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Lenovo ThinkPad E550 review

This mobile workstation is powerful, attractive and surprisingly affordable

Lenovo ThinkPad E550
Lenovo ThinkPad E550

We liked

CPU performance is really good, considering the price of the E550. It's enough for just about anything you throw at it, as long as you temper your expectations. Only being a dual-core chip, it might take a while to complete really high-end tasks, such as encoding 1080p video.

The R9 265X GPU isn't the fastest gaming graphics card on the market, but it still manages to pull away from the performance levels of Intel's integrated graphics. Its inclusion alone is great to see on a mid-range laptop and it boosts both OpenCL and gaming performance considerably. Just don't expect to run GTA V at 1920 x 1080 with all the detail settings on high.

The overall design is solid, from the keyboard to the trackpad, with some nice touches such as the comfortable material used for the chassis lid. Battery life is great, too.

We disliked

In terms of storage, an option that comes with an SSD by default would be preferable to an SSHD. It's also worth noting that a DisplayPort video output might be a better choice for modern computers rather than VGA.

Bear in mind that the screen is only a TN panel, so the colour performance is a little lacking, and it isn't as bright as IPS screens. It's not the most slender laptop in the world either.

Final verdict

£689 ($854 in the US and AU$1103) is a reasonable price to pay for an all-round quality laptop. For that money, you should expect reasonable performance, the ability to at least run games and no areas where the design or specification is lacking.

In some areas, the E550 is even better than this though. Its CPU performance is excellent for the price (that's thanks to the better efficiency from Intel's new chips) and having a discrete GPU means better gaming and OpenCL performance. There's an adequate amount of memory, the keyboard and trackpad are great and the screen is perfectly fine for a TN panel.

The only thing that seems to be missing is an SSD. Even the fastest SSHD isn't as good as an all-flash storage device, and it would have meant even better performance, boot times and responsiveness. For many people, the potential trade-off in a smaller SSD storage capacity would be well worth it. Perhaps Lenovo is saving that upgrade for its pricier models.

But aside from this it's hard to really criticise the E550. It ticks all the important boxes, doesn't cost the earth and is exceptionally well built. Definitely a contender for the best value laptop you can buy at this price.