RogerBW's Blog

Lenovo Laptop Repairs 10 July 2017

'Twas on a Wednesday evening that the laptop did break down... failing to come out of suspend after having been moved, with the 1-3-3-1 beep code that, on Lenovo machines at least, indicates a memory or system board problem. I cleaned up the DIMM contacts and it worked happily for a day, then died again on Thursday night, and more cleaning and re-seating didn't help. Time for a warranty repair.

Lenovo's warranty repair goes through the extremely dubious-looking, but eventually I got a response. It didn't help that I was off in Birmingham over the weekend (and in effect without email, though I managed a bit on a Raspberry Pi with touchscreen and keyboard). On Tuesday a replacement DIMM arrived. (Telling me the wrong courier name and no tracking number is "a known bug", apparently.) Fitted, working... until the machine was suspended and moved, at which point it was dead again. (But hey, now I have 8GB RAM instead of the 4GB I had before.)

So on Friday they sent a Bloke, who replaced the mainboard. (I like having a warranty.) He was well set up with anti-static mat and straps and so on, and did a lovely job of stripping down the machine,

dropping in the new mainboard, and getting everything back together.

Except for two things.

One was that the machine was jumping into some kind of Windows automated repair thing rather than booting off either of the hard discs. This was not ideal, but to be fair not his problem, so I let him go.

The other was that the left side of the case had been jammed on wrongly:

making the headphone socket inaccessible. And that's another full strip-down to put right, which I didn't feel like doing.

I solved the software problem with, sigh, a reinstall from scratch with all trace of manufacturer's partitions purged from the internal disc (why is it I have these redundant hard discs, eh?). Still, it was a good excuse to upgrade from Debian/jessie to /stretch, which is what my other machine with a screen on it is running, and of course I have comprehensive backups.

On Monday the backup Bloke turned up, and got the case sorted… but failed to hook up the front bezel connector as he was putting the thing back together (this lets the touchpad and case-edge mouse buttons work). Fortunately, because the Lenovo laptop division is still IBM at heart, they have a full hardware manual freely available, so I was able to strip the machine down, hook up the connector, replace the missing screw (which he'd simply lost during reassembly, I suspect, as it was on the table he'd been working on), and have a working laptop again.

I'm not terribly impressed with the Blokes, but I really like having the hardware manuals. By the standards of laptops, this one's well put together, too. I have over a year of on-site warranty left to run on this machine (I bought it in October 2013 and extended the warranty when it came up for renewal, as they'd previously provided me with a replacement keyboard) and they will at least supply replacement parts until then; after that I suspect I'll be getting a shiny new one.

But simply being without a laptop for a week was quite annoying, and now I've picked up a smaller one as an emergency machine – an old Thinkpad E150. It's a bit cramped about the keyboard, but it gets the job done, and it's handy to take away for largely non-computing-related trips when the T430 would be a bit much.

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