Thinkpad x230: The Best Budget Laptop
In my personal observation, there seem to be two main groups of people when it comes to computing preferences. However, there’s a third category that’s slowly fading away. Let’s delve into these categories.
The first category consists of those who have a genuine affinity for laptops or desktop computers. These individuals are enthusiastic about regularly upgrading to the latest models whenever they hit the market. On the other hand, the second category comprises individuals who, if not for school or work obligations, would readily forego a traditional computer in favor of accomplishing tasks on their increasingly capable smartphones.
Then there’s the third group, often referred to as luddites, who remain indifferent to the ongoing tech advancements. They might even boast about owning a classic brick phone. However, this group is becoming rarer as the smartphone-only crowd continues to grow.
The expanding popularity of smartphones has both positive and negative implications for laptop enthusiasts like myself. One notable advantage is the rapid depreciation of older hardware, particularly in the business-class category. Speaking from personal experience, I am the proud owner of a remarkable piece of hardware - the ThinkPad X230. This ultra-portable laptop, equipped with a 2012/2013 i5 processor, has proven to be an exceptional device.
Allow me to give you a quick tour of this impressive laptop’s features:
- Display: The laptop boasts a 12.5-inch IPS screen with commendable viewing angles.
- Keyboard: I’ve upgraded the keyboard to a backlit version. There are three keyboard options for this model: non-backlit, backlit (which I have), and the possibility to retrofit an X220 mechanical keyboard.
- Ports: On the left side, you’ll find two USB 3 ports, a D-sub/VGA port, and a mini display port (an adapter might be needed). There’s also an Express card slot and a physical wireless switch.
- Right Side: The right side offers a third powered USB 3 port for charging devices even when the laptop is off. There’s also an SD card slot, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone jack, and a large panel for hard drive removal. The Kensington lock is situated at the back.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the specifications:
- Processor: The laptop is powered by an Intel i5-3320, a 4-core processor with 4 threads.
- RAM: I’ve upgraded the RAM to 16GB to ensure smooth performance, especially while running the GNOME desktop.
- Storage: The laptop utilizes a speedy 240GB solid-state drive for fast responsiveness.
You might be curious about the cost of such a laptop. Well, you can often find them on platforms like eBay. Prices can vary, with some listings even as low as $60, although I paid around $140 for mine due to its specific specs. Additionally, if you’re someone who frequently uses your laptop at a desk, I highly recommend investing in an affordable docking station. The one I’m using supports dual monitor outputs, has 6 USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and uses the same power cable as the laptop.
Nonetheless, it’s essential to acknowledge that while the ThinkPad X230 is undeniably fantastic, it does come with some limitations. Certain hardware components, like the wireless chipset and battery, require whitelist approval in the BIOS. This could potentially be rectified through BIOS patches or by using coreboot, but this might prove daunting for those uncomfortable with customizing their BIOS. Another aspect that garners mixed opinions is the touchpad’s functionality.
In conclusion, the ThinkPad X230 is a remarkable piece of hardware, particularly considering its price point. It has become my go-to device for both professional and creative tasks, thanks to its powerful performance. While it’s not exempt from its limitations, its versatility and affordability make it an appealing option for those seeking a reliable laptop experience.