Michał Sapka's website

A month with a disgusting ThinkPad

It’s been a little over a month since I received my first used ThinkPad. For the most part I love it, but some things really baffle me.

The working name of this post was “A Month Without Apple”, but it would be a lie. I still use a M1 MacBook Pro for work, since this is the machine my employer provided to me. But privately I moved to this machine (Defiant) 100%.

Some specs

Nothing to flex about, but just to give an overview of what I am talking about.

Model mame.............Thinpad X1 Extreme gen2
CPU..............Intel i5-9300 8 core @ 4.1GHz
Memory...................................32 GB
GPU1..........................UHD Graphics 630
GPU2....NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1650 Mobile / Max-Q
Screen size.............................15,6''


I have yet to challenge the machine. I haven’t used the dedicated GPU once (still waiting for Return to Monkey Island!) and my Arch installation is quite minimal - about 200 MB of RAM after starting X. I have compiled some applications, and it was very doable. One thing I miss from M1 is the fan noise or rather lack of thereof. X1 can get loud, but the sound is lower than what older MacBooks produced and therefore much less annoying. Using headphones helps a lot, but more about it later.

But you buy ThinkPad for keyboard, right? I used Apple’s butterfly keyboard for few years and I hated it. Everyone I know who was issued a Macbook with one, now has random chance of registering between 0 and 2 key presses. It’s the second-worst input devise I’ve ever witnessed, right after touch screen.

The Butterfly keyboard drama on The Verge

I’ve also used older MacBook keyboards and the new ones. I liked them and I still have no strong complaints against them.

They said that this ThinkPad’s keyboards is amazing. They were right. I no longer enjoy typing on MacBooks, it’s void of any character. Thinkpad’s key travel is much bigger and the keys require significant force to actually press it. It’s closer to external Logitech K860, but the keys are much stiffer. It’s the newer, chiclet design - I’m even afraid to think how great the classic keyboards were.

Thinkpad's keyboard
Thinkpad's keyboard

The touchpad however is nowhere near Macbook’s one. I will need to dig a big deeper into config, but they joy is far from what Apple provides. Everything is just this much more troublesome. I wanted to like the nib, but I simply can’t force myself to use it. Maybe in the future, but for now I stick with controlling the computer using the old keyboard/touchpad combo.

Thinkpad's trackpoint
Thinkpad's trackpoint

One thing I was afraid was that coming from a Retina display, the Full HD screen will be an eyesore. I was wrong. The screen is nothing to write home about, but it’s perfectly usable. Enough to not notice it. And, since I use mostly terminal applications, I have yet to see a problem here.

The single worst thing about this computer are the speakers. They are small and they sound small. They are located on the bottom of the computer, and it makes the laptop very unlaptopable, as the sound disappears in the air. I am extremely spoiled with the sound coming out of 16’’ M1 MacBook Pro - this is a fact. But those tiny things Lenovo put here are plain insulting. This computer needs to be attached to headphones/speakers. This is one thing I’d change about this X1 Extreme in an instant.

World's worst speakers
World's worst speakers

Some people hate the look of ThinkPads saying that they should be used only during wartime. Some love them. It definitely is an acquired taste. Personally, I love every millimeter of it. I love the sturdiness, the feel of the housing, the red dot on top of “i” (which glows on the back of monitor!)

What I hate is that the computer is always disgustingly dirty. It’s covered in some rubber, and it’s impossible to actually get it clean. I spend a few hours trying to make it sparkly clean after I got it, but without any success. It was dirty, and it’s getting dirtier all the time. It seems that it was not designed for people with skin as the oils from my hands covers the palm rests. Disgusting.


And last, but definitely not least: you can actually open the computer and upgrade it. This is something PC folks take for granted, but coming from Apple garden it’s breathtaking.

Only 6 screws and voila!
Only 6 screws and voila!


Would I get another ThinkPad or a MacBook? Well, Apple started getting on my nerves some time ago, and it’s only getting worse. Their chips are a thing of wonder, their designs are still nice. But they are making too may choices limiting the user. Tim Cook becomes the villain of IT. I won’t take any part of it. I used Macbooks exclusively since 2013, but I don’t think I will get another MacBook.

ThinkPad, for now, is a great machine. I love almost everything about it. I would most definitely purchase the machine again.