Haswell ThinkPad problems

Jens John edited this page Feb 12, 2018 · 42 revisions

This page is supposed to be a comprehensive up-to-date overview of the many different problems with new Haswell ThinkPad series (??40). I try to be as accurate as possible, but I can't promise that all details are correct. Feel free to add additional information or correct mistakes! If you want to leave a comment, just open a new issue in the issue tracker. Most problems probably affect more devices than indicated below, there's just not enough data.

Power supply problem / docking station monitor disconnect bug

Devices known to be affected: T540p, T440p, W540p, probably all other Haswell models with quad-core CPU and docking connector

There are many reports of devices and monitors randomly disconnecting/reconnecting using a docking station, brightness periodically changing due to power supply disconnects and error messages being displayed by the Lenovo Energy manager ("Lenovo Energy Manager has found a problem with your power supply and has activated the Airplane mode" or similar). I experienced the problem with my own device as well (T440p).

The cause of the problem is unknown, and there are conflicting statements on how to fix it. One user reports that the problem only occurs while USB devices are attached to the docking station. Another user has solved the issue by using a 170W power supply. Some users are reporting that they can reproduce the issue by wiggling the connector, other's couldn't reproduce it that way. There are reports that installing the power management driver gtku07ww solves the problems, for others it doesn't help.

I haven't seen any reports of unaffected devices.

Interestingly, the problem does not seem to occur using Linux (but more testing is required – maybe it's just less noticeable).

More information: (some forum threads are in German)

In some cases, it even happens without docking station (I assume this is a unrelated hardware defect, but still worth mentioning):

Fan noise/vibrations

Devices known to be affected: T440p, x240

There are many reports of rattling noises with the T440p. Not all devices are affected, but replacing the fan did not always fix the problem. Devices without Nvidia graphics card seem to be affected more often. Applying pressure to the case just above the F3-F5 buttons makes the noise disappear in some cases.

The fan noise on the lowest level is still annoyingly loud on "good" devices. On my device, there was an annoying, high-pitched tone in addition to the normal air stream sound. The fan kicks in very often, at least on my quad-core device (it's a quad core CPU, after all, and it would be okay if the noise wasn't so annoying). The RPM setting for level 1 is rather high (2480 RPM), and might be lowered in a future BIOS update, which might alleviate part of the problem (at least for low CPU loads).

The T540p is not affected by either problem and produces much less noise (it has a larger fan and heatsink assembly).

User "Mark_Lenovo", administrator in the Lenovo community forums ([1] page 13), stated that "[...], we are releasing an updated fan design that will be quieter and will have a new FRU (service) part number." When these updated fans are available, is yet to be determined.

Github user "aut0"'s thinkpad x240 is also very loud. BIOS update made it a little bit better.

High-res display issues on x240

There is a ghosting problem with some x240 fhd displays. This seems to be a quality problem. Github user "aut0"'s x240 is on the third screen now. One had ghosting, one had a bright spot after ~1 year.

Backlight bleeding

Devices known to be affected: at least T440p, T540p and x240, probably all models with IPS screen

The problem is probably caused by manufacturing tolerances which result in pressure to the screen edges. The backlight bleeding is only visible on dark backgrounds and is more prominent with a bright backlight setting, which is why the problem seems to disappear after a OS is loaded. In my experience, it is still clearly visible after booting on a very dark screen, but is only a minor issue. The problem is much worse on some devices than on others.

Random bluescreens on Windows

Devices known to be affected: T440p, T540p

There are some reports of bluescreens or crashes while installing drivers, or sometimes even randomly. The error message is always DRIVER_POWER_STATE_FAILURE.

It happened to me while installing the Intel chipset driver on Windows 8.1 and it can be reliably triggered by running the Samsung Magician software. On Windows 7, it happened a few times without an obvious cause. The error message was always the same. I unfortunately had no time yet to analyze the crash dumps.

Wireless driver problems

Devices known to be affected: T440p and x240, most likely all with AC7260 wireless

There is one report of performance problems with the Intel AC7260 wireless card on Windows. Multiple users are affected, but it seems to be related to 802.11n. Switching to 802.11g seems to be a workaround. The problem is not limited to ThinkPads and there might be a driver/firmware update in the future.

Some configurations have a Realtek RTL8192EE wireless chip instead, for which there was no Linux compatible firmware available until February 2014. There are some complaints by users who did not know this, example:

A compatible firmware was committed to the linux-firmware repository at kernel.org:

Linux compatibility

Linux BIOS corruption/brick

  • DISABLE the option OS Optimized Defaults in the Restart tab of the BIOS Setup Screen and load defaults before installing Linux.

Devices known to be affected: T540p

Matrix of (un)affected models

There seems to be a BIOS bug which reliably bricks the device while booting Linux. It might be related to UEFI, SecureBoot and the Debian build of grub2, but the problem is still under investigation. BIOS versions 1.11 and 1.08 are known to be affected. There is no known fix except a motherboard replacement.

A user reports that he's successfully running OpenSuse 13.1 using UEFI with Secure Boot (UEFI BIOS version 1.14). The author of this page used Arch Linux with Gummiboot and Ubuntu with Grub2 on a T440p with BIOS 1.17 without experiencing any problems.

Linux Optimus memory/disk corruption

Devices known to be affected: T440p, BIOS 1.17

Disabling/enabling the dedicated graphics using bbswitch/Bumblebee on a T440p with the latest BIOS revision crashes the system and corrupts data on the disk and in memory. The problem has been confirmed by multiple users. There are partial workarounds for disabling the card, but the card can't be enabled again without rebooting. The problem might be related to power issues according to Lekensteyn (author of bbswitch), but it can't be reproduced using Windows (tested with Windows 7 and 8.1, suggesting that the Nvidia driver uses a slightly different mechanism to disable the card).

Apparently, older BIOS revisions (up to and including 1.14) are not affected, so don't update for now!

For reference (taken from [1]), assuming the acpi_call kernel module [3] is loaded (sudo modprobe acpi_call), this disables the nvidia card completely on a T440p (saves about 5.5W power on a T440p 20AWS02800):

echo "\_SB.PCI0.PEG.VID._DSM {0xF8,0xD8,0x86,0xA4,0xDA,0x0B,0x1B,0x47,0xA7,0x2B,0x60,0x42,0xA6,0xB5,0xBE,0xE0} 0x100 0x1A {0x1,0x0,0x0,0x3}" | sudo tee /proc/acpi/call
echo "\_SB.PCI0.PEG.VID.GPOF" | sudo tee /proc/acpi/call

However, when bumblebee/bbswitch is installed, this causes issues when resuming, see [1], so do not install bumblebee/bbswitch when using the acpi_call method for disabling the card!

Linux docking station display freeze

Devices known to be affected: all Haswell ThinkPad with a docking connector

In many cases, attaching an external monitor to a docking station freezes the Xorg server until the laptop is undocked.

There is an updated firmware available for the docking stations [3] which resolves this issue! The update executable requires a running Windows OS. A request for an update boot CD has been submitted through the Lenovo community forums [4].

Linux docking station audio compatibility

Devices known to be affected: T440p, T440s

The ALSA driver needs to reconfigure the pins on the dock manually. There is a whole patching file taking care of this [3], but currently that is only working for older models and docking stations. A way to work around this issue is to use ALSA early patching [2].

The configuration used here works for a T440p with an UltraDock, but I am sure it works with the other compatible docks as well and I boldly assume that the config is valid for many more Haswell based Thinkpad models (please note your model if this works for you).

The following works only if your kernel was compiled with "CONFIG_SND_HDA_PATCH_LOADER=y" and the place to put these files may differ for your distribution, I assume, but the following works for Ubuntu (version 13.10 and 14.04 at least).

Create file /etc/modprobe.d/hda-jack-reconfigure.conf:

# This file was inspired by the tool 'hdajackretask' from package alsa-tools-gui.
# We need this to properly configure the Lenovo dock speaker jack to output sound and make the microphone working.
options snd-hda-intel patch=hda-jack-reconfigure.fw,hda-jack-reconfigure.fw,hda-jack-reconfigure.fw,hda-jack-reconfigure.fw

Create file /lib/firmware/hda-jack-reconfigure.fw:

0x10ec0292 0x17aa220e 0

0x16 0x21211010
0x19 0x21a11010

The internal speakers mute when the jack is in use and the sound is output to the dock jack. When connecting a 4pin headset with microphone, the internal microphone is shut down and the input from the headset microphone is enabled. Same behavior as plugging a headset into the notebook's jack.

  • The audio patch did not work on a W540 with openSuse 13.1. The patch is loaded as shown in the dmesg output:
[    6.341090] ALSA hda_intel.c:3792 0000:00:03.0: Applying patch firmware 'hda-jack-reconfigure.fw'
[    6.341359] ALSA hda_intel.c:3792 0000:00:1b.0: Applying patch firmware 'hda-jack-reconfigure.fw'
  • Apparently, the codec part of hda-jack-retask.fw is different for each Thinkpad model‽ For an X240, I had to use the following:
0x10ec0292 0x17aa2214 0

  • For a T440s you have to use the following:
0x10ec0292 0x17aa220c 0

  • For a T440 you have to use the following:

Update. The patch below is not necessary anymore if you are using the 3.18 kernel as it is already applied.

0x10ec0292 0x17aa2212 0


Linux suspend-to-ram hangs

Devices known to be affected: x240

Linux low audio quality

Devices known to be affected: all of them, as far as I know

The new audio setup works perfectly fine on Windows using the proprietary Dolby Advanced Audio v2/Home Theater technology, but the sound quality is unusably low on Linux. The speaker placement seems to be fine-tuned for use with this proprietary driver and does not work correctly without. In previous models, the Dolby driver only enhanced the audio quality, it was still quite good without. Now it seems to be a requirement.

There isn't going to be an easy fix for this, unless Dolby releases a Linux driver or publishes more information on what exactly their software is doing (which is unlikely).

There are suggestions to use the PulseAudio equalizer or the "Crystalizer" and "Extra Stereo" plugins of Audacious on Linux, which make the audio output indeed a bit more bearable, but it's still no comparision with Windows. It might be possible to run Windows in a VM and route all audio through it, but it would increase audio latency (and is not really a nice workaround). There's a commercial product (SoundPimp) which is similar to Dolby Advanced Audio, which is also available for Linux, but as far as I know, no-one has tried if it improves the audio quality in this case. Given that the speakers are fine-tuned for the Dolby software, it's unlikely that it solves the problem.

Not to be mistaken with Dolby Digital, which is something completely different which works fine on Linux.

Minor Linux problems

Devices known to be affected: T440p, maybe T540p and W540p

These are going to be resolved sooner or later.

  • tp_smapi no longer working (battery charging control). Battery charging can still be controlled via the acpi_call kernel module and custom ACPI calls. tlp ships built-in support for this configuration.
  • backlight hotkeys not working as expected, can be fixed by adding acpi_osi="!Windows 2012" to the boot parameters

Minor problems / annoyances

These aren't really problems/bugs as these are deliberate design decisions by Lenovo, but I think they are still worth mentioning.

Low Nvidia graphics performance

Devices known to be affected: T440p, T540p, probably any other device with a GT730M

There are many complaints that the dedicated Nvidia GT730M graphics cards has only average performance and is mainly targeted at gamers, not professional users (who care about CUDA/OpenCL performance). I did not really look into this, it's still a huge improvement over the integrated Intel graphics (but the difference isn't as significant as it used to be in previous models – the Intel graphics improved a lot). Other reports are saying that Lenovo used the GK208 graphics core instead of GK107 which is slower, and that the performance is limited by the PCI bus, both of which may or may not be true. Some first reviews indicate that it's not slower than the GT730M in other devices.

ClickPad/TrackPoint usability

Devices known to be affected: all

I actually like the new touchpad, but many, many people are complaining about it (loud noise when pressing it down, huge manufacturing tolerances, integrated trackpoint buttons hard to reach, ...) so I'm going to mention it here.

One particular problem which I experienced as well is the inability of the Windows driver to recognize a single middle mouse button click (only scrolling works). None of the suggested fixes seem to work, but this might be fixed with a driver update in the future.

There is only preliminary support for the trackpoint buttons on Linux, but this is going to get better.

3k screen scaling / slow scrolling

Devices known to be affected: T540p

There is no FHD IPS screen for the T540p, so many people are going to buy it with a 3k IPS screen. There is an ongoing discussion whether or not the screen can be set to FHD resolution without a loss of quality. According to measurements, the color representation is not perfect (there seems to be a slight green cast), but this should only be an issue for professionals and can be partially resolved by doing a screen calibration.

Other complaints

Devices known to be affected: T540p, T440p, W540p (partially)

I haven't looked into these and do not agree with all of them, but these are some other complaints:

  • No more clamshell design.

  • No more ExpressCard slot.

  • No more ThinkLight.

  • Keyboard backlight is leaking.

  • UltraBay is no longer hotpluggable.

  • Sometimes pressing the trackpad all the way down is considered a right click. I'm guessing it's a faulty spring issue (@matzipan, S440)

  • No fingerprint scanner driver for linux yet (@matzipan, S440)

  • Keyboard backlight setting not restored at system start (sleep, reboot) (@matzipan, S440)

  • No HDD fall protection under linux (@matzipan, S440)

  • Cooling fan's ball bearing makes audible buzzing sound when computer is not oriented in a horizontal plane. The problem persists after having got replaced the fan FRU twice (@2ion, X240, type 20AMS4SM00)

  • notebookchat.com – Test Lenovo ThinkPad T440p 20AN-006VGE Notebook

  • forum.notebookreview.com – T440p Owner's Thread

  • ubuntuforums.org - Ubuntu on Lenovo S440

There are some other build quality problems as well. The edge around the case is rather sharp and some users are reporting that it scratches their hand while typing. However, one can easily fix this using a piece of plastic, slightly softer than the notebook material. A case prying tool is perfect for this. By grinding the tool along (in parallel to) the sharp edge, as to push the edge flat, the edge is sufficiently softened.

On my device, one of the two Wifi/Bluetooth antennas was not connected and it did not work correctly. I was able to connect them myself, but this is something which just shouldn't happen.

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