Fujitsu LifeBook S6510 Review

by Reads (81,178)

by Jerry Jackson

Fujitsu recently announced the LifeBook S6510 14.1" widescreen notebook configurable with a range of Intel Core 2 Duo processors, and is the first laptop with a 14.1-inch widescreen display that can tip the scales at only 4 pounds with the optical drive … or 3.7 pounds, without the optical drive.

The LifeBook S6510 notebook is available in multiple configurations, priced starting at $1,529.


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Our pre-production review unit of the Fujitsu LifeBook S6510 has the following specs:

  • Genuine Windows Vista Business (32-bit version)
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 2.20GHz, 4MB L2, 800MHz FSB with 64-bit
  • 2GB PC2-5300 DDR2 667MHz SDRAM (4GB max)
  • 120GB (5400 RPM); Serial-ATA hard disk drive (shock-mounted)
  • 8xDVD-SuperMulti (+/-R Single Layer) drive supporting 9 formats
  • 14.1-inch diagonal Crystal View widescreen display (1280×800 WXGA) with LED backlight
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 with up to 384MB
  • Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (802.11a/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
  • 1.3MP webcam
  • Three USB 2.0 ports
  • IEEE 1394 / FireWire port
  • VGA Monitor out port
  • Headphone / line-out port
  • Microphone in port
  • PCMCIA PC card slot
  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN port
  • 3-in-1 card slot reader
  • Standard Main Battery: 6-cell Lithium-ion (10.8V, 5800 mAh, 63 WHr)
  • Optional Modular Bay Battery: 6-cell Lithium-ion (10.8V, 2300 mAh, 25 WHr)
  • Dimensions: 12.36" x 9.25" x 0.96/1.42"
  • Weight: approx. 4.0 lbs. with standard battery and optical drive, 3.7 lbs. without optical drive

Build and Design

At first glance the average-looking design of the LifeBook S6510 is nothing special … but take a closer look at the radical design measuring as thin as 0.96-inches and weighing as little as 3.7 pounds, and you realize this is something truly special.

The build is a combination of magnesium-alloy and plastics that provide amazing rigidity that you don’t expect from notebooks that are less than an inch thick. The S6510 does use a latch with a simple push button type release, but the firm hinge mechanism keeps the LCD in place. Still, Fujitsu was wise enough to know that business travelers like to have a firm latch holding the notebook closed.


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When you open the LCD lid you are immediately greeted by the glossy 14.1-inch display with a very thin bezel on the left and right sides. This makes the display look a little larger than it is in real life, and it helps reduce the size of the notebook. As you move down to the keyboard and palm rests you’ll realize why Fujitsu notebooks are popular among many business professionals … the working surfaces are comfortable and durable.

Screen

While the widescreen 14.1" LCD is slightly thinner than other notebooks of the same size, the LCD lid is made of magnesium alloy making it much more durable than thicker LCD lids made of plastic.

Fujitsu notebooks are well known for using some of the best displays on the market, and while the LED back lit display on the S6510 is impressive, we’ve seen better image quality on other Fujitsu notebooks. The horizontal viewing angles were fine for two or more people to watch a presentation or movie at the same time, and if you look directly at the monitor you’ll see vivid colors and excellent contrast. Unfortunately, the vertical viewing angles did not impress, the LCD "washes out" when tilted slightly forward and colors begin to invert quickly as the monitor is tilted back.

Rather than go into detail describing what we’re seeing, we’ve posted images below to show you what the S6510’s screen looks like:


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Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is full sized (with the exception of a few shrunken keys) but lacks some of the dedicated keys you’ll find on other 14-inch and larger notebooks. The keys on our pre-production unit have a good texture with excellent cushion and travel. The keys are very silent in operation the keyboard was remarkably firm across the entire surface. There was almost no keyboard flex … amazing for a notebook this thin and light.

The S6510 includes four additional buttons located above the keyboard that can be programed to open the applications of your choice. By default, the programmable quick launch buttons are:

  1. Notepad
  2. Calculator
  3. Default Web browser
  4. LifeBook Application Panel (saves passwords for dial-up and email)


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The spacious touchpad provides excellent responsiveness and feels quite durable, matching the fit and finish of the rest of this notebook. The touchpad buttons provided acceptable feedback with audible clicks.

On another positive note, the one-touch fingerprint reader does a wonderful job reading fingerprints without accidentally being triggered when you use the touchpad buttons. Once the fingerprint reader was set with my fingerprint and passwords all I needed to do was swipe my fingertip over the reader whenever an application or website asked for a password … a nice feature if you have multiple passwords.

Ports and Features

While every 14-inch notebook we’ve reviewed comes equipped with an optical drive, they tend to be thick and heavy. The optical drive on the S6510 is not only thin, but it can be removed entirely and the modular bay can be used for either a second battery or a weight-saving module.

The drive itself performed perfectly well for playing DVDs and CDs. There was little operational noise coming from the drive although you can certainly feel the disk spinning inside the drive thanks to the thin alloy used in the S6510’s construction. The drive feels a little fragile when it is open, but this is likely because the rest of the notebook feels so rugged.

The port selection of the S6510 is good for a notebook of this size, but we would have liked to see more than three USB ports. Most 14-inch notebooks have four USB ports, and even the tiny 7-inch Asus Eee PC squeezes three USB ports into its tiny case. Below you can view detailed images of the ports on the notebook, and here’s a quick rundown of what you get:

Right side: Kensington lock slot, two USB 2.0 ports, modem jack, optical drive, and one USB 2.0 port. (view large image)

Left side: Ethernet, power jack, VGA out (hidden behind port cover), heat vent, PC card slot, and 3-in-1 card slot. (view large image)


Front view: WiFi on/off, FireWire port, two headphone jacks, microphone jack, and indicator lights. (view large image)


Rear view: A second Kensington lock slot and the main battery. (view large image)

You also get a docking station connector on the bottom of the notebook that connects to an available port replicator. The only minor issue we had with the ports was that the rubber port cover over the VGA-out port tends to get in the way when you try and connect the notebook to an external monitor or projector.

Performance

The overall performance of the LifeBook S6510 is impressive for a business notebook. The range of available Intel Core 2 Duo processors (2.0GHz T7250, 2.2GHz T7500, or 2.4GHz T7700) and up to 4GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM means the S6510 has more than enough power for everyday use. The 3DMark06 benchmarks are low, but this is due to the fact that the S6510 uses the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 which shares the notebook’s system RAM. We aren’t too concerned about the integrated graphics since this isn’t a gaming machine, and the use of the X3100 means greater battery life compared to dedicated graphics.

We typically include the wPrime synthetic benchmark with our reviews because it is a multi-threaded mathematical calculation that provides more accurate benchmarking than the old Super Pi benchmark. However, for some unknown reason we were unable to get wPrime to run on the pre-production S6510 … and for that reason we’re including the old Super Pi benchmark below:

Super Pi comparison results:

Notebook Time
Fujitsu S6510 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 50s
Dell Vostro 1500 (1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5470) 1m 17s
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 58s
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100) 1m 09s
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300) 0m 59s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200) 1m 03s
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300) 1m 24s
Toshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 34s
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400) 0m 59s
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 02s

PCMark05 comparison results:

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Fujitsu S6510 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100) 3,981 PCMarks
Toshiba M205 (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 3,356 PCMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 3,283 PCMarks
Sony VAIO CR (1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100, Intel X3100) 3,612 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 PCMarks
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks



3DMark06 comparison results:

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Fujitsu S6510 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100) 549 3DMarks
Toshiba M205 (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 505 3DMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 504 3DMarks
Toshiba Tecra A9 (2.20GHz Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 130M 256MB) 932 3DMarks
Toshiba Tecra M9 (2.20GHz Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 130M 128MB) 1,115 3DMarks
Sony VAIO TZ (1.20GHz Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 122 3DMarks
LG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB) 2,776 3DMarks
HP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,055 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,329 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 532 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks

HDTune results:


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Heat and Noise

Thanks to the compact size and high-voltage processor, the S6510 produces a significant amount of heat. The average heat exhaust temperature for a notebook running idle is between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit in at room temperature. The temperature of the exhaust coming from the S6510 was 115 degrees at idle … and approximately 130 degrees during benchmarking. In short, the heat exhaust coming from the left side of the S6510 can become dangerously hot. This isn’t a problem if you stay clear of the exhaust, but if the left side of the notebook is resting against your leg it will become uncomfortably hot.

Despite the exhaust temperatures, the bottom of the S6510 remained quite cool to the touch. The area next to the hard drive in particular was roughly the same temperature as the rest of the notebook … which is impressive since hard drives tend to produce a great deal of heat. The only "hot spot" on the bottom of the S6510 was next to the RAM, and even that was well within the tolerance limit for extended lap use.


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Battery Life

Battery life on the S6510 was quite impressive, due in no small part to the use of X3100 graphics rather than dedicated graphics. While browsing the web continuously using the wireless and keeping the screen at the brightest setting the battery lasted three hours and 49 minutes before the low battery warning popped up on the desktop.

Fujitsu claims the standard 6-cell battery in the S6510 has 4.5 hours of battery life, and it may be possible to reach that number if you lower the screen brightness and turn off the wireless at least part of the time. If you need even more battery life, the optical drive can be replaced with a second 6-cell battery that extends the battery life to a total of 6.25 hours.

If battery life is a concern for your mobile business needs the S6510 should keep you very happy with more than enough power for short road trips or airline travel.

Conclusion

Overall our final impressions of the Fujitsu LifeBook S6510 are overwhelmingly positive. We would have liked to see at least one more USB port and the display didn’t live up to the high standards we’ve come to expect on Fujitsu laptops, but business professionals will be hard pressed to find a better 14-inch notebook for travel.

Bottom line, the S6510 is the thinnest and lightest 14-inch notebook we’ve seen. Performance is on par with (or superior to) the competition, and the build quality is among the best you can find in the $1,500 to $2,000 price range.

Pros

  • Amazingly thin (for a 14-inch notebook)
  • Amazingly light (for a 14-inch notebook)
  • Solid build quality
  • Reasonable battery life even at maximum screen brightness
  • Modular bay holds optical drive, extra battery, or weight saver
  • Shock-mounted hard drive
  • Spill-resistant keyboard

Cons

  • Poor vertical viewing angles and some light leakage on screen
  • Exhaust might be a bit too hot for some
  • Rubber cover over VGA-out port just gets in the way
  • Only three USB ports


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