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. Â 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 asÂ 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 notebookreview.com to be very helpful in figuring out the discounts and the finally configuration. Â 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 Â 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 aÂ Corsair 4 GB DDR3 Laptop Memory Kit to add to the standard 2GB of RAM. I ordered aÂ 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 theÂ 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. Â My overall procedure was as follows:
- Setup Windows 7 on the machine as shipped
- Created recovery disks (for the rebuild on the new drive)
- Installed additional 4 GB memory
- Booted to verify that memory was recognized for a total of 6 GB
- Removed keyboard and installed SSD
- Removed 250 GB HDD
- Booted with Recovery boot disk and installed OS from recovery disks to SSD (only installed drive at the time)
- Setup Windows 7
- Reinstalled 250 GB HDD
- Booted to Windows 7 and verified boot drive was still SSD
- Turned off scheduled defragmentation
I didn’t decide on the HDD upgrade until a few days later.
- Replaced Â 250 GB drive with WD Scorpio Black 320GB 7200 RPM HDD
- Partitioned new drive as D: and used Quick format on it
- Installed Truecrypt
- Encrypted D: with volume encryption. AES, RIPEMD-160 to favor performance vs security
- 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.Â Boot up and general operation are really fast.