Lenovo ThinkPad X100e: When Build Quality Matters Mostby Dustin Sklavos on September 3, 2010 6:40 PM EST
Though the unit we have on hand is actually the one I bought for myself (again, eating our own dog food as it were), it does bear mentioning that Lenovo's ThinkPad X100e has been getting seeded around the media lately. Initial reviews of the notebook back in February were mixed, and understandably so: Lenovo commanded a frankly obscene pricetag for a notebook with AMD's mediocre Athlon Neo MV-40. $550 for a notebook that got just barely over four hours of battery life under the best of circumstances with a processor that was marginally superior to the Intel Atom at the expense of heat and power. Lenovo was asking CULV prices for low-end tech, and most review sites weren't biting.
Flash forward to today, and it appears Lenovo has been sending out ThinkPad X100e units in the configuration that probably should've been their leader in the first place. Of course, things have changed in the intervening time frame. AMD's Nile platform is starting to pick up steam in the marketplace, with Acer and Toshiba both selling notebooks based on Athlon II Neo K-series processors, Radeon HD 4225 graphics, and DDR3 support. The prices on the ThinkPad X100e have also dropped: when it came out, the Turion Neo version we have on hand would've meant parting with seven Franklins, but now Lenovo asks a still-hairy-but-more-reasonable $529. So what do you get for your hard-earned cash?
|Lenovo ThinkPad X100e Specifications|
AMD Turion Neo X2 L625
(2x1.6GHz, 65nm, 2x512KB L2, 18W)
|Chipset||AMD RS780M Northbridge, AMD SB750 Southbridge|
(Shipped with: 1GB DDR2-667)
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200
(40 Stream Processors, 380MHz Core, Integrated)
11.6" LED Matte 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Intel X25-V 40GB SSD
(Shipped with: Fujitsu 250GB 5400RPM Hard Disk)
Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Lenovo 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN
Conexant Cx20582 HD Audio
|Battery||6-Cell, 10.8V, 56Wh battery|
2x USB 2.0
Gigabit ethernet jack
1x USB 2.0
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
(Shipped with: Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit)
|Dimensions||11.1" x 8.2" x 1.16" (WxDxH)|
|Weight||3.3 lbs (with 6-cell battery)|
Trackpoint and touchpad
Flash reader (4-in-1)
WWAN Mini-PCIe support
|Warranty||1-year standard warranty|
Starting at $449
$629 as shipped
It's not exciting but it's not what we're here for either. The AMD Turion Neo X2 L625 is the best AMD's Congo platform had to offer, and it's not bad. It has the same dual 1.6GHz cores as the L335, but bumps L2 cache up to 512K on each one. There's also supposedly improved PowerNow! capability over the Athlon Neo chips, allowing it to scale voltage lower; while I can't confirm it, the Turion Neo does seem to have superior battery life to Athlon Neo-based portables as we'll see later. Attached to it are the familiar AMD Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics and support for DDR2.
Since this is my personal system, I opted to upgrade the unit to an Intel X25-V 40GB SSD (on sale locally) and 4GB of DDR2-800. It originally shipped with a Fujitsu 250GB 5400RPM hard disk to ensure it would never reach its full potential, along with a paltry 1GB of DDR2. Note that the specs it shipped with are the basics for the $629 pricetag. We actually have a few benchmarks later on with the system running in both configurations. It should also be noted that the RAM never runs at a higher speed than DDR2-667; the way the integrated memory controller is tuned on Congo-platform processors means even DDR2-800 will run at a reduced speed. That said, it can run in dual channel mode, so adding another 1GB stick of DDR2-667 should at least offer a marginal gain alongside the additional performance boost that comes with more memory.
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yuhong - Friday, September 3, 2010 - linkI wonder when will the Nile version arrive, though.
skrewler2 - Friday, September 3, 2010 - linkI've used almost exclusively Thinkpads throughout the years. Their build quality is incredible. I've dropped my T61 on tiled floor or it's fallen from server racks too many times to count, and it keeps chugging on.
My only wish is that they still came with DB-9 ports.
Aellynh - Friday, September 3, 2010 - linkI still use them to this day with virtually every modern access control security system. Low speed 9600 baud DB-9 port and if you're lucky.. I mean really lucky, you MIGHT find one that has an optional network module at 10/100Mbps. Not even gigabit yet! Long live the serial port.
Flunk - Monday, September 6, 2010 - linkYou guys have to realize that that's a niche market, and you still can get notebooks with DB-9 ports, just not most models since the space can be more effectively used by a few USB ports or video outputs.
If anything expect less serial ports in the future. At some point you're going to have to walk around with a 10 year old system to interface with those old integrated systems. They're only going to be replaced when it's impossible to interface with them at all.
hausdave - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - linkI just use a USB-Se3rial converter. Even works with minicom in limux.
The keyspan works with everything.
tobrien - Friday, September 3, 2010 - linkI've got a Dell E6400 (the current-gen Latitude E6410 might be worth looking into reviewing :)) and it's got the single panel on the bottom that's also removable by undoing a single, captive screw, it's so nice!
I see friends' HPs and Toshibas and Acers and see how they've still got a million screws that hold the bottom panel on. I'd be interested to know who implemented the "single screw bottom panel" idea first, not that it matters though.
But AT should consider reviewing a Dell Latitude E-series. I've owned by E6400 since it came out in 2008 and it's never broken in any way. I upgraded the HDD and RAM but that's it. I love mine!
ThomasA - Friday, September 3, 2010 - linkI've owned Thinkpads over the years and found them reliable. For the last 6 mos. I've been doing business on my Dell E6400 (bought from the Dell Outlet). Exc. value and also a solid tool.
ExogenBoy - Monday, September 6, 2010 - linkA bit off-topic but are you guys kidding with the build quality comments of E6400? I've had mine for one and half years and I would be surprised if it will hold together for another half a year or so. I paid a premium price for this and it has nice features but solid is certainly not a correct word to describe this machine. Plus the Intel Matrix driver problems causing audio pops on Vista, a problem which still exists after various driver updates. Luckily their on-site support is premium at least here Northern Europe, the only thing truly premium related to this laptop in my opinion.
Stuka87 - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - linkThe E6400 was a good attempt by Dell to have a notebook that looks like a business class machine (ie: A ThinkPad clone). But the quality certainly does not match a ThinkPad. And Dell has major issues with using their docking station and a pair of external monitors. We employ a lot of them here, and many have this issue.
But with that said, its a huge step up compared to the previous generation Latitudes which were utter junk.
Devo2007 - Saturday, September 4, 2010 - linkAbout the only thing I'm not sure on is whether it makes sense to pin the improved battery life on the swap to the SSD. Moving from 1GB of RAM on Windows 7 to 4GB is bound to have at least some impact on battery life in itself, since it wouldn't be accessing the swap file as much on the HDD.
Don't get me wrong, I love my SSD (Intel X18-M 80GB), but it seems the editor was focused more on SSD performance than the benefit from adding more RAM (PCMark Vantage's HDD test aside).