My New Thinkpad X131e

So this is my first time in like three years not being a NEET. I started Fall classes at the community college, and I’m also doing a work study job there as part of my financial aid, so I’ve been pretty busy lately. It was getting to be kind of a pain in the ass taking my rig apart every time I needed to take my T410 to school with me, then putting it back together when I got home. So I figured I’d drop a little cash and buy myself another Thinkpad refurb for school.

My friend Shark who has a whole fleet of Thinkpads said he usually finds them on Ebay for fairly cheap. Following his advice I looked on Ebay and Wow, there’s quite a selection of IBM and Lenovo refurbs available for about a third to a half of what you can expect to pay for one on Amazon (that was where I got my first Thinkpad).

My Lenovo Thinkpad X131e laptop

I got this cute little X131e netbook from an Ebay dealer for only $69. The dealer was very generous with their offer, providing free shipping and taking extra care to make sure the laptop was shipped safely and securely, so I’m forever grateful to them for that. Also, all the parts are in good working order, unlike my T410, which shipped with an old, worn-out battery that is basically dead at this point. But now that I have that Thinkpad permanently attached to my rig, the battery doesn’t matter anymore, unless the power goes out.

I actually wasn’t expecting to receive a netbook in the mail when I bought the new Thinkpad, but now I’m happy that I did, because it fits perfectly in my backpack, whereas the last one was too bulky and I had to lug it around in a separate computer case, which got very tedious when I was trying to get from one part of campus to another and had to carry all those different things at once. The X131e has pretty run-of-the-mill specs for a netbook. It’s running 32-bit Windows 7, which I plan to keep intact, because I’ve never actually used Windows 7 in its 32-bit form, so I think it’s kinda neat. I read up on the Thinkpad X131e and it looks like there are several different versions of the laptop with slightly different specs for each one. Some of them have Intel processors and some have AMD processors (mine has an AMD). All of them use processors in the mobile family – Intel Core i3, Intel Celeron, or AMD E-Series.

The X131e has the following advantages over the T410:

  • Smaller and more light-weight – This makes it an ideal laptop for school, as I stated previously.
  • Has a webcam – This can also be a disadvantage in terms of privacy, but on the plus side, now I have something to Skype with without having to aim my Android tablet at a mirror and look between the mirror and the camera (whose bright idea was it to put tablet webcams on the back of the tablet anyway?) Also, if I decide to start a YouTube channel (which is something I’ve been considering as a future content creation project) my new Thinkpad would be more ideal for this purpose.
  • The i in “Thinkpad” has an LED in it, and it blinks on and off when the computer is asleep. Not really a practical advantage, but I just like the visual effect.
  • The Thinkpad X131e’s audio jack does both audio-in and audio-out. My old Thinkpad’s jack only takes headphones or speakers, but the X131e actually allows you to plug in a microphone. I was thinking of using this to interface with my musical keyboard by having an AUX cable connect from the headphone jack on the keyboard to the microphone jack on the Thinkpad, so I can open up Audacity and record music that I play on the keyboard. That’s a fun (or possibly frustrating, depending on how things turn out) project that I could do at a later date.

On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages to the Thinkpad X131e vs. the Thinkpad T410, namely:

  • Fewer ports
  • No optical drive
  • Slower processor
  • Only two processor cores as opposed to four

Ultimately, both laptops are good for different things. My T410 is now repurposed as a permanent desktop, with my dual monitors plugged into its video-out ports and my mechanical keyboard, optical mouse, speaker, etc. all interfacing with the laptop as if it were a desktop computer.

As I stated previously, the Thinkpad X131e that I got has 32-bit Windows 7 installed. The sticker on the bottom says “Windows 8”, so I assume the install was done by the refurbisher and it’s not an OEM install like what my T410 has. This means if I pull the product key from the registry, I’ll be able to burn an install disk from the Microsoft website (the site wouldn’t accept my other Thinkpad’s product key specifically because it corresponded to an OEM install; I was pretty bummed out by this).

When I started using the X131e I assumed it had a 64-bit operating system, and this led to some problems, particularly when I tried installing the 64-bit version of Packet Tracer on my new Thinkpad (that’s a program that we’re using in my CISCO class in college), and found that I couldn’t run the program at all. I had to uninstall Packet Tracer and then go back to the website and download and install the 32-bit version.

Of course once I found out the bitwidth of my Thinkpad’s operating system, I knew that there was an upside: it ships with MS-DOS Editor (yes, the Microsoft text editor from back in the day that everyone loved to hate, but I like it for some reason; it has a certain 90’s charm to it).

32-bit Windows 7 ships with MS-DOS Editor!
Yeah, I’ve found Java programming in EDIT to be a pain in the ass. 😛

Looking at the release date of the Thinkpad X131e’s processor (an AMD E-300 released in 2011) I would guess this netbook comes from about the same time period as my T410, maybe a little later, considering that it was obviously made after Lenovo starting making their Thinkpads with the light-up “i”. This makes sense given that 2007-2012 was the period when netbooks were most dominant in the market. After that they mostly got replaced by Chromebooks, Ultrabooks, and tablet computers. You don’t really see computers like this on the market anymore – those cute little laptops with their scaled-down features that fit perfectly in a book bag. There’s definitely something nostalgic about them for me, because 2009-2011 was the period of my life when I really got into computers, and in those days these netbooks were everywhere.

Yeah, times change, and technology changes. But now I’ve got a time capsule from my hacking heyday in my nerd cave, along with my T410 desktop battlestation, my Raspberry Pi, and my open closet full of networking equipment. I’m going to finish off this post with a pic I took a couple weeks ago of my cave with my two Thinkpads. I took the photo around midnight while I was using Tails on my T410 setup (hence the Anonymous wallpaper). Yeah, and the Matrix lighting is intentional BTW.

I am a hacker. Welcome to my lair!
We are Anonymous. We do not forget. We do not forgive. Where freedom is threatened, expect us.

One thought on “My New Thinkpad X131e

  1. Glad to see my infectious ThinkPad disease is spreading!

    But yeah, the two x86 cores are an unfortunate limitation with most of the X1xxe series. It’s the main reason I’ve held off getting one, because I want a formidable Core i3-3xxxM one for 2 x86-64 cores and 4 threads through HT.

    With the right distro though, 2 cores should be ample for any non-intensive work since in x86 terms it’s around a mid-range ARM CPU IMO. And because it’s an APU, you have an AMD Radeon HD 6310 core onboard that’s OpenCL compatible (https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/radeon-hd-6310-igp.c2286). The catch is that compared to a dedicated GPU, both share system RAM just like an Intel integrated GPU. If you don’t have 4GB RAM, you might want to consider upgrading to that to give that Radeon the best chance of performing somewhat decently. And of course an SSD if you don’t have one so that the machine can a tleast boot quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

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