More new hardware: Lenovo Thinkpad T530

My old laptop, a Dell Latitude D830, was just shy of 5 years old, and I decided the time was right to buy a new laptop. So far, so good. Major wants were: 1920x1080 display (since 1920x1200 displays are no longer available), higher performance CPU, and higher performance graphics. Also, the display brightness of the D830 had faded over time, and the battery lifetime was only around 15 minutes, items which new hardware would address.


Just the highlights:

The laptop shipped with a 320GB hard disk, but upon delivery I replaced it with a 1TB hard disk I had bought at the same time. Unfortunately the 1TB hard disk is thicker (9.5mm vs 7.0mm). Reportedly the FRU 41V9756 includes the proper rubber rail for a 9.5mm hard drive; I ordered one via Amazon and now have properly mounted my drive. Without the proper rubber rails, the drive may not be held in firmly (though before the new rails arrived I'd contrived something with a pair of heavy rubber bands that worked)

There is one terrible thing about the hardware I've noticed so far: The green LED that shows that the webcam is operating causes a green blob in the corner of the image. How did that get past the design stage?

Software: Linux

I plan to spend most of my time running 64-bit Debian GNU/Linux (version 7.0). This is the same OS as on my previous laptop, except that I'm planning to switch from Gnome to XFCE as the desktop environment.

While I haven't exercised it very hard, everything seems to work.

Initially I had Optimus enabled in BIOS, which caused Linux to use the Intel video. Basic OpenGL programs (i.e., glxgears) worked fine, as did video playback (DVDs on vlc).

There is a BIOS setting that implies it will enable Optimus for supporting OS (i.e., Windows) and discrete if OS support for Optimus is not detected. However, with this setting on (it was disabled by default), Linux still detects and uses the Intel graphics instead.

Later on I changed the BIOS setting from "Optimus" to "Discrete Graphics". In this mode, Linux detects and uses the Nvidia graphics. While I did not spend much time with the Nouveau driver, it also runs glxgears and plays videos via vlc. I chose instead to install the nvidia proprietary drivers.

For now I'm going to stick with discrete-only graphics, though I'm aware of Linux projects to support Optimus configurations, such as Bumblebee. Since my purchase, Nvidia has also announced Optimus support via their own driver, but this has prerequisites not in Debian 7.0 so I haven't tried it yet. Update, 10/2013: I upgraded to Debian "jessie" and am using bumblebee. It seems to work well so far.

The wireless hardware also requires proprietary firmware blobs.

One minor issue which is probably just a configuration issue: the touchpad uses two-finger scrolling, while I am accustomed to using edge scrolling. I decided to learn to two-finger scroll, because this is the more common method these days. I quickly became accustomed to it.

After a few weeks, I remain happy with the hardware; it has been very stable (including suspend/resume which I use regularly and hibernate which I've used once), and it runs the Humble Bundle and Steam games that were not compatible with my old laptop's Intel integrated graphics.

Software: Windows

I'm keeping my options open and may use the included Windows 7 Home Premium 64 to play games.

Service Manual

There's a readily available service manual (called Hardware Maintanance manual, HMM) but it has some terrible errors which mean you can't just trust its disassembly instructions. For instance, to access the bluetooth module (1120) it's necessary to first remove the keyboard bezel assembly (1110) but this prerequisite is not listed. (My document is "t530_t530i_w530_hmm_en_0b48474_01.pdf Second Edition (October 2012)" and is the most recent version I could find). There's a second document t530_fru_bom.pdf which tersely gives FRU numbers that are not in the HMM.

Entry first conceived on 4 April 2013, 12:50 UTC, last modified on 11 October 2013, 18:14 UTC
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