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A FrankenPad Story: T25 with Quad-Core CPU and UHD LCD Panel (kitsunyan.github.io)
120 points by walterbell 22 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 31 comments

It's a shame that thinkpads are becoming less and less modular and functional. Some of my favorite functionalities are:

* Red nub. I use it exclusively, the track pad is disabled and serves me no purpose

* Hot swappable battery. I have a spare battery and it effectively doubles how long I can use my laptop without without charging.

* 7 layered keyboard. It's great to not have to use so many keyboard shortcuts, but rather have a dedicated button.

* Hardware switch for WiFi. If only it had one for the camera, microphone and sound.

* Durable and modular. I installed a hard drive using nothing more than a screwdriver and a 5 minute YouTube tutorial.

* Linux support (or at least not hindrance)

Some things that I do not like about the leaked Thinkpads.

* Envelope widthed laptops. I'm planning on using the Ethernet port before I plan on mailing my laptop in an envelope.

* 1 gram lighter than earlier models. I'm not so strong, but I have no problem sticking my laptop in my backpack and walking around with it. If I really wanted to I could remove 1 gram from my backpack without having to make the compromises that Lenovo is.

* Soldered memory. WTF

Does anyone have a recommendation for a laptop that is still being built that have most of the features that I am looking for. Assuming that it is good quality, money is not so much of an issue.

I still use X220s for all my portable computing needs as it was the last model before Lenovo ruined the keyboards. As they invariably die off or just get too slow (or architecturally different - can hardly profile code on them nowadays) I have no idea what to do. Every single modern laptop, irrespective of price, looks like a huge downgrade in every aspect I care about other than the CPU.

Are there any options out there at all for laptops that have at least usable keyboards, hot swappable batteries, proper Ethernet ports, basic maintainability and solid build quality instead of the insane thinness fetish?

I'm not sure if there's one for the X220, but there's an unofficial motherboard available that turns an X61 into an "X62":


I've since bought an X210. It's an X201s chassis with:

• A Core i7 8550u (4 cores, turbo boost up to 4GHz)[1]

• 2 DDR4 SODIMM slots. I put 32 GB of RAM in.

• 2x mini PCI Express slots. There's an 802.11/Bluetooth card in one. The other is empty but could be used for LTE.

• An M.2 NVMe slot. I put a 2TB SSD in it.

• An upgraded screen (2880x1920, 450 nits, wide gamut). The bezel is cut to make room for the 3:2 aspect ratio, sacrificing the webcam.[2]

I have small hands so I slightly prefer the X62's keyboard, but everything else is much better on the X210.

1. https://ark.intel.com/products/122589/Intel-Core-i7-8550U-Pr...

2. http://i.imgur.com/lj7g7CV.jpg

Oh wow. I have an X62 and T70, but skipped the X210 because of the display. If I knew you could get it with a 3:2 display I'd have been really tempted to get one. Do you do the mod yourself or purchase it pre-installed?

It came with the display pre-installed. I think all 3rd batch X210s have the new display.


would you consider writing a review, please?

I'm interested in

- how often the fan goes on

- whether it runs Linux/BSD flawlessly

- where you can buy it (without speaking any Chinese)

I didn't think the X201s ever had a camera to begin with. The X200s doesn't.

I didn't know that. I figured the webcam was removed since the 2nd batch X210s had them.[1] It looks like the 2nd batch chassis is the X201, not the X201s.

1. https://twitter.com/isislovecruft/status/1019773411688570881

If you want to see (most) of the many "TYPE xxxx-xxx" variants of a given older ThinkPad model number, and don't mind doing some detective work, you can Google for "PSREF" PDF files.

The PSREFs were/are catalogs of the variants available for sale and their specs, issued periodically. There were also PSREFs for withdrawn variants, covering year ranges.

(I got well-acquainted with these when stockpiling X200 units for Coreboot, a large-screen workstation model I like, and an older model that has better build-quality keyboards that can be swapped into certain newer models.)

Various Lenovo Web site lookups of specs have come and gone, and TYPEs seem to disappear from them sometimes, but the PSREF PDFs are forever.

Sorry I don't seem to have PSREFs covering X210S, but I suspect they're out there.

Unofficial motherboard mods for X220 and X230 are called X320 and X330, respectively.

> It's a shame that thinkpads are becoming less and less modular and functional.

The new T490/T490s/T590 ThinkPads are even worse in terms of upgradability.


> It seems that Lenovo prioritized sleeker designs over flexibility with the newest T ThinkPads, as the manufacturer is making some rather drastic changes to the internals and ports of the new models. Features like the SD card slot (replaced with MicroSD) or full-size RJ45-Ethernet on the T490s are getting the axe, the same is true for the 2.5 inch storage bay on the T490 and T590. Also, Lenovo is relying more on soldered RAM than before. The ThinkPad T490s has a maximum of 32 GB of soldered RAM, while the T490 and the T590 both have up to 16 GB of soldered RAM plus a single DDR4 RAM slot (up to 48 GB RAM in total). All of those changes will likely result in some fierce discussions among the ThinkPad fans.

I think the silver T490 is a little telling. Anecdotally, people are abandoning MacBooks for Thinkpads due to a drop in the quality and utility of the former, and Lenovo is trying to grab that share by... making Thinkpads more like Macbooks?

Sadly, those of us who value features only found on older Thinkpads are probably in the minority. My X220 is slowly aging out of usefulness and I'm not sure what will replace it.

What's interesting is that even aside from build quality, that little red eraser wad basically pushes Thinkpads outside the normal comparison shopping market.

If you don't like touchpads, your choices are basically "buy a Thinkpad direct from Lenovo" or "try to find the weird corners of the world where they actually mention, let alone sell HP Elitebooks and certain Dell Latitudes, and then find they're mind-blowingly expensive because they basically only compete with the high-end ThinkPad series."

I ordered a new laptop recently, and the ThinkPad option (an E585 plus adding my own RAM and SSD upgrades) clocked in about 40% cheaper than buying the comparable Elitebook. Even if the bottom were epoxied on, and you had to pay heir absurd prices for RAM and storage, I'd probably have ended up there.

Check out the P52. It's still got the Ethernet port and upgradeable memory. I've got a p51 and I just dropped 64 GB of RAM into it. I'll probably replace the SATA SSD with an NVMe drive or two as they drop in price in the next couple of years.

The T-line of laptops has suffered from the same kind of design mistakes for several years now, but as long as Lenovo keeps making the P-series with replaceable parts I'll keep buying them.

Go for the T440p. It should fit most of your needs and you can also replace the trackpad with the T450 version's in case you want clickable buttons. Unfortunately you dont get the 7 rows keyboard.

I'd really like a USB-C-Thunderbolt-based UltraBay. That would let you do literally everything UltraBays have ever been used for and more. Can you imagine sliding the 10GbE into your laptop...

Most interesting Thinkpad mods come from China [1][2]. Lenovo keeps changing the Thinkpad line so it resembles Apple machines more and more which is a sad development (focus on form, not function). According to some recent leaks [3] more machines will loose ethernet port and a hot-swappable battery in the next iteration. In that case hardcore fans will have to resort to mods.


[1] https://www.facebook.com/lcdfans/

[2] http://www.cnmod.cn

[3] https://www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-2019-leak-Data...

Oh great, the persuit of anorexic computing marches forth.

The swappable and dual batteries on my T440 are a killer feature.


I love my T25; it's the best laptop I've had since T420s (still have 2-3 of those around - love how modular they are, even with their slim size, with an upgraded 256GB SSD + 2TB HDD, 16GB of RAM, and still quite lightweight plus the best keyboard ever), and absolutely brilliant compared to abominations like the '40 series which removed the trackpoint buttons (the only time I've ever witnessed a senior security architect literally and repeatedly slam their laptop against the desk in frustration!). Like many fellow nerds or roadwarriors, the little red nub / trackpoint, and decent standard keyboard, are "conditions of employment" for me - I spend too much time on a laptop to chase my own tail with a trackpad [yes it's a low barrier of entry, but it's positively painful to watch my co-workers try to navigate with it, all the while they espouse "but it's so easy!"], or a non-standard home row layout :(

I do agree however that screen is at best "Meh" - I do a lot of photography processing and the T25 is just not an option. Certainly I wouldn't mind having the better CPU and GPU from newer generations... but I don't think I would compromise reliability, take the risk, or sacrifice the time that this honourable fellow nerd has -- my hat is off to them! :-)

I just hope that the speed at which T25 was sold out, even at a clearly inflated price, will demonstrate the demand. I agree with the author T25 wasn't so much "retro" as "the one good laptop in that generation".

I built myself a Frankenpad T440 in Jan. Paid £180 for it on ebay (grade A used) about a year ago. Bought a 2018 MBA which was a pile of shit so decided to return that and make the T440 better.

I swapped the screen out for a FHD one for £39, T450 touchpad (biggest upgrade!) for £20 and new 76Wh battery for £39. New Samsung 256Gb 850 Pro disk (cant remember how much that cost). Upgraded RAM to 8Gb by recycling an HP EliteBook. Copied windows 10 ISO and keypass keychain to the built in 16Gb SSD so I can recover it offline from my S3 backup target.

It's amazing. You'd have to pry it out of my cold dead hands. It's not the best laptop possible but it's an excellent compromise it in total it cost less than 1/3 of a MBA which had dubious "utility" compared to it.

I always find it interesting how well ThinkPads lend themselves to this kind of modding. I don’t care too much about the crappy screens since I have an IPS desktop monitor if I need it, but it’s nice to see how many options you have to upgrade the machines compared to other manufacturers’ laptops.

I suspect it's because of the straightforward design, relatively roomy interior, and parts availability. An analogy can be made to certain mid-70s American cars with a similarly large aftermarket fanbase.

I would have skipped the liquid metal, it will need to be reapplied in a year or two and is a pain in the ass.

Good laptop, good taste in touhous

It's a f-ran-kenpad

So jealous. I almost did the pepe mod on my x230 but backed out when I got the board in. Right now I have a hackintoshed XPS13. I just want a new thinkpad that I can make run OSX flawlessly. I miss the trackpoint and the keyboard.

a "portable computer" in the style of 198x and a "cloud on the go" at the same time - a beefy mini-ITX in the backpack with big battery plus a wimpy notebook (just with great screen and keyboard) as a terminal (with HDMI over air and BT keyboard the "notebook" may not even need CPU/RAM) .

weight and size aside, Thinkpad W530 is still a good choice:

  - 4 cores (Ivy Bridge), up to 32Gb (4 SO-DIMM slots)
  - decent full HD screen
  - nvidia GPU drives a single 4K monitor @60Hz via miniDP

Nice to see that the Thinkpads and fumos meme is still alive.

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