As a subscriber of HackaDay.com a recent article Piqued my interest. It was titled “UNLOCKING HIDDEN POTENTIAL IN IVYBRIDGE THINKPADS” and described older 2012 ThinkPads and giving them more years of life or improve performance. It involved using an open-source software package named 1vyrain. After a little searching on eBay I purchased a Lenovo T430 Laptop e/w docking station on eBay for $100 delivered.
There is a YouTube video about this laptop. It is more powerful than any laptop that I currently own (the specs are HERE). My goal was a desktop replacement machine and the T430’s 14 inch screen is adequate for my needs – although I can still connect an external monitor with the mini-DVI-I port on the laptop or the full size DVI-I on the docking station, I probably won’t. Additionally, it has an Intel i5-3320M (2.60GHz) CPU and 8GB RAM. Included in my eBay purchase was a ThinkPad Mini Dock Series 3 LINK – which adds additional ports and video. It did NOT have a HDD, which was ok since I intended to install a new SSD anyway (I purchased a 500GB Samsung V-NAND 860 EVO SSD.)
I like the fact the CPU is socketed and I can, if desired, install a more powerful CPU. I have already ordered a Ultrabay Slim hard drive adapter to replace the existing CD-RW Drive (for a 2nd HDD) AND I’ll probably also order and install a mSATA SSD giving me 3 HDDs, for ROOT, HOME and BACKUP – my preferred configuration (what I currently have on my desktop). Watch a YouTube video on this (T420 in video but it’s the same layout as the T430). For an Optical Drive, I have a USB CD-RW Drive for those rare occasions that I need a CD-RW Drive. It also has a card slot for a cellular data modem but I do not intend to use that feature.
Like I said, this laptop is “primarily” intended as a desktop replacement and will be on a desk, in its Dock, yet mobile when desired.
After a few days of ownership, I tested the laptop’s battery. It lasted one hour before the laptop went dead. So, I ordered a Chinese close battery because genuine Lonovo batteries cost almost as much as the laptop (more about new battery later on). This is when I learned that “my” T430’s BIOS version has a battery chip-check that prevents non-Lonovo brand batteries from charging. Not all Lonovo BIOSes have this nasty feature. 1vyrain explains how to check your BIOS for this. Consequentially, It was time for me to install a new, friendlier BIOS using the 1vyrain tools. It took me about six hours, most of which was spent on getting a 64-bit Windows run environment sufficient to run 1Vprep, 1vyrain’s BIOS regression tool (See the 1vyrain Article for details). My ordeal was due to my not using Microsoft Windows and I haven’t for many years and I sure wasn’t going to overlay Windows onto my freshly installed Manjaro system.
I obtained a 64-bit Windows-10 install image from the Microsoft website and I also had a 64-bit Windows-7 install image. I had hopes of using one of them to “install” a bootable runtime image of Windows onto a USB stick/drive – BUT Microsoft forbids that and the install process refuses to proceed. Dilemma!
I finally succeeded by running the 64-bit Windows-7 install image from a DVD and then escaping to “Repair” system instead of install. The Repair System menu has an option to open a command line, which I did. Since all CLI commands weren’t present I could not run 1Vprep’s BAT script due to missing CLI commands. Instead, I examined the BAT file and then I manually entered its commands instead of using 1Vprep’s BAT file (actually only two commands – switch to the SD drive containing 1Vprep and the execute arguments for the 1Vprep program). Once I successfully ran the 1Vprep program it successfully downgraded the BIOS. There were lots of scary activity and even a CRC error warning BUT 1Vprep warned of all of this so it only looked scary and 1Vprep did its job correctly.
Next I ran the 1vyrain process, which is a bootable image. This also did a lot of scary activity BUT, in the end, my T430 has a modified BIOS that contains extra features, like fan speed/temperature optimization BUT, most importantly, a BIOS that doesn’t block non-Lonovo batteries from charging. Thanks George Kushnir, aka n4ru, author of 1vyrain.
Yesterday, the new Chinese clone T430 battery from eBay seller “anter_made” arrived. It cost me $21 e/w shipping. Delivery took only two days via USPS First Class Package – amazing! It’s specs are 10.8V/4400mAh. I specifically purchased this battery because its voltage was 10.8V, the same as the original Lonovo 45N1001. Most similar eBay batteries are 11.1V. By getting the 10.8V battery I felt that the battery chemistry was likely the same as Lonovo’s and probably uses the same 18650 Lithium Ion Cells as Lonova, just with a slightly lower capacity (4400mAh instead of 4760mAh). The new battery’s instruction sheet said to charge the battery, then operate the laptop until it dies, then recharge the battery. Well, I just finished the run until it dies phase – 3.25 hours! I am pleased with the new battery. The seller, “anter_made”, titles the battery “New 6 Cell Battery for Lenovo Thinkpad T430 T430i T530 T530i Laptop“. Here is a search for his batteries: https://tinyurl.com/reoffsj
BOTTOM LINE: I love this “new to me” fast, uber-Linux Friendly, hackable laptop.
- I don’t game, as in NOT AT ALL – I do some coding, write documents, watch some YouTube, etc. but my computing power needs are modest compared to a gamer’s.