Continuing with the recent string of laptop related posts, I thought I should post a few of the disassembly photos I took of the Lenovo X200. Taking the laptop apart is rather simple – just remove the screws on the the laptop (depending on what you want to remove, you only have to unscrew certain ones) and carefully pull off the lower top casing. After that, remove the keyboard (be careful of the ribbon cable to snaps onto the motherboard for the keyboard/TrackPoint. From here, you can swap out the WiFi card or just have a quick look around. For replacing the RAM or HDD/SSD, you don’t need to take apart the laptop. Just remove the side drive bay cover (one screw) or remove the two that secure the RAM bay cover on the bottom. I should have a full review of the laptop up sometime this week, but I hope these photos are useful. If you’re unable to view the slideshow, check out the image set on Flickr.
“I missed you too” – on Flickr by süńdāyx
I’m disappointed with Apple. I’ve been using their machines since I was four years old and have been buying them personally for the past seven. It has been my preferred platform of choice and I’ve never been unhappy with the hardware choices available to me until now. I see a glaring hole in their portable line-up, a small prosumer notebook. This void had been previously filled with the 12″ PowerBook but has never been replaced since its discontinuation in early 2006. One might suggest the MacBook Air as it’s successor, but that’s not paying attention to what the 12″ PowerBook was – a small, lightweight notebook that made almost no compromises in performance and connectivity to achieve it’s minuscule footprint. I do not mean to suggest that there is not a spot in the marketplace for a thin and light MacBook Air, however it’s clear that Apple is leaving money on the table from consumers like myself searching for that elusive perfect computer in a perfect size.
But I have a dream. A dream where there is a speedy and capable notebook running Mac OS X that fulfills these wants and needs. All Apple needs to do is build it. I’ve taken the liberty of drawing up spec. sheet of what this computer should be. I give you, the perfect laptop…
MacBook Pro (13″) – Coming Soon from Apple
- 13″ 1440×900 LCD (LED-backlight)
- Discreet Graphics (Dual-Link DVI)
- Intel Core 2 Duo (Montevina)
- 2-4GB DDR3 1066MHz RAM
- 64-128GB Solid-State Disk
- Gigabit Ethernet Networking
- 802.11N Wireless Networking
- Integrated Sprint/AT&T WWAN
- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- iSight Webcamera
- Backlit Keyboard
- 9-Cell Battery*
- SDHC Reader
This would not require a feat of engineering, although I’m certain that Apple could work their usual magic and include some tremendously innovative features in this notebook. These features exist in many notebooks available today (such as the Sony VAIO SZ, ThinkPad X200/300) but prove to be flawed choices as they do not run OS X and lack the polish I expect from a laptop, which is why I’m an Apple buyer in the first place. An optical drive? Who cares about an optical drive? The world’s thinnest notebook? I don’t need it. Simply put, I want a small and powerful laptop that can handle a long day of on-the-go use and be backed by the operating system I can’t live without.
* To keep with the svelte and clean design of Apple notebooks, a smaller battery can be included and the larger 9-cell high-capacity battery would be left as a CTO option.
There has been a huge amount of hype and misinformation in the solid-state drive debate as of late and whether it’s a technology that’s ready for primetime; I recently purchased one with my newest computer and want to offer some real-world tests. The drive in question is a Samsung 64GB SATA SSD (1.8″, Model No. MCCOE64G8MPP) which came along with my ThinkPad X200, surplus from the thin-and-light X300 I’m sure. It’s a SLC (single-level cell) drive which offers faster transfers and a longer lifespan than the cheaper MLC drives that are coming onto the market, but I’ll delve into those differences a bit more later on. First, let’s see how the drive performs…
In some basic testing with the HDTune benchmarking utility, the Samsung drive performed admirably. With an average read speed of 67MB/s and a peak speed of 88MB/s, the drive offers about twice the performance of a standard 5400RPM SATA laptop hard disk. Where the drive really shines is the almost non-existent access times on your data. In this test, the average seek time was 0.3ms where a traditional notebook is comes in at 15-20ms (or about 50-60x slower). Read/write performance also does not suffer from the pitfall that platter-based drives do, which is that information reads at the same speed regardless of where the data is physically on the drive.
The file read/write benchmarks told the same story as the standard read test. When using the 64MB file size, the drive offered consistent performance peaking at about 100MB/s reading data and 90MB/s writing. Comparing this to the tests of the reference Seagate hard-disk drive, it was consistently more than twice as fast as the traditional drive peaked at 40MB/s (HDD benchmark charts are provided at the end of the article). Boot times are not a terribly relevant or accurate way to gauge a computer’s performance, but since gamers/nerds are always clamoring for them, I’ll include them anyways. With the SSD, a the laptop booted to the Windows login screen in 34 seconds and at the desktop with all startup items loaded in a total of 39 seconds. With the HDD, those same tasks were completed in 46 seconds and 58 seconds respectively. Both of these tests were with the same drive image running Windows Vista on an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz notebook computer.
As for the SLC vs. MLC debate referenced earlier, it’s all a matter of cost. The best performing SSDs on the market are SLC drives. SLC drives offer better performance, lower power consumption and a longer-lifespan (100,000 write/erase cycles per sector as compared to 10,000 cycles on an MLC drive). MLC (multi-level cell) drives are cheaper to manufacture and are quickly becoming popular because of the lower price point. The lifespan argument loses its utility when one takes into account that 10,000 write/erase cycles is averaged/leveled out through the drive’s own firmware so the same cells aren’t constantly being rewritten (and since SSDs have a near-instant access time, there is no ill-effect on performance). Also, the useful life of a consumer notebook computer is surely less than that of the drive. In either case, a solid-state disk can greatly enhance the performance and battery life of a notebook, but it does come at a hefty cost.
Seagate HDD Benchmarks