[ltp] Too many choices!

D. Hugh Redelmeier hugh at mimosa.com
Thu May 14 18:02:46 CEST 2020

| From: cr <cr at orcon.net.nz>

|  On Thinkpads memory is easily upgraded and so is the hard
| drive.

The devil is in the details.  I suspect that there are now ThinkPad
models without upgradeable memory.

The thinner "ultrabook" models tend to be harder to upgrade in various

Do check before purchasing.


Each person cares about different things.

I like a lot of pixels on my screens -- maybe you do too.  I lot of
ThinkPads have 1366x768 screens.  Higher res is available.  For me,
1366x768 is OK on 11" screens but on larger screens I want more.

Some ThinkPads (eg mine: x61t, t520, t530) have what appear to be TN
display panels.  IPS and VA are much nicer.  Apparently some
ThinkPads of those vintages had better panels.  Perhaps on newer
ThinkPads all or most panels are better.


If you care about run time on battery power, you should aim for
something with a Haswell or newer Intel CPU.  The second last digit of
the model needs to be 4 or larger (eg. T540).

Thinkpads have had flexible battery arrangements.  If you care, you should 
research that for the notebook model of interest.

Many used notebooks have worn-out batteries.  Replacement batteries can be 
expensive or of dubious quality or perhaps both.


You might be "old school".  If you need a CD or DVD drive, beware:
that's not common any longer.  I find that having an external optical
drive gives me comfort but I almost never use it (or carry it).

The same was true about floppy drives.


For most folks, an SSD is a big improvement from an HDD.  More than a
new CPU.

Beware: in my sad experience, SSD's fail hard and suddenly and
irrevocably.  Much worse than HDDs.  For this reason, I used to put /
on an SDD and /home on an HDD.  That got most of the performance win
and little of the risk.  Now I don't bother.

One trouble with SSDs is the variety of form factors.

Our T520 and T530 had a slot for an mSATA SSD card.  We added those,
keeping the HDD, and had the best of both worlds.

mSATA is obsolete and slightly hard to find.  The units are probably
expensive and not cutting edge.

2.5" form-factor SSDs are available more widely.  These are a plug-in
replacement for laptop HDDs.

The current best form factor is NVMe SSDs.  But only fairly recent
notebooks have a suitable slot and support for booting from that drive.

M.2 SATA preceded NVMe.  It is slower.  It uses a socket similar to
NVMe.  Essentially all sockets that can take NVMe can take M.2 SATA.
The reverse is *not* true.

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