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Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

X200, X201, X220 (including equivalent tablet models) and X300, X301 series specific matters only.
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Bytex
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Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:10 pm
Location: Roma, Italy

Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

#1 Post by Bytex » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Hello guys, my X201 gets here tomorrow, wowee I'm excited, first Thinkpad! I got it refurbished for cheap, new battery as well. I'm planning to use it for light tasks such as basic C++ coding, internet browsing and... not much more actually, I just need something portable to work on, for my university studies. I wanna ask you Thinkpad gurus some things to get my X201 set up and running as well as possible though!

1) Why should I flash a new BIOS? If so, do I go for an official Lenovo up-to-date release or something custom? What are the advantages of both cases? (Also, I heard that flashing a BIOS can get your Thinkpad bricked, so is flashing a BIOS even worth it at this point?)

2) How can I keep the laptop as cool and battery friendly as possible? Tips for both Linux (I know powertop or something is useful for power management) and Windows?

3) What distro should I slap in? Thought I'd use Xubuntu because it's lightweight on both memory and CPU, but why not do something more considering I have 4GB RAM and an i5-540M. I'd like to install Ubuntu MATE on it cause I just think it's nicer all-around, and I know for a fact that the hardware on this X201 could run it well. But still, my main goal is to keep temperatures to a minimum (I know old Arrandales can get kinda toasty) and battery to its maximum performance. Do you think Ubuntu MATE can be more demanding than Xubuntu at the point that it actually reduces battery life and makes the laptop run warmer? Cause if that's the case I'm definitely going for Xubuntu, but if the difference is negligible, well, I'll stick to MATE and have a nicer OS (to me) for some degrees more and some minutes less of battery life.

4) The machine comes with Win7 Professional, but I would like to get Win10 running on it in a separate partition, just in case. All good with Win10? Power management (aka batt life and CPU usage) are as good as Win7? No missing drivers/utilities?

Thanks bunches! Really hope I'll set this up as I wish so I'll have my dream (portable) machine <3

Thinkpad4by3
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Re: Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

#2 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:10 pm

Welcome to the fourm!

You picked a nice entry level Thinkpad, a durable workhorse. That X201 will serve you well.

1) For an X201, flashing a custom BIOS is really unnecessary. Unless you are planning on installing an aftermarket wireless card or something of that nature, you won't need something custom. Only very certain machines like the 61 and x00 series REALLY benefit from the modded bios. I do recommend updating to Lenovo's latest BIOS though.

2) An X201 will not run cool. There is just nothing you can do about it. The 1st gen i-Series like their predecessor the Core series just ran hot. The 2nd and 3rd gen CPUs bring down the temps significantly and the first "COOL" CPU was the 4th gen. With a NEW battery, you should be good to go. I'm not a Linux guru of any kind so just ask them what kind of utility you could use for power management. Running C++ and light browsing shouldn't be too intensive on the processor, and therefore should result in good battery life.

3)Not a Linux guy, couldn't tell ya.

4)W7 is the way to go. It is supported better on the older hardware, and W10 is a PITA. You don't want W10 unless you REALLY NEED it. It just won't run well, especially because it was designed for a the newer CPU's that behave differently than the old Westmere Cores. Almost anyone here would say run for the hills when it comes to Win10.

The X201 will be good for you. It is light, has decent performance, and you can laugh when someone who brags about their MacBook gets a big ol' dent in the side of it while your trusty Thinkpad has nothin' but a few scratches!

-Thinkpad4by3
Just collecting vintage machines....Thinkpads included.
Have: IBM PC 5150, Tandy 1400LT, Macintosh Portable, Metalis 286(dead), Satellite 200CDS, TP 755C&CDV , 701C, Slimsport 286(deadish/zombie).
New: TI Travelmate 4000E 4/25, AMREL SLT486 (4DX2/66)

axur-delmeria
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Re: Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

#3 Post by axur-delmeria » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:18 am

2) For linux, installing tlp is recommended. Disabling Turbo Boost also helps. Another suggestion is installing powertop.

3) I'm a Debian XFCE user. Xubuntu is roughly comparable to it. IMO having a desktop environment with lower memory consumption is always better, regardless of whether you have 2GB or 16GB RAM.

4) I'd agree with Thinkpad4by3 on this one.
Daily driver: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M

In reserve: X61 T7500, X60 T2300
In pieces: X60s CS U1300 [board only], two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E

Bytex
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:10 pm
Location: Roma, Italy

Re: Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

#4 Post by Bytex » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:07 am

axur-delmeria wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:18 am
2) For linux, installing tlp is recommended. Disabling Turbo Boost also helps. Another suggestion is installing powertop.

3) I'm a Debian XFCE user. Xubuntu is roughly comparable to it. IMO having a desktop environment with lower memory consumption is always better, regardless of whether you have 2GB or 16GB RAM.

4) I'd agree with Thinkpad4by3 on this one.
Thank you (both) :) so uhm, how should I go about disabling turbo boost? There's just a switch in the BIOS right? And other BIOS settings I should care about?

As for Linux, I think I'll go for xubuntu rather than Debian XFCE. I think. It's just personal preference after all :)

axur-delmeria
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Re: Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

#5 Post by axur-delmeria » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:36 am

TLP has a configuration file. Turbo Boost can be disabled there, somewhere. You need to open it in a text editor with root privileges in order to save changes. Read the documentation on the web site, or on the config file itself.

To be honest, I haven't tried any modern versions of Gnome, KDE, or even MATE--I started using Xfce on Debian 4.0 around 9 years ago. :o

IMO when it comes to Linux, it all boils down to personal preference, because there's simply too many distros too choose from. :lol:
Daily driver: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M

In reserve: X61 T7500, X60 T2300
In pieces: X60s CS U1300 [board only], two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E

Billaboard
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Re: Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

#6 Post by Billaboard » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:16 am

I just run Linux on desktops, so can't answer any of those questions.

With the Windows setup, I'd very strongly advise taking an image of the full Windows 7 before making any changes. A usb HD is always useful and worth having anyway, and would be handy for this.

I currently run 2 X201's and 2 X200 Tablets. One of each model is on W7, the other on W10. I totally agree with the previous comments. W10 is a complete PITA, particularly with the regular major updates that can a) move things around and disable things and b) can take up to a full day to complete the update interfering with, if not losing, whatever you were working on.

Most things work the same on W7 and W10 and drivers haven't been a problem on the X201's. On the tablets, drivers have been a nightmare for the tablet features.

These are excellent machines. I don't worry about the heat. The X200's have new batteries which are good for at least 5 hours.

s4mus_4r4n
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:49 pm

Re: Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

#7 Post by s4mus_4r4n » Fri Dec 01, 2017 5:50 pm

What is TLP?

joeyoeyoh
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Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:58 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

#8 Post by joeyoeyoh » Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:10 pm

I have Windows 10 on my X201 and I love it. With an SSD it boots and runs faster than my wife's $700 Lenovo that she bought last year.

Thinkpad4by3
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Re: Thinkpad X201, set up and tips?

#9 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:58 pm

joeyoeyoh wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:10 pm
I have Windows 10 on my X201 and I love it. With an SSD it boots and runs faster than my wife's $700 Lenovo that she bought last year.
A CPU that has more voltage than a pair of earbuds is always nice, and its winter too. Crank up AIDA64 and let the heat pour out.
Just collecting vintage machines....Thinkpads included.
Have: IBM PC 5150, Tandy 1400LT, Macintosh Portable, Metalis 286(dead), Satellite 200CDS, TP 755C&CDV , 701C, Slimsport 286(deadish/zombie).
New: TI Travelmate 4000E 4/25, AMREL SLT486 (4DX2/66)

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