IBM Thinkpad T43p Notebook Review
As soon as I opened and held the Thinkpad T43p by IBM I was extremely impressed by the quality of the construction. IBM has a reputation for designing solid, professional notebooks, and this model is definitely no exception. I’ve become accustomed to the flimsy display panels on other notebooks that simply feel like the panels will eventually wear out. The Thinkpad T43p did not leave me with this impression.
The second thing I noticed was the light weight of this notebook. Even with its extended battery and a 15" display, it only weighs approximately 5.8lb. Given the weight and thin size you would expect there to be a performance hit, but this not the case.
The model I received for this review is the 2668-H2U which includes the following main features:
2.13ghz Pentium-M 770 (Sonoma) Processor
1GB of DDR Ram
60GB 7200rpm Hard Drive
DVD-RW/CD-RW Optical Drive
9 Cell Li-Ion battery (up to 5.9hrs)
128MB ATI Fire GL 2 Workstation Graphics Card
15" UXGA 1600x1200 LCD Display
Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG 802.11b/g Network Connection
With one of the latest and fastest Intel Centrino Mobile Processors and chipsets, this notebook’s performance exceeds expectations. The main features of the processor are 2MB L2 cache and 533 MHz front side bus. This 2MB L2 cache gives a large boost when working with productivity and business applications. When you add this processing power on top of 1GB of ram and a 7200rpm hard drive, you have a very poweful state-of-the art machine.
This model is equipped with a 15" UXGA LCD which has a native resolution of 1600x1200. As you would expect with an Ultra XGA display, the quality of this LCD is excellent. The brightness and text clarity is clear and concise. Some people may find the text on the LCD to be quite small at its native resolution of 1600x1200. However, there are display preferences that can increase the font size in most applications. Personally, I prefer a smaller font size and enjoy the large desktop real estate with improved image quality. At 1600x1200 resolution, there is enough room to have 4 standard browser windows open at the same time. However, having such a nice LCD display does come at a premium which increases the cost of a notebook considerably. If cost or text size is an issue, you may want to consider a configuration that includes a 14" or 15" SVGA (1400x1050) or XGA (1024x768) LCD.
The graphics card included with this model is the ATI Mobility FireGL V3200 with 128MB of ram. This workstation card is especially designed for 3D graphics and animation work. While it is not the fastest mobile gaming graphics card on the market, it still performs very well with all of today's games and all 3D graphics application. And with 128MB of on board ram, running out of texture memory will not be a problem. Normally you would only see this type of graphics performance on much larger and heavier desktop replacement notebooks.
The speakers and sound quality of this notebook is average. I would liked to have seen a higher quality speaker system which included a base speaker. For the best sound quality, I recommend using high quality headphones or external speakers.
As mentioned this model is equipped with a 60GB 7200rpm hard drive. You can’t help but to notice the 7200rpm speed, especially on boot up and when going into or out of hibernation. Because the hard drive is spinning at such a fast rate of speed there is a slight vibration. From my research this is usually not a problem for most users and is very common on all brands of notebooks that use the newer, faster drives.
The battery that came with this model is a large 9 cell Li-Ion battery that lasts approximately 5.9hrs on full charge. When attached, this battery extends past the outer casing of the notebook. If you prefer the battery to be flush with the notebook, you may want to consider using the short life span 6 cell battery which lasts approximately 3.9hrs but fits uniform with the case. An optional high-capacity Ultrabay™ Slim battery which would replace the optical drive is also available.
For networking, this model is equipped with both a Gigabit Ethernet Lan connection and an 802.11b/g wireless adapter. I found the wireless performance to be above average even at considerable distances. Setting up and configuring the wireless connections is simple and user friendly thanks to the IBM Access Connections application. Bluetooth and IrDA connectivity is also included.
One of the unique features of the IBM Thinkpad T43 series is the Embedded Security Subsystem and fingerprint reader. The fingerprint feature provides windows user identification as well as eliminating the need to remember multiple passwords. The computer can also be setup to require fingerprint identification during boot up. Setting up the fingerprint reader is easy with the included wizard software that begins when you first start using the T43.
Input, Output and Expansion Ports
IBM uses one the best, if not the best, notebook keyboards in the Thinkpad notebook series. The keys are firm to the touch and have adequate distance between each key, which eliminates the restricted feeling you get with most notebooks.. The keyboard also does not flex when you press one of the keys like most competitor keyboards. If you are accustomed to the feel of an external keyboard, then you will enjoy the keyboard on this Thinkpad.
On the top of the keyboard you will find a blue "Access IBM" button. This button is used to launch setup and configuration software. The software is use to diagnose any problems, setup and update drivers and software and for crash recovery. One of the best features of IBM Thinkpads, is the ability to create and restore recovery CDs in case of data destruction including from a hard drive crash.
IBM provides both a TouchPad and a Pointing Stick for controlling the movement of the mouse pointer. Although I prefer a TouchPad, many people favor the Pointing Stick. IBM has made a wise choice in providing both methods. You may actually find yourself using both.
The mouse buttons are raised for easier access. The middle scroll button, when pressed in conjunction with the pointing stick, makes scrolling long documents effortless.
On the left side of the T43p you will find all the main input and output ports. There are Two USB 2.0 ports which are used to attach a number of external devices such as an external hard drive. Next to the USB ports is an S-Video output port for connecting to a television or other video device. Located after the S-Video port are the modem and Gigabit Ethernet jacks. The headphone and microphone ports are between the ethernet port and fan vent. Towards the front of the case is a PCMCIA card and ExpressCard slot for future expansion.
On the right side, you will find an UltraBay and VGA D-Port for connecting to an external analog monitor. The UltraBay currently holds the DVD-RW/CD-RW drive but can be swapped out for an extra battery, hard drive or other future expansion. Also on the right is the hard drive which can easily be removed by removing one screw and sliding the casing out. This is an enormous benefit as it makes it simple to upgrade the hard drive at a future date.
On the front of the notebook you will only find an IrDA port which is used for infrared communication with other notebooks and devices.
On the back of the notebook you will find the battery connector. As mentioned before, you have the option to use the standard 6 cell battery which will snap in and fit uniform with the notebooks case, instead of the extended life 9 cell battery that will stick out about 1 inch. Next to the battery is a legacy parallel port for connecting to older printers and other devices. It’s rare to see a parallel port on notebooks today. I would of preferred to have seen this spaced used for extra USB 2.0 ports and a firewire port.
For benchmarking I used PCMark 2004 and SiSoft Sandra for CPU and application performance tests. I used 3DMark 2001, 3DMark 2003 and 3DMark 2005 for 3D graphics and gaming tests. All tests were run on AC Power at the max performance setting. Below are the results for these tests:
SiSoft Sandra 2005.R1:
For the gamers out there, this notebook provided impressive results with over 196fps in Quake III with high graphic settings.
CPU Arithmetic Benchmark: 9125 MIPS, 2921/3781 MFLOPS (FPU/iSSE2)
CPU Multi-Media Benchmark: 20021 it/s (INT), 22155 it/s (FP)
Memory Bandwidth Benchmark: 2977 Mb/s (INT), 2973 (FLOAT)
3DMark 2001SE: 11852
3DMark 2003: 3174
3DMark 2005: 1251
As you can see by these benchmark scores, this is a powerful notebook. It will perform quite well for all of today's business and entertainment needs.
Very Thin and Light Weight
Solid and durable construction
Beautiful 15" UXGA LCD Display
Unique Fingerprint Reader
A bit pricey at over $3500
Average at best sound system
No firewire port
The two attributes that impressed me most about the Thinkpad T43p Notebook was the light weight and the quality and durable constructruction. You most likely will not find any other notebook that meets this same criteria.
The only issues I had with this notebook was the lack of firewire port which is needed for many digital video camcorders and the lack of a decent sound system. However both of these can be easily resolved with a nice set of head phones or external speakers for better sound and a USB or PCMCIA to firewire adapter for connecting digital video devices.
If you’re in the market for a new notebook PC, I highly recommend the IBM Thinkpad T43p Notebook. In my opinion, this is one of the best designed notebooks on the market today. With its excellent performance combined with the service and support from IBM, you can not go wrong with this notebook. This notebook is perfectly suited for those that work at home or have a mobile office. The Thinkpad T43p has the power to handle all your business needs in the office as well as provide entertainment value for the family. Its is light and mobile enough to use in the office and then carry in the family room to relax and surf the internet or entertain the kids with a DVD or computer game.
Product: IBM ThinkPad T43p (2668-H2U)
Average Price: Configurations from $1900-$3500
Where To Buy: Amazon.com, SHOP.COM
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