Profile pic of Tommy KuTommy Ku's Blog

Reading and thinking

Goodbye, X230

Posted on  by Tommy Ku

Nearly 12 years ago, I collected my brand new ThinkPad X230 from a factory building somewhere in Kowloon Bay, and returned home to boot up Windows 7 for the first time. Windows 7! The aero theme works! SO COOL!

If you are buying a laptop, get a ThinkPad or Mac, nothing else. — My summer job boss

A good chunk of my hard-earned money from the pre-university summer job went into this laptop. There were many cheaper laptops, but I listened to my boss, it paied off.

In retrospect, X230’s spec may seem like nothing compared to the latest and greatest that technology can offer. It has came a long way and it’s suprising that my ThinkPad X230 was still in active service after all these years. Planned obsolescence had lost its magic touch in this instance.

During my university years I would host Minecraft server, watch YouTube/niconico video, emulate games, run Linux, work on freelance projects, run Emacs in Windows 7, train machine learning model…

Alas, should have mined some Bitcoin too.

During my intern years I used X230 to work on all kinds of projects: Docker, nodejs, Android, or use as thin client to simply SSH into a powerful server CLI it all the way.

After 4-5 years it felt slow and lacking that I considered looking for a new laptop. No problem, it could be upgraded rather easily. At that time Lenovo laptops was still serviceable. Chuck an SSD and 4 more GBs or RAM and it’s good as new.

I bought a ThinkPad E540 to play games in student hall and it was nowhere close to be as durable as X230. The edge of screen would have backlight bleeding and keyboard went haywire. Only T and X series can be called true ThinkPad.

My desk in student hall with a 4:3 old monitor between my legs
Because of lack of room not because it’s a good angle

After 8 years, it’s still an irreplaceable piece of equipment that I heavily rely on for my project works. When it ain’t broke, don’t fix replace it!

Frankly speaking, it was quite broken. Delete key just chipped off like it’s tired of living. I punched a small slit somewhere on the screen with a flat head screwdriver. The magnesium alloy case cracked. The battery was replaced to get like 2 hours of run time, if not too much load. A fair bit of tweaking to accomondate the WXGA resolution while everyone was already going FHD or QHD or 4K, or whatever. Bluetooth has stopped working for a couple years already. The keys, touchpad and palm rest all became shiny after my hand had rubbed on them for years, and somehow they still feel great on touch. The bumps on the touchpad is something I love that’s missing in all modern laptops, anmong other things such as dedicated volume control, lack of Fn light, PgUp/PgDn key next to arrow keys…

The palm rest, touchpad and keys are rubbed smooth
Manually polished by hand

It works though. Good enough is good enough.

Maybe my dream laptop is just a modern laptop in a X230 shell!

Lenovo recovery screen
Soft-kicking the bucket, Lenovo recovery DVDs service is very helpful

I can’t imagine how my ThinkPad X230 kicks the bucket in the foreseeable future, or how it becomes so unusable I have to switch to another laptop. —Me@Not looking for a laptop anymore

In 2021 I could get reimbursed WFH equipment because COVID, so I bought a Yoga silm 7i carbon. There was a shortage of T-series ThinkPad and X-series is no longer the kind of workhorse they used to be. That sales person was so good I fell for it.

Originally I planned to use this as a leisure laptop, while slowly migrating my Linux workflow from ThinkPad X230 to the Razer Blade 14. Then Razer Blade got so hot it burned its own graphics card. It could deal with a cup of water poured all over it, inside and out, but can’t stand the heat from its own graphics card, with fan roaring like an attack helicopter already.

Alright, both E540 and Razer Blade are gaming laptops, and both were short-lived.

Still, X230 was good enough for me to continue using into June 2023, nearly 12 years since I have purchased the laptop. Now, however, it’s suffering from another damage, where the power button no longer function. I could still swipe my finger over the fingerprint scanner to boot it.

A replacement keyboard is cheap, as well. Yet this is the point where I ask myself, is it a better choice to keep using X230 for sentimental value, or migrate to the new Yoga slim 7i carbon, running the latest Windows 11 and sporting a much faster CPU.

Yoga came with a dongle that expands one of its 3 USB-C port into 3 USB-A ports, a SD card reader, and an HDMI output, which greatly enhances its usability for desktop work. Plug an additional ethernet adapter into one of the USB-A port gives me LAN—a bare minimum for desktop and programming work.

While dual booting Linux is always an option, running WSL 2 on Windows 11 has proven to be a more pleasant experience. Leisure, desktop and programming work can all be combined into one environment with zero switching cost. Upon trying out WSL 2, my mind has been set, I am going to migrate off from X230 once my current project concludes.

Goodbye, X230. You have served me well and you deserve a special place in my heart.

Yoga slim 7i carbon and X230 together
Goodbye X230

You could also look at...

This post first appeared on . Permalink:

About the author

Profile pic of Tommy Ku

Tommy Ku, a Hong Kong-based Software Engineer experienced developing PHP and Java-based web solutions and passionate in Web technology.

Also a hobbyist digital and film photographer.