Finally a new laptop – Thinkpad T520

As I have previously mentioned, I finally pulled the trigger on a new laptop, the Lenovo Thinkpad T520. I wanted a solid and reliable laptop and the Lenovo T-series has offerred that for many years.

It was tricky to time the purchase as Lenovo is constantly changing the configurations they offer as well as the coupons available.  My interest in Lenovo started in March when the T510 was available. I almost went with the T510 when a really great configuration was obtainable for the mid $700’s. For a while I kicked myself for not jumping on that deal as I watched and watched the pricing but then justified my indecision as I decided to wait for the T520 with Sandy Bridge.

I found the Lenovo forums at to be very helpful in figuring out the discounts and the finally configuration.  I pretty much bought the most basic configuration that met my needs and opted to do my own upgrades since purchasing them from Lenovo are more expensive  than buying them aftermarket. From Lenovo, I configured the following upgrades for the standard T520i:

  • Intel Core i5-2410M Processor (2.30GHz, 3MB L3)
  • 15.6″ HD+ (1600 x 900) LED Backlit Anti-Glare Display
  • 720p Camera
  • 9 cell Li-Ion Battery
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 wireless

From Amazon, I also ordered a Corsair 4 GB DDR3 Laptop Memory Kit to add to the standard 2GB of RAM. I ordered a Intel Solid-State Drives 310 series – Solid state drive – 80 GB to install via the mSATA slot which allowed me to keep a spinning HDD which I upgraded from the standard 250 GB 5200 RPM drive to the Western Digital 320 GB Scorpio Black SATA 7200 RPM.

The upgrades were painless and only involved removing a few screws to gain access. Memory and HDD install from the bottom. mSATA SSD installed unde rthe keyboard. It was kind of weird to crack open a brand new laptop but everything I read about Thinkpads indicated that they were among the most serviceable out there.  My overall procedure was as follows:

  1. Setup Windows 7 on the machine as shipped
  2. Created recovery disks (for the rebuild on the new drive)
  3. Installed additional 4 GB memory
  4. Booted to verify that memory was recognized for a total of 6 GB
  5. Removed keyboard and installed SSD
  6. Removed 250 GB HDD
  7. Booted with Recovery boot disk and installed OS from recovery disks to SSD (only installed drive at the time)
  8. Setup Windows 7
  9. Reinstalled 250 GB HDD
  10. Booted to Windows 7 and verified boot drive was still SSD
  11. Turned off scheduled defragmentation

I didn’t decide on the HDD upgrade until a few days later.

  1. Replaced  250 GB drive with WD Scorpio Black 320GB 7200 RPM HDD
  2. Partitioned new drive as D: and used Quick format on it
  3. Installed Truecrypt
  4. Encrypted D: with volume encryption. AES, RIPEMD-160 to favor performance vs security
  5. Set to auto-mount encrypted volume as E:

Now that I have it all together, I am very happy with the result. I have my OS and applications on the 80GB SSD and my data on the 320 GB HDD. Boot up and general operation are really fast.

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