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Question

Lenovo Thinkpad T430s? HP Envy Spectre? Or another?

by bestbetter / June 1, 2012 11:07 AM PDT

I've been thinking about my college laptop, but I can't decide which one I want to get. The college I'm going to offers the Thinkpad T430s with Intel i5, 8GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, Intel graphics, and a three year protection/warranty for $1550. I was also considering the HP Envy Spectre ($1400), which looks physically appealing and offers SSD, but (1) I'm worried about getting fingerprints all over the gorilla glass (2) integrated graphics and (3) no optical drive.

Mainly I'm looking for a solid PC (no Macs, please) that'll be dependable, is built solidly (no flimsy hinges), is relatively compact/small, and will perform well without overheating/making tons of noise. Visually appealing laptops are always a plus, but I'm fine with a no-nonsense laptop, as long as it can perform well. Suggestions?

(Also, $1500 is probably around the higher limit of my budget)

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All Answers

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Answer
Thinkpad
by ALee-7 / June 14, 2012 7:41 PM PDT

The Thinkpads especially the T-series are business laptops that are dependable, solidily built to last laptops. I have the T400s which is the first of the 4xx"s" series (T400s, T410s, T420s, and now T430s). The "s" being a slimmer version to the T400, T410, etc. At that time the T400s was available, ultrabooks did not exist and the T400s was one of the lightest and thinnest 14" laptops around. It also was one of the coolest running (temperature wise) laptops. I was especially concern about that because my previous laptop an HP 12" unit ran very warm and barely lasted 2 years. Not all HP models are bad but I (and a lot of others) ended up with this model which was a lemon. After my hdd died after 22 months and I replaced it, the display died a couple of months later. I then checked Amazon reviews of my model and quite a number of people had problems with that model after their 1st year, many not even reaching 2 years. So in looking for a new laptop, heat was a concern for me. I found a website (notebookreview.com) where for some of the reviews, they actually measured how hot the laptop got on both the top surface (keyboard) and the bottom of the laptop. The T400s was pretty much the coolest running 14" unit around.

My T400s did have a display problem its first year but Lenovo service was great. They shipped a box to me overnight to send them the laptop back along with a UPS prepaid label. They had it back to me after a couple of days. I haven't had a problem with the laptop since then. Now this great service is with their Thinkpad series (not their consumer laptops which has a different toll-free number and tech support group. I can't speak with regard to support for their other product lines). Many business use Thinkpads (ever since the laptops were made by IBM) so the company 'overall' tries to provide good support when it comes to Thinkpads.

Now the HP Envy Spectre may not have a optical drive (pretty much no ultrabook that I know of does). But you can buy an external one to use when you want to install software that comes on DVDs. Unless you want to watch a lot of DVDs while around campus or need to burn data to DVDs alot, not having a CD/DVD drive within the laptop isn't critical. It was a way to make the unit smaller and lighter. You do want to buy an external optical drive in order to use it to create restore disks for your laptop. The gorilla glass display image will be brighter and more vivid than the Thinkpad's but again the T430s is popular with business versus for consumers who may use the laptop to view photos (so the pictures look brighter and more colorful than on a matte display of a Thinkpad).

Depending upon how long you plan to keep the laptop you need to be aware that pretty much all ultrabooks do not have user replaceable batteries. The T430s' battery is replaceable because its not an ultrabook. You can also upgrade the memory yourself (though at 8GB you won't need to). Having said this I can't say whether or not HP Envy Spectre's battery and memory are user accessible. Haven't seen anything about that with regard to this model.

SSD's are nice. they help speed up start up times. Lenovo has incorporated its "Rapid Reboot" technology to speed up start up times (though with an SSD even rapid reboot will start up even faster). You can get a T430s with a 128GB SSD and install a 2nd 320GB HDD into the space with the optical drive bay is. Or you could order it with a HDD and optical drive and then buy an ultrabay tray that can house a SSD and pull the optical drive and insert this 2nd drive in its place (and configure your laptop to attempt to boot off first).

Now at least for the T400s, I can tell you it runs really cool (definitely no overheating) and no noise. The T430s should do likewise those it is so new, websites that review laptops haven't had a chance to actually try it out. The T420s (generation just prior to T430s) ran fairly cool though there was one fairly warm spot on the bottom the rest of the laptop surfaces were fairly cool. Thinkpads don't have flashy style... they're just practical. That's why those looking for solid reliability including engineers and those in IT like them. (I've noticed among my friends the engineers and IT/computer guys have Thinkpads.)

hope this helps.

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T410s overheats
by you4ever / July 24, 2012 5:25 AM PDT
In reply to: Thinkpad

I have no idea about whether you actually own a T40*0s. I can tell you as an owner to T410s. Overheating is a huge headache for me. I got 3-yr on-site service with the laptop. And I have them changed its system board two times. This overheating issue just won't go away. As an over ten-year thinkpad user the only thing I could tell you at this point is don't ever buy any Lenovo product!

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All laptops can overheat.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2012 5:32 AM PDT
In reply to: T410s overheats

"Intel i5, 8GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, Intel graphics"

But I've yet to see one with the above overheat unless the vents are blocked or clogged.

It's worth noting that some will not use such on a hard surface with good air flow or expect the laptop to operate when it's quite hot in the room but as it stands your story is not limited to this model.
Bob

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T400s has no heating issue.
by ALee-7 / August 16, 2012 8:48 PM PDT
In reply to: T410s overheats

If you read my post I talk about my display issue the first year which was resolved by Lenovo so I do obviously own a T400s. In fact I'm writing this post on it.

When I had heating issues with my HP, I found a laptop review site: www.notebookreview.com which measures the surface temperature of most laptops that they do a review on. they take 6 reading on the top surface and 6 on the bottom. most laptops has at least a couple of readings in the mid 90s. On the T400s no spot reach the 90's. the highest being 89 degrees.

I went back to the site and checked. the T410s (with an i5 processor) had 4 readings in the low 90s on the bottom of the unit. that is still considered reasonable.

there are many factors that impact temperature... the processor type, the hard drive model, the applications you run. Obviously the more powerful the processor, fast drive, and especially the type of applications running can affect the heat output. In some test on more recent models of laptops I noted comments that they felt the unit got fairly warm but that was due to their intensive tests so they commented under normal use it shouldn't be a problem.

If you've been a Thinkpad user for 10 years the T410s can't be your first thinkpad. Obviously the prior one must have served you well otherwise why purchase the T410s. I obviously hesistate to purchase an HP due to the problems I had I avoided them like the plague.

If Thinkpads consistently had problems the IT staff in corporations would not continue to buy them. (I'm retired now but with over 30 years in IT from before PC's even existed all the way till a 5 years ago.) The T400s is a personal laptop.

Also there are vents on the bottom and sides so I do put it on a hard pad when I use the laptop on my lap.
oh I also notice it ram a bit warmer now with 8GB than when I only had the original 2GB... though its still fine.

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T410s with SSD does not have any heat issues
by wired-gorilla / August 21, 2012 2:03 PM PDT
In reply to: T410s overheats

I got a t410s with SSD and do not have any heating issues.
More then likely the problem u got is cause you are running an old 500GB sata drive.
Maybe upgrading to a SSD drive will solve your issue

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