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Posted Thursday, 18 August 2011 by Miklos
Tags: en

So I’m testing a ThinkPad T520 for about 3 weeks now.

My motivations were:

  • so far I was using a netbook as my primary desktop, but recently did too much hacking on it, so I needed something more powerful

  • it’s interesting how many people I respect is a happy ThinkPad user, so I wanted to join the fun

  • I got fed up with not having any 3D acceleration on the netbook, I wanted back the sane Intel VGA that requires no blob drivers and still satisfies a non-gamer, like me

  • sometimes I did miss a larger screen, while 12" is handy, hacking in Eclipse (when I have to), watching a movie with family, etc is not really optimal

The official homepage is here, the exact model I got has the following spec:

  • display: 15.6" WUXGA FULL HD (1920x1080), AntiGlare

  • cpu: Intel Core i7-2630QM 2,0

  • memory: 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3, 1333MHz

  • hdd: 500GB, 7200rpm, SATA

  • dvd writer

  • vga: Nvidia Quadro NVS 4200M, 1024MB + Optimus

  • wireless: 802.11a/g/n

  • bluetooth: 2.1 + EDR

  • card reader: 4 in 1 (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC)

  • interfaces: 3xUSB2.0, 1xeSATA/USB2.0 combo, fingerprint reader, 1xRJ45, 1xExpressCard/34, 1xDisplay port, 1xVGA, 1xmic, 1xheadphone

  • webcam: 1 Mpixel

  • battery: 9 cells, 94Whr, marketing says 14h

  • warranty: 36 months

What I did not test:

  • Nvidia

  • fingerprint reader

  • RJ45, eSATA, ExpressCard

Driver support: every portion works with Linux 2.6.39 without installing any external drivers, except the out-of-core vga.

Notes:

  • the cpu is an x86_64 4-core 2GHz (in case the above link would became 404), so far it seems that enabling hyper-threading just causes trouble, once I turned that off, I no longer got random failures when doing multithread builds

  • I considered SSD but so far I think it’s too new technology for me, probably I’ll consider for the next machine

  • luckily the Nvidia card in it did not cost too much, since it would just eat my battery, one of the first things I did was to enable the in-core intel vga

  • the external vga port is nice, when I plug the external monitor in, a KDE gui pops up and manually typing xrandr commands seems to be unnecessary

  • the wireless works fine with the iwlagn Linux kernel module, but so far I was unable to connect to hidden access points (need to debug later, I only use advertised ESSID + wpa2 on a daily basis)

  • the fingerprint reader is a joke, I did not try this one, but with a similar model it seemed to work 9 times from 10 cases, but in case it did not, repeating the read did not help and finally you just had to type in your password

  • battery: with my usecase, it’s around 8h when I do nothing cpu-intensive, otherwise around 3h

  • my mini benchmark: build of LibreOffice master took more than 24h on my netbook, now it’s under an hour, an in case there were minimal changes only (so ccache has many hits), it’s around 20 minutes — and that includes installing the product and running the testsuite as well. ;)

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