Upgrade Thinkpad L540 or buy a new laptop

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by D0_do, May 21, 2018.

  1. alexhawker

    alexhawker Spent Gladiator

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    Not all. Many newer thin/light notebooks have a larger battery option which is mutually exclusive with installing a 2.5" SSD, as the battery takes up extra room.

    I would expect this trend to continue/accelerate to the point where 2.5" drives are not accommodated at all, in any configuration.
     
  2. Starlight5

    Starlight5 So what if I'm crazy? The best people are.

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    @D0_do If you decide to get an SSD, I'd recommend SATA m.2 2280 drive in m.2 to 2.5" adapter instead of native 2.5" drive, unless the price difference is inadequately high. It will definitely be compatible with almost any machine and won't limit you in choice when you decide you're fed up with HD display.

    I speak from experience - switching from an otherwise decent laptop with HD display to a newer Thinkpad with FHD over a year ago, I had no other choice but to sell my 1TB 2.5" SSD - simply because there wasn't a slot for it; was I to purchase a machine specifically with 2.5" slot, I am positively sure I would not be as happy with my choice.
     
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  3. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    I would recommend a clean install of Win 10 Pro on a 1TB or larger (2.5") SSD (that has been OP'd by 33% or more) after upgrading the RAM to 16GB total.

    The base hardware (CPU/igpu) you have is potent for your indicated workflows - however, the low RAM (8GB is hardly enough for multi-tab/multiwindow browsing for manyyears now...) is holding your productivity and 'snappiness' back a lot. Windows 7 is also an old and creaking platform that is overtaken by Windows 10 for productivity - especially when an SSD is part of the setup.

    With a 1TB SSD OP'd by 33% (giving the user ~635GB of usable capacity), and a clean Win 10 install all on your i5-4300M with 16GB of RAM, I would not be surprised to have this system be more productive than that used/refurbished 16GB QC system you are considering (which probably/may not have an OP'd SSD nor a clean Win 10 install). And you should be able to upgrade the RAM, the O/S and the storage system for less than the cost of that used setup (which would more than likely need work to get working optimally in any case...).

    What all these upgrades together should get you is a system that you'll be using (at least in your current workflow) for the next decade. That's not something that Win 7 will be able to offer you in less than two years from now. ;)

    Hope this helps.

    Take care.

     
  4. D0_do

    D0_do Notebook Enthusiast

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    aha i ordered in the 2.5" crucial ssd drive before I saw your reply. :|

    Thank you tilleroftheearth.
    Lets' see how the performance goes with addition of an SSD. If it will ask for an addition of RAM as well I may buy that as well. The RAM prices are way too high.

    I am curious about ~635gb of usable capacity on a 1tb ssd. Why is it so?
     
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  5. p0och

    p0och Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hey bud what you have there may be a gem - The L440 is the one of the most flexible thinkpads at a lower cost vs the T series which are virtually the same (but in fact the T series has a BGA cpu)

    OK - list of things to address that will cost you under $250

    -Screen - replace with FHD and check if the 30 pin cable needs to be upgraded . The monitor change is one of the easiest.
    RAM - get it 16gb DDR3L of course, you need to make sure they're DDR3L as your CPU is not compatible with the older DDR3 high voltage ones
    SSD - there a number of alternatives here. Definitely swap the 2.5' HDD for the largest SSD per/gb ratio you can afford.
    The laptop should also have a dvd drive which you reuse your old HDD by removing your dvd drive for a caddy.
    Third storage option is tricky - check beneath your battery - there should be an m2 slot that was setup for "express cache" and I'm fairly certain yours would have that additional component given you bought the model with a stock HDD instead of a SSD.

    This fits a 2242 M2 SSD drive which at the moment is still kinda hard and pricey to find but i don't see any reason for you need 3 at this stage for now assuming you aim for a 500gb ssd or even 250gb is OK

    2242 m2 SATA ssd are slowly making it's way into the market but at the moment are mainly chinese labeled brands which may or may not be inferior but why take the risk.

    2.5inch ssd drives will continue to prevail (unless your next upgrade is a sleek and slim ultrabook) - so ok let's say you want to future proof that too. Buy a 2280 m2 SSD Sata drive (they're about $10 more than the 2.5" variants and pay an additional $10 for a m2 to 2.5" adapter enclosure.

    do not bother with the CPU upgrade - you do not need the quad core features given what you said you will be doing and personally it will be wasted on a double socket ram laptop.

    Going forward - the only bottleneck i can see is perhaps the ram capping out at 16gb but it's going to be balanced off by the fact that you'd be having all SSD over the next few years.

    Do not underestimate the i5 haswell M cpu. the turbo speed and performance are on par with the the skylake ulv (socketed) version with the only weakness being the haswell igpu.

    This can be fixed too - this sick laptop is the last thinkpad variant to employ an express card slot which is a pcie 2.0 standard. modding it with an external dGPU is a it technical but well documented.

    Wireless cards should be upgraded to the AC format but i assume it is already AC so you are officially a proud owner of the ugliest beast that was designed to be the poor man's Thinkpad but one that can easily go toe-toe with the newer gen laptop. It's a real tank with mil-spec grade.


    Other points to take note:
    This series would come with the redesigned infamous extra large touchpad that caused such a backlash Lenovo reverted to the previous config. If it annoys you too - a replacement only costs below $10 and it's very easy to swap.

    Also the lack of backlit keypad support is a bummer (many have tried to purchase the backlit keypad version from the T series but the mobo was not wired for power to supply the lights!)

    On the note of the CPU - keep any eye for either a i7-4702qm or i7-4712qm and if you spot one for say $50 take it. These are the only 2 variants that match the TDP of 35w. the other quads are 7w higher?
    if you wish - the other qm cpu will still function but you will need to be a bit more vigilant around potential thermal issues. that said - just aim for the 2 variants i mentioned, they're at least 4 years old now so get one for cheap. Otherwise the i5 is plenty much,

    Apart from that - the ongoing support of drivers from lenovo is outstanding but beware of any Lenovo bloatware - infact do not even install any lenovo labelled "utility". just keep an eye out for bios support.

    THe whitelist issue can be annoying but at this stage if your wifi card is the 7260 series you're good in my books,
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
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  6. D0_do

    D0_do Notebook Enthusiast

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    @p0och Thank you for such a great insight.
    I went ahead with crucial mx500 500gb ssd. Should have waited a week more to save another 15$ but whatever. I do have wwan slot as well as a cd/dvd drive but I don't think I'll need more storage space locally any soon. I do think sometime in near future I may upgrade to 16gb of ram.

    However, I did come across an interesting problem on my laptop which initially made me suspect that it is my laptop which has become extremely slow. Seems like the issue is WiFi card on my laptop. In windows, it doesn't work to its full strength.
    Speed tests shows the speed as 300-800 Kbps. I have dual boot ubuntu installation and when I switch to ubuntu the speeds are fine.
    Then, however I have netgear adapter as well and I plugged it in yesterday while working in windows environment and I am getting normal speeds of 15-30 Mbps through this adapter.

    I don't know exactly how to describe this problem. In simple words, With default wifi card internet speed is super slow while working in windows but it is fine when I am in ubuntu environment. Plugged in a netgear adapter while in windows and the speed went back to normal.
     
  7. p0och

    p0och Notebook Enthusiast

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    what is your default wifi card?
     
  8. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    Sorry for the late reply (life is busy).

    1TB (nominal) SSD is calculated by the manufacturers as 1,000,000,000,000 bytes and mistakenly refer to it as a TB.

    However, computers actually store data with 1024 bytes per KB. To make a TB would require 1024x1024x1024x1024 bytes of storage which equals 1,09,9,511,627,776 bytes.

    To properly calculate how much storage a nominal 1TB SSD will hold with an additional 33% of OP'ing is done like this:

    1,000,000,000,000 / 1024 / 1024 / 1024 = 931.32 GB

    931.32 x (1-.33) = 623.98 GB of usable space

    (The ~11 GB difference is just from memory because 1TB SSD's don't get shipped with just 1,000,000,000,000 bytes of usable space... or, I may have simply been thinking of another %age OP'ing…).

    Hope this helps.

    See:
    https://www.reference.com/science/many-bytes-terabyte-f3ffb58bf4f7ab36#

     
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  9. jclausius

    jclausius Notebook Virtuoso

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  10. D0_do

    D0_do Notebook Enthusiast

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    @p0och Sorry about the late reply. My wifi adapter is
    Intel Wireless-N 7260 BGN 2x2 HMC WiFi Adapter
     
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