Performance and Benchmarks
During our review of the single-core ThinkPad X100e we said the laptop fell “just a little short of earning our Editors’ Choice Award” due to the poor processor performance. Would the newer dual-core version really make a difference? We certainly wanted to find out.
The single-core version of the X100e uses the same old AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 processor that we first tested inside the HP Pavilion dv2 more than a year ago. Back in early 2009 this was fine, but the same can’t be said today with so many better processors available in 2010. The dual-core version of the ThinkPad X100e features the newer AMD Turion Neo X2 Dual-Core L625 mobile processor, and despite a clock speed of just 1.6GHz this CPU has plenty of muscle for a budget ultraportable laptop.
The AMD Turion Neo X2 is easily twice as fast as the older Athlon Neo and rivals the speed of an overclocked Intel SU4100 ultra low voltage processor. Not only is the new processor twice as fast as its old single-core brother, but it “feels” about three times as fast in a Windows 7 environment.
In terms of day-to-day activities like working with Microsoft Office or browsing the web the dual-core Turion Neo X2 suffers from none of the “lag” typical of the single-core AMD Athlon Neo or the Intel Atom. Windows 7 startup and resume speeds are fast, application switching is quick, and multitasking is a breeze. HD video playback for both 720P and 1080P content was flawless, and unlike Intel-based netbooks, the ATI Radeon 3200 graphics are powerful enough to handle video without stressing the processor. This means you can run Office and a video player at the same time without as much lag.
Bottom line, thanks to the dual-core processor the ThinkPad X100e has been transformed from a laptop that performs “a little better than a netbook” into a real laptop that competes with any notebook running a low-voltage processor.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
Noise levels were average during normal daily use. The default fan speed is always on at a low setting, pushing hot air away from the CPU and out of the notebook. The fan doesn’t get much louder even if you stress the system with a game or video encoding. Unfortunately, heat remains a concern for the X100e. The new dual-core processor actually appears to produce slightly less heat than the old single-core processor (at least in terms of external temperatures recorded in our lab), but the X100e is still a little too hot to be considered “lap friendly.” You’ll probably want to keep this notebook on an airline tray table or a hotel desk when working on the road. All temperatures shown below are listed in degrees Fahrenheit.
The dual-core version of the ThinkPad X100e really surprised us after multiple battery tests in our lab. The X100e with dual-core AMD Turion Neo X2 processor delivered 4 hours and 34 minutes of battery life with the screen set to 70% brightness, wireless active and continuously refreshing a website, and Windows 7 set to the “balanced” power profile. This is almost a full hour more battery life than the X100e with the older single-core AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 processor. In short, it’s clear that AMD has made some improvements in their latest CPUs both in terms of performance and power consumption.
We’ve seen some netbooks with the Intel Atom processor deliver more than 10 hours of battery life, but we’ve also seen Atom-based netbooks provide less than 4 hours of continuous run time. Likewise, some Intel low-voltage Core 2 Duo and Core i-series processors see more than six hours of battery life while others provide roughly the same amount of run time as this ThinkPad X100e. Bottom line, the dual-core X100e is “on par” when it comes to battery life in this price range.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X100e with the AMD Turion Neo X2 processor feels like a completely different laptop than the X100e with the older single-core processor. The single biggest failing of the single-core X100e was lackluster performance and the newer dual-core processor completely resolves that problem. This configuration of the ThinkPad X100e is so much nicer in terms of real-life use that I have to wonder why Lenovo decided to offer the single-core version at all.
If you want a well-built, 11-inch notebook with good performance for less than $600 then I would not hesitate to recommend the ThinkPad X100e with the AMD Turion Neo X2 dual-core processor. Yes, there are larger notebooks available at the same price with better performance, and there are some 11-inch notebooks that have better performance if you’re willing to pay significantly more, but the ThinkPad X100e hits the “sweet spot” of portability, performance, and price.
Students and road warriors looking for an 11-inch laptop should really take a closer look at the ThinkPad X100e … just be sure to ignore the single-core model.
- Solid performance
- Good battery life
- Great build quality
- Still runs a little hot
- No backlit keyboard
- No HDMI or DisplayPort