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Hands-on the updated Lenovo ThinkPad E550

Last year’s Lenovo ThinkPad E540 was arguably one of the best selling notebooks in Lenovo’s portfolio and hit really good numbers in several markets. We now have the new, refreshed E550 on our hands and here are first impressions on the model.

Design

The ThinkPad E550 follows the same design signature as the E540, without any major changes. Lenovo used the same soft-touch plastic, but not the cheap type one, though. It’s an affordable business-oriented notebook, after all.


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The top surface of the lid is completely covered in matte, soft-touch plastic with only Lenovo’s and ThinkPad series logos on it. It definitely feels nice, but it leaves smudges and it’s a “fingerprint magnet”. On the other side of the lid can be found the 15.6-inch screen with Lenovo’s logo below and the built-in webcam.

The bottom cover is also plastic, but this time it’s hard and a little rough. You will find two covers kept in place by a few screws. Opening them will reveal the HDD or SSD (depending on your configuration), RAM, the optical drive and eventually the m.2 SATA slot, but more on that later.


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The sides accommodate all the useful ports like 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, card reader slot, and the 3.5 mm jack for a headset. The grill for dispersing the heat is located on the left side, so there’s no problem there. However, it doesn’t seem like Lenovo has gone for a much thinner profile, but we will check that later in our detailed review.


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Moving on with the interior where the ThinkPad E550 shines. We see again the matte soft-touch plastic around the keyboard. The keys provide long tactile feedback with ergonomic design and they feel just perfect. We can tell that the keyboard will provide just perfect user experience. The touchpad also shares the good design and can be used solely. If you prefer the famous trackpad, there are 3 additional mouse buttons right above the touchpad, which are really soft and easy to use.

Hardware

This machine is available with several configurations, but they might differ depending on the region you are living in. Compared to the last year’s model, this one has a Broadwell CPU from Intel and we can expect better battery life, due to the 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. The exact models offered by Lenovo are Core i3-5005U, Core i5-5200U and Core i7-5500U. There’s also a discrete GPU if you want – AMD Radeon R7 2GB.

It’s important to point out that Lenovo left out the m.2 SATA option, while it’s predecessor had it. You can see by the photos provided in the next section. Nevertheless, we can expect Lenovo including it in its future configurations, since there is enough room to solder the slot and the motherboard supports it.

How it looks on the inside

ThinPad E550 does offer an easy upgrade of the HDD, RAM and easy access to the battery, but it was really hard to disassemble the whole notebook. Only two covers grant access to the upgradable parts and you can also compensate the lack of m.2 SATA slot with removing the optical drive. All the internals can be seen below.

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Specs sheet


ThinkPad_Edge_E550

ProcessorIntel Core i3-5005U Processor (2-core, 2.0GHz 3MB, cache) / Intel Core i5-5200U (2-core, 2.20 – 2.70 GHz, 3MB cache) / Intel Core i7-5500U (2-core, 2.40 – 3.00 Ghz, 3MB cache)
RAM 8GB (2x 4096MB) – DDR3, 1600Mhz / 16GB (2×8192МB) DDR 3 1600
Graphics cardIntel HD Graphics 5500 (integrated graphics) / AMD Radeon R7 M270 (2GB, DDR3)
HDD/SSD500GB HDD / 1TB HDD (5400 rpm) / 128GB SSD
Display15.6-инчов (39.62 cm.) – 1366 x 768 (HD), matte / 15.6-inch (39.62 cm.) – 1920×1080 (Full HD), matte
Optical driveDVD
ConnectivityLAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11a/c, Bluetooth 4.0
Other features
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • built-in webcam
  • built-in microphone
  • 3.5 mm jack for headset
  • RJ-45
  • HDMI
  • VGA
  • Lenovo OneLink
  • 4 in 1 card reader
  • fingerprint reader
Battery6 cell Li-Ion Battery 48WH – 75+
Thickness377 x 256 x 27 mm (14.82 x 10.08 x 1.06 in.)
Weight2.35 kg