I have a T500 that is in pretty desperate need of replacement (I've had it since April 2009, I can make it until spring/early summer but that's it). I'm pretty set on getting a new Lenovo (I had a T60 from June 07- Apr 09) and I can get a good deal for $843 on a T530 right now (using the Barnes and Noble discount I found on this site). My budget is an absolute $1000, but under $900 is preferable. I've never bought a laptop before (my previous ones were through my school program at Seton Hall University) and was wondering if I should act now or wait a little (perhaps for the next model, which I assume comes out around May). I've copied the custom specs I'm looking at under if anyone wants to offer any advice as well. Thanks!
Intel Core i5-3320M Processor (3M Cache, up to 3.30 GHz)
Windows 8 64
15.6" HD+ (1600 x 900) LED Backlit AntiGlare Display, Mobile Broadband Ready
NVIDIA NVS 5400M Graphics with Optimus Technology, 1GB DDR3 Memory
8 GB DDR3 - 1600MHz (2 DIMM)
Keyboard (Backlit) US English
UltraNav with Fingerprint Reader
720p HD Camera with Microphone
320GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm
16GB mSATA Solid State Cache Drive
DVD Recordable 8x Max, Dual Layer, Ultrabay Enhanced w/ SW Royalty for Windows 8
Express Card Slot & 4-in-1 Card Reader
6 Cell Li-Ion TWL 70+
90W AC Adapter - US (2pin)
Bluetooth 4.0 with Antenna
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 AGN
Mobile Broadband upgradable
The SSD does not improve game performance other than load times.
The ThinkPad T series are great. I still have my 1st laptop from 2003; a ThinkPad T40. Man laptops cost an arm and a leg back then. I spent more than double your budget to buy the T40 and it was on sale too...
Anyway, if you can wait, then wait. Otherwise buy at your earliest convenience. Intel will be releasing their new Haswell CPUs, but they are not likely to be released until June. Any laptop / desktops with that CPU will not be sold until Intel officially announce Haswell is available for sale. I believe there is an electronics convention in Taiwan in early June and that's when Intel is expected to make the official announcement.
No official word on performance, but Haswell CPUs will likely have around a 5% - 10% improvement in performance over current Ivy Bridge CPUs at the same clockspeed. I believe they are focusing more on lowering power consumption than on performance so they penetrate the tablet and eventually the smartphone markets which are the new new growth market in mobile computing.
The biggest improvement will be the performance of the graphics core. A pre-production laptop using the Intel HD 5000 graphics core was demoed in Sept. playing Skyrim at 1920x1080 resolution. No anti-aliasing was being used and no benchmark numbers were available, but still pretty impressive for Intel since they only recently started to focus on at least some measure of gaming performance for their integrated graphics core.
Whether to wait or not depends on what you want to do. If no gaming is involved, then you will likely not notice any difference in performance between Ivy Bridge and Haswell in everyday tasks. If the thought of playing games using a relatively inexpensive laptop with integrated graphics is intriguing, then you might want to wait...
I'm not a huge gamer, but I'll probably play more now I graduated school. Pretty much RTS games like C&C.
I don't need/want an SSD except for the mini one to get the best of both worlds. I had maxed out my current 160GB before clearing about 20GB and I do have an external HD that I only use for storage and backups.
As for the CPU, I'm not hugely knowledeble in them, I just picked out what seemed reasonable.
As far as graphics they're offering a good deal on the NVIDIA I listed. Right now I have a ATI Radeon HD 3650. So I feel it's certainly the right move over the integrated HD 4000.