Take a look at our
ThinkPads.com HOME PAGE
For those who might want to contribute to the blog, start here: Editors Alley Topic
Then contact Bill with a Private Message

Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

W530/W540/W550 series specific matters only
Post Reply
Message
Author
WizardOfBoz
Freshman Member
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:22 am
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#1 Post by WizardOfBoz » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:17 am

Thinking of modernizing (and I hope upgrading) from a W530 to a W541. Current system has a 3820qm, k2000m, 1920x1080 screeen. Would only get a 4910MQ or 4810MQ machine with k2100m and 3k screen. The 4910 cpu is about a 11% speedup*, the 4810 is a wash of about 3% increase. The 4940 cpu (18% speedup) would be nice but I think finding one is like finding a unicorn. I do a lot of numeric computation (Matlab, MS Visual Studio and Intel Compilers).

My goals are a bit less ancient machine and a slight cpu and graphics peformance kick. The W541 is just a few grams lighter I think, too.

The machine comes in W10 pro varieties, and is offered with an AC7260 wifi card, so I suspect I don't need to be concerned with their being a whitelisted BIOS without a SLIC (or do I need this?)

One issue is memory speed. The nameplate memory for the W530 is DDR3-1600 PC3-12800. Apparently, the W530 has an XMP mode because my PC3-14800 memory runs at 1866MHz. I assume that the W541 does this, too (although it specs out DDR3L, so can the W541 mobo overclock PC3-14800 memory? Can I use my fast DDR3 memory in the DDR3L sockets in the W541?)

Besides BIOS and memory speed, any other issues? Pros? Cons? Thanks!

*According to Passmark, which just totally changed all the CPU scores it reports to align with its new benchmarking program version and really screwed a lot of things up. Not sure I can trust this number or if its meaningful.

RealBlackStuff
Admin Emeritus
Admin Emeritus
Posts: 21536
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:17 am
Location: Dublin, Éire
Contact:

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Mar 17, 2020 10:21 am

Slic2.1 is only required if you want to install Vista/W7 from Lenovo Recovery disks on Lenovo machines that did not come with Vista/W7 from the factory.
W8 and newer machines have a key fixed in the BIOS.
NOT a great day for a Guinness! (the Real Black Stuff).
Ireland is on FULL lockdown till December 2020!
Covid-19: Mask it or Casket!
Check out The Boardroom for Mods and Other Services.

WizardOfBoz
Freshman Member
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:22 am
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#3 Post by WizardOfBoz » Tue Mar 17, 2020 10:26 am

W8 and newer machines have a key fixed in the BIOS.
So as I understand it, I should have no problem installing Windows 10 Pro from the installed key?

RealBlackStuff
Admin Emeritus
Admin Emeritus
Posts: 21536
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:17 am
Location: Dublin, Éire
Contact:

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#4 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Mar 17, 2020 10:51 am

AFAIK correct, unless maybe if a previous owner already installed W10.
In such a case I'm not familiar with possible Micro$haft's shenanigans.
Give it a try anyway.
NOT a great day for a Guinness! (the Real Black Stuff).
Ireland is on FULL lockdown till December 2020!
Covid-19: Mask it or Casket!
Check out The Boardroom for Mods and Other Services.

moofish2842
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:57 pm
Location: La Verkin, Utah

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#5 Post by moofish2842 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:26 am

W541 owner here - with 4940mx, 1080p ips, and k2100m. Having moved from a t520, t430s, and t430, this is just on a different level of normal usability. It's a far more modern device, and you wouldn't look at it and see "old" like you do on pre-redesign machines. The trackpad is also loads and loads better. It may actually be the best trackpad I have ever used. The nice thing about the W541 over the W540 is that it will come with the trackpad "mod" by default, no driver messing, no bad third-party parts, ever.

Really, I loved it because it had basically everything I could ever hope to mod into a t540p or t440p by default, and coming from a few other project thinkpads that didn't go too smoothly, that was the biggest draw. Using the other thinkpads always seemed like the laptop itself was a project rather than a device, and this way I was completely confident with what I had the day it came out of the shipping packaging. It truly feels equivalent to my desktop in terms of power, utility, and usability.

As for the screen, it was modded in by the previous owner. Normally, the 1080p screen is TN, and only the 3k is ips. I am eventually looking to upgrade to 3k, but this is totally fine as it is, and like I said, it came out of the packaging in a condition I would use it in for years without needing anything more.

Windows 10 will have no problem running on any Windows 8 or 10 BIOS-licensed machine. That being said, I haven't had any problems on my other thinkpads either, so I'm not sure if you're coming from a specific issue or if you're just wondering about automatic licensing.

The off-center keyboard bothered me a bit at first, but then I got used to it. It still is sub-optimal, but not annoying. The numpad is good and pairs well with having a left hand on the trackpad/trackpoint/rest of the keyboard. The keyboard switches are different, but it also just takes some getting used to and it is still a thinkpad keyboard.

Overall, I would suggest a W541 to anyone who wants a smaller/older device to "max out" and is okay with the size/generation increase, for someone looking for a budget powerhouse, or really anyone at all looking for a used thinkpad in this region. It is the most powerful, furthest upgraded, most feature-packed thinkpad you can get (previous to the p50 which is still very, very expensive), with the nearly maxed-out models being cheaper fully-assembled than a build for a maxed-out t440p that still can't be as good, which you still have to put together yourself.

Sent from my Moto Z3 Play using Tapatalk

W541 - i7-4940mx, 8gb RAM, Quadro k2100m
T530 - i7-3632qm, 8gb RAM, NVS 5400M; motherboard upgrade from t520.
T430 - i5-3320m, 4gb
T430s - i7-3520m, 8gb
Helix 1st Gen - i5-3337u 4gb
Other experience with X230t and t540p
I am 15 years old

WizardOfBoz
Freshman Member
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:22 am
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#6 Post by WizardOfBoz » Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:42 am

Exactly the type of info I was looking for, moofish. Thanks.

WizardOfBoz
Freshman Member
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:22 am
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#7 Post by WizardOfBoz » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:28 pm

BTW, what type of memory are folks using? PC3-12800 or PC3-12800 (rated 1600Mhz) or PC3-14900 (rated 1855Mhz)?

If you have PC3-14900 and use Speccy can you tell me the memory speed? It will be half, so 800Mhz or 9250 Mhz or thereabouts. Interested in knowing if the W541 supports XMP.

moofish2842
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:57 pm
Location: La Verkin, Utah

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#8 Post by moofish2842 » Wed Mar 18, 2020 8:35 am

My unit was shipped to me "barebones" with an 8gb stick and I haven't gotten around to upgrading yet. As far as speeds go I would imagine any quad-channel setup is probably more than enough so I would rather go that way than worry about smaller increases in clock speed.

Sent from my Moto Z3 Play using Tapatalk


Edit: spelling
Last edited by moofish2842 on Wed Mar 18, 2020 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
W541 - i7-4940mx, 8gb RAM, Quadro k2100m
T530 - i7-3632qm, 8gb RAM, NVS 5400M; motherboard upgrade from t520.
T430 - i5-3320m, 4gb
T430s - i7-3520m, 8gb
Helix 1st Gen - i5-3337u 4gb
Other experience with X230t and t540p
I am 15 years old

ThreeIguanasPerSecond
Freshman Member
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2019 4:17 am
Location: Washington, Illinois
Contact:

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#9 Post by ThreeIguanasPerSecond » Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:54 am

the W540/W541 and its older equivalents are not quad-channel capable systems, and 4 RAM slots do not translate to quad-channel capable systems. the architectures that do support quad-channel memory are only available for servers/desktops, not laptops. the Haswell CPUs which the W540/W541 uses are dual-channel capable only, they do not have quad-channel capable memory controllers.

Haswell-E, Haswell-EP, and Haswell-EX are the only known architectures that are equipped with a quad-channel capable memory controller. well, at least for the entirety of the Haswell line-up.
"There is always you can not think of the low price." - JD.com

moofish2842
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:57 pm
Location: La Verkin, Utah

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#10 Post by moofish2842 » Wed Mar 18, 2020 12:00 pm

Hmm. I guess no quad-channel then. I had read it was available previously, but they must have been wrong as they didn't seem to be sure anyway. Anyway though, I guess I don't know about RAM speeds and the answer may be nice to know for me too.

Sent from my Moto Z3 Play using Tapatalk

W541 - i7-4940mx, 8gb RAM, Quadro k2100m
T530 - i7-3632qm, 8gb RAM, NVS 5400M; motherboard upgrade from t520.
T430 - i5-3320m, 4gb
T430s - i7-3520m, 8gb
Helix 1st Gen - i5-3337u 4gb
Other experience with X230t and t540p
I am 15 years old

WizardOfBoz
Freshman Member
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:22 am
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#11 Post by WizardOfBoz » Sun Mar 22, 2020 3:11 pm

So, Three Iguanas, does the 541 support XMP memory? What spec memory would you put in such a machine.

ThreeIguanasPerSecond
Freshman Member
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2019 4:17 am
Location: Washington, Illinois
Contact:

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#12 Post by ThreeIguanasPerSecond » Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:27 am

that's a good question. i'm not exactly sure as XMP (by default) has to be enabled manually through the UEFI, and then you'd need to select an XMP configuration to make full use of the XMP-certified DIMM. if the UEFI doesn't support XMP, the XMP-certified DIMM will use its fastest JEDEC profile instead. and from what i'm seeing in Lenovo's BIOS Simulator, there isn't an option to toggle XMP. so it's likely to not support XMP SO-DIMMs, but i could be wrong as Lenovo has a history of messing around with the UEFI/BIOS: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkPad-T ... -p/1197961

it would depend on my usage, if money isn't an object and i needed a lot of memory bandwidth, i'd get 4 DDR3L-2133 SO-DIMMs and call it a day. if money's something important to me, i would just get 4 simple DDR3L-1600 SO-DIMMs. keep in mind that i'm not sure if the W540/W541 could even support non-XMP DDR3L-2133 SO-DIMMs, but if it does i would in that case.
"There is always you can not think of the low price." - JD.com

WizardOfBoz
Freshman Member
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:22 am
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Upgrade to W541 vs stay with W530

#13 Post by WizardOfBoz » Wed Apr 08, 2020 4:46 pm

Just got the machine. I guess I'll know soon enough...
Will report back.

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “ThinkPad W530/W540/W550 Series”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 20 guests