I have recently got a nice T430s already modded with FHD IPS screen, and would like to share my observations, ask some questions and ask for opinions Since this device will most likely try take "ultraportable garage tool" from my super-trusty X230, I'd like to point arguments that ate important to me (and most likely that some ppl lookig for an ultraportable unit may find useful).
X230 (2,5" SSD + 6-cell battery) - 1480g
T430s (mSATA SSD + ultrabay battery + standard battery) - 1602g
I personally see not much difference. However, if one need to carry the system a lot, dropping X230 to mSATA + 3-cell should theoretically drop the device' weight down to ~1150g. This will result in poor battery life, however.
It is pretty clear that T430s is bigger due to 14,1" LCD, but the joke is that it is also... reasonably thinner. To one ~5mm may not seem much, but it is a lot in my carrying case. T430s is slimmer, thinner than X230.
X230 display may be poor (stock HD TN), nice (stock HD IPS), good (stock HD IPS revised STL3 screen) or very good (modded FHD IPS).
T430s screen may be a sheer junk (stock HD TN), a rubbish (stock 900p TN) or very good (modded IPS FHD).
Mine systems come both with the best stock option (X230) and a modded screen (T430s). X230 panel is very nice, but gets some brighter spots over time - and I have never seen any used panel that was totally free of this infestation. HD resolution is very limiting, but on the other hand FHD is too much to my eyes for a 12,5" system. Also a modded screen has issues with M$ systems. T430s, on the other hand has some minor backlight bleeding issue, but the panel is great otherwise. I will try to add some comparison pics later on.
I also find hinges better in X230. Never seen any wobble in any unit I had (~20). The first T430s I got already has a 1cm play. Hinges in T430s look small and fragile compared to X230.
4. Battery life
X230 battery life is what I would call very decent after some tweaks. I could easily get 5+ hrs from a new 6-cell (63Wh) batt doing some light work, 4hrs on the web, and over 2 hours gaming. Very happy with that. I have a Windows 7 on this system, so I could expect some better battery life if upgraded to more mobile-oriented system like W10.
T430s is able to get a little bit more power reservoir (44Wh from main + 32Wh from bay battery), but with FHD larger screen still does the job very well. I did not test the device under heavy load yet, but on the web and light work I get almost 20% better battery life out of it. Note: this is an intel-only unit.
For some reason I feel that I could defend myself from an angry mob with X230, causing some heavy damage or fatalities. A good option in your garage if you're missing your mallet or lever. T430s is just solid. And it's sleek shape makes my wife mistake it for cutting board. Pretty close to X301. Display lid is closed with a notch in T430s - a feature that is missing in X230.
I was expecting T430s to run hotter than X230. Well I was wrong. T430s keeps a stable 52-55C when idling / light working in 23C ambient. Pretty much the same as X230. The difference come when pushed up to the limit. T430s (i5-3320m) tops at 80C and stays in there, while X230 topped at 96C (i7-3520m) and 87C (i5-3320m). It also was reasonably warmer on the bottom, making some discomfort keeping on lap. T430s caused no issues. I expect this may not be true with nVidia GPU though. Do you lads have any experience with nVidia units and heat they dissipate?
7. Sheer power
Considering power, both units are working on retty much the same platform, BUT.
X230 is available with i7-3520m, which is ~10% faster than i5-3320m available on both platforms. On the other hand, T430s can be acquired with nvidia NVS5200m dedicated GPU. While it's nice to have some extra processing power, 10% is not much. The question is, how much better nvs5200m is when compared to intel HD4000?
My personal X230 is hanging on the wall. Yup, hanging. To save my desk place I have put it on the wall, it hangs in there happily doing it's best as an audio system, car computer, on-demand-travel system. I did not try to hang T430s vertically. I need to try if it stays stably in place with no risk of dropping out of the dock. X230 is well-secured. T430s? No idea really.
9. eGPU compatibility
Tested on GDC Beast + GTX970. X230 proved perfect compatibility with up to 12Gb of RAM, both i5 and i7. I have not tested T430s yet, but definitely will.
Generally if it turns out that T430s is able to hang on my wall, I'll stick with it. The only issue I've got with it is out-of-nothing hibernation when on AC, but other than that - a very good system overall, only nerfed by Lenovo with the crappy LCD.
(stable under reduction)
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