32GB RAM for Thinkpad X270 (and other pimp-ups)

I have been using my Thinkpad X230 for 6 years. I have been a bit of a harsh master to it and it shows via all the cracks and loose USB ports. The resolution is also quite tiny compared to modern standards. I decided to get new laptop. I tried first with HP EliteBook 840 G2, but I just couldn’t get used to scrolling without the mouse middle button. I wanted a Thinkpad with FullHD screen, upgradable memory and regular LAN port. X270 is the last Thinkpad to fulfill all the needs, so I got a second-hand one via Finnish online auction. To my surprise the laptop is also able to support 32GB memory stick! Read more to follow the full upgrade process I had with the computer.

The unfortunate cooling element mishap and fix

I got my laptop and opened it. The cover is held closed with about 8 or so screws which stay with the bottom cover. After unscrewing, one should use a plastic helper tool to carefully pop loose the clips holding the cover in place. The computer looked like this without the bottom cover:

I had troubles getting the cover off, and to my inconvenience I noticed I had dented the pipe of the cooling element:

I was afraid I would damage the laptop so I decided to replace it. I got one from Ebay. Both new and old are shown here:

Processor after taking off the old cooling element:

I was unsure about how potent the stock thermal paste on the new cooler, so I marked the area with knife and cleaned the old paste away with CRC Precision Cleaner Pro:

I cleaned the processor also:

I applied layer of thermal paste to the area I marked earlier:

And then I carefully dropped the cooling element in place, tightened screws, and connected the flex ribbon cable:

Side profile now showed that there was no problem anymore with the cooling element:

The 32GB memory stick for Thinkpad X270

There were rumors on the Internet that one could fit 32GB RAM stick into Thinkpad X270. Many sources also said it was impossible and would not work. I decided to try. I ordered, again, from Ebay the Samsung DDR4 2666 Mhz RAM SO DIMM M471A4G43MB1-CTD memory module which is shown here:

Note that newest Thinpads have sacrified modularity, among other parts of their soul, and feature soldered memories. Luckily X270 still had physical slot to house the SO-DIMM stick. Installation was a no-brainer:

Ok, power on and… Nothing happened. Or it felt like it. But what probably happened was the the laptop paused to write down the new memory configuration. After few painful seconds I saw the machine booting normally. And I saw no lags later.

I used AIDA64 and Windows 10 Task Manager to confirm that the system saw the full 32GB of memory:

BIOS also agreed on the amount:

4 Terabyte SSD with caddy change

Next I wanted to install as big mass memory as I possibly could. By default my variant had unfortunately M2 SSD stick in the main mass memory bay. The X270 is build in a way that it is possible to change the drive to regular SSD with additional parts. So again I ordered parts from Ebay. The SSD I bought as new (it is Samsung EVO 860). All the necessary parts are on the next picture, or so I thought:

Unfortunately the cable that came with the caddy kit was of extremely bad quality:

Of course I tried this dubious latching connector to the motherboard…

But it would have been pushed down by the cover, possibly causing damage:

So what I did I ordered original spare part SSD cable from Lenovo. This picture shows all 3 cables together, top is the M2 SSD caddy with cable, middle one is the dubious Ebay cable and in the bottom is the good cable directly from Lenovo:

Next I realized that I could use the plastic frame from M2 SSD around the regular SSD:

So I ended up using only this metal foil from the Ebay kit. I have no idea what it is. Maybe EMC cover.. But why on this side, facing down? Strange.

I did now install OS on the new SSD, but I checked that at least BIOS was able to detect the drive correctly:

Beefed up charger

Finally as a minor change to the laptop, I got 90 watt charger instead of the regular puny 45 watt stock charger:

Conclusion

Is there a conclusion? Well at least nothing fancy. I’m just happy that the the X270 was able to verifiably support 32GB of RAM and that the 4 terabyte SSD was able to fit also. I expect this setup to last next 6 years in my hands.

21 Replies to “32GB RAM for Thinkpad X270 (and other pimp-ups)”

  1. Great write-up. Thanks for the share buddy, this is great! Will be attempting something similar very shortly.. Onwards and upwards!

  2. Thank you for the information on the 32GB RAM solution.

    I purchased the same RAM stick and got the same result today!

    Perfect solution.

    Thanks again

    1. I think memories are capped to the speed of the motherboard allows them. For this case I’m not sure what was the final effective value. I use the machine currently only in Linux and not that often, but always I have used it I have experienced 0 errors whatsoever. The entire build appears to be very stable all the time.

    1. No idea, but in the past Thinkpads have had hardware whitelists in BIOS/UEFI (which is stupid), so it would be in any case a bit iffy. Changes are that if you use something usabele in other Thinkpads, it _might_ work. But chances are it doesn’t 😐

      1. The last ThinkPads with a WiFi whitelist were the ones with the last two digits of 40, so X240, T440 etc., starting with the xx50 series there is no whitelist.

        1. I hope you are right! Some guy a couple of days ago just lamented on IRC about blacklist/whitelist in Lenovo but maybe he was using something different, older unit or something.

  3. Hello,
    Thanks for the sharing.

    I just bought my x270 today for only 440 usd 2nd condition.
    It came with i7 7600, FHD, 512 Nvme M.2 SSD, 8GB Memory, additional 6 cell external battery.

    After I was receving this laptop soon I order 32Gb Memory 3200Mhz, 512 new nvme, new internal, 3cell external, and 6cell external battery. I’m happy with this laptop can powering me all day.

    I’m happy with this laptop.
    Cheers! Stay healthy!

      1. Hello Denny. I think my model came with the big battery as a default thing. Other than that I buy original and genuine Lenovo batteries via my local dealer here in Finland.

  4. Just installed the very same 32GB S0-DIMM module on my x270 i5-7300U. After some scary black-screen seconds the machine got going and everything seems fine,

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