Last Updated: June 20, 2011 8:23 AM

First published: April 21, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad W520

HMM (share with T520) -

Videos - LenovoVision

(see its thinner, lighter T420s sibling review also, some components are common to each other)




Processor: 7.5
Memory: 5.9 (with 8GB (4GBx2 bottom slot G.Skill), it goes up to 7.5. Another 4GB crucial+original Samsung to 16GB 7.6)
Graphics: 4.9 (Optimus, Intel HD3000) , 6.9 (Discreet, 2000M)
Gaming graphics: 6.8 (Optimus, Intel HD3000) , 6.9 (Discreet, 2000M)
Primary hard disk: 5.9





CPU LZW Compression 495.30 MB/s
CPU AES256 Encryption 228.19 MB/s
CPU Vista Compression 1311.40 MB/s
CPU SHA1 Hash 1397.21 MB/s
Uniproc CPU LZW Compression 94.79 MB/s
Uniproc CPU AES256 Encryption 59.53 MB/s
Uniproc CPU Vista Compression 251.55 MB/s
Uniproc CPU SHA1 Hash 343.79 MB/s
Memory Performance 9235.90 MB/s

Disk Sequential 64.0 Read 84.22 MB/s 6.3
Disk Random 16.0 Read 1.57 MB/s 4.0
Responsiveness: Average IO Rate 3.38 ms/IO 6.1
Responsiveness: Grouped IOs 15.52 units 5.5
Responsiveness: Long IOs 13.78 units 7.1
Responsiveness: Overall 213.83 units 6.3
Responsiveness: PenaltyFactor 0.7

  Optimus Discreet W500
DirectX 9      
Direct3D Batch Performance 227.56 F/s 444.94 F/s 204.25 F/s
Direct3D Alpha Blend Performance 225.86 F/s 443.66 F/s 203.95 F/s
Direct3D ALU Performance 145.34 F/s 209.91 F/s 76.61 F/s
Direct3D Texture Load Performance 153.61 F/s 220.97 F/s 86.23 F/s
DirectX 10      
Direct3D Batch Performance 417.27 F/s 446.94 F/s 203.66 F/s
Direct3D Alpha Blend Performance 420.23 F/s 465.42 F/s 197.68 F/s
Direct3D ALU Performance 217.54 F/s 203.49 F/s 80.73 F/s
Direct3D Texture Load Performance 210.63 F/s 214.20 F/s 73.58 F/s
Direct3D Geometry Performance 456.75 F/s 510.06 F/s 174.05 F/s
Direct3D Geometry Performance 424.11 F/s 813.68 F/s 301.76 F/s
Direct3D Constant Buffer Performance 375.12 F/s 378.75 F/s 86.21 F/s
Video Memory Throughput 4756.80 MB/s 12809.20 MB/s 7835.52 MB/s
Dshow Video Encode Time 1.45114 s 1.45114 s 5.21480 s
Media Foundation Decode Time 0.52420 s 0.46775 s 1.03831 s


USPS Post Office - Pennsylvania Model 7300

6 lb 03.40 oz
5 lb 03.05 oz w/o optical
4 lb 13.30 oz w/o optical & battery
1 lb 00.25 oz battery
0 lb 05.70 oz optical


original one - Samsung 4GB 2Rx8 PC3-10600S-09-11-F3, M471B5273DH0-CH9, Made in China
Slot 0 under keyboard

got from
4GB, 204-pin SODIMM Upgrade for a Lenovo ThinkPad W520 System
4GB 2Rx8 Pc3-10600S-9-10-FP
Part Number: CT51264BC1339,16FH
MT16JTF51264HZ-1G4H1 1115 DPAAT1W009
Made in China

DOA, machine won't even boot if installed (replace original Samsung or as secondary in slot 2, top or bottom DIMM), RMA replacement OK (takes a very long time, didn't send email after replacement shipped after "RMA lab" received bad one. can't they just cross ship me new ones for DOA?)

G.Skills 4GBx2 F3-10666CL9D-8GBSQ
( 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) unbuffered Non-ECC 1.5V 6 layers PCB CAS_Latency 9-9-9-24)


CPU-Z etc. may not report correct stepping


46N2176, FRU 45N2211 ( (NMB? not ALPS or Chicony)

AC Adapter

the 170W is huge

vs. 90W and 65W

the plug has notches in the connector, not circular, you cannot plug it into smaller machines


9-cell 55++, 42T4801, Panasonic Li-Ion 20 (whatever that means)

93.96 Wh, 10.80V

it sticks out in the back


57Y4545 ThinkPad Battery 27++ 9-cell slice

won't charge the 2nd battery if latch not engage

ThinkPad External Battery Charger 40Y7625(65/90W) can charge it? don't need 170W?

Power source optimized, dim the screen, wireless off, don't touch anything, power manager said you can actually get to 21+ hours like the spec. said :)

NVIDIA Optimus

it is not like the one on Sony there is a physical three way switch - auto, performance, stagmina.

have to change in BIOS. Default automatic use Intel, nvidia on demand. You can right click and change each program's default GPU

it misread Ps CS5, Pr CS5 as CS4 even managed updates is on

VMD is default to integrated, but CUDA version still use 2000M

turn on tray icons shows which programs are using the GPU (used to have to use not for end user nvidia test tool?)


PhysX tells me to unplug the HD3000 and plug into the 2000M, very funny. It also shows the desktop card image instead.

Kevin Combs said Lenovo said you can't do quad display on dock because it has some other kind of optimus, not the hybrid optimus like T410/410s/510 and T420/T420s/T520.  I assume it is what Yamato thinking was talking about

"... [UPDATE for 4/20/2011] I have confirmed with Lenovo that although the W520 has Optimus, it does not have Hybrid Optimus and thus cannot support four external displays like my T410s (see that test).  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there you have it.  On the bright side, I will test the T420s before too long and see if it really works.

See for the official support document on the Hybrid Optimus technology and supported configurations.

all three monitors plugged into dock are to the 2000M (only 2 can be active), instead of one to the Intel 3000, so no quad display configuration.

Driver OOB - 266.96


nvidia user experience driver crash try to enable displayport Dell 2408WPF. cannot save settings in windows resolution either (happened to another monitor once also, forgot which one). {only of OS Detection for Optimus is enabled? disable by default for a reason?}


Graphics Device

OS Detection


export EDID under topology crashes NVIDIA control panel 3.5.752.0

Intel HD3000

64MB dedicated video memory


has NVIDIA HD Audio, shows in device manager in discreet

audio does not pass through DP-HDMI adapter

shows correct DisplayPort connection and 1080p in PhysX and HDCP

device not show up in audio control panel, because think it is DVI? (same problem with T410, used to work in T410 original driver, after driver update to (257.38), nvidia HD audio no longer listed. see hundreds of posts in forum complained about it. supposed only work with lenovo or nividia adapters now)

The SIIG one works in discreet or optimus. (also work on T410 with graphics driver 267.21,audio driver 1.2.22), it shows as connected to HDMI (bad thing is the first time, Windows controls think it is disabled, if you do extended, it switch main display)

from lenovo
web price $24.99

DP 1.1, HDMI 1.3a (not 1.4)
CB-DP0062-S1? $29.99 MSRP



B156HW01 V4 ( AU Optronics FRU 42T0765?)

TPLCD95.ICM using XP Color Control Panel Applet vs NTSC, sRGB IEC61966 2.1, Adobe RGB 1998, T420s HD+ i1 v3

Hard drive


HTS725050A9A364 - Hitachi 7K500, 3Gb/s, 9.5mm, 16MB cache, 7200 rpm, 4.2 ms Average Latency, 1245 Mbits/sec, max Media transfer rate
12 ms typical average read seek time, 20 ms typical Full Stroke read seek time, 1 ms typical Track to track seek time
600,000 Load/Unload Cycles
2.5 Bels Idle acoustics, 2.8 Bels typical seek
5.5 W peak, max Start-up, 1.8 W average read/write, 0.69 W average low power idle, 0.2 W average standby, 2.0 W average seek dissipation, 1.0 W average active idle dissipation, 1.7 W performance idle, 0.1 W sleep
115/95 g max weight
operating Shock (half-sine wave) 400 G/2ms. 225 G/1ms, non-operating 1000G/1 ms

no RAID - cannot enable afterwards? different chipset firmware?


ultrabay supports SATA III 6Gbps (haven't tested internal yet)

Crucial m4 (c400) 256GB SSD, Seq 379.8 MB/s CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 x64




Microphone array is on bottom of screen like T410. T420s has it move above LCD.


on left of case, combo audio jack on right, like the T410, it is bad for presentation. T420s has VGA on back, combo audio on left, still not perfect, at least closer.


moved to right side, T410 has it on left. T420s has it in the back.


moved to left side, T410 has it on right. Now USB combo like T510, hopeful will work with Lenovo eSATA secure drive. T410 is eSATA only, cannot power up that drive.

Windows Update

Visual C++ 2005 redistributable SP1 patch has errors OOB


Out of the Box (OOB)

Lenovo TVT

System Update

failed to start twice.

won't stick to start menu if do a search launch

cannot download KB2397190 (common to other models)

wiped out install history after autolock 1.0->1.01 update? a failed copy in background?

it also starts a UNCServer process that does not go away after quit

Device Manager

Driver matrix

OS installation guide

Legacy BIOS - Windows 7

it said UEFI instruction will be posted later


there is a lag after the safe eject icon disappear, powering down optical?


ThinkPad Mini Dock Plus Series 3 (170W workstation) 433830U.

Only laptop+2 montors, no laptop+3 monitors quad display like T410/420/520 hybrid optimus.

DVI-D Single-Link 1920 x 1200 only

DisplayPort 2560 x 1600 (but not if using cable/adapter, 1920 x 1200 only)


Premiere CS5

discreet or optimus, mercury engine not enable. the renderer option is dimmed, cannot select GPU Acceleration.

even said 2000M is supported. 4000 works fine.


2011 R3 build 5135 x64, Intel Media SDK error 014. (the UI has problem, cannot see the text on the checkbox "Hardware Acceleration ...", you have to do a custom install to add Intel Media SDK

it still doesn't work right, it is slower than not using it in discreet mode, need to turn on Optimus

CPU 438 seconds; CUDA 177 seconds; Intel Accelerated Encoder 621 seconds in discreet, 280 seconds with Optimus



4.0, about:startup 0.1.5, avg. of 5 runs

no addons
under discreet
 15.60ms main function
390.80ms sessionRestored
369.40ms firstPaint
under optimus
 15.60ms main function
877.60ms sessionRestored
843.40ms firstPaint

firebug 1.70
under discreet
under optimus

adblockplus 1.3.6
under discreet
under optimus

downloadhelper 4.8.6
under discreet
under optimus

under discreet - about:support

WebGL Renderer - Google Inc. -- ANGLE -- OpenGL ES 2.0 (ANGLE
Direct2D enabled - true
DirectWritre enabled - true 6.17601.17563
GPU Accelerated Windows - 1/1 Direct3D 10

under Optimus - about:support

WebGL unavailable
Direct2D enabled - true
DirectWritre enabled - true 6.17601.17563




AES - 2.8GB/s encryption, 2.9GB/s decryption
AES - 1.4GB/s encryption, 1.3GB/s decryption (T420s)


1f4h.pdb from chimera's benchmark,    33805 atoms, 33933 bonds, 4937 residuals, 856 fragments, 4 protein 
VDW rendering 
T420s -  0.65 fps 
T410  -  5.96 fps 
W500  - 15.53 fps
W520  - 15.53 fps (discreet mode) 
CPK rendering    
T420s -  0.68 fps 
T410  -  4.69 fps 
W500  -  8.22 fps 
W520  - 12.13 fps (discreet mode) 


Molecule 1f4h pdb (33805 atoms, 4937 residues) fps 
  Wire    Stick    BStick    Ribbon    Sphere 
W520 v.1.52 (64-bit, 4GB or 8GB, Discreet or Optimus)
 196.1    crash    32.9      39.9     crash [some times indicated is pythonw.exe]
          (~20)                       (~20) not in benchmark          
W520 v.1.53rc (32-bit)
 195.1    crash    24.34     39.2     crash   
W500 v1.53rc
 234.5	     9.6	 7.9	  28.7   	13.8
T420s v.1.53rc 
  26.1      2.9     2.3      22.8       2.0 
T410 v.1.41 
 122.7     12.2    12.3      33.1      14.7 


report about ubuntu 11.04 (natty narwhal) external VGA, DisplayPort problem

ACHI issue with discreet

problem with Fedora 15 beta and UEFI


memory upgrade - Kingston HyperX Memory Review