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T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

T400/T410/T420 and T500/T510/T520 series specific matters only
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excal32
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T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#1 Post by excal32 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 11:14 pm

OP's comment: Various experiments with different CPUs of this era have shown minimal or no improvement. IT is my opinion that it is better to build a budget machine with modern parts, than to try and squeeze more life of these old i3 and i5's. Case in point: I upgraded to a AS Rock Beebox with the fanless N3000 and found it to surpass my i5 2520m t420 in every way imaginable.













I have been happy enough with the i5 2520M using the T420 just as a laptop, but now it sits in a dock connected to a 1440p external display as well. I love the setup but it gets choppy very quickly which surprises me considering the machine has 16GB and a 6 month old SSD. I assumed it was the internal graphics choking. Should I consider replacing it with an i7 chip? OR would it make more sense to replace the laptop? I was wondering if I should look into replacing it with a nVidia model.
Last edited by excal32 on Sun Dec 18, 2016 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1x R500 (P8600), R61e [T9300], X61 (T7300) - RIP T420 (replaced by HP Z420 workstation)

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#2 Post by ajkula66 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 11:36 pm

Can you tell us more about the "choppy" aspect of the story, how and when it occurs?

A machine with that set of specs should not be choppy unless you're gaming heavily on it...
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#3 Post by excal32 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 11:45 pm

ajkula66 wrote:Can you tell us more about the "choppy" aspect of the story, how and when it occurs?

A machine with that set of specs should not be choppy unless you're gaming heavily on it...
Sorry for not describing my usage patterns, I am occasionally gaming on it and otherwise running around 20 programs. For gaming I might have a game on the 1440p screen and a browser open in the TP's screen.
1x R500 (P8600), R61e [T9300], X61 (T7300) - RIP T420 (replaced by HP Z420 workstation)

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#4 Post by ajkula66 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 12:30 am

I don't play any games on my laptops, so I'll leave that aspect for someone who's better versed on the subject matter than myself.

How many processes do you have running on a freshly booted machine?
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#5 Post by TonyJZX » Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:05 am

The Intel HD3000 or Nvidia NVS4200 w/ 1Gb on a 64 bit bus is unsuitable for anything but the most basic games.

Really barely adequate for Minecraft or even CS:GO etc.

However even with 4Gb ram at FHD, these laptops have more then enough power for any 2nd task, video playback or even multiple webpages open.

With an ssd I havent seen anything my t420/420s cant handle.

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#6 Post by palerider » Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:38 pm

excal32 wrote:I have been happy enough with the i5 2520M using the T420 just as a laptop, but now it sits in a dock connected to a 1440p external display as well. I love the setup but it gets choppy very quickly which surprises me considering the machine has 16GB and a 6 month old SSD. I assumed it was the internal graphics choking. Should I consider replacing it with an i7 chip? OR would it make more sense to replace the laptop? I was wondering if I should look into replacing it with a nVidia model.
i7 gives you hyperthreads. when you're running a bunch of things, that matters.

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#7 Post by brchan » Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:44 pm

palerider wrote:
i7 gives you hyperthreads. when you're running a bunch of things, that matters.
The 2520m also has hyperthreading, but an i7 T420 is probably not going to make much of an improvement. Stick a quad core with the same TDP and that will be a different story (you may still run into heat issues, though).

My experience with the 2520m is that it can play 1440p youtube video well, but just not 4k.
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#8 Post by palerider » Mon Oct 31, 2016 2:31 pm

brchan wrote:
palerider wrote:
i7 gives you hyperthreads. when you're running a bunch of things, that matters.
The 2520m also has hyperthreading, but an i7 T420 is probably not going to make much of an improvement. Stick a quad core with the same TDP and that will be a different story (you may still run into heat issues, though).

My experience with the 2520m is that it can play 1440p youtube video well, but just not 4k.
well, hell, and here I thought I'd figured out the whole i3, i5, i7 bs. :roll:

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#9 Post by axur-delmeria » Mon Oct 31, 2016 4:25 pm

palerider wrote:well, hell, and here I thought I'd figured out the whole i3, i5, i7 bs. :roll:
For desktop processors, differentiating the three product lines is easy:

i3 - dual core with hyperthreading
i5 - quad core without hyperthreading
i7 - quad (or greater) core with hyperthreading

For mobile processors, it's less clear. What I do know

i3 - dual core with hyperthreading, but no Turbo Boost
i5 - dual core with hyperthreading, with Turbo Boost
i7 - can be dual or quad core with hyperthreading, with Turbo Boost; quad-core versions have "Q" in the model suffix (i.e. Core i7-2720QM)
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#10 Post by TonyJZX » Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:09 pm

Quad core i5s exist now. Sure none of them fit this age of machine.

I think even the fastest i7 isnt going to bring you enormous gains in a 420.

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#11 Post by excal32 » Wed Nov 02, 2016 10:13 pm

Yup I'm feeling like I'm better off replacing the machine entirely than putting any more upgrades into it.

Even with a fresh install of Ubuntu on my SSD I am still experiencing slowdowns with the same websites open so I guess my computer just can't handle it, despite the specs.

I am certain the extenal 1440p display is a VERY big load on the CPU/GPU.
1x R500 (P8600), R61e [T9300], X61 (T7300) - RIP T420 (replaced by HP Z420 workstation)

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#12 Post by jaspen-meyer » Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:30 pm

excal32 wrote:I am occasionally gaming on it and otherwise running around 20 programs.
You can bring any notebook to its knees by overburdening it.

Either your work load is too much for the machine, or you're wasting cpu cycles.

Look for ways to waste fewer cpu/gpu cycles. 'atop', 'top', 'iotop', 'ps', and 'sysstat' with help you find your bottleneck and give ideas where to shave.
T420 i7 3612QM seabios; T420 i7 3630QM; T400 Q9100 seabios; T61 P9600; T60 libreboot; x62; x60s libreboot, led; x24 xiphmont led

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#13 Post by RealBlackStuff » Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:02 pm

I know this probably sounds like sacrilege, but why not get a desktop, instead of a laptop in a dock?
That's what I use most of the time... :jhem:
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#14 Post by jaspen-meyer » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:24 pm

A xeon workstation, check the cpu benchmark compared to your t420, can be had for about 150 USD (http://www.ebay.com/itm/-/302132909231). Add some Noctura fans and a graphics card ... and a Seasonic power supply, then ask yourself if you're really going to run 20 programs concurrently - if you could run 50!
T420 i7 3612QM seabios; T420 i7 3630QM; T400 Q9100 seabios; T61 P9600; T60 libreboot; x62; x60s libreboot, led; x24 xiphmont led

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#15 Post by kfzhu1229 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:35 pm

brchan wrote:
palerider wrote:
i7 gives you hyperthreads. when you're running a bunch of things, that matters.
The 2520m also has hyperthreading, but an i7 T420 is probably not going to make much of an improvement. Stick a quad core with the same TDP and that will be a different story (you may still run into heat issues, though).

My experience with the 2520m is that it can play 1440p youtube video well, but just not 4k.
Nope. I have 2520m ended up in my T530 for some reason and with NVS5400M it plays 4k just fine just with the stock player with Windows 10
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#16 Post by Python.p » Sat Dec 10, 2016 7:16 am

brchan wrote:
palerider wrote:
i7 gives you hyperthreads. when you're running a bunch of things, that matters.
The 2520m also has hyperthreading, but an i7 T420 is probably not going to make much of an improvement. Stick a quad core with the same TDP and that will be a different story (you may still run into heat issues, though).

My experience with the 2520m is that it can play 1440p youtube video well, but just not 4k.

i7qm in T420 is not big issue at all. For me :) more 10W of TDP.

I leave some information there http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=45&t=121144

Now i see I forget to made more tests.
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#17 Post by mj0 » Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:25 pm

Since the OP modified his/her initial post instead of replying to the thread I'll have to quote from the top:
excal32 wrote:OP's comment: Various experiments with different CPUs of this era have shown minimal or no improvement. IT is my opinion that it is better to build a budget machine with modern parts, than to try and squeeze more life of these old i3 and i5's. Case in point: I upgraded to a AS Rock Beebox with the fanless N3000 and found it to surpass my i5 2520m t420 in every way imaginable.
If you're trying to tell us that an Atom-based 2015 Braswell Intel Celeron N3000 is faster than a 2011 Sandy-Bridge Core i5-2520M then something is seriously wrong with your i5. The N3000 offers roughly 1/3 of the i5-2520M's single core and 1/4 of its multi core performance, see http://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare.php ... %5B%5D=809 for details.

In other words: an Intel Celeron N300 cannot under any circumstances be faster than an Intel Core i5-2520M. Unless the 2520M system has a dying 4200rpm harddrive and 512MB of RAM whereas the N3000 has access to an NVMe SSD and 16GB or RAM.
It's got that typical Thinkpad ruggedness. Drop it, and your floor may be in serious danger.

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#18 Post by kfzhu1229 » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:27 pm

A Celeron N3000 can be easily outperformed by some later Core 2 Duos
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
600 PII-266 416mb 40gb WXP
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#19 Post by TonyJZX » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:33 am

it gets worse than that

going by cpuboss and various comparison websites, there's no Core 2 Duo in existence that is slower than the N3000, even the very first introductory C2D, the T5200 at 1.6 released a DECADE ago is faster

just so you know what it is:

http://ark.intel.com/products/87259/Int ... o-2_08-GHz

the N3000 is a dual core 3w with a 1.04Ghz base clock (!!!) and double that on turbo

of course a i5 2520 would blow it out of the water in every test

i cannot imagine how anyone in any objective observation can conclude that an n3000 is faster

i can only assume that there is such strong positive reinforcement of outcomes that one can delude themselves to think that the n3000 would win

I have two machines with the 2520/40 being the 420/420s and they are faster than I would ever need in Win7 as in FHD youtube and other tasks I predict we will need in 5yrs from now...

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#20 Post by kfzhu1229 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:25 pm

Oops I thought it was N3060. As for N3000, I think my Pentium M 780 gets identical benchmarks and I'd definitely go for T43p and Pentium M 780 if you only have this level of budget
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
600 PII-266 416mb 40gb WXP
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A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#21 Post by mj0 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:26 pm

TonyJZX wrote:i cannot imagine how anyone in any objective observation can conclude that an n3000 is faster

i can only assume that there is such strong positive reinforcement of outcomes that one can delude themselves to think that the n3000 would win
That would actually be quite simple. Of course one has to a) have a very limited (aka close to no) knowledge of how PC components interact with each other, and b) compare apples and oranges.

First of all any N3000 based system is going to have a modern GPU capable of hardware video decoding and significantly better 3D acceleration compared to the i5-2520M's Intel HD3000, the last Intel GPU before they started taking 2D and 3D acceleration seriously. An ASRock Beebox - which btw supports 4k video playback - will thus easily outperform an i5-2520M based system in these very specific cases.

Second, chances are that an N3000 based system will be sporting a brand new SSD whereas an older i5-2520M based system might still be running off its original 2.5" 4200rpm harddrive. The ASRock Beebox features a 128GB mSATA SSD which most likely will be quite fast. You can do the math yourself here how an N3000 based system with even a slow eMMC-based SSD will subjectively seem significantly faster than an i5-2520M based system.

Third, the same can be said for RAM. Comparing an N3000 based system with 4GB of RAM with an i5-2520M based system with 2GB of RAM (which wasn't uncommon back in 2011) won't make the latter look too good. Especially in combination with abovemetioned SSD dilemma.

Of course if one looks at it objectively and takes both apples and oranges out of the equation the N3000 doesn't stand a chance against any Core i3/i5/i7 CPU regardless of architecture and clock speed. Have both equipped with identical SSDs and 8GB of RAM and even the slowest and oldest Core i3 will be running circles around the N3000. Except for video decoding, which is where the N3000 shines.
It's got that typical Thinkpad ruggedness. Drop it, and your floor may be in serious danger.

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#22 Post by TPFanatic » Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:32 pm

The ASRock Beebox uses PC3-12800L, 1600 mhz which the Sandy Bridge Thinkpads are capable of running at depending on the bios.
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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#23 Post by mj0 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:44 pm

So? What's your point?
It's got that typical Thinkpad ruggedness. Drop it, and your floor may be in serious danger.

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Re: T420 worth cpu upgrade from i5 2520m?

#24 Post by kfzhu1229 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 6:41 pm

I have 2520m in my T530 (yes it is true) and it works just fine with 4k videos with NVidia 5400M
As for RAM, since my machines were all base specs except for discrete GPU (I have X300 for my T43 and NVidia 5400M for my T530 but with 512mb RAM and Pentium M 750 which later upgraded to 780 for T43 and 2nd gen i3 for my T530 later upgraded to i5-2520M from a dead Lenovo c*ap), I have to upgrade them RAM for proper use. When I do upgrade, I find it useless to upgrade to something mediocre since I will keep the machines and maybe use them as well as long as they can last, so I will upgrade it to its maximum. I have 16GB RAM in my T530 so RAM is not a problem anymore and never more.
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
600 PII-266 416mb 40gb WXP
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
Precision M4300 X9000 8gb 160gb WUXGA Ultrasharp fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10 (Sharp)
Lat C840 P4-2.5 2gb 60gb W7 (Ultrasharp)

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