Into the Vault – Lenovo x230

Welcome back to the Vault
Which actually makes no sense, it’s not even a vault.
It’s my basement.

My name is Matt Mutch.
I am a computer enthusiast.
And they just don’t make them like they used to.

A certain subset of people will wax nostalgic over IBM Thinkpad models long gone. Many will have a favorite or a fixed point in time which they pine for. I remember the Centrino era T-series being this incredible pinnacle of portable computing – but I never got my hands on one back then. The business class machines were far too expensive and I was too young to have a related job. But throughout time the ThinkPad line has been heralded for build quality and exceptional keyboards. And some of that is still true today.
Back in the third Core CPU generation from Intel – the Ivy Bridge era – the diminutive x230 came to market under the ThinkPad name from Lenovo, the company who had since acquired the ThinkPad brand and line of computers.

the Lenvo x230 laptop, closed
the Lenvo x230 laptop, closed

I was in the position to outfit employees with strong laptop computers for use as daily work machines but also retaining definitive portability. We arrived at the Lenovo x230, a 12 inch widescreen laptop packing a full size keyboard and a dual core Ivy Bridge CPU. The RAM ceiling was high at 16 GB, a standard 2.5 inch drive bay would have allowed us as much storage as we required, but there’s even an mSATA slot as well for more SSD storage, and the laptop clocks in at about two and a half pounds. The screen density leaves something to be desired with a loathsome 1366×768 resolution, but the panel is a nice one and it does look nice when addressing a single application at a time.

Lenovo x230 open
This matte screen makes me John Cena: You Can’t See Me!

And that keyboard, complete with small trackpad AND red pointing nub. I’m a nub fan. The nub is like cilantro, you love it or you hate it. The keyboard at the time of the x230 was still hanging on to golden era keyboard goodness. Having long since been upgraded to x260s, I went back to maintain the old x230, still around as a spare unit, and decided to sit right down and write this article on it. I have worked with two and owned one of my own for a time. I suppose I appreciate the machine for what it is and wish more computers today followed its practicality and usability.

Close up of the x230 red pointing nub and trackpad
Close up of the x230 red pointing nub and trackpad

As mentioned, the CPU is an Ivy Bridge model, the third generation of Intel’s Core series of processors. Ivy Bridge occupies an interesting segment of computing because, in my personal opinion, it’s around when we reached the modern level of “enough” computing power. Every once in a while we’ll hit an almost arbitrary point where things continue to improve but there’s a sort of baseline of tolerable performance. For the longest time, if you had at least a Core 2 Duo CPU, the line before the Core i series launched, you could get by. Nowadays, Core 2 Duo is a little long in the tooth. I feel that Ivy Bridge is the current baseline for performance. My primary computer remains an Ivy Bridge based Mac Mini. The x230 which I’ve thrown into my rotation is, as mentioned, Ivy Bridge. Part of it is availability – these are machines I have on hand already. As an enthusiast, I’ll always want for better hardware, however, I must admit I do not necessarily NEED better hardware for most of what I do.
Heck, there’s a full sixth generation system taking up space in the Vault awaiting the day I bother to play a PC game again. Why don’t I migrate to it as my daily driver? Seemingly insurmountable issues with Windows 10. But that’s a podcast for another podcast.

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Got an old computer or a new computer you like or hate or are indifferent to and want to talk about it?
I’m @geekadematt on Twitter and this has been
Into the Vault – Lenovo x230

x230 Left Side ports
x230 Left Side ports

The Lenovo x230 as configured is based on the Intel i7-3520M CPU at 2.9 GHz across two physical cores and 4 processing threads. It is complimented by 16 GB DDR3 RAM in a dual channel configuration. Storage is handled by a 250 GB Samsung 850 Evo plus an additional 250 GB SSD on the mSATA slot. The 12 inch 1366×768 display is driven by the integrated Intel HD4000 graphics which share system memory. Outputs include VGA and MiniDisplayPort.

 

x230 Right Side ports
x230 Right Side ports

The x230 also includes an ExpressCard/54 slot and an SD Card reader. Networking is handled by onboard Gigabit ethernet and 802.11n based wifi. Two USB 3.0 ports are complimented by a USB 2.0 port with always on power. An official docking unit adds four more USB 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort, VGA port, audio in and out, and another gigabit ethernet port. The dock prominently includes an optical drive as well. It runs Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.

Matt Mutch

Image Acquisition Specialist and Computer Enthusiast. I like Sad Anime.

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