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CryptoQuick
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎08-25-2009
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
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T520 Sales Questions; Linux, IPS, Rapid Drive, & more!

Hey there! Been a while since I've been back. Haven't had very many problems with my X301! :smileywink:

It's about time I buy a new PC, though! The T520 is -very- compelling. I have a couple of questions & comments before I buy it though:
  • 1. I can think of a couple of ways to save money on my order:
  • 1a. Aside from cache, is there a substantial difference on the actual Sandy Bridge die between the i7-2630QM and the i7-2820QM (2.30GHz, 8MB L3)? I mean, will I miss out on any features? 300Mhz doesn't seem like a lot of difference, though, with Turbo Boost, I could be wrong.
  • 1b. ThinkPad memory is way too expensive. I've found 8GB DDR3 1333 SO-DIMM kits on NewEgg for $85. Is there any reason I should pay $240 for the "upgrade"? Also, should I opt for 1066 Mhz SO-DIMMs because the CAS is lower? I've read something to that effect on AnandTech a while back.
  • 1c. HDD, same thing as 1b; I can get a 750GB Scorpio Black for $110, but Lenovo would charge me the same for a 500GB drive.
  • 1d. Rapid Drive: Sweet, sweet, sweet. Is current software able to take care of this? I assume it will eventually, but does the system have to be different to take care of it if I install the Soda Creek mSATA Intel 310? Theoretically, Lenovo will release an update for the BIOS so it can be flashed to take advantage of it further on, right? Further, Intel's just come out with some 25nm NAND in the 320. Probably a good idea to wait on that upgrade, huh?
  • So, I guess this is two questions; is the software capable, and can I install it myself if I get the right hardware? I've done a keyboard removal installation with my X301 to install a WWAN chip, wasn't bad at all.'
  • 1e. Also related to the Rapid Drive; which WiFi adapter should I select for that? Just the ThinkPad b/g/n, right? Since the SSD would be placed in the mSATA port, this is where the wireless adapter would also be placed if I got a better one, right? Are they even better? (This might be subjective... but could be an interesting question.) I notice the spec sheet lists one full and one half. Which of the wireless chips goes in the half slot, if any?
  • 1f. From my experience, and what I can tell, Lenovo won't fault me or my warranty for upgrading my system, correct? $99 is a **bleep** good deal for an extended warranty and peace of mind! AppleCare is $349... Gotta pay all those Geniuses. :smileywink:
  • 2. The FHD 1920x1080 is the IPS panel, correct? 95% gamut and 270 nits, as described on the spec sheet. The reason I ask is, this isn't advertised on the builder display type screen.
  • Comment; I don't mind 16:9, just put some dock stuff and tabs on the side. Firefox 4 is out, so it won't be a big deal switching back from Chrome for tabs on the side; Chrome's about:flags option has never worked for me.
  • 3. Linux. What will work, and what won't? I'm expecting the fingerprint reader to not be all that compatible, though I may be surprised. I'm thinking the DisplayPort adapter will be fine. Never used eSATA, but I'm expecting that to work alright as well. I'm really wondering about the discrete Quadro. Anyone who has a mobile Quadro might be able to comment on performance and display drivers? Also, this isn't an Optimus setup, is it? Terrible support on that, from what I can tell.
  • Comment: I very much prefer me some Ubuntu, especially with some 11.04 on the horizon. Yes, yes, Unity is fine. I wish they'd have gotten the new Wayland display server working, but I suppose it's best if they flesh out all the kinks...
  • It's not a deal-breaker if I can't Linux. It would just be nice, it's such a fun OS, and I use it as my exclusive system on my X301.
  • 4. Power. Battery life with the 6-cell is advertised as 7.7 hours. Impressive claim! I'm sure I might even come close in Windows. I may wish to stick with Windows and not Linux for this reason alone; A 9-cell will... protrude. As will a slice.
  • 5. Discrete GPU. I just want to comment that with 48 CUDA cores, this looks like one beast of a part. Just curious, is that GDDR3 or GDDR5? I'm assuming the latter, but you never know with Nvidia. But... I'm sure the question is begging to be asked: Will it run Crysis??????
  • Finally, 6. Is there any way I can get some deals on the T520 right now? I've got an itchy trigger finger on this, just can't wait... If not, I'm cool with paying for the sweetest hardware on the market!
At any rate, I hope some folks here might be able to add their own thoughts on the things I've discussed. Hopefully this isn't too redundant towards other threads around here, also. If so, link me up! :smileyhappy:
Also, don't feel you have to answer all these questions at once. I'd be surprised if any one person would be Len337 enough to thoroughly answer every single one, and I'm not expecting that. That is the power of a community, after all. :smileyvery-happy:
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ColonelONeill
Posts: 7,122
Registered: ‎12-26-2009
Location: Toronto

Re: T520 Sales Questions; Linux, IPS, Rapid Drive, & more!

[ Edited ]

1a. All chips are made the same way; some can sustain higher clock speeds and are thus binned as higher clock chips.
1b. RAM is RAM. I think you might need 1333MHz for Sandy Bridge.
1c. HDDs are HDDs. Any 2.5" SATA, 9.5mm drive height drive goes.
1d. It can be installed on your own and will by default show up as another drive. Some extra software is probably needed to use it with RapidDrive.
1e. Any of the adapters will occupy one slot.
1f. Within reason. Some are Customer Replaceable parts, some are not.
2. It's a TN panel.
3. It is an Optimus setup. Supposedly, you can set it to discrete only in BIOS but apparently it shows both adapters, which means Linux will default to the INtel one.
4. It is impressive, but always take with a grain of salt, especially if you run a lot of background tasks.
5. NotebookCheck says DDR3. Should Crysis; I've been running Crysis 2 on my poor HD3470 (albeit overclocked) at 20FPS on 800x600.
6. Sit tight and watch for coupons.

W520: i7-2720QM, Q2000M at 1080/670/1340, 21GB RAM, 500GB HDD, FHD screen
X61T: L7500, 3GB RAM, 500GB HDD, XGA screen, Ultrabase
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CryptoQuick
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎08-25-2009
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
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Re: T520 Sales Questions; Linux, IPS, Rapid Drive, & more!

Wow, thanks for all that! And so quick, too! You've got most of my questions, and have made me feel way better about this, except for a couple of nagging issues.
1e. Spec sheet says there's a half slot. What is that used for? None of the Wi-Fi adapters sold use that?
1f. Understandable. I'm not going to take a solder iron to the motherboard, or install a panel replacement. :smileywink:
2. So, the IPS panel should be coming later, correct?
6. I'll do so, if only for the IPS display. I RSS ThinkPadToday, and ThinkPads.org (though they've been less active lately). Should be enough? Any others?
Also, MCE is doing a terrible job of formatting my posts. Having to edit the HTML manually, heh.
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ColonelONeill
Posts: 7,122
Registered: ‎12-26-2009
Location: Toronto

Re: T520 Sales Questions; Linux, IPS, Rapid Drive, & more!

1e. Can't remember off the top of my head at 11:40PM much about the whole full-slot/half-slot thing... :smileytongue:
1f. :smileytongue: The HMM is your friend.
2. AFAIK, there's no IPS panel coming to anything but the X220/X220 Tablet.
6. I check RedFlagDeals often because they have a Canada specific page. (There's a weird script that keeps infinite looping that Firefox doesn't like very much.)
W520: i7-2720QM, Q2000M at 1080/670/1340, 21GB RAM, 500GB HDD, FHD screen
X61T: L7500, 3GB RAM, 500GB HDD, XGA screen, Ultrabase
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CryptoQuick
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎08-25-2009
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
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Re: T520 Sales Questions; Linux, IPS, Rapid Drive, & more!

Thanks, man. I'll research the full/half slot thing. Consider this fully answered!

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JDay
Posts: 999
Registered: ‎01-06-2011
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: T520 Sales Questions; Linux, IPS, Rapid Drive, & more!

[ Edited ]

1F. ThinkPad Protection is much better than Apple Care, Apple Care doesn't cover accidental damage.

 

2. The FHD display is probably the same one I got with my T510. It is an excellent display and I doubt you will have any complaints about it.

 

3. Everything in my T510 is detected by Ubuntu linux, you should have similar luck with the T520.

 

4. You may actually like the 9-cell battery, I have one on mine and have found it make an excellnt grip for when you are holding the laptop and using it. It doesn't stick out that far and I have no problem fitting the maching into my Wenger 15.4" laptop backpack. If battery life is important to you I would recommend getting it.

 

5. If you are in college you can get a nice discount if you purchase through their student program. In fact all you really need is a .edu email address.  http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/microsofteducation/StdAffinityPortal/en_US/Lenovo:En...

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CryptoQuick
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎08-25-2009
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
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Re: T520 Sales Questions; Linux, IPS, Rapid Drive, & more!

Awesome! I appreciate your advice. I might just go for the 9-cell. As a student, I will want one for classes. And yeah, I'll look into the student discount, too! :smileyvery-happy: