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What is the best model of used ThinkPad to purchase?

I’m thinking of picking up a used ThinkPad on eBay for cheap to serve as my daily driver. I’ll likely run LMDE, and primarily use it for web browsing, office programs, coding, and FreeCAD. Any recommendations on which model would best hit the sweet spot of capability vs price?

Cwilliams ,

T480 is generally a good bet. I (naively) got an X1C6, thinking that all thinkpads were nice and repairable. The X1 series, at least, is not

MXX53 ,

I have seen a ton of P52 laptops used in the architecture and engineering industry. I would lean that way or a more modern option depending on budget. P1 laptops are also pretty cool. Not as powerful but more portable and slimmer.

tranxuanthang ,

I’ve just done some quick check on P52, I saw that it only has Nvidia GPU version in my region (which is generally a bad idea if OP want to run any Linux distros)

MXX53 ,

That is a fair point. But for CAD work I am unsure of a better option with used ThinkPads. Currently I am running an x11 DE with proprietary drivers on mine and it is acceptable even though it isn’t perfect.

Piatro ,

Literally just bought what I believe to be last generation’s X13 on ebay for half the price of the new one. It’s been great so far, especially with the power efficiency of Ryzen CPUs. My one complaint is the soldered RAM, which judging by the new lineup is getting phased out, thankfully.

FaizalR , avatar

Go for P52 if you are serious about FreeCAD.

delirious_owl , avatar

X1 Carbon. Buy what businesses buy in bulk. They get it for a reason

SandbagTiara2816 OP ,

It’s what I use for work, and it is quite nice!

meekah , avatar

I have the x230 and like it, but I’d love to have a t420 for the meme

Lettuceeatlettuce , avatar

T480 can be had on eBay for 200-300 bucks and will perform very well in modern applications. I’ve seen a few that are banged up pretty bad for under $200, if you’re cool with a well loved laptop.

SandbagTiara2816 OP ,

As long as the insides work all right, I’m good! I’m into thrifting and visible mending, so something well-loved, but cheap, is right up my alley

8Bitz0 ,

Funnily enough, I’ve got a pretty well-loved ThinkPad T480 16 GB 8350U sitting right here. Used to be my main development laptop. Now it’s just an agent for Portainer.

Lettuceeatlettuce , avatar

Right on!

Yearly1845 ,

I just got a Gen 3 T14s and I have been very happy with it. It seems like it has kind of narrow viewing windows which is kind of annoying, but not a dealbreaker for me. Overall a very peppy laptop.

Topas ,

For me, the X270 ist the sweet spot: it is small and portable and has a acceptable battery( in fact 2 of them). The display is usable and comes in full HD. 720p is a little bit too low for my tastes. You can upgrade the RAM and put an m.2 ssd inside(although only with 2x PCIe bandwidth). You can also charge it with USB-C. With an i5 it goes for around 200€ in Germany. US prices are usually lower.

3w0 ,

Had quite a few of the X and T series, X200, X201, X220, X230, T430 mainly, x230 would be my pick, you can quad-core mod it with the classic keyboard and use ivyra1n to flash the bios easily. I haven’t bothered with the Full-HD mod because the 720p IPS is fine to me, you can get them from Taobao or similar (Check sources!)

They’re all socketed CPUs, or you could get the chonky T530/W530 instead, or a P series. Old Thinkpads last a long time (although I have a bad habit of testing them :)

EDIT: MY T430 was also a fucking tank, it survived being thrown across a room in San Franciso with a tiny dent on the lid, no damage. They’re easier to Full-HD mod than the X series.

billgamesh ,

My t430 is still going, but my x201 is in better shape.

3w0 ,

Does it get slightly hot? The 16:10 was really nice on the X201!

billgamesh ,

Depends on what I’m doing. For most of my use cases, not really. For universal paperclips, I worry it’ll melt

3w0 ,

Fair lol

mister_monster , (edited )

I’ve got 4 of them, 2 t450s, one that’s 8 years old and one that’s like 2 or 3 years old, one t560 that’s probably about 5 years old and one x260. I’m not a gamer so my spec requirements are quite a bit lower than you if you like to play games with demanding rendering settings.

They all have good CPUs, onboard Intel graphics and 16GB of RAM. All but the oldest one have a 4 core Intel i7 skylake and the older one has an Intel core i5 4 cores, I think ivy bridge. It’s the slowest and lowest spec of them all but it still runs like a champ.

I used the older t450 for many years as my main machine, it served me well. Gave the newer one to someone in my family to use, they like it. Tried to migrate to the t560 for my stuff because bigger screen, numpad and all that, and I’m always reminded why I don’t like big laptops after I start using one. The hinges are prone to loosening because the display is so heavy, the thing is cumbersome to use when writing code, especially somewhere other than my desk.

I moved over to the tiny almost netbook sized x260 and I’m loving it. The thing has a good CPU and lots of memory, and a secondary onboard battery. I’m a big fan of small machines that pack a punch. The keyboard is kind of small but I find that’s actually easier than one that’s a little too big, for me personally. It’s also just a little spongy and not quite as good quality as the keyboards on the other machines. The display is ~750p LCD and I’m happy with that, I’ve never been too keen on the constant resolution increases in displays, my ideal is 1080 but I do not care for 4k and have never had a 4k display or any interest in one. I’m happy with the display, the rest of my machines all have a higher resolution display and I still prefer the little guy. I was considering picking up a higher resolution panel for the thing but it’s just not that big of a deal to me, the display would cost more than I paid for the machine.

gnuhaut ,

More expensive business-class laptops, like the T-series, is I think what RedHat and others give to their employees, thus they are usually better supported than cheaper consumer models.

RoboRay , avatar

X1 for ultra portability.

Otherwise, T14 or T15.

UntouchedWagons , avatar

I’ve got a t14 and it works perfectly under fedora 40. My only complaint is that the Left Ctrl key isn’t in the corner.

ITeeTechMonkey , avatar

There is an option in the UEFI settings to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys.

MalReynolds , avatar

Swap with fn in BIOS…

Sunny ,

I don’t see my model (P15) mentioned tht often,and not sure what specifically. But 'm super happy with mine and got it for roughly 500 euros.

Beaver , avatar

Also fan fact the thinkpad has been used on the iss.

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