Lenovo ThinkPad W510 – first impressions

w510 Friday afternoon I received two Lenovo ThinkPad W510’s. The one I decided to look at first is the model with the 1920x1080 Multi Touch screen.  Let me first say I am not a big fan of this high a resolution on a screen that is 15.6”.  I have two other laptops with 15.4” screens that have native resolutions of 1920x1200.  But this machine is very different.

The Specs

Here are specifications for the machine I am currently reviewing. It is a ThinkPad W510 Model 4389-2UU. It has a Intel® Core™ i7-820QM quad-core processor 6MB Cache. I loaded the machine with 4x4GB PC3-8500 1066MHz SoDIMM memory sticks for a total of 16GB of RAM. The machine arrived with a Seagate 500GB 7200rpm hard drive.  I pulled that drive and set it aside then installed my Intel 160GB Generation 2 SSD drive.

The screen is 15.6" (396mm) FHD (1920x1080) color, anti-glare, LED backlight, 242 nits, 16:9 aspect ratio, 500:1 contrast ratio, 95% Gamut, MultiTouch (touchscreen supports two-finger touch).  To keep the screen calibrated, this model includes a Pantone huey™PRO X-Rite® Colorimeter.  The color calibration sensor is in palm rest near the fingerprint reader.

The video chipset is the NVIDIA® Quadro® FX 880M with 1GB of discrete memory. The chassis has a VGA DB-15 connector which is typical. It also includes a DisplayPort connector (supports single-link DVI-D via cable 45J7915); and has a Maximum external resolution: 2560x1600 (DisplayPort)@60Hz; 2048x1536 (VGA)@85Hz; 1920x1200@60Hz (single-link DVI-D via cable 45J7915).

The W510 is 15.6W" (WxDxH): 14.68" x 9.65" x 1.26-1.41"; 372.8mm x 245.1mm x 32-35.8mm. The 6-cell weight starts at 5.66 lb (2.57kg); 9-cell: starting at 6.01 lb (2.72kg).  For those of you keeping score, this machine is slightly wider than a T61p, and slightly heavier.  If you are used to carrying around a T61p or W500, you aren’t going to get bent out of shape by the difference.  This isn’t a T400, T410 or T410s so don’t bother comparing them on size and weight.  This is a bigger and heavier machine.  But it isn’t a huge, fat, 17” pizza box either.

The eval unit I have includes the 5-in-1 reader (MMC, Memory Stick, Mem Stick Pro, SD, SDHC), Two USB 3.0, one Powered USB 2.0, one USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, modem (RJ-11), Intel Gigabit ethernet (RJ-45), and an IEEE 1394 FireWire 400 (4-pin connector; 1394a-2000 standard).  I have no idea why Lenovo still includes a modem and connector. In fact, I’m a little perturbed with it’s placement because it’s in the location where I would expect a couple of USB ports.

Under the Covers

I needed to go pretty deep into the case right away because I wanted to change the memory configuration and hard drive.  The W510 has four 204 pin DDR3 memory slots.  Two are easy access from the bottom of the machine, and two are underneath the keyboard.  In case you are wondering, the ThinkPad T61p uses 200 pin DDR2 SoDIMMS that are not compatible with the W510.  I have other machines that use the 204 pin DDR3 sticks so I pulled the memory out of all of them and loaded this machine with 16GB of memory.  In the next 30 days I’ll put all of that memory to use with virtualization.

Lenovo also changed the primary hard drive bay.  It’s underneath the machine and accessible from the bottom.  It isn’t hard to swap drives, but it’s nowhere near as easy as the T61p, W500 or T400.  I don’t really like the new design because I do a lot of drive swaps, but I can live with it.  It certainly isn’t a deal breaker.  The machine is designed for people that don’t swap drives often so you need not be concerned.  Be happy there is relatively easy access.

Multi Touch Screen

Touch interfaces are the rage.  They’ve been around for years and thanks to Apple and the iPhone, people have started to discover them en masse.  The model I received for evaluation has the 1920x1080 resolution Multi Touch screen. I was eager to see he brightness and color of the screen because I fell in love with the screen on the W700.  I plugged in the laptop and fired it up.  The first time I saw the screen it had a slight rose colored hue to it.  I just grinned. 

I launched the Pantone hueyPRO X-Rite application and started the color calibration process.  That is so kewl. You shut the lid, it does it’s thing then beeps on completion and you get to see the results.  MUCH better. I am not a Pro photographer so I’ll let the Pros chime in on the screen from their reviews, but it looks pretty good to me. Extremely good for a touch screen device. The screen itself is listed as an anti glare screen but I noticed more glare on it than my T61p or other laptops. It appears there are some anti glare coatings on the screen. I’m not really sure.

I do know this, I would not order the multi touch screen. I don’t have a big use for multi touch applications on a device like this so I would order the FHD 1920x1080 without the multi touch option.  For developers, it would seem to be a no brainer to get this option, but I’m planning on getting a slate style device this year so I would forgo the option on this laptop. 

The FHD is super bright. That is the biggest gripe I have with the other 15.4” 1920x1200 based laptops I have. Those screens don’t have nearly the brightness and contrast as this screen. I still detect a slight graininess but I believe that is due to the touch screen.  The other W510 evaluation unit I have has the HD+ 1600x900 screen and it is bright and extremely clear.  However, that screen dropped the resolution below the tolerable limits for me, so the 1920x1080 FHD screen is going to be the one I get when it comes time for a purchase.  Windows 7 and the DPI settings allow fine adjustments to font rendering to suit your preferences.  I run 1920x1080 at 115% or 125% DPI.  Looks great and it’s easy on my eyes.  Lenovo has a winner with these screens.

My manager, John Martin, will snicker at the next comment or two.  You see, I was in Seattle a couple of weeks ago and we were reviewing some data I had on my T61p.  I turned the machine so he could see the screen and he had a surprised look on his face.  I said, “What?” He remarked at how clean the screen was.  I must admit I do like my screens fingerprint and dust free. I cleaned the screen just before I flew to Seattle. You can imagine my shock of all of those fingerprints on the W510 screen after just a few hours of use. Not sure I could live with that.  Clean freak.

Other Stuff

Let me tell you about a couple of minor things I thought were pretty cool before I get into a Windows 7 re-install and the tips and tricks associated with that.  First up is my favorite new button.  The Microphone mute button.  Press it an it kills the microphone and lights up a nice, bright, amber orange.  Because I use my computer now for a lot of phone calls, this is a life savor.  If you’ve ever done or said anything you wished you had not on a live mic, you know what I mean.

I also like some of the power management that has gone into this machine. I will fully explore it in testing over the next 30 days, but I really liked how the management software just shuts down power to the DVD drive until you need it.  Nice. I’ll be testing the power management for real at the MVP Summit.  I haven’t decided if I am taking this machine because I can’t use my data card in this machine (it’s PCMCIA).

The W510 seems to be running fairly quiet and cool, especially for such a powerhouse machine. I have not taxed the system yet.  I have also not tested battery life.  I did observe one thing I am going to re-test.  I noticed if I put the Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000 micro USB transmitter in the USB 3.0 port, the machine fails to boot.  In fact, it seemed to overheat the machine.  Strange.  I am going to try a repro on that tomorrow or the next day.

The machine has two cool looking blue colored USB 3.0 ports.  I was going to trek down to Fry’s today and see if they have any USB 3.0 hard drive enclosures, but I never made it over there.  I am going to try and make the trip after I work out in the morning.

I have a gripe about the Ultrabay.  Once again Lenovo has changed it so that you cannot use hard drive adaptors from a previous generation of ThinkPad's.  Therefore, the T400/W500 Ultrabay hard drive adaptor will not go into the W510 bay.  I looked closely at it, and it appears I could make it work, but I would have to use an exacto knife on the W500 hard drive adaptor I have.  I guess I’ll have to wait and see if the come out with one.  I don’t see it listed yet.

w510_winsat Installing Windows 7 x64 – Tips and Tricks

This is going to be a relatively short section but let me give you some advice.  The eval unit I received came with the 32 bit version of Windows 7 Professional.  Strange.  Nobody in their right mind is going to fill four slots with 1GB DDR3 sticks so everyone has the potential to go well over the 4GB limit for x86 versions of operating systems.  I know, people have 32 bit app compat concerns.  This machine wasn’t designed for them. This is a power user work horse. Use 64 bit operating systems.

When I started looking at the drivers at the Support and Download area, my sixth sense told me something was missing.  My sixth sense was right.  Fortunately I paid attention to that and instead of flattening the original drive, I pulled it from the machine and set it aside. 

I had to go back to that drive and get some files in the SWTOOLS directory.  The SWTOOLS directory has all of the drivers and software that is factory installed.  Be sure to copy this directory to a safe place.  Be sure to use the installed ThinkVantage tools to create a factory disk set.  It’s always the first thing I create when I get a new machine.  It takes three DVDs.

The Lenovo W510 Support and Downloads area currently doesn’t have the power management driver for the W510.  Huge oversight.  This is a key requirement for the Pantone color calibration sensor and software.  It’s also a key prereq for the MIC mute button and other components in the machine.

You’ll also find out most of the USB ports don’t work well with some external enclosures until the power management and NEC USB 3.0 drivers are installed.  My external 2.5” Vantec NexStar 3 enclosure would only work in the combo eSATA/USB port.  It would not work on the powered USB port or either of the USB 3.0 ports until the drivers were installed.  Thankfully it worked because there were some key drivers needed on it.

I had already downloaded all of the 64 bit drivers I could find and had them stashed on the NexStar 3.  Good thing.  Windows 7 Enterprise x64 doesn’t recognize the ThinkPad W510 Intel(R) 82577LM Gigabit Ethernet or Intel(R) Centrino(R) Ultimate-N 6300 AGN wireless chipsets using the driver base in the RTM build of Windows 7. That means you cannot talk to the internet and Windows Update until you download and install them from the Lenovo Support and Downloads area.

Fortunately, nearly everything you need for a 64 bit install of Windows 7 is on the download area.  The rest is in the SWTOOLS directory including software for burning DVD’s and other stuff.  The ThinkPad W510 I received did not come loaded with “crapware”.  In fact, there was very little pre-loaded.  Thanks Lenovo !!!

Some Final Thoughts and What’s Next

So far I am very impressed with the physical build of the machine, fit and finish, and performance. I have a lot of planned testing coming the next 30 days including running Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V, Red Hat, and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop if I have time.

I like the layout of the ports with the sole exception of the RJ-11 port.  Dump that. I’m glad the USB ports are now horizontal instead of vertical.  I am planning on getting a USB data card soon so that will be helpful for it.

That’s it for now.  I wanted to give you some first impressions in the first 24 hours of having the machine.  I went a little over that because it took some time to back up other machines, move memory and SSD drives around, research the missing drivers, etc.  I have not hit any show stoppers so far and Windows 7 Enterprise x64 is flying (as evidenced in the screenshot above).  Click on the screenshot for a larger view of the data.

[UPDATE for 02/10/2010] I have gone through the process of installing Windows Server 2008 R2 and documented the steps I took at http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2010/02/10/install-windows-server-2008-r2-on-a-lenovo-thinkpad-w510.aspx.  I hope you find this useful.  Please ask W510 R2 comments there. 


Comments (76)

  1. Flemming Riis says:

    amazing specs for a laptop it would proberly outperform most servers in smb marketplace

  2. Chad Solarz says:

    Thanks keith! you answered all my questions. now to just price one and then win the lottery – lol

    my old XPS laptop is giving me fits, trying to select a suitable w7/ boot to VHD R2 box that I can do it all on. looks like with an SSD and that much ram, I can do it all. Even play some video games :), yes even WoW. lol

  3. glen says:


    Make sure you keep us informed on the use of the multibay.  I have a T500, and that is the best feature, being able to boot to a second hard drive, directly from BIOS.  It is where I keep my Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V on one hard drive and my openfiler NAS on another.

    thanks for this and other reviews on laptops.

  4. Keith Combs says:

    Thanks Alvin. The W510 bay height is larger so although this might work, I can tell you with confidence the reverse would not be true. Something that fits the W510 bay flush isn’t going into those other machines.

    Since the W510 isn’t listed, I’m betting the adapter is coming.

  5. Chris says:

    Thanks Keith,

    this is the first review of a W510 I have seen anywhere and I have been looking every day since they were announced.  Great to hear the FHD multi touch screen is good.  I was worried about that.  I’m obsessive about keeping my screen clean (Monster screen cleaner fan) and I have a feeling this feature may not be utilized much.

    I prepurchased from another source a Corsair (Samsung) 256GB SSD to replace the 500GB 7200rpm spinner.  Your insigts on drivers are invaluable, though on my order I selected Windows 7 Pro 64bit so hopefully I have less headaches with the swap over.

    The Lenovo Canada site still does not list the 9cell slice battery or the Ultrabay adaptor for this model.  These are on the shopping list along with a dock.

    Thanks for putting up your intial impressions, it is brilliant to finally be able to read a review on the W510!!!

  6. Sherman Woo says:

    Awesome, I was looking for "thinkpad W510 specs" which brought me here. Posted today! Crazy. I ordered the touch screen since it was just a couple hundred more than the regular FHD screen. Not sure I’ll have a lot of uses for it, but might be useful in presentations, and of course the "wow" factor 🙂 I too don’t like fingerprints on my screen, not sure what I was thinking!

    I also ordered the tray adapter III (43N3412), b/c I swore it said it worked for the W510 at the time I submitted the order last week.

    Doesn’t seem to say that now. Hmmm…

    The reason why I was looking for the tech specs: weight of the unit with the touch screen, and the type of HD for the enclosure. One review I read (tho I think it was for the T400s) indicated 1.8" hard drives were used. I believe the W510 accepts 2.5" drives in either bay; can you please confirm?

    Thanks; looking forward to more detailed reviews of the unit.

  7. Keith Combs says:

    The W510 uses 2.5" drives in the primary bay. I don’t know yet about the ultrabay but most likely it’s 2.5" there as well.

  8. MGM says:

    hi keith

    a very interesting machine and a brilliant review. Did you make specific changes for the win7-installation on the intel ssd or did you just a "normal" installation? i’m very interested in that. thanks. mgm

  9. Keith Combs says:


    At the moment, it’s a default installation of Windows 7 Enterprise x64 with one exception. I reverted the AHCI storage controller driver back to the Microsoft driver so that Windows 7 could handle the SSD TRIM duties as opposed to using a manual or scheduled process with the Intel tools.

    That’s really the only tweak I’ve done so far.

    I did buy a SIIG 2.5" Superspeed USB 3.0 enclosure today and dropped a Seagate 500GB 7200rpm drive in it. Man, that is a fast and portable solution. NICE.

    I haven’t even had a chance to verify Win7 is correctly set for a SSD drive. I’ve been having too much fun with the machine this weekend.


  10. chinesebonsai says:

    I can’t believe the specs on this laptop. Think I might have to replace my EEE now 🙂

  11. Peter Kellner says:

    Wondering why you did not go for the faster memory?  Do you know how much difference it would make?  I’d guess a reasonable amount.

  12. Keith Combs says:


    As I indicated in the blog post, I already had the memory. As for what I would buy, that really depends on the market price and personal or corporate financial situation.

    DDR3 4GB sticks for laptops aren’t cheap.



  13. John Ramminger says:


        I got my W510 on thursday and the FHD screen is goregous.  I didn’t spring for the touch screen.  I got 8gb if the form of 4 x 2GB so I can wait until the 4gb sticks come down.  I have to say with all the thinkpads I have used (over a dozen over the years), this one has the most issues for me.  The ultrabay being different is a huge pain since they don’t have one available now.  Re-buying the 135 watt monster power adapters will also be an added cost.  I keep 2 extra, one for the bag and one for the house and office.  

    My biggest issue so far is that I can’t get the Intel wired ethernet adapter driver to load in Server 2008 R2.  I work with sharepoint at a lot of clients where wireless is not an option.

    Any thoughts?

  14. Keith Combs says:


    The W510 works with the 90W chargers.  I have not tried the 65W. When you boot the machine it will detect and complain about the lesser charger.  It appears is still charges the batter and downshifts the CPU.

    I have not tested the differences in speed when running on the 90W cord.

    As for the Wireless question, I haven’t had time to start testing Windows Server 2008 R2 but I will very soon and report back. Especially now that you mentioned that issue.

    Did you start the wireless feature and service?

  15. John Ramminger says:

    keith,  thanks for the info on the adapater.  I have a W500 I am going to sell and it is good to know I can keep the 90W backup adapters.

    The problem is actually with the wired connection.  I was able to get the wireless working without and issue.  When you try to add the wired adapter driver it just complains and stops.  It is usually the other way around.

    My main OS on the W500 is Server 2008 due to sharpeoint and I turn on the desktop experience.  Everything but the wired adapter that I need is working, but that is a show stopper.

    I agree that the way they moved the hard drive underneeth, kind of stinks.  I am pissed off that they changed the ultabay again, it seems like everytime I switch notebooks there is at least $100 in stuff I have to buy to make it usable.



  16. Peter A says:

    I’ve also ordered a W510 and sitting here just waiting for the delivery any day now. I’m also going to use mine for SharePoint-development, and will be installing the Server 2008 R2 as host OS to run those Hyper-V VMs. I hope drivers, e.g. USB3, won’t be too much of an issue here, so I’m quite curious about your review on that part.

    I guess I’ll have to wait a bit though, as I see I need to special order the Bay Adapter. Does the W510 support RAID’ed 2.5" SSD’s? I was planning on putting in two OCZ Vertex 120 GB SSDs I have. Hoping for compatibility. Wonder if they will fit and boot in a RAID configuration. What’s your opinion on that?

    Oh, and external USB3 enabled SSDs like the PQI S533 would be a nice touch to the system as well. It would be great if you have the possibility to push that USB3 to the limit in a near future review.

    Kind regards,


  17. Keith Combs says:


    Windows Server 2008 R2 installed fine. Wireless networking is working fine for me with the Windows 7 x64 Intel(R) Centrino(R) Ultimate-N 6300 AGN drivers.

    Make sure you have the right 64 bit drivers installed.  Then make sure to install the Wireless LAN feature for Windows Server 2008 R2. Reboot and verify the WLAN service is started.

  18. John Ramminger says:

    Keith, it was wired that was the problem, see my earlier post.



  19. Keith Combs says:


    Understood.  It’s probably the same thing that happened with the W500 and Windows Server 2008 initially.  I actually documented the issue in the T400 install at http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2008/10/18/installing-windows-server-2008-x64-on-the-lenovo-thinkpad-t400.aspx starting at about step 3.

    More later when I get time away from my day job.

  20. Keith Combs says:


    I have this resolved but I won’t be documenting the Windows Server 2008 R2 instructions until I have had a chance to install other components.

    The workaround was very similar to what I had to do with the T400. I will research others.



  21. Patrick Lujan says:

    Where, pray tell, can one find the W510 with an FHD LCD without the multi touch screen?  I don’t see it on-line and talking to them on the phone last night the guy was telling me about a back door order he could do that wasn’t, apparently, out there publicly yet.  Unfortunately it was pushing 9:00 p.m. EST and I never heard back from him and haven’t received an e-mail as yet.

    Thanks in advance.

  22. Keith Combs says:


    That option disappeared from the site. I have no idea why. Online buying at lenovo.com is magical. SKU options come and go. Prices change.

    I’m sure it will re-appear when it decides we are worthy or when the parts pipeline is re-loaded. It will certainly be the screen I buy if I ever purchase a W510.

  23. Peter Kellner says:

    Did you get the 2560×1600 working on the displayport?  I just got my w510 and it only goes to 1280×800.  I tried entering the values in custom to no avail.  I’m on the phone with Lenovo and they are giving me a hard time.

  24. John Ramminger says:

    When I ordered mine the original date was mid January and it didn’t ship until a week ago.  I think they have a shortage of the FHD screens and they are only shipping with multitouch right now because they make more  money.  

    I was lucky enough to get one on the day it was released and the screen is awesome.  

    Now I just need the drive trays. 🙂

  25. Keith Combs says:

    I don’t have monitor capable of that resolution. So no!!!

    You going to the MVP Summit?  If so, I want to see your machine and compare the screens.

  26. Yup, heading to summit Saturday, staying through Saturday for the aspinsiders day also.  Likely I’ll have it with me (assuming I don’t return it).  I did not get the touch screen because I can’t stand working through finger prints (and Microsoft gave us a nice touch screen at PDC).  I’ve got the 1920×1080 non-touch.  It’s very very nice.  I also have the extra 1 pound 8 oz 27 hour battery which I guess lasts about 7 hours.

  27. John Ramminger says:

    I have one remaining issue if anyone has a clue.  Both in 7 Pro that can pre-installed and server 2008 r2, vmware says that it is not 64bit capable, because the bios setting is not set for Virtualization, but it is.  Any ideas?

  28. Keith Combs says:

    FYI, they steps Iwent through to install windows Server 2008 R2 are now online at http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2010/02/10/install-windows-server-2008-r2-on-a-lenovo-thinkpad-w510.aspx.  

    I will also update the main post above with this link.

  29. Alessandro says:

    Thanks for all the info, really useful.

    It would be great if anybody could comment on compatibility of this machine with linux, especially the graphic card.

  30. Keith Combs says:


    If you are trying to run VMWare Workstation or another product like it on R2 with the Hyper-V role installed, that isn’t possible.  

    Most people create (add) a BCD entry that disables the Hyper-V hypervisor so they can run other virtualization products.

    Is that what you are trying to do?

  31. Keith Combs says:


    Linux compat is usually the last thing I do before shipping the eval machine back to Lenovo. In other words, it will be several weeks before I try anything.

    In the meantime, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 rock. Give them a try. 🙂



  32. John Ramminger says:

    I didn’t enable Hyper-V, but yes, I am trying to run VMWare workstation 6.5 because you can put it into stand by.

    I will make sure the hyper-v is not there, but the weird thing is I just install 2008 R2 on my W500 like a month ago without an issue.

  33. Kevin says:

    I just got my w510 in a few days ago.  I am coming from a t60.  I have a couple of concerns.

    1.  The keyboard is giving me fits.  When I type at the rate that I did with my t60 there are letters getting mixed up.  For instanced when I type the word "the" I keep getting "teh".  I am not sure if there is a break-in period for the keyboard or if my typing will eventually get used to the key board.

    2. The location of the speaker out port is on the right side closest to the front.  This right beside where I have my external mouse.  Thus if I have an external speaker or non-usb headset plugged in it interferes with my external mouse.  Bad location in my opinion.

    3. I don’t see any input for an non-usb microphone.  Why?

    4.  My biggest concern of all is the screen resolution.  I was concerned that the FHD resolution was too large for a 15.6 screen so I went with the 1600×900. No I am concerned it the 900 on the vertical is too low.  I was using a 1440×1050 resolution on my t60 which I loved.  So do you think the 1920×1080 is too high and thus making the type to small or do you like it?

    Thanks for your post.


  34. Keith Combs says:


    1.  The T6o keyboard alignment is ver similar to the W510.  The T61p and W500 are however slightly differently position relative to the front edge of the palm rest. I’m sure what you are seeing will change as you get used to the new board. I can’t detect a significant different in key pressure or rebound on mine.

    2. I haven’t decided if I like the location or not.

    3. The output jack is also a microphone jack.

    4.  1600×900 is pretty nice but I believe if you want the highest degree of flexibility, the FHD screen is the way to go.  With the FHD screen, you can always set the 1600×900 resolution but that is slightly blurry. Another option that I prefer is to set the DPI percentage somewhere from 110-120%.  125% is a little too big for me but other people are going to like it just fine and everything is much clearer.

    The challenge you have with DPI is that all of the applications are coded to support those changes. The one we use a lot is.  IE and Firefox let you easily increase the zoom size for a pleasant experience.

    I still say the 15.4" screen at 1680×1050 is perfect.

  35. Kevin says:

    I agree with the 15.4" screen at 1680×1050!  I am surprised that it is not offered.

    I noticed that lenovo is not offering the non-multi touch FHD at this time.  I guess they are running low on supply.

  36. krymel says:

    In the tech specs there is a description of SATA for the W510 model I ordered. "Secodary hard-drive supported". Does that mean there are 2 slots for HDD’s in there? Or do I need to buy an UltraBay Adapter? And which one will work with W510? Was anyone able to proof the "ThinkPad Serial Hard Drive Bay Adapter III" #43N3412 as working for the W510?

    Thanks a lot!


  37. Keith Combs says:

    If it weren’t for the snow, I would have a 43n3412 adaptor delivered today. Given we had the largest recorded snow fall in history yesterday, I am not sure FEDEX will show up today.  We’ll see.

  38. Keith Combs says:

    The 43N3412 adaptor was delivered and as suspected it will not insert into the W510 Ultrbay slot.

    I have notified my Lenovo Engineer and will report back when they resolve the question.

    And FYI, I modified my T400/W500 Ultrabay II hard drive adaptor the other day so it would insert. All that was required was to remove the little plastic tab.  This allowed me to insert the adaptor along with a hard drive and it locked into position. However, it would not keep the drives I tested powered so it is obviously not engineered to use the Ultrabay II or III hard drive adaptors.

    Again, when I get a definitive answer on this I’ll let you know. I would imagine they have a 12.5mm hard drive adaptor coming specifically designed for the W510.  At least I hope so. It’s a deal breaker for me considering the BitLocker and Boot from VHD implications.

  39. krymel says:

    Thanks Keith!

    this information will save money for me and some people in germany who also thought about purchasing the type II or III for testing.

    For me this would also be a deal breaker. As a  web and operating systems developer I need lots of HDD space and a really fast HDD. Which means for me I would need a bigger SSD (I already have 128 GB SSD) if there is no solution for a secondary HDD. And bigger SSD’s are more expensive 🙂

    Here in germany we also have W510 machines delivered where the users report a "CPU whining" effect. (A low tweeting sound) Did you encountered something like that too?

    They also report that the display is calibrated "to brilliant" and they dont find a solution to calibrate the display manually. Maybe you know where an option for manual display color calibration can be found?

    Thanks & regards,


  40. Keith Combs says:


    It’s too early to rush o any judgment on this (ultrabay hard drive adapter).  I have provided my Lenovo reps information and they are tracking down some answers for me.

    I don’t have a CPU whine.

    As for the calibration, I have not looked into doing anything manually.  You might look into the product and site at http://www.pantone.com/Pages/products/product.aspx?pid=562

  41. Keith Combs says:


    The Lenovo team looked at the pictures I sent them and they believe the vendor that administers the loaner program sent me the wrong Ultrabay hard drive adapter in the right box. They have ordered another one for me and I believe I’ll have it next week.

  42. Josh says:

    Hey, is there a noticeable difference in color rendition between the HD+ and the FHD?

    I would prefer FHD but no touch screen and I need one now.  The 95% NTSC Gamut is only advertised on the FHD screen so I’m unsure if the quality of the HD+ is very much inferior to the FHD beyond resolution

  43. Scott says:

    I too have noticed intermittent dropped or transposed characters with the W510’s keyboard.  It usually happens only when typing quickly, and often affects words that I type frequently.  And I’m certain that I’m not typing them incorrectly this often.  For example, "Google" appearing as "Googel" or "Gogle".

    This does not seem to be an issue with other keyboards or systems that I use.  And I’ve had a week or more to adapt to the W510 and its keyboard, yet this hasn’t helped with the dropped/transposed characters.  I must assume that I have a defective keyboard, or the keyboard controller is doing something that it shouldn’t (scanning rate too slow, etc).  I’ll be contacting Lenovo about obtaining a replacement keyboard.

    Also, I order an ultra-bay hard drive adapter a week ago… but it hasn’t shipped yet.  They may be out of stock on these.

  44. Keith Combs says:

    I noticed the keyboard was dropping the letter t on me the other day.  I’ve seen this at other times as well (other letters).

    I don’t think it’s the keyboard placement or that they closed the gaps between the keys.  

    Starting to look like a defect in my typing or the keybard. And by the way, I acctually typed the missing o in keybard but it got dropped three times during the course of writing this comment.

    Maybe I just can’t type the word keyboard







    FYI, those mistakes just above aren’t my fault. It’s dropping o and k strangely on that word.

  45. Jon C says:

    Keith/All –

    I pre-ordered a 43N3412 Ultrabay SATA adapter (III) for my W510. Having received the W510 yesterday, I immediately tried it out – the adapter leaves about a 2mm gap between the top of the bay slot and the top of the adapter, and another 1mm gap along the bottom until you fiddle with the bay lock slider on the bottom – but it sits flush to the outside and DOES WORK. You have to be a little tricky about how you seat it, and then it sits reasonably securely. I will say that if I intended to travel a lot, I would take it out when I am transporting the unit and then put it back when I get it on a desktop.  I have the factory Seagate Momentus 320GB HDD in the ultrabay slot and just loaded Win7 64-bit on the OCZ Vertex Turbo SDD which I put in the primary drive bay in the bottom of the chassis. Yes, the adapter will wiggle up and down a little if you try to move it once it is seated, and it seems clear that this is not the permanent solution Lenovo intends – however, all the connectors are in the correct places and it works fine once it is seated.

    I have not yet tried the embedded RAID functionality, as I don’t have two of the same sized HDD’s to play with just yet, but it is there in the BIOS.

    If anyone wants pictures, reply and let me know.


  46. Scott says:

    Yes, mine likes to drop ‘o’ too, and occasionally drops Enter keypresses.  It’s possible that Lenovo may have received a batch of marginal keyboards from Alps.  Some users may never even notice it, as their typing speeds are probably too low to trigger the issue – or they’ll assume that the errors are actually valid typos.

    Lenovo is sending me a replacement keyboard.  I’ll update after it shows up and I’ve used it for a few days.

  47. Daniel says:

    I have the ALPS keyboard too, and it’s not quite as nice (it’s close, though) as the Chicony keyboard on my old R60. I can type slightly more accurately on the Chicony (100 wpm), as the keys need to be depressed just a tad bit less.

  48. Annabelle says:


    I just ordered my W510 yesterday, but I am beginning to doubt about my decision. I am worried about this model being overheated.  Would you mind telling what the temperature of the model is like when you have multiple software all going?  I am asking because I am writing my dissertation on this computer, and i will be working on it day and night.  Thank you so much!  

  49. Scott says:

    The replacement keyboard arrived yesterday, and I swapped it in last night.  The old keyboard FRU was 45N2071; the new keyboard is 45N2141.  Both keyboard also have a different model number printed on the back plate — the old keyboard had model # C9-USE; the new keyboard is C9-89US.

    The usual trick of peeking under the arrow key keycaps in the lower-right corner to identify the OEM doesn’t seem to help much here.  Or maybe it does.  It looks identical to the first keyboard, so it’s either the same OEM (Alps?) or one of the other OEMs (Chicony, NMB) has changed their manufacturing process.

    The key feel is much better than the first keyboard… much better tactility.  Dropped characters also seem to be greatly reduced.  The few times it has happened since the swap I believe were actually my fault.  Seems like a win.

  50. Keith Combs says:

    I am going to swap keyboards today from the other W510 I have and use it for the next few days and see how things go.

  51. Keith Combs says:


    I don’t really have any proper equipment to measure the temp, but I’ll see what I can do the next couple of days.

  52. Maysam2 says:

    would a stylus work on this screen ? like pogo sketch for iphon

  53. Keith Combs says:

    No. The documentation specifically calls out a stylus will damage the screen.

  54. Marco says:


    Could you post some pictures of the Ultrabay SATA adapter III attached in the W510? I want to have a look for the gap. Thanks.

  55. Keith Combs says:


    I have been messing around with the W510 nearly all day.  It’s been powered and running for at least 12 hours. The BIOS and Windows 7 power profiles are set to maximum performance.

    I am sitting on the couch in khaki shorts with the W510 sitting on my legs. It’s barely warm.

    There’s no way you could do this with many of the machines on the market, let alone a quad core. It’s impossible with my MacBook Pro. This is a testament to the superior cooling most ThinkPads have, and is certainly present in the W510.

    On the downside, the fan is always blowing in the W510 and it’s nowhere near silent but it’s a reasonable trade-off for running the Intel i7 Quad Core.

  56. Annabelle says:


    Thank you for answering my question about the temperature.  I have been worried sick about my dell M4300 dying. I bought it in 2008, T7800 with 4 gb ram, and it was 4000$.  It has been acting very unstable (got a few CAD software crashing and the famous blue screen). This dell computer is about 42C when i leave it on day and night.  I have never had a thinkpad, but i am really looking forward to a reliable computer that can follow me through until i finish my dissertation in the next 2 months.  Again, Keith, Thank you so much!

  57. Keith Combs says:

    One more thing about laptops that produce heat, there are several good solutions on the market.

    If you have a custom wood desk like I do, the last thing you want is a MacBook Pro sitting directly on the wood.  I use the

    http://www.targus.com/us/product_details.aspx?sku=PA241U for that.  The pegs shown in the pic are using all three sections but I only use one which lowers the angle but still provides enough room for the machine to breathe.

    For the couch, my wife and I use

    We also have
    http://www.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=489071 which is better with the Mac because it isn’t as slick a surface as the logitech pad.

  58. Bob Cox says:


    I received my w510 21 days ago.  I have w7 64, i7-920 2.0, Hd+ screen.  I was sent the only available battery option, which sticks out the back and throws the computer off balance. Performance is fabulous and screen perfect.  Squeak at the bottom of the left speaker grill that probably can’t be fixed (thin).  I use the touchp-pad most of the time and the touch-pad on this unit is worthless.  Even with updated drivers the mouse has almost no control and the gestures functions are impossible to use.  Very poor. If I were Lenovo I would stop production until the mouse and squeak problems were resolved and an appropriate battery could be provided.  Outside of that the machine is perfect.

  59. Mike S says:


    Regarding your post on Sunday, February 07, 2010 10:43 PM by Keith Combs

    You said you removed the Intel AHCI storage controller driver in order to let the Microsoft Windows 7 driver handle the SSD TRIM duties….

    Is this really better than running the Intel Toolbox? I was planning to run it manually every week (don’t like the idea of it running automatically).

    Is this the only function of the Intel Toolbox?

    Do you loose any functionality by not using the AHCI driver?

  60. annabelle says:


    Thank you for the great advice on dealing with overheating laptop. My macbook also burns hot on my wooden desk, and the Belkin cooling fan helps tremendously.

    I have two additional odd question:

    1. Have you ever tried to install window XP on this W510?  I need to install XP on W510 because lots of statistical software still runs on XP.   Would XP be able to run on this?

    2. HP is currently running a deal with the exact same configuration as this Lenovo laptop, at a fraction of the price (http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/198291).  In your opinion, how does HP stack up against Lenovo?    thank you so much!

  61. Keith according to Lenovo web page the W510 comes with Blueray drives, but I’ve been hearing otherwise, is this true. Also can you find out why Lenovo stopped giving the option for Windows7 Ulimate in Canada for the W510.

  62. jeremy says:

    Any update on the keyboard situation?  Did swapping the keyboards fix your dropped keystrokes?  I’ve noticed at several other forums people are reporting similar trouble on thinkpads equipped with this same keyboard (mostly t410).  Sorry about the long URLs:



    Also interesting is that people are having related trouble with the thinkpad usb keyboard, that appears to use the same keyboard in an external housing.  (see comments below review)


  63. Keith Combs says:

    Yes, swapping the keyboard made the issue disappear.

  64. nelson says:


    I was planning to buy the Thinkpad W510 and i heard from my friends that the video quality isn’t as good as it seems. Just wondering if that is the case because i watch a lot of movies and stuff.

  65. Keith Combs says:

    Since the eval unit I received didn’t have the blu-ray player, I didn’t test HD playback from glass. I also didn’t test SD DVD playback but I have no doubt it’s fine.  

    I did play some WMV HD movies and they played just fine.  They were pretty dense bit rates (6MB and 9MB).

  66. Jeff25 says:

    Bought this system, couldn’t get without the touch screen. I also bought an IBM SSD to put in the main drive, and will move the 500G to the ultradrive bay (good idea?)  any tips on how to do that most effectively would be greatly appreciated.  One other thing, ordered the system with 4GB in 2 Dimm, can I put another 8 Gig the 2 remaining slots or will that break the dual channel nature or do you think the 4 slots can be put at 4GB and 8GB?

    great review, thanks.  Lenovo should be beat for not producing enough pictures or specs of this beast, I wouldn’t have bought without this review.  thanks!

  67. Keith Combs says:

    Hello Jeff,

    Yes, SSD in the primary bay and moving the 500GB drive to the ultrabay is a nice configuration. That’s exactly how the T61p I’m using right now is setup.

    It’s really easy to do this. First, make sure and create the factory recovery disks. This is three DVD’s and takes a little less than an hour to create.  Pull the 500GB hard drive out and install the SSD.  Recover the factory image to the SSD.  Done.

    After you are comfortable with the operation of the SSD, then you can re-format the 500GB and start using it for data in the ultrabay. Just don’t get in a hurry to do that. Make sure you’ve installed your apps on the SSD with the factory image and it works as expected before you destroy the original hard drive contents with formatting.

    As for the memory question, yes, you can add two more 4GB sticks to your existing 4GB for a total of 12.

    Glad you enjoyed the reviews and more important, hope you enjoy the W510 for many years to come.

  68. Jeff25 says:


    Thanks again for the quick response and excellent review.  I was reading over at the thinkpad forums on lenovo’s website and someone basically said that the FHD+ screens are all on backorder until May, having already ordered and waited a few weeks already, I’m a wee bit concerned 🙂 do you know anything about a shortage/stoppage of the FHD touch screens?  

    here is the link.  Thanks!


  69. Keith Combs says:


    Lenovo doesn’t sell a "FHD+" screen. They sell the HD+ which is a 1600×900 native res screen. And they sell the FHD which is the 1920×1080 native res screen.  The FHD comes in two varieties with one being a 2 point multi-touch screen.  Which one do you have on order?

    Regarding lead times for parts, it’s pretty normal to see lead times fluctuate with supply and demand.  The worldwide demand for the new Intel Calpella based laptops appears to be pretty high and this is likely being driven by numerous factors.  64bit computing and the ability to use more than 4GB of memory.  In the case of the W510 with 4 slots, up to 16GB of memory with 4GB SoDIMMS.

    The OEMS switched to 16:9 ratios screens.  I’m told the reason was to cut cost but it appears the global demand for new machines has outstripped supply and it doesn’t appear to be unique to Lenovo.  This is all hearsay on my part from reading various articles on the internet.  I don’t have any firsthand knowledge.

    This leaves you with a decision.  If you have a machine that crapped out and you need a new machine yesterday for work or school, then it’s probably prudent to buy a machine in stock at a retail store.  If you have a perfectly viable machine that will hold you over, I would keep your order in the queue and go about your day with no worries.

    In my case I won’t have budget approval until July 1st so I can’t order anything until then anyway.  In the meantime, I have a T61p for work that will get me by until my new hardware refresh devices arrive.  Even if that means waiting until well after July.

    Lenovo did ship a number of orders to people in the past couple of weeks as has been reported in the http://forum.notebookreview.com/forumdisplay.php?f=2 area.  There are actual owners in the W510 owners thread now.  But those orders were from January.

  70. Moji says:


    I want to now that the new w510 designed around tough ABS plastic or Metal.It is necessarily an important change

  71. Jeff25 says:


    Again thanks for the very thorough explanation and advice!!  

    I really want this machine, so I’m definitely in for the long haul

    Best Regards


  72. fred says:

    Keith, up to answering some stupid questions?

    What is the FSD, don’t see it anywhere on IBM sight?

    How is average battery life?

    How does the seperate graphics card work? Do you have to manually switch?

    In generally, what does w510 have that the T410s does have or vice a versa? except for some ports, looks the same to me.

  73. Keith Combs says:

    Fred, no problem answering questions. They aren’t stupid.

    FSD is a typo.  FHD is the correct acronym for the screen resolution (1920×1080).

    Looks like most people are getting 3-3.5 hours of battery life according to the threads I’ve read and my personal test results.

    The W510 doesn’t have switchable graphics.  The T410s I ordered does. Prior ThinkPads that has switchable graphics could be switch manually using the Lenovo ThinkPad Power Manager application.  

    I have been reading about the new capabilties where this is dynamically switched on the silicon based on computing demands.  I really don’t know yet if this automatic on the T410s or not.  Manual is fine with me but if the automated methods work well and conserve more power, I’m game for letting the hardware and software do it for me.

    As for the differences bewteen the W510 and T410s, there are some pretty major differences.

    Thickness is the first most obvious difference. The W510 is pretty think and the T410s is rather thin.

    Second is the amount of memory possible. The W510 has four RAM slots.  Today that means you could have 16GB of RAM in the W510.  Before too long that number will double with 8GB SoDIMM availability.  The T410s only has two slots which is the norm in the industry.

    Third is Superspeed USB 3.0.  The W510 has it and the T410s doesn’t.

    Fourth is the CPU difference.  The W510 allows for the higher end Intel i7 Quad core processor.  The T410s is limited to a dual core CPU.

    So the W510 is bigger, heavier, thicker, more powerful and gives you less time on the battery.

    When I get the T410s, I’ll write more detail.

  74. Rick says:

    Keith ,

    wow looks like a wicked blog for this laptop , I’m a bit of a novice with PC’s tho last laptop was an Acer TM5730 .

    I lookn for a laptop to buy soonish have my mind made up either the W510 or W700 . Live in new zealand so its 240V & plan to buy one from the US & sent out as its "ALOT"  cheaper than here even with the taxs’s/frieght landed here . I have started learning Autodesk Inventor pro & other demading 3D graphics CAD programs for a career & will use it for general use ( internet/emails ,etc )few questions >>>

    1/  The charger brick that comes with either , is it 110V or runs both 110V/240V , can u get 240V chargers in the US ( would lenovo & other companys have them ? )

    2/ what type or memory can you run with w510 , w700 (PC3-8500 1066MHz ) , can you get  faster speed DDDR3 ram for them like with destops ? whats the fastest around ? plan to run min 8Gb

    3/would the w510 keep up with the most demading 3D CAD programs ? my last laptop crashed at times ( shut itself off )

    4/ how much bigger is the W700 – hear it massive , bulky & not really portable & does the W510 seriously lack the speed of the W700 ( margin in price is not that big , has me thinkn w700 )



  75. Arvinder says:

    Hi Keith,

    Thanks for the review.

    Do you have any idea when is FHD going to be available without touch screen?



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