The ThinkPad X220 Couldn’t Be More Practical, Even in 2024!

This article is a transcript of a video that you can watch by clicking the thumbnail below. Hence, certain statements may not make sense in this text form, and watching the video instead is recommended.


Reading posts from fellow ThinkPad enthusiasts, a few models kept getting discussed more often than the other, one of which being the X220. People seemed to love them a little too much, and it appeared as if every ThinkPad enthusiast had to have one of those. During my adventures, when I got to try one in first person, that’s when I understood what all the hype was about.

My Quest to Get an X220

It wouldn’t be a surprise how every ThinkPad is different. Though there's a little bit of overlap between series, some are separated by the target audience according to the budget, but otherwise, it’s mostly around what task the machine would be used for. There are certain models though that are liked by most if not all and prove to be the Miata of notebook computers.

One of the few reasons to stop me from getting an X220 was the barrel charger. Don’t get me wrong, but coming from machines that could be charged with most USB-C chargers, to switching to a semi-workstation notebook like the X1 Extreme Gen 3 with a Lenovo flat-pin charger, I didn’t want to add another charger variant to my fleet.

Once I looked past it though, there were more than needed reasons to help me jump over the wall and get my hands on one.

Initial State and Impressions

My first reaction to holding an X220 in my hands as soon as I unpacked the box was how light-weight and compact it was. This wouldn’t be a surprising thing for an X-series machine that was purpose-built for business users and was advertised for the same traits that we talked about, but as I mentioned in one of my previous videos, that was a “moment”. Sadly, the first example I acquired had to be returned and the one I have on my fleet right now is way better in condition with a small shortcoming that we’ll soon talk about.


I wasn’t happy with the plastic rails around the SSD when I received the machine, so along with a better solid state drive, I also took the opportunity to replace them with a complete set of caddy and rubber rails instead of plastic ones.

The battery on this example was original from 2011, at least according to a label it has on it, but was still holding great for its age of 12 years. I still added another battery that didn’t stick out from the back as I did with the W530. I ordered it from AliExpress from the popular seller named KingSener from Korea, and though I wasn’t impressed by the quality, I did end up having two batteries (three in total) instead of one because of the issues I faced with the first one they sent me.

I doubled the RAM to 16GBs, and buying DDR3 RAM in 2023 wasn’t cheap as you might expect. I also upgraded the wireless card so that it would now connect to 5GHz networks instead of being only limited to 2.4GHz, and replaced the Bluetooth module with one that supported Bluetooth 4.0.

There was an obvious obligatory step of replacing the thermal paste, which is something I wouldn’t call an easy job on this machine, as compared to some other ThinkPads I’ve done it on. I did remember being able to successfully use the PTM7950 on one of my ThinkPads, so if I remember correctly, it was the X220 that received it.

The 768p TN HD panel on this machine has terrible viewing angles, and I did have a failed attempt at replacing it with an IPS screen, that started shimmering as soon as I connected it. I didn’t attempt another upgrade till this date.

Also, as the space-bar key on the keyboard was pretty worn, and given how difficult it is to get a good replacement keyboard for one of these, I had a failed attempt at that as well. You can either get a “new” keyboard that’s no where as close to the original, or get a used one for around the same (or often higher) price that’s an original, but could have some wear. Having learned that lesson of never buying a new aftermarket keyboard, I replaced the one on it from the one I received on the W530.

My Review

So as we know, the size and weight of this subnotebook are impressive, but still, it’s equipped with a regular-sized keyboard unlike the later models from the X-series where you need to restrict your fingers in order to type. What’s interesting is that I could swap the keyboard from the monstrous W530 into this tiny machine, both machine being on the exact two opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of size and weight. And yes, if I do have to explicitly mention, I love typing on this thing.

Even after being from 2011, the second-gen Intel Core series processor is still capable for most jobs you'd throw at it within reason. For a 13-year-old machine, that’s a lot, and even the design has aged very well.

You get a full-sized DisplayPort, along with most other ports an average person would need. About the minor shortcoming that I briefly mentioned, this is an i5 model that only came equipped with USB 2.0 ports. If you’d need USB 3.0, one of the two on the models equipped with an i7 CPU had one, so you should ask yourself before making the purchase. It wouldn’t affect you if you do not transfer a lot of data in and out of those ports, but from my experience, these are pretty slow, and you cannot even leverage the capability of newer USB drives.

Finally, the X220 ends up being arguably the best balance between size, performance, connectivity, upgradability, and comfort. It could very well be ranked higher than the other twenty-four models I’ve had the change to get my hands on. I covered that in detail in one of my recent Reddit posts where I briefly reviewed most (if not all) of the ThinkPads I’ve experienced. As it goes without saying, your mileage may vary, but to me, this one’s definitely a keeper. Since adopting this machine, I started to reconsider my reason to own the other ThinkPads I had, at least for an initial few weeks. I took pictures of it everywhere I took it with me, which is literally everywhere, and one time even risked it getting crushed. Do not ask me how!

A Few Comparisons

In terms of comparison with its siblings from the X-series, I’ve only had an experience with an X260 (which was the start of my ThinkPad rescue mission) and my favorite X280. Out of the three, the X280 is the best in terms of usability and performance, but the weakest in terms of upgradeability. The X220 on the other hand may be relatively primitive, offers way lesser performance in exchange for more ports and a removable battery, which I thankfully had multiple of. The X260 sits in between the two, with most of the good features of both, but also adding the Lenovo PowerBridge technology that later models dropped. It enabled ThinkPads run with two batteries: one concealed and one external, and let the user replace the external one without turning the machine off. The way the system was designed though, it would need the external battery to run out entirely before using the internal battery, and that’s never a good thing for these batteries. So while this appears to be a good feature, if you care about your batteries, it practically limits your battery capacity to only that of your external battery. Thankfully, though this is a feature that would have been great on the X220, I’m happy I do not have to deal with battery anxiety with one of them getting choked to death every now and then.


There are a few other things people do on these machines, which is to flash them with open source firmware. This takes out proprietary closed-source elements from the machine, and also makes boot times a little quicker. I didn’t do any of that, and nor do I plan to do it in the near future. Regardless, by owning an X220, I’m officially a certified ThinkPad enthusiast.


That's all that I have for this video. Thanks for watching it till the end, may the maker watch over you, see you in the next video! And yes, "Free Palestine!".