Heat and Noise
Lenovo promised a "cooler and quieter thermal design" thanks to the dual exhaust vents and they weren't kidding. Noise levels from the fan were basically inaudible during normal daily use with the X230. Even the high fan speed is whisper quiet--so much so that we had to put the notebook to our ears to make sure the fan was working. The Hitachi hard drive was actually louder than the fan when the hard drive was actively reading and writing files. We were impressed by the relatively low exterior temperatures considering the impressive level of performance and quiet fan. All temperatures shown below are listed in degrees Fahrenheit:
The ThinkPad X230 with Intel Core i5-3320M processor delivered 8 hours and 41 minutes of battery life with the 6-cell battery. Our standard battery life test sets the screen to 70% brightness, wireless active and continuously refreshing a website on a 60-second interval, and Windows 7 set to the "balanced" power profile. With the optional nine-cell battery and the slice battery which connects to the bottom of the notebook, Lenovo claims up to 24 hours of battery time. The take away here is that the ThinkPad X230 is the king of the hill in terms of battery life.
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
Business professionals who are constantly travelling or who just have a small office space should seriously consider the purchase of the ThinkPad X230. Not only does this 12-inch notebook pack more power than most 13-inch and larger ultrabooks, the X230 also provides greater peace of mind thanks to the rugged build quality and frankly AWESOME battery life.
The latest Intel Ivy Bridge processors certainly help with performance both in terms of raw computational power and improved graphics performance. Our only minor complaint about performance is that a premium ultraportable like this really needs to have a solid state drive as standard equipment. We understand that offering a hard drive allows Lenovo to offer the X230 at a lower starting price but the slow hard drive was the only dark spot on an otherwise flawless performance.
In terms of design the X230 has a fantastic keyboard (perhaps the best Chiclet-style keyboard we've ever seen) but the quirky touchpad makes for a frustrating user experience unless you learn to use the TrackPoint.
After everything is said and done the ThinkPad X230 is the best ultraportable business notebook currently on the market. It isn't completely perfect (see our comments about the hard drive and touchpad) but you won't find a better combination of portability, performance, durability, port selection and battery life at any price point.
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