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New ThinkPad Guts Bring Intel Core I, DDR4, USB 3 to Cult Laptops (hackaday.com)
251 points by edward on Mar 12, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 159 comments

I'm currently on my fifth ThinkPad, so you could say I'm a fan. But I'd like to warn everyone that uses Linux to be careful about buying one.

I bought a T540 3 years ago that shipped with a Bay Trail processor. This processor was absolutely unusable on Linux due to this bug (https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=109051). Even setting max cstate to 1 resulted in regular freezes.

Not only would Lenovo not accept a return of the laptop, I could not even get them to update their Linux compatibility page to warn other users!

To this day:

- The cstate bug is not fixed, and running Linux on a Bay Trail processor will cause lockups

- Lenovo continues to recommend laptop versions that are flat out broken on Linux (https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/solutions/pd031426)

So be careful!

> I bought a T540 3 years ago that shipped with a Bay Trail processor.

You didn't. Bay Trail is an Atom and there has never been a ThinkPad T with an Atom chip.

Not to mention that the 40 generation didn't have a T540. It had a T540p with various Haswell CPUs from cheap i3 up to i7 4700MQ. ThinkPads always ran wonderfully with Linux. It is the only with a p, all other T5x0 machines from the T500 to T580 didn't have a p (performance) postfix.

I do not think there was any ThinkPad ever for that matter with an Atom chip but here I might forget some bad apples. But certainly not in the T and X2... series, these are flagship business class machines.

Maybe some Ideapad? Yoga? Flex? whatever 2-in-1 -- but who cares about those.

Or one of the ill-advised "ThinkPad" branded "business tablets" like the ThinkPad 8 or 10. You're right that Lenovo have never shipped a workstation class ThinkPad laptop with Bay Trail, but their attempts to extend the ThinkPad brand have definitely led them to ship some Atom-based duds.

I'm going to extend OP the benefit of the doubt on the model name here and say this: it sucks that Lenovo have diluted the "ThinkPad" brand and it sucks that they didn't remove the bad models from their Linux compatiblity list.

On the flip side, I think ThinkPad workstation laptops (T-series and above) are still safe for Linux. Just avoid the convertibles and tablets as well as the budget-range Edge series, which are frankly bad computers overall.

Actually, there were also Bay Trail Pentiums and Celerons:


I meant the Atom architecture in general, trade names nonwithstanding. Bonnell, Saltwell, Silvermont, Airmont, Goldmont, Goldmont Plus. ThinkPads, on the other hand, in roughly the same time frame have used Merom, Penryn, Arrandale, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell, Skylake, Kaby Lake and Kaby Lake R CPUs.

Does that more satisfy you my hair splitting, persnickety friend?

Yes, you're right. I thought there might have been a Celeron T540, but the T series never has a Celeron processor option.

Uh, okay so it was a T540p? I don't see how this changes anything. They list the computer as Linux compatible. It was not, and they were neither interested in returning it or updating their site.

The difference between T540 vs T540p doesn't really change anything. What did matter to 'chx' is that you said it had a Bay Trail processor, and strongly implied that the problems you had with running Linux on the machine was due to your machine having this Bay Trail processor. To those who are intimately familiar with these ThinkPad's (not me) this is an egregious error.

I'd guess that if you came up with a link[1] showing that the T540p was indeed sold with a Bay Trail processor, 'chx' would apologize profusely, publicly eat his hat, and probably come over to mow your lawn. Alternatively, if for some reason you misspoke as to which processor generation it had, you might consider making the world a slightly better place by correcting your error and apologizing for the apparently trivial bit of misinformation.

[1] Like this one, but with Bay Trail than Haswell: https://www.cnet.com/products/lenovo-thinkpad-t540p-15-6-cor...

So the problem is kauffj alleging a ThinkPad T not working with Linux. Plain and simple, there is no such thing. Further, their description of said laptop has the wrong name (T540 vs T540p) and the wrong CPU very strongly indicating their laptop is not a ThinkPad T after all but something else. What else, I can't even guess.

This merited a strong reply because contrary to this allegation, the rule of thumb is to recommend a ThinkPad T or X for someone looking a Linux laptop.

You can accuse an old Porsche 911 SD of having problems with the front engine but people will be quick to point out that a) Porsche 911 only had an SC and not an SD version b) the Porsche 911 engine is in the back.

As a counterpoint - there are plenty of ThinkPads that run Linux quite well. My team at work is almost 100% ThinkPad X1s or T450s, with a variety of distros (Debian, Fedora, Arch) and we don't have too many problems.

It's a shame Lenovo's documentation is inaccurate though!

My W540 is absolute shit running Linux too, the thing randomly locks up and just running VMWare workstation causes the damned thing to heat up.

The ThinkPad was once venerable brand, but I've lost all respect for it - at this point I'm probably just going to buy a MacBook Pro and send the W540 back to the office because I'm tired of playing the Linux compatibility game on modern notebooks.

"at this point I'm probably just going to buy a MacBook Pro and send the W540 back to the office because I'm tired of playing the Linux compatibility game on modern notebooks."

Former ThinkPad fan, current MacBook user: I am likely to buy a Dell for my next laptop. Dell expanded the range of machines that they will preload with (Ubuntu) Linux last year, and were the first big vendor to sign on to the Linux Vendor Firmware Service, so that supported computers can get easily get firmware upgrades.

Former mac user, now Dell XPS user - my first impressions were great, second not so much. XPS laptops have a horrendous coil whine and a lot of model lines have an issue where the computer won't go to sleep(instead stays on with the fan off, resulting in the machine reaching burning temperatures if you just close the lid and put it in your bag). I've had the motherboard replaced 3 times now - both issues are still present. There's thread upon thread upon thread about both on Dell forums - and it seems Dell doesn't have an engineering solution, despite being on the 7th(?) generation of that laptop.

"Former mac user, now Dell XPS user - my first impressions were great, second not so much."

Yeah, I definitely should have qualified that I probably would not get an XPS, because there seem to be consistent issues with that line. That's why I'm pleased to see that Dell have expanded the number of ranges that they offer Linux support on: hopefully there will be some good models at the time that I need to buy a new machine. Or I could buy an unsupported model: none of the ThinkPads that I used had Linux support from the vendor.

Except Dell's QA is an utter shit. Around here we have eight XPS 13, two XPS 15, and only one XPS 15 and one XPS 13 didn't had any problems. From stuck fan to failed SSD or the computer that just won't wake up.

Yea my XPS 15 running Linux is falling apart. The compatibility was all there, but the touchpad already broke; speakers are blown (no hardware limiter and it was over 100% when I unplugged some USB speakers) and the battery is even starting to swell. I just use it as a desktop now.

I use an HP Spectre as my Linux laptop now. Everything worked on a modern kernel out of the box and the quality seems way better.

"I use an HP Spectre as my Linux laptop now. Everything worked on a modern kernel out of the box and the quality seems way better."

I know that Martin Wimpress, the Ubuntu MATE lead, sometimes uses a Spectre. They look to be quite a different thing to what we might expect from a HP laptop.

Probooks and Elitebooks have generally been quite good, we used them for many years at my current workplace, before switching to Thinkpads around the end of the T430/X230 generation.

I certainly didn't have any complaints about them. Absolutely stay away from consumer models, obviously.

FYI Dell issued a recall for XPS batteries. You should check their support pages and make sure to get it replaced (or have one shipped to you).

I'm assuming you're going to switch to MacOS then, because running Linux on a modern MacBook Pro is a pain and a half. I did a write-up on it:


My Wi-Fi and battery status still don't work. I use a Wi-Fi dongle at work. :-P

Yes, I would run macOS - beyond my hardware issues and as much as I love open source desktops there's still too many software pains I have as well. Evolution has a terrible UI and does not play nicely with calendars on Exchange servers (I frequently find my attendance status has not been sent, plus it often won't show me the status of attendees to meetings I have sent out), Akonadi's EWS provider likes to randomly freeze up trying to sync my mailbox (which is large, but people have larger IMAP inboxes with GMail) so Kontact/KMail isn't a great solution either.

VMWare's stupid kernel modules are always breaking in one way or another as well, plus I never get guest 3D support because of the switchable graphics in my laptop and I just cannot be bothered to fight and fight to get it to work. I tried using gnome-boxes instead for a while, but audio inside the guest would constantly get garbled and have cuts, support for guest drivers beyond VirtIO disk/network was hit and miss.

I've got more, but I don't want to make it into a rant about the state of the Linux desktop - because for all the problems I have I still love it, but I need a computer and software that works smoothly out of the box because I have work to get done.

Uhh. This is depressing.

I picked up Slackware and FreeBSD a long time ago and had so much fun plus found a career.

I finally through in the towel with Linux as my main machine a long time ago and went back to Windows as 7 was pretty good.

With Win10, I've tried to deal with both VMs and WSL, but once I got a MBP there was no turning back. I simply don't have the time or patience to deal with the issues Linux now has.

Don't know what the solution is. Perhaps dump Systemd and the rest of RedHat's decision.

Or maybe Redhat, Suse, or whover could just get one disto working perfectly on two or three hardware models a la Apple.

But not happy with how things have turned our with Linux on the desktop.

https://system76.com/ and https://www.thinkpenguin.com/ both sell laptops specifically for the Linux market. Recent Dell XPS laptops are also supposed to be great.

In europe you can order similar machines tuxedocomputers.com

Disclaimer: Just a customer

As a contrary point of view - I have a W541 that is provided by my enterprise overlord including all the virus scanner and corporate crap that comes with it on Windows. I actually quite like Windows, but I prefer to use the right tool for the job - which is often Linux. I boot into Linux (daily) without one issue at all - it all worked out of the box and I have no complaints at all.

The closest thing to an issue is the poor battery life - but this has been my experience with all laptops and Linux.

I can't comment on the W540, and I wonder if it is that different compared to the W541.

Check out the Dell XPS 13 which you can buy with Linux preinstalled (and therefore support out of the box).

It appears bay trail was a particularly bad release.

Not to defend Intel but that was 3 generations ago; I would certainly consider a Gemini Lake for my next nettop - where media-pc quiet is more important to me than performance. (provided no showstopper bugs exist!)

Interesting. Couple of chromebooks use Bay Trail chipset, though a audio firmware related issue on linux is quite known (https://github.com/GalliumOS/galliumos-distro/issues/180) I didn't know about the cstate bug.

I wonder how ChromeOS avoids(fixes?) both the above said audio issue and the cstate issue mentioned by you.

Related: what older models are known to work well with Linux/are preferred by users here?

Do any options have open boot/something close?

I literally hoard good condition X220s, dreading the day when they're no longer fast enough for my needs (hopefully a long way off still). It's the last (going by manufacture date) laptop I enjoy using. The keyboards are superb, the build quality is excellent, perfect compatibility with modern Linux distributions and the battery lasts 4-7h of real world use (6 and 9 cell versions, respectively). You can get models in perfect condition for 300-400 euros on eBay, and they still make new keyboards, batteries, etc. for them. It's the perfect laptop for those of us who dislike chiclet keyboards, the thin > all design fad and all the other maladies of modern laptop design. With Sandy Bridge i7s and 16gb RAM, they're powerful enough for my needs and thankfully let me write and debug AVX-capable code (with the usual profiling caveats associated with the SB architecture).

As for open boot, I understand the X220 supports both coreboot and libreboot, but I don't use either, so I can't comment on it in detail.

I got a screaming deal on a mint condition X220i a little while ago. It's only the i3, but it has 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, dual-band wifi, completely tricked out as far as the previous owner could do. It's plenty fast with Linux Mint for what I need to do, including a bit of gaming. Darkest Dungeon and other 2D games that run well on Linux aren't too bad on system requirements (although they do sort of kill the battery life), and there's a whole host of old games I can still play, I'm not trying to run GTA IV on it or something.

I would like to get an 802.11ac card for it at some point and that's about it. It came with a 6-cell battery with 70% capacity left, and I've put a new 2Power 9-cell battery in it, getting around 6-7 hours battery life as you say. I would sort of like to have an external charger so I could always have both batteries topped up, but they seem to be rare as hen's teeth.

In my opinion, the X220 is probably the best Thinkpad ever made. The i3 isn't a problem, I used a T42 for years and years despite its slow-ass Pentium-M, and I only sold it because a lot of Linux distros started going 64-bit only.

.. this

I have bought a couple of newer Thinkpads but they end up reverting to my x220. x230 is almost as good but doesn't have the old school keyboard.

On reddit.com/r/thinkpad there is huge following for moding them.. My only recommendation is to ensure it you have an SSD and load up on RAM.

You can, nowadays, use a BIOS patch and an X220 palmrest to put the X220 keyboard into an X230.

I bought my X220 from a friend for a hundred bucks thinking it'd be a fun toy to install Linux on, but it has become my daily driver. My only gripe is the flimsyness of the plastic just above the ExpressCard slot.

It's much better with a card inserted. Infact the ExpressCard-slot made me choose an X220 over the X230. It can be used to connect an external GPU!

Hate to bother you, but could you point me to the exact model (eBay or whatever) you're talking about?

I'd love to find one damn laptop that we know works well.

Lenovo ThinkPad X220 [0] with an IPS display and i7, so it also has one USB3 port. I guess this is a quite safe bet as a daily driver, if you don't want to invest into the new models.

By saying that, the 2018 generation of ThinkPads finally includes excellent panels. If you get the new X1C or T480(s), you can choose a bright IPS panel with a good resolution. With the old ThinkPads, especially X220/X230 you just need to be VERY sure you DO NOT get the TN panels.

[0] https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lenovo-ThinkPad-X220-Laptop-Core-i7...

I upgraded the TN panel on my i5 X220 to a matt IPS 18 months ago. It was about £50 from eBay; and a careful 5 minutes with a set of electronic screwdrivers. (All quite easy, you just have to be very very careful when removing the ribbon cable, to not slice one of the thin wires.)

The display is vastly superior. Everything is more crisp, and it is brighter.

The X220 is still fast enough for Chrome / YouTube / Netflix without spinning up the fan. Running a high res external display is a bit too much though; the fan kicks in most of the time.

I love how good the IPS panel looks, but unfortunately it is rather fragile compared to the TN version, there are so many of them out there with bright spots from pressure damage.

Personally I care more about ruggedness (my X220i is my travel computer) than color fidelity. Compared to my old Acer Chromebook 13's absolutely horrible TN panel, the one in the X220i is actually quite decent.

The screen from the Lenovo Twist is a drop-in IPS upgrade and entirely shielded by a protective touchscreen that's removable. I have a slide deck that explains the procedure in detail: https://anddevw.com/gdgsf-chromepad-chromium-for-thinkpad/

From what I heard, it's vulnerable to pressure from the rear, like if you jam it in an overpacked bag. But that's the original panel, I don't know about the Twist panel, thanks for the link.

Still, from what I gather the IPS panels suck a bit more power than the TN panels (not a huge difference, though), and for my use (travel PC getting lugged all over the world in hand luggage) I'm primarily interested in ruggedness and battery life. I use it to browse and read email, with the occasional Youtube video, not for anything color critical. I would be much more interested in upgrading the mediocre built-in speakers, apparently you can use the speaker from a Nexus 6P for a nice boost in volume and quality.

The speakers really are exceptionally terrible, but upgrading them seems like a lot of work for not a lot of improvement. There's a detailed guide to the speaker upgrade over here: https://petrosprojects.blogspot.com/2017/12/thinkpad-x220-sp...

A Coreboot X220 is exponentially better than a stock X220. On top of a drastically reduced boot time and better battery life, Coreboot allows booting from the ExpressCard, which makes booting from a USB3 possible on the I5 models. Another big plus is that Chromium OS works perfectly on a Coreboot X220, right down to the fully functional built-in SIM modem.

fwiw the X220 does not support Libreboot, but the X200 does.

The X220 works great with Coreboot.

Yes. I was addressing the parent comments claim that it works with Libreboot, which it currently does not.

I've used an X1 Carbon, X60, W500 and now T25 with Linux, and they just all work perfectly with Linux. Whatever the distribution, the laptops are superb programmer's workhorses.

I have both a X220 and a T530 and they both work perfectly with Linux (Mint on one and Solus on the other).

Mint on an X220i is absolutely flawless for me as well. The only thing I had to do was to install the Intel microcode driver, and that isn't even strictly necessary.

I can also vouch for the T530 working perfectly (Ubuntu).

My only issue with the T530 is battery life, I barely get 2 hours on a full charge (not sure the replacement battery is very good, however).

It's worth running 'powertop' and seeing what it recommends. I've then put a set of suggested shell commands into a script which I run. On my X220, with WiFi and Chrome and medium brightness, consumption is about 10 W.

Thinkpads can also support not charging the battery to 100% / over-cycling it, which can help prolong battery lifetime:

    sudo modprobe tp_smapi
    echo 40 | sudo tee /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/start_charge_thresh
    echo 80 | sudo tee /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/stop_charge_thresh

I seem to recall the folks behind Solus (the distro I use) remind people not to use TLP because it leads to lock-ups or unwanted behavior and it ends up not being worth the trouble. Not sure if powertop is any different, I may give it a go.

Powertop echo's the shell command it is doing to effect the change. Most of it is just changing defaults in /proc. You can experiment yourself. For instance, I find that making the audio-codec go power-saving leads to pops and crackles over headphones.

I bought a refurbished t430 from ebay for like 250€ with ssd, 8gb ram and 9cell battery. Just upgraded the ram to 16gb and installed Fedora, it's the perfect laptop for me (~10-12h of battery life)

I am not planning on changing or upgrading it until it dies.

Web dev / data scientist.

I can agree with you. I own a t440s. My only qualm is the touchpad but other than that it's great for web dev.

I have a couple of t430s models. One is a backup server and I use the other for coding mini projects.

It’s fine, but my work laptop is a 15” rMBP and I know which screen, pointing device and battery life I prefer.

I understand but you have to admit there is a pretty big difference in prices between the current one of the t430s and a 15" rMBP.

I have a 4th gen X1 carbon.

Install of Linux mint was simple and it’s been running well with no issues.

Oh, this seems to be the bug I've been experiencing!

If it doesn't run Linux well, I don't see why I would ever buy a Lenovo/ThinkPad over a MacBook

Because of the other differences?

I think GP is right to warn people. Historically "Thinkpad" has been the brand that was most likely to run Linux flawlessly, times are changing since Thinkpad is no longer IBM owned and has been on a gradual decline ever since Lenovo bought the rights to the product line.

> Thinkpad is no longer IBM owned

Pretty much nothing to do with that. It's been years since IBM does not own Thinkpad anymore but Lenovo was perfectly able to provide proper Linux support up until recently.

I actually agree with blaming Lenovo here, to a degree. While OP is incorrect about the ThinkPad workstation series, which can't have had the c-state bug as it never shipped with an Atom-based processor, Lenovo have extended the ThinkPad brand to a lot of computers (Edge, ThinkPad 8/10 "business tablets" / convertibles, etc.) that are not only not very Linux compatible but are also bad computers overall.

The Edge Series was not SO bad. I've owned a Edge 13 for years and it is quite solid with good Linux support.

It took quite some time for the laptops Lenovo was selling to actually be entirely new designs. For years they were selling incrementally improved classic thinkpads. Around the time when they switched from the thin walled barrel power connector to the USB looking thing is where the designs substantially changed and everything really took a turn for the worse in general.

The T-series has been VERY good, still is. If you pick up a T4(6-8)0 and max it out, I can't really think a better programmer's laptop.

I've seen them recommended by quite a few OpenBSD developers as well. Sad to see this.

I wonder why the lineup of boxy, built-like-a-tank, serviceable laptops with a comfortable keyboard and plenty of room for batteries seems to have dried up. I have trouble finding such a machine with a hi-DPI screen, for instance.

If I could mount a screen from Dell XPS (3840 pixels wide) to a T420, that would be mostly it. A thunderbolt connector would be a mere nice-to-have.

The next best thing is apparently a Thinkpad Carbon, it seems to retain a good keyboard, but apparently bids farewell to the "serviceable" part: e.g. RAM is soldered on.

Same. I ended up buying the Thinkpad 25th anniversary edition, which got me the classic keyboard and reasonably new guts. They're still available if you want, although the DPI isn't as high as you'd like.


I still can't believe how much they're charging for that machine. And they didn't even use a 16:10 display.

And I paid it willingly to get a good keyboard. I'm hoping either they or somebody else will take the goddamn hint.

I'd add that I had my last Thinkpad 5 years. They're very durable. If I keep this one as long, that's $1/day, which I'm happy to pay for a computer I like.

Have you looked at Fujitsu products? They do have nice laptops. http://www.fujitsu.com/de/products/value4you/notebooks/ (German as I could not find a similar overview on the other pages).

Gaming laptops are probably the direction to go. The larger MSIs and Alienwares (Dell) are bulkier and probably more user-serviceable (although I'd check iFixit first to be sure).

You do have to deal with the dual-video card craziness, but there are plenty of guides to show which ACPI setting to changed to ensure they're off when you're trying to save battery. Some of the MSIs change the color of the power LED to indicate which GPU is active which helps as well.

If you get the proper business-class models from Lenovo, Dell or HP, you can still service just about everything with nothing more than a phillips screwdriver.

Screen replacement on the newer Thinkpads is a little harder than it used to be, because the front frame is glued on now, but replacements are inexpensive.

If only Alienware offered a no-brand, no tacky 1337 LED's or bright chartreuse inserts

I wonder why other competitors don't copy the idea of having a sturdy bulky laptop with hardware switches, lots of keyboard buttons, trackpoint, and but battery. Is the market really that small?

Dell and HP both have comparable laptops for the enterprise market. But Thinkpad has done a good job of not diluting their lineup with cheap, crappy laptops.

> But Thinkpad has done a good job of not diluting their lineup with cheap, crappy laptops.

ThinkPad edge. I'm glad that line died, it was a shame on the thinkpad brand.

I have a Thinkpad Edge from 2009 that is still working "fine", but it has very little in common with a real Thinkpad. My rationale for buying it for 1/3 the price of the mechanically robust real thing was that I was capable of handling it gently, and wouldn't cry if it got stolen or crushed. It's my expendable travel laptop, not my daily driver. For the same use-case today, I'd probably get an off-lease refurbished Thinkpad rather than a new cheapo.

As a student, ThinkPad Edge was my laptop for a while, and despite some some hinge issues (that were caused by a drop), it's still working 5 years later. I don't think it was too bad.

I got an edge laptop for my (now) wife as well when I still was a student. Huge mistake. It had mediocre hardware that didn't work well with Linux (crappy wifi support and bad power usage), it was slow and had a keyboard that was pure garbage as well. Even thought it was small it was heavy, thick and the fan was loud. Battery life was crap as well. Spend more time than I care to admit optimizing it.

It still kinda works, I fixed the keyboard and all, but I don't want to use it anymore and just got it as a backup. It was the worst laptop I ever bought. Granted I can't say for sure that every edge laptop is like this, but I never want to touch one again.

Exact same, I'm staring at an E520 which I've used every day for the past few years, which now has a busted left hinge (until I get around to putting some sugru on it). Other than the bum hinge, a really solid laptop which has survived quite a few beatings.

I have a Dell Precision M4700 at work that seems nice compared to recent Thinkpads. That's not to say I really like any of them... They're all piles of low quality plastic junk with zillions of pain-in-the-ass fasteners. I suppose it's worth something to say that the Dell has held up to economy class air travel and abuse in meat processing plants, though the thin metal case retain dents.

Can you provide some specific models? Because I'd love something modern that looks and feels like X61 but can't seem to find it.

I have a Dell Latitude for work and it's reasonably comparable to my Thinkpad T470s. I still prefer the Thinkpad but the Latitude doesn't make me constantly hate it every second I use it, unlike lots of other laptops these days.

I was on interview in a company where it's a mandatory to have a linux on a laptop. People around mostly held dell xps 13 in their hands

I have a T460 for work. I liked it so much, I bought one for home use.

My Toughbook CF-T8 is pretty close to what you are describing akkat. http://www.ebay.com/bhp/panasonic-t8

* Sturdy bulky: It's got sturdy and bulky in spades. Not quite as bulky as the police/military grades mind you, but bulky enough. Rather light (3lbs?) and stupid durable. Nice wrist strap.

* Hardware switches: No, but I find the keys comfortable enough.

* Lots of keyboard buttons: Such as? I miss actual page up and down, but have gotten accustomed to Fn+Up/Dn. I don't miss anything else.

* Trackpoint: Yep.

* "But" battery: I assume you meant to say big battery. No, but I bought several extras since they were $12 on eBay. I can hibernate, swap, and go all day.

I have just about maxed mine out with a 200GB SSD, 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, and Win10. Not a screamer but fast enough for my needs. I am running KiCad, Netbeans, OpenOffice, and Chrome most of the time.

I also added a PCMCIA (yes, not CardBus) USB adapter, extra power supplies, and extra units for spare parts. All are super cheap. Total cost is somewhere south of USD $400, and probably closer to $250. (I didn't keep track.)

Only real complaints: Not really enough horsepower for standard rez YTube videos (I rarely watch them and when I do I put them on low rez) and the screen is dim in the sun. It's 1024x768 which I know would make many of you scream, but I connect it to an external monitor at home and dual displays, and I'm happy. Am accustomed to working at that rez. Oh, and the speakers are not terribly loud.

It's not for everyone. I have low requirements if you couldn't tell :-)

Awe crap I misread your requirements. Not trackpoint, track_pad_.

I used to swear by a trackpoint until one day I could only use a trackpad. Now I don’t want to go back. Grin

And I meant to say that my laptop is not ExpressCard. It is CardBus.

My working hypothesis is the majority of business laptops sit on desks all day. They’re never using any of the built in peripherals and the price isn’t worth it to the OEM.

That's right. Laptops are used to give the option of working from home, and a kind of BCP for when the office is inaccessible. Docks, multiple monitors, and real keyboards and mice to make the setup usable.

don't most people take their laptops home, and also move them around between meetings? Thinkpads take abuse like champ.

because what sells is the thinkpad brand and nerd cred/cool factor, not the actual ruggedness

idk about ruggedness, for me it has been the track point and what used to be amazing support for Linux.

I've met anybody who thought thinkpads were cool, I usually get snobbed by Mac owners, although these days they look at my escape key with envy for some reason.

The fundamental issue here is there was never any industry standardization for laptops like there was for desktop PCs. An ATX case (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATX) from 1995 can still be used as the enclosure for a 2018 desktop. That's 23 years. (See the "sleeper PC" subculture)

If a few component manufacturers came together and standardize component dimensions and tolerances based on something like an IBM ThinkPad, and an age of upgradeable laptops could have occurred.

I have an x230 with a mod chip that steals display port lanes so it can run a 1080p panel. Thinkpad users think outside the box to get laptops that fit their needs usually. Unfortunately I switched to a new dell XPS 13 because I need more battery life. Apples and oranges unfortunately, can't afford any of the new thinkpads with decent screens.

I bought a new battery from Levono for my x230 this year, and the battery life is now ace. Longer than a work day.

I bought a 9-cell battery (7800mAh) from 2Power, and I get 6-7 hours no problem, with wifi and bluetooth on.

I have a new 9 cell as well. 6-7 hours just doesn't do it for me.

You could get the slice battery, along with the 9-cell that should bring you to 15 hours at least, and probably up to 20 (provided you get batteries with accurate stated capacity).

Yes, it'll make the laptop significantly more bulky, but the X220 and X230 are from before Lenovo started putting ultra low voltage CPUs in their laptops, so they do have higher TDP than later models. That's just how it is.

The X240 can supposedly go for over 24 hours with the maxed out battery configuration.

I bought an X250 because of that. I hated that machine. It felt so cheap and weak. It did not feel like a thinkpad. Sold it rather quickly even though it was much faster and longer lasting than the X230. I'm just done with lenovo at this point. After they gimped the X280 I said that was the final straw.

I'm a bit miffed about the X280 design choices as well. It should have been an X280s, with the regular full-fat X280 still having all the good features, like a removable battery.

I hope they'll make an X280p or something that's more like the older X Thinkpads.

My x220 with an i7, 16GB of RAM and a 500GB Samsung SSD. The thing flys. Just upgraded upgraded to the newest Debian release with zero issues. Everything just works.

I was running a similar setup with the i5 until I gave Chromium OS a try. Now I run Debian in a browser tab inside the Chromium browser and the battery life is significantly better. It's on par with the high-end Chromebooks made by Google in terms of processing power and RAM.https://anddevw.com/gdgsf-chromepad-chromium-for-thinkpad/

12.5" and 1366x768 though. That's way too tiny and low res for comfortable work.

You can swap in a full HD IPS panel.

Personally I'm OK with 1366x768, but my X220i is more of a travel buddy than a workstation.

For workstartion use, get a T420 or something with either the 1600x900 LCD or a swapped-in full HD panel.

Don't forget IPS screen that you can get off ebay for $50! The biggest upgrade I've done to my x220. I think you can even get FHD moded IPS somehow, but it looked like a bit of work last time I checked.

IPS is the easiest and biggest single improvement for the X220. Coreboot's the next single biggest improvement, although it's not easy.

I bought a used x230 recently. My only gripe has been the washed out display - I should give this a go. Otherwise the performance is very good for a machine that was so inexpensive.

I'm going to be selling my x230 soon. I've got a mod chip and 1080p IPS display I could sell you.

I am waiting on the backlist for the FHD mod... I already have the IPS screen forgot to mention that!

Ooh! Instabuy.

I have 3 or 4 of these little t60 vintage thinkpads, and they're still the ideal road machine, 10 years later.

You can pick a used one up on eBay for less than $200, then spend another hundred or so dropping in a new keyboard, 8gb memory, and a TB SSD. Then you can stuff it into the bottom of your backpack and sit on it while taking the slow boat up the Mekong.

Whenever I head off somewhere sketchy enough to worry about the safety or smooshability of the $2500 dev machine, I'm on eBay grabbing a new one.

Now I have a new final step in the process.

How is the CPU in these? I have an X220 with the i5 Broadwell (I think, model 2450m) and the CPU is mostly fine. The Core 2 Duo in the T60 seems to be a quite a step down, though...


There are so many of these dream ThinkPad builds. It's a testament to the community that the fanboys don't just complain, they find ways to build the things.

I'm loving Archlinux on my new 8th gen T480s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRvYTLntgv4&list=PLiKgVPlhUN...

lucky! I grabbed a refurb T470, added an SSD + high cap battery. Runs Fedora like a charm! I did pay 1/3 of the price of a T480s but I do wish I had those extra 2 cores!!

For university I got a T450 a while ago. Probably the best laptop I ever had. It runs linux flawlessly (and I mean it, booting straight from a Knoppix ISO Image from 2.3 kernel times is no problem as much as booting a modern 4.15 kernel)

It seems they have somewhat fubar'd some of the newer and cheaper releases. I do however recommend to atleast try the more business oriented variants, usually they contain less crap.

I also find it disappointing that nobody else builds laptops like the Thinkpad. All I want from a good laptop is A) sturdy B) nipple mouse and C) long battery life.

I'm satisfied with my T450 too! It's the 256G SDD edition with another 512G SSD I attached later on.

Another happy user of a T450 here :)

Can I trust them? I have trust issues with Chinese (botnets, backdoor in bios etc.)

You answered your own question.

What company/country you trust?

He trusts in NSA.

The article mentions Thunderbolt 3. Let's not get overexcited: these do not have Thunderbolt 3.

I have a GPD Pocket, and I love it. Its a unibody laptop with a great screen, passable keyboard, and so on.

Its user serviceable - very easy to open up.

What I'd love: if some bright and talented hardware engineer could produce an upgrade board for it, so I could swap out the existing PCB for a newer CPU.

I'm sure this would be a successful project for some budding hacker!

I hope I never have to do something like this to keep my beloved 2015 Macbook Pro alive.

fwiw, you can still buy a new 15-inch 2015 MBP from Apple and B&H Photo. Apple tries to downplay it on their site, but it's there:


(Purposely omitting hyperlinking for referral logs.)

Of course you're limited to the hardware that came out in 2015.

any idea if they do this for the 13" version? how did you even find this? i was just looking for the older models and couldn't find them anywhere on apple's site.

You can get refurbished Macbook Pros and Thinkpads from ArrowDirect:


FYI - If you sign up for a free dealer account, the discount is anywhere 10-30% off regular prices.

Their inventory changes daily. If you get an A grade refurb, they are in very good cosmetic condition.

I've been casually keeping an eye out for a 15" mid-2015 MBP and someone had mentioned in their ad that Apple still made them, and sure enough. If you're looking at 15", B&H has slightly cheaper offerings and they won't charge you tax.

Unfortunately I haven't seen anyone retailing the 13" 2015 MBP. If you're in the Bay Area, there's a fully loaded (3.1GHz i7 / 16GB / 1TB) 13" early-2015 covered by AppleCare until 2019.


If you happen to go the second-hand route, I highly advise you to check if the machine is still under some device management (MDM) by running:

   sudo /usr/libexec/mdmclient dep nag
More info: https://www.jamf.com/jamf-nation/discussions/24774/dep-naggi...

I own 2015 macbook pro as well, and I feel like a have to change it soon. Mostly due to battery capacity loss and anti glare coverage issues [0]

[0] : https://www.macrumors.com/2015/03/16/retina-macbook-pro-stai...

The 2013-2016 era Retina batteries are replaceable from independent repair shops (i.e. not affiliated with Apple.)

The batteries are glued in, but independent repair folks found a way to remove them with some isopropyl alcohol and old credit cards/gift cards or sturdy playing cards.

This isn’t for the faint of heart, as they can explode, but repair shops have experience replacing them.

Would be awesome if I can find some decent repair shop that can make it like new but unfortunately I had a bad experience with my previous macbook pro 2011. It was battery first, than some power controller. As they said apple stops making repair parts after few years and you can find change only in used laptops.

It is quite easy to replace the glued in battery yourself, just with some floss and enough patience.

Apple replaced my screen free of charge for the anti-glare coverage issue. I believe the program officially expired, but you can definitely go and ask.

Apple also replaced the battery for a very modest cost (99 I believe) since it was already having the screen repaired. My late-2014 laptop soldiers on. I'll probably cave and buy the next MacBook Pro though.

The program has been extended multiple times but now excludes the 2012 model.

Source: https://www.macrumors.com/2017/11/17/apple-extends-free-stai...

I bought a 2013 mbp (maxed 13 inch) last year. It just had a battery and screen replacement. I think it will last me at least 5 years. At least I hope it will because it is so much better than the new mbps which I had my money ready for initially.

Can't you get the battery replaced and re-apply the anti-glare coating?

I thought Apple were still replacing screens from that coating defect, even out of warranty.

Interesting! I will probably try to contact them if this works in France. Thanks

I still have a 2013 rMBP going strong, battery at 90% of original capacity... what are your charge cycle counts like?

2015 rMBP, capacity: 80.4086%. Don't know how to get info about cycles in Linux

Install TLP (http://linrunner.de/en/tlp/docs/tlp-linux-advanced-power-man...), which you really should anyway for better battery life, and run 'sudo tlp -b'.

Best laptop ever made.

You could stash a few while they're still available...

My first choice was a thinkpad. My second choice was a macbook.

I bought ThinkPad in 2013. Highly disappointed. Won't buy again.


Even a slight movement caused the laptop to hang, and this has been happening ever since the day I bought. I dismissed it as something trivial and didn' took it up to customer service.

A few months later, I got multiple vertical lines across my monitor. The technician came and while disassembling, he messed the nuts & bolts. When he assembled later, he forgot to put a few nuts in place. A few days later got the same vertical lines problem. Took these 2 issues to their customer service, even escalated, was 4 hours on call. They did not give 2 hoots.

That's how Lenovo treats its ThinkPad customers

Sounds like a faulty HDD on which the OS resides.

If only I could have a decent ThinkPad running OSX...

Ah but you can !

I bought a Thinkpad T420 last year and put OS X on it using this amazing guide: http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/topic/285678-lenovo-thinkpa...

Works great :]

Reminds me of back in the day when I had a hackintosh desktop running 10.6; really the last good OS X version. Everything since that I haven't really liked.

Here's another OSX capable model:


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