We've taken a look at the ThinkPad P53 laptop. 

The Lenovo ThinkPad P53 carries on the robust and well-designed aspect of the ThinkPad P52 & compellingly, it is among the first mobile workstation laptops to offer faster options, than the Quadro 3000 series graphics (on a mainstream 15.6" chassis). For context, the higher-end RTX 3000+ series option was normally reserved for the 17.3" laptop, so if you do need a powerful GPU - you could now have it in a 15.6" chassis, without having to go too far from the trio of traditional laptop brands. 

So now, the P53 with the NVIDIA Quadro T1000/T2000 series graphics could serve as the dependable workstation, for most people, who may not need as intensive GPU workload (or have more specific budget / or desktop rendering machine). They'll still have the option to go for other non-GPU upgrades, such as more cores (up to 8 Cores with Core i9), and the option for up to 128GB, both will be attractive to this group. This is offered alongside the touch screen OLED 4K HDR, FHD 500nits HDR display options. It really appears to be designed with a wide usage case in mind.

And of course, the P53 serves to cater to the higher-end niche (previously the P52 addressed, though the P53 has additional GPU / CPU options on hand to go further). Indirectly it seems Lenovo has bifurcated the product into multiple distinct product range operating under one product name (the budget, of course, will determine what you'll have).

ThinkPad P53 come in different forms?

  • Yep: The Quadro RTX based P53 appears to have noticeably different internals (to the Quadro T1000/T2000 GPU version): RTX machines require more powerful cooling, and have 3x M.2 slots instead (to safe space internally). The Quadro T series based machines will have 2x M.2 slots + 1x 2.5" HDD slot. 
  • Additionally, the standard spec ThinkPad P53 will be approx 2.5 kg. However, the multitouch (OLED 4K HDR) version is close to 3.0kg. 

The hardware upgrade such as "Core i9" and RTX will sound great on paper - though it would be useful, as always to ask what you're trying to use it for, and whether there is competing use for the money (this is especially true, as the P53's highest-end spec is incredibly budget demanding)

Lenovo has opted to install improved cooling & chose a more power-saving variant of the Quadro RTX cards (Max Q version), which do not perform quite as fast as their full RTX cards, though are still very fast & impressive engineering to fit into the 15.6" body.

Online reviews (e.g. NoteBook Check) seem to suggest that even the power saving version, of the higher-end RTX cards, could still benefit from more cooling (the manufacturer's warranty will be the useful peace of mind). For the people who needs the fastest option, this will be a price worth paying. And of course, if you don't need the flagship graphics card, then this shouldn't affect the more normal T1000/T2000 / RTX 3000 cards based ThinkPad P53.

A few spec possibilities on the workstation laptop:

  • P52 refurb: Core i7/Xeon, P2000/P3200 GPU
  • P53 budget: Core i5 (4 Cores), T1000 GPU
  • P53 mid-budget: Core i7 (6 Cores), 512GB, T2000
  • P53 performance-focused+value preference: Core i7 / RTX 3000/4000.
  • P53 with all the trimmings, well you know what to do. 

What are the alternatives: 

Worth alternatives to condition might range from:

  • ThinkPad X1 Extreme / ThinkPad P1: These machines are lighter and thinner. They're great, if you're agreeable to a 64GB RAM ceiling / are open to the Quadro T1000, less ludicrously fast in comparison to the Quadro RTX cards. 
  • HP alternatives would be the ZBook 15 G5/G6/ or the ZBook Studio G5/G6 if you'd prefer a touch screen. The HP ZBook has better speakers (since the G5). 
  • Dell's Precision 5540 and 7540 matches the Lenovo's P1 and P53 series respectively in product positioning. It's often a matter of machine-specific extra that might tempt you in either direction. Both the HP / Dell do not yet offer RTX 4000/5000 options in a 15.6" design. 

The Good:

  • Rigid, well-made chassis (as usual with the Lenovo ThinkPad line, especially high-end P range)
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Bright & matte 1080p display
  • Good connectivity - very good selection.
  • Decent maintenance options
  • Highly customizable configurations - from the factory (with plenty of warranty) or when refurb like we have seen with P50, P51, P52 etc)
  • Extensive warranty optional (from the factory: 3 to 5-year options, RTB and even onsite service option)
  • Better speakers - good quality speakers with Dolby Atmos tech
  • Better battery life (see reviews)

Some notes:

  • The RTX / i9 and other premium options push the price up very quickly.
  • The new internal battery charges faster, but won't be everyone's cuppa as some will prefer swappable battery. 
  • CPU performance reduced during combined stress (high workloads)
  • A lower-powered 80-watt version of the Quadro RTX 5000 (without being labelled as such or at all)
  • The webcam works, but don't throw away your external conference webcam just yet.
  • WWAN has to be chosen at the beginning (to have the required antennas)