Lenovo Thinkpad X200 laptop battery woes

Regular readers will know that I now use a Lenovo X200 for most of my computing needs. It has Libreboot installed and I run Trisquel 7 GNU linux on the laptop. This laptop is perfect for linux, all of the hardware including the updated Atheros wifi adaptor have open source & free drivers available & the machine is truly 100% my own.

The laptop itself is still fairly powerful for an older laptop with an Intel® Core™2 Duo CPU P8600 @ 2.40GHz dual core processor and upgraded ram to 4GB it really is a good mobile workhorse. I only paid £50 for the laptop in September & I installed 4GB of ram I had in my desk drawer from an old Macbook upgrade. I also updated the Intel wifi board to an Atheros to allow me to run Trisquel.

The laptop was in great condition when I bought it used, considering it was 6 years old. I did a full refurb myself & stripped it down to clean and restore it. One annoying thing was that the installed battery seemed to be the original & after a lot of charging cycles it was lucky to run for 40 minutes on battery. I decided to hold off upgrading the battery and carried the power cord with me when feasible.Lenovo thinkpad X200 batteries

Original Thinkpad x200 5200mah battery
Original Thinkpad x200 5200mah battery

Last month however the original Lenovo battery finally died. The battery light on the x200 was flashing orange and as soon as I unplugged the power adapter the laptop would power down instantly. I hit the forums & read that this is common with older batteries in the thinkpad’s. Apparently they have a fuse in them & when a cell starts to die, varying the voltage across them, the fuse burns out and shorts the battery. This seemed to be the case so I hit the Internet to weigh up my options.

An original 5200mah battery manufactured by lenovo was coming in at around £70. This didn’t seem like a great option considering I only paid £50 for the laptop. I was adamant that I didn’t want to buy a used battery as the history of the battery & the life remaining is such an unknown, but I definitely wasn’t going to spend so much on an original Lenovo battery.

I found various sellers on eBay & amazon & decided to opt for a higher capacity 7800mah battery. These have a larger form factor & stick out of the back of the laptop, but apparently they can run the X200 for an extended period of time, so I thought it would be a good option. The battery was also cheap at £23 including delivery.

On receipt of the battery it was quite obvious that it was a cheap & nasty product. It had a small crack in the flimsy plastic case, the locking button was stiff and the copper pins of the battery looked like a dog had been chewing them.

I tested the battery to see if this was just cosmetic, but when plugging the battery in i found that they battery would run the laptop, but would not charge & wasn’t even being detected by the X200 charging circuits. For all intents & purposes, the laptop didn’t know a battery was present & also couldn’t give any indication of charge levels or discharge rates.

Thinpad X200 7800mah battery
Thinpad X200 7800mah battery
7800mah mashed battery terminals
7800mah mashed battery terminals

I contacted the seller who must have known this is a common problem as he refunded the order, without question or return. I was disappointed but relieved to have the refund.

I then decided to head to Amazon. I was determined to find a cheaper third-party battery & decided to look for an item which was held in Amazon stock & dispatched by them. This way, if any problems arose I would be dealing with amazon for a return and not a third-party seller.

I found the battery supplied by a company called TPE. Another third-party brand I had never heard of, but a brand none the less. They had a website & lots of safety certification. They also seemed to have positive reviews so I decided to order from them. This battery was a 5200mah battery which was the same spec as the original Lenovo. I decided to go for this one as I prefer the flush fitting of the standard battery over the extended life battery I tried previously.

7800mah mashed battery terminals
7800mah mashed battery terminals

The TPE X200 battery came within a week and again cost me £23. This one was 100% better. Nicely packaged, perfect anti-static, decent quality casing & stickers & the copper pins where perfect. I plugged it into the X200 and instantly I was running off battery. It was 78% charged and the X200 on trisquel was showing 3 hours of battery life remaining.

Modern lithium-ion batteries are less prone to memory effect than older laptop batteries but I always run new batteries in nicely. It’s a habit now. So I ran on battery until it was critically low & then gave it a full charge. I’ve got to say, I have no complaints with the battery. After a few full cycles it’s holding excellent charge & giving me almost 4 hours without using any specific power tweaks on Trisquel.

This TPE battery seems comparable in quality to the original Lenovo battery & I would highly recommend you have a search on Amazon if you need to update or replace yours.

The X200 takes battery part number FRU P/N 42T4647 or ASM P/N 42T4537 as standard so search for those part numbers if you want to replace your original X200 5200mah battery.

John Large

My name is John Large. I am a Web Developer, E-commerce site owner & all round geek. My areas of interest include hardware hacking, digital privacy & security, social media & computer hardware. I’m also a minimalist in the making, interested in the Tiny House movement & the experience economy along with a strong interest in sustainability & renewable energy. When I’m not tapping on a keyboard or swiping a smart phone I can be found sampling great coffee, travelling the world with my wife Vicki (who writes over at Let’s Talk Beauty) & generally trying to live my life as unconventionally as possible.

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