June 11, 2012
- USB 3.0 & Bluetooth
- Comfortable, backlit keyboard
- Solid performance
- Slightly thicker & heavier than some competitors
- Small touchpad
The Lenovo ThinkPad X230 is a 12-inch ultraportable notebook which has a very portable design that includes enough power, especially since it takes advantage of Intel's third-generation CPUs. Its keyboard is also very comfortable and backlit but it is slightly heavier than some other 13-inch ultraportables.
It seems that ultraportable laptops are all the rage right now, perhaps because users now want to take their computer (and their data) with them wherever they go. Luckily, Intel and other component manufacturers are keeping up with user's demands as they are constantly developing low-voltage components for these ultrabook computers.
The design of the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 follows the classic ThinkPad design. It has a black body with a slightly soft finish on the lid and a squared-off chassis. The entire chassis is made of a magnesium-alloy, so it's very sturdy and built to handle the bumps and bruises of being carried around frequently.
At 12.0 x 8.1 x 1.0-inches (wdh) and a weight of 3.4-pounds, it is a tad thicker and heavier than other 13-inch competitors. Also at this size, it cannot be considered an Ultrabook but it is still definitely an ultraportable and can easily fit into a briefcase or backpack.
Lenovo choose a slightly different keyboard design for the X230: an island-style keyboard. The keyboard has a very tactile feel that gives lots of feedback while typing. This made for a very comfortable experience and it's also backlit, which is always a huge plus. According to Lenovo, the keyboard is spill-resistant, but we didn't test this. The touchpad is fairly small at 2.9 x 1.7-inches in size but it was very responsive and accurate. The pad is multitouch supported, but when we tried some of the gestures, we found our fingers moving past the borders of the pad. For pointing stick lovers, the X230 also has one.
There's also a built-in fingerprint reader for the security-minded folks out there. It is definite use for this added security if you use your laptop for work-related tasks and want to protect your data while still allowing yourself to be portable.
The 11.6-inch display has a native resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels and delivered a very nice all-around image. It definitely is good enough for watching movies and the matte finish helped to cut back on annoying reflections from ambient light or sunlight.
In terms of ports, the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 has two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 (Sleep & Charge enabled), VGA-out, DisplayPort-out, Ethernet, an SD card reader and a headphone/microphone combo jack. There is no HDMI-out port, but the DisplayPort output fills the void decently.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X230 is powered by a third-generation Intel Core i5-3320M (2.6GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB 7200RPM hard drive and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. There is also 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity. For more information on the benefits of third-generation "Ivy Bridge" Intel CPUs, see our article comparing them with second-generation Intel CPUs.
Performance with the X230 was solid, especially since it has the latest in Intel CPUs. It scored 2,844 on a PCMark 07 benchmark, which is better than most other ultraportables but not the best out there. Most users will probably not notice any difference between those other computers out there.
Graphics performance is good enough for watching HD videos and other related tasks. Don't expect to play any 3D games, however, as integrated graphics aren't up to the task.
Battery life with the included battery comes out at about 7-hours, which is about on-par with other similar laptops.