My rationale for the Lenovo Thinkpad X200s

Submitted by dag on Tue, 2008/12/23 - 03:10

My christmas present arrived early this year. Unfortunately, this one I had to buy myself but given the price-tag that is not a surprise.

I didn't need a new laptop per se, but the weight I was carrying sometimes (my own Thinkpad T43 and the customer Thinkpad T60) caused some neck pains. It probably is not completely related to that, but every excuse to buy a newer laptop is fine by me.

So what laptop was under the hypothetical christmas tree ? Well, the title gave it away already ;-)

It is a beast of a machine weighing little more than 1kg. A beast even when only half of the physical memory arrived and the 9 cell battery is yet to be had. So what's inside:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo processor SL9400 1.86 Ghz
  • Mobile Intel GM45 Express Chipset
  • 12.1-in WXGA (1280X800) TFT
  • Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Intel SSD 80GB SATA MLC 2.5inch
  • Intel WiFi Link 5300 AGN
  • Bluetooth Wireless Technology
  • Integrated Fingerprint Reader
  • 5-in-1 Media card reader
  • 9 Cell battery

Some people reading this will obviously be turned down by the AZERTY keyboard. So this can only help from it being stolen during geek conferences ;-)

Now, the most important component in this laptop is the amazingly fast harddisk. The 80GB SSD is getting close to what it is stated to do: 200MB/sec on random read and 75MB/sec on random write. I did get to a sustained rate of 200MB/sec on random reads and only 71MB/sec on random writes with 2 exhausting threads (my laptop's load). For 16 threads it was about 20% less and Gnome became unresponsive from time to time.

Beware thought that my tests with iozone and my real life scenarios (using rsync to move files around) were using ext3, so the filesystem layer might explain the small different in writes at that rate. But all in all I never expected those numbers. Booting takes less than 15secs with a full CentOS installation (and all default services) !

Ironically, sequential I/O performs 15% less than random I/O. So what's next ? I guess modifying applications to randomize I/O ! ;-)

And why did I choose this model ?

  • I love Thinkpads ever since I started working at IBM.
  • They are black, don't have too much blink and shine and blue leds.
  • I can't work without a TrackPoint (the red dot in your keyboard) and hate to have to use a touchpad (the first thing I disable in the BIOS)
  • The Thinkpad X200s does not have a touchpad !
  • It has a full-size keyboard (none of those reduced keys) and is still tiny. Because of the full-size keyboard it has a wide-screen TFT.
  • I often work in dark places, so the ThinkLight is something I would miss in other brands.
  • The Thinkpad X200s only weighs 1.3kg (with the 9 cell battery a bit more).
  • Thinkpads usually are well-supported by Linux because they are widely used by community members.
  • Thinkpads come with complete hardware maintenance manuals (HMM) explaining how to remove the tiniest part. I've used those manuals in the past for ordering and replacing parts in second-hand laptops.

The laptop does not come with a CD/DVD drive, which I didn't mind. I did opt in for the UltraBase, but I'm already concerned I will probably never use it.

An unexpected advantage is that the audio plug is much nearer to the front so I don't need my headphone extension cable anymore when working in the couch ! I hope Lenovo does this with all their new models.

I've done some tests and I can do more than 2.5 hours with a full battery, TFT set to brightest, using Wifi and bluetooth turned on. It consumes about 15W on normal usage. This is with a CentOS 5.2 kernel (2.6.18), from reports you can bring that down to about 11W with newer kernels and even to 7W if you turn down the brightness, most of the peripheral devices and idle. :-)

I'll just wait until CentOS 6 for those improved power management capabilities, since I have little time to tinker with a bleeding edge operating system. My laptop is too important to me and I don't have the time to cope with the latest and greatest application (bugs) or required major upgrades breaking things.

Besides the 9 Cell battery should bring it close to 6 hours, I hope. And that is not an invitation to airlines to delay even more...

Dear Santa, Please crawl down

Dear Santa,

Please crawl down Dag's chimney, steal this laptop and deliver it to me. I've been a good boy all year round!

Thank you!

Oh and trackpoint? I've been calling that thing a nipple for all of my life, and I'm not giving up on that!

Dear Santa, Please crawl down

Hahaha! My boss and I call it the erect nipple...that's so funny. I couldn't use a laptop without one.

Well i have to admit ...

I just bought a thinkpad T61p and love it! Been searching to buy a thinkpad for a long time but since my old laptop now died I immediatly ordered one! Ok it has a bit extra weight but it's not like i drag it around everywhere.
You should have a look at thinkwiki, there you find nice manuals for installs of a lot of operating systemsn and tweaks, settings and packages to support the specific hardware, I can recommend it to every hacker out there!


Those are impressive results. I am personally very attached to my IBM T40P and am glad to see some good impressions with the Lenovo machines as well. They came off to an uneven start, but they are certainly improving - if my eyes were up to the netbooks, I'd certainly get myself one of the new Ideapads.