Computers & Electronics

Fixing an old, for parts Laptop

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[OP]
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Jan 28, 2010
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Vancouver, BC

Fixing an old, for parts Laptop

I recently picked up a Thinkpad Yoga 12 for $60 listed as for parts.

  • Boots to BIOS
  • Really bright 1080p IPS screen
  • i5 5300u Processor, 8GB DDR3 RAM (Soldered)
  • No bottom cover
  • Slightly damaged hinge (its loose but not broken)
  • No HDD
  • Non-working battery (only works when plugged in)
  • Many scratches and scuffs, top corners of the lid are exposed due to breaking.
  • Non-working Q-key

I quickly bought a replacement bottom cover for $30 (Felt like I overpaid for this) and slapped in a 2.5" SSD I had lying around, we were in business the thing boots, and barring the battery, cosmetic and keyboard problems it works just as any laptop. I keep looking at replacement parts and the prices are quickly adding up, if I were to replace the battery (and supposing it isn't more serious motherboard or connector damages), I could be looking at $120 for a barely working laptop (still scuffed and broken chassis, keyboard and hinge issues!), and a working version of this laptop can be had for roughly $160-200.

At this point is it just sunken cost fallacy? I can still use it plugged in as a sort of linux server, or I can attempt to restore it to a good working condition by sinking in even more money (while not cheap, but can serve as a reward all on it's own).
10 replies
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Oct 28, 2004
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this is a slippery slope................as like you mentioned, the costs go up very quickly!!

I like to tinker with the older Thinkpad T series laptops........mainly the T420s & T430s.

At one point, I was going a bit nuts purchasing older T420s & T430s with busted screens on ebay & Kijiji for good prices just to buy FHD & WQHD mod kits with 1080p+ screens to tinker with them.

I think I ended up with 3x T420s laptops with upgraded FHD mod screens & 2x T430s with WQHD mod screens......with maxed out ram & SSDs.

Gave 1 to my dad, 1 to my wife, used 1 and I think I have the other 2 lying around somewhere....

Started looking at buying new keyboards, screen bezels, new hinges etc.....got nuts....


Forget the battery - it is one of the first things to easily go with the thinner laptops. But I'm also considering it, there is a place in London ONT that reconditions laptop batteries (called Chans battery) - not too pricey!

If you can pick up a good deal on another laptop that isn't functioning - you can salvage the good condition physical parts for your laptop!

I guess one of the good things with the older Lenovos - they are pretty modular that you can go & buy new components to replace physically broken parts!

FS: Nothing at the moment
Heatware: 63-0-0
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May 11, 2009
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It's really easy to get carried away, but consider why you are doing it. Hobbies often don't make financial sense, there is some satisfaction in reviving old hardware and souping it up even if you practically have no real need for it.

If it's to flip, forget it - dump it ASAP before it looses more value. You can definitely get more than what you paid for it, but in my experience it seems there's lots of people fixated on the price, above $200 it gets increasingly difficult to offload old hardware.

ji2o0k wrote: this is a slippery slope................as like you mentioned, the costs go up very quickly!!

I like to tinker with the older Thinkpad T series laptops........mainly the T420s & T430s.

At one point, I was going a bit nuts purchasing older T420s & T430s with busted screens on ebay & Kijiji for good prices just to buy FHD & WQHD mod kits with 1080p+ screens to tinker with them.

I think I ended up with 3x T420s laptops with upgraded FHD mod screens & 2x T430s with WQHD mod screens......with maxed out ram & SSDs.

Gave 1 to my dad, 1 to my wife, used 1 and I think I have the other 2 lying around somewhere....

Started looking at buying new keyboards, screen bezels, new hinges etc.....got nuts....


Forget the battery - it is one of the first things to easily go with the thinner laptops. But I'm also considering it, there is a place in London ONT that reconditions laptop batteries (called Chans battery) - not too pricey!

If you can pick up a good deal on another laptop that isn't functioning - you can salvage the good condition physical parts for your laptop!

I guess one of the good things with the older Lenovos - they are pretty modular that you can go & buy new components to replace physically broken parts!
I always wanted to do the 1080p IPS upgrade on my T430, but got in too late and the prices of those panels/cables are approaching the price of the laptop. Also wanted to upgrade the cpu and cooling but again, after all is said and done the costs exceed the price of buying a newer equivalent model. The i5-3230M with 16GB ram and SSD (+an ultrabay caddy for more stoarge, 4338 dock for expansion, 90W ac adapter) is still plenty fast for my needs though, would be nice to upgrade it but practically there's no real need to do so. I bought a P14s and that's my main machine so the T430 is now a basement rig.

Also wanted to get the backlit keyboard for it, but for $30-50 seems silly when mine is in excellent shape and it has the thinklight anyway. My OEM keyboard is made by lite on and feels great, I read the backlit models are made by sunrex/chicony and supposedly feel worse.
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M1K3Z0R wrote: It's really easy to get carried away, but consider why you are doing it. Hobbies often don't make financial sense, there is some satisfaction in reviving old hardware and souping it up even if you practically have no real need for it.

If it's to flip, forget it - dump it ASAP before it looses more value. You can definitely get more than what you paid for it, but in my experience it seems there's lots of people fixated on the price, above $200 it gets increasingly difficult to offload old hardware.




I always wanted to do the 1080p IPS upgrade on my T430, but got in too late and the prices of those panels/cables are approaching the price of the laptop. Also wanted to upgrade the cpu and cooling but again, after all is said and done the costs exceed the price of buying a newer equivalent model. The i5-3230M with 16GB ram and SSD (+an ultrabay caddy for more stoarge, 4338 dock for expansion, 90W ac adapter) is still plenty fast for my needs though, would be nice to upgrade it but practically there's no real need to do so. I bought a P14s and that's my main machine so the T430 is now a basement rig.

Also wanted to get the backlit keyboard for it, but for $30-50 seems silly when mine is in excellent shape and it has the thinklight anyway. My OEM keyboard is made by lite on and feels great, I read the backlit models are made by sunrex/chicony and supposedly feel worse.
++2 - if this is more of a hobby / for fun - you aren't really thinking about the pricetag on it, really more for the satisfaction that you fixed / modded it and the final product that you produced!

Wifey was getting upset with me since I had so many parts / dissembled laptops - just looked like junk to her. I was proud & happy of the work I put in, also saved some still workable electronics from the landfill!

Sad thing is she has the T430s with FHD mod screen, thing is still fast for her business needs but she bought a new thin Lenovo Yoga for her main use.

So the T430s just sits unused in her office - I fire it up once in a while to make sure it gets the necessary updates....poor thing

FS: Nothing at the moment
Heatware: 63-0-0
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Dec 22, 2007
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Mississauga
ji2o0k wrote: ++2 - if this is more of a hobby / for fun - you aren't really thinking about the pricetag on it, really more for the satisfaction that you fixed / modded it and the final product that you produced!

Wifey was getting upset with me since I had so many parts / dissembled laptops - just looked like junk to her. I was proud & happy of the work I put in, also saved some still workable electronics from the landfill!

Sad thing is she has the T430s with FHD mod screen, thing is still fast for her business needs but she bought a new thin Lenovo Yoga for her main use.

So the T430s just sits unused in her office - I fire it up once in a while to make sure it gets the necessary updates....poor thing
oh i miss my t430 from work thing was a think of beauty

don't miss my t21 or t20(cant recall) took 20 mins to boot up at work with all the security software
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Mar 13, 2004
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So what I do when looking at used items online and see whats wrong with them and get an estimated cost to repair al l the parts. A lot of the time its gets pricey especially with an OEM Battery and by doing that you know if its worth to buy it to repair and flip.

I just bought 10 laptops that were generally in good shape (some had some scratches and such) each one was missing a hard drive but even after these repairs I am making a good profit on each laptop based on market price. so you got to look for the deals which there are not many but when you find them, grab them right away!
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The keyboard and hinges should be quite cheap, afaik. The battery is slightly more complex. I have had pretty bad luck with the OEM/Refurb batteries and imo they are rarely worth the effort. Since then I would rather pay the manufacturer and get a quality battery that'll at-least work for 2 years.

Another option would be to find someone selling the same laptop with liquid damage. Those are a good source for parts such as the housing, keyboard, hinges etc.

Or if you don't really need it, maybe just part it out on eBay? I'm sure the display & mobo will sell for more separately than what you paid for the whole thing.
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[OP]
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Jan 28, 2010
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You guys help remind me my original purpose wasn't to get a good deal, but it was more for the satisfaction to tinker and repair an electronic that's otherwise ending up in a landfill.

I think I can approach this one of two ways, either the goal is to repair the laptop fully, and it will cost more than just buying a used working version, but it will end me with the satisfaction and knowledge on how to repair and refurbish a beaten electronic.

The other way is to accept the laptop it is for it's current condition, and it actually works good enough as a Linux server, it even has a keyboard/display/touch screen to troubleshoot without a monitor. This will also fulfill the condition of re-purposing an otherwise broken machine with an added bonus of having spent very little.

For me, I think I will continue using it as is, while keeping an eye out for components. Yoga 12 is fairly inexpensive machine, so I hope I will encounter another broken version.
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May 2, 2010
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ji2o0k wrote: this is a slippery slope................as like you mentioned, the costs go up very quickly!!

I like to tinker with the older Thinkpad T series laptops........mainly the T420s & T430s.

At one point, I was going a bit nuts purchasing older T420s & T430s with busted screens on ebay & Kijiji for good prices just to buy FHD & WQHD mod kits with 1080p+ screens to tinker with them.

I think I ended up with 3x T420s laptops with upgraded FHD mod screens & 2x T430s with WQHD mod screens......with maxed out ram & SSDs.

Gave 1 to my dad, 1 to my wife, used 1 and I think I have the other 2 lying around somewhere....

Started looking at buying new keyboards, screen bezels, new hinges etc.....got nuts....


Forget the battery - it is one of the first things to easily go with the thinner laptops. But I'm also considering it, there is a place in London ONT that reconditions laptop batteries (called Chans battery) - not too pricey!

If you can pick up a good deal on another laptop that isn't functioning - you can salvage the good condition physical parts for your laptop!

I guess one of the good things with the older Lenovos - they are pretty modular that you can go & buy new components to replace physically broken parts!
I agree.

Remember me?

I bought from you the HD screen of your T430 after you upgraded it to a FHD screen.
That HD screen you sold me is still working fine on my T420 for 3 to 4 years since then.

Cheers!
Dan
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drdtyc wrote: I agree.

Remember me?

I bought from you the HD screen of your T430 after you upgraded it to a FHD screen.
That HD screen you sold me is still working fine on my T420 for 3 to 4 years since then.

Cheers!
Dan
Haha, of course I remember you!

Good stuff, yeah man…..tinkering in general and with the Lenovo T series is pretty fun!!

FS: Nothing at the moment
Heatware: 63-0-0

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