Someone on eBay was selling some (presumably off-lease) W541 laptops for less than $450, but they were being sold without chargers and hard drives.

The other caveat was that my aforementioned refurbisher didn’t have any W541’s in stock, either. So I purchased my W541 from a refurbisher who was decently rated on Newegg and much closer to me geographically, so I received the W541 fairly quickly.

A Look at the W541…

Although the W541 is only an inch or so larger than the T450 (diagonally), it looks much bigger than the T450. I’m hoping that the W541 will fit in the laptop bag I’ve used for carrying the T450 and T420.

After looking at the W541, you’ll notice that the battery is larger. An expanded battery has been installed in this unit at some point.

The W541’s expanded battery

The W541 also features a DVD burner drive, which the T420 also featured. The T450 did not have this feature.

The W541 shares quite a bit in common with the T450, as they’re both from around the same time period. They both use the square charger connector and both have similar keyboard styles that lack a CapsLock indicator (my pet peeve.) Similar to the T450 is my W541 has a Samsung SSD and 8GB RAM.

The W541 keyboard is similar to the T450’s keyboard, except the W541 has a numeric keypad.

I don’t believe the keyboard on the W541 is backlit, or at least I haven’t found a way to turn it on. Which is odd considering the W541 doesn’t have a ThinkLight, which even my T42 features. The W541 also lacks a webcam (which, in my book, is a plus.)

So far, the W541 seems to be a good replacement for the T450. It is more capable than the previous T450 and has some other nice features. Time will see, though, how the W541 holds up.

W541 Specs

  • Processor: Intel Core i7 @ 2.8GHz
  • Storage: 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Memory (RAM): 8GB
  • Display: built-in LCD, VGA port
  • Optical Drives: DVD burner
  • USB Ports: 4 USB
  • Other Ports: VGA, ethernet, headphone, Thunderbolt (?) port
  • Internet Connectivity: Cat 5e ethernet, WiFi (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • Other Special Features: NVIDIA “Quadro” dedicated graphics, numeric keypad
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro
  • Usage: daily driver

Originally written on November 20, 2018.

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