Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X120e
March 11, 2011
In early January 2011, Lenovo announced the ThinkPad X120e, a major update of the X100e netbook. The most significant change in this product is a move to AMD's Fusion chipset.
Notable in what is not included in the ThinkPad X120e (or in any netbook) is a transaction processing module (TPM) chip. This is a significant differentiator when the X120e is compared to ThinkPad X201/X220 12-inch notebooks.
Design and Changes
Like the X100e before it, the ThinkPad X120e has a full-size keyboard, but it is not a traditional ThinkPad keyboard. Rather, it is a "chiclet" style keyboard, though a well executed one. The X120e does include the standard ThinkPad Trackpoint pointing stick and one of the better trackpads available in a netbook.
The only display choice for the ThinkPad X120e is an 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 "HD" screen with an LED backlight. Like other netbooks, all models of the X120e ship with integrated video instead of a discrete video card. A 0.3 megapixel integrated web camera is standard on the X120e, along with VGA and HDMI.
Many features are missing in the X120e compared to the 12-inch ThinkPad X201/X220 notebooks (which weigh slightly less but cost almost twice as much). These features include significantly more powerful processors, important security features such as a TPM, docking capability, some expansion choices, and many build-to-order choices like solid state drives, UltraWideBand (UWB), and WiMax.
The ThinkPad X120e weighs approximately 2.9 to 3.3 pounds (depending on battery) with a travel weight (including power adapter) of about 3.6 to 4.0 pounds. The X120e uses the same 65 watt power adapter as the X201/X220 series.
The ThinkPad X120e is EPEAT Gold-compliant and Energy Star 5.0-certified.
Several considerations when ordering a ThinkPad X120e:
See ISC's Netbook Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of March 2011, configuring a ThinkPad X120e to the Netbook specification can be done for approximately $550. The University's Computer Connection will have at least one X120e configuration available to order as soon as possible.
Windows 7 Performance
ISC tested a ThinkPad X120e with 1.6 GHz E-350, 1333 MHz 4.0 GB RAM, integrated AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics, a 320 GB/7200 RPM hard drive, and Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Service Pack 1. It received a Windows Experience Index base score of 3.8, with individual scores of:
These scores suggest that Windows 7 performance will be acceptable to good for most users on a ThinkPad X120e configured in this manner. These scores are among the best for any netbook tested and approximate the scores of some lightweight notebooks tested in 2010.
A battery run-down test to 5% with full screen video gave 3 hours and 57 minutes - well above average for a netbook. ISC believes that this equals approximately five and a half to six hours of battery life under normal usage.
ISC sees the ThinkPad X120e as one of the best netbooks yet produced. Enhanced capability netbooks such as the X120e are getting closer to being viable value notebooks or lightweight notebooks, but they are not there yet.
When correctly configured to the specification in the Netbook Purchasing Guide, the ThinkPad X120e is approved for general use at the University as a complementary device to a more capable desktop or notebook.
Thanks to Michael Johnson, Patrick Kesler, Andrew Romond, Vern Yoneyama, and Rebecca Yonge for their help with this review.
ThinkPad X120e graphic courtesy of Lenovo
--John Mulhern III, Lead for Client Technologies, ISC Technology Support Services (March 11, 2011)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
Comments & Questions