by Brian Beeler

New Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Announced, mSATA SSDs For Everyone!

Lenovo has announced the latest new batch of ThinkPad notebooks; the T420s, T420, T520, L420, L520 and W520. Lenovo is touting several new and enhanced features like better video and voice calling, smart PC features for power and performance management, all-day battery life, enterprise management and an intuitive, easy-to-use computing experience. But we're most excited about some of the storage options, like the 80GB Intel SSD 310 being a boot drive option on all of the units and the RAID options available on the W520. 

For those who need a quick intro to the Intel SSD 310, it is a new small form-factor SSD following the mSATA standard. It connects through the industry standard mini-PCIe slot found in most notebooks for WWAN upgrades (although interfaces with a different signal) and offers very similar speeds to the Intel X25-M G2 SSD. Unlike the Robson Turbo Memory offered as an option in past generations which were very limited in capacity, the Intel 310 offers 80GB of storage which is plenty for most users and double the size of most boot-only SSDs. The main draw we see to this new technology is the ability for users to install the OS and all needed applications on the small mSATA SSD while still leaving space for a 2.5-inch high capacity HDD for media storage.

New ThinkPad T420 and T520

Lenovo ThinkPad T420
Lenovo ThinkPad T420

The classic T420 and T520 get 2nd generation Intel Core processors with Turbo Boost 2.0 and either Intel HD integrated graphics or NVIDIA discrete graphics (NVS 4200M with 1GB VRAM). On the top-end Lenovo offers the dual-core Intel Core i7-2620M processor for the ThinkPad T420 and the quad-core Intel Core i7-2820QM for the larger ThinkPad T520. Lenovo is also touting 15% better 3G performance, thanks to a better antenna design. The newest models also mark the change in aspect ratio on all of the panels offered, with a shift from 16:10 screens to 16:9 on the 14-inch T420. The T420 now comes with a 14" display available in either 1366x768 or 1600x900 pixels, compared to 1280x800 or 1440x900 with the T410. The T520 offers three display options, 1366x768, 1600x900 or 1920x1080, with no change as the T510 already made the aspect ratio shift. A big chance in power is also on the horizon with an optional slice-battery, boosting runtime of the ThinkPad T420 to an eye-popping 24 hours.

Lenovo ThinkPad T520

In terms of storage, both units are configurable with an HDD or SSD as the primary drive and they support the Ultrabay for use with an optional data drive. The Intel SSD 310 is also available as an optional boot drive, but Lenovo hasn't yet priced this option. The mSATA-interfaced 310 will replace the WWAN card on models it is preconfigured with, since it will share the same slot. With the surge in MiFi units and cellphones that support 3G/4G portable access points, internal WWAN is seen as a lower priority these days.

New ThinkPad W520

Lenovo ThinkPad W520

If you need a slight boost in power than the standard ThinkPad T520 can't provide, Lenovo has the ThinkPad W520 aimed directly at you. This 15.6-inch workstation is capable of being configured with four times the amount of RAM, offers RAID0 and RAID1 with an optional secondary drive bay, a faster processor, and a more capable NVIDIA Quadro graphics card. On the top-end the W520 can be configured with the quad-core Intel Core i7-2920XM processor, 32GB of DDR3, an NVIDIA Quadro 2000M GPU with 2GB of VRAM, and a gorgeous high color gamut 15.6-inch Full-HD LCD.

New ThinkPad L420 and L520

Lenovo ThinkPad L520

The ThinkPad L420 and L520 are lower-priced mainstream options designed for the corporate space. Both machines feature the Intel Core i7-2620M (2.70 GHz) processor and Intel HD or discrete graphics (ATI Mobility Radeon HD 565v 1GB VRAM). Both get the 16:9 widescreen displays, the L420 gets a single 14" 1366x768 display and the L520 has a 15.6" with either 1366x768 or 1600x900 pixels. 

Pricing and Availability

The entire batch of new ThinkPads will be available in late March. Pricing for the T420s, T420, T520, L420, L520 and W520 starts at approximately $1,329, $779, $909, $719, $719 and $1329, respectively.

Update - Lenovo ThinkPad W520 Review Posted

Lenovo ThinkPad T520 Review Posted

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