I recently got my first Lenovo ThinkPad laptop and it’s a T15 Gen 2 (G2). I’ve decided to give a ThinkPad a try, since Lenovo provides a 3-year warranty with on-site support and they supposedly have great Linux support. At least this one is officially supported – it has a Linux specific manual here. However my came with Windows 10 Pro installed.
Update after 8 months of usage
Today I am using Manjaro 21.3.2 with Gnome 42. All the problems I wrote about below were fixed, but I don’t think Manjaro is to thank. Only one new small annoyance was introduced: when I restart the system, I have to manually start Bluetooth by clicking “Turn on” in the Gnome top-right system drop-down menu. I think it’s a great Linux laptop so I bought another for my part-time employee 🙂
My TL;DR experience with Ubuntu 21.10 and this laptop is: it works, but I still have some issues.
The exact model is 20W4003FGE and it has the following specs:
- CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7, 4 cores and 8 threads total
- RAM: 16 GB DDR4 3200, but I added another 16 GB (Crucial CT16G4SFRA32A)
- Storage: SSD 512 GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4
- GPU: Intel Iris Xe
- Display: 15.6″ Full HD IPS 60 Hz
- Connectivity: Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
- Security: TPM 2.0, IR-camera, Fingerprint reader
The first thing I do with a new laptop now is to make a disk image in the state as it was delivered, before booting the machine for the first time. I use Macrium Reflect for this and save the image on an external drive. So after I did that, I booted it up so I could take some performance benchmarks to compare with Linux afterwards, just out of curiosity. Also, I snatched the Windows licence key, so I could legally install the same Windows in a Virtualbox and have it activated. You can get the key by opening PowerShell and entering the command:
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey
Then I installed Ubuntu 21.04 with drive encryption. I was really busy so I wasn’t able to fully configure the system at once, so I waited for 21.10 to come out to finish setting it up. Ubuntu 21.10 ships with kernel 5.13.0 and Gnome 40 and it runs Wayland by default.
Running Ubuntu Linux
Cool stuff that works out of the box:
- All function keys, including keyboard back-light control
- Fingerprint sensor for login/screen unlock
- Power plan switching
Issues that I am still facing:
- Normally, the fan should decrease the speed after CPU usage goes down. But this laptop keeps blowing for a couple of minutes more after the CPU heavy task has completed, while the performance monitor shows a CPU temp in the 40° C and it feels pretty much cool on touch. In other words, it does not react that well to stress and it bugs me that it’s blowing for no apparent reason. Running Balanced or Performance power plan does not seem to make any difference regarding this.
UPDATE: this is not a problem anymore on kernel 5.15.
- Relevant to #1, the fan keeps blowing even after suspending the machine. That seems crazy to me… is it designed to keep blowing while being carried around in the bag? I hope it’s something I can fix.
UPDATE: this is fixed by selecting the legacy power plan in UEFI settings.
- The display is an IPS but it really has bland colours. I am not sure what is the cause behind this. I hope I can improve it.
UPDATE: on Manjaro 21.3 (Gnome 42) this does not seem to be a problem any more. Or maybe it was fixed by one of the many firmware updates that came out and I applied. It’s hard for me to tell, since I don’t use the laptop screen unless when out of office. However, looking at this color intensive video side by side on the laptop screen and an external monitor, it’s not as bad as I remember it from the beginning. So I would consider this one fixed also.
I will update this article when I fix any of these.
Apart from this, it would be nice to have an automatic power plan switcher so that it switches automatically to Performance when plugged, Balanced when on battery and Power saver when the battery is low.
Regarding performance, I ran Geekbench and Unigine Heaven on both operating systems.
|Unigine Heaven, high quality||Geekbench CPU||Geekbench Compute|
|OS||Kernel||FPS||Score||Min FPS||Max FPS||Single core||Multi core||OpenCL||Vulkan|
I did the benchmarks while the laptop was plugged in, after a fresh system start and the power plan was set to Performance. But while Unigine Heaven has similar overall performance on both systems, the Vulkan Compute test is obviously worse on Linux. However, I haven’t investigated if this is some kind of a problem or misconfiguration that has an easy fix. I tried kernel 5.14 but it did little to improve.
Honestly, before deciding on the purchase, I haven’t checked what the Iris Xe card really is – all I wanted is to avoid nvidia discrete GPU models with switching graphics, because I had problems with those previously while attempting to use external displays. But it seems this laptop could do some light 3D gaming, if this is something you would be interested in.
While it’s a bit early to draw any conclusion, it’s a laptop I would generally recommend to anyone looking to run Linux on it. I just started using it as a daily driver and can’t comment on the battery life, but I am sure it will turn out to be a decent machine for professional users.
I will update this article later again with any new information.