Lenovo ThinkPad X120e Review: AMD Fusion Infused

Article Index

Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: In our SiSoftware Sandra tests, the ThinkPad X120e performed well. It's performance level wasn't in-line with Atom and Neo CPUs, but rather somewhat more powerful CPUs; that could be found in mainstream notebooks and desktops just a few months ago. The performance that AMD has been able to squeeze out of this platform is notable, and the E-350 Zacate APU is a real workhorse of a mobile chip. In our Futuremark and Gaming benchmarks, the X120e was also a strong performer, often doubling the performance of the X100e (Neo-based) machine that we reviewed last year. Intel's older Atom chips are much lower performers than this first Fusion APU, and we're hoping that this hits home at Intel driving them to re-tool Atom with a bit more multimedia muscle.

To say that we were anxious to test out a consumer-level Zacate device is an understatement. AMD has played up Fusion for what feels like forever, and when a company builds hype around a product, expectations are obviously high. It's good to say that AMD has really nailed it in most ways. Zacate and the Brazos platform far more powerful than Neo, it doesn't drain the battery as much, and it doesn't cause excessive heat build-up. The X120e performed great, particularly for a machine of this size and cost. It's as mobile as a netbook, but on a different scale in terms of performance. Sure, it costs a bit more that the average netbook at $579 but the X120e has more of an ultra-light notebook design and we feel the price premium is justified, given just how enjoyable the user experience is.
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The design of the ThinkPad X120e is also great, predictably. Lenovo has a history of making quality machines in their ThinkPad lineup, and despite being small, the X120e is rigid, sturdy and well-built, just like the more mainstream 15" ThinkPads. The keyboard is fantastic to type on, and the touchpad + mouse buttons are among our favorites at this size. The TrackPoint provides yet another way to control things, which is a real boon if you're into that. The design is minimalistic, but it gets the job done without drawing too much attention to itself. We also love the matte display; few companies realize that these mobile machines are meant to be used outdoors, and glossy displays are so incredibly difficult to see in direct sunlight.

At $579 (or $399 for the E-240 entry level model), the X120e drives a hard bargain. There are plenty of alternatives to consider in the 11.6" ultraportable market, but few offer the performance benefits of AMD's Zacate, the rigidity of a ThinkPad and the little extras (touchpad, TrackPoint, matte panel, etc.) that make this machine so attractive. Using it was a real pleasure, and it's really impressive to think about how capable this machine is while being portable enough to use in cramped spaces. We're excited that Fusion is shipping in consumer products, even more excited that it was worth the wait. Now it's time to see what Intel will do in response in this space. It should be interesting to say the least.

  • Outstanding build quality
  • AMD Fusion platform
  • Great performance
  • Great trackpad
  • Matte display

  • Fans Always Spinning
  • No USB 3.0
  • Battery bulge (with 6-cell)
  • High-end is a touch pricey


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