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The Magical Thinkpad

I’ve been bitten by the bug and the last 5 weeks I’ve been getting to know the Thinkpad x230. This little laptop is an absolute beast.


I’m running Debian Stable (Stretch). Everything worked out of the box except the WiFi/Bluetooth module that I had to pull from non-free. (I know, I know…) I updated the bios and flashed the patch to allow non-genuine Lenovo battery packs, saving about $110 on my 9 cell extended battery.

For a laptop that came out in 2013 this thing has way more power than some might think. I am able to edit 1080p video with out stutter in Kdenlive. Besides compiling software that’s probably the most taxing thing that I do on a general basis.

Ports Galore

Dongle life is very limited here. I have 3 USB Type A ports, Mini (Sadly) Display port, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA/DBUS, SD Card, Express Card, and even a Microphone/Headphone jack. The only dongle I need is the Mini Display to HDMI adapter that fits in my laptop bag.

Blasphemous Keyboard

I bought this model with a standard chic let keyboard but dropped the $25 to upgrade to the chic let back lit keys. The back light is really nice and bright but the keys aren’t as clicky.

I know in a lot of Thinkpad circles this is absolute blasphemy not to pick up a traditional mechanical keyboard from the x220 but I do a lot of typing in low light places where the back light comes in very handy.

Still, even though the other keyboards compatible might give a better overall typing experience, this keyboard might be the best I’ve ever had on a laptop.

Screen Limits

My only real gripe with this laptop is the cramped 1366x768 resolution screen. I’ve been doing little things that aliviate that problem but I might have to look up some serious display upgrade options in the near future.

Total budget

I picked this thing up for $140. That was with 4 GB of DDR3 RAM and a 320 GB mechanical hard drive. I then grabbed the extended battery for $35. Backlit keyboard was $25 and the 250 GB SSD was $40. I had the 16 GB of RAM laying around but it looks like you can pick it up for about $40.

Item Price
Thinkpad x230 $140
16 GB RAM $0
9 Cell Battery $35
Backlit Keyboard $25
SSD $40
Total $240

It’s totally possible to get these for less. After I bought my Thinkpad I found one at the Swapmeet for $60. It’s also easy to small purchase your way into a costly laptop. Still, this is an awesome value for the money.

Next, I’m looking at a t430s. After I move of course.