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Question about an X301

X200, X201, X220 (including equivalent tablet models) and X300, X301 series specific matters only.
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mazzinia
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Question about an X301

#1 Post by mazzinia » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:19 am

Hello,

how "usable" is it, now, the su9400 version ? (internet / streaming up to 1080p and such)
Would perform better with win7 or win10 ?

And what if it has a 120gb 5400 rpm drive ? (argh)
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Re: Question about an X301

#2 Post by 600X » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:23 am

The CPU plays basically no role when it comes to YouTube videos starting at the T400 generation machines (or T61 with NVIDIA). It's the GPU. The GMA4500MHD can easily handle 1080p. As for general internet, all X301 versions work fine. Some web pages may take a second longer to load than you are probably used to. Performance is better with Windows 7 in my experience, but Windows 7 is still a lot worse than a suitable Linux distribution. The HDD will be a giant bottleneck. Get rid of it as soon as you can.
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Re: Question about an X301

#3 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:37 am

Instead of a rotating HDD, get an adapter such as this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/291866981366 and put in a nice mSATA SSD.
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Re: Question about an X301

#4 Post by brchan » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:05 am

how "usable" is it, now, the su9400 version ? (internet / streaming up to 1080p and such)
Would perform better with win7 or win10 ?

And what if it has a 120gb 5400 rpm drive ? (argh)
I have the same X301, but with an ssd. It plays 1080P video fine, but there will probably be some initial lag or when viewing more JS heavy websites (mostly attributed to loading). W7 will give better performance than W10. Chrome performs better than firefox for media content, but I highly recommend Opera browser with its battery saver function enabled. It increases performance by cutting back unnecessary animations and some background tasks. It is really noticeable on older or slower systems.
The CPU plays basically no role when it comes to YouTube videos starting at the T400 generation machines (or T61 with NVIDIA). It's the GPU.
I tend to disagree. With an older low voltage CPU like the SU9400, it still plays a non-trivial role. HTML5 video tends to use more CPU (now used default by youtube), while Flash uses more GPU. Having hardware acceleration enabled will reduce the cpu usage but not make it irrelevant. IIRC I often had ~70% CPU usage or more when playing 1080P youtube with chrome, hardware acceleration on, and in fullscreen.
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Re: Question about an X301

#5 Post by mazzinia » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:28 am

Thanks :)

Anyway depends if I manage to snatch it, erm ( yes, I don't yet have it )
Meanwhile I've researched about the alternative bios, especially the one that allows to boost the cpu cores, and a few other things.
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Re: Question about an X301

#6 Post by TPFanatic » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:35 pm

X301 is also infamous for being a Thinkpad with good speakers. Who knew such a thing existed? T500 can fit the bill but I've read the X301 is better.

I second the notion that Youtube's HTML 5 player eats the CPU more. It's basically unusuable on my T42p, but if I force-enable the Flash player then the OnFireGL does something and it's no longer a slideshow. Core 2 Duo, especially downscaled to fit a lower resolution screen, is good enough for 1080 Youtube.
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Re: Question about an X301

#7 Post by 600X » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:37 pm

TPFanatic wrote:I second the notion that Youtube's HTML 5 player eats the CPU more. It's basically unusuable on my T42p
That's because the T42p GPU does not aid the CPU in decoding YouTube videos.
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Re: Question about an X301

#8 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:47 pm

mazzinia wrote:...depends if I manage to snatch it, erm ( yes, I don't yet have it )...
If you fail to snatch it, I've got one for sale.
PM me if interested.

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Re: Question about an X301

#9 Post by mazzinia » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:34 pm

oh well.. nothing to do, the auction went nuts
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Re: Question about an X301

#10 Post by shawross » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:53 pm

How usable is the X301 today? Depends what you are doing but very in my situation.

I agree with all the comments posted thus far.

If you can pickup a unit for close to $100 - $150 USD it is a worthwhile purchase.
You will definitely want an SSD as your main drive and Windows 7 is my preference for OS as Windows 10 runs too many background tasks for my liking.

Being a dual spindle laptop you can install a 7mm spinning drive in the ultra-bay for a cheap storage solution.

Mine has the SU9400 but I have throttle stop and the Dual IDA setup if I need a bit more power. It is my office and still a great travelling companion as I travel for around 4 - 6 months of the year.
I recently bought another battery from "Tera" which gives me roughly 2.5 - 3 hours portability but I mostly still run on the mains.

The weight, resolution, aspect ratio, screen size, quality finish, keyboard and sturdiness are still reasons I use the X301. I don't see any reason compelling me to replace mine in the near future. YMMV
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Re: Question about an X301

#11 Post by TonyJZX » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:46 am

I think people would do well to do a cpu benchmark comparison with a SU9400 and with whatever CPU they're already using.

It will kind of show you what performance to expect with what you already have.

I went from an X300 -> T400s and I can readily see why they aint super competitive in Windows now, especially if you've used something faster.

The X301 sits between these.

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Re: Question about an X301

#12 Post by shawross » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:56 am

True enough the X301 is not recommended for anyone requiring any sort of power. But the difference between the X300 and the X301 is more than the CPU. I couldn't use an X300 today.
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Re: Question about an X301

#13 Post by TPFanatic » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:11 am

X300 is T61 era tech, with DDR2 and X3100 igpu. The X301 is T500 era, uses DDR3 and GMA 4500, so that one is a little better for videos and cheaper to upgrade its RAM.
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Re: Question about an X301

#14 Post by mazzinia » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:03 am

2nd attempt on the way 8)

Well, my main computer ( 99.9999% of the time ) is a desktop, so I'm not too worried about the speed... this should handle all I need in case of mobility ( internet , streaming - not necessarily youtube , email , documents , and such ).
I can resist a few days without playing :P

Suppose that not having an ssd will not be a huge disappointment, too. My pc is a xeon workstation and it takes its own time to initialize all the controllers and such, so I can wait 2 or 3 minutes :P:P
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Re: Question about an X301

#15 Post by CPC464 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:41 am

I like a lot of things in X301. The SU9400 isn't powerful at all, but it works for normal everyday task.
But I woldn't recommend a laptop having the "feature" of a LCD that makes feel me like if I had dirty glasses or like if I had to buy new ones. IMHO the worst LCD I've seen in a Thinkpad, by far. Bad viewing angles, miserable contrast and veeeery slow. I'm planning to sell mine only because I find its LCD almost useless.

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Re: Question about an X301

#16 Post by mazzinia » Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:41 pm

CPC464 wrote:I like a lot of things in X301. The SU9400 isn't powerful at all, but it works for normal everyday task.
But I woldn't recommend a laptop having the "feature" of a LCD that makes feel me like if I had dirty glasses or like if I had to buy new ones. IMHO the worst LCD I've seen in a Thinkpad, by far. Bad viewing angles, miserable contrast and veeeery slow. I'm planning to sell mine only because I find its LCD almost useless.
"that" bad, as lcd ???
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Re: Question about an X301

#17 Post by brchan » Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:49 pm

The X301 screens are very bright (300 nits!) but many complain they have pretty bad contrast, colors, and viewing angles. However, in real life, I don't think they are as bad as some say. Mine is sharp, bright, but with average colors and OK contrast. Should the panels have been better, especially considering the machines retailed for > $2000 new? Absolutely. But are they terrible panels in general? No.
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Re: Question about an X301

#18 Post by 600X » Sat Jan 14, 2017 7:39 pm

The real tragedy is that the X301 display is not even bright. Measuring it with a colorimeter (Spyder in my case) reveals a peak brightness of 230 nits, which seems about right to me. The colors aren't too bad, that is true, but the calibration is extremely off out of the box, so you need to calibrate it to make the display usable. If you don't use the X301 as your main notebook then the display is OK. If you want it to be your main notebook, then I highly recommend installing the AFFS display, even though it's even darker than the original panel.
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Re: Question about an X301

#19 Post by shawross » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:39 pm

There will always be conjecture about the X301 display and is it a great display by today's standards no.

I agree with brchan that it isn't too bad and you can adjust them to be bright although you still won't have wide viewing angles.

As 600X says you must calibrate the display and after adjusting the calibration I became satisfied with my display. YMMV

Sometimes I will use mine up to 10 hours per day and I don't get sore eyes. I like a relatively bright matt display as it seems to suit my eyes but the X301 display is not suitable for everyone.

If you were paying $2000 for an X301 you would probably be disappointed with the display OOTB but for $100 - $150 I would suggest to keeps things in perspective so to speak.
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Re: Question about an X301

#20 Post by TonyJZX » Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:06 pm

That entire era of 1,400 x 900 LED screens arent too great. Every one I've seen is mediocre at best. But saying that its an enterprise ultraportable.

I never had any complaints from users and they all worked fine banging out office duties under fluorescent lights.

They are no offensively bad, the viewing angles are fine if you're a single user and the colours are fine for non PS use.

Dont expect to use an ex lease 2nd hand unit in demanding situations.

Although the X and T series are the 'pinnacle' as it were, Lenovo did skimp on things they thought the business professional didnt are about.

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Re: Question about an X301

#21 Post by brchan » Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:25 pm

The real tragedy is that the X301 display is not even bright. Measuring it with a colorimeter (Spyder in my case) reveals a peak brightness of 230 nits, which seems about right to me.
I am not sure about others, but the display on mine is just slightly brighter than my W530's FHD panel, which is supposed to be 270 nits. Even using it next to a window on a bright day is very possible.

One odd thing I did notice with the X301 is that the brightness does not increment linearly like other thinkpads and is more exponential. For example, going from setting 0 to 3 does not make the screen much brighter, but going from 3 to 5 does. In fact, jumping from the second last setting to the last setting looks like it increases the brightness by 1.5x or 2x. This design is a bit annoying since it is more difficult to fine tune for different environments.
Although the X and T series are the 'pinnacle' as it were, Lenovo did skimp on things they thought the business professional didnt are about.
Agreed. The quality of the X300/X301 line is really nice and is the only Lenovo thinkpad I have used that reminds me of my old IBM 600X.
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Re: Question about an X301

#22 Post by 600X » Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:45 pm

brchan wrote:One odd thing I did notice with the X301 is that the brightness does not increment linearly like other thinkpads and is more exponential. For example, going from setting 0 to 3 does not make the screen much brighter, but going from 3 to 5 does. In fact, jumping from the second last setting to the last setting looks like it increases the brightness by 1.5x or 2x. This design is a bit annoying since it is more difficult to fine tune for different environments.
That is a design choice that was made with all the 2009 models. T400, T500 etc. all have the same problem. You can fix it by installing Windows 8 and using the stock video driver, which has normal brightness intervals. However, even finding a Windows 8 ISO nowadays can be impossible.
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Re: Question about an X301

#23 Post by CPC464 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:36 pm

brchan wrote:The X301 screens are very bright (300 nits!) but many complain they have pretty bad contrast, colors, and viewing angles. However, in real life, I don't think they are as bad as some say. Mine is sharp, bright, but with average colors and OK contrast. Should the panels have been better, especially considering the machines retailed for > $2000 new? Absolutely. But are they terrible panels in general? No.
Well, I still find it the crappiest Thinkpad display ever, even compared with older Thinkpads. It makes me miss mediocre displays like my X61's one.

Apart from the poor contrast, I find very annoying their very slow response, that makes the texts noticeabily blurry when you are scrolling.

These screens are very bright, that's true, but IMHO too much brightness with such a poor contrast isn't good at all. At darker brightness levels all is very dark due to the poor contrast, and at higher brightness levels the blacks are light greys, and everything looks undefined and washed. I prefer a dark display with good contrast ratio, like the one in my R50p.

Once calibrated, the colors aren't that bad, but they aren't uniform, and depend too much on a narrow viewing angle.

I've been using mine today (prepairing for sale), and I remembered why I'm selling it away. I do like the X301, but its screen kills all the goodies in this machine.

The best in X301's display... The reconforting sensation when I come back to my X220's IPS :wink:

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Re: Question about an X301

#24 Post by shawross » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:55 pm

The X300/X301 for all their qualities and their failings I believe they were the Retro Thinkpads. The Retro has already been done IMHO.

Like brchan said, I believe there are aspects of the X301 which remind me of earlier X series laptops. This was obviously intended at the time to try to accumulate all this into a project which was the X300 albeit an Office or Enterprise machine.

The cost to Lenovo of the X300/X301 project wasn't profitable with the materials and design that were invested at the time.

Because of this I think Lenovo are wary of treading this path again. But an X302 would be tantalising to say the least.

Lenovo don't give us the Retro, bring back the Retro.
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Re: Question about an X301

#25 Post by 600X » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:48 am

shawross wrote:Like brchan said, I believe there are aspects of the X301 which remind me of earlier X series laptops.
That is because the X300 design was based on the X20.
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Re: Question about an X301

#26 Post by dr_st » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:52 am

brchan wrote:The X301 screens are very bright (300 nits!) but many complain they have pretty bad contrast, colors, and viewing angles. However, in real life, I don't think they are as bad as some say. Mine is sharp, bright, but with average colors and OK contrast. Should the panels have been better, especially considering the machines retailed for > $2000 new? Absolutely. But are they terrible panels in general? No.
It's possible that not all X30x panels were the same, I guess. I only saw one (I think it was an X301, could have been an X300 too). And my feeling was exactly that it was the most terrible panel I've ever seen, in the active TFT category. A little bit off-center (vertically) everything became a dull gray.
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Re: Question about an X301

#27 Post by mazzinia » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:53 am

dr_st wrote:
brchan wrote:The X301 screens are very bright (300 nits!) but many complain they have pretty bad contrast, colors, and viewing angles. However, in real life, I don't think they are as bad as some say. Mine is sharp, bright, but with average colors and OK contrast. Should the panels have been better, especially considering the machines retailed for > $2000 new? Absolutely. But are they terrible panels in general? No.
It's possible that not all X30x panels were the same, I guess. I only saw one (I think it was an X301, could have been an X300 too). And my feeling was exactly that it was the most terrible panel I've ever seen, in the active TFT category. A little bit off-center (vertically) everything became a dull gray.
mmm put it this way, feels similar to one hp business laptop that a friend of mine got from hp( he works there), now ... 5y ago I guess. You could see the change of layers on top and on bottom from an ideal center line... it was the most awful thing I saw ( and by what I'm reading here, I suspect a lot worse than these x301 panels... I mean, I saw some videos where the camera was moving... it was 1000000 times better looking ).
You had to keep it at a precise angle and hope of not moving the head too much...
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Re: Question about an X301

#28 Post by YW-Slayer » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:12 pm

1. The display is sub-par, but it seems better to me on Ubuntu.

2. I wouldn't use Win10 on it, but Win7 is barely acceptable (I've run both). Both are easily bested by Ubuntu with the appropriate fan-speed tweaks. I've also tried ChromeOS, but I prefer Ubuntu as it's more flexible.

3. It's still a "tough as nails" machine. Last night I (around 82kg) finally stood on the machine while it was in sleep mode, which still worked fine afterward. I even took video of the whole process, if anyone's interested/desperate.

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Re: Question about an X301

#29 Post by Temetka » Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:38 pm

I just brought mine out of storage (bookshelf) again for use as I needed something much lighter and more portable them my Precision M4800. So I brought the X301 back out, re-installed it's SSD and slapped Bunsen Labs on it. I had forgotten what a wonderful machine it is (minus the lackluster LCD). It's handled everything I've thrown at it so far. Standard day to day work task (IT related) work just fine. Youtube at 720 and 1080p are fine as well. I re-pasted the CPU some months back so it runs super cool. Even full screen at 720p it rarely breaks 50 degrees Celsius. I also use it at home for relaxing and have barely touched my Surface Pro 4. It's kind of refreshing to realize just how little power I actually need to accomplish my day to day. I think I'll be keeping this one in active duty for the foreseeable future.
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