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T520 keyboard replacement

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Rletson
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:55 pm
Location: St. Cloud, MN

T520 keyboard replacement

#1 Post by Rletson » Tue Oct 05, 2021 8:28 pm

Still fiddling around with the 520, which has accumulated enough wear and tear on the keyboard to merit replacing it. Ideally, I would prefer an actual Lenovo part--even a pull, in good enough condition. But I suspect that an aftermarket/third-party part is the more practical solution.

For example, laptopkeyboard.com offers a "100% genuine OEM" replacement part, and since their site has a query box right on the page, I asked whether their keyboards were actual Lenovo T520 parts or third-party replacements and whether they have Lenovo FRUs. Their answer: "We only sell OEM part with specifications same as your original keyboard."

Yourlaptopexperts.com offers "Genuine Lenovo IBM Thinkpad T520 T520i T520s Series US keyboard" for about $20 less. No claim of OEM status.

But I read about shoddy products on offer from shady sources, and I know that there are Chinese factories turning out all manner of replacement parts, some of them not just second-rate but essentially counterfeits. So I wonder whether anyone has a line on a reliable supplier of reliable parts. (I find both Amazon and eBay swamps of fakery and deception, and I suspect that those under-$40 items are not quality goods.)

kfzhu1229
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Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:59 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: T520 keyboard replacement

#2 Post by kfzhu1229 » Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:57 pm

Are you looking for a keyboard because your old one is worn out or is it broken?
I think I might have some sets of less worn genuine T520 keyboard keycaps from my 5 broken ThinkPad T520 keyboards (all faulty membrane), if you are interested.
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
600 PII-266 416mb 40gb WXP
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
Precision M4300 X9000 8gb 160gb WUXGA Ultrasharp fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10 (Sharp)
Lat C840 P4-2.5 2gb 60gb W7 (Ultrasharp)

Rletson
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:55 pm
Location: St. Cloud, MN

Re: T520 keyboard replacement

#3 Post by Rletson » Tue Oct 05, 2021 10:20 pm

Thanks for the offer--but it's a combination of a couple sticky/unreliable keyswitches and the unresponsive Trackpoint buttons. I suspect that both problems are repairable, but it's easier to just replace the whole assembly. There was a time when I'd be willing to tackle a fiddly-bits mechanical repair job, but aging eyes and fumbly fingers make such projects less appealing than they once were. (Memories of assembling a Heath H-150 kit--wherever did I find the patience?)

atagunov
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: T520 keyboard replacement

#4 Post by atagunov » Thu Oct 07, 2021 7:37 am

Hi I've paid relatively big price for a keyboard on Aliexpress which I hoped would be NMB original but got what is definitely not an original keyboard. I didn't try to put it into use so no idea how good/bad it is. These days if I want a replacement keyboard - an I have in total 3 more or less used machines with this type of keyboard (X220 and two of T520) plus some plans in distant future to use same keyboard in W530 and X230T - so these days if I want a keyboard of this spec (X220, X220t, T420, T520, W520) what I do is I purchase a used keyboard off ebay. I only purchase from private sellers who post real photos of the article they're selling. I don't purchase if it is a generic photo. I very carefully look at the photo of the back side to make sure it is genuine. Then I'm making an assumption that keycaps haven't been replaced and try to gauge overall keyboard health from how worn the keys look in the photo. Yes it is a used keyboard but at least it is genuine.

This way I have just purchased an X201 keyboard (for my X2100 heh) and it actually looks and feels pretty decent. X201 has a keyboard different from X220/X220t/T420/T520/W520 but same principle applies I believe when buying.

P.S. you may use this page to look up suitable keyboard FRU-s. This page provides some extra info on how to read that table:
The first columns is ALPS keyboard (generally regarded as the worst), the second row is Chicony (regarded as good) and the third row is NMB (regarded at the best). The differences between Chicony and NMB are most likely minor
They you can build a saved search on ebay for the FRU-s you're interested in, with your region and price cap and have emails come in when suitable keyboards surface. Perhaps your luck is going to be in and eventually you will see an unsused (new) keyboard sold by a private seller with real photos. In UK I'd expect it to be £35-40. Then you can get your new one :) For example for me if I wanted UK layout NMB or Chicony but not ALPS the ebay search would be "(45N2170, 45N2240)": like this. Oh wow there seem to be a couple new ones for around £31.. Heh I've overspent a bit this year, maybe I will not buy. But I could. What I see there now might be suitable keyboards. Of course this search also picks up the sellers which are offering individual keycaps, which are different between NMB/Chicony/ALPS/no-name-clones btw.
X220, 2 *T520

Rletson
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:55 pm
Location: St. Cloud, MN

Re: T520 keyboard replacement

#5 Post by Rletson » Fri Oct 08, 2021 2:24 pm

Thanks for the tip--I had the various keyboard FRUs but hadn't thought to use them for an eBay search. Turns out there were several pulls listed, and I chose the one with the clearest view of the label visible--a Chicony as it happens. We'll see how reliable this vendor is. Fortunately, it's a modest investment/risk compared to the $90 asking price for what may or may not be an actual OEM part.

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