X230 ThinkPad vs 2016 MacBook Pro

The new 2016/2017 MacBook Pro is a fine looking piece of machinery. It packs a legitimately high-end display into a svelte package and it also offer excellent battery life. For a graphic designer or individual that deals with an exclusively Apple ecosystem it is a splendid update to a historically solid line of machnes.

However, for an attorney and IT professional dealing with legacy applications and a variety of real world situations, there are some major drawbacks to Apple’s mobile workstation. Specifically, the lack of ports and the cutting edge features come at a cost… see below.

Let us compare the new 13″ Macbook Pro vs a classic productivity workhorse, the Lenovo X230 Thinkpad:

X230 ports:

  • Mini Displayport
  • VGA
  • Ethernet
  • SD Card
  • USB 3.0 (2)
  • USB 2.0 (1)
  • Headphone jack
  • Docking port

New MacBook Pro:

  • Thunderbolt ports (4)


  • IMHO, ThinkPad wins here: wonderful to type on and perfectly sized.


  • Giant touchpad and Touch Bar(MacBook)
  • Small trackpad, ThinkPoint, dedicated function keys and special keys
  • MacBook probably wins here for most people, but diehard ThinkPoint fans like me may sitll prefer the Lenovo.

Battery life:

  • 9-10 hours with heavy use (MacBook)
  • 6-8 hours with heavy use (ThinkPad with 9 cell battery)
  • The MacBook wins here and it is one of the most compelling features Apple has to offer. However, I do appreciate that the Lenovo does offer a large easily replaceable battery.


  • 16GB

Misc favorite features of the X230, ease of upgrading and expansion:

  • Upgrading the RAM takes about 2 minutes.
  • Replacing/upgrading the SSD takes about 2 minutes.
  • Replacing/upgrading the 2nd SSD takes about 10 minutes.
  • Need to replace the keyboard? Easy. (10 min)
  • Need to swap in a new display? Pretty easy. (20 min)
  • These times are conservative, someone could do it faster if they wanted to.
  • Likewise, low on battery? Swap in a spare.
  • 3TB of SSD space? Yes, you can do that (2.5″ 2TB SSD drive + 1TB mSATA SSD)

I use the X230 for coding, drafting legal documents, working on giant 30ft LED advertising screens, remote communications setup, and a myriad other scenarios. Throughout it all the machine has been an amazing companion that never gets in the way of getting work done. One laptop, one power adapter, and no dongles. 😉

NOTE: if you need a laptop with a high resolution display, the X230 is not for you… the MacBook Pro has a much higher-end display than the X230. However, if you dock the X230(or use displayport) then you can run a large high res monitor or two with no problems. 🙂

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