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Is Lenovo ThinkPad X230 useful for work


The Good The Lenovo ThinkPad X230 fits a full-power third-gen Intel Core i5 processor in a 12.5-inch 3-pounder, and has great battery life and an improved keyboard.

The Bad Volumetric design, ejection, a tiny touchpad and high price graphics all throw the equation.

The Bottom Line There may not be a better full-fledged ultraportable business than the ThinkPad X230, but more efficient, cheaper and slimmer notebooks are the true future of this category.

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7.8 Overall

  • Design
  • Features
  • Performance
  • Battery
  • Support

Finally, it is time of year when Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors hit major laptops after first appearing on high-end quad-core systems. The Lenovo ThinkPad X230 won the prize for having the first laptop we saw in 2012 included a new third-generation Intel Core i5 processor.

However, we are similar to the ThinkPad X230 we’ve seen before: actually several times. Lenovo X Series laptops have always been a high-tech ultraportable machine for business travelers who need to work on the go without much compromise. This 12-inch is the successor ThinkPad X220 , a gorgeous ultraportable wagon that packs a fast processor, long battery life and sturdy construction into a compact but not inexpensive shape. The new X230 retains the quirky 12.5-inch X220 display and spacious keyboard layout, but the keyboard itself has undergone major changes.

Sarah Tew

The old Lenovo ThinkPad keyboard is gone: not only here, but in all new ThinkPad models. Instead, a clean, raised, backlit keyboard on the island took its place. Don’t worry, this keyboard is already well tested on other Lenovo laptops.

Even though the keyboard is new, the tiny touch panels and red trajectory remain the same for the first time. And this ThinkPad remains somewhat of a bulky hardware for ultraportable, apparently intended for legacy hardware such as ExpressCards and IT deployment and IT security.

Sarah Tew

This is your cleaner, more up-to-date ThinkPad: Not really the new ThinkPad, but something better and more sophisticated. Each is a high-performance, once as lightly fat road warrior as ever, but in a changing world where MacBook Airs and tinier ultrabooks are gaining ground, one can’t help but wonder how long laptops like the X230 will be around.

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Price as reviewed $1,249
Processor 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-3320M
Memory 4GB, 1,333MHz DDR3
Hard drive 320GB 7,200rpm HDD
Chipset Intel HM77
Graphics Intel HD 4000
Operating system Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 12.0×8.1 inches
Height 1.0 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 12.5 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 3.46 pounds / 4.1 pounds
Category Ultraportable
Sarah Tew

ThinkPads have an unmistakable and seemingly consistent design design. The X230 looks like the outside of the X220, or just about any other ThinkPad: the matte magnesium body from every corner gives this notebook a durability, displacement and volume that is unique. The X230’s screen opens a full 180 degrees on smooth metal hinges, the upper lip pointing down to the laptop’s cup and offering a place to open the lid with your finger.

The X230 is relatively light at 3.46 pounds, but it’s not because it’s bulky. This inch thick, this laptop is far from the MacBook Air in terms of thin plate. It’s also far from ultrabooks such as Dell XPS 13 , but at least the chassis is resistant to shocks and hard rock.

The big story of the new X230 is the keyboard, but clean, raised, and slightly bulging keys have been spotted on ThinkPads before, namely last year’s ThinkPad Edge and X1 series. Big and uncircumcised keys are great, just as good as a traditional ThinkPad keyboard, and then some, down to a nice flashy click and a good key travel. Also missing are some of the busy extra buttons at the top of the keyboard: a simple set of function buttons dual screen brightness, video chat and other hot keys, while dedicated speaker and microphone sound, volume control, and ThinkVantage keys and ThinkVantage keys. The ThinkVantage Lenovo Software Kit gives you one-stop access to all your business-friendly support and system tools in one place, including troubleshooting, downloading software updates, and managing your security and power settings.

Sarah Tew

Not only does the keyboard have spill resistance (downstream vents), but there are two forms of backlighting: two levels of LED brightness under the keys and an overhead LED light superimposed over the webcam at the top of the top cover. Excess? Of course, this is nice to use when flying over red eyes if you have misplaced the USB storage device.

Not so new is the red range of tracks, or “ThinkPad Nipple”. ThinkPad specialist users swear by it, but no one else does. The rubber point is not a problem; it is a large set of highlighted buttons above the touchpad that compresses the useful space of the multi-touch panel otherwise to a virtually postage stamp. If you’ve learned how to use chiral scrolling to promote web pages, you’ll be fine. If you have no idea what a chiral scroll is (a spiral pattern you make with your finger), you will be angry.

ThinkPads are business notebooks, and the X230 comes with a wealth of hardware and security software. The fingerprint reader sits next to the trackpad; VPro technology and a suite of encryption software and IT-friendly software await business consumption. ThinkPads often feel like the BlackBerrys of the Notebook World: Reliable and full of enterprise features that many businesses don’t always need. A MacBook Air or an ultrabook such as the Dell XPS 13 or HP Folio 13 fit the bill for many, and in many cases may even be cheaper.

The 12.5-inch display certainly feels smaller than a 13-inch laptop, but this is a significant step up from the more familiar 11-inch screen. With a resolution of 1,366×768 pixels, this is the same resolution found on almost all 11- to 13-inch laptops, as well as in 14- and 15-inch laptops. Lenovo screens are always crisp and bright, with good off-axis viewing, and the X230 is no exception: it’s a good thing because the hinge of the X230 opens 180 degrees. Better yet, as it is a business laptop, it has a matte screen that is better for non-glare playback (unfortunately, this feature is almost impossible to find on a consumer laptop).

Stereo speakers, a quality webcam, and better microphones than you would find on a mid-range laptop, give the X230 the benefit of those who find it difficult to converse.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Average for category [ultraportable]
Video Mini-DisplayPort, VGA VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone combo jack Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, ExpressCard/34, SD card reader 2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, SD card reader
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional Gobi 3G/4G LTE, WiMAX Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive None None
Sarah Tew

Like most ThinkPads, the X230 can be customized. New to this year’s update is more USB 3.0 ports, as well as Mini DisplayPort along with VGA. WiMax 4G and Gobi antennas for 4G LTE or HSPA are also available. Processor settings run from 2.4 GHz Core i3-2370M to 2.9 GHz Core i7-3520M. Storage options include either a 250 or 320 GB hard drive or an SSD up to 256 GB. Lenovo has not yet priced all of these configurations, but stay tuned as soon as the systems are officially sold.

Our configuration, shipped by Lenovo, is clocking in at $ 1,249, including a 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-3320M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB 7200rpm hard drive and Windows 7 Professional. It’s a lot to pay for a laptop with no dedicated graphics and no SSD.

The last third generation of Ivy Bridge’s third-generation Core i-Series processors has never been touted as offering a big jump over last year’s Sandy Bridge predecessors, and it’s proven here. In our benchmark tests, the ThinkPad X230 improved multitasking compared to last year’s X220 (which had a second-generation i5-2520M Core i5-2520M processor). In tests with a clear-cut mission, improvements are even smaller. It is worth upgrading to newer processors if, of course, the prices are equivalent, but you should not buy this year’s version if you already have last year’s processor.

Much has been made of the new generation Intel 4000 graphics, including myself. Improvements in this system are more difficult to evaluate. Street Fighter IV played at native resolution of 1366×768 pixels at a rate of 19.7 frames per second – is unlikely to catch your eye. Other games play relatively well with reduced graphics settings. Again, you’re probably not meant to play games on your ThinkPad, assuming it’s officially designed. Those who want more oomph will still want to look for dedicated graphics, which is not an option for the X230.

Last year, the ThinkPad X220 had a really great battery life of 6 hours and 41 minutes. This time you get a little less: the X230 was still very good, but not so great, 6 hours and 4 minutes, with a removable six-cell battery included. Lenovo offers a nine-cell battery upgrade as an option, but the X230’s battery life is still better than many ultrabooks. Properly managed, this will take a full time.

Lenovo ThinkPads typically include a standard one-year mail guarantee, which may not be adequate for a critical computer. Several other levels and conditions of service are available, including home maintenance and protection against accidental damage. In addition to ThinkVantage troubleshooters and driver updates, the Lenovo Web site provides the same information, but a valid technical support contact number is difficult to find (though your company IT team is likely to handle any problems with the system). If you need to call Lenovo, try this support line 24-7: 1-800-426-7378.

Multimedia Task Test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480
325Asus Zenbook UX32V
505 Lenovo Thinkpad X230
512 Intel Ultrabook (Whitebox)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Image Processing Test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480
151 Lenovo Thinkpad X230
167Asus Zenbook UX32V
197 Intel Ultrabook (Whitebox)

Apple iTunes Coding Test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo Thinkpad X230
100 Lenovo IdeaPad Y480
100Asus Zenbook UX32V
113 Intel Ultrabook (Whitebox)

Video Trial Video Play Video (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo Thinkpad X230
364 Intel Ultrabook (Whitebox)
306Asus Zenbook UX32V
273 Lenovo IdeaPad Y480

Annual cost of energy consumption
Intel Ultrabook (Whitebox)
$3.56 Lenovo Thinkpad X230
$3.57 Lenovo IdeaPad Y480
$5.29Asus Zenbook UX32V

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