Specifications are pretty darn good, with the highlight being Intel’s brand-new mobile Sandy Bridge architecture, which we’ve already encountered on the MSI GT680. Our test sample might not sport the mighty quad-core Core i7 2630QM of that beast, but its dual-core Core i5-2520M runs at a speedy 2.5GHz as standard and can Turbo clock up to 3.2GHz (on a single core, 3GHz on two), with Hyperthreading allowing up to four virtual cores, all within a 25W thermal envelope.
Powerful yet efficient, this CPU will handle anything but the most intensively multi-threaded applications with consummate ease. If you don’t need as much power you can downgrade to a Core i3-2310M, or conversely up to a quad-core Core i7-2620M for heavy duties like HD video encoding.
The X220T doesn’t offer dedicated graphics so you’re stuck with Intel’s integrated effort. Thankfully, the new HD 3000-series graphics, which are integrated into the CPU, are significantly superior to earlier Intel solutions. In fact, you might now even risk the odd game or two, provided you’re happy dropping the detail and resolution down a lot on even remotely demanding titles. Intel’s new graphics also offer dedicated hardware video processing acceleration, though this requires compatible software.
(centre)Intel’s new 3000-series integrated graphics even manage to beat the discrete AMD Mobility Radeon HD4550 card found on the tm2, an impressive indication of how far they have progressed.(/centre)
These are backed by 4GB of DDR3 RAM, though this is of course expandable to 8GB. For permanent storage there’s a speedy 7,200rpm, 320GB hard drive, again with various other options being available, including SSDs up to 160GB. Running it all is the usual ThinkPad minimum of Windows 7 Professional in its 64-bit flavour as standard, though you can also get Home Premium 64-bit or Home Basic 32-bit.
Unfortunately, connectivity is where we hit our first snag. Oddly enough, though the ‘vanilla’ X220 comes with USB 3.0, Lenovo has chosen to omit this altogether on its tablet. We really can’t think of a good reason for this, and it’s a genuine potential issue as eSATA isn’t on the cards either. There is, however, a way to still hook up fast external storage: using the 54mm ExpressCard slot, you can add a dual-port eSATA or USB 3.0 adapter (as seen on the second page of our article, USB 3.0: What Is It and Do You Want It?).
This niggle aside, we have no complaints. With ThinkPads as recent as the X100e eschewing digital video outputs, we’re relieved to finally see a full-size DisplayPort connector on hand here, which can also output to HDMI or DVI using adapters. Don’t worry though, business users, VGA is also present and accounted for.
There’s a memory card reader, three USB 2.0 ports (one of which is coloured yellow to mark its always-on status) and Gigabit Ethernet. On the audio front everything is handled by a single 3.5mm combi jack, as also found on the X100e and HP TouchSmart tm2.
There’s no integrated optical drive, but this is becoming less necessary and external models are cheap and plentiful. You can even order a matching one from Lenovo, and the optional docking base has one integrated. There’s a small physical wireless switch on the left that can control both the X220T’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi N, while a fingerprint reader can be found in the screen’s bezel. 3G, meanwhile, is an optional extra.