Lenovo ThinkPad X260 Review

So after many years of using a Dell E6220 as my go to travel/work laptop, I acquired a Macbook Air Mid 2012 why, you may ask? Well because it was lighter, had a better screen and a better battery .
It’s now 2016 and we are on the 3rd quarter, so after both laptops being older than some of my other tech in the house, I decided it was time to upgrade the laptop. I’ve been on the lookout for a Ultrabook, with great battery stamina and also a good build quality,  but I needed the laptop to meet certain criteria, as following:

  • Great battery life
  • Great build quality
  • Good performance
  • Lightweight, less than 1.5Kg
  • Upgradability/Connectivity

Well the wait is now over, I’ve acquired recently a Lenovo ThinkPad X260, and it meets the vast majority of my criteria with some shortfalls which I’ll explain later. Some may ask why I got a business laptop, the simple reason it fits the bill for obvious reasons it is made for business travellers, light and powerful enough for business applications on the go.

Lenovo ThinkPad X260 Specification:

Processor Intel Core i5-6300U Processor (3MB Cache, up to 3.00GHz)
Display Type 12.5″ HD (1366 x 768) TN, anti-glare, non-touch
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 520
Hard Drive 256GB Solid State Drive,
Memory 8GB DDR4-2133 SODIMM
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64
Rear Battery 3 Cell Li-Ion Rear Battery (23.2Wh)
Wireless Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 (2×2 Wi-Fi, 11ac) with Bluetooth 4.1

Battery Life

Let’s talk about the good bits I like about this Ultrabook, it’s light and compact, even with its’ internal and external 3 Cell batteries, it weighs less than 1.5KG, it feels durable, yes it uses hard plastic but it definitely can take some beating from the hard knocks of travelling, which is a good thing, Macbook Air suffer from scratches and bumps which is unfortunate.
The battery performance of this laptop is one of the best I’ve seen, even bettering my Macbook Air, definitely able to get around 10 hours use out of the two 3 cell batteries, mind you, my use may differ to yours, I mainly use it for internet, watching videos, photo editing and office use.

Build Quality

Considering that this laptop as is, currently will cost you over £1100+ through Lenovo store, it begs the question, why not make the following features as default and not additional purchases.

Let’s talk about screen and audio, the screen on my version is the 1366*768 resolution IPS LCD screen, they do offer a 1920*1080 (TN) screen but at an additional cost, my current screen has a very poor viewing angle as soon as you move slightly from the centre of the screen it will darken, not great when you are traveling and it is your only entertainment screen.

X260 Screen

ThinkPad X260

Sound is something I never expect to be great and this laptop does not disappoint me in that area, the audio supports Dolby sound, however the speakers are bottom facing and sound very hollow as well as not producing a loud sound, my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge can produce much higher and richer sound than the built in speakers of this laptop. Putting headphones on will help a bit but don’t expect great sound either.

The keyboard is good, not as great as my Dell laptop which the keys have more travel, but it is very similar to a Macbook air keyboard, I like that it has lots of functions keys and it is spaced enough that I don’t mistype, touch typists will definitely be ok with working for hours on this keyboard. This isn’t a backlit keyboard, you can of course upgrade this for a few pounds more if you purchase directly from Lenovo, why not offer this as standard?

The feel of the plastic on the screen lid feels like a smooth rubberised plastic but the keyboard area is a hard plastic, not dissimilar from my old T42, it has a matt black finish which I really like, it is definitely less of a fingerprint magnet than the Dell finish. The screen can tilt all the way back to that it becomes a horizontal tablet, considering that the laptop is lightweight it could definitely be used like that while in the couch or in the bed.

Performance
Performance of this laptop is good even with its i5-6300U CPU, but don’t expect 4K video editing on the go, with that said however I’ve not experienced any issues editing some 1080P footage and raw image editing. I’ve never experienced a moment where I felt the CPU was taking its time to do something, generally speaking I find the CPU when using only for browsing the internet stuck below 10% CPU usage. One issue I take with this laptop is the use of one single ram slot, limiting this laptop to just 16GB DDR4 SODIMM, the chipset supports 32GB DDR4 RAM, not a massive issue as I wasn’t planning on using virtual machines, however I always like having lots of RAM, Chrome never seems get enough of RAM.

If you are expecting to play games on this laptop, you better look elsewhere it’s integrated Intel 520 GPU is handicapped due to the single channel memory, so suffers performance issues due to RAM not using dual channel memory, it has no issues with some games like solitaire or even some games like Half Life at low resolution. This is not my main use for this laptop however I thought it fair to mention this for those that may want to occasionally game on their laptop.

Connectivity

The connectivity on this laptop is definitely something I like, it has 3x USB 3.0, SD Card slot, LAN RJ45 port (no proprietary adapter here), Mini Display and a Full HDMI. If you upgrade to a 4G Modem there is a micro sim slot, one great feature of this laptop is the addition of charging of your mobile or another device using one of the USB 3.0 port even when your laptop is switched off, this is a life saver sometimes.

Upgradability 

Having done some reseach on my upgrade options, directly through Lenovo or do it yourself approach(This approach will void your warranty!), myplan in the next few months is to upgrade the screen panel to 1080P, change to the backlit keyboard and add a bigger SSD drive. Mind you, if you were to purchase directly from Lenovo I would recommend you do these upgrades at the time of purchase, they do not cost that much extra.

Conclusion

Having purchased an IBM ThinkPad T42P in 2004 and used it for 10 years, before donating it away still working and running Windows 7, I expect the ThinkPad brand to deliver reliability, however since the takeover by Lenovo of the ThinkPad brand I feel that laptops are not built the way they used to and I feel this laptop would not last the same as my old T42P. Having used it the laptop for a few weeks I’ve noticed some issues with certain keys not registering if not pressed correctly, which is a shame as overall for the money I paid for this laptop. It’s saving grace is that if you are not afraid of opening your laptop by following some simple instructions than you can resolve a lot of these issues later on, in this day an age where manufacturers are building laptops with less user replaceable parts, thinkpads are still leading the way on building laptops that users can take apart and replace parts, so kudos to them for that.

So overall if you are looking for a good travel laptop I would look elsewhere, with its price tag of £1000+ there are cheaper and better options available from other companies like Dell, ASUS, Toshiba and even Apple. However if you are able to get one below £600 I would recommend you take it even with its flaws.

 

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