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PoV
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 3:22 pm    Post subject: Computer Fixing and Upgrading Nonsense Reply with quote

I wasn't able to find a thread to leave some notes in, so boom, new thread.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've started looking at upgrading my laptop. It's reached the point where it basically burns my leg as I use it. I may have a solution to that, but I'll get to that later.

Anyway, I am trapped, forced to used Lenovo laptops... and here is why:



This. TrackPoint. I cannot use touch pad mice, they frustrate-the-shit out of me. TrackPoint is superior IMO. Other manufacturers do have their own TrackPoint clones, but Lenovo (formerly IBM) does it best.

As far as I'm concerned, there are 2 lines of Lenovo computers worth their salt: Thinkpad X2xx series and T4xx series.

Lenovo Thinkpad product codes tend to follow the size of the screen. For example, the X2xx is a 12.5" screen (notice the 2), and the T4xx series have a 14" screen. The 'xx' part is the generation.

I've been using an X230 "Tablet" for the past few years (i.e. an X230 with a touch screen). Before that, sometime in 2011 I started using an X220 (no touch). So basically, for the past 6 years I've been using X-series Lenovo PCs.

* * *

Looking at new Lenovo's, at the bottom end is the X270.

- Base price ~$1300 CAD w/ 1080p IPS screen (historically 768p) and i5-7200U
- 12.5" screen
- Needs RAM and SSD upgrade (cheaper to do myself)
- AFAIK RAM is chips, not on board
- At the time of this writing, there are 2 base models. One with an HDD and the other with an SSD
- 1x USB-C (NOT Thunderbolt)
- 2x USB 3.0
- HDMI
- Ethernet
- Double Batteries (3+6 cells, claiming 21 hours of life in maximum configuration, har)
- 2.9 lbs (1.3 KG)

Service Manual: https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/x270_hmm_en_sp40j65511.pdf

- 3x PCIe sockets. i.e.
--- 1x socket used for smaller form factor WiFi modules
--- 1x socket used for larger WiFi or M.2 SSD drives
--- 1x socket used via a special cable to attach to a SATA drive (M.2 drives can be adapted to SATA)
- 1x SODIMM (RAM module)

I'll list other options in follow-up comments.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Next option, part of the X family is the X1 Carbon (5th gen).

- Base price ~$1800 w/ 1080p IPS screen and i5-7200U, 8 GB on board RAM
- Includes 128 GB SSD. Needs upgrade.
- To get more RAM, you need to upgrade the CPU. Base price now ~$2100 w/ i5-7300U and 16 GB on board RAM
- 2x Thunderbolt/USB Type-C ports, one port acting as power input too
- 2x USB 3.0
- HDMI
- Ethernet (via breakout cable)
- Black or Silver
- Single Battery (3cell Battery 57Wh)
- 2.49 lbs / 1.39 kg

https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/x1_carbon_5th_hmm_en_sp40m11925.pdf

- 3x PCIe sockets
--- 1x Small or Medium for WiFi
--- 1x Small for WAN
--- 1x Large for M.2 SSD
- No SATA
- No RAM Modules (soldered to the board)

* * *

Next is a variation, the X1 Yoga (2nd gen):

- Base price ~$2300 w/ 1080p touch screen, i5-7200U and 8 GB RAM
- Includes 256 GB SSD, needs upgrade
- To get more RAM, needs CPU upgrade. Base price now ~$2600 w/ i5-7300U and 16 GB on board RAM
- Optional 14 WQHD (2560x1440) for $170, or 14.0 WQHD (2560 x 1440) OLED Touch for $340
- SSD upgrade sale, $135 for 500 GB, $200 for 1 TB <-- worth it
- 2x Thunderbolt/USB Type-C ports, one port acting as power input too
- 2x USB 3.0
- HDMI
- Ethernet (via breakout cable)
- Black or Silver
- Single Battery (4cell Battery 57Wh)
- Non-Wacom pen
- 3.13 lbs / 1.42 kg (OLED 2.99 lbs / 1.36 kg)

https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/tp_x1_yoga_hmm_sp40k88722_01.pdf

Same

That's it for the X family.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally, on the T series, starting with the basic T470:

- Base price ~$1400 CAD w/ 1080p screen, i5-7200U, 4 GB RAM (SODIMM), and Battery upgrades
- Includes 500 GB HDD, Needs HDD and RAM upgrade
- $70 more for a touch screen
- 1x Thunderbolt/USB Type C
- 3x USB 3.0
- SD 3.0, UHS-I reader
- HDMI
- Ethernet
- Dual Battery (3 cell, 6 cell Li-Ion (72Wh) Cylindrical Rear)
- ~3.48 lbs (~1.6 kg)

https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/t470_hmm_en.pdf

- 3x PCIe
--- 1x Small for WiFi
--- 1x Large for WiFi or M.2 SSD
--- 1x for SATA drive
- 2x SODIMM (RAM Module)

This is the model I'm considering.

* * *

The T470p is basically the "no Thunderbolt" version that costs more... *shrug*. I can't find any benefit of this system

* * *

The T470s is a lighter variant.

- Base price is ~$1500 w/ 1080p IPS screen, i5-7200U, and 4 GB on board memory **
- $110 more for Touch, $220 more for 14" WQHD (2560 x 1440)
- ~$1800 base price with i7-7500U and 8 GB of on board memory **
- Includes 128 GB SSD (M.2), needs HDD and RAM upgrade
- 1x Thunderbolt/USB Type C
- 3x USB 3.0
- HDMI
- Ethernet
- Dual Battery (3 cell, and 3 cell Li-Ion) **
- 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg) **

https://download.lenovo.com/ibmdl/pub/pc/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/t470s_hmm_en_sp40j65619_01.pdf

- 2x PCIe
--- 1x for WAN
--- 1x for M.2
- No SATA
- 1x SODIMM module (plus on board memory)

Generally speaking this is a slightly less restricted X1 (upgradable RAM, full Ethernet, more Battery, cheaper Touchscreen than going Yoga)

* * *

Also part of the T-series is the T570, which notably has a 15.6" screen, a full numpad, and a bit more weight.

- Base price ~$1400 w/ 1080p IPS screen, i5-7200U, and 4 GB on board memory **
- No touch screen option
- 4k screen for $200 more
- includes 500 GB HDD, needs HDD and RAM upgrade
- 1x Thunderbolt/USB Type C
- 3x USB 3.0
- SD 3.0, UHS-I reader
- HDMI
- Ethernet
- Dual Battery (4 cell, 6 cell Li-Ion (72Wh) Cylindrical Rear) **
- 4.5 lbs / 2.04 kg

https://download.lenovo.com/ibmdl/pub/pc/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/t570_p51s_hmm_en_sp40j65584_01.pdf

- 3x PCIe (LAN, M.2, SATA)
- 2x SODIMM (RAM modules)

* * *

There is also the P51s, which is exactly the same (manual above is both), but features an NVIDIA Quadro M520 2GB GDDR5 GPU for $40 more (~$1700 base with a 4k screen).

* * *

Since I mentioned the P51s (a modified T570), here's the P51 (no `s`).

Base price is ~$1900, but has an optional upgradable GPU, and room for 2 HDD's, and 4x SODIMMS!!

https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/tp_p51_hmm_en_sp40k88791.pdf

* * *

That's it for the T series.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Took a quick look at some other Thinkpads.

* * *

Lower end E series.

- No Thunderbolt
- Heavier (4 lbs)
- Single Small battery
- Upgradable via 2x SODIMMs

E470 - Intel i3, 14" 1080p IPS, base price ~$900. Optional NVIDIA GeForce 940MX 2GB with an i7 for ~$1200.
E475 - AMD A10-9600P, AMD Radeon R5 M430 2GB, 14" 1080p TN (SHIT), base price ~$800.

https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/e470_e470c_e475_hmm_en_v2.pdf

E570 - Intel i3, 15" 1080p IPS, DVD, base price ~$900. Optional NV Geforce GTX950M 2GB with an i7 for ~$1200.
E575 - AMD A10-9600P, AMD Radeon R5 M430 2GB, 15" 1080p IPS, base price ~$900.

https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/tp_e570_e570c_and_e575_hmm_v3.pdf

* * *

Rugged Series.

Thinkpad 13 (2nd gen)

- Base price $1000 w/ Celeron CPU, 1080p IPS, Single Battery
- $160 to get an i3
- 13.3" screen
- 1x USB-C (not thunderbolt)
- 3.17 lbs / 1.44 kg

* * *

The 11e and the Chromebook lack Trackpoint

* * *

L series, AFAIC the "Legacy" series. Starting at ~$1150 for a 14" i3, with the only notable feature being that it still has VGA out.

* * *

Okay. That about wraps up my ThinkPad research.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Conclusions:

The Thinkpad T470 looks to be my sweet spot.

- 1x Thunderbolt 3 port (for future external GPU usage/docking) -- Max speed 40 GB/s
- 3x USB 3.0 ports -- Max speed 5 GB/s (USB 3.1 would be 10 GB/s)
- 3.5 lbs (0.5 lbs more than I have now)
- Dual Batteries (maybe it'll actually last?)
- 2x SODIMM slots (that I will manually upgrade)
- SATA (that I will manually upgrade)
- Ethernet, HDMI (no funny stuff)
- SD 3.0, UHS-I reader (OMFG I wish I had this now)
- 1080p IPS Touch screen (I've gotten used to having touch, making $70 more worth it)

~$1450 w/ i5-7200U, or ~$1600 w/ i7-7500U. So with taxes, both are under $2000 CAD (~$200 in tax).

- i7-7500U is ~11% faster than the i5-7200U
- i7-7500U is ~30% faster than the i5-3320M (i.e. what I have right now)

RAM Upgrade: $120-$160 for 2x 8 GB SODIMMs (i.e. 16 GB), or ~$300 for 2x 16 GB SODIMMs (i.e. 32 GB)

SSD Upgrade: $200-$250 for 500/512 GB SATA or mSATA (price parity!), or $400-$500 for 1 TB SATA or mSATA

GPU (HD 620) is roughly 60% faster than the GPU in my current laptops (X230, HD 4000), and it supports Vulkan (though there may already be Vulkan Linux support for my old GPU, just no Vulkan Windows).


So basically something over $2000 CAD after upgrades. Meh.

* * *

Anyways, the point of this exercise was to figure out what I would gain if I upgraded my PC, and for what cost.

~$2300 CAD gets me:

- 14" 1080p touch-screen (currently a 12.5" 768p)
- Thunderbolt/USB Type-C
- A potentially better (safer) placement for the power connector (NOTE: I've gone through 3 power supplies between my 2 laptops, and 1 caught fire)
- HDMI
- UHS-I SD card reader (Yus!)
- 0.5 lbs
- Longer batter life
- Linux compatibility questions (SHOULD be fine, but...)

I lose:

- Wacom pen :(
- ExpressCard (will explain why this is actually useful later), but in turn gain Thunderbolt
- VGA ("boo hoo")
- top row buttons (merged in to F keys)
- the CPU burning my leg (but I may be able to fix this)
- Easy HDD and RAM upgrading

I keep:

- Similar SSD specs
- Similar Memory

For reference, base system is $1065 US (~$1440 CAD), and i7 version is ~$1200 US ($1621 CAD). So exchange isn't affecting the prices that much.

To compare, I spend about $900 CAD plus upgrades to get the X230 Tablet I use right now.

Damn. Them computers aren't cheap no more.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alternative option: Repair my current laptop.

Again, I'm currently using a Lenovo X230 Tablet. i.e. one of these.



https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/x230t_x230it_hmm_en_0b48730_02.pdf

The screen spins around, but I've found in the years I've owned this that I barely use that feature. I do use the Wacom pen though. It's just that much better for quick drawing/doodling.

This laptop is in need of servicing.

Problems:

- It's too hot!!
- It's filthy
- Missing all rubber feet
- TrackPoint nub is flat
- Wrist wrest is cracked near ExpressCard slot, but fracture is so small it doesn't yet bother me.
- Trackpoint buttons are shiny, where they should be matte (i.e. I've rubbed them down)
- Battery doesn't hold a charge (it works, but leave it overnight unplugged and it'll be nearly empty)
- Power adapters are broken (I've since replaced it with a $30 Chinese alternative, but it apparently disrupts the power flowing from the wall so much that "Ethernet over Power" adapters will fail if plugged in, lol).

What I should buy:

- New backlit keyboard (I have a non-backlit in storage, but new ones are $24 each) - $48 USD
--- https://www.aliexpress.com/item/NEW-ORIGINAL-Lenovo-ThinkPad-T430-T430I-T430S-X230-X230I-X230T-W530-T530-US-Keyboard-Chicony-FREE/32218195326.html
--- https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Refurbished-Lenovo-ThinkPad-T430-T430I-T430S-X230-X230I-X230T-T530-T530I-W530-L430-L530-US-Keyboard/32810082388.html
- New palmrest - $19 vs $33
--- (without trackpad) https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/New-OEM-IBM-Lenovo-X230-X230i-Tablet-X230T-Palmrest-Empty-Cover-04W6811-WO-TP/1093162_32734806849.html
--- (with trackpad) https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/New-OEM-IBM-Lenovo-X230-X230i-Tablet-X230T-Palmrest-Empty-Cover-04W6811-WO-TP/1093162_32733793193.html
--- (with trackpad alt) https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/New-Ori-Lenovo-Thinkpad-X230-tablet-X230i-X230T-palmrest-cover-w-TP-04W6811/1093162_32404671672.html
- New Bezel - $20
--- https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Free-shipping-NEW-Orig-For-thinkpad-X230-X230i-tablet-series-keyboard-bezel-framework-cover-04W3724-rotating/1093162_32225350061.html
- Rubber Feet - $6
--- https://www.aliexpress.com/item/2pcs-set-New-Original-for-Lenovo-Thinkpad-X220T-X230T-Tablet-Palmrest-Rubber-Foot-Keyboard-Bezel-Feet/32810206706.html
- Replacement Power Adapter - $24
--- https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/New-Original-for-Lenovo-Thinkpadx230-X220-x200-X61-Power-Adapter-Charger-65W-20V-32-5A/1093162_32733513433.html

So roughly $120 USD in parts to fix it (roughly $160 CAD), and probably a 2 month wait for everything to arrive (#China).

Alternatively, if I was to buy from Lenovo directly:

https://support.lenovo.com/ca/en/solutions/pd024344

... Actually, they no longer stock them. I have no choice but China.

If anything I should order these parts now, and give it a preliminary servicing. i.e.

- Disassemble and clean everything
- Replace the thermal paste

I found a blog post where some Linux guy had the exact laptop as me, did the above, and saw an immediate improvement.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, a used X230 Tablet can be had on eBay for as little as $80, but realistically it's closer to $180. This is a full fledged Wacom tablet enabled laptop too. The only downsides are the resolution is 768p, and it's somewhat power hungry. It's still waaaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper than a Cintiq.

I also now know why my $2300 upgrade is only 20-30% faster: Starting with the X240, Lenovo switched to lower power Intel CPUs (as did most of the industry). It looks like it took several generations before the low power hardware caught up and exceeded the higher power part in the X230. They also broke the TrackPoint in the X240 (fixed it in the X250+), removed a RAM slot on the X240 (making Dual Channel impossible, not sure when they fixed it though).

Anyway, the point I'm trying to get at: The X230 Tablet is kind-of an amazing value even by today's standards. If you have patience, you can repair one for cheap.

I'm super-tempted to try and acquire a backup X230 Tablet now. One of the cheap eBay X230T's is an i7, which would potentially be an upgrade.

Plus, I have a SUPER WEIRD thing I also discovered today. :D
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, now to talk about the weird thing. But first some context.

External GPUs

This isn't a new idea, but more recently it's become quite viable thanks to a convergence of technologies.

PCI Express (PCIe) is today's high speed peripheral standard, like PCI, AGP, and ISA before it. It simplifies the standard in to a concept of lanes. An attached device can use 1, 4, 8, or 16 lanes. Depending on the PCIe version, each bi-directional lane offers 2 Gb of bandwith (250 MB) for PCIe 1, 4 Gb (500 MB) for PCIe 2, and ~8 Gb (985 MB) for PCIe 3. Quoted speeds are higher, but some bandwidth is lost to protocol overhead. Depending on how many lanes you're using you just add them up and that's the effective total. The speed of a lane is determined by the lowest PCIe version (i.e. if a card is 2.0 in a 3.0 lane, it's 2.0).

These articles do a good job explaining some of the nuances of the protocol (why PCIe 3 is both better and lazy).

http://www.tested.com/tech/457440-theoretical-vs-actual-bandwidth-pci-express-and-thunderbolt/
https://www.trentonsystems.com/industry-applications/pci-express-interface

That first article also goes to explain that Graphics cards today aren't saturating the available bandwidth, and that even though you have a 16x PCIe device plugged in, your motherboard may not have enough lanes for all your devices, and may have to share. Again though, a non-issue since cards aren't saturating the BUS.

And then there's Thunderbolt. In actuality, Thunderbolt is PCI Express. PCIe for external devices.

Thunderbolt 1 and 2 double as video output cables (using the Mini Display Port cables), where as Thunderbolt 3 uses USB Type-C cables, and is compatible with both Thunderbolt 1/2 and USB 3. When in Thunderbolt mode, a Thunderbolt cable effectively has 4x PCIe 3.0 lanes attached to it (where as Thunderbolt 1 and 2 were effectively 1x and 2x).

With this in mind, a number of companies have started pushing external Thunderbolt chasis that house modern graphics cards (graphics card still required).



https://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-core - $500
https://www.akitio.com/expansion/node - $300
http://www.powercolor.com/us/products_DevilBox_features.asp?id=1
https://mymantiz.com/products/mz-02-venus

Any PC featuring a Thunderbolt 3 port is a candidate for using these new external boxes. I've read that compatibility can be hit and miss depending on who you are, but I imagine part of the problem is simply not understanding the implications of Thunderbolt (and stupid stuff that should hopefully get resolved in drivers).

So thanks to external GPUs, Laptops and Tiny PC's like this...



... can play real games, and are viable for VR.

Now, lets get weird. :D
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Edited by PoV on Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:47 am; edited 1 time
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's weird.

External GPU chassis are expensive. The cheapest I've found is the Akitio Node for $300 USD (brought to my attention by a friend who just bought one). Here is a resource for finding more successes:

https://egpu.io/external-gpu-implementations-table/

A Thunderbolt 3 eGPU is necessary for VR, but what if we just wanted better than the internal GPU?



Enter the Beast.

This is the GDC EXP v8, also known as the Beast (older versions had other names). It's a standalone device that lets you connect a full PCIe 16x device to a variety of interfaces.

PCIe Mini:



M.2 (NGFF):



And last but not least, Expresscard:



All of these connectors are PCI Express interfaces. PCIe Mini and M.2 are the PCIe are internal interfaces, and Expresscard is the PCIe equivalent of the old PCMCIA standard (i.e. a Micro PCI).

And as I rambled about above, my current old laptop has an Expresscard slot. This is certainly the cleanest way to use this device (otherwise the laptop case needs to be left partially open).

Anyways, to the point: These silly devices can be had for around $40.

- PCIe Mini: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/EXP-GDC-Laptop-External-Independent-Video-Card-Dock-with-PCI-E-Interface-Black/32456172794.html
- Expresscard: https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/EXP-Expresscard-GDC-Laptop-External-Independent-Video-Card-w-PCI-E-16X-Interface/1048722_32540847733.html

Then you want either a PC power supply, or a DELL DA-2/D220P power supply. The Dell power supplies are somewhat awkward to get ahold of (Amazon.com has a few for under $20, but they don't ship to Canada).

You can also get Plastic and Metal cases.





Anyway, now that I've introduced the device, it's somehow 5 AM. I'm going to sleep before I continue (maybe).
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So what's going on here? Why so cheap? What are the downsides?

The GDC EXP v8 device above comes from Bitcoin mining. It's an adapter that lets you use a PCIe 16x device on a single PCIe lane (1x). So effectively it reduces the maximum throughput to PCIe 1x. This combined with a multiplexing card let's people that are in to Bitcoin mining hook up multiple GPUs to a single connector.

There are other less expensive adapters that cost about $10, but those only support PCIe Mini interfaces, and compatibility isn't as good as a result (some laptops whitelist valid devices, meaning the system won't boot while connected). This one was repurposed for gaming.

Using a video card over the PCIe mini or Expresscard interfaces is certainly not as high performance as plugging in directly, but good code sends data, does a lot of processing, before reporting back. Best case scenario, loading times may slow down a bit vs plugging directly in, but actual rendering can be fast and good.

This is by no means a replacement for the Thunderbolts set up, but rather just an alternative for old computers.

Another nice thing is that the adapter actually has a standard USB port on it. This means you can actually use it as a docking station of sorts. Just plug in the expresscard, and you are good to go.

The last image above gives some suggestions for graphics cards that you will see a noticeable improvement using. Again, you're not going to get full performance using this adapter, but the right combination of an older value card and this can yeild some pretty impressive results.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just wanted to jump in and say that my Dell Precision laptop has a TrackPoint as well as a touchpad.
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PoV
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I used to have an XPS with one, but I'm overall most used to Lenovo stuff. Has much better Linux support.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I might be on the right track with externals. Just the other day, Apple had one of their presentations. In its, they pledged their support for external GPUs, recommending one as part of a VR dev kit. That can only mean good things.

So today I finally cracked open my laptop that I just broke. Oh! I forgot to mention that I actually dropped my laptop the other day. Ha!

Anyway, I replaced the thermal compound on the CPU and GPU. I also but a bunch of electrical tape around the sharp corner that was cutting me (that's what broke). I'm going to need an actual replacement part, but for the time being that hopefully will hold me over. The distributor I'm getting my replacement parts from hasn't shipped my order yet, which is a bit frustrating.

I also ordered a bunch of external GPU Parts, the cheap ones I mentioned earlier. Again, who knows when they'll arrive, but at least they're on the way. Now I just need a GPU to pair with it.

Buying used Lenovo X Series Laptops on eBay, it looks like all of them roughly settled on a $150 to $200 price tag, with shipping and Duty. Not that they're not worth it, just less Reason to jump on one. I do wish that I had an x230 instead of an x220. I was eyeing half a dozen i7's, which would actually be an upgrade. All the x230's have USB 3 ports, whereas the x220's do not. Plus the GPU is better supported in general when it comes to Advanced graphics features.

I briefly looked into the T430, but those systems were so old, that they still had dvd-roms in them. And yes I don't want a dvd-rom. The more current T Series Laptops do not have DVD ROMs. So for the time, it looks like I did choose the best laptop. #lightness
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some fun-shots.





The rough looking thermal paste before.



I cleaned this up, and replaced it with some cheap Chinese HC-151 I ordered some time ago. Cost like $1 for 5 syringes.



Reassembled. Not the prettiest repair, but functional. Replaced the red TrackPoint nub with a fresh one.






Nice to see that my laptop can actually get UNDER 50 degrees C now (lowest I've seen is about 43 C, and before the repair the lowest temp I could get was about 55 C).

Oh, and I had no idea it could reach a point where it was idling, and the fan would turn off.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny. I would have used that whole ordeal as a reason to just junk the thing and upgrade to something new.

Please tell me that thing is, at the very least, running on an SSD? :]
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So it looks like I'm all-in with the Express Card external GPU.

There are 2 ways to power the eGPU: a PC power supply, or a specific Dell Laptop power supply.

The Dell supply is a lot harder to find, but it gives you a much cleaner setup. It's also rather unique, in that it features a PC power-supply style connector.





Oh, so I found one on eBay in Canada, ordered it, and it arrived today. I knew this was going to be big, but I had no idea how big.

Here it is compared to the power supply I used on my laptop.



Yowza.

Anyway, the eGPU adapter is on order too.



$40 for the actual unit, $43 for a metal chassis/case, and a breakout cable for powering stronger cards. Together with the above power supply (~$35), this should be the cleanest way to do this. I just need a video card to go with it now.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sonrisu wrote:
Funny. I would have used that whole ordeal as a reason to just junk the thing and upgrade to something new.

Please tell me that thing is, at the very least, running on an SSD? :]

Yeah, high end Samsung SSD and 16 GB of RAM (dual channel). I run Linux too, so the File IO is crazy fast. File IO on Windows is a joke.

Like I said, the X and T series are pretty beefy machines. I would have to spend $2k for the latest model, and at most I would get a 20% speed improvement. These are the Lenovo's before they switched to the ultra-low power Intel CPUs, which took a few generations to catch up to the CPU performance of their power hungry brothers. Plus you really don't find Wacom digitizes in laptops anymore, so keeping this X230T going is something I should do anyways.

I will eventually upgrade, but I don't exactly have $2k to throw at a new laptop right now. Besides, this is fun. ;)
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, it looks like I forgot to show the before.

Here's what the laptop I recently broke looked like.



And of course now:



Replacing the wrist wrest is very simple. Just waiting on the parts to arrive (*cough* and ship).


Also for reference, here's what's broken with the old laptop (the X220).



And like I said, I have the parts to repair it... everything but the keyboard (ironically I do have a keyboard I could use, but the key mappings would mess up if I used it).


* * *

Well the eBay auctions for X230 with Intel Core i7's have all pushed themselves close to $200 CAD (all in need of repairs), so I think I'm going to back-off on them. I've started watching some X230 i5 auctions. If I can find something closer to $100 CAD, I'll grab it and Frankenstein together a pair of working machines from that and my older X220. Then sell the lesser of the two to recoup my costs (I should be able to get $200 for a fully refurbished machine). I think I want to stick to the X230 series. They're kind-of the best Lenovo's got before a getting shitty for a while. Plus it means I can stick to one keyboard for repairing both.

I like that I have 2 laptops. I'm not using the X220, but I'm thinking I would like to have a separate backup/travel laptop. I was away for 2 weeks recently (Boston), and though nothing bad happened I kinda realized that there's a lot of important sensitive stuff on my main laptop. Data aside, though the machine isn't pretty, there's some actual valuable parts in it. The SSD's alone are worth more than the machine (a 512 GB Samsung SATA SSD, and a 128 GB mSATA SSD). And when I do finally upgrade, I expect to go larger (big SSD's aint cheap).

So, I should probably get used to having a main and travel laptop.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha!



Two of these popped up on eBay today for about $100 CAD ($60 US+Shipping). They *might* be useful for parts, but they don't include batteries. That's an issue because X230's have ... battery DRM, and genuine Lenovo batteries carry a stupid price.

The poster set a short 24 hour time on them, so I'm hoping they go ignored, expire, and they re-post them with a lower price. One of these *IS* enough to do my upgrade, but I'll be lacking a genuine battery to actually get it running (and a screen to make the other machine in to something usable).
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just doing some digging. I might be able to find cheaper versions of the battery if I search by Lenovo FRU code. I found some codes here for X230 batteries:

https://support.lenovo.com/ca/en/solutions/pd024293

Battery 44 (4 cell) - 0A36305
- 45N1019
- 45N1021

Battery 44+ (6 cell) - 0A36306 -- Found one for $44 CAD (China)
- 45N1023
- 45N1025 -- Found one for $45 CAD

Battery 44++ (9 cell) - 0A36307 -- Found one for $49 CAD (China)
- 45N1027
- 45N1029

* * *

X230 Tablet Batteries

https://support.lenovo.com/ca/en/solutions/pd024284
https://support.lenovo.com/ca/en/solutions/pd024290

Battery 67 (3 cell) - 0A36316
- 45N1075

Battery 67+ (6 cell) - 0A36317 - Ah ha! Found a 52+ locally for $47, but I think that's the older model (before DRM)
- 45N1077
- 45N1079 - Boo, found one for $66 (china)... well at least I found one

* * *

A series of blog posts on hacking the BIOS to allow 3rd party batteries.

http://zmatt.net/unlocking-my-lenovo-laptop-part-1/
http://zmatt.net/unlocking-my-lenovo-laptop-part-2/
http://zmatt.net/unlocking-my-lenovo-laptop-part-3/

Not sure what I think of this. The usual wisdom is to not use 3rd party batteries, because potential fires, but my genuine lenovo power adapter caught fire some weeks ago. So *shrug*.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like this seller just re-lists the same ad over and over again at the price they want, with low sell times just for the "1 day left" bump.

* * *

Here's something interesting from them though:



Just the motherboard, $30.

Upside: I pay less. Downside, I have a spare motherboard and keyboard sitting around. I guess I could sell my old system for parts though.

* * *

EDIT: Oh, new upside: it looks like the seller mislabeled the board. It's actually an i7, not an i5 (given the product code). Damn... I think that's actually totally worth it.

* * *

EDIT 2: Boo, nevermind. It is mislabeled, but it's actually an X220 board, not an X230 board. Hell, it might be exactly the board mine has. Fail.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PoV wrote:
battery DRM


They have DRM in the batteries now? Does it reject the battery if it's not a vendor-approved battery, verified by DRM?
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah dude, it's a thing. In Lenovo's case, the systems refuse to charge the battery while plugged in, but they will discharge just fine.

* * *

Whee, so my Dad needs a new computer now. I'm recommending a mini Barebones PC.



Either that one (Gigabyte Brix), or one from a different manufacturer (Asrock, Asus, MSI, Zotac, or Intel NUC). They're all roughly the same size, same price (ballpark), and use laptop parts. I'm recommending one with an Intel Core i3, but you can get cheaper ones with Celeron CPUs too.

Yes, Celeron.

Apparently Intel's brands for CPU's by power actually look like this today:

- Atom
- Celeron
- Pentium
- Core i3
- Core i5
- Core i7
- Core i9

Yeah, Pentium is back too.

With the exception of the Atom, all other CPU models are based on the main Intel architectures, just with/without certain features. For example, Modern Celerons lack Hyperthreading (modern Pentiums have it though).

Speaking of Celerons, I stumbled across one of these for a stupid price today.



Guy on Amazon had one for a mere $50 (reg ~$179).

I was on the phone with my brother, discussing my Dad's upgrade when we found this. Basically my brother dared me to buy it, and I did. ;)

Things that really impresses me is that the box has USB 3.0 ports, and it's actually using standard laptop parts (RAM, SSD). I've already invested in a specific Single Board Computer with an ARM chip and USB 3.0, to think a Chromebox/Celeron MiniPC could be adapted and made in to a mini server is interesting.

Hmm.

* * *

We also looked Intel's modern Compute Sticks with the Intel m3 chips. Looking at the benchmarks, if they were a bit better priced (and had HDMI 2.0), they could have been a been a candidate for Dad's PC too.

Mini PCs are cool. ;)
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nevermind. Too good to be true. After some digging I found out that seller was a known fraudulent seller. Contacted Amazon and they've taken care of it now.

* * *

Some good news: I managed to get a nearly complete X230 system for $103.



The only thing it's missing is a hard drive (and chassis). Fortunately I already have a spare chassis on the way via one of my earlier china orders (I might need a door though).

* * *

So I was right, and buddy did eventually lower his price for this.



I have a bid in for this for ~$50, and it ends in about 2 hours.

If I win that too, I'll have enough parts to make two X230 machines, given the parts I still have. The rest of my X220 machine I can sell-off as parts (keyboard, motherboard).

... or I just buy a screen for $55.
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