What to expect of Broadwell ThinkPads – Predictions for early 2015

Its November now, and the leaves are falling fast now here in Germany. Its getting colder and the end of the year is coming fast. In my last article about future ThinkPads (see: Broadwell postponed, so are Broadwell ThinkPads), I have already talked about some general details which models will be announced and when. CES will be the big ThinkPad-show for Lenovo early next year, as well as the big Broadwell-show for notebooks in general. We will see many flavors of Broadwell Ultrabooks there, some with small screen, some with big screens, and some with a graphite-black chassis and a red TrackPoint! This time, I want to focus more on what we can expect and what I think we can expect. Lets get right into the fun….

  • CPUs: Obviously, Broadwell. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich (also a ThinkPad user) will be on CES and holding a keynote, in which he will announce Broadwell U (15 W & 28 W), so that´s what we will see in all ThinkPad. Sorry T440p/T540p or W-Series lovers (or L-Series for that matter), you won´t get to see any full-power Quad-Core monster on CES
  • GPUs: I don´t see any surprises happening here – Intel HD 5500 (24 EUs/GT2) will power most of the new ThinkPads. Of course, there might be some exceptions, T440(s) also had options for nVidia GPUs (not available in NA), so I think T450(s) will have some too – like 830M/840M
  • Screens: No big changes in that department – the screen options should stay essentially the same. One thing that might be new is a FHD 14″ TN option, which was introduced with the E455. You might see that as a low-end option for X1 Carbon 2015 for example
  • RAM: Still DDR3 RAM, which might be even still be the only option for the upcoming Broadwell successor Skylake. Lenovo “might” reform their current policy of providing only 1 RAM slot for T440(s), as they have received quite some criticism for that. Expect to see 16 GB RAM options to return
  • HDDs/SSDs: Still, Lenovo will hang on to the standard 2.5″ SATA standard for all machines but the X1 Carbon. We will see more SSHD options and models, as well as more 512 GB SSD options. Also, X1 Carbon might adapt PCIe for the M.2 SSD for even faster speeds
  • Chassis: Should stay the same in nearly every aspect
  • Ports: No big changes to expect here, only small ones. For example, 3x USB instead of 2x for the T450 is a possibility. The big changes in this department will come with Skylake (USB 3.1 type C, no more VGA…). Same docks, same charging ports
  • Batteries: Should stay nearly the same – battery life should improve, since Broadwell is more energy efficient
  • Keyboard: Should stay the same as the Haswell models – but the Adaptive Keyboard might disappear because of negative feedback
  • UltraNav: Beware! The TrackPoint buttons are back! (see: Hello ‘Real’ TrackPoint buttons) Lenovo will indeed return to the dedicated TrackPoint buttons, but: The ClickPad is here to stay. rather than having a “5 button ClickPad”, we will have 3 buttons + a 2 button ClickPad. Much like the setup of the first X1 Carbon (see here how it looks on the ThinkPad Helix 2nd Gen Ultrabook Pro keyboard)
  • WLAN & LTE: LTE options worldwide will be continued to be offered, WLAN AC will become standard with the new Intel Wireless 7265AC
  • Maintenance: I think Lenovo is aware of some problems with the maintenance of their Ultrabook models – we should see some improvements, if not with Broadwell, then with Skylake

You might think “Not as much as I would expect”, but remember, the Haswell ThinkPads were a big upgrade. Much like Broadwell as a platform, the new ThinkPads will be a small update of the former models. Skylake should bring more new things, as it is an bigger update in itself.

That´s about it, my look into the crystal ball.  Have an awesome week!

P.S: An updated list of all models that should launch early next year:

– ThinkPad X250, X1 Carbon (2015)

– ThinkPad T450, T450s, T550

– ThinkPad W550s

– ThinkPad Yoga 12, Yoga 14 (Broadwell Update), Yoga 15

– ThinkPad E450, E550

(*Image copyright: Lenovo Blogs Team, Original Source: http://blog.lenovo.com/perspectives/predictions-for-2011)

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