The ThinkPad Goes Green

Lenovo's leading-edge ThinkPad X300 packs power-savings into a petite and pricey three-pound chassis.

Based on eWEEK Labs' tests of Lenovo's new, power-saving ThinkPad X300 ultralight notebook, it's looking as though black is the new green.

While the newest ThinkPad retains its familiar, buttoned-down exterior hue, the machine's leading-edge internals deliver, according to Lenovo, a 25 percent reduction in power consumption compared to previous X series notebooks.

The ThinkPad's new thrift makes it the first Lenovo notebook so far to earn an EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) Gold rating. What's more, the X300, which began shipping at the end of February, meets the European Union's Reduction of Hazardous Substances standards, due in part to its mercury-free display.

Environmental friendliness aside, the X300's reduced power use boils down to impressive battery life (up to 10 hours in some configurations) that comes without sacrificing good performce or adequate network connectivity and peripheral expansion options.

The biggest downside of the X300 is its cost. The ThinkPad X300 configuration I tested was priced at $2,935-a relative whopper of a price considering that Lenovo's other two ultralight models, the X61 and the X61s models start at $1,360 and $1,575, respectively.

Much of the X300's high cost-and some of its power-thriftiness-come courtesy of the notebook's 64 GB solid state hard drive. Unlike Apple's MacBook Air and Toshiba's Portege R500, both of which cut an ultralight figure and sport SSDs, Lenovo does not offer an X300 configuration that comes with a traditional hard drive. As a result, those two notebooks are available at much lower initial price points: $1,799 for the MacBook Air, and $2,149 for the Portege R500.

The X300 unit I tested shipped with 2 GB of RAM, but the system can accommodate up to 4 GB. The X300 is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo SL7100 processor running at 1.2 Ghz-a slower CPU than Lenovo's other X Series notebooks, but one that contributes to the X300's power-saving ways.

Despite the slightly slower processor, I found that the X300 packs plenty of performance to handle typical knowledge worker tasks. I tested the notebook's performance with the Passmark Performance Test 6.1 , and the X300 garnered a respectable overall score of 347.3. To compare, the Portege R500 I recently reviewed picked up an overall score of 314.1, and my own aging ThinkPad X31 received an overall score of 293.5.

The ThinkPad X300 weighs in at a modest 3.13 pounds and sports a new form factor that departs from the dimensions of its recent X Series kin. Compared to Lenovo's X61 and X61s units, the X300 has a larger footprint (to the tune of two inches in width and an about an inch in depth), but the X300 is about half an inch thinner than those models.