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Lenovo ThinkPad X300 Series Notebook - Why no CDs? And what is ReadyBoost?

Lenovo seems to be making a bit of a splash in the notebook market. We find out if the X300 sports any surprises.

| Standard Laptops in Laptops | Posted: May 26, 2008 4:00 am

ThinkVantage

 

ThinkVantage is a button labeled very clearly on the X300 notebook, and the reason for this is it single handedly replaces all CDs which are usually shipped with a notebook product. What Lenovo has done is partitioned the SSD and arranged a sector of the SSD to hold all the relevant software required to refresh your device, should something catastrophic ever happen.

 

So, the next time a virus gets past your firewall and infects your entire system, all you have to do is push the ThinkVantage button and allow it to take you back to your last backup. If you prefer, it can start you off from a clean install since all the necessary files are included. It is highly recommended to allow the software to backup your files regularly in the event that something should ever happen.

 

What is really convenient about this system is Lenovo has done all the planning and implementing, and so therefore business people who own the notebook can just go about their business instead of worrying about silly things like backups. For me, this type of innovation separated the men from the boys, and the sheer magnitude of the Lenovo service capabilities worldwide gives a sense of security that few other companies can match.

 

Windows ReadyBoost Cache

 

This experiment was done not to show up the Lenovo product, but simply to see how much better SSD drives are than traditional HDDs. What we tested was the improvement of benchmarks within the FutureMark PCMark Vantage suite when using a 1GB standard flash memory USB device.

 

Windows ReadyBoost cache is defined by Wikipedia as follows:-

 

"Using ReadyBoost-capable flash memory (NAND memory devices) for caching allows Windows Vista to service random disk reads with performance that is typically 80-100 times faster than random reads from traditional hard drives. This caching is applied to all disk content, not just the page file or system DLLs. Flash devices are typically slower than the hard drive for sequential I/O, so to maximize performance, ReadyBoost includes logic to recognize large, sequential read requests and then allows these requests to be serviced by the hard drive."

 

With ReadyBoost activated, one should see a significant improvement in performance for the CPU, memory and HDD capabilities when using the USB flash drive. This however was not the case. Why? Well let's look at the results and speculate further.

 

 

What is clear to me is that ReadyBoost does not increase performance on the X300. I speculate that the SSD works so much quicker than a normal HDD that the fairly slow solid state memory to be found on the flash device acts as a hand brake; not significantly though, since it seems to give a very slight increase in performance to the memory performance. That increase is very slight as mentioned, and is not enough to show that the flash will improve overall performance, especially when considering it lags in both the CPU and hard drive suite tests.

 

Looking at the CPU performance decrease, I have to speculate that the bus speed and interaction with the SSD is much more efficient in this notebook than notebooks with traditional HDDs, because according to Wikipedia there should be an 80-100 times increase in performance with the flash disk attached. Clearly this is not the case and I have to wonder if the ReadyBoost system will work better if I used a faster speed flash disk. Unfortunately we did not have a faster one in the lab at that time, so we were unable to test further.

 

This small glimpse into the efficiency of SSD over mechanical HDDs is simply a teaser to get the real boffins checking the facts and proving the theories. The bottom line for us is that SSD works quicker and therefore it is a good step forward.

 

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