Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m Review (pics, specs)

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (80,476)

by Kevin O’Brien

Overview and Introduction:

This review is of a Lenovo z60m notebook. The model number is 2529GBU. This is a customer customized unit, and as you will find out, has a really nice perk over the z60m express models.

IBM Z60m (view larger image)

Overview of my customized z60m laptop:

  • 2.0 GHz Intel Pentium M Sonoma.
  • 1,024 MB of DDR2 Ram (512 x 2)
  • 80GB Toshiba SATA HD
  • ATi x600 128MB PCI-x Video Card
  • 1680 x 1050 SWXGA+ LCD
  • 8x DVD-Rom (Yes, no burner, I was a penny pincher)
  • Bluetooth 2.0 w/ EDR
  • Atheros WIFI Card (IBM 11a/b/g)
  • Titanium Special Edition Cover
  • Windows XP Professional
  • Gigabit LAN, 56k, Firewire, VGA out, S-Vid out
  • 1 Cardbus Slot, 1 Fullsize ExpressCard Slot
  • 4 Year Depot Warranty

This is a midsize laptop, more of a family sized unit, compared to a thin and super light sports car. Just like you might find airbags all around in your average family car, you can find such features inside this laptop. Starting off with a thick titanium metal LCD screen cover, and really nice stainless steel hinges, this laptop was made for everyday use. It also features such perks as an active g-sensor which it monitors laptop movement down to the slightest tilt, to see if your laptop is in eminent damager of a mid-fall. If it so happens that your laptop does indeed slip from your hands, the sensor trips the IBM active protection software, and safely parks the hard drive heads in the “landing” or shutdown zone. This protects your data from corruption, and gives the added edge to make sure your hard drive might survive the fall.

Reasons for Buying:

I wanted a sturdy laptop for use around campus. Being someone with a slight case of OCD, I tend to be picky to an insane level. This put me into the realm of business class machines. I was also put into a pretty pickle because of the ship dates for the IBM laptop I wanted, and first canceled one z60m order for an HP nc6230. That laptop produced less than stellar results with a pretty dim screen, horrible battery life, and a keyboard the squeaked me to insanity. I returned that and kept my eyes on the IBM z60m shipdates. Around Christmas time I found a killer deal on this laptop, and decided to go for it.

Where and How Purchased:

I purchased this laptop through Lenovo.com. It was through a “You pay what we pay” deal, and being able to customize the unit I was a able to bring a $2,300 buck laptop with 1 year warranty plus shipping and tax, down to$1,553 shipped with 4 year warranty and tax included.

I know, jealous aren’t ya ;-P

Build & Design:

Overall build is extremely nice except for one item, the 9 cell battery. I will go into that in a bit. Every other feature of this laptop is top notch. Starting with the screen cover going down, this machine screams high quality. The titanium lid is roughly 2mm thick giving the laptop a very sturdy almost unbreakable feel. Unlike the T43, T41, etc laptops that can flex when pressed down on it pretty easily, this thing is rock hard with little to no flex at all. It feels as strong as the ” steel I work with when welding. When the laptop lid closed, it feels like a brick in your hand with no flex at all even holding it on its edge.

IBM Z60 with diet coke can for size comparison — and a few stickers for decoration (view larger image)

A nice bit is the placement of all the indicator lights. They are mounted on a single strip below the LCD, not scattered all around the laptop where they might be blocked by your hand during normal use.

Screen:

The screen is very crisp and very clear. No dead pixels in all of the 1680 x 1050 of them. The only backlight leakage I could find is at the very bottom near the corners if you have the lights in the room off, and look at the screen from a steep angle from the side. It is so small that you could never see it from normal use, and personally I don’t know if I am just seeing things. One odd bit is some colors come off a bit washed like it isn’t putting off enough red-tone, but in other situations the colors are fine. I am guessing the color profile is a bit off, and needs tweaking.

screen latch (view larger image)

Speakers:

Well, they are speakers. Little to no bass, clear vocals and crisp treble. It is what you might expect from driver small enough to fit inside the slim rails of a laptop. It is fine for listening to movies and songs, but your rap or techno music might sound a bit off.

Processor and Performance:

The machine is extremely peppy. The machine boots very fast, has little to no lag opening programs, and can do everything but games as fast as or faster than my desktop. The hard drive is surprisingly fast for only being 5400rpm, reaching transfer speeds on par with my 7200rpm desktop drive, and seek times are also very nice.

Hard drive (view larger image)

(view larger image)

One side note I should add is that I am working off of a clean windows install. The stock setup is kind of bloated in a way, and the Norton AV pushed me over the edge. Be prepared if you do a fresh install yourself, that you WILL have an audio driver problem to deal with. You must install a HDA driver pack, or the sound will not work. A bit of Googling found other users with the same problem, and quickly led me to the correct driver package to install. It is just a matter of installing a single package with a setup.exe file, and then proceeding with the IBM supplied SoundMax audio package software.

Benchmarks:

Using the program Super Pi to force the processor to calcuate the number Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy, we find the Z60m takes 1m 36s to complete the task, below is a table of how this compares to other notebooks:

Notebook  Time
 Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)  1m 36s
 Fujitsu S6231 (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  2m 6s
 Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 53s
 IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s
 Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)  1m 53s
 Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)  1m 48s
 Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  1m 52s
 Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  2m 10s
 Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Pentium M)  1m 57s
 HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)  1m 53s
 Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s

3DMark05 Results

 Notebook  3DMark 05 Results
 Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m (2.0GHz Pentium M, ATI X600 128MB)  1661 3D Marks / NA
 Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB  2092 3D Marks / 4462 CPUMarks
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)  727 3DMarks / 3414 CPUMarks
 Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2530 3D Marks / 3749 CPU Marks
 Quanta KN1 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 128mb)  2,486 3DMarks / 4106 CPUMarks
 HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)  2536 3D Marks / 3557 CPU Marks
 Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)  4157 3DMarks / 4812 CPU Marks

HD Tune Results

Heat and Noise:

The fan seems to whisper along during use, even at idle. You can only really hear it in a quiet room faintly. Nothing about it bugs me. The laptops exhaust ports on the side of the unit top left, and on the back panel. In these areas it might warm your leg after a while. Intake ports are scattered around the bottom side and on the front. One is visible under the touchpad buttons in front of the hard drive bay for cooling, with the others towards the middle of the unit. As they are in the middle, if you have it resting on your legs, it will still be able to suck air from your crotch region, and not be blocked by your thigh.

The loudest thing by far on the laptop, even over the CPU fan at full speed is the DVD-rom drive spinning. This is the case for almost all drives I have used, so I knew it was coming. I can only hear the hard drive slightly seeking under use if the CPU fan is off, other than that you can’t hear it at all.

Keyboard and Touchpad:

Keyboard and touchpad (view larger image)

The keyboard palm rest while being plastic, is supported by the magnesium “unibody” frame beneath it, with almost zero flex when pressed very firmly. This includes over the cardbus bay as well, as it has a magnesium cage over it giving the hollow spot much rigidity.

The only areas that have a slight bit of flex is the speaker grills, but who is stomping down on those things anyways? The keyboard is very solid, flexing only if you put a lot of your body weight on top of it. You feel zero flex while typing, unlike many other keyboards out there. I thought the HP keyboard was nice (before the squeaking), but this is worlds above that.
The touchpad feels very nice, and can pickup the slightest bit of pressure. Almost too sensitive sometimes, but I still need to change the settings on that a bit. The buttons are some of the most wonderful buttons I have ever had the pleasure of clicking before. They have a very night almost rubbery click to them, and with a decent size movement. You don’t need a lot of movement to engage them, but you also won’t accidentally click them moving your hand over them.

Input and Output Ports:

  • 3 USB Ports
  • 1 mini Firewire
  • 1 S-Video
  • 1 VGA
  • 1 lineout
  • 1 microphone
  • LAN/Modem.

Z60m left side (view larger image)

Z60m right side (view larger image)

Z60m back side view (view larger image)

Wireless:

My laptop came with the Atheros WIFI A/B/G card. It also has Bluetooth 2.0 and an infrared port on the front.

Battery:

This might be the only major flaw about this laptop. The 9 cell battery that I have wobbles up and down. You can feel this walking around with your laptop. It’s something you can’t miss. Shown below is what I am referring to with the battery movement.

Battery life is overall pretty nice. I am averaging about 5 hours of use with the screen brightness 2 notches down from full, wifi on, and normal use playing about. The unit is locked into max battery mode, which locks it at 800MHz.

I should also mention that my only encounter with a 6 cell battery inside a z60m had little to no movement, so it appears the movement thing is just a 9 cell problem.

Operating System and Software:

This unit includes Windows XP Professional. Included software is business targeted, and was the first thing to get wiped when I went for a clean install. A company might find migration, fingerprint, security, or backup software useful, but I did not.

Customer Support:

Getting the laptop was a painful endeavor that took close to 2 months from order date to UPS man knocking on my door with me in my boxers running out of bed as he was putting the “missed delivery” sticker on my door.

The little chance I had to speak with people in the tech support area, or the higher-up customer support was very nice. Seemed quite knowledgeable, and very handy. One thing I should warn you about is regular sales people are very hard to get a hold of without being on hold for close to 20-30 minutes sometimes. I found a government/college number, and got much faster access through that. Tech support wait time on the only time I called took about 1-2 minutes before I had someone speaking on the line.

Conclusion:

Pros:

  • Incredibly strong laptop that could fall down a flight of stairs, and live to tell about it
  • Keyboard is very nicely laid out, and very easy to transition between it and a fullsize desktop keyboard.
  • I guess that little light above the screen might be useful
  • Battery life is very capable with the 9 cell battery.

Cons:

  • Battery that wobbles around.
  • Screen colors are a bit odd with some things
  • Weight might be a bit more than some might want.
  • DVD-ROM drive can not burn writeable media, heh (I am stupid)

Other Z60m Reviews from NotebookReview.com


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