The Greenest Notebook Computers Of 2008

by Justin Thomas •

Earlier this week, we reviewed the greenest desktop computers, so now let’s take a look at the greenest notebooks! Notebooks are typically much more energy efficient than desktops. They are, however, no greener than desktops in other regards — they typically contain the same hazardous components, and they are not easily recycled. However, a few green notebook computers are now on the market. Here’s a short survey of the greenest ones available:

Lenovo Thinkpad X300

Lenovo’s Thinkpad X300 is the company’s first EPEAT Gold certified notebook — only 15 notebooks have achieved this rating to date (see our previous post for more about EPEAT). The X300 uses mercury-free LEDs to illuminate its display. This saves energy, and allows for a thinner display.

It uses a solid-state drive, which is much is lighter, more reliable and faster than a conventional hard drive. It also contains a low-voltage processor and an improved “battery stretch” software for energy savings. It meets the Energy Star 4.0 criteria and is 25% more efficient than Lenovo’s previous generation notebooks.

The packaging materials for the X300 are 90% recyclable, and the use of toxic materials such as cadmium, lead, and arsenic have been reduced.

It’s available from Amazon for around $2500.


The ASUS Eee PC was a ground-breaking ultra-mobile computer when it was first released. It was a powerful, efficient machine for its size that could run Windows and Linux, it retailed for $400.

Since then, ASUS has continued to improve on this compact notebook. The latest model, the Eee 1000, was released last month, and it has many welcome improvements. It has an improved screen size (10 inch, 1024-by-600 widescreen display) and the keyboards size is now 92% normal size instead of 75%. Yet it measures just 7.5 x 10.5 x 1.1 inches and weighs 2 pound. Because it uses flash memory instead of a hard drive (with 40 GB of storage), the Eee PC 1000 boots quickly, produces less heat, and is less susceptible to shock damage.

The Eee 1000 has a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom processor that never uses more than 3 watts of power and runs cool (less than 1/10 of the 35 watts used by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor). It’s also equipped with the ASUS “Super Hybrid Engine” for automatic detection and adjustments of CPU frequency, voltage, and LCD brightness to minimize system noise and power consumption, saving up to 15% power consumption. Computerworld says the Eee 1000 has 5 hour battery life on average, in real world conditions.

The Eee also features 1 GB of RAM, 1.3-megapixel webcam, tri-mode Wi-Fi networking (802.11b/g/n), integrated Bluetooth connectivity, Secure Digital memory card slot, multiple USB ports, a VGA output for connecting to a monitor.

The computer is RoHS-compliant but has yet to be certified for Energy Star 4.0 and EPEAT.

The Eee 1000 available from Amazon for around $700. The Eee 900 is available for around $400.

Toshiba Portégé R500-S5007V

Toshiba’s Portégé R500-S5007V is one of the world’s lightest laptop computers and also one of the greenest. Weighing in at 2.4 pounds and just 0.77-inches thick, it was the first to incorporate 128 gigabytes of solid-state storage. Like the Thinkpad, the Portégé uses LED backlights to illuminate its 12-inch widescreen, and this allow the screen to be less than a quarter of an inch thick. The computer’s processor is an ultra-low voltage 1.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor U7700.

Toshiba now has five notebooks that qualify for Gold EPEAT status — all of the Portégé R400 and Portégé R500 configurations as well as the Tecra M9.

Toshiba received praise from Greenpeace for committing to introduce alternatives to phthalates, beryllium and antimony by 2012 (though only in its PCs).

It’s available from Amazon.

Apple MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is one of Apple’s greenest computers. The Air’s display was the first from Apple to be mercury and arsenic-free. The all-aluminum case was also a good choice — aluminum is easily recyclable, and highly desirable by recyclers.

The Air qualified for a Silver EPEAT rating — all the circuit boards are bromide and PVC free. It’s also Energy Star 4.0 certified. On PC Magazine’s energy consumption tests, the 14 Watts it produced while idle is consistent with Energy Star’s 14 Watt (and under) requirement. The reading was taken while the system was running Leopard after 15 minutes of idle time.

You can get the Macbook Air fitted with a 64GB solid-state drive, which will further reduces its power requirements.

Apple paid attention to the retail packaging of this machine, and reduced it by 50%.

It’s available from Amazon for around $2500.

HP 2710p Tablet Computer

One of HP’s few green notebooks, the 2710p Tablet PC is an energy efficient machine with great battery life. The 44Wh (Watt hour) battery will run for 4-5 hours before needed a charge. HP offers an optional “battery slice” that slides underneath the base, producing more than 8 hours of battery life. This extra battery slice will cost you an extra $180, though. This machine might also have some drawbacks related to this efficiency — PC Magazine reviewers say that the screen looks “washed-out” and they were unhappy about the performance of the computer. The 27010p is EPEAT Gold certified, and it also meets Energy Star 4.0 and RoHS specifications.

HP has said that it will eliminate PVC and all brominated flame retardants (BFRs) by 2009 (only in computing equipment – not for its entire product portfolio).

The 2710p is somewhat ruggedized, with a full magnesium alloy enclosure that gives the 3.7-pound machine a clean, industrial look.

It’s available from Amazon for around $1800.

Comments 14

  1. Hi Justin-
    I would love to hear an update from you regarding which laptops are the least toxic currently, and maybe what’s on the horizon. I have chemical sensitivities and react to most new computers I have used. When they heat up my nose and throat burns! Even though Apple products are supposed to be among the least toxic laptops at this point- I haven’t been unable to use them either. I hear that they (and maybe all laptops…) contain epoxies that heat up and emit fumes which I have been told may be the reason for respiratory distress. So- what is your opinion of the current selection of laptops? I’m sure a lot of people would really like to hear!

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    To be certified EPEAT Gold, they are free of “flame retardants classified under European Council Directive 67/548/EEC” and “SCCP flame retardants and plasticizers in certain applications”


    “In all covered products the plastic parts larger than 25 grams shall contain no more than a trace amount of the flame retardants classified as dangerous substances under the European Directive on the classification, packaging and labeling of dangerous substances. For details reference the European Directive.”


    “All covered products shall contain no more than a trace amount of SCCPs (Short Chain Chlorinated Paraffins) in paints, coatings, plastics, rubbers or seals, unless the presence of SCCPs can be shown to be due to use of recycled content. ”


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    The Gold EPEAT machines actually have mercury- and arsenic-free displays, and are free of fire retardants.


  5. The EPEAT ratings seem a bit of a joke. The MacBook Air uses an easily recycled aluminum case, all the circuit boards are bromide and PVC free, and the display is mercury and arsenic-free but only gets a Silver EPEAT. Any yet many of the Gold certified computers are plastic, use arsenic containing glass for the display and use PVC and bromide on the circuit board!

  6. I have a HP 2710p Tablet Computer, it is great. For those who love technology, like me, well it is a pleasure to read this article.

    Milan, Italy

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    That was an interesting article. But our primary selection criteria was overall energy efficiency and EPEAT ratings.


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