Lenovo ThinkPad W541 vs W550s – What’s the Difference and Which One Should You Get

Published on June 8th, 2015 | by Peter Paul

Lenovo’s latest ThinkPad W series or mobile workstation laptops are the Lenovo ThinkPad W541 and the Lenovo ThinkPad W550s. The W541 is the successor of the W540, while the W550s is the successor of the W550. Both offer improved features and performance compared to previous models. Although both the W541 and W550s are mobile workstation laptops, they are actually different from one another, not only in terms of performance, but also with the set of features and specifications that they have. Each mobile workstation is targeting different niche or segment in the market based on the users’ needs and what they are looking for in a workstation laptop. A lot of people are asking which laptop will best suit their needs. Which one is the more appropriate choice for their work or environment? Should they go with the ThinkPad W541 or the ThinkPad W550s? I won’t tell you that you should buy “X” instead of “Y”, because my need may not be the same as yours. So in this article, I will show you the difference between the Lenovo ThinkPad W541 vs the W550s. Hopefully, after reading this article you will have a better idea what workstation laptop is the best for you.


Lenovo ThinkPad W541 Workstation Laptop-10 Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Workstation Ultrabook-13
Left W541, Right W550s

Check out pricing and availability of the ThinkPad W541 here and ThinkPad W550s here

Lenovo ThinkPad W541 vs W550s: Features

Physical Features
Let’s start with the physical aspect of both mobile workstations first. The Lenovo ThinkPad W541 is the larger one between the two workstation laptops. It measures approximately 15.6″ x 9.7″ x 1.17″ inches and weighs around 5.57lbs. Meanwhile the ThinkPad W550s is smaller and lighter at 15″ x 10.2″ x 0.88″ (for the non-touch) or 15″ x 10.2″ x 0.92″ (for the touch), and weighs only 4.92lbs. After all, the W550s is considered as an Ultrabook in its form factor.

Lenovo ThinkPad W541 Workstation Laptop-01 Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Workstation Ultrabook-01
Left W541, Right W550s

The ThinkPad W451 has more connectivity or input options like: a 4-in-1 SD card reader, 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x USSB 2.0 ports, VGA port, miniDisplayPort + Thunderbolt 2.0, RJ45 Gigabyte Ethernet port, docking connector, audio combo jack, express card, smart card reader (optional), an optical drive, an optional X-Rite Pantone color calibrator, and a fingerprint reader. Meanwhile the ThinkPad W550s has most of the mentioned connectivity options, but it doesn’t have a color calibrator, no optical drive, no Thunderbolt port, no express card, and has 3x USB 3.0 ports. Almost forgot, the W550s has a real docking station or port at the bottom. Both of them feature the ThinkPad Precision Keyboard with NumPad with backlighting and a 720p camera.

Lenovo ThinkPad W541 Workstation Laptop-03 Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Workstation Ultrabook-03
Left W541, Right W550s

Screen Display
Both the Lenovo ThinkPad W541 and W550s have a 15.5″ screen size and same resolution options. You can choose to go with a full HD 1920×1080 TN panel with 300 nits brightness or a 3K resolution at 2880×1620 IPS panel with a 350 nits brightness. Both options are available for the two workstation laptops.
Under the Hood
Now here is what really separates them from one another. The Lenovo ThinkPad W541 is powered by a 4th Generation Intel Core Quad Core Haswell processor. You can choose to power your W541 with an Intel Core i7-4710MQ, i7-4810MQ, i7-4910MQ, or Core i7-4940MX Extreme Edition. These processors are really powerful (specially the Extreme Edition), and are designed to handle demanding and multiple computations or workload. If you want a fast computing and powerful workstation laptop, better go with the W541.

Lenovo ThinkPad W541 Workstation Laptop-06 Lenovo ThinkPad W541 Workstation Laptop-09
Lenovo ThinkPad W541

On the other hand, the Lenovo ThinkPad W550s is powered with the latest 5th Generation Intel Core Broadwell processor. You can choose from a Core i7-5500U or Core i7-5600U. These processors are only dual cores, and are not as powerful compared to the quad core processor(s) that the W541 has. However, these new Broadwell processors are more power efficient and cooler compared to the quad core processors mentioned above. This may translate in a cooler operation, lower temperature and longer battery life compared to the W541.

Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Workstation Ultrabook-09
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

The ThinkPad W541 is also powered with either an NVIDIA Quadro K1100M 2GB or K2100M 2GB discrete graphics processor. Meanwhile, you only get one option with the ThinkPad W550s, and that’s the NVIDIA Quadro K620M 2GB. You can also install up to 32GB of DDR memory in the W541, thanks to its 4x SODIMM slots, meanwhile the W550s can only accommodate up to 16GB of memory with its two SODIMM slots. No problem in terms of storage since both can accommodate a 500GB HDD + 512GB SSD.

Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Workstation Ultrabook-07 Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Workstation Ultrabook-11
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

Basically these are the main difference I could point out between the two workstation laptops. The rest you can compare at the specifications table below.

Price and Where to Buy

Already decided what is the best workstation laptop for you? Then there’s only one best place to buy a Lenovo ThinkPad W541 or ThinkPad W550s, and that is from Lenovo’s online store. You can configure the specifications of your desired workstation laptop, and you can also add a 3 year Onsite + Accidental Damage Protection to your system.

At the time this article was published, the Lenovo ThinkPad W541’s price starts at $1,295.10, meanwhile the Lenovo ThinkPad W550s starts at $1,196.10. You can start configuring your W541 here, or your W550s here.

For UK visits, you can order the ThinkPad W541 here, and the ThinkPad W550s here.

Also, check out the latest available Lenovo coupon codes, deals and discounts here and get (huge) savings and free shipping from various Lenovo products.

Lenovo ThinkPad W541 vs W550s: Specifications

Specifications ThinkPad W541 ThinkPad W550s
Processor Intel Core i7-4710MQ Processor
Intel Core i7-4810MQ Processor
Intel Core i7-4910MQ Processor
Intel Core i7-4940MX Processor Extreme Edition
Intel Core i7-5500U Processor
Intel Core i7-5600U Processor
Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro 64
Windows 7 Professional 64 preinstalled through downgrade rights in Windows 8.1 Pro 64
Windows 8.1 Pro 64
Windows 7 Professional 64 preinstalled through downgrade rights in Windows 8.1 Pro 64
Power Supply 170W 65W
Graphics NVIDIA Quadro K1100M 2G
NVIDIA Quadro K2100M 2G
NVIDIA Quadro K620M 2GB
Memory 4 SODIMM Slots, 32GB max, 1600 MHz 2 slots, 2 SODIMM, 16GB max
RAID 0, 1
Media Card Reader Integrated 4-in-1 SD card reader (SD, SD-HC, SDXC, MMC) Integrated 4-in-1 SD card reader (SD, SD-HC, SDXC, MMC)
Chipset QM87 Integrated on SoC
Ports 2x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0, 1 Always-on charging
1x VGA
1x mDP + Thunderbolt 2.0
1x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
1x Docking connector
1x Mic / Headphone Combo Jack
1x Smart card reader - optional
1x ExpressCard / 34 mm
1x VGA
1x mDP v 1.2
3x USB 3.0, 1 Always-on charging
1x Mic / Headphone Combo Jack
1x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
1x Docking connector
1x Smart Card reader - optional
Dimensions (W x D x H) 15.6" x 9.7" x 1.10-1.167.3" Non-Touch: 15" x 10.2" x 0.88"
Touch: 15" x 10.2" x 0.92"
Max Storage Devices - 2 500GB
500GB HDD 7200RPM
Up to 512GB SSD
WLAN Intel® 7260 2x2 AC + Bluetooth® 4.0
Intel® 7260 2x2 b/g/n + Bluetooth® 4.0
Intel 7265 BGN + Bluetooth Version 4.0
Intel 7265 AC/B/G/N Dual Band Wireless + Bluetooth Version 4.0
WWAN Integrated Mobile Broadband upgradable
Sierra Wireless 7355 - Gobi 5000
Integrated Mobile Broadband upgradable
LTE Sierra EM7345
Battery 6 cell (56 WHr)
9 cell (99 WHr)
3 cell Front (44 Whr)
3 cell Rear (23 Whr)
6 cell Rear (48 Whr)
6 cell Rear High Capacity (72 Whr)
Display 15.5" FHD – 1920 x 1080 – TN – 300 nits
15.5" 3k – 2880 x 1620 – IPS – 350 nits
15.5" FHD – 1920 x 1080 – TN
15.5" 3k – 2880 x 1620 – IPS
Color Sensor X-rite Pantone - optional None
Optical Drive DVD-RW
Up to 1TB HDD with Bay Adapter
Up to 512GB SSD with Bay Adapter
Travel Bezel
Weight 5.57 lbs Non-Touch: 4.92 lbs
Keyboard ThinkPad® Precision Keyboard with NumPad & Backlight ThinkPad® Precision Keyboard with NumPad & Backlight

Lenovo Home Laptop Sale! 300x250

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3 Responses to Lenovo ThinkPad W541 vs W550s – What’s the Difference and Which One Should You Get

  1. Aziz says:

    Great comparison! Very useful and stright forward.

  2. Giridhar Kumar says:

    Very useful piece of information. I was having the exact same confusion to choose between these 2 portable workstations.
    Thanks 🙂

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