Lenovo x230 quick review


Lenovo x230

Here’s a quick and dirty review and notes on installation of my new Lenovo X230.

Here’s the key specs:

  • Lenovo x230
  • Intel i5-3320m processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • IPS screen upgrade
  • backlit keyboard upgrade
  • Intel AGN wifi
  • 500GB 7200 RPM hard disk
  • 120 GBIntel 525 mSATA SSD (purchased separately)
  • 9 cell battery
  • Weight in this configuration (excluding power adapter) is 1.73kg (3.8lbs if you must). Power adapter is approx 350g.

(Weight was taken after Linux was installed – all those extra bits might add up to an ounce or two)

Total cost was AU$1205 + $AU 184 for the SSD in late May / early June 2013

Windows 8 came installed on the 500GB hard disk. I shrunk it down to around 100GB which left approximately 370GB free for installing linux, in addition to the 120GB SSD. SSD installation was fairly straightforward (although I am an electronics repair technician). A number of screws to be removed from the bottom cover, lift the keyboard and then palm rest off and install it.

I have a DC car charger on order, as well a neoprene sleeve and mini DisplayPort adapters, all from eBay. A 270x350mm padded envelope works well as a slip case until the neoprene sleeve arrives (no, I’m not going to pay $20 for a fake one)


Installation / setup Linux Mint

Here’s how I partitioned and installed:

  • / and /home were put on the SSD, approximately 55GB each,
  • swap (8.5GB), /tmp and /var/log (2GB each) were put on the hard disk,
  • the remaining space formatted as ext4 and mounted as /pub, to be used for videos, music and other such things,
  • Linux Mint Debian Edition 64 bit (Cinnamon) installed after a few goes (live distro kept locking up during the installation process),
  • grub was installed on the SSD, and BIOS boot order was changed to boot from the SSD first,
  • BIOS changed to legacy mode

(On boot, hit F1 to enter BIOS setup, and F12 to temporarily select a different boot device).

As far as function keys etc goes, LMDE works great out of the box, nothing required except installing the necessary software, and perhaps encrypting your home drive. I made a few changes as recommended here for better SSD performance, and also installed TLP packages for better power savings

Review of the hardware itself

I’m fairly happy overall. With the 9 cell battery it is a bit bigger and heavier, but for me, well worth the trade off. I have not used it enough yet to get good battery life estimates, but operating on battery with wifi on and decent screen brightness, system battery life estimates range from six to eleven hours, which I’m fairly happy with.

As far as ergonomics goes, this is the first Thinkpad I’ve had so I’m not quite yet used to the trackpoint (my crappy work HP laptop has one, but it is very inferior to this one). The touchpad is disappointing – the left and right bottom corners act as buttons, but cause pointer movement. Even when using the trackpoint buttons (above the touchpad, so takes some getting used to), the touchpad just doesn’t feel that nice. Scrolling is software driven, so can be set for single finger right hand edge, or two finger. Two finger works better for me, as there’s less unintentional scrolling from palms while typing.

This isn’t anything unexpected, but I really wish there was a higher screen res option – 1366×768 just doesn’t cut it, especially in the vertical dimension. I very nearly bought an Acer Aspire S7-191 purely for the awesome 1080p 11″ screen. I would happily have paid an extra $100 – $150 for a higher res IPS screen on the x230.

Overall, I’m pretty happy. Certainly a nice upgrade from the ageing Asus 1201pn (old atom netbook with a completely dead battery) and old Dell Core2duo Inspiron (with about 15 mins of battery life).