laptop for college: Lenovo X200s vs 2.4 GHz MacBook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by kenflyken, May 24, 2009.

  1. kenflyken macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2009
    I'm currently deciding on the two for college next year. I'll probably be majoring in art history / english / philosophy and will probably continue with some graphic design on Photoshop. No games; mostly IMing and internet surfing. My biggest priority will be portability and battery life, since the college I'll be going to is really big--will be taking this laptop around for long distances all day.

    The tough choice is that both are at nearly the same price:

    For the $1,475 X200s, I'll be getting:
    Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor SL9400 (1.86GHz, 6MB L2, 1066MHz FSB)
    Genuine Windows Vista Business 64
    12.1 WXGA+ LED backlight with the Next Generation ThinkPad Roll Cage, 2x3 UltraConnect ll antenna
    4 GB PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM 1067MHz SODIMM Memory (2 DIMM)
    TrackPoint with Fingerprint Reader
    320GB Hard Disk Drive, 5400rpm
    5-1 Media Card Reader and Modem
    Integrated Bluetooth PAN
    Intel WiFi Link 5300 (AGN) with My WiFi Technology
    ThinkPad X200 Series 9 cell Li-Ion Battery (total weight 3.05 lbs)

    And for the $1,499 MB, I'll be getting:
    * Intel Core 2 Duo
    * 2GB DDR3 Memory
    * 250GB hard drive
    * NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics
    * Illuminated keyboard
    * Aluminum unibody

    the argument for Lenovo:
    Though I'm a Mac user and fan, I must say I'm enticed by X200s' specs as well as the really, really long battery life. One of my friends bought a lower X200s model and he's getting some 8-10 hours of Internet surfing on the 9-cell battery. Also, it seems to be a lot lighter than the MB for some reason.

    the argument for Mac:
    I really don't know much about technology, but from what I've read around, it seems to be the consensus that the graphics card is really important for Photoshop and other apps in Adobe's Creative Suite. So will the integrated graphics on the Lenovo be a problem for me? Should I stick with a Mac for this purpose?

    I know that since I'm on a Mac forum, there might be a preference towards the second option. Still, I'd like to hear any thoughts or suggestions.

    Thanks so much!
  2. Zortrium macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    The Mac has a better processor (2.4 vs 1.86) and a better GPU (integrated but solid NVidia 9400m vs integrated and not-so-solid Intel 4500). The PC has better battery life (but the battery life on the MacBooks is pretty good too, I think I can get 5 hours out of mine). Things like the RAM and HD can be upgraded for minimal amounts of money.

    Honestly, the hardware differences seem pretty minimal to me -- I'd think the difference between OS X and Windows would dwarf the other differences you're talking about. It's a no-brainer on that basis alone for me (and probably most other forum members here), but it basically comes down to which OS you'd rather be using. Based on the hardware alone, I'd probably go with the Mac anyways for the faster processor and the slick enclosure, but I could understand wanting more battery life over a faster machine.
  3. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...why would you look at the "s" model of the Lenovo?

    The regular x200 has a C2D 2.4 Ghz processor just like the MB...I was looking at that also but would have gone with a whitebook due to the 9400M chip they put in as a GPU if I had decided to get a laptop vs the iMac I ended up with...
  4. JCastro macrumors 6502a

    Feb 12, 2008
    The OS, Aluminum Body and better processor would do it for me.

    Of course you came to a Mac oriented site to ask if you should get a Mac or PC. :rolleyes: Not that there aren't PC users here. Honestly I would go with the MB though.
  5. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    The only benefits that PC has over the MacBook are:

    1) 640 grams lighter
    2) A couple of hours of extra battery life.

    Everything else is better on the MB.

    ...but it all comes down to Leopard vs Vista.
  6. dacreativeguy macrumors 68020

    Jan 27, 2007
    Taking all of the Mac vs. Win religious debates out, which computer is more flexible? You say that you like both Mac and Windows. Which computer will allow you to use both Mac and Windows? Get the macbook and you'll have the best of both worlds if you decide to run Windows in VMWare or Bootcamp.

    Your macbook will also have significantly higher resale value when you decide to upgrade.
  7. kenflyken thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2009
    After checking into that, I found out that I can also get the X200t tablet PC for roughly the same price, although with a slight drop in HDD and RAM. Unfortunately, the X200 without an "s" you were mentioning doesn't qualify for the discount.

    Is the tablet PC a real plus for college use--like ability to take notes on-the-go or to use it as an e-book/textbook reader? Or are you guys still for the Mac?

    I know this sounds like pushing against the synonymous decision I've found to go for the Mac. But then again, $1,400 is really a lot for me, and I really want a laptop that I will be happy with for another four years.

    Thanks for your input! :)
  8. LinMac macrumors 65816

    Oct 28, 2007
    Tablets are great in theory, but the reality never lives up to the idea. Tablets are basically useless outside a few very specific applications. I owned a tablet for the novelty, but the newness wore off within a couple of weeks before I realized it was basically useless for me. A friend of mine bought it for medical usage and he uses it constantly so it is all in if you specifically require a tablet.

    Get the Mac.
  9. pjfan macrumors regular

    May 24, 2009
    Columbus OH

    It seems as though you're sold on the Lenova... but for what it's worth;

    "I really want a laptop that I will be happy with for another four years."

    I don't know any laptop PC Users with a system that's four years old. Not even three years old. On the flip side, the Mac users I know, purchase a laptop with the idea to use it for 3-4 years.

    If you want to format every 6-8 months (what I did w/ work laptop to keep 'satisfied') and spin down the circle of constant maintenance - go Lenova. They are definitely the best PC Laptop manufacture out there. If you want a purchase you'll be satisfied with due to build quality, longevity, and lack of "I'm pulling my hair out waiting for Outlook 2k7 to load" moments, go Macbook.

    I'm a long time PC user - and I'm a very very happy switcher. Things are so much more efficient for me now, and the MacBook Pro weighs less and ergonomically nicer than the ole' Dell d630 it replaced (14" at that). The trackpad will keep you satisfied to stay away from a mouse too... (I never did use a mouse w/ laptops though).

    Anyhow - Post back, whichever you do.

    EDIT - also, you may want to upgrade RAM as prices are cheap, but Leopard runs fine w/ 2GB. I wouldn't bother upgrading the HDD, just keep your data secure on a couple external drives. I find Leopard utilizes the processor better, and is more efficient on the RAM...

    Factoring in longevity - Snow Leopard is around the corner. Once that and Windows 7 Comes out, you'll want the 2.4 processor.
  10. DivineEvil macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2009
    If you want a tablet get the iPhone/iPod Touch...

    If you need a PC (Personal Computer). It doesn't really matter what it will be Dell, Apple, Acer, Lenovo... IM, movies, music, browsing every laptop can do that even the 300$ ones. Photoshop can run decent on every laptop that is 2-3 years old or newer.

    The decision is up to you. Occasionally you'll wanna play games. The MB will be a little better. And when more demanding games are released you'll be able to play them on the MB and on the Lenovo you want be. After that there will be time when none of the newest bestselling games will work on neither laptops.

    What you need to decide actually is:

    Screen size and Resolution (for me resolution is more important than screen size)
    Battery Life (easily fixable with an extra battery)
    Design (MB are cooler :))
    HDD/Ram (not so important because in 1-2 years the prices will be way lower for bigger HDD/Ram)
    Max supported Ram (in case you want to max the laptop in order to be usable in the next 5-7 years :). Those 4GB DDR3 1066MHz rams will not always cost $400+.
    Mac OS (If you want to install mac os flawlessly or you may have issues when trying to install it on the x200s).

    Btw you can get a MacBook Pro for about 1700$ from clubmac... It will last you way longer than the MB/x200s...
  11. Aboo macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2008
    I used a tablet throughout my schooling and couldn't have been happier. It was great for taking notes, especially One Note - I could import the power point slides directly into my "notebook" and annotate as I was going through the lecture. I recently made the jump into the mac world mainly because of pressure - about 90% of my professors were mac users and made their powerpoint presentations on a mac. They always inserted images (I guess using the copy + paste functionality as opposed to the import functionality) and thus when I tried to view them on my system, I would have the dreaded "quicktime decompressor required" error on the slides. I really couldn't view the images and it started to become a pain. I got a great deal on the Macbook Pro and finally switched over and have been very happy since. I really wish that Apple came out with a tablet, because that would be the best of both worlds!! :D
  12. cm1 macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2009
    I'm in a very similar position to the OP: considering a MB and an X200s for my next purchase (along with a couple of other models). I like Apple (currently own a MBP), but I think you're selling the Lenovo short.

    Lenovo's weight is a full 30% lighter.
    Lenovo's battery life with 9 cells is much more than a couple hours greater. Laptop Mag's test (continuous wifi / internet surfing) was 10 hours 40 minutes.
    Lenovo's display is WXGA+. And matte.
    Lenovo has a drain under the keypad to resist spill damage. And an inner rollcage to protect internal components from drops.
    Lenovo's processor benchmarks just fine for office apps and will be fine for Windows 7.
    Lenovo offers onsite warranty service. No losing your laptop for a week if there's a warranty claim.

    On the minus side

    Lenovo has no optical drive. Need to buy an external.
    Lenovo's extended battery is not flush - so the laptop's lines aren't as clean as the MB's.
    On that note, Lenovo is several steps behind in the style department.
    Lenovo's roll-cage protection does nothing for the display, which is probably more vulnerable than the MB's.
    Nvidia integrated graphics > Intel integrated
    And, obviously, the Lenovo won't be running OS X.

    The MacBook has a lot going for it, but I wouldn't call it a slam dunk.
  13. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    As I said, it all comes down to OS X vs Windows.

    You want a PC? Get a PC. You want a Mac? Get a Mac. Its that simple.
  14. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    Portability and battery life was mentioned.

    There's nuthin' on the Mac side if both are important. It's one of the reasons I have to drag a unibody Macbook around with a spare battery (5lbs all-up vs the X200's 3.2-ish with a 9-cell) just to get an almost 8-hour runtime.
  15. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    I feel sorry for you if you can't carry extra 640 grams even if it means using Windows instead of OS X.

    And an extra battery is available if you really need more battery life.
  16. cm1 macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2009
    That's only partly true.

    If you want to compose documents in LaTeX and have source and output windows side by side, then you really want a higher resolution screen than the MacBook's. (Don't want to get into MB display quality argument here, but there's also that.)I prefer OS X, but neither the MB nor the MB Air really fit what I'm looking for.

    IMO, there should be pro and consumer options at each screen size 13/15/17. No proliferation of models needed. Noone would be confused by "choose size" then "choose consumer or pro."

  17. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    Higher resolution is great.. to a point. There are limits in how far you can go. I can't imagine how painful it would be to work with text on a 1440x900 12" screen. 1280x800 on a 13.3" is already pushing it for me.
  18. CRAZYBUBBA macrumors 65816


    Mar 28, 2007
    the W series is a better comparision to the MBP.

    With that said, I beleive that the form ffactor and battery life gives lenovo the edge here.
  19. cm1 macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2009
    Not painful at all. On my MBP, I have both windows at equal size. Symmetry and all that. But it would be easy enough to make it, say, a 60/40 split. The nice thing about LaTeX is that all you need to do is get the text right. Much easier on the eyes than using a word processor like Pages or Word on a small screen, where you're paying attention to all formatting details on screen.

    If the recent rumors of improved MB displays are true, that may be enough for me to rationalize going back to 1280x800. I may still go the Mac route. I'm just disappointed that it's even a dilemma.

  20. nutritious macrumors 6502

    Mar 1, 2008
    I'd go with the thinkpad just to avoid the horrible screen on the macbook. Not very helpful, I know. I'd spring for a macbook pro if I were you. But if you do get a thinkpad, Windows 7 is coming out Q4 and is pretty awesome.
  21. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    You have a MBP - and that thing has 1440x900 on a 15.4" screen, not 12...
  22. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    I'd get the Mac in this case because you are getting much better specs + a better OS. For about $20 more. If you want a solid Thinkpad, go with the T series. The T400 has a nice LED backlit 15.4" screen and pretty good specs. It's not a MBP, but it's good for the price.

    Oh, forgot to add that one both notebooks, the graphics chip is integrated. Except the MB's chip is significantly better than the Thinkpad one. The 9-cell battery sucks because it sticks out like a huge bulge, making it hard to put it in a case or backpack. But don't go with the X series, the T series is way better and way cheaper (college = a leaking wallet).
  23. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Recently manufactured macbooks are supposed to have received different, higher quality screens, supposedly the equal to the macbook pros.
  24. kenflyken thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2009
    I checked the college website and roughly half of the students/profs use Macs, so the PPT might be a problem. I'd love to wait and see how the Mac tablet plays out, but I can't really afford to wait until late 09 or early 10.

    I already have an external optical drive, so that won't be a problem. And I do agree that the Mac looks a hell lot better than the Lenovo.

    I went to the store yesterday to play around with both laptops, and it seems surprising that even though the Lenovo had a more durable/tough look, the MB turned out to be a lot more "solid" to hold and definitely had a better build quality.

    Thinkpads are supposed to last, but after checking it out, it seems that the MB would have a better chance in that category. :apple:

    Half a kilo and an extra stick to hold might not be a lot for some people. But I'm the type that walks around all day, and the slightest weight difference does mean a lot to me.
  25. kenflyken thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2009
    From what I understand, doesn't higher resolution mean clearer display? Is that bad on a small laptop?

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