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Lenovo ThinkPad X220 specs


The Good Classic ThinkPad design in a compact package, amazing battery life, and the latest Intel processors make the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 a standout travel laptop.

The Bad A stick-combo touchpad combo remains an uncomfortable trade-off, and, like most ThinkPad, you pay a healthy premium for a sturdy body and business-friendly software.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo ThinkPad X220 packs in a new Intel Core i5 processor and can run all day (depending on how you use it). With a 12.5-inch display, it is slightly smaller than a 13-inch laptop, and it feels like a great compromise for frequent travelers.

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8.0 Overall

  • Design
  • Features
  • Performance
  • Battery
  • Support

Lenovo’s X-series laptops have always been high-end, ultraportable machines for business travelers who need to work on the road with minimal compromise. The X220 continues this tradition and adds several new twists at the same time. The biggest design change is moving up to a 12.5-inch display – a very unusual size. This allows the chassis to be slightly wider, which in turn leads to a larger keyboard and one that is very different from any other laptop on the market.

You’ll also get the second generation of second-generation Intel i-Series processors, which, across multiple systems, we’ve seen in real life, to the promise of more power and better battery life. It’s nice to see it in such a compact system, though Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro also has new Intel processors in just a little bit bigger.

Unlike one of the Lenovo IdeaPad line of consumer laptops, the X220 is clearly a business system. While periodically rethought, the look is a classic ThinkPad, with a busy keyboard and dual pointing stick control. This design, combined with the IT software found on almost all ThinkPads, means it’s not your typical freelance laptop, and if it lands on your desk, it may have been commissioned by your company’s mass department. However, if we were to have a rigorous, fast-paced work laptop, the combination of the small size and the powerful X220 make it what we would probably like.

Price as reviewed $1,299
Processor 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2520M
Memory 4GB, 1,333MHz DDR3
Hard drive 320GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Mobile Intel HM55
Graphics Intel HD 3000
Operating system Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 12.0×8.3 inches
Height 0.8 – 1.4 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 12.5 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 3.3 pounds/4.0 pounds
Category Ultraportable

The appearance of ThinkPad laptops has changed over time, and the various product lines and sizes have their own unique features. However, it’s still clearly defined as a 100-step ThinkPad, from a black-cut black shell to an over-occupied keyboard with a character pointer in the middle.

Somewhat surprisingly, little has changed year after year in ThinkPad design, as Lenovo has shown that it can make radically modern designs with its IdeaPad consumer line. But it makes sense because corporate IT departments value familiarity and continuity above all else. A radically different-looking ThinkPad might not end up with so many cabs.

With its unique 12.5-inch screen that adds half an inch to the display size of the previous X201, the X220 also has room for a wider keyboard, and this keyboard is one of the biggest highlights of the system.

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Even most business laptops have now switched to familiar island-style keyboards, with separate flat-coated keys. The ThinkPad line, however, adheres to the older style of closely spaced keys, which are wider at the bottom and narrow a little at the top. If you’re typing on a traditional desktop keyboard, you’re probably using one of them now, but it’s almost extinct on laptops.

It took us a few minutes to get used to the deep strokes and hefty sensation, but after that the typing was great (Lenovo is said to be investing heavily in keyboard research). Important keys like Shift, Enter, and even Delete are extremely large, and you’ll quickly forget that you’re typing on a sub-13-inch laptop. Our main belief is that the overcrowded keyboard tray feels too busy, with large white and blue labels for many keys, as well as keys such as Page Up / Down and Print Screen crammed into the upper corners. Let’s say, there is not much negative space at work here.

In addition to the dedicated buttons for adjusting the volume, speakers and mute the microphone, there is also a quick launch button for the Lenovo ThinkVantage suite of programs. It gives you single access to all business-friendly support and system tools in one place, including troubleshooting, downloading software updates, and managing security and power settings.

The large touchpad on the X220 is noticeable, especially since it has to share space with an old-school pointing stick and its secondary mouse button set. Instead of harping on why smaller laptops especially need to consider the output of the pointing stick, we will focus on our main task – the integrated mouse buttons built into the touchpad.

To be clear, the mouse pointer buttons are still traditional separate buttons, but the main ones are built into the touchpad itself, which bends slightly in front of the front lip of the system. Left and right clicks on the right are only highlighted by a weak line, so you spend a lot of time figuring out where they are – or, like us, left-clicking accidentally when you intended to right-click. Unlike Apple, without marking the trackpad, you can’t just right-click with two fingers. This new touchpad design has a larger pad, but it’s also harder to use in some ways, so we can’t call it a success.

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 X220 is no exception. 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).

Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Average for category [ultraportable]
Video VGA plus DisplayPort VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone jack, built-in mic Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, SD card reader 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, optional mobile broadband Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive None None

Like most ThinkPads, the X220 can be customized. There is an option to make a USB 3.0 port for one of the USB ports (sorry, not Thunderbolt yet), as well as available WiMax 4G and Gobi antennas. The processor options work from Core i3 to Core i7, but since the X220 is not yet officially sold (look for it in April), Lenovo has not said exactly how much each of these options will cost.

The Intel Core i5-2520M processor in our test block was more than fast to make this system stand out. Although not as fast as the quad-core 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro, the X220 in our benchmark tests won most laptops well before the Sandy Bridge, even with a high desktop replacement. If you are having trouble getting the expected performance of this laptop, do what we did and check all the power settings in ThinkVantage software and make sure Intel Turbo Boost Technology is turned on.

With the new Intel platform, you will also get significantly improved integrated graphics. Intel’s pre-built graphics could barely play 3D games, but the ThinkPad X220 ran Unreal Tournament 3 at 1366×768 pixels at 60.2 frames per second, which is more than acceptable for mainstream games. Of course, your mileage may be different than new games, so be prepared to allow resolution and detail settings on any laptop without discrete graphics. It’s also a business laptop, so you probably shouldn’t play games (or at least not get into it).

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Multimedia Task Test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4 Inch – 2.2 GHz
130Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 M620 15.4 Inch – 2.66 GHz
259Intel (Sandy Bridge)
398 Lenovo ThinkPad X220
573 Lenovo ThinkPad X201
684 Asus U36J
Adobe Photoshop CS3 Image Processing Test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4 Inch – 2.2 GHz
63Intel (Sandy Bridge)
66 Lenovo ThinkPad X220
83Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 M620 15.4 Inch – 2.66 GHz
90 Asus U36J
108 Lenovo ThinkPad X201
Apple iTunes Coding Test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4 Inch – 2.2 GHz
90Intel (Sandy Bridge)
101 Lenovo ThinkPad X220
109Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 M620 15.4 Inch – 2.66 GHz
128 Lenovo ThinkPad X201
135 Asus U36J
Video Trial Video Play Video (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4 Inch – 2.2 GHz
425 Lenovo ThinkPad X201
412 Lenovo ThinkPad X220
401Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 M620 15.4 Inch – 2.66 GHz
356Intel (Sandy Bridge)
305 Asus U36J

Juice box
Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Avg watts/hour
Off (60%) 0.25
Sleep (10%) 0.59
Idle (25%) 5.67
Load (05%) 16.91
Raw kWh Number 21.65
Annual Energy Cost $2.46

Annual cost of electricity consumption Lenovo ThinkPad X220
$2.46 Lenovo ThinkPad X201
$4.26Intel (Sandy Bridge)
$5.20 Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4 Inch – 2.2 GHz
$5.63 Asus U36J
$6.79Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 M620 15.4 Inch – 2.66 GHz

Lenovo has always prided itself on offering great ThinkPad battery life, and Intel is making big claims about the energy efficiency of its second-generation, second-generation Core i-Series. Put them together and your battery life is really high. So good that the X220 went 6 hours and 41 minutes in our battery trip test for video playback, which is a great estimate for any laptop, especially one that doesn’t require any real compromises on performance. The 15-inch MacBook Pro ran about 25 minutes longer, and last year’s ThinkPad X201 was also in the same layer, but it’s still thin air.

Lenovo ThinkPads typically include a standard one-year mail guarantee, which may not be adequate for a critical computer. On-site next day trading is $ 39 for one year, or $ 219 for three years, with several other levels of service and conditions available. 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.

Learn more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Lenovo ThinkPad X220
Windows 7 Professional (64-bit); 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 2520M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (dedicated) / 1696MB (total) Intel GMA HD; 320 Hiters 5,400 rpm

Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4 Inch – 2.2 GHz
OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard; Intel Core i7 2.2 GHz; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6750M / 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Intel (Sandy Bridge)
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7-2820QM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 64 MB (dedicated) Intel HD 3000; 160 GB Intel SSD

Apple MacBook Pro – Core i7 M620 15.4 Inch – 2.66 GHz
OS X 10.6.2 Snow Leopard; 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 M620; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 512 MB Nvidia GeForce GT 330M + 256 MB Intel GMA HD; 500 GB Seagate 5 400 rpm

Lenovo ThinkPad X201
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5 M540; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 64MB (dedicated) / 1.273MB (total) Intel GMA HD; 320 Hitachi 7200 rpm

Asus U36J
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5 M460; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 310M + 64MB (dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500 GB Seagate 5 400 rpm

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