Lenovo ThinkPad T420 14" (320 GB, Intel Core i5 2nd Gen., 2.3 GHz, 4 GB) Notebook - Black - 4177-QKU Reviews
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Lenovo ThinkPad T420 14" (320 GB, Intel Core i5 2nd Gen., 2.3 GHz, 4 GB) Notebook - Black - 4177-QKU

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Lenovo T420 4177

Aug 1, 2011 (Updated Aug 9, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Quality of Tech Support:

Pros:A very professional business type computer that satisfies other areas of use.

Cons:No Blu Ray player. Repair time can be very long.

The Bottom Line: I'm using an SSD drive and this machine is a dream. The docking station is great. Reads and writes DVDs.


There are hundreds of variations on the Lenovo T420 laptop so you will have to adjust this review for your selection.

Lenovo T420, Type 4177-CTO. Windows 7 Pro, 64 bit.  8 GB RAM,  500 GB HD, third party 128 GB SSD added. (Intel i7 processor)

After inspecting many laptops I chose the ThinkPad T420. The only better laptop was Apple and I needed different software.

An important consideration for any computer is support. Lenovo has excellent support at 1-800-426-7378. Tech support and repair happens right here in the United States.  Repairs are done in Tennessee.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T420 is a solid laptop. It is not as light as some laptops but strength and durability need to be considered. Weight of machine with a large 9 cell battery and a slice battery = 6 lb. 7 oz. (3060 kg). The laptop weighs 5 lb. 5 oz. (2430 kg) with just the large 9 cell battery. The 9 cell battery weighs 1 lb. 1.5 oz. (500kg) and the 6 cell battery would then weigh 1/3 less. You can compute the difference. Keep in mind my battery life with the slice battery installed is about 17 hours. The slice battery also places the laptop on a slight angle with the rear elevated. It is about the same tilt as with the docking station. You cannot have the slice battery installed while the laptop in in the docking station.

The 9 cell battery sticks out the back so it is not a perfect cosmetic fit. The 6 cell battery will look nicer, be lighter and probably last about 4 hours.

The overall design is perfect in my opinion. I find no problems. The T420 uses the LED night light that shines from the top of the display to the keyboard area. It can be turned on and off with the Fn function key. There are many Fn function keys that are great. I really like the Fn-Space bar that magnifies the display.

The speakers are well positioned and are adequate. They could have higher volume considering where they are installed.
I really like the Lenovo mouse pad and mouse button configuration.  I wish the mouse speed adjustment would go a little faster but it is acceptable. Some laptops I tested are far too slow, even with the mouse settings as fast as they go. The T420 has the best mouse operation of any laptop.

The Windows Pro 7 operating system and Lenovo will only allow one set of recovery disks. Do your backup recovery disks with good quality DVDs. Lenovo will provide a set of recovery disks if you need them.  DVD-RAM is not supported by the Recovery Disks, but SSD drives are supported. The Lenovo T420 is designed to run on SSD drives.

Recovery Data notes.  If you stop in the middle of Disk 4, you will have the first 3 disks and you can still make a copy of all 4 disks. At the end of disk 4 the computer turns Recovery disk copy off. You cannot make more copies.
•    Disc 1, Boot Media
•    Disc 2, Recovery Media 1
•    Disc 3, Recovery Media 2
•    Disc 4, Recovery Media 3

Notes:
•    HD Boot time = 41.4 seconds
•    SSD Boot time = 29.6 seconds
o    This is with little software installed. With more programs installed the boot up time will increase. Keep in mind the first phase of boot up consists of BIOS and hardware communications. With many programs installed the SSD will really be nice.  The Registry loading will be totally SSD dependent and fast.
•    HD partitions and size before SSD installation.
o    Lenovo Recovery partition = 9.67GB used 5.94GB free = 15.63GB
o    System Drive partition = 3.34MB used 865MB free = 1.17GB
o    Local Disk C partition = 27.9 GB used 420 GB free = 448.96 GB
o    Total GB = 465.76

Window Performance test.
4GB RAM installed
o    7.1    Processor    
o    5.9    RAM       
o    4.7    Graphics   
o    6.4    Gaming Graphics
o    5.9    HD   
8GB RAM installed
o    7.1    Processor    
o    7.5    RAM       
o    5.9    Graphics   
o    6.4    Gaming Graphics
o    5.9    HD   
SSD and 8GB RAM installed
o    7.1    Processor    
o    7.5    RAM       
o    5.9    Graphics   
o    6.4    Gaming Graphics
o    7.1    HD

Adding SSD card
(I used the MyDigitalSSD 128GB 50mm Bullet Proof mSATA  PCI-e drive. Some SSDs are a little faster but cost much more.)
•    Install SSD
•    Initialized SSD card in My Computer, Manage, Disk Drives
•    Turn off laptop and remove HD
•    Boot to Recovery discs
•    Restore to factory default. (The Recovery disks only have the SSD to restore to)
•    When finished you can test the operation of your laptop on the SSD drive. Test by going into your BIOS to make sure you know how to get there. Boot using F1 for BIOS setup.
•    Turn off the laptop and install the hard drive.
•    Boot to BIOS (Do this first before booting Windows)
•    Remove HD from boot sequence. Go ahead and setup your boot sequence to something like SSD, DVD, and then USB, etc. Do not include the HD
•    Then I go to My Computer, Manage, Disk Drives and I do some major changes here.
You must make your own decisions. The SSD drive is prime real-estate and a 20GB recovery partition is out of the question (for me). The Recovery discs have been created. I decided to merge partitions on the SSD drive. Windows 7 Pro will handle this easily on the active drive. Now, there are actually 2 smaller partitions and the smaller 1GB partition cannot be removed. Apparently the operating system needs it. The larger 19GB partition can easily be removed and added to the C drive. No 3rd party partitioning software is needed with Windows 7 Professional.  Go to Start, right click My Computer, left click Manage. Select Disk Management. Select the Lenovo_Recovery partition and remove it. Now select the primary partition (C: drive) and select merge. Use the full size of the deleted partition space. The System_Drv partition could not be removed on my SSD. It is only 1.17GB and probably essential. 

 Change drive letters in Manage, Disk Management. Fortunately the main drive was named the C drive. I do not think you can change the drive letter of the active drive partition for some operating systems. After reinstalling the HD there is no telling what letter Windows will give it. Rename it to D drive if you want to. You can also remove the Recovery partition on the hard drive. I decided to depend totally on my backup restore DVDs and knowing Lenovo would send me another copy if needed.

The computer controls the use of the 2 video card functions but it can also be controlled in the BIOS.

Your warrantee is not void if you install the memory or SSD.  The machine is designed for those additions.  The installation of my extra memory was a tight fit. Be careful. Don’t use metal tools or do anything stupid.

Notes: Boot to F11 for recovery. F12 for selecting boot device. Boot using F1 for BIOS setup. The ThinkAdvantage button takes you to a variety of places. I don’t really know where it goes.

Now if you are looking for the User’s Guide you will only find the Hardware Manual. It takes the place of the User Guide and is formatted a little differently. It is OK.

Most other attributes of the laptop are on the selection menus on the Lenovo web site. You can get just about anything you want except the T420 did not have a Blu Ray player at the time I ordered mine. It did not have a GPS option but it could be obtained via 3G subscriptions using telephone towers. If you want a real GPS you can buy many 3rd party USB modules that will tell you where you are at using global satellites.


No Blu Ray player at the time of my order.

The battery charger for the slice battery works but is not a good physical match. It is physically designed for the 6 or 9 cell battery that fits inside the laptop. It does work OK.
-----

I need to supplement this review with the Lenovo repair service in Tennessee.

My Lenovo T420 had a pixel problem on the display. The repair time needs to be considered.

Ordered laptop and received in 9 days.

Display problem found and called in for repair.

Total repair time is scheduled to be 27 days.(twenty seven days at the repair site)

This is very uncommon for any computer owner and especially in business applications.

The Lenovo T420 is a nice computer but you may need further contingency planning for repair problems. You may want to consider “on-site” repair if it is available in your area.

My problem may be due to an uncommon shortage of parts. More statistics would be needed for any formal opinion.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 2000
Operating System: Windows
Processor: Other
Processor speed: over 1000
Screen Size: 14 inches
RAM: More than 256
Internal Storage: CD-RW and DVD
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50

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