Rolling with 64bits

In my current position I have the pleasure of trying out new hardware and software. This is actually quite fun and lets me satiate my technology curiosity without blowing my budget or maxing out my credit cards.


My most recent decadence is Lenovo’s latest laptop the T400. The college is considering (with a little advice from me) of retiring Dell laptops in favor of Lenovo’s offerings if they can meet price and performance criteria.  I have no doubt that performance won’t be an issue and making a laptop meet a specific budget simply requires some tweaking on available options.

The T400 I just received for testing was build to order with 4GB of ram and a 2.5Ghz Core Duo Pentium. So as not to waste memory, I opted for the Vista Business 64bit edition. I also opted for an LED backlit 14" wide screen display with a built-in webcam and an upgraded WiFi radio with three antennae hidden in the screen. The most important option was the 200GB 7200RPM hard drive with hardware encryption.

One of the main concerns of my department is that a faculty laptop will be stolen or lost that contains a student record. Without strong encryption and security you have no way of knowing if the record is in the wild. With current reporting requirements this could have a very negative impact on the college and our department.

One of the concerns with rolling a 64bit workstation or laptop is stability. Lenovo has come through in spades making sure the 64bit OS has stable drivers and all the functionality of its 32bit installation.

It came from the factory with three partitions. The first 1GB partition contained the "ThinkVantage" Rescue and Recovery pre-boot partition which is kind of a life preserver for laptop users if their system ever crashes or becomes infected. They can boot to this partition for access to antivirus, recovery utilities, and basic internet access with Opera.

The second partition (165 GB) contains a factory built OS that was up to date with the latest service pack and last month’s windows updates. A few driver updates were available but easily upgraded using ThinkVantage System Update utility that downloads and installs the latest drivers for your system for you.

The third partition was about 10GB and contained the product recovery data along with promotional videos, help documentation, and other useful items.

The benefit with this layout is that you can use a ThinkVantage utility to create rescue media on CD or DVD, then dump the 10GB partition. With Vista, after the partition is empty and because it falls after the OS partition, you can expand the OS partition to add the new space to the existing partition. Now I have 175GB partition for my data with very little effort and no hacking.

I have to say this laptop is blazing fast and easy on the eyes. The LED backlit screen is wonderful to look at and very crisp. The power management is bar none the best on the market the laptop’s ability to squeeze every component for power or economy is noticable on battery life and responsiveness.

Lenovo took two video cards and made this laptop have the ability to seamlessly switch between a high powered ATI Radeon HD 512MB card and a low powered Intel GMA card. The power savings are very welcome…

I look forward to the next month or two of testing, it may even replace my desktop and become a permanent resident on my desk… unless something better needs testing. 🙂

Update: I did find one issue, Cisco doesn’t support 64bit Windows with their IPsec VPN Client. I’m currently using a 32bit XP virtual machine for such problems until a workaround can be found.

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