The thinkpad T430
After running a few hundred google searches and pushing up the budget I
finally bought myself a Lenovo thinkpad t430. It was quite heavy on the
pocket given the configuration but its worth every penny.
The ThinkPad will never win a beauty competition, but who cares, It more or less looks like any other thinkpad you have seen. Matt black finish, so its not a finger print magnet, but yes sweaty and oily touches leave prints tough to clean up.
The keyboard is changed from the standard keyboard to a island style keyboard-it still retains the pointing Stick on the keyboard. The t430 comes with a trackpad and not a clickpad! thats a big advantage of the t430 compared to the entry level Edge series. The touchpad again is rough textured and avoids getting sticky and oily.
The hand rest for the keyboard is again matt finish and does not get sweaty and sticky very fast. Based on experience this is very useful when you spend long hours with your laptop.
The hinges are made of steel( i guess) and are really sturdy. My previous acer laptop had had weaker hinges which resulted in problems on rough use over a long period. This also supports 180 degree opening angles, not a very useful feature but, yeah its a good feature in case you use it.
4GB DDR3 ram
The rest is more or less standard stuff.
This came with windows 7 preinstalled, I did not have an option to get it with free DOS. I think lenovo must again bring back their old offer of choosing any operating system.
Suprisingly i liked windows7 on the t430, the only reason for this being lenovo’s power control software which comes preloaded. Anyway, I installed debian wheezy alongside windows as windows still sucks and I cant do half the awesome i can on linux.
Debain worked perfectly with few minor issues. The biggest issue being proprietory drivers for the intel 2200N wifi card. This is not a major issue, few people claimed their debian automatically pulled the drivers from the internet-so im guessing it is somthing to do with my network.
The wifi was fixed by installing drivers for the wifi card, instructions can be found here.
once done, debian was up and running. The fan was still not optimized and was making quite some sound. The laptop runs at an average temperature of about 45-50 deg Celsius and i wanted a quieter fan which also reduce power consumption to a certain extend. Installing Thinkfan was the solution. There are quite a number of tutorials for this and i found the on here very helpful.
Apart form these two major tweaks i installed few gnome extensions to provide me with approprite info while using the laptop.
Sensors- A extension that shows the temperatures measured by the various temperature sensors and also the speed of the fan. Since we are overriding the bios with an application level program(thinkfan) its always better to monitor the speeds and temperatures. In case youfind something suspicious turn off the thinkfan service.
Next was a cpu frequeny display, which provides me the frequency at which the cpu runs, and also an option to chose the governor. By default, the governor is set to “ondemand” i have changed it to “conservative” by using the method explained here.
With the above configuration my debain works fine on the thinkpad t430, I still haven’t checked the battery usage but its not bad, I get around 4-5 hours almost on basic usage. But, yes on windows the battery performance is comparitively better even though the time is almost the same.
Few issues i havn’t still been able to resolve are few special buttons. The mic button does not work as expected so as the power switch, on running acpi_listen i do no seem to read a key press event for these buttons. The media functions keys play,next and prev also do not seem to work though they are recognized by acpi-i guess i still need to configure them.
There is no notification for caps lock as yet.
So far i have found its performance brilliant. For basic web browsing and media The fan is turned off and frequency is at a minimum. There is no lag in operations and everything works smooth.
On running some heavy process like darktable along with few tabs on iceweasel the slowness was visible, I had to manually change the governor to “ondemand” which improved performance but there still was a noticeable lag when images were being fetched, but this was much better. Im not sure if Intel turbo boost has been enabled on my system as yet, if not then i guess the performance is brilliant for my usage.
In conclusion, If you dont mind shelling out a some extra cash to get a sturdy laptop the thinkpad is one of the best options.