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Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

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RealBlackStuff
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Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#1 Post by RealBlackStuff » Thu Jan 23, 2020 10:54 am

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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#2 Post by jdrou » Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:06 pm

Rather confused by Lenovo's references to specific Windows build versions.

For T480 the firmware download page says "Windows 10 (Version 1809 or older)" so does that mean it's fixed already if you run a newer build or that the newer builds don't have a fix available yet? Similarly, the non-S version of drivers say "Intel Thunderbolt Software (Version 1709, 1803)".

Also note that these "fixes" were supposedly released in July so they aren't exactly new.
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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#3 Post by farmall » Thu Jan 23, 2020 10:39 pm

Turns out a bad patch pushed in August MAY HAVE (Lenovo cannot be trusted based on their ghastly recent track record) caused the problem per https://www.cnet.com/news/is-your-think ... -firmware/
It turns out that a firmware update issued in August 2019 corrupted the software controlling the port.
I have a P52. They've had multiple P52 issues bricking system boards too, though thanks to installing Linux when I got the machine last May and immediately disconnecting the Winfeces drive I didn't get the August vandalism-I-mean-update. The P52 is a nice machine but Lenovo are so sloppy lately I'll buy a Dell next time. This trend is disgusting and Lenovo no longer deserve to exist. They do deserve a class action suit for gross negligence. I will do my best to discourage anyone buying new Lenovo products. Techie opinions carry weight and we should put that advantage to use.

BTW I ran "apt-get remove fwupd" to ensure I never forget and update firmware by accident. After any new updates are out a while I'll consider installing them and leave the machine unused until then, as their track record with the BIOS/UEFI flash cost many owners thousands of dollars.

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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#4 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:46 am

It seems that some help is not too distant now:
ThinkPad TB3 Failure - What We Know (Repair, Explanation, etc)
(Maintained by Notebookcheck.net)

Interesting observation:
EVERY affected Thinkpad has INTEL CPU.
NO affected Thinkpad has AMD CPU.

Time to dump INTEL?
They don't seem to be too INTELligent lately as well.
Took them 5 years to come up with better CPUs than the i5-4xxx/i7-4xxx as used in older Thinkpads such as T440p.

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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#5 Post by dr_st » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:58 am

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:46 am
EVERY affected Thinkpad has INTEL CPU.
NO affected Thinkpad has AMD CPU.
Are there any systems with AMD CPUs and Thunderbolt 3?
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#6 Post by ThreeIguanasPerSecond » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:54 am

regarding ThinkPads? no, there isn't any at the moment.

however there is a motherboard which is an AMD platform and additionally supports Thunderbolt 3 for some strange reason, it's called the ASUS X570 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3.
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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#7 Post by dr_st » Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:58 pm

ThreeIguanasPerSecond wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:54 am
regarding ThinkPads? no, there isn't any at the moment.
So why is it surprising that every Thinkpad that is prone to Thunderbolt issues has an Intel CPU?

And how do you "dump" Intel if you want Thunderbolt on your Thinkpad?
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#8 Post by RealBlackStuff » Sat Jan 25, 2020 2:53 am

I never had (or needed) more than one external monitor.
I couldn't care less what sort of cable it needs.
For "big" jobs I have a desktop with USB2.0, USB3.1, eSATA, 1394a, D-SUB, DVI, HDMI, RGB, Audio, and probably a few more ports.
I don't connect my mobile/cellphone to a computer.
Occasionally I connect a mouse, USB-stick, digital camera, scanner or portable drive to a computer.
In other words, I have no need for USB-C or Thunderbolt.

Maybe some other company makes better Thunderbolt chips than Intel?

My "newest" laptop is an FHD X250, which is currently gathering dust, since I'm on my FHD T440p most of the time.
And if I ever need to update, it will NOT be to yet another "NSA-approved" Intel laptop.
Guess that's one of the perks of being retired.

Question: who really NEEDS TB3?
I'd compare that to people who insist on 1.2GB wifi, when their ISP only feeds them 100MB.

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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#9 Post by w0qj » Sat Jan 25, 2020 3:03 pm

Our very first ThinkPad with USB-C/Thunderbolt port was our X1E1 (X1 Extreme 1st Gen circa Aug 2018), which was the same generation as another poster's P52.

1. As of Jan 2020, looks like ThinkPad had solved the bricking issues with Intel USB-C/Thunderbolt for both the ThinkPad motherboard and the Docking Station firmware updates.
May we repeat: these problems have been solved now, and this is from personal experience.
This applies to X1E1 (from personal experience), and should apply to P52/P72 (Lenovo forum users did not report USB-C/Thunderbolt bricking for a long time now).

- - - - - - - - - -
2. Is USB-C/Thunderbolt useful? Yes, with caveats for now.

2a. USB-C/Thunderbolt is just another connection to us; it's a pain to have yet another adapter in our toolkit for connection compatibility.
ie: MANY devices are still being shipped with the traditional USB 3.0 interface; just think of USB Thumbstick.

2b. After using X1E1 and the ThinkVision M14 portable external LCD which uses USB-C (which supports DP1.2 Alt mode and PD2.0) for a few months,
we have to admit that USB-C ports can change the way we work.

*IF* your computer's USB-C supports DP1.2 Alt mode and PD2.0 (like our X1E1 does support), you can connect the ThinkVision M14 LCD panel directly to the X1E1 with just *one* special cable, and both signal and power would be delivered via this one single cable!
This makes portable LCD panels very handy to have around; no need to carry AC adapters for your M14 external LCD panel.

2c. Growing pains of USB-C supports DP1.2 Alt mode and PD2.0
~Few notebook computers manufactured in 2019 had USB-C support with DP1.2 Alt mode and PD2.0 (ie: X1 Carbon 7th Generation circa 2019 does not support this format!!)
~In such a case, even your X1 Carbon 7th Generation need a (separately bought) USB-C charger cable for power, and yet another USB-C cable to connect to your computer for signal.

Even the USB-C port in our 40AN230UK Docking Station for Workstations did not support DP1.2 Alt mode and PD2.0
ie: If you connect your ThinkVision M14 to your 40AN230UK Docking Station, you still need to buy a separate USB-C charger cable for power!!
Even ThinkPad/Lenovo support staff struggled before answering our hypothetical "Can M14 connect to 40AN230UK Docking Station with just one USB-C cable question".
And ThinkPad/Lenovo support staff could not answer our hypothetical question, "Can X1E1 connected to AC adapter main power support two units of M14 while USB-C daisy-chained?"


3. Conclusion: USB-C/Thunderbolt is a mess; still has that bleeding edge smell to it.
As of Jan 2020, both ThinkPad/Lenovo and other computer makers just list USB-C support.
So basic USB-C connections are fine.
But to really use the advanced USB-C/Thunderbolt/DP1.2_Alt_Mode/PD2.0 features, even advanced users and computer manufacturer support staff seems to be confused to some degree!
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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#10 Post by Puppy » Sat Jan 25, 2020 3:10 pm

w0qj wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 3:03 pm
But to really use the advanced USB-C/Thunderbolt/DP1.2_Alt_Mode/PD2.0 features, even advanced users and computer manufacturer support staff seems to be confused to some degree!
It would help is there was any QA department other than the customers only :roll:
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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#11 Post by RealBlackStuff » Sun Jan 26, 2020 3:59 am

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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#12 Post by pkiff » Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:52 pm

jdrou wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:06 pm
Also note that these "fixes" were supposedly released in July so they aren't exactly new.
Yeah, in the case of my X1 Tablet 3rd Gen, this is an old issue. The fixes were posted last fall.

AND I agree with the general sentiment here that Thunderbolt 3 isn't yet quite as stable as it should be. I have had a surprising number of firmware updates in the past 12 months to prove it - both for my X1 Tablet's Thunderbolt controller and also for my Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Some of those updates fixed actual broken hardware things for me personally. So it all definitely does seem to be a bit of a work in progress. In the case of one specific firmware update for the X1 Tablet, I actually posted somenthing over on Lenovo's forum to let them know that the instructions they included in one of the updates were incorrect.

AND, aside from the reports of broken firmware updates, there have also been actual BIOS updpates for some Thinkpad that in certain special (relatively rare) cases have resulted in bricked Thinkpads.

I ADMIT, to me, all this does indeed make me wonder what has happened to Thinkpad prorammers that would allow critical things like firmware or BIOS updates to be released in such a state.

BUT, at the same time, I also recognize that the margins on laptops are pretty slim these days, tuirnover of computer models is much quicker, and competition is fierce. And there are lots of shifting fronts in the tech now happening all at the same time.

Having said ALL that, I have to say that I am VERY happy to have a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports on my X1 Tablet 3rd Gen, and I would not be able to work in the same way without them. I connect my tablet to all my devices with a single plug when I am at my desk at home - power, keyboard, USB hub, network, and 2 monitors. And on the road, I use those same ports to connect one to a power outlet and the other to a 2nd monitor (that is powered through my Thunderrbolt port as well), and sometimes I connect a classic 7-row keyboard through a USB on that 2nd monitor.

My Motorola phone uses a USB-C port that means it can share the same power adapter and USB keys as my X1 Tablet. And I'm totally happy with the very small ThinkPower USB-C adapter that can be used to power either my phone or my Thinkpad in such a small package.

I'm the first to admit that I've had repeated quirks and issues with this or that firmware/software issue with this Thinkpad. But the convenience of a machine that is so small and light that it is barely there is hard to beat. I take it with me so often in cases when I previouslly wouldn't have wanted the hassle of carrying a laptop, that I am willing to put up with an awful lot of the crap that goes with it.

In fact, the thing that bothers me about these machines these days is the keyboard, not the rest of the hardware. I still long for that 7-row classiic keyboard so much that sometimes I carry one along with my Thinkpad X1 Tablet (obviously defeating the purpose of having such a small and thin machine!)

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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#13 Post by Puppy » Wed Jan 29, 2020 4:52 am

pkiff wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:52 pm
I ADMIT, to me, all this does indeed make me wonder what has happened to Thinkpad prorammers that would allow critical things like firmware or BIOS updates to be released in such a state.
It is easy, there is no longer any Quality Assurance, tested on customers first. Few years ago Lenovo released ThinkPad 8 tablet with 4G module and its the firmware didn't work at all. It took more than one year to deliver a fully working one.
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Re: Nearly all ThinkPads have defective USB-C ports and bad Thunderbolts

#14 Post by Glitchy » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:49 am

Oh !!! My P71 (20HL) falls into this list... i have Version 15.00 ... do i need to worry a lot ? do i want to update ? i got this machine as second hand from usa ( im in europe ) but currently have some sort of warranty ...but im not willing to risk it now ( not using thunderbolt port atm , but who knows what im gonna do in the future )
P.s. im thinking it was never updated.
P.P.S. im running linux.
ThinkPad P71 | ThinkPad T440p | ThinkPad X220 | ThinkPad W520 | IBM ThinkPad T61

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