Lenovo ThinkPad W520 review

Large laptop with superb screen
Photo of Lenovo ThinkPad W520
From £1,157.20

The Lenovo ThinkPad W520 is not for the fainthearted. It’s a very expensive laptop. However for the money you get an extremely sophisticated machine with a fantastic screen and a powerful Intel quad-core processor. Probably best suited to those interested in graphics-intensive work, and not ideal for those who lug their laptop about daily, it’s nonetheless a very interesting machine.

Superb screen
Having spent a little time with the Lenovo ThinkPad W520, it’s clear that it’s a laptop designed for a certain kind of user. The screen is the giveaway. Measuring 15.6in, it comes in a range of resolutions. The display on our review sample had the Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, and superbly sharp bright and clear. Other available resolutions are 1600×900, and 1366×760. You can even opt for a model with a touchscreen.

Viewing angles are superb, and if you’re thinking of using this laptop to deliver presentations or watch video then you’ll also enjoy the speakers that sit vertically either side of the screen. These deliver very good sound quality – much better than we’re used to from a business laptop.

Solid but heavy
While these features are superb, between them the relatively big screen and solid Lenovo build quality do make for a laptop that’s large and heavy. At 2.7kg you’re not likely to want to carry the ThinkPad W520 very far – and if you do, you’ll have to take into account that the power supply adds another 600g or so.

The good news on that front is that you may not need the power supply. The Lenovo ThinkPad W520 comes with a nine-cell battery which protrudes from the back edge of the chassis. Lenovo says it will provide up to 8.9 hours of life. We tested it by asking the laptop to play a movie – a fair tough, battery-intensive test. it did so non-stop for an impressive 4h 6min, leading us to believe that under ordinary, less intensive use, you just might get enough from the battery for a day away from the mains.

Impressive spec
We like the little touches on the ThinkPad like the external lights on the lid that indicate battery status and other key information. Open up the machine, and in the bezel above the screen, next to the built-in camera and keyboard indicator light, there’s another LED to indictate that automatic colour calibration is underway – perfect for graphic designers.

And those involved in graphics or video, who need a machine with plenty of power, will also be keen on the ThinkPad W520′s Intel quad-core processor. It’s a blisteringly fast Intel Core i7-2720QM, and is supported by 4GB of RAM. The 500GB hard drive is also welcome.

Ports and connectors are plentiful, and run to an SD card slot, 34mm ExpressCard slot, headset connector, Ethernet port, smartcard slot, a toggle for wireless, mini-IEEE 1394 connector, combined eSATA/USB connector, two further USB connectors, an external monitor connector, and DisplayPort.

Company: Lenovo

Contact: 0870 608 4465

  • Wonderful screen, powerful processor.
  • Rather expensive and fairly heavy.


It doesn't come cheap, and the Lenovo ThinkPad W520 is really designed for graphics professionals and others who need a powerful portable with a super high-resolution screen. If you need these things, this is a superb computer.