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T400 --> T420 Upgrade

T400/410/420 and T500/510/520 series specific matters only
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lukee
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T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#1 Post by lukee » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:29 am

Hi there! I got an opportunity to do the T400 --> T420 upgrade. The configuration of T420 is i5-2520M, Intel GPU, 8GB RAM, no HDD (I have an SSD), DVD-RW, LCD is 1366x768 and the battery lasts around 4 hours. I am Fedora Linux user, so I don't care a much about performance - current T400 runs GNOME Shell with animations turned off very nicely. T420's condition is near mint. As the performance boost can be expected for sure, how is the T420 in compare with T400 regarding durability and the manufacturing quality? I like my T400 as the LCD lid is from magnesium and in overall the T400 provides durable feeling in general. In my T400 I also have an UltraBay SATA adapter so I can attach 2nd HDD which I am mostly using for backups, can I use the same adapter also in T420? Also, my T400's battery has Panasonic cells inside which still provides a decent battery life after the years. How are the T420 batteries? Is also a docking station compatible? Thank you.
Current: T420
Previous: T400, T43p Flexview, T40, R52, T43p 14"
My first ThinkPad was 570

dr_st
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#2 Post by dr_st » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:45 am

Performance boost is good.

No issues with reliability or durability.

LCD resolution 1366x768 is low. If your T400 has 1280x800, you may not feel much difference, but if it's 1440x900, it would be a serious downgrade.

T420 batteries are like T400 batteries - some may be better than others. I have not done sufficient investigations on T410 and later batteries to check if the advantage of Panasonic over Sanyo holds. It may not be as meaningful as it used to be. There are also LGC batteries which are OK.

You can reuse your SATA Ultrabay adapter, but the docking station is different and incompatible.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
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theterminator93
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#3 Post by theterminator93 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:36 am

I'd say that there are fewer "bad" Sanyo batteries out there for the T410/T420; most seem to be LG or Panasonic. The Sanyos that are out there are still noticeably less robust than their LG/Panasonic counterparts though. Out of the hundreds of T420s and T410s I've worked with recently most Sanyos are down to somewhere between 20 and 70% design capacity. Most LGs are above 70% unless they were really heavily used (400+ cycles) and the Panasonics are universally 90% or better.

You'll notice the thinner LCD between the two for sure, but overall the two seem similar in quality IMO. The biggest annoyance is the silly textured touchpad sticker on them which wears down easily, which can be replaced though. Speakers are flat out terrible as well. The keyboard layout is slighty different; the ESC and DEL keys on the T410/420 were enlarged and the top rows were shifted a little to accommodate.

As was said the SATA ultrabay adapter should function, however the T400 has a slim ultrabay compared to the "thick" ultrabay on the T420. There will be a gap of about 1/8" or ~3-4mm with the adapter enclosure inserted.
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#4 Post by TonyJZX » Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:45 pm

I have a 400/400s and a 420/420s.

I like the 420s the best I think but there's something slightly flimsy about the way its built and I think the 1,600 x 900 screens in both 420 models is not good.

I would not buy a 768p model. Both my 420 models are 900p.

My ultrabay battery works in all of them and the ultrabay hdds but I beleive the bezel shape is slighlty different.

In Windows there's a speed difference but the 400 isnt crippling. In Unix it would be nothing.

I dont use docks but I dont think this is an issue since the ex lease places are overfilled with cheap docks no one has a use for.

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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#5 Post by TPFanatic » Sat Nov 05, 2016 6:41 pm

T420 has a much thinner lid than T400. I can confirm that T410's lid which isn't as thin as T420's is much flexier than T500's. So do take care, at least in the lid department, T420 is less durable than the T400.
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#6 Post by jaspen-meyer » Sun Nov 06, 2016 8:17 am

The screens of my T420 and T420s need calibration, otherwise colors and contrast are terrible.

Here is the icc file for my T420:
http://www.jesseo.com/calibration/

Load the calibration with:

Code: Select all

xcalib T420-B140XW03.icc
T420 i7 3612QM seabios; T420 i7 3630QM; T400 Q9100 seabios; T61 P9600; T60 libreboot; x62; x60s libreboot, led; x24 xiphmont led

brchan
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#7 Post by brchan » Sun Nov 06, 2016 8:28 am

The quality of the T410 - T430 era is generally a bit less than prior models. Mainly the plastic feels cheaper, but the bottom frame sturdiness is just as good. The lid stiffness will be worse, since the T400 (non 's') was the last generation to sport internal magnesium LCD cages. Hinges on the 14" models do develop a little play, but is often far less than what was on the T61 and T400. Lid material will feel better since it is CFRP, not ABS on top of magnesium. Also, you will want to switch out that 1366xx768 screen for a better one.

Overall, the T420 is a nice thinkpad and a worthy upgrade over your T400.
Current Thinkpads: W530 (functional classic keyboard mod), X301, T61, T60, T43, A31p, T23, 600X, 770
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lukee
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#8 Post by lukee » Sun Nov 06, 2016 12:02 pm

T420's configuration is Intel i5 2520M 2.4 GHz, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 1000 GB HDD (I will probably put there my SSD from T400), LCD 14" (1366x768), DVDRW, WiFi, battery lasts approximately 4 hours. In my current T400 I've standard LCD resolution 1280x800 so the given one is not a big issue for me since e.g. my photography work I am always doing on my work Dell E5550 laptop with 1080p IPS. I have a meeting in that store tomorrow to review the laptop itself. Thanks.
Current: T420
Previous: T400, T43p Flexview, T40, R52, T43p 14"
My first ThinkPad was 570

Wainwright
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#9 Post by Wainwright » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:21 am

theterminator93 wrote:Speakers are flat out terrible as well.
You can make it a bit better by installing Dolby drivers now. I use a T420 too and overall it's a solid machine.

lukee
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#10 Post by lukee » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:44 am

I have done the physical review of that ThinkPad, the seller has many of them. Few of them are in mint condition, one is excellent so I have selected it - it has German keyboard layout but it's not a big issue for me and the keyboard has absolutely no shining on the keys, the laptop probably was most of the time in the dock. From the batteries, I have an opportunity to select from LGC (assuming LG), Sanyo and Panasonic, all have original FRU sticker. Panasonic has the lowest full charge capacity (39Wh), Sanyo together with LG have about 55Wh at full charge and according to Power Manager, those should last ~5 hrs, Sanyo is extended battery by the way. Only flaw I found is that one corner of the touchpad is not glued well - as I understood, it's just a sticker and can be found on eBay for few bucks, is that correct?
Otherwise, the ThinkPad is very nice, no scratches, no cracks in the plastics.

So few questions remaining:
- Which battery I should consider so it will last for few years?
- Can be the touchpad sticker replaced?
- Will be my current power adapters from T400 and T400's dock compatible with the T420 and T420's dock?

I also plan to purchase it without HDD (I have my own Intel SSD 240GB) and max out RAM to 16GB.

Regarding speakers - as I will run Fedora Linux on it, I can probably forget the Dolby drivers, right?

Thanks!
Current: T420
Previous: T400, T43p Flexview, T40, R52, T43p 14"
My first ThinkPad was 570

Tasurinchi
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#11 Post by Tasurinchi » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:11 am

I was of the opinion that for this generation ThinkPad the quality differences in the batteries were not so big among brands, but I'm not 100% sure, I'd wait for more user feedback.

Touchpad sticker can be replaced, I actually removed the sticker completely from one of my T420s and never bothered replacing it. Power supplies are the same as the ones you have.
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#12 Post by SaskFellow » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:57 am

When looking at the batteries, also pay attention to the number of cycles that have been run on the battery, also pay attention to the manufacture and first used date, lithium ion batteries do age in storage.

If the Panasonic has 350 cycles and the dates are 2012, would probably be closer to death than the Sanyo with 150 cycles and 2014 dates.

Also, run a battery gauge reset on whichever you choose, if you can before purchase that's even better, it'll report more honest numbers than the battery guesstimating the results since its last reset.
T61 14.1 WXGA+ 220nit, T9300, Owl blade fan cooler, 8GB PC2-6400, 2010 revised NVS140M, Samsung 840Pro 240GB, AR9390 N, BT4.1, NMB keyboard, T400 palm-rest, 33++ battery.

T420s 14.0 HD+, i7-2460M, 16GB PC3L-12800, NVS4200M, Samsung 850Pro 512GB, Intel 7260AC, BT4.1, Chicony KB, 81+ battery

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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#13 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:45 am

SaskFellow wrote: If the Panasonic has 350 cycles and the dates are 2012, would probably be closer to death than the Sanyo with 150 cycles and 2014 dates.
Not necessarily.

My T43pSF sports a '07 Pana 9-cell battery which still shows about 2/3 of the original charge design after 700+ cycles. "Green" condition as per PM.

R61FL that I'm typing this on sits on a Panasonic 9-cell from '08 - first used in '09 - holding 68.84 out of 84.24 (81.7%) design charge after 470 cycles. I've got several more Panasonic batteries - including the A3x ones from 2002/3 - which simply refuse to die.

Not that I haven't seen Panasonic batteries suddenly fail, but I've encountered problems of *any* kind with them far less often than with any other manufacturer.

In my book, Pana rules. Obviously, YMMV.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

FlexView AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF, X60T

Abused daily: T520, X200s


PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

lukee
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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#14 Post by lukee » Thu Nov 10, 2016 5:43 am

T420 came home today. I finally picked the LG cells-based battery which has 120 cycles and Fedora Linux informs 5-6 hours remaining at full charge. The body is very nice, KB has no shining. I was shocked that the laptop took my Intel SSD with Fedora Linux on it (was installed on my previous T400) and the system boots up with absolutely no issues and everything works. Thus I do not need to reinstall the system at all after T400-->T420 upgrade, wohooo - this is why I love Linux.

Picture: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ePBSc9 ... sp=sharing
Current: T420
Previous: T400, T43p Flexview, T40, R52, T43p 14"
My first ThinkPad was 570

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Re: T400 --> T420 Upgrade

#15 Post by evening_hunger » Thu Nov 10, 2016 8:58 am

I moved my ssd from a dell inspiron to my x220 the other day, and that was seamless too. There are super-small quirks that might require looking at, such as seeing if acpi -V prints everything allright, and perhaps if thinkpad tp-smapi (or whatever it's called in Fedora) picks up the battery info.
Nice lookin' machine btw, congratulations.
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