Eventually, I wanted a second computer on which I could frequently install and re-install different distributions of Linux without worrying if I would cause problems on the iMac, which is also used by the rest of my family.
I needed to buy a computer specifically for my research project. I wanted to get a good computer at a very low price. Read on to learn about the Lenovo T400 laptop computer, an excellent and inexpensive Linux platform.
Update: In January 2016, I upgraded to a Lenovo Thinkpad T420. It is also an excellent and inexpensive laptop.
In the past five years, computer performance has been “good enough” for most activities. Open-source software, such as Linux, runs well on older computer hardware and provides all the newest features and security updates. Today, most people may be well served by a computer that is four or five years old. These older, used computers are very inexpensive to purchase.
The Lenovo T400 is a business-class notebook produced in 2008 and 2009 that was leased in large volumes by companies for use by their employees. Now, these companies are returning these computers to the leasors so Lenovo T400 laptops are available at used-computer resellers and on eBay at very low prices.
When purchasing a used Lenovo T400, you need to be aware of what you will get for your money. The Lenovo T400 comes in several versions with different options such as upgraded LED displays, larger disk drives, a webcam, and a fingerprint scanner. Versions with fewer options should be lower in price. When comparing prices online, take into account the features added to the computer, which might be worth paying more for.
Lenovo provides a hardware maintenance manual that provides instruction on how to maintain and upgrade the T400. This is a business machine that is designed to be upgraded and easily maintained. Lenovo makes it easy for anyone to upgrade the system RAM or the hard drive and to replace and faulty hardware modules.
Used T400s will usually have 2GB of RAM installed but there is an empty RAM slot in which you can install an additional SO-DIMM card to increase available memory. Adding an additional 2GB of memory is an easy and inexpensive upgrade.
Last year, I purchased a Lenovo T400 laptop computer to support my research on Linux and open-source routing and networking software. It came with an upgraded WXGA+ LED screen, a webcam, an 9-cell extended battery that still holds 4 hours of charge, a 130GB hard drive, and 2GB of RAM.
I paid only $225 (Canadian dollars) for the laptop in 2013. At that point in time the model was four years old. I upgraded the RAM to 4GB for less than $40. So for $265, I have a high-quality laptop computer running Ubuntu Linux 14.04 that feels as fast and responsive as a new laptop running Windows.
I describe the Linux software I use on my computer setup page.
In two years, I will upgrade to a Lenovo T410 or T420 when those models are at the same $200 price point that the T400 is at today. Currently, in 2014, Lenovo continues to build excellent, high-performance laptop computers and in 5 years I’ll probably buy one of those for around $200.
I may never buy a new laptop computer again.
Note: In January 2016 I did indeed upgrade to a Lenovo Thinkpad T420 and I am very happy with it.