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Thinkpad X62 (greer.fm)
474 points by mparramon on Sept 18, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 253 comments

I love these Thinkpad mods but don't have the time or patience to do one myself. Instead, I did a little research and settled on the T470s as my new laptop. You won't read about it much on the Lenovo boards. It's not the fastest; that title goes to their huge desktop replacement beasts. It's not the sexiest and thinnest--the X1 beats it there. It is, however, well-equipped with a great display and fast-enough CPU, and it's quite thin. It has all the latest tech, including NVME disk and HiDPI display options.

I run Arch Linux and the i3 window manager on mine and it's just perfect.

The T4x0 is the star of the lineup. You can get last year's model dirt cheap through the Lenovo Outlet or refurbished ($500+ US). They finally give you a good screen (remember the T430 and earlier days? Or even the recent 1366x768 screens?), battery is great, the chiclet keyboard isn't as bad as people try to make you believe, and not only did they leave the TrackPoint on, the TouchPads are pretty decent even if they aren't to Apple's level.

Easily repairable or upgrade-able by the end user, thin and light...

You hit upon my very favorite thing about Thinkpads: they are user-repairable and user-upgradeable!

Lenovo has the most amazing website that tells you, step-by-step, how to fix almost every component of their products. For those that are considering one of their products, you have to check this out: https://www.lenovoservicetraining.com

I've made a hobby out of finding, refurbishing, and reselling Thinkpads since the late 90s. The Ts and Xs have maintained a reputation for serviceability across years.

Thats what I love about the ThinkPads regardless of model. You can find them for dirt cheap on eBay or craigslist. I just bought an X1 Carbon with i5, 256 GB SSD, and 8GB RAM for $194 on eBay. Has a solid keyboard and is pretty solid.

The switch to the low-profile TrackPoint ruined them for me.

Instead of 3 options for the TrackPoint nipple, there's only one, and I was a Soft Rim user.

Isn't that just a matter of replacing the nipple with the flavor of your choosing?

I've had 3 different Thinkpads over the last decade and I don't recall there every being a selection of nipples in the box but they've always been removable and replaceable.

It does appear that all of the replacement options are low profile of some kind. There is an "ultra low" option. http://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/accessories-and-monitors/keyboa...

They only make one nipple in the low-profile form factor. There is no alternate option. The old ones do not fit.

I got a T450 from the Lenovo Outlet. It came with a terrible TN screen. But I bought a replacement IPS screen on ebay and swapped it in. Absolutely killer laptop considering the price I paid for it.

I've got an older brother, the T440s, also running Arch Linux. It's pretty good. The keyboard had to be replaced because a few keys broke off after 2 years; it got replaced on-site for free though. The feel is good but apparently and disappointingly, the keys are attached with tiny plastic teeth that aren't too sturdy. The screen is IPS but a different SKU and lesser quality than the panel the first reviewers seem to have gotten.

Apart from that, it's silent, usable and reliable, and still not too hard to replace some of its components. I'd consider getting other one from the T4xxs line if it broke.

I've got a T41 (I think) from the IBM time lying around. That thing is built like a tank; I wouldn't step on my T440s, but I'm reasonably convinced that old machine could take that sort of abuse. Great keyboard, but atrocious screen (like most old Thinkpads).

i had to swap the panel on my T440S. the LG panel is crap and suffers from ghosting, image retention, small gamut & poor viewing angles. The AU Optronics is the much nicer one but hard to find a genuine one these days (had to get on ebay from China). i verified with the seller that the part was real. "NEW/Exact Laptop Lcd Screen AUO B140HAN01.1 14.0" IPS FHD eDP Matte B140HAN01.2"


be careful when getting one, most that are sold online (like amazon) are "generic" or "compatible" and not the genuine panels.


I have a T420s, and after maxing it out RAM/HD-wise, managed to get one of the adapter boards so I could put a FHD IPS screen (the same model you mention) in it.

One of the reasons the guy stopped selling the adapter boards was the huge proliferation of "fake" screens being sold as specific models.

Got a T440s myself too (running Ubuntu/Xmonad).

It's mostly a great machine, my model has 14"-fullHD-mat / i7 / 12Gb RAM / 256Gb SSD / 512GbHDD.

The only real caveat I can think of is the clickpad (no physical mouse buttons). That was a bad, bad decision. This piece of hardware has 0% usability, and under linux you need to tweak xorg.conf in order to get sensible defaults. Next generations of T4xx got it right however, trackpads with physicals mouse buttons have made their glorious comeback. Luckily I was already used to external keyboard/mouse, so that doesn't hurt as much as it could have been.

Question for whoever inside Lenovo knows the real story: what was the rational behind that whole clickpad thing?

I had the exact same complaints about the Clickpad on my T440s, and replaced it with the pad from the T460s. You can find the part on eBay for around 45-60 USD and instructions to replace. It's a bit fiddly of a replacement, but mine works great!

Same here, and the procedure is pretty straightforward.

They only made that mistake for one generation. We have to assume the rationale for the *40 models was "look, apple is doing it, clearly we can make this clickpad thing work".

And then the rationale was "holy shit literally everyone who uses this hates it".

The T440 was probably the least pleasurable hardware I've used in a long time. Bad screen, bad touchpad (no dedicated buttons, disabling the trackpad disabled the buttons, the trackpad tracking was garbage), fragile keyboard. Waiting for that IT hardware refresh was the worst. I'm really glad Lenovo walked the trackpad back towards sanity with the 50 series onward, but I'm reticent to trust anything other than the 30 series. I've had such good luck with my personal x230, barring a dead CPU fan, which I was able to replace myself.

While I really like my x230, the touchpad is practically unusable for me. It's just too small (or too jerky, if you use a large scaling factor). And while I have the higher quality IPS panel, it's still just 1366x768. Just give me the x230 with a bigger touchpad and a nice HD display, and I am happy (maybe x260/x270 would work? ...).

the T450 trackpad is compatible with T440. it's a common swap:


How's the heat? Reviews say it gets hot and throttles immediately, with the fan being noisy.

But Lenovo won't let you get a high res screen on the thicker models.

It's like they take pride in making their loyal customers being forced to decide which pointless compromises they're going to take this generation.

I haven't had any heat problems. However, the default configuration under Linux will run hot and noisy and suck batteries. It's an easy fix, though. Under Arch, it's just a matter of installing powertop, thinkfan, and tp_smapi and enabling a few systemd units.

Once you make those easy changes, the battery life becomes excellent like you would expect and is very quiet.

I agree with you on the HiDPI screen availability. As best as I can tell, Lenovo (like everyone else) has trouble buying the panels at quantity due to yield issues and only makes them available in their most high-end laptops where people are most likely to buy them. That's probably business folks, who generally want a thin laptop.

I had my employer buy me a P50 in an attempt to get a powerful laptop with lots of RAM and a good CPU and the big screen. That turned out to be a disaster, though. It's absurdly heavy and I never could get used to the offset keyboard. I use my personal T470s exclusively now.

Interesting you feel that way about the P50. I've also had one from work for about a year and it's the best laptop I've ever had. Solidly performant, robust, decent battery life, good sized screen. It hits a nice sweet spot of power and portability for me.

> installing powertop, thinkfan, and tp_smapi and enabling a few systemd units.

Wouldn't TLP take care of all that?


My T470p has 2560x1440 at 14" that's high enough for me.

The T570 is available with 4k display.

NotebookCheck says the T470p gets up to around 50 C on the keyboard? That just seems ridiculously hot. Much above room temperature get uncomfortable.

(Plus no USB-C or Thunderbolt 3, just to make customers make more decisions.)

FWIW, you can buy a panel separately and retrofit it. I've done this a couple of times and gotten much nicer hi-res screens for around $100-150.

>ou won't read about it much on the Lenovo boards.

That's not really true. The T series is their defacto business laptop. They're everywhere. The s at the end is the 'slim' model which makes it closer to an ultrabook than an old school brick thinkpad. Like you wrote, its no X1, but it doesn't have the compromises the X1 has: soldered components, minimal connectors, hefty price, etc.

They're great little machines and the primary complaint is that the trackpads get redesigned every so often with some designs being duds. Lenovo has shipped a decent trackpad the past couple years so its 'safe' to buy them again.

I have exactly the T470s with Win10 as a work notebook and can't really recommend it. The good parts seem to be the keyboards which feels quite good and the display (I have the hidpi model).

However most other things feel worse compared to my 2015 13" MBP.

The touchpad at least supports Win10 multitouch gestures, but otherwise is not very good - I use the MBP always without a mouse, and the T470s mostly with one.

The T470s feels slower (haven't exactly compared compilation times, but I'm pretty sure it is quite a bit slower).

And maybe the worst thing: It's just not stable. I guess I had a frozen machine or bluescreen at least every two weeks. Errors partly look like memory errors, but memtest says everything is fine.

The docking station also makes problems, docking/undocking sometimes fails and my external hidpiscreen (dell 4k 27") often flickers like crazy on the docking stations displayport connector.

sounds like you're conflating the hardware with the software. I personally think that Windows lets down ThinkPads

Yes, I'm conflating it because it's the whole package that I'm using. I also think it's highly likely that those are driver and firmware issues. But I'm supposed to work with the whole machine which Lenovo provided me. It won't help me if I have some decent hardware without software.

I don't think the stability issues are general windows 10 issues, I have windows machines which are rock solid (no issues since over years).

The docking station thing however seems to be more of a real hardware issue to me. The display dropouts are so short that it looks like some synchronization loss due to signal integrity problem.

Doest it make loud clicks when you click on touchpad?

I think it clicks probably as loud as the older Macbooks with mechanical touchpad. Louder than my newer Macbook with Force Touch, but not annoyingly loud.

Can you have a totally silent T470?

For me this is the killer feature in a working machine. I was one of the early adopters of x220, and its fan was annoying. Everything else (aside from the trackpad) was perfect.

This is something Apple gets right. They use big fans at low revs, which are inaudible. Even Linus himself was using a MacBook Air for long time due to this reason [1].

Nowadays, a similarly silent machine (actually fanless) which is also quite cheap, Linux friendly and good quality is Xiaomi Mi Air 12.5 inch.

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2012/04/19/an-interview-with-milleniu...

My T470s is almost always silent. I never hear it when doing the usual web surfing and software dev activities. The only time I hear the fans is when I'm doing the things that make Macbook Pros run their fans, too: video conferencing, compiling large applications, etc.

My T450s is silent at the usual activities. If you are doing something intensive it'll spin up the fan, which, while noticeable, isn't an annoying sound.

Zing, exact same setup but with Xmonad here and I couldn't be more happy :)

I haven't gotten around to tweaking up the power saving, though.. I don't suppose you have a dotfiles repo or something?

Does the dual core processor bother you? At work I had a mid 2015 MBP with a quad core i7 HQ processor (can't remember which). It was beastly. I'm worried that by getting a dual core I will regret it... What's your impression?

I have a dual core hyperthreaded i7 in a T450s and I feel like sometimes it doesn't quite keep up.

Ah, that's too bad. I want to get the T470 with the i7 7600U and that is my main concern :(

Do you know if they've fixed the PWM issue that plagued the last few generations of thinkpad? It was an issue that affected the displays in many thinkpads when they were set on low brightness and ended up giving some people headaches.

I have T460s. No PWM on mine. There are two different model screens that come with the T460, ironically the higher spec screen uses PWM. there are loads of comment forums discussing this. I did lots of research for this machine and can tell you it was a massive difference over my previous X series which had PWM and gave me horrific headaches

I decided I wanted a laptop, so I got a T520 (i5-2520M 4gb ram) and put a little SSD in it.

The display isn't great (1366x768), and video screen-splits a bit, but I love it.

True perfection comes with NixOS and XMonad, though. ;)

I use a T460p for work and love it. Compact quiet machine with excellent keyboard, quad-core i7, 32 gb ram, dedicated graphics and excellent battery life.

It's hilariously chunky though, but I don't mind.

If I had to buy a windows/linux laptop, the T460 is what I would have selected. The 470 looks great too.

and also the terrible chiclet keyboard :(

I mostly love my T560, but really miss the good old keyboard. Also, who decided that it would be good idea to ship "professional" device like this with F-keys set to what should have been an Fn-called functions (volume and brightness control, etc...)

The Fn thing is an easy fix with Fn-Esc, which swaps them back to ordinary function keys.

I have the same complaint about Windows. Professional editions should come with more professional defaults.

Can't you just change that in BIOS? I know I did on my lenovo.

you can, but it's a weird default nonetheless (plus the keyboard looks ugly with large "action" icons and small Fx labels underneath)

I guess that's more of a Windows problem. In my day-to-day use under Arch, I almost never use the function keys. I do, however, have the multimedia keys configured to do the appropriate things with my sound, screen brightness, wifi, etc.

i really enjoyed reading about your favorite laptop (that has less than nothing to do with the featured article)

This X62 seems like a perfect machine. I'm impressed such a mod made by enthusiasts exists and can actually be bought today.

Meanwhile the Retro Thinkpad, made by Lenovo, seems to be quite a disappointment by just having an old keyboard put on a new thinkpad.

I'm on a x201s since years because I honestly can't find a better machine on the market today (trackpoint, 16/10, great keyboard, matte screen with decent resolution to work, solid as rock, easy to maintain).

Anytime a friend asks me for a cheap laptop buying advice, I tell them to get a used thinkpad. Just add some RAM, SSD and battery if necessary and voila, you have a solid machine that will last you years for less than 400€ total.

My primary machine is a X220 I bought a couple years ago for $300: it's 16:9, not 4:3 (not sure why anyone prefers 4:3), but otherwise nearly the same form factor as this X62 with almost none of the drawbacks -- fairly modern CPUs, DP out (The X230 has MiniDP but also the new style keyboard, a dealbreaker for me), a (not great but adequate) trackpad in addition to the trackpoint. The thing that will probably force me to finally upgrade will be the more advanced capabilities being included in the integrated GPUs now.

Is the retro available yet at your place? What's wrong with new tech with a real keyboard? Isn't that the point of the retro?

From the recent rumors it seems the retro will "just" be a 2017 thinkpad + old keyboard. Cool, but not enough for me.

I guess I got my expectations too high when Lenovo put out surveys asking about screen ratio, status led, thinklights, etc. a couple years ago.

It's sad that the only place to get a HiDPI 4:3 screen today is from ... Apple on the iPad Pro 2 12.9". They have no problem getting that aspect ratio from their panel suppliers. Now we need a Thinkpad Retro keyboard case for the iPP2. Until then, the Logitech Create Pro case has the best iPP2 keyboard.

Why is 4:3 so important to both of you and many others (I'm not trolling but genuinely interested)? I'm on an 13" XPS right now which has a 16:9, supposedly "consumer laptop" ratio, and I'm not missing anything, and I'm as much of a hardcore terminal, touch typist and vi guy as can be.

When I bought mine early last year, I had the luck that both the XPS 13 and the Thinkpad Carbon was in store so I could test it "hands-on". While the keyboard certainly was more elaborate, had more keytravel and all, it wasn't really subjectively better than the XPS's. The display on the Carbon, though, was really a POS compared to the XPS's. I'm guessing it was the TN display; it was just awful and not something I would tolerate on a notebook for the kind of money they're asking.

This I don't get either. Having an 1920 x 1200 monitor is nice of course but I am not getting bent into pretzels if the Anniversary 25 is "just" 1920 x 1080 or some other 16:9 res.

I have a T420s hacked to full HD (someone else did the hacking) and frankly, it's fine to this day, six years in. Looking into the far future, it won't be enough because the 16GB RAM will limit and it would be awfully nice to have Thunderbolt 3 so that I can play the occasional game or two. I really hope Mantiz will actually succeed in launching their MXM based external GPU, would be superb.

But the disappointment is understandable. Check the word cloud on http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/retro-thinkpad-survey-keyboar... -- two years ago would be consumers of Lenovo (and surely past consumers too) have literally begged for a thinkpad with ... keyboard and ... screen. Now I hear on various forums from Lenovo apologists that a custom panel, status LEDs etc would've been expensive but really, if it is expensive, why not run a crowdfunding campaign to see whether there's interest? They might have been positively surprised.

But oh well. As I posted elsewhere, the keyboard winter has been upon us since 2012 and I am grateful for any little thaw. The last laptop with a usable keyboard layout was the 2011 ThinkPad generation with Sandy Bridge CPU , the last usable phone was the Droid 4. Late October this year we are getting the ThinkPad Anniversary 25 and a proper looking keyboard mod for the Moto Z. This is our last hurrah. The curtain has dropped, this is the last encore and then this era is over. I am sad, but it is what it is. I will get at least five years out of the Anniversary 25 (that's the longest warranty I can buy) but I hope for ten and if I am lucky then the Moto keyboard will last five years too. Maybe eye tracking grows up by then? Voice takes over? Let's hope.

It's not the end of the world. I really like Thinkpads of old, but can do without the clunky optical and legacy ports. And as I said, Dell's keyboard (on the XPS at least) are really working well for me.

My point of reference for what a keyboard can be is the Model M keyboard (no less!) I had the pleasure of using early to mid 90's. Compared to that experience the difference between a ThinkPad (any generation) and a good non-ThinkPad keyboard is gradual at best.

"The XPS 15's keyboard still maintains the same plastic keys with 1.3mm of travel, which is a bit on the shallow side."

I do not see dedicated Home - End - PgUp - PgDn buttons either. It's vital. Look at my chosen desktop keyboard https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61gEPhEChqL... see something next to the arrows? Matias Ergo Pro , mounted vertically.

If you think about the screen real estate as 1 column, 16:9 is too wide to fill it up with said column (a narrower column is easier to read/follow) and at the same time a lot of UI usually occupies the height of the screen that is the scarce resource in this case (compared to width).

If you start using 2 columns the advantage of a 4:3 is less apparent in my opinion

What drives me up the wall with all recent macbooks, besides the deteriorating keyboards, is how they need a charged battery to power on. Meaning, they have to constantly drain and charge the battery even with ac plugged in. Is is really that hard to provide what has been standard in laptops for years with an additional wall power circuit? Just planned breakage so you have to keep buying new ones? Apple in the passed stressed these kinds of details, now apparently you can't even tell whether it's charging anymore without looking at the screen.

Edit: I point out Apple failing to write drivers FOR THEIR OWN LAPTOPS and I get downvotes? :/

Apple just doesn't seem to care about build quality beyond the cosmetics of their Mac lineup. A great example of this is how they have dual connections from the keyboard & trackpad to the mainboard (USB and SPI), while the UEFI and Linux have drivers to support the keyboard fully, macOS has no driver for the built-in USB connection.

What this means is when your coffee spills on your Mac, the keyboard won't work in macOS.

Louis Rossman did a video demonstrating Apple's lack of drivers for their own hardware: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geGmC1xI4zo

> Apple just doesn't seem to care about build quality beyond the cosmetics of their Mac lineup. A great example of this is how they have dual connections from the keyboard & trackpad to the mainboard (USB and SPI), while the UEFI and Linux have drivers to support the keyboard fully, macOS has no driver for the built-in USB connection.

Well, it's complicated.

In the past mobile Macs used USB to connect the input devices like most other notebooks do. At a certain point Apple decided that it would be a good idea to switch to SPI for power consumption reasons.

Following that decision there were certain models which had wired both, e.g. the MacBook Pro 2015. While Apple switched already to use SPI there, Linux still used USB, as there was simply no driver support.

The Retina MacBook in 2015 was the first mobile Mac which didn't support USB for input devices anymore. The MacBook Pro followed in late 2016.

That left Linux without a working driver for the input devices. A year ago somebody started to reverse engineer the SPI protocol to get a working driver: https://github.com/cb22/macbook12-spi-driver/

The release of the SPI-only MacBook Pros end of last year sparked the further development of this driver, so it's slowly reaching a state were everything is just working (maybe except for advanced Touchpad features).

That driver is still not included in any major Linux distribution, as it's still pretty experimental and also required patching the Linux kernel for quite some time, because Apple does some ACPI-related stuff different than the PC-world. Thankfully support for Apples way will land in the upcoming Linux 4.14 (https://github.com/torvalds/linux/commit/53ac64aac9af8cd0e54...) making some code in the driver redundant (https://github.com/cb22/macbook12-spi-driver/pull/46).

So I would say that whole topic isn't about not to care about build quality, but about to care about power consumption. Still having USB on some generations of Macs in addition to SPI was probably simply to ease the migration by unbundling the hardware changes from the software changes.

Because it seems fair enough as en engineering decision?

Apple also provide firmware updates far longer than most manufacturers (there was a recent-ish CCC? talk highlighting this).

> Because it seems fair enough as en engineering decision?

Huh? Supporting hardware with drivers is purely a software decision, its not as though software adds noteworthy weight to a device.

> Apple also provide firmware updates far longer than most manufacturers

Only for iPhones, on Mac they leave your iCloud email in in plaintext on the UEFI after the computer is wiped. For computers, expect 6 to 7 years of macOS updates at most, meanwhile Windows & Linux offer support to ancient i386 systems still.

> on Mac they leave your iCloud email in in plaintext on the UEFI after the computer is wiped.

You are probably referring to the "Find My Mac" token that's stored in the NVRAM. It's fairly easy to wipe it with one of these commands/procedures:

  - sudo nvram -d fmm-mobileme-token-FMM
  - sudo nvram -c # this one will wipe the entire NVRAM, use with care!
  - https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063
> For computers, expect 6 to 7 years of macOS updates at most

High Sierra can be installed on "Late 2009 iMacs", that right there is 8 years of security and feature updates. Those models will get security and point updates, at the very least, until the next version of macOS, for a total of 9 years (if not more, we'll see).

Last year's macOS Sierra won't install on my wife's 2010 Macbook Pro. Apple doesn't seem to always roll off support every year. I'm guessing some version adds new tech and they drop support for 3-4 years worth of hardware all at once (that hardware is usually at minimum 5 years old).

> Supporting hardware with drivers is purely a software decision, its not as though software adds noteworthy weight to a device.

But writing drivers still takes engineering time and costs money. Why bother writing two different drivers for two different interfaces when they do the same thing?

> Why bother writing two different drivers for two different interfaces when they do the same thing?

Reliability and quality, the hardware is already there, why would you hamstring the product's reliability?

Because a failure that causes one interface to fail, but not the other seems really unlikely. Plus it wouldn't just be another driver to write, you also have to come up with some logic that determines if one has failed and use the other instead. This isn't linux where you can reasonably tell users "oh just blacklist this kernel driver and it'll use the other instead."

> a failure that causes one interface to fail, but not the other seems really unlikely.

Go follow that link in my original post. Its a fairly common water damage issue for Macbooks where the SPI bus will be damaged, but the USB connection will be fine.

> come up with some logic that determines if one has failed and use the other instead.

Once again, go follow that link. Apple already built the logic, just instead of switching to USB, it begs you to pair a bluetooth keyboard!

Ah, sorry, I wasn't somewhere I could watch the video. If that's the case, I take back what I said, it could probably make sense to include both drivers then.

No worries, I avoid linked videos like the plague myself. This one is decently short (for these types of repair videos) at 11 minutes, and is pretty easy to jump through if your pressed for time.

This is not really true, the difference is much smaller and you will not boot windows 10 with the i386 feature set.

Since Windows 8 the NX bit is required, making it require relatively modern CPU's, mostly x86_64, allthough a few x86 has it as well.

So for example, you can run the 32bit version of win 10 on the 32bit Core Duo (it has nx), while OSX with its 64bit requirement needs a Core 2 Duo.

Newer OSX require a graphics card of DX10 level, Windows 10 require DX9 level.

How much of your email are they storing in UEFI? And why?

The full email address is stored, there are a couple videos where Louis Rossman nabs the email address (occasionally with an SPI programmer) and contacts the original owner, finds out the laptop is stolen and returns it.

Oh the email address. That makes more sense. I thought perhaps they were storing iCloud email in the chip for your account.

Thankfully I have no expectation my keyboard will work after spilling water on it.

It's more about voltage than power, so you are wrong that they necessarily drain the battery when plugged in . Anyways, this isn't new at all, it was the same with PowerBook Duo.

Why does every other laptop manufacturer include circuits to handle this use case, yet Apple has failed to do so for 24 years?

Same deal with the lack of keyboard texturing on Macs, providing a flat surface for bacteria, oils and dirt to collect on your laptop's keyboard. Other manufacturers commonly add an anti-microbial texture to their keyboards, which also wards off most of the grease you see on Mac keyboards.

Point of reference here - I plugged in an old 2008 Macbook Pro with no battery (it had expanded, so I took it back to Apple for recycling), and it booted up fine from a Magsafe 1 charger. So I don't know if that's the case.

Same here. That battery was pretty scary.

Personally, I don't remember owning a battery removable Mac notebook between the PowerBook G4 to the MacBook Pro that couldn't function without a battery while plugged in.

The Duo was the first, and not every powerbook after it copied this design. I think they might have pulled it out again for the G1 Air, but I'm not sure.

It was the case for me and @m_mueller apparently, my old MBP had one of those inflated batteries from heat likely, the only other device I've seen a battery puff up like that in is an old Blackberry. No bueno!

Never seen significant puffage in the used/broken Li-Ion battery packs I've rebuilt either, so presumably that is moderately unique to Apple?

It is unique to the laws of physics in this universe. If you look around, you'll find video of exploding flashlights, and it wasn't Apple that recently had airlines forbidding you to bring their devices onto planes...

So, that's drivers, batteries, and keyboard-coatings; what's next?

Saving your email you used for iCloud to the UEFI in plain text and providing no way to wipe it? Could take a sledgehammer to it...

Never said that battery failure was something that only occurred with Apple, just the way they fail (puffing up) was something that has happened to myself and two of my friends, meanwhile these 5+ year old battery packs from HPs and Dells that I've been pulling apart had a cell or two fail to retain a charge, but they don't significantly expand in size usually.

> providing no way to wipe it

sudo nvram -d fmm-mobileme-token-FMM

I have a summer 2009 MBP whose battery failed in... 2013, I think. I removed the battery and have been running it off just the Magsafe adapter ever since (just as a low-power home server).

From time to time, Apple has cheated to make their laptops thinner by skipping a capacitor or two. This started with the PowerBook duo (the first ultralight, actually, Apple basically defined the modern laptop form back then), and they pull out this trick whenever they need it to fit in their design envelope (literally and figuratively). I'm sure other laptop manufacturers do also, you probably just never encountered any other ones.

Clean your keyboard more regularly.

> Clean your keyboard more regularly.

Just touching an Apple keyboard gives it a slight grease, despite regular cleaning. You don't get that on other keyboards, as they are textured slightly to prevent it.

This isn't true; I've actually done some anecdotal AB testing on this. My wife cleans her Macbook keyboards regularly and it's always non-greasy to my touch, they always feel new. I on the other hand, am less diligent, and I can tell.

Compare it to a Corsair keyboard or a Thinkpad keyboard, you can get that new feeling much longer in between cleaning. Additionally, your wife may have drier skin, meaning less or no grease.

Also, the texture doesn't make the keyboard cleaner, it just makes it feel less greasy when dirty. That isn't considered a good thing to many people who are more likely to fit into Apple user demographics.

Except we both use the same computers, so I expect it goes beyond user just to habit.

The same trick was used in many Nokia phones. Probably the most extreme instance of this is one HW revision of 5110, where the final RF PA stage consists of single NPN transistor in common emitter circuit connected directly to battery terminals (other HW variants have HP power amplifier IC in the same place, but still, powered straight from the battery)

> Meaning, they have to constantly drain and charge the battery even with ac plugged in.

I'm nearly certain this is wrong

partially, charger is too weak to power whole laptop, so the whole thing requires battery as a buffer.

Similarly X220/230 will throttle to half the speed (~1GHz) when using 65W charger (instead of recommended 90W) and no/empty battery.

Seriously? I did not know this. The battery in my old MSI died recently (no longer charges) but I can still use it plugged into a wall. I thought "Well that's good. At least it's not like a shitty cellphone where it has to build up a minimum," but .. guess that's not true now for MacBooks?

I don't quite understand what you're saying. Are you asserting that modern Mac computers will not turn on without a battery installed (which is not true in my experience), or are you asserting that trickle power is a bad thing (also not true in my experience)? Maybe I'm missing your point altogether.

Edit: did some research, I will admit it is possible that newer MacBook pros with an embedded battery may not power on if it is not connected (not sure about this). But I know my 2010 15-inch MacBook Pro does power on and run without a battery connceted (I use it as a media server), and I'm pretty sure most MacBook airs would run without a battery connected as well.

Doesn't seem to impact battery life much, so they handle that properly at least - I've got old Macbooks that were on AC all the time, marginal degradation of the batteries.

I went out shopping a few weekends ago to see what the current offering on laptops looks like. I ended up in an Apple store, and after only a few seconds fiddling with a MacBook, I walked straight back out again. That keyboard is terrible. I don't care how many other things Apple's line has going for it - if the primary interface to the device is that bad, I just can't imagine using it.

I wish there were more laptops out there with the old style ThinkPad keyboard on them :(

On my work desktop (iMac 5k) I use a Das ultimate mechanical keyboard, I’ve been a big fan of Das keyboards with Blue or Brown switches for many years, I purchased a MacBook 12” Retina when they came out and it certainly took some adjusting to get used to the new keyboard but - after a week or so I really, truly liked it, I found myself typing very fast will a low error rate, when the new MacBook Pro came out a few months back I noted that they used a new generation of the same low profile keys that the MacBook 12” had, again I really enjoyed it because I was used to new style of key mechanism thanks to having the 12” for some time, I ended up buying a 13” MBP and oh my I’d almost go as far as saying I love the keyboard. Yes it’s very different from both mechanical keyboards such as my Das keyboards and legacy laptop keyboard designs and I think after a short adjustment period many people would likely enjoy the feel of the keys more than legacy / previous designs - it really grows on you.

As someone used to mechanical keyboards, I seem to keep physically straining or even internally bruising my right pinky on the Mac keyboards.

I'm not sure what to do apart from not using the laptop keyboards (both 2013 style and 2016 style)

Right pinky brigade checking in.

Mechanical solved this for me instantly.

Ditto. If you experience this, get a mechanical board immediately.

For me it was the other way around.

Avoiding mechanical keyboards all my life and never got one of these typical programmer health issues.

Just like this tiger-repellent rock that has kept me safe from tigers my entire life.

Hehe, yes, maybe my genes are superior ;P

But seriously, I never understood the craze for these clunky things. Almost all devs I know use them and most of them have issues with their arms/hands.

I use them. Cause and effect have a direction: I switched to mech boards because I was having wrist trouble. It made all the difference for me - they're fine now.

Other reasons people like them usually are about customizability. If you think of it as being roughly similar to how some people can be about noodling with cars, you won't be too far off-base.

- With the right firmware, they are fully customizable - you can remap things how you like, create macros, whatever, and config is stored on the board.

- You can customize the switches - there are a bewildering array of switch options. People also spend lots of time customizing switches in various ways to change how they feel.

- Layouts - keyboard nerds have produced a huge array of different layouts.

- Looks - you can buy your own keycaps. Those, too, come in a wide array of profiles and appearances. Some people make really nice boards out of metal, wood, sometimes odder things (I heard about someone trying to make cases out of Corian at one point). If you like that sort of thing, you can have them covered in blinky LEDs. There's a whole tiny art scene making keycap-sculptures that go for a ton of money, relatively speaking.

And that's before you get to the crazy stuff that leads to people paying $1k+ on a keyboard.

Really, it is like anything else - people do a lot of things as hobbies that look odd from outside.

This is a reference to The Simpsons, for anyone who didn't get it.

It's a much older joke than that though.

Are those special rocks or can I just pick some up from my garden? I guess any garden that doesn't have tigers in it should work right?

I'm using a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. It has a great ergonomics in terms of keyboard layout and hand posture but uses very cheap key switches that feel bad and don't last long (I think I'm on my third keyboard now). Also the space bar is not engineered well.

I just wish someone would make a version of this keyboard with decent key switches for say, 90€ (the 4000 is around 36€ here).

I think this is mostly likely going to be out of your price range but my journey to find a keyboard like the Microsoft Natural with mechanical switches lead me to this, https://www.trulyergonomic.com/store/truly-ergonomic-mechani....

Warning, if you end up getting this keyboard you will need to take some time to learn how to type on it due to non-standard design. I personally think it's worth it but for others that is a non-starter.

This is the perfect keyboard design, but it has reliability issues. After 1 year of use, certain keys stopped responding on mine. This is apparently a common issue, as evidenced by other online comments.

You might want to try the Matias Ergo Pro. I switched to it after 15 years on the MSFT Natural 4000. I still slightly prefer the 4000's layout and wrist rest, but the overall typing experience on the Matias is much better.


Can you remap keys easily? I'd like to give my right pinky a break by using my thumb for enter key duties.

No, and that's a shame, because the right half of the spacebar would make a perfect enter key. FWIW, when I had right-pinky pain years ago, I remapped semicolon to enter with good results.

If you don't mind non-standard layouts, here are some excellent keyboards that give your thumbs more to do. :)




Counterpoint: I got a new Macbook Pro from my job and I’m really enjoying the new keyboard: very little travel but a satisfying click to every press and minimal actuation pressure.

I also really like the new keyboard. I use an older MBP for work and it used to be my favorite key design. Now it feels mushy.

For people who like to hit their keys hard, I can see it being a problem. For most though, give it a week and you'll be back up to speed and won't want to trade back.

The main downside is that mine got kinda mushy / misfire at the one-year mark.

I'm currently living abroad, but ideally I'd be able to bring my Macbook Pro into the Apple store next time I'm in the States and get all the keyboard switches replaced.

Is that possible?

Same here. I use a Whitefox (with blues) at my desk, but I have grown quite accustomed to the 2016 MBP keyboard. For me the key stability + clickiness are what I like about it. Yes the throw is short, but I was never a "slam my fingers down on the keys" kind of typer. I'm actually thinking about switching to a mechanical with a shorter throw for my desk (Not nearly as short as the MBP, but about half of what most mechanical boards are.)

I'm very curious how many characters everyone commenting types per day. Personally, I want more actuation pressure/travel. I feel it's safer for long-term RSI to have more muscular engagement and motion.

Yes, exactly this!

Define terrible. If terrible means trying something for a few seconds and hating it then sure, that's terrible. But by that definition coffee is terrible. When I first tried coffee I hated it within a few seconds. Of course I love it now and have for 2 decades.

I had the same kind of reaction to the new keyboard (albeit nowhere near as strongly). It's great now though. The small travel, the sound of it, it's quite effortless for typing. It's definitely an improvement over the old one, in my experience.

Very little travel is my definition of terrible. Without travel, there is nothing to dampen my key presses, meaning my joints and fingers would get more fatigued over time. Apple have shortened the key travel to make their machines thinner, not to give you a better typing experience.

I only care because I worry the effect the Apple RDF will have on other manufacturers. For example, I can no longer buy a mobile phone without a glued-in battery.

You basically never have to even lift your fingers, the keys stay low. No need to dampen anything.

I would love to see a double-blind RSI study where they randomly assigned different people different keyboards with different amounts of travel, etc.

I think it's fair to say that typing style can be worse than the keyboard, but I also suspect that a keyboard where you "never have to even lift your fingers" causes more RSI than one that requires more activity.

Why do you suspect that?

Less activity means weaker muscles, and our muscles evolved for a wide range of movements. Reduced movement is generally less healthy in the long run, but feels easier in the short run.

Agreed. It would be nice too change typing habits but it is very hard.

I've used the keyboard for months now and it's still the worst keyboard I've ever used. Am I allowed to call it terrible now? :)

Anyone is free to call it whatever they want.

I've been using my 2016 MBP TB since near its release and it's my favorite laptop keyboard I've ever used.

I hope other manufacturers don't follow their lead. Greasy, bacteria covered, minimal travel keyboards are a great way to make people hate typing.

If your minimal travel keyboard is greasy and bacteria covered, I guarantee you your maximum depth mechanical keyboard is just as greasy and bacteria covered.

Not if you have a slightly textured keyboard and clean it on occasion. Apple's dead flat plastic keys on their laptop and bluetooth keyboards are a perfect growth medium for bacteria, while also accreting oil much more readily.

What's anti-microbial about bumps?

In my experience it just creates more hard to clean grooves for bacteria and dirt. Not exactly a challenge for microbes.

I think greasy and bacteria covered might just be a personal problem, and not a symptom of short key travel ;)

No, its a common complaint that the keys still look greasy post-cleaning on Mac keyboards. Apple doesn't texture them with an anti-microbial texturing, preferring to leave them deadpan flat. This speeds the accretion of oils and gives bacteria a nice, comfortable surface to grow on.

What is "anti-microbial texturing"?

How does longer travel prevent grease or bacteria? If anything, bigger keys have larger surface area for grease and bacteria to stick on. There was a joke that programmer can survive a month by eating what he shakes out of their keyboard, does not really apply to Apple keyboards any more.

The anti-microbial coating (aka the small matte bumps on your standard keyboard) impair bacteria growth and slow oil accretion on the keys.

I was astounded at how bad the keyboards are on the new Mac laptops. I thought most of the reviewers were full of it...until I tried one.

I concur. I tried the keyboard on the latest thinner Macbook Pro models and they are just as bad as the Macbook (12"). I suppose I could get used to them... but I don't think I want to.

Macbooks have reached a point where they are too thin to be good notebooks.

I actually like the Macbook keys more than the Pro's. The new ones lost the firmness of the Macbook's--more wobbly under light touch, without much more travel than the Macbook's.

The Macbook chiclet keyboards are bad, but the new Thinkpad keyboard are great (at least on the X- and T-series).

Yes, I know the layout has changes and seems weird at first, but I honestly think it works great, after having used it for a while. And I have a T420 as my personal laptop, the last T-series with the original 7-row keyboard.

I can't believe all these years of typing on newer Macs (even the new pro), Surfaces, Dells, Gateways, etc. I never owned a ThinkPad until recently. The keyboard on my yoga 370 has unveiled a new world of typing. The TrackPoint is a gamechanger.

I just ordered an old X230 and plan to spruce it up and use as my home PC. Might even try to dualboot MacOS.

> The TrackPoint is a gamechanger

Are you expressing sarcasm here? Using the nub mouse is an infuriatingly frustrating exercise in trying to navigate the cursor to a point on the screen with some semblance of speed, and without overshoot. It's minimally five times slower than using a mouse.

You have to learn to use it as you had to learn to use an ordinary mouse or trackpad. Once you are comfortable with it a trackpoint is 10 times better than using a trackpad (probably even more ;) ). For example, you don't have to leave your hand(s) from the keyboard or awkwardly balancing the labtop on your knees when moving the cursor.

Nope, the trackpoint is simply inferior, especially for scrolling.

Nope, you have no clue :) thats what a trackpad is good for. The trackpad is easily reachable with your thumb without leaving your fingers too much from the keyboard (most linux distros have the right of the trackpad configured as scroll area). So no annoying multi finger scrolling needed.

Furthermore, middle mouse button + trackpoint scrolls as well, so scrolling really isn't an issue.

No sarcasm here. It took me about two weeks to adjust to the movement/speed curve of the TrackPoint. It then took me another two months to reach sufficient proficiency to bypass a mouse and trackpad. I am sure some folks could adapt faster, but I had to surpass 22 years of mouse muscle memory.

My job entails writing emails most of the day, Salesforce, and internal communication tools. I love not having to take my hands of home row. I haven't been able to quantify any speed improvement. But, I feel more focused and in the "zone" more often. Could all be my imagination. It could also be that I find ThinkPad keyboard wonderful to use too.

I do use the Adobe CC Suite for the occasional video, presentation, or mock up. No issue using the trackpoint there either.

The X230 is great. With a new battery, an SSD, and 16GB of RAM, I'm not sure there's a better laptop. I run Xubuntu on an X230T and it's fantastic.

I actually only came to it because I was so frustrated with the new Dell XPS 13 my company provided that I went and grabbed an old Lenovo out of storage.

just avoid anything that costs less than 1200$ at thinkpad. the E series keyboard are even worse than apple's

i have an E470 sitting next to a X1 Carbon 5th gen, and I can tell you you are very wrong. The plastic is a different texture, but they otherwise feel nearly identical. The only key I can feel a big difference in the tension on, is the spacebar. The layouts are identical.

Everyone shits on the E series, but since they got rid of the CD Drive and put the old trackpad back, they have been nice cheap pcs.

good to know they went back on the crap they were doing with the E series. I badmouth it because when i saw them in person (bought online, returned) they deserved it so badly that i didn't even consider another lenovo afterwards

Another voice for the higher grade Thinkpad chicklet keyboards. My W530 came with one and as a long long time Thinkpad owner I was wary but I have been hammering on this for a few years now and it really has been great. Just the right amount of key feel for me.

Thinkpad retro is coming soon. Modern thinkpad with old school keyboard.

Thank you for mentioning that! I had to go find some more details. https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/retro-thinkpad-image...

Oh wow! I thought this project had died; I'm so excited. I type this on a five-year-old Thinkpad. Every year I look at the Lenovo site, see what fresh horrors the keyboard contains, and sigh.

I hope it's so successful that Lenovo stops treating it as a "fun project" and starts offering evolutions of it as part of their main product line.

Sadly I don't think it will be. The problem is most businesses will probably view it as a novelty line and stay clear in favor of the mainstream product lines. This will lead to Lenovo claiming it was a failure in the long run because there was low-demand and burying this issue for good.

Looks disappointing to me because no 4:3 screen.

Most laptops are terrible. We should celebrate that this one might not have a terrible keyboard.

This is it. My next laptop <3

I've tried it myself and it does feel weird, but I know a couple of people who have those that absolutely swear by them. My wife is a nurse and one of the consultants at a party a few weeks ago was raving about how much he loves his MacBook. Even within the Apple user community there's a bit of a divide.

But isn't that a good thing? Why would you expect every single Apple product to suite you personally, to the point where if just one device isn't right for you, you won't even look at any of the others?

For me it is nice to type on, but the keys have already started popping out after less than a year, very flimsy indeed.

At first, I was also concerned with the keyboard, coming from a 2013 MacBook Air usually equipped with a (Pok3r) mechanical keyboard. Once I got used to it, though, I have to say it's one of the best keyboards I type on.

I actually didn't like the new mbp keyboard at first but once I got used to it I actually started to really like it - And im usually a mech snob myself.

I completely disagree. I think the current MBP keyboard is one of the most satisfying laptop keyboards I've ever typed on. The minimal travel takes some time to get used to but I love how tactile it is. This is coming from someone that spends most of their time typing on Cherry MX green or clear switches.

Agreed. It's the opposite of the fashionable mechanical keys--tactile yet requires minimal muscle contraction. It's almost a breeze to type on. I find my Macbook's keyboard very satisfying to use, with only one caveat: the up/down arrow keys can be indistinguishable to the fingertip. Making them like the F and J keys would be perfect.

I like the KB on the dell latitude line.

I don't like these so much. I have an E7240 for a year now, and while it's great compared to most other laptops, I still prefer the keyboard of my ThinkPad X61s. When I tried the X230 keyboard, it also felt somewhat better than that of my Latitude.

That said, when I used Lenovo Yoga for a while, I was just surprised how bad a keyboard could be. I love my Latitude.

EDIT: and I miss the TrackPoint, although with a touchscreen it doesn't matter so much.

My latitude E5470 has a backlit kb with trackpoint, I had to pay for it though.

But the keyboard isn't the primary input device on Macs, it's the track pad: point, click, and especially scroll.

If we had statistics on what percentages of the time macbook owners are using just the trackpad vs either keyboard or both at the same time, I suspect a large population would primarily use only the trackpad.

Perhaps if you are primarily a consumer. Some of us type for a living. I go hours without moving the mouse.

do some of you realize that 95%+ of people _don't_, and they are the customers that Apple is targeting?

>Despite its shortcomings, I ended up using the X61s more than my 12” MacBook. The X61s convinced me that a much better laptop could exist. The same chassis with modern components would be a very compelling product.

This is a good point and there and many people who believe it to be true. Only problem are the Lenovo executives that are not willing to provide such product (see Thinkpad Retro).

Rumor is that the Thinkpad Retro aka. the anniversary model, is due in October, celebrating 25 years of Thinkpad.


I've been waiting for it. I find it an awesome initiative from Lenovo, and it shows something many other big companies have lost. Making products for the hardcore geeks/fans. This used to be common 20 years ago.

If they execute this well, they'll score a lot of points in my book!

> Only problem are the Lenovo executives that are not willing to provide such product (see Thinkpad Retro).

I had (and loved) a few Thinkpads, but I wouldn't produce one if I was a Lenovo executive as well, unless I had extremely good indicators from the market. To me it seems one of those ideas that prospective clients think they'll buy, but they won't.

Realistically speaking, a 13.3" old school Thinkpad nowadays would be twice as thick (~3 cm) and weight 40/50% more than renowned competitors like a Dell XPS or a MBP. There's not much to squeeze, as the philosophy of Thinkpads was (also) to allow the user to change parts, which takes space and weight.

In such conditions, there is a serious risk that it would appeal only to a very limited audience (which is a serious business risk).

At the executive level at Lenovo, there's little room to recognize the unofficial Thinkpad X62 as anything more than a mere curiosity when comparing Thinkpad sales to Apple's Macbook sales, forgotten after morning coffee.

Less extreme modifications to retrofit the classic 7-row Thinkpad keyboard to a more modern T430 chassis wouldn't even rate a mention.

Keyboards are really really important but only a tiny subset, and even if the retro Thinkpad's target market all bought them, that would still dwarf corporate sales where Thinkpads are bought by the thousands, including parts and lucrative service contracts.

As an individual user who will only personally ever own a handful of Thinkpads, I'm never going to be a lucrative service contract.

Had t40p for 10+ years. Dropped it from ~2m high several times. Got coffee over it numerous times. Kids of my sister left it drowning in a puddle of ice-cream ice.

I cleaned it with water a bunch of times, worked after drying. I even reflowed the motherboard after the housing got a little bit less stiff and random resets and freezes occured.

I think my sister still has it. I should get it back and hang it on the wall or something.

> I even reflowed the motherboard after the housing got a [...]

How does one do that? Did you do it in a professional shop, or at home? What is the tooling required? I am interested in all details.

Yeah my T41p had the same problem with the GPU (specifically ATI I seem to remember) popping out of its BGA socket slightly, sometimes (and in my case) caused by picking up the laptop by the corner of the palmrest (naughty but common habit that you usually get away with on Thinkpads)... was a common problem in those series with the oven reflow technique http://www.computerrepairtips.net/how-to-reflow-a-laptop-mot... working for lots of people. Didn't work for me but I think that was my failing. I fixed it with a folded up credit card inside under the trackpoint/palmrest, acted as a crude wide spring applying pressure over the heatsink/pipe of the gpu, horrific bodge lol but it worked and I carried on using the machine for years without problems after that.

I did it around 2008, I put it into a kitchen over with a laser temperature meter present to check temps. Basically, you remove the motherboard, strip as much as possible, put it into a controlled high temperature space (an oven), melt the solder and then let it cool down.

> I forgot how much I preferred 4:3 screens for work.

I didn't. I love 4:3 on laptops. I wish more people would rediscover it.

The Chromebook Pixel line features 4:3. It really is quite nice for browsing pages, reading content, coding, etc.

This was actually one of my reasons to abandon Android tablets.

I wanted 4:3, but all that was offered was 16:9 or 16:10.

The Pixel C had something closer to a 4:3, if memory serves.[0]

[0] The wiki page said it's actually a 1:√2 ratio.

It was priced absurdly high for a tablet on a platform with terrible in-app tablet-support though.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 2048x1536 Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 2048x1536 Nexus 9 2048x1536

I have the Nexus 9 and that was the final nail in the coffin ;)

The Surface line have 3:2, it's definitely a step up from 16:9.

Yeah the aspect ratio ended up being one of my favorite things about the Surface Book (surprisingly enough, to me)

I fear this battle is already lost, though. Lots of IDEs expect wide screens and place plenty of tabs on the side of the code window. On a laptop, it probably sucks, but on a desktop, you can just have a widescreen monitor that's taller and wider (physically and in resolution) than the 4:3 of old, so you basically have a 4:3 code window with a bunch of toolbars on the sides.

On a desktop, you can fairly easily obtain displays that will fill your entire field of view, so the aspect ratio doesn't matter so much. When it comes to laptops, there's much more of an optimization problem; it therefore seems strange to me that there's so little variety on the market, as different users certainly have different needs.

What are the selling points? It's been a really, really long time since I used one but I feel like side by side work would be constrained by it.

Generally speaking you're only going to be able to fit two source files side-by-side on a ~13 inch laptop screen regardless of the aspect ratio. So the advantage of a 4:3 or 3:2 (which is what Microsoft's Surface line uses) is a little more height and a little less width than 16:9. Usually this means taking away some of the unused gutter space to the right of each source file you have open (less horizontal space) and giving you more visible lines of code (more vertical space).

The bottom line: more visibility of source code.

This is why I've been buying every well priced Thinkpad on Craigslist. From a couple T420's to the occasional T440 (for $70 to $100), with a few librebootable T400's and T60's thrown in for $10 to $20, I seem to hold these laptops for a short duration before friends or family buy them off me for $5 to $15 more.

Plus, when anything breaks, parts are cheap and plentiful. I even upgraded a T440 for my SO with a 1080p IPS screen and a few other bits, its an impressively nice machine all specced out!

> This is why I've been buying every well priced Thinkpad on Craigslist. From a couple T420's to the occasional T440 (for $70 to $100), with a few librebootable T400's and T60's thrown in for $10 to $20, I seem to hold these laptops for a short duration before friends or family buy them off me for $5 to $15 more.

Over here in Germany you unfortunately pay 100 euro for a T61 and 100-300 euro for a T420. If I could get a T440 for just 100 euro I would buy it in an instant.

I have one of these x62's in the i5 version, bought it prebuilt. The screen was quickly updated with the LED backlight mod as well. Honestly, coming from an x220 and x230, this thing flies. Highly recommend one. I also have an x61s that is nice, but the resolution and speed is not modern enough for me.

Hey, great. I'd think it would be on par with the x220 or x230 given the same SSD or RAM.

How hard was it to install the LED backlight mod?

Performance of the x62 is on par for sure. Mainly because the hardware is swappable between them. The relative gain in resolution for the size/weight between a non-fdh modded x2*0 and the x62 is the main takeaway. I also gained miniDP and usb3 which the x220 does not have.

Regarding the LED? Monty, who makes the kit, is an awesome dude and great resource. I emailed with him regarding installation and he quickly responded. Installation should not be for someone without a history of taking these machines apart. You must have the willingness to dig a little deeper than a RAM install, as you are disassembling the screen bezel and making permanent cuts into the plastic and on an expensive x62 prebuilt, this took serious consideration.

The cuts are easy, and the disassembly is easy. no soldering or real issues I can remember, other than having to do it twice because of dust. Do the whole thing in a clean area without a rug, vacuum everything around first.

I highly recommend the kit. Brightness is on par with brand new machines. Just shield your eyes from the LED kit turning out before it's in the screen. SOO BRIGHT

Thanks for all the info!

For users wanting a stable laptop with secure boot in Thinkpad chasis, supplier list from Libreboot seems like a great place.

There are suppliers who will sell refurbished Thinkpads with Libreboot pre-installed at relatively decent prices.


Too bad that there is no model with a 1080p display available.

I'm running an unmodified X220 myself (well, except for installing the webcam myself[1]). Rock solid running FreeBSD 11.1[2].

I'll probably keep running this until / if I (a) roll my own, or (b) Lenovo releases their much-anticipated retro ThinkPad.

[1] https://duncan.bayne.id.au/blog/when-in-doubt.html

[2] https://www.instagram.com/p/BXPY61pFkRK/

Dusted off an several year old x220 that I had lying around that was suffering power issues (dodgy power management fixed with a BIOS update - from last year, so quite surprised they were still in service), also added an SSD and it's been a really solid machine. Coming back to a thinkpad keyboard after years of macbook use was welcome too, found myself typing much faster. Next step is to put coreboot on the BIOS.

I'm doing the 1080p mod on my x230 since I love it so much. Such a great design and keyboard. No it's not paper thin but it doesn't have to be.

I just bought a refurb X230 for pocket change. Threw in a SSD and more RAM, then installed Arch. I can't believe how good it is. I'm going to move to it as my daily driver from a much newer Clevo.

You're in for a treat. Going from the crappy low-res TN panel to a FHD IPS feels almost like getting a whole new machine.

Mine has the IPS screen, but it ghosts so bad.

What are some up-to-date equivalents to the X60/1 if any?

I want something small with a nice keyboard and durable enough I can throw it in a bag without worry but I just can't seem to find anything better than my current X61 which is getting a little tired.

I'd be interested in going even smaller but netbooks don't seem to be a thing anymore.

I also have an X60, would recommend the X250/60/70. It is surprisingly smaller than you would expect from photos, and runs cooler/longer than the X60. The downsides are that the keyboard isn't as good - and how acceptable it is depends on exactly which supplier you get. On the other hand the keys arent quite as cramped as on the X60. You can also get an extended battery which gives you more than 12 hours runtime. Plus you can get nice IPS 1080p displays which is a plus, and it still has ethernet.

Have a look at the gemini palmtop for a potential future arm linux machine.

Something like a Lenovo X-270. I have the X-240 and it’s a good 12.5” laptop, this x-270 looks similar but more modern CPU etc.

I am more a fan of the X over the T.

I have gone trough several newer computers and still lean towards the x220. I actually think the keyboard on the x220 is better... bigger delete key and esc keys.. not backlit but has the night light thingy.

Yeah I miss the 4x3 screen....

Wish it had higher res screen, was a bit thinner and maybe an updated chip set... But

I wrote to the guys in the original post. The price is not as cheap as I thought:

X62 with i5 - 780 USD X62 with i7-5500U - 980USD

both setups no:ram/hdd/battery , new AFFS panel (1400x1050)

I will better consider buying a new Thinkpad or wait for the retro edition

I dearly need to swap the backlight on my X200. Lenovo loves low contrast so much, to the point I believe it's an optician conspiracy :)

ps: AMD announced their laptop ryzen based CPUs, I hope nb51 try one board with it.

Try an X220! I regularly use mine on the balcony in bright sunlight and even with bad vision the screen is a pleasure to read. Plus, the keyboard is fantastic, but I guess that's the same as on the X200.

X220s and x230s come with either TN display, which is terrible or IPS display which is good. Both have the same resolution - 1378x768.

There are mods that allow installation of an FHD display.

The TN panel on the X230 is indeed absolute garbage, and mine was the first time I'd seen burn-in on a modern laptop screen.

I did the FHD mod on my X230 a while ago and can say it makes a world of difference. Well worth the effort of disassembling most of the machine and soldering the mod.

The 51nb folks have also made some other amazing mods like the X320/X330, an X220/230 fitted with a 13" panel: https://imgur.com/a/0m3a1

Im thinking about upgrading my second laptop from x200 -> x220. That sounds like a promising change. I still struggle with low contrast screen on x200 sometimes.

You must have the tablet model with the IPS screen.

I'm typing this reply on an X220-4290-CZ2, a bog standard laptop. The 1366x768 screen goes very bright and I find it useable in sunlight on e.g. a train in a seat by the window when you can't move out of the sun. This is at 52 degrees North mind you, might be different further South.

I have an X60 with slackware on that just runs and runs and runs. It is the screen that I find the limiting factor as OA mentioned. I might summon up the confidence to have a go at the LED backlight hack...

There are non-tablet variants with IPS screen. It's also easy to swap the panel so you can buy it separately if you don't find a good offer.

I know the following models are better, I just have way too many thinkpads already.

Low contrast? You must be working in fully sun-lit room then.

I'm on my 3rd Thinkpad now and always fight with the screen being too bright. My xbacklight setting is usually around 10%.


1) you have a non x200

2) there were different models and I got the shittiest panel

3) my panel is broken

4) you're a cat

I have to agree with this list, the original X200 panel is really crappy. I bought and AFFS a while ago, which is very nice, but even that is dim with today's standards.

He might very well be a cat, but it's true that Thinkpads are sold with very different panels, even in the same Thinkpad model[1].


The x260, for instance, can have a 300:1 contrast ratio, 200 candelas screen, or a 700/1, 300 candelas screen.

[1] Would "model" be the right term then?

again I have an x200, I think at the time Lenovo offered less options, if at all. They changed after too many complaints, and I believe that's why 220 - 260, ... have better screens and more choice

I assumed by x200 you meant x200-series.

I love old-ish laptops, but how is that Core 2 Duo holding up? No touchpad, 1200x800 screen... What do you do with it, if it's not much to ask? I'm truly curious.

Not OP, but my workplace computer is a Dell notebook with a Core i5 CPU underclocked to 750Mhz. I also use an X220i with a Core i3 CPU underclocked to 800MHz (because it will not run at lower speeds). Both offer excellent performance for everything I do. I never use the touchpad, both screens are fine IMO.

Things I do: small-scale data analysis and statistical modelling with Klong and Scheme, plotting graphs, compiling C programs, typesetting with Troff, browsing the Web with Javascript off.

Would love to go back to Thinkpads, but I've had bad experiences with the LCD panel quality (not resolution) being terrible. Maybe it's my eyes, but certain manufacturer LCDs have left a bad impression that I'm unlikely to even consider them - Ones in Thinkpads, Nokia devices, ASUS tablets, some Acer. Even to the point of giving me eye strain.

I think the only non-Apple display in a laptop I've really enjoyed is the 4k one in my Dell (heavy as all but plays games).

Swapping out the panel is fairly easy in most (all?) Thinkpads and they're pretty cheap to source especially if you don't mind buying used. A bit of Googling on the Thinkpad model number will reveal which manufacturer's panels are good and which are bad (often the same IBM/Lenovo part number is used irrespective of the supplier) for that model. Or sometimes another panel with the same dimensions and spec that matches the gpu/connector can be used (often Dell and Lenovo are using interchangeable panels in similar model ranges, used to be the case with Apple too but nowadays they seem to do exclusive deals with manufacturers and don't let anybody else play). Not a solution that everyone can be bothered with but I've vastly improved some cheap 2nd hand Thinpads with a nice new screen.

they do good and bad displays. The OLED displays are incredible. The 768pn TN ones not so.

Part of me still misses my beloved IBM-made X31. But ultimately even if I could choose one with modern components/specs, the thing that would keep me on a MacBook (disregarding software) is the unibody enclosure. Much better to have a machine that dents instead of chips. Beauty so rarely bespeaks durability in design but a CNC machined chassis is really an evolutionary leap for mobile devices.

I would love to have a similar upgrade path with the X220. I don't love the 16:9 display, but a higher res upgrade would take care of that issue. I definitely want to try out the power saving tweaks from that script in the article. I use a 9-cell battery currently and get somewhere around 6-8 hours of life out of it. Would love to extend that a bit.

I have an x220 still. My whole chassis is cracked, my fan grinds like crazy, my lid has been broken since day 1. the thing is tough even though it's pretty much broken in every possible way it still runs fine and since i have the 9 cell battery as well I still get 5-6 hours from it.

I think might next upgrade might have to be the x62

I'm considering the x62 as well. I'm not sure if the motherboard supports non-intel wireless chips and if the CPU requires firmware blobs to run the GPU. If either of those are the case then it isn't a good fit for me because right now my hacked x220 is usable without any proprietary software in the OS.

I use a Lenovo ThinkPad keyboard with my desktop machine. Model KU-1255. Love it and love not ever having to reach for a mouse.

I really miss the keyboard layout of my T410. It's good news that the retro Thinkpad has the same layout, hopefully it will be popular enough that the main product lines go back to having the separate cluster of Delete,Insert,Home,End,PgDn and PgUp that I miss so much.

I have a Dell E6540 for exactly these reasons. It feels like a real computer. It's 1080p, but I prefer widescreen personally. People are always making comments about how old my laptop is, but it's an i7 4810MQ with 16GB RAM!

Apparently they are out of stock for the i7 motherboards, so you'll have to keep an eye out if you want one of those.

I use one of these X62 systems as my laptop.

Much love for the old thinkpads. You can practically drive over them with a car and they keep on ticking.

And I’m over here like bring back the deep black PowerBook G3

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