[SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

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carum carvi
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by carum carvi » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:37 pm

AndyMH wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:54 am
The T430 is built like a tank, I have two both running LM19.0 cinnamon, and bought another for the better half (she's running win 7 :( ). Highly recommended and easy to fix if something breaks - good spares availability on the likes of ebay. All mine are second-hand ex corporate, probably had the main one for three years. Thinks to look out for:
  • You can upgrade the screen, just replaced the 1366x768 screen in one of mine with a gloss 1600x900 - so much better (you have to replace the cable to the screen as well).
  • CPU - the most common processor is the i5-3320M, there are a few with an i7. The cpu is socketed and you can upgrade it.
  • Graphics - most are integrated intel graphics but there are a few with a separate nvidia GPU.
  • Bluetooth - is an option, is it fitted? You can always use a bluetooth dongle.
  • DVD drive - another option, does it have one? You can always use an external USB DVD drive.
  • Storage - space for one 2.5" drive, first upgrade if not already there is to replace an HDD with an SSD, note they can only take 7mm thick drives. Replacement is easy. There is a PCIe slot that will take an M2 sata drive or a WAN card (mobile internet). In one I have a WAN card, the other a 120G M2 SSD. Note, there is a whitelist in the bios (you can't change it) that limits the choice of WAN cards, think it is only 2G. Also note the slot is SATA2 so slower than the main drive slot which is SATA3.
  • Webcam - I thought they all had one, but my second T430 says (lsusb) it doesn't have one - maybe I dislodged the cable when I replaced the screen.
  • Memory - max is 16G, there are two slots, one underneath (easy) and one under the keyboard (not difficult but not as easy). If you buy one with 4G RAM and then find out it is 2x2G an upgrade to 8G will mean replacing both. I have 16G in my main T430 and 8G in the second.
  • Connections - there is a built in SD card reader, a slot for a 34mm express card and 2xUSB3 and 2xUSB2. Video - VGA and mini displayport. My main T430 is permanently plugged into an external monitor (2560x1080) via displayport to HDMI cable. Note you can pick up a docking station on ebay for about £10.
Support is good - you can download all the tech manuals from lenovo, there is a thinkpad forum (not as active or friendly as mint) and https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/ThinkWiki.

Buy one - you won't regret it, high quality at a cheap price.

Any questions, ask...

Edit - mint installs 'out of the box' with no problems. All mine are legacy install, you could use UEFI if you wanted.

Edit2 - I am biased, I've been using thinkpads for the best part of twenty years and wouldn't consider buying anything else. Every one has been second-hand.



AnyM,many thanks for your detailed description. All you guys thanks for the many advices. I wrote them down and made a good deal! 4 year old T430 for 130 euros. Very happy! These Thinkpads surely are popular on this forum! That's the reason why I bought one. And I can (fortunately) tell you, that I got really lucky buying it from some individual I didnt know at all. Everything works smooth though on my T430, which I bought just an hour ago. Everything looks so beautiful and runs so silently. I am stunned.

I must say that I have always been lucky with buying machines. Knock on wood. I thought I was gonna use this "old" T430 as a backup notebook with which I could experiment, but this T430 is in such a good condition that I am really smitten with it instantly. This will become my main computer! Yippie!

On a downer note, I almost dont dare say it, but Windows 10 is installed on this machine. An illegal version. The guy said it was easy to download an illegal version myself, with my own installer key. I wont bother. But I must admit (please dont shovel me down under)... but I must admit that Windows 10 looks really beautiful and is very user friendly.

I went through all the menus without worries untill I reached the privacy settings, in which EVERY settings was turned ON by standard. EVerything on my pc could be snooped upon by Microsoft. Jeewhiz!! That really reminded me again why I turned away from Windows and towards Linux. Windows just cant resist to want to own every single bit of information about their users. I couldnt even play a video, without having to download an app from the Windows store. Fortunately the guy who sold it to me, put Vlc Mediaplayer on it so I could do a test run for sound and pictures. Runs perfectly. I am one heck of a lucky guy.

Thank you all you Linux minded Thinkpad fans. I have joined your club!

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by AndyMH » Fri Mar 08, 2019 8:30 pm

Now you know why we like them :D and you got a good deal.
Homebrew i5-8400+GTX1080 Cinnamon 19.0, 3 x Thinkpad T430 Cinnamon 19.0, i7-3632 , i5-3320, i5-3210, Thinkpad T60 19.0 Mate

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by KBD47 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 8:42 pm

Glad you like your T430 :) Sounds like you got a great deal :)
I've bought 7 used Thinkpads over the years off of ebay. Only disappointed with one of them, and the seller adjusted the price on that one so that I was satisfied. You have some buyer protection at ebay.
I also reluctantly agree that MS has started to get its ducks in a row with Windows 10. I don't hate it now like I did soon after its release. Still, good idea to keep Linux on hand as any update may break Windows or make it unusable.

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by carum carvi » Sat Mar 09, 2019 6:51 am

Deleted Windows10 on my recently bought Thinkpad T430. Installed LinuxMint19. Works smooth. Super silent. Just amazing.

Cd's dont play however. Dvd's do play. That's a mystery to me. Small price to pay for a secondhand Thinkpad.

Battery menu indicates 4 hours of use available, but some forummember warned that battery indications arent reliable in LinuxMint.

I am delighted by the crisp and detailed display. Another plus point for notebook screens in general is the fact that they are flicker free because of their hardware construction, while my much more expensive and much bigger EIZO screen has to use software to combat flickering and that just doesnt seem to work as effective compared to a smaller notebookscreen. So I have read.

All in all a very good purchase. Delighted with my Thinkpad!

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Kendoori » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:20 am

Good luck on the Thinkpad. I am on my 5th X series device (and actually have a 6th X41 that was previously my wife's that I hang onto because it has a dock with an RS232 port on it). The best thing about these machines is that they are very easy to replace parts on. The reason that my current X230 is in its 6th year is that I replaced the WiFi card, put in an SSD, added a Bluetooth card, the keyboard, the fan/heatsink, and replaced the battery (more than once). On earlier ones, I replaced the screen (bought on eBay). I'm not an especially handy guy, but have torn these down easily and put them back together, with very good documentation.

Laptop batteries get tired, so given the age of the machine you have, it may have a lot of recharge cycles on it and it may not last that long. There's a very active trade in replacement Thinkpad batteries.

BTW, in my experience, TLP works well with Thinkpads: https://linrunner.de/en/tlp/docs/tlp-li ... ement.html

Also, fan noise can be a problem on these devices: https://zmalltalker.com/zlog/thinkfan.html

And https://forum.thinkpads.com/ is a really active, very useful forum, which includes a Linux specific area for discussion.

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by rickNS » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:05 pm

carum carvi wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:37 pm

and made a good deal! 4 year old T430 for 130 euros. Very happy! These Thinkpads surely are popular on this forum! That's the reason why I bought one.

Thank you all you Linux minded Thinkpad fans. I have joined your club!
Glad your happy, but T430 is 6+ years old.
Not that, that matters my T420's are a year older than that, and I feel they are completely relevant today. most "new" machines off the store shelf have no better specs, and most have less functionality, like ultrabay, E-sata port, think light, and much more. I fully intend to be using them 5 years from now, at the very least till end of mint 19.

I like very much my 3 thinkpads. (one is an X200) I don't know what I'll do when they finally do become "old".
BTW I was a little surprised that even the think light does work in Linux, YES thinkpads are very linux friendly.

Thinkpad history http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/ThinkPad_History
Mint 18 mate on 2 identical Thinkpad T420's

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Tomgin5 » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:39 pm

Congratulations on the Lenovo. Last fall I converted a circa early 2004 Lenovo from Win 98 to LM 18.3 Cinnamon 64. I replaced the HDD with a 500GB SSD and increased the RAM from 512 KB to 4 GB. 2 slots of DDR2. It worked great! The user had not used the laptop in several years as his PC write and IE would no longer go on line. He is a retired college professor. He had never used WIFI before. He definitely loves it now. I saved his old PCWRITE files and he uses them on Librewrite now.

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by carum carvi » Sat Mar 09, 2019 3:08 pm

Tomgin5 wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:39 pm
Congratulations on the Lenovo. Last fall I converted a circa early 2004 Lenovo from Win 98 to LM 18.3 Cinnamon 64. It worked great!
Wow, that's impressive. Suddenly a thought comes to mind about the use of sources needed to produce computers. The sources needed to produce NEW computers are very costly for the environment. These Thinkpads are the ideal example that an incredibly OLD computer can become useable again, by simply adding other used parts. Great example Tomgin5. That professor must be very pleased!


rickNS wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:05 pm
Glad your happy, but T430 is 6+ years old. Not that, that matters my T420's are a year older than that, and I feel they are completely relevant today. most "new" machines off the store shelf have no better specs, and most have less functionality, like ultrabay, E-sata port, think light, and much more. I fully intend to be using them 5 years from now, at the very least till end of mint 19.
Most new machines off the store shelf have no better specs? Wow! These Thinkpads are quite the thing. Just as you rickNS, I hope to be using this T430 for 5 years to come. I would be really content with that!

Kendoori wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:20 am
Good luck on the Thinkpad. The best thing about these machines is that they are very easy to replace parts on. The reason that my current X230 is in its 6th year is that I replaced the WiFi card, put in an SSD, added a Bluetooth card, the keyboard, the fan/heatsink, and replaced the battery (more than once). On earlier ones, I replaced the screen (bought on eBay). I'm not an especially handy guy, but have torn these down easily and put them back together, with very good documentation.
Kendoori, that is very reassuring to read that one can replace all these parts for the Thinkpad! Really love that. The more I read about all your experiences the more I have come to the conclusion that buying a secondhand Thinkpad was the smartest move I made!

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Kendoori » Sat Mar 09, 2019 3:12 pm

Kendoori, that is very reassuring to read that one can replace all these parts for the Thinkpad! Really love that. The more I read about all your experiences the more I have come to the conclusion that buying a secondhand Thinkpad was the smartest move I made!
I'm on the edge of needing a new machine, so you got me thinking too. I would be OK with last year's model :-)

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by carum carvi » Sat Mar 09, 2019 3:18 pm

Just googled BUY THINKPAD. Prices for a new one, ranging from 1000 dollars and upwards. Whooah, didnt realize these things were THAT expensive when bought new. Now I understand even better that these are quality machines.

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by KBD47 » Sat Mar 09, 2019 5:33 pm

Thinkpads are business class machines, ruggedly built and generally easy to upgrade. Many times companies lease them then upgrade after a few years so that Ebay and other places are flooded with these off-lease machines. For some reason those with larger screens like the T420/430/440 with 14" screens are often priced less and easier to find than the smaller Thinkpads with 12" screens like the X220/230/240. Right now I have a T410, X220, and just bought a 11e. These are great machines. The only others that are comparable are the Dell Latitudes and HP Elitebooks, all business class laptops.

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by rickNS » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:29 pm

carum carvi wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 3:18 pm
Just googled BUY THINKPAD. Prices for a new one, ranging from 1000 dollars and upwards. Whooah, didnt realize these things were THAT expensive when bought new. Now I understand even better that these are quality machines.
Yeah, they are expensive because they are AWESOME.
And are a great deal at 130 Euros (200-250 Can $)

Don't quote me, but I think they can survive a 10 foot drop...you can check out the drop test.

And are the laptop used on the space station...with Linux of course, if that means anything.

And as mentioned in this thread, easy to upgrade, and work on. That is so true. I can swap hard drive in less than a minute. I've always dual booted with windows, but only with win7 (never used 8 or newer) my newest hard drive, a SSD I decided to not put windows on it...it's rarely if ever used, but just in case it is ever needed I can pop in the original drive, and boot win7 natively (as opposed to a virtual machine)

Love, love the thinkpad, just as much as you...No wonder it is your new favorite.
Good thread !
Mint 18 mate on 2 identical Thinkpad T420's

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by lsemmens » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:08 pm

I must admit, that when IBM sold off their PC market I lost confidence in the product. Must review my thinking.....
Kernel: 4.15.0-46-generic x86_64 bits
Desktop: Cinnamon 3.8.9
Distro: Linux Mint 19 Tara

Laptop HP-ProBook-470-G2 8Gb RAM SSD
Server AMD Phenom 9650 - GEForce 9400GT 6Gb RAM
+ three other Mint machines
Out of my mind - please leave a message

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by carum carvi » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:57 am

rickNS wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:29 pm
Don't quote me, but I think they can survive a 10 foot drop...you can check out the drop test.
And are the laptop used on the space station...with Linux of course, if that means anything.
And as mentioned in this thread, easy to upgrade, and work on. That is so true. I can swap hard drive in less than a minute.
I couldnt resist quoting you anyway, because it is such a great quote. I wont start testing if my Thinkpad will survive a 10 feet (3 meter) drop, but it is nice to read that these things are really rugged, AND are being used at the space station. That's nice! But the biggest plus point for me is that these Thinkpads can be replaced with new parts so easily. I really love that.
Last edited by carum carvi on Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by AndyMH » Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:20 am

I must admit, that when IBM sold off their PC market I lost confidence in the product.
I think lenovo did a good job, certainly with the the T4xx laptops. If you look at the diehards on the thinkpad forum they moan about the chicklet keyboards and 'poor' screen quality. But they are fine to me.
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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by vansloneker » Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:18 am

How often do you guys go to the space station? :lol:
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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Moem » Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:48 am

vansloneker wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:18 am
How often do you guys go to the space station? :lol:
Not by far as often as I'd like! :wink:
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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Shiratori » Sun Mar 10, 2019 12:52 pm

AndyMH wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:20 am
I must admit, that when IBM sold off their PC market I lost confidence in the product.
I think lenovo did a good job, certainly with the the T4xx laptops. If you look at the diehards on the thinkpad forum they moan about the chicklet keyboards and 'poor' screen quality. But they are fine to me.
Personally I prefer the chicklet keyboard of the T430 to the keyboards on the T420 and previous models.

I was lucky that at my previous job they were upgrading the users from T420 and T430 laptops to T460 models and the old ones were going to be disposed of. All of us in the IT department went through the T430 stock and found the ones that had only been used lid-closed with docking stations so they were in really nice condition. I got one for myself, one for my fiancée and one for my brother. I initially set them all up with Windows 10 (the Windows 7 Pro key on the sticker was accepted by Windows 10 for activation) and after downloading all of the drivers from Lenovo's site they ran very nicely. Mine was always a second "play" machine (my main computer was a Miix 510 tablet running Win10) so after reading the review of Mint 19.1 on Ars Technica I downloaded it and installed it on my T430. After playing around with various Linux distros over the years (starting with Mandrake from the cover-mounted CD on the first issue of Linux Format back in the day), this is the first combination of computer and distro that's been issue-free enough that it's become my daily driver.

T430 + Mint 19.1 Cinnamon = match made in heaven :)

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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by AndyMH » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:43 pm

T430 + Mint 19.1 Cinnamon = match made in heaven
Couldn't agree more, and you were lucky, before I retired company I worked for also gave old laptops to staff, but standardised on Dell, even the latest one I had didn't come close to my T430. So I've got an E series latitude gathering dust in the attic.
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Re: [SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by hapibeli » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:58 pm

I have 2 Thinkpads running Mint 18.3. I bought them through the BC (government) Auction.
My first, a T61, ran sweetly till I upgraded the kernel,and now has a few issues, but was really cheap.
My 2nd, the T500 I am writing on now, runs like a dream.
Now I just bought a T430 from the Auction, and I will put the SSD from the T61 into the T430.
BTW, the T500 thinks it is the Aspire laptop, which was such crap, and the reason I first got the T61, because I took the SSD from the Aspire, plopped it in the T500, and as I said, she runs like a dream, just telling the T61 that the T500 is the old Aspire! I had no idea that Linux would do that.
Also, I can print from the T500 in one room, to the T61 wirelessly, which has a USB connection to the printer.
I learned how to use my T500 as a hotspot after losing our router during a power outage on our little Island here in BC. Ever since that, the two machines hook up when printing is needed.
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