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T420 vs T420S what is the difference

T400/T410/T420 and T500/T510/T520 Series
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dr_st
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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#31 Post by dr_st » Mon Jul 26, 2021 6:23 am

Bionicman wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 5:47 am
1. T420s can't have normal 9mm SSD. Doesn't sound as big deal until it hits you. Even the X series of that time didn't have this requirement.
I think they did. X220 has 7mm requirement as I remember, though you can still force 9mm drives in it if you give up on the rubber rails. This doesn't work with T420s?
Bionicman wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 5:47 am
2. Most good batteries on the market years later are T420-compatible only. Failing to use one kind of battery (and the slice) for both models was a big drawback.
Already back when the T400s was announced, I remarked that it is a misnomer. The T400s was very different from regular T400 and closer in spirit to X series. I thought it should have been named X400. With that said, there are things in which it is its own animal. The battery design is one of them. Front-mounted battery prevents you from using large extended batteries. That's why the T4**s series are the only models in the CS09 lineup that can take a slice battery.
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

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#32 Post by axur-delmeria » Mon Jul 26, 2021 6:26 am

Bionicman wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 5:47 am
One of the most overlooked differences between T420s and T420 are:

1. T420s can't have normal 9mm SSD. Doesn't sound as big deal until it hits you. Even the X series of that time didn't have this requirement.
2. Most good batteries on the market years later are T420-compatible only. Failing to use one kind of battery (and the slice) for both models was a big drawback.
1. The X220 doesn't fit 9mm hard drives either. Good thing all 2.5" SATA SSDs these days are 7mm. Basically, the T420s is like an X220 with a 14 inch screen, inheriting all its weaknesses: no CPU upgrades (it's soldered), higher CPU temps, applying new thermal paste requires a full disassembly, etc.

2. It seems that the T420s used prismatic (rectangular) batteries, which are a lot less common than the ubiquitous Lithium-ion 18650 cell.
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#33 Post by Bionicman » Mon Jul 26, 2021 2:43 pm

dr_st wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 6:23 am
Bionicman wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 5:47 am
1. T420s can't have normal 9mm SSD. Doesn't sound as big deal until it hits you. Even the X series of that time didn't have this requirement.
I think they did. X220 has 7mm requirement as I remember, though you can still force 9mm drives in it if you give up on the rubber rails. This doesn't work with T420s?
I couldn't fit 9mm drive in a T420s. However I had no such issues with X220t.

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#34 Post by mikemex » Mon Jul 26, 2021 11:40 pm

dr_st wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 6:23 am
I think they did. X220 has 7mm requirement as I remember, though you can still force 9mm drives in it if you give up on the rubber rails.
SSDs have become quite common by now, but they weren't that common when I got my X220. I do remember mine originally came with a 320GB, 7mm, 7.2K rpm drive (Seagate, I think).

Since SSDs were very expensive and rare, I used to hoard those Lenovo 1.8 -> 2.5 SATA converters that allowed me to get the "weird" 64GB SLC drives that came with the X300 for cheap and use them on normal machines. Man, I really like them: I think I have three or four used and two still sealed / brand new. They are very slow compared to what is available now, but they are probably more reliable and, on top of that, very power efficient. They are rated 0.32A on 3.3V, or about 1W under load. I don't think even modern drives can rival on that.

Anyway, my X220 still has one inside (I took the rubber bits off and forced it in) that, by pure laziness, I've never tried to get back out. One of this days I'm going to gain courage to let go of the small drives and put something more modern on it, like a TB or two. I already recycled the one in the T420 and put it back on the X301.

One thing I remember well is that only the Lenovo converters worked well with those drives. I determined that it's because they not only convert the layout of the connector and route the signals; they also convert the voltage (2.5" drives are 5V and 1.8" are 3.3v). The chinese copies I tried at the time didn't work.
Bionicman wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 5:47 am
Most good batteries on the market years later are T420-compatible only. Failing to use one kind of battery (and the slice) for both models was a big drawback.
axur-delmeria wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 6:26 am
Basically, the T420s is like an X220 with a 14 inch screen, inheriting all its weaknesses: no CPU upgrades (it's soldered), higher CPU temps, applying new thermal paste requires a full disassembly, etc. It seems that the T420s used prismatic (rectangular) batteries, which are a lot less common than the ubiquitous Lithium-ion 18650 cell.
A lot of people (like @600X) claim the X1 is the successor to the X301 but I don't agree. The X1 is an 'ultrabook' and thus, a different kind of machine.

(Although it's difficult to define what an ultrabook is, I think it's safe to say it's a kind of tablet-esque device but with integrated keyboard/pointing device in folding format. I say tablet-esque because it has a clear tendency toward monolithic, non modular construction and non-moving parts only features. For example, they never had optical drives and the battery is internally constructed instead of residing in a replaceable external cartridge).

The closest is the T4x0s series, with the T420s as the most advanced model coming with the classic keyboard (I know you can install a classic keyboard on the xx30 series, but I bet none of you have ever thought that the water draining paths have to match for they to work. And they don't. So the moment you spill any water over a modded machine it's likely to be game over).

For some unknown reason this model escaped my radar until now. Of course, I knew of its existence, but I never bothered to look around. And now I see a lot of people complain they run hot, are noisy and have poor battery life.

From what I've investigated, it's caused mostly by a buggy driver (Ricoh card reader). You can either disable it, or remove it, being a disguised ExpressCard.

But even without the reader, a lot can be done to improve both temperatures and battery life. It's not complicated: just carefully check your background process and either uninstall or disable anything non-essential. On my X220, which runs on the same Sandy Bridge platform, I get an idle power draw of just above 5W, while I've seen most users reporting 9-10W. It's not magic: some of the best power saving features of the platform never engage if you never let your CPU to truly idle. And, for the record, the same applies to the GPU. Most are used to run Aero by now, but I have it disabled on all my laptops (via Windows 7's system/advanced options/performance/optimize for best performance). I use Firefox and have smooth scrolling disabled. I also use NoScript and I only *temporally* allow scripts to run as needed. This way, when I restart, all permissions become lost and I have re-enable them again. Sounds tedious, but if you permanently enable stuff, over time you end up allowing everything and the script protection becomes kind of useless. Most of the time my CPU usage is around 1%.

My battery currently "only" holds 52 Wh (from 62 Wh) but that's a lot of juice if your average power draw is kept in check. So even if the 44Wh of the T420s might not sound like much, if you can optimize a T420s to consume, say, 7W (screen is larger), then it's over 6 hours of juice, maybe 5 with a more realistic usage. That's pretty decent. And you can probably keep the fan mostly off (with TPFanControl) on top of that.

Also, I never understood why, if the X301 has two batteries (one 3 cell sitting flush and one 6 cell extending from the body / having its own rubber feet), they didn't make a 9 cell protruding one for the T420s. Or at least one comparable to the X220, which uses round cells.

EDIT: I just bought one used off eBay to play with. At $35 for an incomplete but top spec model, I couldn't resist to test my theory.
Main (x2): 6700 | RX170Q | 32GB | 1TB SU800 | 4TB HD | Radeon 7850 | 21.5 FHD
X301: SU9600 | 8GB | 400GB S3610
T420s: 2640m | 16GB | 128GB PM831 | HD+ 4200M | FP | BT
W530: 2740qm | 24GB | 1TB SU800 | FHD K1000M | FP | BT
X1C4: 6600U | 16GB | 512GB SM951 | WQHD
(soon to be sold) X220 | T420 | T530

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#35 Post by dr_st » Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:17 am

mikemex wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 11:40 pm
(I know you can install a classic keyboard on the xx30 series, but I bet none of you have ever thought that the water draining paths have to match for they to work. And they don't. So the moment you spill any water over a modded machine it's likely to be game over)
This is an interesting observation. It has been mentioned as a drawback in the context of the 51nb custom motherboards (which lack the drain holes, but I don't recall a discussion of this aspect in relation to the 6-row vs 7-row keyboard).
mikemex wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 11:40 pm
Also, I never understood why, if the X301 has two batteries (one 3 cell sitting flush and one 6 cell extending from the body / having its own rubber feet), they didn't make a 9 cell protruding one for the T420s. Or at least one comparable to the X220, which uses round cells.
Another excellent question. Just comparing the dimensions of the two laptops suggests that they have the same front-to-back height variance (4.8mm), so the solution that popped the front up for the 6-cell battery of the X30x could conceivably work. According to this thread, for the X30x this makes the front ~2.5mm taller than the back, which seems not that big of a deal.

My guess is that since the base-battery for the T420s is already 6-cell, the product managers considered it sufficient, given the Ultrabay battery option.
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

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#36 Post by mikemex » Sat Jul 31, 2021 12:17 am

dr_st wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:17 am
Another excellent question. Just comparing the dimensions of the two laptops suggests that they have the same front-to-back height variance (4.8mm), so the solution that popped the front up for the 6-cell battery of the X30x could conceivably work. According to this thread, for the X30x this makes the front ~2.5mm taller than the back, which seems not that big of a deal.

My guess is that since the base-battery for the T420s is already 6-cell, the product managers considered it sufficient, given the Ultrabay battery option.
Apparently that battery already exists...
Main (x2): 6700 | RX170Q | 32GB | 1TB SU800 | 4TB HD | Radeon 7850 | 21.5 FHD
X301: SU9600 | 8GB | 400GB S3610
T420s: 2640m | 16GB | 128GB PM831 | HD+ 4200M | FP | BT
W530: 2740qm | 24GB | 1TB SU800 | FHD K1000M | FP | BT
X1C4: 6600U | 16GB | 512GB SM951 | WQHD
(soon to be sold) X220 | T420 | T530

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T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#37 Post by WarMachine » Wed Aug 04, 2021 2:59 am

Hello,

I have the T420 and the T420s. You already know the differences between the two laptops technically speaking (slim one versus fat one, different battery system, upgradable CPU in one, not in the other, USB 3.0 on s model, USB 2.0 only on T420, that are the mainly differences between the two machines).

From the user point of view (and it's naturally a totally subjective point of view) : I adore the T420. I don't love the T420s (I can't say I hate it, if so, I wouldn't have bought it). I have a T400s and a T410s, they are not perfect, but it's nice to have thin machines with the 16:10 ratio on the display. Their big default : 1.8" microSATA drive. They are expensive and hard to find. It's better to use an 1.8" microSATA adapter to mSATA nowadays. The T420s corrects this, but it's also a 16:9 machine and I have always thought it was too large compared to its thinness. You are supposed to have a very portable machine, and a one you can use hours and hours on battery. Yes, it's thin, but the autonomy is not great (even with the second battery – which deteriorates quickly) and it's not as portable as the T4*0s. I can put the T4*0s in my bag, I can't put the T420s. I have a bag for the T420 and many other bags for other machines. But I don't want to put the T420s in the T420 bag because it floats (« Everything floats down here ! »… Dang ! Wrong topic ! :D). And I don't want to buy another bag again !

With better batteries and 16:10 ratio, it could have been a very nice machine. For me, here are the real problems of the T420s.

The screen isn't fabulous neither. But it's common with Lenovo. Bad resolutions, bad TN panels, I have learned to live with it. But again, on a premium and portable machine, the display is important. You're outdoor and you see nothing on your screen, what can you do with your PC ? Not a lot, I fear.

I think Lenovo should have done a PC with less compromises. It would have been more expensive, but when you have 2K $ for a laptop, you can pay 3K $ ! :D Well, not necessarily but I think that if you want to buy such a machine, you don't want a laptop which isn't perfect on every aspect. You're willing to pay a high price for a perfect machine. Here, you still pay a lot, but you don't have all you could expect from this type of machine.

The philosophy of the T420 is different. Less half choices. You can have a lot of power, the laptop is heavier, but if you need power, the weight isn't always your primary concern. The machine is more upgradable. You can go quad-core (but I wouldn't recommend it, as the laptop will be very hot and is likely to throttle). The i7-2640M I have in mine is sufficient for a lot of tasks (multimedia, surfing, a little gaming). And, well, it comes with 16 GB of RAM too, it helps ! You can only have one battery, but one hell of a battery ! 9-cell with which you can have 13 hours without an electric wall socket close to you. For a 2012 machine, it's veeeery nice ! And battery-wise, you could go for a specific T420 battery, but they tend to get old. I chose to buy a T430 one. The reference isn't the same exactly and they are, of course, more recent. The batteries can work on T430, T420 and T410. You could use T410 and T420 batteries on the T430, but you couldn't charge them. So, go for the T430 batteries, and you'll have an efficient solution for various laptops. I bought my 9-cell on january 2019, a Lenovo original one, I paid it 90 €. It was from 2015 and perfectly new. As of today, it show 10 % of wear and the autonomy is still great (between 7 and 11 hours depending on what I do).

As I'm an hotliner, I love to get dirty with my laptops. I loved the fact that I could build my T420 virtually from scratch. I upgraded everything (screen, RAM, CPU, keyboard, disks, battery, touchpad sticker) for next to nothing (the laptop, supposedly dead but finally not) cost me 50 €. I already had the battery and the RAM, but the other components cost me 75 €. A very nice bargain as I have a fully loaded laptop – except the CPU, I didn't want to go quad core on this model because of the heat and the throttling as i said earlier. Quad Core will be for the W520 I received last week, the 2860QM is en route and should be mine between the 20ᵗʰ of august and the 10ᵗʰ of september !). My precious !!! :D

It's nice to have the T420s in my collection, because here in France, it's not a so common laptop (and I don't talk about the W520, it's even more difficult to find !). And it's still rather expensive. But that's all. Just a laptop in my collection. I use it from time to time, but not so often. The T420, on the contrary, is my daily, I use it in the house, but I can use it also outdoors if I know I need and power and battery life (I like to go out with the T440 also, because of its thinness, its nice screen – I put an IPS Full HD screen – but I don't like its keyboard so much so it's a second choice). And I plan to use the W520 as a desktop replacement (I plan to build a big new wood desk with plenty of room on it – 185 × 80 cm, I will put only what's necessary on it and the W520 will be absolutely outstanding on a nice big minimalistic desk !).

W.
IBM ThinkPads 701Cs | 755Cs | 560 | 2x 600E | 2x T23 | X20 | X24 | 3x X31 | T41p | T42.
lenovo ThinkPads T60 4/3 | T60 15″ WS | T61 14″ WS | R60 | X60t | X61s | X61t | X301 | T400 | T400s | W500 | X200 | X201 | T410 | T410s | 2x X220 | T420 | T420s | W520 | T430 | T440.

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#38 Post by mikemex » Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:30 pm

WarMachine wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 2:59 am
The T420s corrects this, but it's also a 16:9 machine and I have always thought it was too large compared to its thinness. You are supposed to have a very portable machine, and a one you can use hours and hours on battery. Yes, it's thin, but the autonomy is not great (even with the second battery – which deteriorates quickly) and it's not as portable as the T4*0s.
Lenovo designed the T4x0s series after the X30x series (notice how the early models also used the 1.8 MicroSATA drives) and they share the same strengths and weaknesses. All are built using a magnesium case (instead of plastic with a magnesium reinforcement frame like T6x and early T4x0 series), which belongs to a higher quality class. However, they made a mistake: put the battery in the front, limiting its capacity considerably. I think only the X2x0 series have both a magnesium case and the battery at the back, allowing for an extended 9 cell battery.

If battery life is important, then yes, I agree the regular T420 wins hands down. But for everything else, I think the T420s is the better of the two. For example, the T420s comes with USB 3.0 and I believe it has 3 wireless antennas as standard. On the T420 you have to decide between the integrated camera or the extra antenna. Plus you can install a secondary battery in the optical bay; something the regular T420 cannot (another bad decision, I think). Also, considering how fast SSDs are, and how quickly you can hibernate and resume, I don't think it's a bad idea to carry more than one battery if you want more juice. Keep in mind that they are lighter than regular T420 batteries.

Both have been criticized for having a low size-to-screen ratio. I believe this is a direct result of the 16:9 screen format: they didn't want to alienate non-trackpoint users so they made it tall to make room for the enlarged palmrest and touchpad.

As for the non-upgradeable CPU, I think this is largely irrelevant at this point. I mean, this machines are so old, you can pick them up for very cheap now and is thus a matter of being patient and wait for a machine that has the CPU you want to pop up. I recently got a top spec model (2640m with nvidia graphics) for $35-
Main (x2): 6700 | RX170Q | 32GB | 1TB SU800 | 4TB HD | Radeon 7850 | 21.5 FHD
X301: SU9600 | 8GB | 400GB S3610
T420s: 2640m | 16GB | 128GB PM831 | HD+ 4200M | FP | BT
W530: 2740qm | 24GB | 1TB SU800 | FHD K1000M | FP | BT
X1C4: 6600U | 16GB | 512GB SM951 | WQHD
(soon to be sold) X220 | T420 | T530

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#39 Post by TPFanatic » Mon Aug 16, 2021 2:43 am

My T420 has the camera and 3 antennas, but it's possible I had added the camera myself, I don't remember.

Previously I had used a T420s (with T430s mobo) and I really appreciated its light weight, it's a feather compared to the T420.

But I couldn't get more than an hour of battery runtime from the T420s, so it had to be constantly tethered for extended productivity. So the heavy T420 with a 9 cell winds up being more convenient for me as a mobile machine.
lenovo T420 i5 2520m 16GB QHD w/ eGPU GTX 960
lenovos T520 i7 2720qm 8GB FHD, T420s i5 3320m 8GB QHD, T430 i5 3320m 8GB FHD, T430 i5 3320m 8GB FHD w/ Optimus, S1 Yoga i7 4600u 8GB FHD
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Enable 2 finger scroll on old Synaptics touchpads.

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#40 Post by dr_st » Mon Aug 16, 2021 2:51 am

TPFanatic wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 2:43 am
But I couldn't get more than an hour of battery runtime from the T420s, so it had to be constantly tethered for extended productivity. So the heavy T420 with a 9 cell winds up being more convenient for me as a mobile machine.
Small as these batteries are, they should still give a couple of hours runtime. I guess your battery was either very worn and low capacity, or you were just running heavy workloads on that system. :)
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

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#41 Post by WarMachine » Mon Aug 16, 2021 6:26 am

Hello,

I think it's possible to have probably 6 hours with the two batteries if they are in good shape. The T420 offers more, even if it has only one battery (if it's a 9-cell, of course). Today, with the main battery (the second is now in my T61), my T420s only lasts one hour. I don't know, this machine has always been the lame duck in the family, same thing for the X301. They have qualities, of course but in my eyes, they are half successes. The T420 remains relatively light (and now that I have the W520, it seems lighter than ever :D) and can be better and with the performances and with the battery life.

W.
IBM ThinkPads 701Cs | 755Cs | 560 | 2x 600E | 2x T23 | X20 | X24 | 3x X31 | T41p | T42.
lenovo ThinkPads T60 4/3 | T60 15″ WS | T61 14″ WS | R60 | X60t | X61s | X61t | X301 | T400 | T400s | W500 | X200 | X201 | T410 | T410s | 2x X220 | T420 | T420s | W520 | T430 | T440.

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#42 Post by crashnburn » Wed Aug 18, 2021 4:32 am

mikemex wrote:
Sun Jul 25, 2021 10:22 pm
ThinkRob wrote:
Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:12 pm
People tend to look back at older ThinkPads with the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, but honestly ThinkPads have never had great screens (with the exception of a few models produced c. 2004-2007). Even the much-praised 600X, from "back before the quality declined" (aka. when the labels said IBM, and thus were more appealing to the brand-conscious amongst us) had a pretty bad LCD with low contrast and narrow viewing angles.

The difference now, IMHO, is that people demand absolute perfection, and when they fail to get it they immediately whip around and crow about how "the Chinese are cheapening the brand", and how "quality has gone down hill", etc.
I'm sorry to revive this old thread... but reading this 10 years into the future, I can't help but notice that such claims were nothing but justified. Lenovo killed the traditional keyboard layout with the Xx30 series, attempted to kill the trackpoint on the Xx40 and has pretty much steadily killing modularity / expansibility with the increasing use of soldered components.

I did notebook repair for a living some time ago and I absolutely detested working on Sony Vaios because they were the perfect example of overusing those fragile white flat ribbon cables that always seemed to either fail or disconnect on their own. I always prized old thinkpads because they never had crap like that inside. Now they are full of them.

What a way to cheapen the Thinkpad brand.
What are your thoughts on the next gen trying to change some of this?

https://frame.work/

It seems quite modular and less like "older" architecture of laptop compoents.
T61 8892-02U: 14.1"SXGA+/2.2C2D/4G/XP|Adv Mini Dock|30" Gateway XHD3000 WQXGA via Dual-link DVI
X61T 7767-96U: 12.1"SXGA+/1.6C2D/3G/Vista|Ultrabase
W510 4319-2PU: 15.6"FHD/i7-720QM/4G/Win7Pro64 (for dad)
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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#43 Post by TPFanatic » Wed Aug 18, 2021 5:43 pm

dr_st wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 2:51 am
TPFanatic wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 2:43 am
But I couldn't get more than an hour of battery runtime from the T420s, so it had to be constantly tethered for extended productivity. So the heavy T420 with a 9 cell winds up being more convenient for me as a mobile machine.
Small as these batteries are, they should still give a couple of hours runtime. I guess your battery was either very worn and low capacity, or you were just running heavy workloads on that system. :)
I only use secondhand or NOS OEM batteries which by any point that I use them are rather worn and degraded, so we can chalk it up to that. Anecdotally I believe the full-size standard batteries hold up better than the -s batteries.
lenovo T420 i5 2520m 16GB QHD w/ eGPU GTX 960
lenovos T520 i7 2720qm 8GB FHD, T420s i5 3320m 8GB QHD, T430 i5 3320m 8GB FHD, T430 i5 3320m 8GB FHD w/ Optimus, S1 Yoga i7 4600u 8GB FHD
IBM X601 Tablet L7500 8GB SXGA+
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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#44 Post by mikemex » Wed Aug 18, 2021 8:37 pm

crashnburn wrote:
Wed Aug 18, 2021 4:32 am
mikemex wrote:
Sun Jul 25, 2021 10:22 pm


I'm sorry to revive this old thread... but reading this 10 years into the future, I can't help but notice that such claims were nothing but justified. Lenovo killed the traditional keyboard layout with the Xx30 series, attempted to kill the trackpoint on the Xx40 and has pretty much steadily killing modularity / expansibility with the increasing use of soldered components.

I did notebook repair for a living some time ago and I absolutely detested working on Sony Vaios because they were the perfect example of overusing those fragile white flat ribbon cables that always seemed to either fail or disconnect on their own. I always prized old thinkpads because they never had crap like that inside. Now they are full of them.

What a way to cheapen the Thinkpad brand.
What are your thoughts on the next gen trying to change some of this?

https://frame.work/

It seems quite modular and less like "older" architecture of laptop compoents.
It looks nice, it seems like they've put some serious effort to raise the bar. For example, they seem to have nailed the screen size and ratio. 13.5" and 3:2 aspect ratio is about perfect for a carry on laptop. It feels so weird that I predicted it 11 years ago...
mikemex wrote:
Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:46 am
Now that we are at it, I've thought that instead of going wider and wider, they could go back and make newer widescreens with an aspect ratio of 1.5 (1024x768 is 1.33 and 1280x800 is 1.66). The X200 could fit nicely a 13" screen with a resolution of 1440x960. If you want to try and give you an idea, cut a sheet of paper to 275x183mm (about 10.8 x 7.2 if you're still using inches) and put it over the X200. I'd call it X320 or something. It supports my claim that X61 and X200 belong to different classes.
Another thing I like is the detachable keyboard overlay. There are so many keyboard variants out there, getting the right keyboard can be a daunting task. For example, I'm about to replace the keyboards on some of my machines and I've noticed that T420 era stocks are running dry. You can still find them, of course, but they are getting quite expensive (I use the Latin American or Spanish layout). With an overlay this would not be such a big problem (though I'm not sure how it feels to type over rubber).

The modular port design looks nice too, but it relies on USB and that's a flaw in my opinion.

Sad thing is, I would not buy one myself because it's, at the end, a commercial grade design. I mean, only touchpad, a weird keyboard with too many Fn special keys, a hollow frame with no reinforcing ribbing and "shiny" look. Thinkpads are black plastic for a reason: nothing stands abuse as a matte dark plastic shell (that's why they use the same material on car interiors). Sure, the "shiny" laptop looks great when new, but a few years down the road it looks like [censored] with all those scratches. So even if a Thinkpad doesn't look as good when it's new (to me it does) it hides wear much better.

Also, a Thinkpad is not only great because of its hardware design; it's because it is (or was, since most of Lenovo software is gone in Windows 10) a platform that gives you much better control over it. I'm sure there must exist somewhere else, but I'm yet to find a laptop that allows you to set the battery charging threshold in the way a Thinkpad does.

Having said that, I'd buy one if they added a Trackpoint. Just to fund the project. No trackpoint = deal breaker to me.
Main (x2): 6700 | RX170Q | 32GB | 1TB SU800 | 4TB HD | Radeon 7850 | 21.5 FHD
X301: SU9600 | 8GB | 400GB S3610
T420s: 2640m | 16GB | 128GB PM831 | HD+ 4200M | FP | BT
W530: 2740qm | 24GB | 1TB SU800 | FHD K1000M | FP | BT
X1C4: 6600U | 16GB | 512GB SM951 | WQHD
(soon to be sold) X220 | T420 | T530

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#45 Post by dr_st » Thu Aug 19, 2021 1:28 am

TPFanatic wrote:
Wed Aug 18, 2021 5:43 pm
Anecdotally I believe the full-size standard batteries hold up better than the -s batteries.
That's a given, the T420s 6-cell is ~43Wh, while the T420/X220 6-cell is ~56Wh. :)
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

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#46 Post by mikemex » Thu Aug 19, 2021 5:45 pm

Well, the T420s I purchased recently just arrived. I took a gamble on this -it was listed on eBay as 'untested'-, with several missing parts (hard drive and memory cover, hard drive, memory card reader, battery and charger) but, at $35, it was still a good score. It's a top spec model, with 2640m, nVidia 4200m, 1600x900 screen, fingerprint reader and Bluetooth. It has a few scratches, but in general it's in very good condition; it looks like it's not been used much.

Other than missing a few screws (it appears that the previous owner attempted to part it out but quickly gave up), which took me just a few minutes to fix with the help of the service manual and a bottle of leftover screws from years of servicing and parting other laptops, it works perfectly fine. It booted into Ubuntu Linux 20.04 from an USB flash drive without any issue. And I'm typing this post from it.

I had never seen a T420s in person before (they aren't that common) and I can say, I already like it much more than the regular one. It's definitely not on the same quality level as my old and trusty X301, but it surely is a notch or two above the regular T420. The case is very stiff, despite being much slimmer and it feels quite light (I might be a bit biases because it's missing some components). Also, because the T420 I own is not a top spec model; it's got a standard 1366x768 -which I always hated and a reason why I ended lending it to my dad-, 2520m, etc.

I already noticed that it runs hotter (temperature rises quickly with use) and constant fan noise is a bit disturbing, but since I don't intend to use it for heavy stuff (that's what desktop PCs are for) I don't find it troublesome. From a quick investigation, I've determined that Lenovo may not be entirely to blame for the temperature issues; it seems like all laptops of that era have problems with ASPM. They were more or less fixed in subsequent BIOS and driver releases; the problem is that the 's' series were not that common, and thus not a priority for Lenovo, so they ended with software that may be less polished compared to the more common models. Also, after carefully checking the different revisions of the heatsink, I've concluded that early versions had heatpipes that were probably nearly blocked by a few sharp bends. Just compare:

https://www.pchub.com/images/thumbs/014 ... k_550.jpeg
https://c1.neweggimages.com/ProductImag ... 663485.jpg

With:

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... L1500_.jpg

Power management issues aside, I still don't understand why the temperature rises so quickly. It may be due to a few causes:

* Heatpipes still don't work properly after many revisions (I lack an IR camera to check this).
* The heatpipes work well, but there is not enough thermal exchange surface at the end (insufficient fin surface) (this is more likely).
* The heatpipes work well, but they were miscalculated (do not transport enough energy) and heat tends to build up (less likely).
* There is no proper contact between the CPU and the copper plate the heatpipes are attached (even less likely, but still a possibility). (Also, not enough tension from the screws).

I'll keep investigating and report my results.

EDIT: I'm in Windows now (I have an old Samsung 128MB mSATA drive with W7 installed, so I can avoid the hassle to keep reinstalling things) and temperatures look decent: I'm averaging 46-47 degrees with some web browsing and a youtube video in the background for music. 7-zip benchmark rises the temperature to 96 degrees after a while. I checked with CPU-Z and turbo never throttles back. It remains at 3.3 GHz for both cores.

TPFanControl is configured to stop the fan at 40 degrees (which is only possible after booting from being off for a while) and gradually ramp up the fan to 5 at 50, then 6 at 55 and 7 at 60. I did blow the heatsink grills with compressed air and a bit of dust came off, but not much. I'm thinking about buying one of those new thermal pads and use it instead of a regular thermal compound. It may not have the same level of thermal conductivity but it's close and, since it never dries, it'll save me the hassle to take the heatsink off again. It'll probably increase the heatsink pressure a bit, too.

BTW. I forgot to mention that the latest release of the "Lenovo Power Management Driver" (n2hku07w) no longer installs on Windows 7 because it's unsigned. I had to download the previous release (n2hku05w) from the Chinese site of Lenovo.
Main (x2): 6700 | RX170Q | 32GB | 1TB SU800 | 4TB HD | Radeon 7850 | 21.5 FHD
X301: SU9600 | 8GB | 400GB S3610
T420s: 2640m | 16GB | 128GB PM831 | HD+ 4200M | FP | BT
W530: 2740qm | 24GB | 1TB SU800 | FHD K1000M | FP | BT
X1C4: 6600U | 16GB | 512GB SM951 | WQHD
(soon to be sold) X220 | T420 | T530

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#47 Post by mikemex » Sun Aug 22, 2021 1:28 pm

TPFanatic wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 2:43 am
My T420 has the camera and 3 antennas, but it's possible I had added the camera myself, I don't remember.
I take it back, all T420 come with three antennas. Confirmed both with the service manual and physically.
Main (x2): 6700 | RX170Q | 32GB | 1TB SU800 | 4TB HD | Radeon 7850 | 21.5 FHD
X301: SU9600 | 8GB | 400GB S3610
T420s: 2640m | 16GB | 128GB PM831 | HD+ 4200M | FP | BT
W530: 2740qm | 24GB | 1TB SU800 | FHD K1000M | FP | BT
X1C4: 6600U | 16GB | 512GB SM951 | WQHD
(soon to be sold) X220 | T420 | T530

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#48 Post by TPFanatic » Sun Aug 22, 2021 10:54 pm

I also love the build quality of the T420s (and T430s), the CFRP case is so sturdy and lightweight, carrying it around is almost enjoyable.

You can consider doing an FHD or QHD IPS mod on it, this really modernizes the machine and takes away these laptops' weakest link, the factory TN panels. The cost is power usage (and battery life) unless you go for one of the newer ultra-low-power screens.

Now that I mention it, my QHD LCD upgrade is likely why I couldn't get over an hour battery life out of my T430s.
lenovo T420 i5 2520m 16GB QHD w/ eGPU GTX 960
lenovos T520 i7 2720qm 8GB FHD, T420s i5 3320m 8GB QHD, T430 i5 3320m 8GB FHD, T430 i5 3320m 8GB FHD w/ Optimus, S1 Yoga i7 4600u 8GB FHD
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Enable 2 finger scroll on old Synaptics touchpads.

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#49 Post by crashnburn » Mon Aug 23, 2021 11:25 am

TPFanatic wrote:
Sun Aug 22, 2021 10:54 pm
I also love the build quality of the T420s (and T430s), the CFRP case is so sturdy and lightweight, carrying it around is almost enjoyable.

You can consider doing an FHD or QHD IPS mod on it, this really modernizes the machine and takes away these laptops' weakest link, the factory TN panels. The cost is power usage (and battery life) unless you go for one of the newer ultra-low-power screens.

Now that I mention it, my QHD LCD upgrade is likely why I couldn't get over an hour battery life out of my T430s.
Would that QHD be similarly "power heavy" on the other ones as well? PS: Are they newer 4K displays more power efficient?
T61 8892-02U: 14.1"SXGA+/2.2C2D/4G/XP|Adv Mini Dock|30" Gateway XHD3000 WQXGA via Dual-link DVI
X61T 7767-96U: 12.1"SXGA+/1.6C2D/3G/Vista|Ultrabase
W510 4319-2PU: 15.6"FHD/i7-720QM/4G/Win7Pro64 (for dad)
T43 1875-DLU: 14.1"XGA/1.7PM-740/1G/XP (Old)

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#50 Post by mikemex » Mon Aug 23, 2021 6:25 pm

The screen is just part of the power equation. Another factor to consider is the specific power efficiency of older GPUs. They are likely to consume much more power pushing out so many pixels than a more modern device.
Main (x2): 6700 | RX170Q | 32GB | 1TB SU800 | 4TB HD | Radeon 7850 | 21.5 FHD
X301: SU9600 | 8GB | 400GB S3610
T420s: 2640m | 16GB | 128GB PM831 | HD+ 4200M | FP | BT
W530: 2740qm | 24GB | 1TB SU800 | FHD K1000M | FP | BT
X1C4: 6600U | 16GB | 512GB SM951 | WQHD
(soon to be sold) X220 | T420 | T530

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#51 Post by mikemex » Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:38 pm

dr_st wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 6:23 am
Already back when the T400s was announced, I remarked that it is a misnomer. The T400s was very different from regular T400 and closer in spirit to X series. I thought it should have been named X400.
I couldn't have said it better. It's not T420 vs T420s, but more like T420 vs X420.

It'd be interesting to discuss why Lenovo decided to put the battery in the front in those models (X300/X301/T400S/T410s/T420s/T430s) when a much better battery was available in the X2xx series.
Main (x2): 6700 | RX170Q | 32GB | 1TB SU800 | 4TB HD | Radeon 7850 | 21.5 FHD
X301: SU9600 | 8GB | 400GB S3610
T420s: 2640m | 16GB | 128GB PM831 | HD+ 4200M | FP | BT
W530: 2740qm | 24GB | 1TB SU800 | FHD K1000M | FP | BT
X1C4: 6600U | 16GB | 512GB SM951 | WQHD
(soon to be sold) X220 | T420 | T530

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Re: T420 vs T420S what is the difference

#52 Post by axur-delmeria » Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:07 pm

mikemex wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:38 pm
dr_st wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 6:23 am
Already back when the T400s was announced, I remarked that it is a misnomer. The T400s was very different from regular T400 and closer in spirit to X series. I thought it should have been named X400.
I couldn't have said it better. It's not T420 vs T420s, but more like T420 vs X420.
It's even truer in the xx90 (and possibly newer) generations, with the T490s and X390 having the same system board.
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

Backup: X601 Core 2 Duo T8100
Toy: X60F Core Solo U1300
On loan: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M
In pieces: two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E; X61 7676-A24; and a BOE-Hydis HV121P01-100 in failed SXGA+ mod
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