Lenovo ThinkPad X120e Review: AMD Fusion Infused

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From a user experience standpoint, it's hard to find a whole lot of things to dislike. We liked AMD's Neo platform from a performance standpoint, but felt they ran a little hot and didn't have very good battery life, relatively speaking. With Fusion, AMD has taken another stab at it, and we feel that this time, they really have something worth gloating about. Despite being a sub-$600 ultraportable, the ThinkPad X120e felt like something far more powerful. Boot up was snappy, and the desktop was usable within seconds. 


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Despite Internet Explorer being loaded with the "Bing Bar," it managed to load that far, far more quickly than Dell's Inspiron Duo did. We would obviously recommend ditching IE right away and using Chrome or Firefox, but it was a simple thing that proved that the Zacate has significantly more power than even a newer Atom. Of course, having 4GB of RAM (versus 2GB in the Duo) makes a difference as well. We wouldn't care to see the X120e without at least 4GB of RAM, so if you opt for the lower-end version, make sure to budget for 4GB. If there's anything that's worth it, it's RAM.

    
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While the desktop feel was cramped somewhat, it's no worse than any other 11.6" machine, and the 1366x768 screen resolution is actually fairly high for this form factor. The matte display is one that we really like. Glossy displays aren't very useful on ultraportables, which tend to be taken outside and in sunlight quite a bit. This panel does an outstanding job of negating glare, and the colors and viewing angles are both impressive.



Multi-tasking on this machine is also very good. You really forget that you're working on what would normally be considered a low-end machine. It's just marginally more expensive than some of the nicer netbooks out there, yet it feels much faster. Just opening applications, browsing the web, firing up video clips and transferring files just felt smoother on this machine than what we've felt on the vast majority of Atom-based notebooks.


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But, there's a catch. AMD has certainly worked on the heat output and the battery drain, as we never felt our test unit become uncomfortably warm. And as you'll see in the battery testing, it managed to eek out a surprising amount of life. But the trade-off is noise: our exhaust fan on the left edge rarely ever stopped, and in most cases, it was cranking full-bore. It's not terribly loud, but it's noticeable in a library or quiet office. But you have to ask yourself: would you rather the fan work overtime, or your lap to be uncomfortably warm? We'd rather than fan do its job, even if it's working harder than on most ultraportables and netbooks, as long as it's not too intrusive.


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