Recommend a Budget ($300) Thinkpad

I was taking a look at Thinkpads (old and new) and I like what I see. Although I took just an hour to figure out their model scheme, they have A LOT of models. I am hoping some of you can point me in the right direction. I just need two things:

  • Great battery life: it seems that some 6-9 cell batteries can keep a Thinkpad up to 15 hours which I think is amazing.

  • Upgradable Screen: I don't know which ones have eDP but I am hoping it has eDP so I can upgrade to at least a 1080/1200p screen as 1366p is abysmal in this day and age.

Storage and processor doesn't matter as I plan on using it for web development on Linux.

Some of the old T61p laptops have 1200p screens, but those are crazy old. Cheap though.

$300 range, you can find something like a T420 or T520. I got an X220T for around $150 used which I use as a writing laptop and drawing tablet. 15 hours might be a stretch unless you find a battery extension that fits on the underside of the machine. OEM market for thinkpads is huge because they're business machines, so you can find replacement parts for them really inexpensively.

The T520s have quad-cores so that should help with heavier workloads.

Ooh! The T520 is a real competitor to the laptop I am currently looking at, a T431s. I like the idea of a quad core, I'll have to research more on the T520 (T431s has m.2 and DisplayPort!).

I still have an i5 T420 and I use it daily, 'cause it is fitted with the last of the decent Lenovo keyboards.

I have the 768p screen : ( but there was a high rez option available. I must say that the 768p screen has horrible viewing angles, requiring near constant adjusting. Mine has the standard size battery and it never got anywhere near 15 hours, more like 5 and change, if memory serves (I'm still using the original). There is an extended battery available, however.

This machine is totally inadequate for gaming, but it is great for writing, surfing and other general purpose tasks. Fitted with 8GB of RAM, a SSD and Linux, this machine still has a lot of life left in it. Oh, and did I mention that they are waaaay cheap? It is far from perfect, but it's pretty hard to beat for the money.

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After researching the T520 here are the pros and cons vs the T431s.

T341s Pro:
m.2 Slot for NVMe compatibility (EDIT: Not NVMe, mSATA only...)
DisplayPort, allows me to use up to 4k monitors in desktop form.
Lighter, around 3 pounds.
Screen is eDP so I can upgrade it down the road.
Can go up to 12GB RAM

T341s Con
Non-removable battery, no option for those oversized batteries.
Dual core only, not really a con but looking at T520 I kind of want a quad core now.
eBay priced about $50 over T520

T520 Pro
Quad Core
2 HDD Slots
Removable Battery
Priced lower than T431s

T520 Con
Heavy, 5 pounds
Limited to 8GB RAM

It's a pretty intense battle, anyone else want to throw in their Thinkpad choice?

The T420 can come with the higher resolution screen. The T430 always has the higher DPI screen (as far as I am informed).
My battery is a bit worn but still on par with the replacement battery I bought (a no name one). Meaning: ~60Wh which does get me to 4hrs of battery life. I can only imagine getting 15hrs on an old thinkpad if you have:
-the 9 cell normal battery
-the 3 cell ultra bay battery
-the 9 cell slice battery
That would give you 94Wh+32Wh+94Wh=220Wh

Display Port is supported by all T4XX since the 420 I think. If you plan to use the thing stationary get yourself a dock with a power brick.

I've got a T420 with Linux on it. Hit me up if I should run some benchmark for you or something. I got mine via a reseller that refurbishes leased units.
Mine has an express-card slot. I could add an external GPU if I was really adventurous. Currently I have an USB 3.0 card in there.

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