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Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

X230 and later series specific matters only
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awebber
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Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#1 Post by awebber » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:48 am

I hope this is the right forum for this, I'm leaning towards the X260. :)

My X220 is acting up again and I'm thinking it's time for a replacement. I'm hoping to get some expert feedback on some of the options.

I don't want to spend a lot on it and I actually bought a Dell 15" Inspiron (!) which came today. It's actually a nice machine, has 6th gen i7 and FHD touch display (I didn't care about touch, just the 1080, but I'm surprised at how many sites are useful with a touch screen; that said I still think it's not a great idea when the display is literally at arm's length). I find 15.6" screens with 1366x768 unbearable.

What I don't like about the Dell on initial use are (a) Windows 10, (b) the weight [5.2lb], (c) keyboard layout, (d) keyboard feel, (e) touchpad and no trackpoint. I will admit I was using the Dell without a mouse and I almost never use my X220's touchpad. I had gone with the Dell because it seemed really cheap for what I got (U$479) and a bigger screen seemed like a nice idea. Figured if I had a project where I had to travel, I'd invest in something lighter. Right now I drive or (sometimes) take the train, and usually work from home anyway.

Assuming I can return the Dell, I was wondering about a ThinkPad. I looked at E series (I guess that's E for Entry or E for Economical). E570 (15") is "sold out" but it weighs too much anyway (hard to believe after my 600 and T41, but I guess 8+ years of X series have spoiled me).

Maybe the E470 with FHD screen. If I upgrade to the faster i5, Windows 10 Pro, FHD screen, fingerprint reader, and Intel WiFi, I end up at U$705 with standard 10% off. It sure adds up. I don't know if I need i7 (on my X220 it was the only way to get USB3), or if I need any other upgrades, but I only took the things I'd notice physically. For that matter maybe i3 would be good enough, I just worry about the low end of anything (I don't count E-series ThinkPad since it's still a ThinkPad). Haven't priced (for example) the Lenovo price to move to 8GB vs just buying 8GB afterwards, but with the X220 the latter approach was cheaper.

If I configure an X260 similarly (except a 1366x768 IPS display, backlit keyboard, and biggest rear battery for $15 upcharge), I end up at U$1034.

Is it worth another $300? E470 is 4lb, X260 is 3lb, I'm thinking 4lb might be tolerable (perhaps the 5lb Dell is also intimidating for its sheer size of footprint, it's no heavier than my old notebooks).

What I don't like about both Lenovos is they seem to have the same keyboard ugliness as the Dell: chiclet keyboard, PGUP and PGDN horizontally opposed instead of stacked, delete right above backspace, etc.). And both of them are more expensive than my $479 Dell (+$100 for a 2nd year of warranty including accidents). Oh and the Dell is 6th gen i7 CPU, 1xUSB3+2xUSB2 so clearly previous generation.

Also on the X260 I could downgrade to Win 7 Pro for $40 more. Do all Win 10 licenses include a Win 7 downgrade (in which case I'd do it myself)?

Thanks in advance for any advice you might have.

=aw

dr_st
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#2 Post by dr_st » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:19 pm

I don't have answers to all your questions, but a couple of things you should probably get used to, no matter what system you choose are:
  1. Windows 10 - It's here to stay; I am not sure any Windows-based system will come with any other version these days, although some current ones do offer "downgrade rights" to Windows 7, as you observed. In a generation or two, most hardware will be tested for Windows 10 exclusively, and you may not even find Windows 7/8.1 drivers (if you do, they might not be satisfactory. With that said, do try to get the Pro version. It has more features, and gives you better control of your system (for example, the ability to disable automatic update installation, which is quite important for many people, and for good reason). Also, the "Pro" is the one that will come with downgrade rights.
  2. Keyboard layout - Lenovo was really the last laptop manufacturer to ditch the classic / standard desktop layout, so currently there are no modern laptops that offer it. All of them will have the same horizontal layout of navigation keys due to the elimination of the extra "7th" row. And I would not hold my breath for it to change any time soon (at least until the Retro Thinkpad starts being an actual project and not just something people like to talk about). Most people simply don't care enough, and looks sell more than functionality.
Still, as far as keyboard goes, the Thinkpads will probably be your best bet. Even though, from the PoV of classic keyboard proponents, their layout is also messed up, it's not quite as bad as some of the others, and the keyboard feel is still very good - on par with the classic Thinkpads. As much as I hate the layout myself, I have to admit that it's still probably the best keyboard you can find in a laptop, and it has a fully-functional 3-button trackpoint.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), 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

mj0
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#3 Post by mj0 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:13 pm

dr_st wrote:
  1. Windows 10 - It's here to stay; I am not sure any Windows-based system will come with any other version these days, although some current ones do offer "downgrade rights" to Windows 7, as you observed. In a generation or two, most hardware will be tested for Windows 10 exclusively, and you may not even find Windows 7/8.1 drivers (if you do, they might not be satisfactory. With that said, do try to get the Pro version. It has more features, and gives you better control of your system (for example, the ability to disable automatic update installation, which is quite important for many people, and for good reason). Also, the "Pro" is the one that will come with downgrade rights.
Actually there's no need to wait "a generation or two" because Skylake will be the final generation of Intel hardware with official Windows 7 support. Kaby Lake only comes with official support for Windows 10, and Intel will not provide any Windows 7 drivers for Kaby Lake systems anymore. So, as you have stated correctly: Windows 10 is here to stay. Either get onboard or get out now. Both OS X and Linux can be viable alternatives depending on ones personal preferences and requirements.

Other than that I really don't see a reason why you should replace your Inspiron laptop at this point.
It's got that typical Thinkpad ruggedness. Drop it, and your floor may be in serious danger.

awebber
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#4 Post by awebber » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:57 pm

Thank you both. I guess I have to resign myself to Windows 10 (or Linux I guess). So be it, I can adapt to pretty much anything (especially if I can turn off auto-updating).

I should note, in case it wasn't clear, that the Dell Inspiron has been here less than a week and I believe has 30-day return privileges. Leaving aside Win 10 as a non-difference (except it's Home, but I could buy Pro I guess), my biggest concern is the sheer size of it.

It's a 15.6" display, but 1080p (and touch, which is irrelevant) and the whole thing officially weighs only 5.20 lb (2.35 kg). I believe my first TP, the 600 with a stated weight of "as little as 4.99 lb", got to that weight by popping the optical drive and not putting in the empty plate. The Inspiron (i5559-3333, an i7-6500U chip despite the model number) might well be 4.99 lb if I remove the optical drive. It just feels so darn big! After nearly 9 years of X300 and X220, admittedly.

Maybe I should give the Dell another chance, set it up properly on my desk next to the 22" external (which ironically has a lower resolution than the Inspiron -- 1680x1050 vs 1920x1080), use a wireless keyboard and mouse (again not great ones) and see where it takes me. Don't want to invest too much time configuring the Inspiron if I'm just going to blow it away in a factory reset, but maybe it's worth a try.

In the end it's hard to argue with U$479 (plus $99 for an extra year of warranty). I think I'm comfortable deciding not to swap it for a more expensive E470 (though that saves a pound) and an X260 is more than twice the price (admittedly with only the normal 10% off at Lenovo.com, I guess a 30% code might go by). I'm always open to more insights of course.

Thanks!
=aw

ZaZ
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#5 Post by ZaZ » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:40 am

I'm betting fixing your X220 is likely to be considerably less than a new notebook, if you're happy with it otherwise. A board is probably less than $50 on eBay.

There's a video here showing how to do it.
ProBook 470 G5

w0qj
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#6 Post by w0qj » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:40 am

We bought X1 Carbon Generation 4 model with Windows 7 Pro, plan to use Win7 until the bitter (2020) end...

Can't seriously switch to other OS due to software we run...

Oh, and we really like the Thinkpad 5-year extended warranty which really protects our computer investments,
making it cheaper over time...

Many competitors have much shorter warranties (especially Apple) which does not protect your investment IMHO,
which is why we stick with Lenovo Thinkpads ;)
Daily Driver: X1 Extreme 1st Gen (X1E1): i7 | 16GB | 1TB | IPS
Current Thinkpads: X1E1 | X1C4 | X1C3 | X250 | X230 | T410
Retired Thinkpads: T42 | 560 (circa 1996)
~~IBM Thinkpad era computer bag !

ZaZ
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#7 Post by ZaZ » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:47 pm

w0qj wrote:Many competitors have much shorter warranties (especially Apple) which does not protect your investment IMHO
Apples lack of an accidental coverage option would be of concern as well if you want to protect your investment.
ProBook 470 G5

awebber
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#8 Post by awebber » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:23 am

I'm betting fixing your X220 is likely to be considerably less than a new notebook, if you're happy with it otherwise. A board is probably less than $50 on eBay.
You're right, and I'm certainly the first to tell my friends and others I support that they don't need a new computer, they need to run a cleanup on what they have (then decide). Typically their machine is slow because they've got 8 toolbars in the browser, other resource-hogging wastes of time, and maybe a virus or two.

I'm not sure what's wrong with mine yet, but it locks up regularly (I can use the mouse but as I try to do things they fail, perhaps it's Windows 7 that isn't responding - maybe I need to run some diagnostics, though Lenovo's own return no problems). And it runs really hot, though not as bad as last year when the fan failed and it would hit 100C and shut down as soon as it booted.

Last year I took it apart and installed a new fan (on the underside of the motherboard!). It wasn't the most fun I've ever had but it did the job. I know the fan is still running because I feel hot air coming out (and because it doesn't shut down) but even minimal CPU usage seems to get it up over 80C and 90C according to CoreTemp.

I'm sure I could replace the motherboard, it's probably what I did last year but without the part about removing fan from motherboard and replacing. The cheapest i7 I see on eBay is $81 from China ("almost 100% new") or $93 from Canada ("used"). I guess it could be worth a shot but at this point I don't know what's wrong with the machine and it might not be the motherboard at all (could be the software or could be the SSD, or who knows). I might be willing to try, though $100 is a bigger investment than the $20 I paid for the fan last year, and I need something as a backup and to use while I'm getting by.

I think you're right that a replacement board would be much cheaper than a new computer (especially a ThinkPad), I'm just not sure I can afford to mess with it. I'm getting some pressure to return the Dell, and to forget an E-level Thinkpad, and just go for an X or a T, even though they're that much more expensive.

=aw

mj0
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#9 Post by mj0 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:16 am

awebber wrote:I'm sure I could replace the motherboard, it's probably what I did last year but without the part about removing fan from motherboard and replacing. The cheapest i7 I see on eBay is $81 from China ("almost 100% new") or $93 from Canada ("used"). I guess it could be worth a shot but at this point I don't know what's wrong with the machine and it might not be the motherboard at all (could be the software or could be the SSD, or who knows). I might be willing to try, though $100 is a bigger investment than the $20 I paid for the fan last year, and I need something as a backup and to use while I'm getting by.
Is this by any chance a Crucial SSD?

Also, it sounds like something went wrong with your fan replacement last year. Did you use proper thermal paste and remove the residue of the old stuff?
It's got that typical Thinkpad ruggedness. Drop it, and your floor may be in serious danger.

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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#10 Post by Kilkenny » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:19 am

I wouldn't bother with a 1366x768 X260, especially for over $1,000. I have an X250 (close enough to the X260) and the FHD display is really the only reason I'm keeping it. The rest of the laptop just isn't very impressive. If a 1366x768 is acceptable for you, a much better option is just to get another X220, but try to find one with the IPS display. It would be much cheaper than a new X260, only slightly less powerful, and would have a vastly better keyboard. That's what I am considering if or when my X250 goes.
T23, T42, T43p, T60, X201, and T420 all running OpenBSD

awebber
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#11 Post by awebber » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:57 pm

Thank you both. To your questions...

1. Windows Properties says C: is CT250BX100SSD1 which is Crucial and highly rated (mostly 4/5 or 5/5, Google's rating aggregator would seem to be giving it 4.8/5. I couldn't find any known issues but that doesn't mean there are none.

2. The fan (which was labelled as Lenovo original, new not a pull) came with a tube of thermal paste but also had a blob on it with release paper. I did clean off the previous fan's residue completely but not sure I added more since the new fan's looked unblemished.

3. I find the 1366x768 IPS tolerable on the 12.5" X220 and thought it would be good enough on a replacement. I can't stand 15.6" machines with that resolution, but it makes sense it might work at 12.5". And a place to save a little money. But I'd be happy to go FHD if it really makes a difference at this size. (That said, it my weird vacation layout the screen is about as far away as my external screen, actually further [slightly beyond arm's reach] given the angles, and I only use it as a parking place and recognize icons by shape. At home I typically have either two externals (so don't care what the internal display is) or I'm using it standalone which means it's at keyboard distance and seems to be okay. Again, FHD would be nicer but it seemed a reasonable compromise. Maybe I shouldn't?

And knowing this is a ThinkPads forum, are there (a) any other ThinkPads you'd recommend (e.g. T460) or even a different Windows machine? I've only ever owned ThinkPads (since 1998) but time does march on.

ThHanks again!
=aw

mj0
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#12 Post by mj0 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:31 pm

awebber wrote:1. Windows Properties says C: is CT250BX100SSD1 which is Crucial and highly rated (mostly 4/5 or 5/5, Google's rating aggregator would seem to be giving it 4.8/5. I couldn't find any known issues but that doesn't mean there are none.
Thought so. The reason why I was asking is that I've recently experienced the exact same issue you've described after I put a Crucial SSD (512GB Crucial MX300) in my X220. It's been running perfect for almost six years with two other SSDs, the original 128GB Samsung 470 and later a 250GB Samsung 840 EVO yet after I put in the Crucial MX300 it started freezing up after a short while and all I could do was move the mouse cursor, nothing else. I've started looking into the issue and it turns out I wasn't alone - the Crucial forums are full of people who are having this very issue with various Crucial drives and Crucial doesn't seem to give a tiny rat's a$$ about it, see for example http://forum.crucial.com/t5/Crucial-SSD ... d-p/175140. For me, the solution was very straightforward: a) uninstall the Acronis 2015 HD that came with the Crucial SSD immediately after cloning from the old drive onto the new, and b) from this moment on avoid Crucial until eternity and never buy anything from them ever again. If you haven't uninstalled Acronis yet it may be worth a shot, it's been a month and I haven't had a single freeze since.
It's got that typical Thinkpad ruggedness. Drop it, and your floor may be in serious danger.

awebber
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#13 Post by awebber » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:45 pm

Thank you. I wish I could do that but I don't think it's there (unless it's not in the Win 7 Start Menu). I think I blew away whatever was on it and moved my existing install from the 500GB HDD that came with the computer and which had a couple of years use.

The only Acronis I can find is an ancient Acronis True Image Home which works great though it's so old. I guess it could be the cause, but I had it long before I got the computer. This SSD is about a year old I think, maybe older, and the problem has only started recently. I was wondering if Win 7 Pro needs cleaning up, though I don't know where to start with that (google I guess :) ).

=aw

mj0
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Re: Replacement for X220: X260 or E470? Or something else?

#14 Post by mj0 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:20 pm

awebber wrote:And knowing this is a ThinkPads forum, are there (a) any other ThinkPads you'd recommend (e.g. T460) or even a different Windows machine? I've only ever owned ThinkPads (since 1998) but time does march on.
If the 15.6" Dell turns out to be too large for you maybe the new Thinkpad 13 is worth considering. Not the current model, with Intel Skylake CPUs, but the one that has just been introduced at CES: 13.3" FHD panel, Kaby Lake CPU, up to 32GB of RAM, and a USB-C dock. Or maybe the new E470 - similar specs, a bit larger and heavier but still tiny compared to a 15.6" Dell Inspiron.

Otherwise I really don't see a point in switching away from the Dell right now if you're happy with it.
It's got that typical Thinkpad ruggedness. Drop it, and your floor may be in serious danger.

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