If you’re having trouble finding a laptop for your homeschooling students or working from home and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, you may consider a used Lenovo ThinkPad. In addition to being popular computer for consumers, the Lenovo ThinkPads have long been a staple of corporate IT departments, meaning that TONS OF THEM were manufactured and pushed into the marketplace. Consequently, there are tons of affordable used ThinkPads on the used market (eBay is pretty reliable) with way more computing power than your average Chromebook.
And as a bonus, many older models are easily upgraded, offering ThinkPad owners the ability to maintain the performance of their laptops into the future. As a perfect example, I’m writing this post on a Thinkpad T440p, a 2013-2014 laptop that I originally bought on eBay for about $125. It came from the seller in good condition (a few minor scratches) with 8GB RAM and an i5 processor. As is, that laptop offers far better performance than most Chromebook issued from schools. With a little hunting around and after watching a couple of YouTube videos, I was able to make a few sweet upgrades that has made this a high-performance little laptop (for the price):
- Added an 128GB M.2 SATA drive that plugs directly into the motherboard and offers phenomenal speed ($40)
- Upgraded RAM from 8GB to 16GB DDR3 ($60)
- Upgraded the 500GB 7200RPM HDD to a SAMSUNG 860 EVO 500GB SSD ($70)
- Upgraded the i5 Intel processor to a 37W i7-4702MQ ($80)
To be perfectly honest, the computer was more than usable when it arrived, but the availability of affordable upgrades has been a bit of entertainment as well during COVID-19. After these upgrades, I have a powerful little laptop with comparable performance to my mid-2014 Macbook Pro that’s my “daily driver” for work.
There are also tons of other upgrades possible, such as replacing the rather crappy TN panel screen with an HD IPS screen that offers better colors and brightness, or replacing the trackpad with a multi-button version.
The T440p is part of the T-series of ThinkPad laptops,(additionally, the T430 and T480 are popular as well) but the X-series has plenty of great options, like the X220 and X230 (older) or X260.