Thinkpad T550 Review

July 1, 2015 - Hardware

A while ago, I noted in my post about remapping keys how I got a new laptop. Though at the time I had not used the system enough to feel it fair to provide any sort of review on the product, I’ve been using it for a month now and feel that should be enough to offer my thoughts on the product.


it is worth noting that the T550, like Lenovo’s other Thinkpad models, offers a lot of customization options. In my case, I configured it with a 2.6Ghz i7 5600U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 2880×1620 Multi-touch display, A Fingerprint reader, a 16GB SSD Cache,and a 500GB HDD. Since then I have replaced the Hard Disk with a 480GB Sandisk Ultra II SSD. It is somewhat notable that the system does not feature any sort of discrete graphics capability. My purposes for the machine was primarily for work tasks, so Visual Studio, Text Editors, pgadmin, Browsers, Excel, Skype, and so forth. “Gaming” would be off the table pretty much, though I imagine for some games it would run admirably, the lack of dedicated graphics means that desktop applications are the main benefactor.

I am quite impressed with the system and how well it holds up. It has amazing battery life- over twice the battery life of my previous laptop, which now serves the purpose of a clock on my nightstand. The high resolution of the screen makes it easy to have a lot of different applications open, and while I’ve found I needed to increase the DPI of the screen to be able to read anything, The added definition is amazing to see on a laptop system. It has a higher resolution than my desktop screen (which is 2560×1440) but is about a quarter of the area so pixel density is amazing.

I’ve taken to trying to use the system as my primary development system. This allows me to segregate some of my personal stuff and my work stuff. Realistically I’ve ended up using both my desktop and my laptop for development tasks- simply because it is faster to do so. I’ve also installed some prerelease VS versions for testing purposes, which I haven’t done on my desktop mostly due to disk space considerations (a 480GB SSD is only large if you don’t install a lot of stuff on it, it turns out)

Arguably one complaint I can think of would be how difficult it is to access the system’s innards. With my older Thinkpad 755CDV system, getting access to things like the Hard Disk was incredibly straightforward- the keyboard tray basically lifted up and you could remove and replace components toolessly. With this new T550, I had to release several captive screwes, spudger apart the bottom panel, and then it took quite a bit of force to remove it and get to the insides. Not a massive dealbreaker- as I don’t exactly intend to be constantly replacing components- but it was something of a surprise to see that accessibility has actually decreased with more recent models!

Of note perhaps is the expandability that requires said disassembly. Internally it can support up to 16GB of RAM, and has three M.2 slots. In my case, one has the Wireless card, and the other has the 16GB cache SSD, with the third remaining empty. This leaves some room for expansion, with the option of replacing or upgrading one of the existing M.2 cards and even adding a while new one. It should be noted that things are tightly packed and larger M.2 cards may not fit, though.

All in all I’ve found the Thinkpad T550 to be an excellent machine that while lacking a bit of Oomph compared to “Gaming” PCs it has excellent build quality and (most important to me) a Trackpoint. The Trackpoint has actually “ruined” me in the sense that using the AccuPoint on my old Toshiba feels odd simply because the Nub on the Toshiba is far smaller and has to be operated slightly different. With this more recent system I hold my finger over top, and gently push down and in the direction I want to move the cursor; with the Accupoint this sort of works but it lacks grip and typically you would push it from the side, or at an angle from one side depending on the direction you want to send the cursor.

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