A Note About Intel HD 4000
Before I talk about the X230 I would like to review the performance of the Intel HD 4000 graphics solution. Every single laptop Ivy Bridge laptop I’ve received for review up until this point, excluding the Ivy Bridge reference ultrabook, has had an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor. We were always seeing Intel HD 4000 in its best light.
Now I’ve had a chance to fully test a mobile Ivy Bridge dual core and I’ve found that its IGP performs just slightly better than the one found in the Ivy Bridge reference ultrabook. This is an extremely disappointing result that takes away from a lot of the good things I’ve had to say about the new IGP.
Intel has not appreciably improved its relative performance in the price range most consumers choose to buy. AMD’s Trinity parts are much quicker in most games and any low-end discrete GPU will provide a substantial improvement.
For ThinkPad enthusiasts the change of keyboards is the X230’s defining feature. There are already some nasty rage-reviews on Lenovo’s website. Personally, I like the keyboard, and I would certainly buy this laptop for my own personal use. But I’ll also admit that I did like the old one just a bit more.
The rest of the laptop is simply excellent. Lenovo’s ThinkPads have always impressed me, but the X230 goes a step further. It’s the best ThinkPad I’ve ever used and, by extension, one of the best laptop’s I’ve experienced. Even the price is reasonable. Our review unit rings up at about $1000, depending on the weather and Lenovo’s web coupons.
What really sets it apart is the (optional) IPS display. The excellent viewing angles improve functionality and the deep black levels result in a top-notch entertainment experience. I really wish that Lenovo could have squeezed in a discrete GPU, though I also recognize that this would have ruined the laptop’s relatively cool and quiet operation.
Portability is also excellent. The X230 is light, thin and easy to carry. It also last over eight hours under light load with nothing more than the six-cell battery. Users who want to be able to carry the laptop for an extended workday can opt for the 9-cell, which is only $50 more.
The trade-off for all of this good stuff is aesthetics. The ugly-duck traits of the ThinkPad line are no easier to ignore than before. But I doubt anyone in the market for this class of laptop desires a flashy exterior.