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Is the IBM x40 too low on resources?

by notebookguy / November 25, 2004 5:11 PM PST

I am currently on an Inspiron 8200. It's a great laptop I bought a few years ago, but it's heavy (I need to often travel with it) and it's time for a change.

So for the last 12-16 months I have been doing *lots* of research. I have settled on the IBM X40 Thinkpad. I like the T42, but the T42 is a little too heavy.

I really liked the x40 when I went to the store. It is small, light, and seems very strong and able to take some abuse. I plan to get a small external cdrom drive to take along too, as the x40 has none built-in.

However, I am very hesitant to actually purchase it because it has a pentium 4 1.0-1.1 processor and only can have like 40gig harddrive. What gives?

So, my question to this board is:

1) Is this still a decent buy? I need to use MS Office, Photoshop, and some low-processing software. Will the batter last a long time?

2) Is there any word that the x40 will have another version soon? And will this have more stuff inside? LIke will there be an x45?

3) I visit cnet.com about 95% of the time to check on my notebook research. I really do not know of anywhere else to go. Consumer Reports doesn't have current info and other places seem to have a focus on selling notebooks, so ic can't trust the data. But there must be someplace else where I can find out info on upcoming x-series thinkpads. Does anybody know other places? (i hope the cnet form moderator doesn't nix this post because I am asking for competitor's sites...)

By the way, I am in Taiwan, so I do not have access to many resources in English offline--I rely solely on my English-language websites online. ;->

Many thanks!

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Re: Is the IBM x40 too low on resources?
by KenSanramon / November 29, 2004 11:13 AM PST

If you are buying an ultralight notebook (under 5 pounds especially) the cpu and other specs are designed for weight and heat savings.

If you want a full fledged notebook and you want to have it light enough you should stay in the 5 pound range like on the IBM T42. That notebook has dedicated video RAM for instance and nearly nothing under 5.5 pounds will have dedicated video RAM (it will be shared integrated video).

You want to get a Pentium M 725 1.6 Dothan or higher to get the full 2mb L2 system cache (the 1.0 only has 1mb L2 system cache and runs at a much slower mhz) performance.

If you in fact want an ultralight to go on airplanes or websurf in starbucks than the ultralights are fine (and if you have a powerful desktop at home) but if you want a notebook to be your primarary notebook stick with a notebook in the 5.5-6.7 pound range with a Pentium cpu like the IBM T42, the HPZT3000 or Compaq X1000 (see X1000forums.com), the Toshiba M30/M35 series (only some have a video card) or the Acer 2000 series.

If you are in Taiwan the Acer 2000 is highly desirable with its available ATI 9700 video card with 128mb video RAM and it is built by the same Chinese contractor (Compal) as the HPZT3000 / Compaq X1000 (6.6 pounds -- 15.4" widescreen) but it is scarce in the US now --rumor of copyright issue.

Acer is a Taiwan company so check this out -- this may be your notebook if you are in Taiwan.

Note that Cnet has a rating of over 8 for this Acer. Acer does not sell custom order notebooks so you have to get a particular prebuilt model like the Acer 2025 as part of the Acer 2000 series.

There are very few mainstream notebooks with the ATI 9700 video card with 128mb dedicated video RAM with an acceptable weight (the HPZT3000 / Compaq X1000 is the same internally but only has the ATI 9200 with 64mb dedicated video maximum).

The Dell 8600 for example has this but it weighs 6.9 pounds and the keyboard and case construction are not up to the Acer 2000 series .........

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Re: Is the IBM x40 too low on resources?
by notebookguy / November 29, 2004 2:24 PM PST

Wow! Many thanks for your detailed description.

Acer is great, and made here in Taiwan, but they have very, can I say, "anal" support here. I prefer Dell or IBM, and since I have had this Dell for so long, I am ready for a sturier IBM. What I have seen at the stores is great.

However, you say:
"That notebook has dedicated video RAM for instance and nearly nothing under 5.5 pounds will have dedicated video RAM (it will be shared integrated video)."

Sorry, but what exactly is the difference between dedicated and shared video and how does this affect battery life, heat, and video clarity?

Many thanks!

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Re: Is the IBM x40 too low on resources?
by KenSanramon / November 30, 2004 6:16 AM PST

Search for posts on dedicated video RAM on this board.

Dedicated video RAM means you have a video card on top of the motherboard which controls the video functions separately from the motherboard and has its own memory.
Most video cards (desktops or notebooks)are made by ATI or Nvidia.

Shared/integrated video memory is simply a chip on the motherboard that controls the video functions. The system RAM has to be used to power the video and this not takes away from your RAM (usually 64mb shared leaving you with 512mb - 64 shared video = 448mb RAM available.

The big issue if having the video memory shared (integrated) causes the processor to halt or slow down at times. This will not occur with dedicated video memory.

Many cheaper desktops also have integrated/shared video memory but you can add an video card to an open expansion slot at anytime later (and also upgrade the video card more than once as time goes on). You can NOT NOT NOT do this on a mainstream notebook.

You won't be able to play many games at all without at least 64mb of dedicated video RAM (which is offered on many notebooks at 5.5 pounds or over but not all). 128mb dedicated video is ideal on some like the Acer 2000 series or Dell 8600 but most are fine with 64mb dedicated video.

Lighter notebooks don't have the space for the extra heat from the video card so if you want a notebook under 5 pounds it won't have dedicated video and that is the choice you make. You will be fine playing DVD's, internet surfing, Microsoft office, etc with shared video but any higher end video programs, smoother video streaming from the internet, or games make dedicated video mandatory.

Again, if you have a desktop to do these more demanding functions get a notebook without this. But if your notebook will be your primary computer you want dedicated video memory.

Your fate is sealed on a notebook for video memory once your order it so choose carefully. The IBM T42 has at least 64mb dedicated video (may be an option) I think so that is fine .........

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Re: Is the IBM x40 too low on resources?
by notebookguy / November 30, 2004 8:04 AM PST

Many many thanks for that post. I am now moving towards a T42, ,which now seems like the best choice.

Many thanks!

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Re: Is the IBM x40 too low on resources?
by KenSanramon / November 30, 2004 9:32 AM PST

In the US, Citibank has a 15% off offer on IBM notebooks -- search for the post I made earlier this month -- you may in fact have a Citibank credit card even in Taiwan but of course this offer is likely US only but I will mention it anyway (I posted link to offer online earlier in November and offer expires 12/31/04).

You do get somewhat less performance with IBM's in some cases but you get a solid case, the best keyboards, the best non-Apple notebook service (at least according to 2 US surveys) and they have features like parking hard drive heads if there is a drop, etc.

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