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T420s Nvidia Graphics Card & Express Card Questions

2011-07-16, 23:45 PM

Hello, and thank you for checking out my post.  My apologies for writing a book, but I'm hoping to give as much detail as needed the first go round.


I just received my custom-built T420s (4170-CTO) and have a couple technical questions/concerns about it.  The details of my configuration are located at the bottom of this post.


First off, one of the deciding factors of my purchase was the discrete graphics card.  On the T420s I chose NVIDIA NVS 4200M Optimus Graphics 1GB, Intel Core i7-2620M Processor.  I was thrilled to have more than 256 MB of dedicated graphics memory for my games.  Upon receiving my laptop, though, I ran the Windows Experience Index and saw that the lowest score was the graphics card, which is identified as Intel HD Graphics Family and has 64 MB of dedicated graphics memory.  After my heart started beating again I checked Device Manager and found under Display both Intel HD Graphics Family and NVIDIA NVS 4200M listed as working with up-to-date drivers.  When I configured the laptop online there was no mention of hybrid graphics, so I'm not sure why I have an Intel Graphics card on the machine.  My current laptop that I was looking to replace is a T61p with a NVIDIA Quadro FX 570M graphics card, and only that NVIDIA card is shown under Device Manager and in the Windows Experience / Performance Information.  Thinking that perhaps disabling the Intel card would cause the NVIDIA card to take over, I disabled that through Device Manager.  My screen went black and after feeling quite stupid I rebooted my computer.  The default Windows Display driver kicked in, allowing me to see well enough to get back to Device Manager and enable the Intel Graphics.  I counted myself lucky that I wasn't stuck with a working computer with a blank screen, but I'm still confused about why the NVIDIA card isn't the only display adapter on the machine, and why it isn't the default/main adapter.  Most importantly, will it be usable to run my games?


My second question is regarding the PCI ExpressCard slot.  My aim for this machine was to have a HDD to store my data (I selected the 320GB 7200 RPM HDD) and a SSD to boot and run my programs from.  Another reason for choosing this machine was the comment on Lenovo's site stating that a user booted his T420s from a solid state drive in the PCI ExpressCard slot, which was exactly was I was looking for.  I need the CD/DVD drive, so I can't put the second hard drive in a caddy.  During configuration I chose the option for an Express Card Slot & 4 in 1 Card Reader & Smart Card Reader.  From what I can tell, the Express Card slot is not connected to the Card Readers and I will not lose use of those ports.  When I opened the computer up to install more RAM, I saw what is labeled in Lenovo's hardware manual as the Express Card slot, apparently empty - which is great!  Now I need to figure out what kind of SSD to look for, and on that I'm kinda lost.

I'm guessing that my ExpressCard slot is 34mm and PCI form factor rather than USB... but I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a not-incredibly-educated guess.  I'm also not sure where mSATA comes into play for me, if at all.  Looking at SSDs on sites such as newegg.com, I'm unsure of what form factor to choose - ExpressCard, PCI-E, mSATA, and/or 1.8"?




The tech specs of my configured T420s (copy/pasted from the order status) are as follows.  I hope this means more to you than it does to me.


Part #:

0A71709   VBB INTCRI7-2620MPR(2.7GHZ

45M3092   VBB GENWIN7HOMEPREM64    (which ultimately doesn't matter as I'll be booting from Windows 7 Enterprise on my SSD)



0A68972   SBB NVD12PNS2OPG1GBICI7-2620MP

45M4569   VBB 2GBPC3-10600DDR3 1333SODMM    (which has been removed and replaced by two 4GB sticks)



0A68990   SBB 320GB HRD DSK DRVE,7200RPM    (will be used for storage and as a backup boot device)



0A68261   SBB BLUETOOTH 3.0

45M4805   SBB IN.CENTADV.-N+WIMAX 6250



In Device Manager I see the following related (I think) devices located under System Device:

  • Intel 6 Series / C200 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Ports 2 (1C12), 4 (1C16), 5 (1C18), and 1 (1C10)
  • Intel 6 Series / C200 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller 1C22
  • Intel QM67 Express Chipset Family LPC Interface Controller - 1C4F
  • PCI bus
  • 2nd generation Intel Core processor family DRAM Controller - 0104
  • 2nd generation Intel Core processor family PCI Express Conroller - 0101




Whew.  Thanks for making it through my book-long post.  If you can offer advice on either of my questions/concerns I'd really appreciate it.





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Re: T420s Nvidia Graphics Card & Express Card Questions

2011-07-17, 0:04 AM
The T420s with Nvidia GPU has two graphics card that can switch on the fly, if you only want the discrete gpu, just go into your bios menu under graphics there is an option to select discrete.

With the Nvidia Optimus (which is what you have), it can switch between Nvidia and Intel GPU depending on your application needs. This will allow you to conserve battery or power.

Expresscard slot 34 mm slot is occupied by the card reader that you ordered.

What you are talking about within the ram slot cover, is the mPCIe slot, which can be occupied by a mSATA drive.


Jin Li

May this year, be the year of 'DO'!

I am a volunteer, and not a paid staff of Lenovo or Microsoft

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Re: T420s Nvidia Graphics Card & Express Card Questions

2011-07-17, 3:46 AM
Windows reports the "primary" graphics card. That is that Intel card, as the NVS 4200M only kicks in when it needs to save power.

The nVidia card will try to auto detect the games to make sure they run with the card. If you upgrade to the latest nVidia drives, you can right click a program or shortcut and choose "Run with graphics processor" > "High Performance NVIDIA processor."
You will probably see somewhere between 25-50% better speeds with the nVidia card over the integrated Intel processor graphics. (The Windows Experience difference for me in Optimus mode is 4.7, and it shows up as 5.2 in discrete only. There is not a large difference. I bought Optimus to be able to run 2 external displays + the internal.)

Some games, generally older titles or independent games, may get confused by the Optimus set up. You may find that you need to boot up in discrete only to make sure they properly identify the graphics card options or resolution. This can also be an issue with some older CUDA programs (Folding at Home GPU client won't run on mine in Optimus, but Media Converter (a transcoding program) runs just fine on either the NVS 4200 or on Intel's quick sync).

This drive, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167040 , is one potential option for an mSATA drive.
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Re: T420s Nvidia Graphics Card & Express Card Questions

2011-07-17, 6:45 AM

Ohhhhh-kay, that makes a lot more sense.  My apologies for being retarded.  :smileyvery-happy:  And thanks for the fast replies!  Y'all have been very helpful!


I have to choose to keep the SmartCard reader over a WWAN card if I'm to sacrifice one for a SSD.  I knew that in my search for a light and small but powerful and capable laptop I'd be making some sacrifices, but I chose the T420s because of everything I looked at it made the fewest, and gave me almost everything I wanted.  Especially the trackpoint.  Gotta love the trackpoint.


I have one last quick question to verify that I'm shopping for the right thing.


Is what I'm looking for specifically called a Mini PCI-Express SATA II SSD, fitting a 50mm slot rather than 70mm?  Or is it a mini-SATA in a PCI Express form factor (which I'm guessing means that I have or need to buy an adapter converting mSATA to fit in the mPCIe slot)?  Or is there no adapter needed and they're all the same thing with a bunch of different acronyms?


Ok, I guess that was more than one question, but anyways...


I like the look of the Intel SSD on Newegg, but I was planning on shopping around a bit before I spend lots of money on a tiny chip, and I want to make sure what I'm searching for is the right thing for my computer.


Thanks again y'all!



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Re: T420s Nvidia Graphics Card & Express Card Questions

2012-07-26, 16:07 PM

To have to Video Cards is very cool. So you consume less energy then browsing web and if you need play games, you just switch to the better video card.


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Re: T420s Nvidia Graphics Card & Express Card Questions

2016-10-08, 13:37 PM



what is the best graphic card that i can install in my laptop


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