Lenovo’s ThinkPad line of laptops have had a cult following since before Lenovo even owned the ThinkPad name (which it gained when Lenovo acquired IBM’s personal computer business).

But while Lenovo has hung onto some older features such as the TrackPoint stick in the center of the keyboard, the company has modernized its hardware in some ways that have left long-time users hankering for old-school 4:3 aspect ratio displays, ThinkLight keyboard illumination, and other legacy features.

Last year Lenovo launched a 25th Anniversary Edition ThinkPad with a mix of modern and classic hardware. But a group of hackers in China have gone further than that, by gutting classic Lenovo laptops and replacing the internals with new motherboards, processors, and other features.

In September we took a look at the X62, which was a modified 2007-era ThinkPad X61s. But the most recent feat from the team at the 51nb forum is the X210, which is an updated motherboard fro the Lenovo ThinkPad X200/X201 series laptops from 2010.

These laptops feature 12.1 inch displays and they originally shipped with Intel Core i5 or Core i7 “Arrandale” processors, 4GB to 8GB of RAM, and Windows 7 Pro. The laptops featured 16:10 aspect ratio displays, with some models sporting 1280 panels and others supporting up to 1440 x 900 pixels.

The new X10 motherboard, meanwhile, brings support for:

  • Intel Core i7-7500U Core 5-8250U, or Core i7-8550U processors
  • Up to 32GB of RAM (with support for DDR4-1333 through DDR4-3000)
  • M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 SSD with NVMe support
  • MSATA slot for SSD or WWAN 3G/4G network card
  • 2.5 inch SATA hard drive bay
  • Support for screens with resolutions up to 1920 x 1200 pixels
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0 port
  • Mini DisplayPort, VGA, and headphone jack
  • RJ45 Ethernet jack and RJ11 phone port
  • Mini PCIe wireless card
  • SD card reader

Models used in a ThinkPad X201 chassis can keep the original fan and heat sink, but an X210 with a ThinkPad X200 chassis needs a modified heat sink in order to keep the system cool.

The first X210 orders shipped earlier this year, and user reviews have been popping up in places like the ThinkPads.com forum and reddit’s /r/thinkpad group.

LCDFans, a group that’s been selling new motherboards for old ThinkPad laptops, says a 2nd batch of X210 board is up for order, but you’ll need to email [email protected] to get a price quote.

via HackADay and LCDFans (photos)

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9 replies on “X210 mod turns classic Lenovo ThinkPad X201 into a modern PC”

  1. Holy shit, its $800 just for the motherboard. I’ll just keep my x201 as is.

    1. Its 980 USD (820 EUR) for a whole new machine – except HDD and RAM, which you have to add. Both would go for 100 to 180 Euros, depending on your needs and budget.
      So for 1000 to 1400 EUR you get a marvelous mint-condition X210.

      I compared prices with X280 and X1 Carbon. You stay at least 100 to 200 Euros cheaper in each comparable configuration. So I think, it is a good deal – but it ain’t cheap.

      But what would you expect from a handcrafted/handmodded 50-pieces series Laptop?

      We can be lucky this is around at all.


  2. I won’t go that far, but I’m still clinging to my old-style external Thinkpad keyboard, even though the keys are worn, and there’s a loose connection somewhere requiring the use of a bulldog clip to hold the cable in place.

    One of my biggest complaints about the new-style keyboard is the lack of any gaps between the function keys, making it almost impossible (for me) to find the right function key by feel alone. I did notice that the latest X1 Carbon keyboard has those gaps, which is welcome development.

    1. They all have gaps between the function keys. Only the ’30 generation did not.

  3. I’ve been dreaming lately about a modernized Thinkpad with a 4:3 screen, and a classic pre-chiclet keyboard.

    While this laptop hits the mark, I wouldn’t even consider spending around $1000 assembling a laptop that has no warranty.

    Too bad, I love the old X and T series laptops.

    1. Fair point. But instead of buying just the motherboard and updating it yourself, you can go for the full machine. With that option you will, indeed, get 6 months of warranty.

      It is not the usual two years – but better than nothing.

      But it’s true. It is kind of a steep price. But these are limited amount/edition handbuilt machines. I personally am glad, they do it at all and are still on the same price level as a comparable X280.


  4. Additional information: the board costs $780. And the base machine is about $100, so it’s a pretty sweet machine for being under $1000.

Comments are closed.