Review – Lenovo X250
I’ve been very happy with the X250 – it’s given me the same performance I got from my X230, but with better battery life, a smaller form factor and it seems more robust.
Long term review
I started writing this post in January not long after I got my X250, but I never got past the title, and another nine months have rolled by. In that time the X250 has been a faithful companion on a pretty much daily basis.
RAM and SSD
My X250 came with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, neither of which is really sufficient for my needs, so I dropped in a 16GB DIMM from Crucial and a 500GB SSD from SanDisk. The X250 can take 2.5″ SATA and/or M.2 SSDs, though I’ve not tried the latter (as I already had a spare 2.5″ drive to hand).
Subjectively the X250 is no better or worse than the three years older X230. That’s fine, because the older laptop had all of the speed I needed, but it’s interesting to note that laptops have essentially plateaued in performance, offering better battery life instead.
For a less subjective view, the X250 gets a Geekbench 3 multi-core score of 5166 (5083 on battery) versus 4065 for the X230 – so there is some extra quantitative performance there. I expect that the newer GPU would also be much better (but hardly ideal) for gaming e.g. it would provide a noticeable improvement to Skyrim, but it’s not going to cope with No Man’s Sky.
The X250 actually has two batteries, an integral battery in the main body, and a detachable battery in the usual place. Together they provide around 6hrs of real world use, which is sufficient to get through a day away from power outlets at a conference or similar.
The X250 and its 12″ screen provide the same width and depth as the older X230, but it’s a good bit shallower whilst still offering full sized VGA and network ports (so no need to carry a bag of adapters).
The resolution of the 12″ touchscreen is the same resolution as the screen I had before at 1368 x 768, and it’s nice and bright. It’s thicker than the X230 screen, but more robust as a result.
After 10 months a worn down Ultrabook label shows that it’s had plenty of use, but that’s the only sign – nothing seems to be otherwise showing any age or wear and tear. It will be another 8 months before I can do a fair comparison, but it seems to be made of stronger stuff than my old X230. It seems that Lenovo have got the old ThinkPad mojo back for making laptops that can withstand what everyday life throws at them.
Every Thinkpad that I’ve previously had sported a removable drive bay, which I’ve generally taken advantage of and hence found useful. The X250 has dispensed with this, which means taking off the base (and dealing with potentially fragile plastic clips) to get at the SSD. It’s the same story for the RAM, which doesn’t have an access door.
The M.2 SSD interface only takes SATA drives, so there’s no option for a further boost with NVMe.
The slimmed down form factor means that Lenovo have changed their 20v power supply jack from circular to rectangular, so I’ve had to buy a bunch of adaptors for the handful of power supplies I already had in my daily use and travel bags.
Should I have waited for an X260?
Perhaps – but they weren’t available in December 2015, and I wasn’t going to refuse a laptop that fitted the bill. The Skylake CPU in the later model might have given me even better battery life, but that’s the only difference that I’d expect to notice.
I’ve been very happy with the X250. It’s fast, small, lightweight, has a full selection of ports and can get through the day without worrying about when the next charging opportunity will come. It also seems to show that Lenovo have restored the build quality that traditionally went with the ThinkPad brand, and perhaps slipped a little a few years ago.
 The DIMM failed after about 8 months causing the laptop to become *very* unstable. A quick run of Memtest86 revealed the culprit, and I swapped back to the OEM DIMM whilst Crucial did their RMA process, which took longer than I might have hoped, but was otherwise painless.
 I don’t seem to have filled the SSD anything like as quickly as I did the similar size one I first put into my X230, so there’s been no need yet to upgrade.
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