Lenovo ThinkPad X301
A fantastic ultraportable notebook for a not-so-fantastic price.
- Looks great, very comfortable to type with, solidly built, very light, good performance
- High price tag, no HDMI port, no FireWire port, latch makes it hard to close with one hand, low battery life
It's very difficult to criticise the Lenovo ThinkPad X301 without sounding like a nitpicker. This is a fantastic and well-engineered notebook that has plenty of features and looks very attractive. The only substantial issues are the high price tag, the lower than average battery life and the problematic latch.
Price$ 3,722.00 (AUD)
If you’re a diehard Windows user, then you probably denounce Apple products like the MacBook Air when in public, while secretly envying their sleek aesthetics in private. Although the Lenovo ThinkPad X301 isn’t as pretty as the Air, it comes very close — and packs in far more hardware.
Critics of the MacBook Air inevitably aim for one main criticism. As highlighted by this ad parody, its seemingly impossible thinness comes from the conspicuous absence of an optical drive and the lack of expansion ports, aside from a single USB connection.
By contrast, the ThinkPad is an engineering delight. Not only is there an optical drive and three USB 2.0 ports, it also has Gigabit Ethernet, a D-sub port and a DisplayPort. A 3G SimCard reader is also available for mobile Internet access. Despite all of this, the notebook weighs a mere 1.4kg without the power supply and 1.7kg with it included.
Unfortunately, cramming in all these goodies comes at high price: $3722 is a sizeable sum of cash, especially with talk of a recession. Buyers should make sure their hearts are set on an ultraportable before making the leap.
Luckily, there is plenty of bang for your bucks. To avoid turning the Lenovo into a lap scorcher, the X301 uses a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 processor. The use of a 64GB solid state drive (SSD) also helps reduce heat and noise, and the system packs 2GB of DDR3 RAM.
Users who are noise-conscious will love the Lenovo for its silent operation. The use of an SSD means there are fewer moving parts, and the SSD and the ultra-low voltage processor mean less heat extraction is necessary. Additionally, the keyboard's soft keys mean you won't be bothering people around you with your clicking.
The X301 completed our Blender 3D render test in 2min 7sec, which is indicative of less than amazing performance from the ultra-low voltage processor, but this was expected. This processor's performance was confirmed by our iTunes benchmarking, where we convert 53min worth of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s. The ThinkPad completed the test in 1min 59sec. However, this is still relatively good for a unit of this size.
In our WorldBench 6 test the ThinkPad got a score of 73. This means that office tasks are easy to perform.
What isn’t great is the low battery life. In our DVD rundown test, the Li-Ion battery in the ThinkPad lasted just 1hr 17min. Although an additional battery can be bought and inserted where the DVD-RW drive is located, replacing the DVD-RW drive is somewhat troublesome.
The X301 looks like a shrunken ThinkPad. Users shouldn’t see this as a downside, however, because notebooks are like human heads. When you can shrink one down, it’s strangely compelling. Road warriors will be happy to hear that the full-sized keyboard is fantastic. The bounce back is perfect and will have worker bees typing out documents at top speed. Unfortunately, the traditional Lenovo layout with the Function key on the bottom left instead of a Control key will irk most users.
The standard ThinkPad TrackPoint pointing device sits in the middle of the keyboard and works quite well, as does the touchpad. The only negative is the small size of the left- and right-click buttons, but most owners will get used to this fairly quickly. Also useful is the keyboard light. It shines a very small LED down onto the keyboard. While it isn’t bright enough to type with for any length of time without damaging your eyes, it is better than nothing.
The X301 has a very sturdy 13.3in screen with a native resolution of 1440x900. The viewing angle is average, and the image quality is good with strong colour contrast.
One gripe we have is the ThinkPad’s latching system. Instead of having a release spring in the middle of the unit’s front, Lenovo has installed it to the right. This makes it hard to open the device with one hand. If closed shut with pressure from only one side then the other side’s latch fails to lock properly.
Apart from this, it’s a solid and very well-built device that feels like it could take a lot of travel wear and tear.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 2 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 3 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 4 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
- 5 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
Latest News Articles
- Google explains why Android apps still aren't on Chromebooks
- HP's Spectre x2 may be the Surface Pro killer we've been waiting for
- Asus ROG teases the world's first AMD Ryzen laptop
- Lenovo's Flex 5 catches up to other convertibles, adding Kaby Lake and USB-C
- Lenovo's Legion Y920 gets serious with mechanical keys and one-touch overclocking
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Huawei P10 smartphone review
- Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- CCIT Security Risk AnalystVIC
- CCSenior Data EngineerVIC
- FTDigital Business Analyst | Online BookingQLD
- TPAV Design Specialist - Newcastle BasedNSW
- TPBI DeveloperNSW
- FTSolution Architect - Datacentre / StorageQLD
- CCSplunk - Technical AnalystVIC
- TPChange ManagerVIC
- TPSupport Engineer (Security Tools)VIC
- CCSenior DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Data Engineer | up to $92 p/hrVIC
- FTSales Client Services Manager (Mid-market)QLD
- TPAssistant Change Manager | System Implementation ProjectQLD
- FTScrum Master/Project ManagerQLD
- FTBusiness Development Manager IT HealthcareQLD
- FTSenior IT Project ManagerSA
- FTBusiness Intelligence Analyst - Microsoft BI Stack - NewcastleNSW
- TPSenior Integration OfficerQLD
- CCJunior .NET DeveloperQLD
- CCSenior Systems Engineer - WintelNSW
- CCProgram SupportVIC
- CCProject Manager Information ManagementQLD
- CCSAP ISU Functional ConsultantVIC
- TPInstructional DesignerVIC