Wednesday, April 13, 2011

T420s vs T410s comparison / benchmarks

This post is about some performance comparison between my new machine (T420s) and old (T410s). It is not meant to be a fair comparison.

HDD/SSD Performance

WD3200BEVT in UltraBay

UltraBay and TrueCrypt

Pass Mark Performance Test

Battery Life

I dont know any standard method to benchmark a battery. Here's what I did:

Start with 100% battery cold start.
Set Brightness to 8
Run browser and start on demand TV shows on Fox.
Install Software - Acrobat, Intel SSD toolbox, Magic Disc, MSDN Update (1198MB download) all the while, watching full screen TV show.

Windows battery meter was always within 1% of the Lenovo battery meter.

Time: Exactly 2:00 hours, from 100% to 20% remaining.

Start up Time

The start-up time now is exactly 23s, from power button press to Logon (Finger Print Swipe) screen. An additional 3 second to usable desktop after end of finger swipe (finger does not touch).

Visual Studio 2010 Workspace
The taskbar on my desktop in on the left side (vertical).
With the default C# environment and default font I can see 45 lines from top to bottom.
Increasing the editor font to 12pt, gives 36 lines.

T420s - Windows Server 2008 R2 Installation

I have been using Win2K8 for a couple of years now on my primary notebooks (T61p, T410s and now T420s).
The Lenovo System Update program does not work for Win2K8R2. I also tried playing around with the Mapping Interfaces xml file as suggested on Lenovo Forums but no luck.

Here are the steps I followed to upgrade my T420s to Win2K8R2. There are 3 parts: (a) Preparation, (b) OS and driver installation and (c) Roles/Features and other applications.


Starting with the stock notebook, make the recovery disks, conduct any benchmarking as required and then upgrade all hardware.

OS/Driver Installation

This is fairly straightforward.

Install the OS
Upon first log on, change date/time, set computer name and create a new user account with admin privileges

Install in order as shown in the image below:

I have added notes above for some errors I got and also some additional instructions.
I didnt order Bluetooth. But I suspect that as it the previous T410s, bluetooth is not support (in a reliable manner) on Windows Server 2008 R2.
Roles/Features/Other Items

This process is well documented on other sites e.g.,


New T420s - Ordering and Stock vs. Upgrades

Lenovo T420s
Ordered 3/29, Received 4/13
System : 4170CT

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HDD : Seagate Momentus Thin Series 250GB
Memory : 2GB Samsung


1. Intel 320 120GB SSD SSDSA2CW120G3K5, K5 stands for Desktop Installation Kit. It Comes with: the SSD, 2 sets of screws, HDD tray, SATA cable and power cable.
The drive is originally 7mm and comes with a spacer to make it 9.5mm. Had to remove the spacer to use it in the T420s

Guess what - The spacer screws also the hold the SSD cover, ouch!!!
Without the spacer the screws are too tall to fit in the 7mm HDD Bay. For the time being I have just placed the cover without the screws. Will go find some screws over the weekend. The drive tray seems to hold the SSD + its loose cover pretty firmly.

2. GSkill 2 x 4GB Kit F3-10600CL9D-8GBSQ
No problems recognizing this memory.

3. WD7500BPKT for the Ultrabay

Recovery Media:
Requires 1CD and 3 DVDs.
While creating the recovery disks, the "Files are being extracted,
please wait" dialog box took forever to finish 'extracting'.

I also copied the C:\SWTools folder just in case, to save some time later.

First Impressions

Speakers are very good
Keyboard feels more solid compared to T410s

Not so good

Griddy display, like others have mentioned.
Dont like the wide aspect ratio
Display is almost the same as my old T410s
Hinges are too smooth (too easy to move the lid)
Backspace key fell off - got a case number from Tech Support, they will ship out a new keyboard (2-3 business days)

Interesting observations

Option to power off the DVD drive (not sure if this was there before)
Comes with a 'lenovo' on the left side. This wasnt there on the T410s,
which I actually liked.

Hyper PI 0.99b : Test 1M, Instances 4, Average Time 19.558s


Thecus N2050 with 1TB Drives

I have been using this DAS for a while now.
After serving me for 3+ years with 2 500GB drives in RAID0, it was time to push it to the limit.
AND the N2050 delivered. I am now running it with 2 x 1TB drives (Western Digital WD1001FALS ) in RAID0 with PCIe x1 eSATA host adapter.

Available Capacity : 1.86T.
Below is the benchmark.