IBM ThinkPad T30

IBM ThinkPad T30

Summary: The ThinkPad T30 is a powerful and fully featured notebook that oozes quality. The high screen resolution and absence of a floppy drive as standard might be issues for some, but the biggest sticking point is likely to be the huge price tag.

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  • Compact and reasonably light
  • excellent performance
  • good keyboard
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity built in.


  • Very expensive
  • no floppy drive as standard
  • some users may find the high-resolution screen hard to read.

One of the main problems with very powerful notebooks is keeping the innards cool enough. Even Intel’s custom-built mobile processors generate a significant amount of waste heat, and this requires space for cooling fans and airflow, resulting in larger, heavier systems. IBM has successfully managed the trade-offs involved with the ThinkPad T30. The case is more-or-less A4-sized, and 36mm thick with the lid shut, so the system takes up less room than a typical power-user’s notebook. It’s also much lighter than you might expect, tipping the scales at 2.4kg. But fire it up and you’ll find that it’s powered by a 1.8GHz Mobile Pentium 4 processor, which puts it firmly in desktop replacement territory.

Something always has to give somewhere, and in this case it's the floppy drive. Not only have IBM's engineers settled for a two-spindle design as the key to keeping the size and weight down, but the drive itself has been omitted from the overall package. If you need a floppy drive, it’s a £60 extra that fits into the notebook’s modular bay rather than plugging in externally.

We were sent a fully featured model for review, with a combo DVD/CD-RW drive in the modular bay and both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless connectivity built in alongside conventional 10/100 wired Ethernet and V.92 modem hardware. The core specification is generous, with 256MB of PC2100 DDR memory and a 40GB, 5,400rpm ATA/100 hard disk alongside the 1.8GHz CPU. There’s also a potent graphics subsystem, comprising ATI’s 16MB Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics chip and a 1,400-by-1,050-pixel screen.

The graphics processing unit (GPU) is capable of good 3D performance by notebook standards, but the screen might be seen by some as a mixed blessing. The native 1,400 by 1,050 (SXGA+) resolution provides plenty of workspace for your applications, but the 14.1in physical diagonal of the panel makes for very small text and screen objects. Some users are going to find it hard work reading this screen.

This really is the only drawback with the ThinkPad T30. Otherwise, it is a testament to IBM’s long experience in building high-quality notebooks. Titanium alloy is used for the lid and base, providing good general protection for the screen and internal components. Solid construction is complemented by good keyboard ergonomics – a traditional strength of the ThinkPad range. The 85 keys are logically arranged and entirely comfortable to use.

The ThinkPad T30 delivers impressive benchmarks – as you’d expect from its specification. Scores of 41.7 under Business Winstone 2001, 26.4 under Content Creation Winstone 2002, and 2,788 under 3DWinMark 2001 all make it into our ‘top 5’ graphs for notebooks. This essentially means that the ThinkPad T30 is a seriously powerful notebook that will handle whatever applications you throw at it with aplomb.

Battery life, as measured by BatteryMark 4.01, was 2 hours 39 minutes, which is very much in line with IBM’s quoted 2.5 hours and respectable for a fast Pentium 4 system.

If you are happy with the high-resolution screen and can make do with a two-spindle design, this is a very desirable desktop replacement notebook. Unfortunately, regardless of whether it’s your own money or your company’s, the £3,042 (ex. VAT) price is steep enough to give many potential buyers serious second thoughts.


Dimensions (W x H x D) 30.4x3.66x25.0 cm
Weight 2.4 kg
OS & software
Operating system Windows XP Professional
Software included ThinkPad utilities, online manual, PC Doctor, Lotus SmartSuite Millennium 9.5
Chipset & memory
Chipset Intel 845
RAM installed 256 MB
Number of memory slots 2
RAM capacity 1 GB
Storage controller Ultra-ATA/100
VGA (analogue) 1
Video out S-Video
GPU ATI Mobility Radeon 7500
Graphics RAM 16 MB
Display technology colour TFT
Display size 14.1 in
Native resolution 1400x1050 pixels
Serial 1
Parallel 1
Docking station port yes
PC Card 2 x Type II
Ethernet 10/100Base-TX
Modem 56Kbps
Wi-Fi 802.11b
Infrared 1
Bluetooth yes
Pointing devices touchpad and trackpoint
Keyboard 85 keys
Audio connectors microphone, headphone, line-in
Speakers stereo
Audio processor SoundMAX
Microphone yes
Accessories Port replicator (£109), second Li-ion battery (£168), floppy drive module (£60)
Service & support
Standard warranty 3 years
Service & support details return to base
Battery technology Li-ion
Battery capacity 4400 mAh
Hard drive
Rotation speed 5400 rpm
Hard drive interface Ultra ATA/100
Hard drive capacity 40 GB
Optical storage
CD / DVD type CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo
Processor & memory
Clock speed 1.8 GHz
Processor manufacturer Intel
Processor model Pentium 4 Processor-M


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Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews

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  • 9.0

    Just a brilliant all round machine. Very powerful and wonderful to use! Thumbs up!
  • 10.0

    As any IBM ThinkPad I had before, this T30 is again a very reliable machine. Excellent display, mouse replacement, keyboard, robust case.
  • 9.5

  • 9.0

  • 9.5