Monthly Archives: August 2013

Thinkpad T430s Review (Part 2)

I guess it’s about time that I start posting some of the follow up posts that I keep mentioning but never writing. I’ll start by finishing up my review of the Thinkpad T430s.

Everything I said in part 1 still holds true. The laptop is sturdy and has a great keyboard. My laptop is now over a year old, and the only problem it has is cosmetic (and partially my fault). There are two badges on the back of the screen: a “ThinkPad” badge and a “lenovo” badge. The lenovo badge has metal lettering with a thick plastic backing. Unfortunately the edges of the letters have sharp corners. At some point, I caught the corner of the first “e” in lenovo on a sleeve or a bag and pulled it up from the backing. For now, the first half of the badge is covered in a strip of scotch tape; I cut myself on the protruding metal twice on the day I pulled it up. Other than that, the laptop still looks and works about like it did when it was new.

I occurs to me that I still haven’t mentioned what hardware is inside my laptop:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-3320M, 2.6 Ghz, 3.3 Ghz Turbo, 3M L3 cache
  • Hard Disk: 320GB Seagate Momentus Thin ST320LT007-9ZV142
  • Wireless: Intel Advanced-N 6205
  • Graphics: Intel HD4000

There’s not much to say about performance; it’s been several years since PCs became fast enough to handle normal workloads without breaking a sweat. I can say that so far, this configuration has been fast enough to satisfy all of my needs. I can’t think of a situation where I wished I had spent more money for more performance. Even the spinning disk is fast enough to satisfy me most of the time; I’ve actually been impressed by how fast it is compared to other mobile drives I’ve used. Of course, it helps that I keep the laptop in suspend most of the time. I rarely reboot more than once a week.

A note on the hard drive: the T430s will not accept 9.5mm drives. I had originally planned to upgrade to a 500GB hybrid drive, but the space under the palm rest is too thin on one side. Last time I looked, there is exactly one model of 7200 RPM 7mm 500GB drive in production. It’s not terribly expensive, but I have yet to feel the demand for the space, and I’m pretty satisfied with performance at the moment.

Finally, there’s external I/O. I’ll start on the left side of the open laptop and work my way around. First, there’s the express card slot. The T430s has a 34mm version; I ordered it with the SD reader option. The face of the slot angles down/back a bit, which makes it a difficult to get SD cards in and out. Once or twice I’ve actually ejected the reader from pushing on it too hard.

Next is the combination speaker/headphone port. It seems to work fine with normal headphones. I haven’t tried any headsets in this port. Conventional microphones don’t seem to work in this port.

A USB 3.0 port sits next to the audio port. Personally, I’d rather have a USB port on the right side of the machine, but I don’t consider this a significant issue. The only USB 3.0 device that I’ve tested in this port is a 5400 RPM laptop drive. USB 3.0 is fast. I have USB 3.0 on a few other devices, and USB 3.0 hard disks may as well be plugged in to the SATA bus. I haven’t yet encountered a situation where the USB interface was the bottle neck.

The first port on the back of the laptop is a VGA connector. VGA still isn’t dead, and I use this port somewhat regularly.

Next to the VGA port is a yellow, always-on USB 2.0 port. By always-on, I mean that it will provide power even when the laptop is suspended or turned off. I’ve used this feature several times to charge my phone. It’s really convenient to have; almost up there with the backlit keyboard.

For digital video output, I have a mini DisplayPort. I like DisplayPort, as it’s easy to convert from it to just about any other digital output. I ordered a converter to go from mini DisplayPort to HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort from Monoprice. The converter isn’t very big (just big enough to accomodate all three ports), and I haven’t had any problems using it. I don’t know whether it allows you to use more than one output at a time (haven’t tried).

Next there’s another USB 3.0 port, and then a Gigabit Ethernet port. I’ve been seeing full Gigabit speeds on the Ethernet port. Finally, there’s a power port. It’s for the standard Lenovo 20V adapter. There are no ports on the right side of the laptop, just the DVD drive and the wireless switch. There is a docking station connector on the bottom of the laptop, though I doubt I’ll ever own one.

I don’t think I could have done any better on my purchase, even if I had spent more money. This laptop is exactly what I need. I haven’t found it lacking in any way, and assuming Lenovo doesn’t destroy the brand, my next laptop will be a ThinkPad.