Duncan Bayne - One more round of ThinkPads

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May 17, 2019

Swapping the SSD from my X220

After pondering whether to repair or upgrade from my X220, I’ve decided to take the following approach:

  1. Upgrade from my venerable X220 to a more modern W540 ‘workstation replacement’.
  2. Give my X220 to my eldest son to replace his well-worn X121e.
  3. Start getting kitted up for modern ThinkPad life. More power bricks, docking stations, etc.
  4. Swap out the trackpad for an old-style unit as per Thomas’ instructions.
  5. Buy three new(er) ThinkPads for the children, all with the modern rectangular ThinkPad power bricks.

Step 1 is already complete - I’m typing this on my refurbished W540. It’s a beast. Eight core i7 CPU, Nvidia graphics, 16GiB RAM (soon to be 32GiB), and the near-new 500GiB SSD from my X220 (the photo above was taken mid-transplant).

Step 2 will take place this weekend. Rory will get to do the SSD transplant from his old ThinkPad, too, so it’ll be a learning experience for him.

Step 3 has started; I have a couple more power bricks on order, and will be buying docking stations once those arrive.

Step 4 is awaiting shipment of the replacement Trackpad; step 5 will need to wait on budget :)

First thoughts on the W540? I was surprisingly impressed. The Trackpad is nowhere near as bad as I’d expected, and the island keyboard is … not bad. I don’t enjoy it as much as the old IBM-style unit on the X220, but it’s still much more pleasant to type on than, say, anything recently fitted to a Macbook. Performance is awesome compared to the X220 - 8 cores make a big difference, and the Nvidia graphics make the simple games I play (Minecraft, Kerbal Space Program, Starbound) fly.

The only surprise was that all that power comes at a price: the need to run 170W power bricks. So my brace of existing new-style ThinkPad power bricks are temporarily useless; they’ll become useful again once step 5 above is complete.