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things I break/fix for fun and learning

Mar 8, 2019 - 3 minute read - Comments

FHD IPS 1920x1080 for Thinkpad T420s

A little back story - the T420s was released sometime in 2012 and during that time there is no way to use an FHD IPS screen. The motherboard connector uses LVDS while the FHD IPS screen uses eDP. The default installed screen is a TN panel with a screen resolution of 1600x900, washed out colors and terrible viewing angles. Fast forward and enthusiasts were able to make a converter that allows the T420s motherboard to use a modern FHD IPS screen. I was able to get a complete kit from China (via aliexpress). It contains an original AUO FHD IPS screen and the converter board (LVDS-to-eDP) that does the magic. Delivery took about 2weeks to arrive here in Canada.

I spent about 2hrs doing the screen replacement. Since I’m at it already, I decided to give the machine a thorough cleaning by repasting the CPU and cleaning the heatsink fan. Once done, I then moved over the components from my X220 to the T420s. The result is fantastic! I am spoiled by the classic 7-row thinkpad keyboard and the overall modular approach making the machine easy to maintain.

High-level Steps I Performed for the Screen Replacement

  • remove keyboard, palmrest, LCD cover

  • remove motherboard, heatsink and perform repaste (optional)

  • for the LCD cover - remove the bezel and then remove the panel

  • connect eDP cable to the new panel. put panel back in the LCD cover and finally put the bezel back. this is also a good time to tighten those hinges!

  • connect LVDS cable to the motherboard

  • pray that it works! for me it worked the first time - no bleed, no flicker, no streaks, no issues!

Specs of my Thinkpad T420s

Intel Core i5 2520M
16GB RAM
120GB mSATA SSD (for main OS)
480GB Intel SSD (for VMs and data)
500GB 7200rpm HDD via ultrabay caddy (music, videos, ISOs, backup storage device)
Intel 7260 AC WIFI+BT
USB2.0
USB3.0
eSATA
HDMI
VGA

This is my first time using an IPS screen (eversince I got introduced to computers at home / work) and not to mention FHD. My eyes are very thankful for this upgrade!

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

I tried to document and take photos as I perform the screen replacement. The idea is to take MORE pictures to document it as clearly as possible, but somehow got too excited tearing it to pieces and putting it back altogether!

T420s with a TN panel. This is the default panel before doing screen replacement.

FHD IPS kit. The converter board in anti-static bag and the LCD is bubble wrapped nicely.

T420s stripped down to motherboard for CPU repaste.

Converter board installed in the motherboard.

FHD IPS panel installed.

Intel 7260, mSATA SSD and 16GB RAM.

Intel SSD.

Additional HDD via Ultrabay caddy.

Flashing modified BIOS to remove the WIFI whitelist. This allows the Intel 7260 card to be used.

Intel 7260 detected during Fedora install.

Fedora install in progress. 3 storage devices detected.

Bluetooth detected in Fedora.

FHD IPS panel! Lots of screen estate!

T420s and X220 side-by-side comparison. FHD IPS vs TN.

T420s and X220 with Linux stickers!

T420s in action! Fedora 29, MATE + i3 and zathura for comic reader. Classic keyboard and modern screen FTW!

FHD IPS + i3 window manager = lots of screen estate! Coding for my website with Archie comics for distraction!

Resurrecting a Vintage Thinkpad T43

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