The T60 versus our designated victim
If we're going to test the virtues of the ThinkPad T60 and the Centrino Duo platform, we're going to need a basis for comparison, and today, that thankless duty has fallen to my very own Sharp M4000 WideNote, a laptop whose Centrino-platform innards are the Centrino Duo's direct predecessor. The M4000 is a little bit smaller than the ThinkPad T60, and is generally regarded as an "ultraportable" class system rather than a thin-and-light like the T60.
So the size isn't a perfect match, but the M4000 WideNote ought to make for a reasonable foil in terms of basic specs. The M4000 has a 90nm Pentium M 740 processor running at 1.73GHz and an Intel 915GM chipset with integrated GMA 900 graphics. For the sake of this comparison, we've outfitted the Sharp to match up to the T60 by installing 1GB of DDR2 533MHz memory and the ATA version of the same Hitachi TravelStar 5K100 hard drive found in the ThinkPad. (Thanks, by the way, to Corsair Memory for providing us with a 512MB DDR2 533 module so we could get the Sharp's RAM size down to 1GB.)
Before we get into the benchmarks and see the T60 kick around its single-core brother, we should have a quick look at how the two systems compare physically. Perhaps our designated victim will even score a few points before the hammer comes down.
With its wide-aspect 13.3" screen, the Sharp is just as wide as the T60, but not as deep. The T60's depth wouldn't be all that much greater than the Sharp's were it not for the ThinkPad's nine-cell battery. And the ThinkPad is actually a little thinner than the Sharp overall.
Oddly enough, if you add up all of these dimensions and factor in the M4000's 3.7-pound curb weight, the Sharp subjectively seems to be much more of a mobile creature than the T60. That's no great knock on the Centrino Duo platformultraportable laptops similar in size to the M4000 are available with Centrino Duo internalsbut it might give you a sense of how the T60 compares to smaller laptops. Of course, the T60's larger form factor is necessary in order to house its roomy screen with a standard aspect ratio.
In fact, these two systems' displays represent rather divergent philosophies. The T60's 14.1" display is a high-density affair with 1400x1050 pixels and a matte or anti-glare finish. Although it's virtually the same width, the Sharp's horizontal resolution is only 1280 pixels, and the screen is coated with a glossy or anti-reflective coating. I'm all over the T60's smaller, more plentiful pixels, but the Sharp wins out otherwise, because it's made me a complete convert to the glossy screen camp. The glossy coating lets through more light and is thus brighterand it shows. Compared to the Sharp, the T60's display lacks color definition and contrast, and the T60 doesn't overcome ambient light as well in brightly lit rooms or outdoors. The ThinkPad's display is quite nice as far as matte-finish TFTs go, but it's just not up to the Sharp's standard.
The ThinkPad does have a heck of an edge in the battery department, thanks to the nine-cell monster tucked intoand sticking out ofits battery bay. You will see some battery life tests in the following pages, and it's only fair that we note how much larger the T60's battery is before we make any comparisons.
How we tested
Deciding how to test a system pre-loaded with all manner of software was a new endeavor for us, since we're generally about pieces and parts, not pre-assembled systems. What we decided to do with these two laptops was what we'd probably do if we purchased one of them: start with the default OS install from the manufacturer, run some updates, disable or remove the most offensive shovelware apps, and go from there. In the case of the ThinkPad T60, that meant disabling the tray icons for DiskKeeper Lite and Picasa and uninstalling Google Desktop. We also used the auto-update function in Lenovo's ThinkVantage software suite to bring any ThinkPad system utilities up to date.
We updated both systems' Intel graphics driver to version 188.8.131.5243, and we turned off both systems' variants of Norton Antivirus for our tests. Both laptops also got the latest round of patches from Windows Update before our testing began.
Our first round of performance tests was conducted with the laptops set for maximum performance while running on AC power. The second round of battery tests includes a performance component in addition to battery life, as you'll see.