Updated Thinkpad T420 Review – OutStanding value! Fall 2011
October 11, 2011
In our first ThinkPad T420 review we were impressed with the outstanding increases in performance over the older ThinkPad T410. What impressed us most about the new ThinkPad T420 was the increase in power with the new Intel Sandy Bridge processors, and an overall increase in graphics performance without loss of battery life.
In fact the ThinkPad T420 will give you close to a claimed 15 hours of battery life with the 9 cell installed, or an amazing 30 hours with the ‘slice’ battery.
So let’s take a close look at the ThinkPad T420 line up for fall 2011. First of the ThinkPad T420i gets a new Core i3 processor, in the form of the 2.3 GHz i3 2350M with 3MB of L3 cache. Slated for release in Q3 2011, Lenovo has been quick to get this new chip into the ThinkPad T Series range.
Intel Mobile Core i3-2350M is a dual-core chip for middle power notebooks and of course is based on the new established and stable Sandy Bridge architecture. With 2 cores, a GPU, Memory controller and PCI Express the i3-2350M runs at 2.3 GHz which is 100 MHz up on the 2330M, and 200 MHz quicker than the 2310M. The GPU is HD-capable and also supports 3D acceleration and Hyper-Threading which should boost processor performance considerably.
Using Enhanced SpeedStep technology which lowers core voltage and should play a part in increased battery life over previous Core i3 offerings.
Processor upgrades for the ThinkPad T420i are limited to the Core i5 2430M running at 2.40GHz
Options include HD+ 1600 x 900 Resolution LED Display, up to 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz Memory across 2 DIMM’s, Finger Print Reader, up to a 500 GB 7200rpm Hard Disk Drive or the sublime Intel 160 GB SSD Drive, you can also specify the 9 cell Li-Ion Battery plus the usual host of WiFi and broadband options. Intel HD 3000 Graphics, brings more than acceptable performance unless you’re a hard core gamer. A 720p HD Camera come as standard.
Overall the new incarnation of the ThinkPad T420i for fall 2011 is an excellent offering from Lenovo and a great choice if you’re looking to fit yourself out with a T Series on a budget!
Way out at the other end of the scale comes the ThinkPad T420 with the Core i7-2620M Chip running at 2.70GHz sporting 4MB L3 Cache. Fit this one out with the NVIDIA NVS 4200M Graphics with Optimus Technology with 1GB DDR3 Memory onboard, upgrade your system memory to 8 GB DDR3 and you’ve got yourself a real mobile powerhouse, that’s going to keep you working most of the day.
Once you have the ThinkPad T420 fitted out with the specifications of your choice, you’re really going to have the pinnacle of business notebooks to work with.
We fitted ours out as follows
ThinkPad T420 Specifications – Fall 2011
Intel Core i7-2620M 2.70GHz Processor with 4MB L3 Cache with Windows 7 Pro 64 installed so we can run 8GB memory – 1600 x 900 Resolution LED Backlit Display with Anti-Glare 14″ with its Lenovo HD+ designation, NVIDIA NVS 4200M Optimus Graphics with 1GB DDR3 Memory – 8 GB PC3 DDR3 SDRAM – Fingerprint reader – 720p High Definition Web cam – 500 GB 7200rpm Hard Disk Drive – DVD Optical Drive – 4 in 1 Card and Smart Card Reader – 9 cell Li-Ion Battery – Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205, and an accessories I won’t personally do without, the ThinkPad Mini Dock Plus Series 3 which runs at 170W to give increased power for higher end graphics cards.
Total price for this souped up T420 rig as of October 11th ’11 is a wallet melting $2579, however, with the current online sale and the relevant ThinkPad T420 Coupon, we can bring this down to a very respectable $$1682
The reason for choosing the 500GB drive over an SSD option is capacity. we have long had the promise from Lenovo of a real Hybrid drive solution, with all the benefits of a spinning drive for capacity and a small MSata drive piggybacked for Rapid Boot. This has been a promise since CES 2011, and again at CES 2011, but we are yet to see it. So what about it Lenovo?
The ThinkPad T420 though, like all T Series, goes beyond mere performance and iconic looks. the build quality is superb, the keyboard is simply outstanding and a great deal of thought has been put into the ergonomics and features that make a corporate notebooks users life so much easier.
Features like ‘Instant Resume’ which keeps you connected as you roam and enhanced audio conferencing features with talk and type noise reduction function keys for when on a VIOP call.
So here we are in late 2011 and we ponder if this is a good time to buy a ThinkPad T420 with the advent of Ivy Bridge and the rumored release of the ThinkPad T430. One thing’s for sure, we won’t be seeing Ivy Bridge till at least April 2011, which probably means we will be seeing a new Ivy Bridge equipped T Series and subsequently ThinkPad T430 around late April to early May.
Our opinion? Don’t wait. The current ThinkPad T420 and in fact the whole T Series range is outstanding and Lenovo have done an excellent job of bringing together all the features of the classic ThinkPad and engineering them into a remarkable range of notebooks.
Whilst it still retains all the features and subtleties that we love, the modern ThinkPad has suddenly become sleek, stylish, and dare we say sexy? It is difficult to comprehend sometimes that the ThinkPad X1 and the new Android ThinkPad Tablet come from the same lineage as the A Series and the legacy T Series like the T60!
Lenovo has done a remarkable job of defending the ThinkPad design legacy whilst bringing us a modern technology classic.
The purpose of this updated ThinkPad T420 Review is really to illustrate what a superb business notebook the T Series is. If you’re looking for a new notebook right now then the 2011/2012 ThinkPad T420 is the undisputed class leader.
ThinkPad T420 Video