New user start page
This page is intended to be a starting point for most common ThinkPad needs.
Only post your question on the sub if you can’t find an answer anywhere else! This helps keep content interesting and reduces repetition.
What is so special about ThinkPads?
Here’s a summary of why so many /r/thinkpad redditors are so fond of this Lenovo product line
They are survivors. Tested to military standards, the exterior composite case absorbs and rebounds to severe forces encountered in falls, crushing accidents, and scrapes that would seriously damage metallic bodied units. Internally, a rollcage ensures the hard drive will survive nearly any accident, while other components are extremely well protected.
The best ergonomics. The keyboard is widely acclaimed as the best in the world, with the Trackpoint rounding out the unique features. Many models offer IPS full high definition panels.
They’re easy and inexpensive to maintain. They are designed for the commercial market, where quick and cost effective maintenance is expected. To meet this challenge, all ThinkPads feature easy access to removeable components, such as drives, memory, wifi cards, etc. In addition, replacement parts and entire units are available worldwide, and often very cheaply on the used market. Many consumer laptops are so cost ineffective to repair, that they are disposable.
ThinkPads are powerful and reliable performers. Among the satisfied users are office workers, engineers, programmers, and graphic designers, as well as home users. Intermediate and advanced gamers should explore the Lenovo Y series.
‘Out of the box GNU/Linux’ compatibility. Intel hardware and community efforts make Thinkpads the most GNU/Linux compatible.
Overview of the ThinkPad Line
The ThinkPad product line is organized into the top tier T/W/X/P line, and the E/L/Yoga/Helix series:
ThinkPad T Series – This is the flagship line that offers the best balance between ruggedness, features, processing power, and portability in a 14 or 15 inch unit. These are the professional’s favorites. For example, the T460s are available in three efficient processors, extremely long battery run time, up to 20GB ram, powerful integrated graphics, and a choice of disk drives.
ThinkPad W Series (Canceled) – (This series has been replaced in 2016 by the P series) These rugged 15.6 inch units are powerful enough to replace the desktop and capable of workstation caliber performance. An Engineer’s favorite, these offer often more powerful processors, dedicated graphics, and up to 32GB ram. For example, the W541 has full speed quad core processors, NVIDIA Quadro graphics processors, and up to 32GB ram.
ThinkPad X Series – Portability is the focus here. There are two models, of which the well regarded X260 offers a convenient 12-1/2 inch panel, efficient processors, extremely long battery run time, up to 16GB ram, lower weight and slim design, while still maintaining a high standard for ruggedness and maintainability.
ThinkPad P Series – Replacing the W line, the P series are high performance portable workstations in 14, 15, and 17in formats. Options include discrete graphics, i7 and Xeon processors, and 64GB ram.
ThinkPad L Series – Mid range Thinkpads, in terms of build quality they are above the E series but not as good as the flagship T/X/P series.
ThinkPad E Series – Mid-low end ThinkPads primarily available in a 15.6 inch form factor. They are more cost-oriented and are a step down in terms of build quality.
ThinkPad Edge Series (Canceled) – These were budget-oriented ThinkPads that received a negative reputation due to their inferior build quality. Lenovo has since dropped the ‘Edge’ branding and increased the build quality to create the E series.
ThinkPad Helix and Yoga Series – Include information here.
ThinkPad A Series – Freshly announced budget line featuring exclusively AMD processors.
What about the other laptops in the Lenovo line? The ThinkPad line is marketed to professionals who demand high quality and reliability, at a necessarily higher price. The consumer line caters to home users, students and gamers, who demand a lower price point and tolerate lower overall quality. The consensus is that a ThinkPad has a compelling overall ergonomic, durability and reliability advantage, and if budget allows, a ThinkPad is a significantly better choice.
Your First ThinkPad
The first thing you’ll want to do is learn which model is suited for you. With all the available series and models. It can be a bit confusing, but fortunately there is a very thorough article that focuses on the older models, but still provides insight on the newer models. It is a must-read for anyone looking to purchase a ThinkPad. Most of your questions will be answered there. Read it twice!
Unlike with most other laptops, there is a huge market for old/used ThinkPads. ThinkPads age very gracefully, and many swear by their long life and durability. If you think it’s a bad idea to buy used electronics, you’re right, but ThinkPads aren’t your normal electronic devices that spoil easily. Chances are, you really don’t need the latest model and will be more than happy with an older one. Here is a nice story from a user who bought a 7-year old ThinkPad.
The next step is to search this subreddit for more information. You can be sure that every ThinkPad model has been discussed to death here!
For example, the T450(s) is a quite popular model and comes up often. A quick search reveals a many discussions in which many frequent questions have already been answered several times over! If you’re about to drop $1000+ on a machine, it’s generally a good idea to read every post relevant to your model that you can find. It won’t take more than an hour or two and is time well-invested.
Used ThinkPad Buying Notes
ThinkPads make a great used machine due to their durability and ease of maintenance. Buying used not only saves money, but also offers features which are no longer offered in new ThinkPads (Non 16:9 screens, 7 row keyboards, 9 cell extended batteries which make good handles, etc).
Buying a used ThinkPad is a great alternative to a cheap new laptop, as the ThinkPad will have a superior build and feel, making it a more pleasant and long lasting experience. It is also a great way to save money on a laptop and a good chance to try out the ThinkPad experience. ThinkPads often hold their value well, so you can sell it if it does not quite fit your needs.
A good resource is the ThinkPad buyer’s guide for n00bs, which is also located in the sidebar. It includes details for the various models, rough pricing estimates, performance charts, and other important details to consider when purchasing a used thinkpad. It is a great place to start your thinkpad journey.
The ThinkPad comparison excel spreadsheet is a good way to compare models once you have refined your search. It provides more details than offered in the Used Thinkpad Buyers guide, including details such as CPU, GPU, and screen options, as well as other important specs such as battery life, weight, thickness, and port selection.
Where to Buy
Lenovo markets ThinkPads mainly through its online store, and in the Outlet. Unfortunately, ThinkPads are rarely sold in stores. Any prudent purchase strategy should include comparing the models and prices at Lenovo, versus like new or used values on sites like Ebay. ThinkPads are commonly available refurbished and in overall excellent operational condition. The best values on still competitive equipment is usually found on 2-3 year old laptops. Another place to look when considering a purchase of a Thinkpad is r/ThinkpadsForSale.
This is a subreddit for the buying and selling of Thinkpads. It’s worthwhile to check it out and post what you want while searching for a computer. This can be less hassle-free and more-legitimate than Ebay at times with a reputable Redditor when you pay with Paypal Goods & Services.
Ebay is a place where many people sell used Thinkpads. Certainly, check out Ebay while shopping for a computer. Often good deals can be found on eBay for varying models.
The Lenovo Outlet
There is also middle ground between buying used and new: the Lenovo outlet. The Outlet sells refurbished/restocked ThinkPads that are essentially new. There are sometimes excellent deals on the outlet and it’s always worth checking out before making a purchase.
Lenovo Discount Shops, unofficially open to anyone
Warning: The use of the codes may constitute a crime under United States law under the CFAA and state fraud statutes–although Lenovo currently does no verification or buyers and has not taken any legal action against unauthorized users, this would not be a defense should you be prosecuted or sued!
For PerksOffer. Use code PAW*MAY. Working as of May 1, 2019.
For Coca Cola Employees. Use code COKE*EPP. Working as of August 24, 2017. (If any, you might find the updated code on this page).
For Barnes & Noble. Create an account. Login with your existing account is also possible.
For IBM. Use code IBMEPP.
For IBM friends and family. Use code FNDEPP. Not working Nov 19, 2018.
For students. Find your institution in the drop-down list. Site-wide discount will apply to all products.
Rewards. Use code !LENOVOREWARDS!. Not working as of Aug 7, 2017.
Education. Use StudentBeans account.
Have a look at the separate article for information on configuring your purchase or choosing processors and drive options.
Finding model numbers for specific ThinkPad configurations.
ThinkPads can be purchased pre-configured or can be customized. Custom ThinkPads are more expensive, so if you’re looking to save some money, the best idea is to find the pre-configured model that’s closest to what you’re looking for and upgrade it yourself. It works out much cheaper to upgrade yourself, in any case. Custom ThinkPads are branded with the type code xxxx-CTO. (Customized to Order)
The complete list of current models can be found in Lenovo’s official specification guide.
There is also a specification guide for discontinued models.
Repair and finding parts
The biggest and most valuable resource for repairing a damaged ThinkPad is the Hardware Maintenance Manual (HMM). It is the Holy Grail of ThinkPad maintenance. This document contains detailed information on how to disassemble your laptop and access/replace every single component.
To locate the HMM for your laptop, go to this page, select/type your model name, and click “Hardware Maintenance Manuals” on the left.
Once you identify the problem, take a look at the list of the part numbers of all the parts contained in your ThinkPad by typing in your serial number on the Lenovo parts lookup page.
You can also see the complete list of compatible FRUs on this page. After finding the part you want, you can then use the part number to search eBay.
As always, many problems are common occurrences and have been discussed on this sub previously – so don’t forget to search before posting!
If your machine is still covered by warranty, its status can be checked on this page. Replacing components on you ThinkPad is allowed, and does not void your warranty as expressed here.
This wiki has separate pages for information regarding common operating systems: