1. Is there a major difference between 4 GB DDR3 - 1333MHz (1 DIMM) and 6 GB PC3-10600 DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz SODIMM Memory (2 DIMM).
2. Is there a major difference between Intel Core i5-2410M Processor (2.30GHz, 3MB L3) and Intel Core i5-2520M Processor (2.5GHz, 3MB L3, 1333MHz DDR3)?
3. What are the benefits of SSD drives? They sure add a lot to the cost.
2. The difference is also marginal. With a slightly higher turbo boost frequency as well as for the integrated graphics, ( ark.intel.com/products/52224 vs ark.intel.com/products/52229 ), I'd just go with the 2410.
3. SSD drives are extremely beneficial in terms of raw speed. They generate much less heat and provide near instantaneous access times. This means much faster boot times as well as applications that launch much quicker. Obviously though this comes at a high price though, but the gains are well worth it (at least, in my experience)
Have you looked at the T420s? It is a thinner version of the T420, if you are looking for something closer to a Series 9.
I really do miss my ThinkPad and the TrackPoint. Someday I'll buy one again (X121e perhaps :) )
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In terms of CPU, for what you want to do with the computer, it doesn't seem that you'd need to really go with anything better than the Core i5-2410M since there won't be anything too intensive pushing the computer.
If you want the best performance, then I'd stick with at least 4GB of RAM or whatever is cheapest, since you won't really notice a difference in usage from 4GB to 6GB, and spend the extra on a SSD. You'll see a larger performance boost from the SSD than upgrading any other component in the computer. If you feel like you'd need more RAM, then get it's pretty easy to do an aftermarket upgrade and buy cheaper RAM on sites like newegg. I don't think I can ever go back to standard HDDs on any of my future computer purchases.
I was able to configure the T420 (actually called the T420i) for $1129 and the X220 at $1229 with the 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM on Lenovo's site with almost the same specs. I stuck with the minimum Core i5 on each, but changed the display type to HD+, has a higher res screen, on the T420 and the Premium HD on the X220. The only thing you lose from the X220 and the T420 is an internal optical drive.
Based my battery life figures on these reviews:
I agree with acaurora on 2 and 3. My biggest regret in getting my last computer is not springing for an SSD.
The X220 looks like the lightest Thinkpad that Lenovo offers.
As far a Ultraportables go I'm pretty temped by the new Vaio Z with its sweet 1080p display, but it's so expensive.
I have an X25M G2 in my XPS 16, and indeed, the speed is just amazing.