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)
|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
|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)
|11.1" x 8.2" x 1.16" (WxDxH)
|3.3 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Trackpoint and touchpad
Flash reader (4-in-1)
WWAN Mini-PCIe support
|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.