lenovo thinkpad x220 review


welcome to my review of the thinkpad x220. i am going to be reviewing this thinkpad from the perspective of someone who mostly does software development. the laptop that gives me the best experience for writing software is going to be what I would consider a "10/10" laptop. so keep this in mind when i am giving my opinions, and final verdict.

i am not going to go super into detail on the various specs and configurations. for that, use thinkwiki.de/x220. this is more catering to the perspective of someone looking for what its like to actually be using this laptop as a daily driver.

i have been using my x220 for the past year, exclusively for my laptop purposes, and for about 6 months as a desktop replacement with the handy dock. my unit has an i5 2540m, 16gb of ddr3 memory, a "new" 9 cell battery that claims to be authentic, and i might be inclined to believe them as i get around 8 hours of normal usage. (normal usage in this case is a couple text editors or a web browser so usually the cpu is not being strained too hard) it has the standard 1366x768 tn panel. an ssd, and a keyboard with red domes, i dont recall which FRU it is.

build quality

this laptop is built very well. during normal usage i feel no flexing on the keyboard or palmrest area. the screen hinge feels very solild and i have no anxiety grabbing the laptop by the lid when i need to move it. the keycaps feel nice. (by laptop keycap standards. they are still thin padprinted abs, prone to shining)

the thinklight is bright enough to serve as a dim light when working, but not too bright to bother you. in a pitch black room it is slightly uncomfortable to have the led shining into my eyes, but its still usable. i am also someone that is particularly sensitive to things like this.

the battery is detachable, which is always nice to see. it also locks in place solidly. i have never had to worry about the battery popping out. the wifi toggle is stiff, and will not be bumped accidentally. the trackpoint mouse clicks are quiet, and sound nice. they have a longish travel, with a soft but not mushy bottom out.

the speakers sound pretty okayish. by modern standards terrible, but the experience is still pretty enjoyable. unfortunately the speakers in my x220 no longer work. after i ripped the connector off of the motherboard. so maybe be careful about that. the headphone jack sounds okayish, gets loudish. nothing remarkable, what you would expect from a 2010's laptop jack. perfectly fine, mostly inaudible buzz so long as other sound is playing. just dont try to plug super hard to drive headphones in it and expect to have a good time.

the screen is bright, viewable outdoors. barely. indoors i have no problem seeing it, and often it is at around 7/10 brightness. the fact that it is led backlit is a major advantage over other thinkpads, as it will never dim with age. the viewing angles are also pretty good, totally usable. i never notice discoloring when just programming or looking at text, but sometimes you might find yourself adjusting the angle of it when watching media in your bed, or something. personally i think it is a super small deal, but people seem allergic to TN panels these days so i figured it is worth addressing.

it has an sd card which is probably super cool for some people. the fact that there is vga and full size hdmi is handy, as i can use a second display with basically any montitor. a disapointing loss when moving from the x220 to the x230 is the loss of full size hdmi. the expresscard 54 port can be used to add usb 3.0 ports, or esata, or a couple other things to the device. personally i have never bothered. it has three usb 2.0 ports, the one on the left is always on. you can bump that up to 5 usb ports, with the expresscard 54, as mentioned. the lack of a cd player is probably a concern for some people, but i think in current times most people will happily do without.

user experience

in general using this laptop is a great experience. the keyboard feels amazing, the trackpoint is snappy and responsive, the speed is fast enough to not be an annoyance, the screen is bright, and looks nice. the battery life is pretty great too. of course there are some downsides, as with any laptop, lets get into that in more detail.

the biggest weakness with this laptop is probably the screen resolution and aspect ratio. 16:9 is not great, and having it at 1366x768 resolution makes it really sting. it is possible to have two windows open at once, like vim and gdb, but it is pretty cramped already. you do not have the room to have both windows at 80 cols, and so i usually have to make the vim window larger, and shrink down gdb. it works pretty okay, but you are left wishing you had about 20% more pixel real estate.


this laptop performs exceptionally well all things considered. to give an idea of performance, it can run minecraft at 60 fps with low to medium render distance, fairly well. it is playable but not super smooth. it can handle 1080p youtube with no issues. one of the biggest upsides with going from the x220 to the x230 is intel graphics 4000, as it is much faster than the 3000 graphics on second gen chips.


this review is not finished. including the other categories. come back later.