Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lenovo Edge E530 Thinkpad Bootloop and Other Stuff

So, I just got my new laptop in the mail today (longest fricking time waiting for anything) and I've now had about 9 hours to play with my new Lenovo Edge E530 Thinkpad laptop. I ordered it customized a bit, with an i5 processor, matte screen, 720p webcam, bluetooth and dual-N wireless, and the Authentec fingerprint reader with ultranav. I also decided that those addons weren't enough, and as the laptop was pretty inexpensive as laptops go, I justified buying an extended battery and a Kingston mSATA 64gb SSD (solid state drive). Here is what I have discovered about the laptop in the past 9 hours.


Bootloop Issue with SSD:
Almost all pre-manufactured laptops and desktops come with a ton of bloatware, so when I installed Windows 7 to the 64 GB mSATA I installed in the bottom of the laptop, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and erase the entire C drive (the main HDD that came with it) and make it free storage space. However, after spending about 2.5 hours installing a bunch of drivers to my new Windows 7 Ultimate installation on the SSD and then restarting, my E530 promptly went into a bootloop. What this meant was that it would power up, flash the Lenovo splash screen (logo), some quick debug info, and then reboot itself over. I tried everything; fiddling with BIOS boot priority, rapidboot settings, manually selecting the SSD as the boot device, checking the file system with a Linux live USB image - NOTHING WORKED. At this point, you can bet my neighbors could hear some coarse words coming from my house. I was not happy, and why would I be, convinced that the 2 and a half hours I had just spent all would be wasted.

I was sure the only solution would be to re-install Windows 7 to the SSD again, but then I was worried that it wouldn't fix the bootloop, as I wouldn't really be changing anything. I then had a random thought... there was really only one big thing that I did to the laptop, everything else was small installs of drivers, and that big thing was deleting the Windows installation that came by default on the C drive. For a lack of anything else to try, I installed another installation of Windows to the C drive. TA-FRICKING-DA. When I had one installation of Windows, just on the SSD, all I got was bootlooping. When I had two installations of Windows, one on the SSD and one on the primary hard drive, it finally stopped looping.

In in all this has fixed the problem so far, but unfortunately, there is now two installations of Windows on my computer, and when booting, I have to remember the correct one to select to boot from. However, an easier fix would probably be to install a flavor of Linux to the main drive, that way it is easily distinguishable from the Windows drive on the boot menu, plus I have an awesome backup OS and extra nerd points (redeemable for such prizes as "social anxiety" and "headache from staring at a screen").

My guess is that this fix is applicable to the entire Edge series of Lenovo laptops, as well as maybe some other Lenovo Thinkpad series. Let me know in the comment sections if you have extra info on this obnoxious problem!

TLDR: Having no OS on the primary HDD in an Lenovo Edge E530 Thinkpad laptop will cause an endless bootloop.        

No Extended Battery:
This is really a non-issue for most people, just a personal issue for myself. I was told by a Lenovo rep over live-chat that the 51J0500 extended 9-cell battery would work with this laptop. Looking at it's description page on Lenovo's website, it says "Supports SL410, SL510 Edge 14" and Edge 15" ThinkPad notebooks". When I saw this, I must not have had quite enough caffeine in me, because I mistakenly thought that the 15" meant 15.6", the more standard screen size and the size of the E530, so I assumed it would fit. I already ordered the battery off Amazon a few weeks ago, and it arrived long before the laptop, so I was able to try it today and I can safely say it does absolutely not fit the E530. Doing a little more research today, which I wish I had done before purchasing the battery, it appears that the specific models the battery can support are the: ThinkPad SL410, SL510, Edge 14, Edge 15, Edge E420, Edge E425, Edge E520, Edge E525. Unfortunately, almost all of those models are discontinued and none are the model I purchased. Clearly, this mistake was my own, but it still miffs me that there is NO extended battery offered anywhere for the Edge E530. It seems like extended batteries would be a very simple thing to produce for every laptop model, and a good money maker, but it seems like the extra capacity batteries are being offered less and less.

This was/is kind of a big problem for me, because a big reason why I purchased the E530 is because I thought it was perfect, with an extended battery and an extra 3-4 hours of battery life (as promised by the Lenovo rep). I spend a lot of time away from outlets, so this might become an issue, but then again, the E530 does have an advertised life of around 6 hours, which might be fine for me. I guess in the coming week I will be able to tell if it is enough to hold me through the average day. I think what I might also do is return the battery to Amazon, and then use the credit and a little extra money to get an external battery pack, that works with any laptop, such as this Energizer model

Keyboard FN Keys (FIXED!!!! :) :) :) )
At this point, I seriously have to question what Lenovo was thinking with this one. On most (sanely built) laptops, the FN function of the key (raising and lowering brightness, volume, etc) is the secondary function of the key. That is, if you want to lower the brightness, you would hold down the FN key and then press the corresponding top row key (F7 on my keyboard). On the E530 (and probably the entire Edge series, correct me if anyone has seen the other models and can verify) the FN functions of the keys are the primary functions of the keys, so to actually press F7, I have to hold down the FN key and then press the F7 key (which is really now re-appropriated to be the "lower brightness" key). As someone who often uses the F1-F12 keys on a daily basis, and not for the FN functions, this is an issue for me. This bugs me the most with F5, as I often use the refresh a page or folder contents, and now I always have to hold down the FN key before pressing it.

I have a feeling that I might be missing something here, that there might be a FN-lock function somewhere that turns off the secondary functions of the keys and makes them act like normal F1-F12 buttons, but I have yet to find it. Part of the problem is that when I installed Win 7 to the SSD, I lost all of the drivers, including those for the Hotkeys, and reinstalling the Hotkeys driver software has not seemed to work. I'll keep trying and looking for solutions, and if I find one I'll update this post, but as of right now, I am not thrilled with the top row of the keyboard.
EDIT: The above issue has been completely resolved through the BIOS option explained here!!! THANK YOU INTERNET!!! I now am much more satisfied with this laptop.

The FN Key Locations (FIXED!!!!! :) :) :) )
While we are on the subject of the keyboard, WHAT IN THE HOLY HELL WERE THEY THINKING (again). They placed the FN key on the INSIDE of the keyboard!!! I have never  seen a laptop with this layout and it is, as of right now, very off-putting. The correct order (in my mind) from left to right, should be CTRL on the very lower left, and then FN and Win and ALT. However, on the E530, it goes FN key first, on the very lower left, and then the CTRL key. This is really bugging me with copying and pasting right now, because I keep hitting FN+C for copy when I mean to pressing CTRL+C. Urgh.
EDIT: The above issue has been completely resolved through the BIOS option explained here!!! THANK YOU INTERNET!!! I now am much more satisfied with this laptop.

LED Locations
Lenovo, I get it. You are unique, you are not one of those hipster apple macbooks that all looks the same; seriously, I get that your brand is unique and customizable. However, there are times when the majority are actually right about something. LEDS belong on the rim of the laptop, near where the screen closes. That is where everyone looks for status lights, that is where they make sense going, and that is where they are easy to see with the lid closed. The E530 on the other hand, has two red LEDS, one on the inside of the laptop, near the keyboard (so it is obscured when the laptop is shut) and another on the top of the laptop (so it is visible when shut, but only from the top down, not from the side). There is one more indicator LED, right where the AC adapter plugs into, and it is to indicate the charging function. I'll update this section with how I feel about the LEDS after a week, but I'm not really expecting my opinion to change much.  

I don't hate this laptop
So far it probably comes across as though I am revolted by this laptop and am sorely disappointed by my purchase. Not so, it is just easier for me to write about what angers me, as obviously there is more emotion in that arena. So far, the things that I love about this laptop are:
  • Keyboard is very easy to type on (with the exception of the FN keys)
  • With the mSATA SSD, all applications open in under a few seconds, everything is blazing fast
  • Matte screen looks stunning, so glad I didn't go with gloss
  • Fingerprint reader is easy to use and works well
  • Speaker are very loud
  • Quick keys above num pad (calculator, lock computer, search, and files)
  • Recessed power button
  • webcam quality
  • Not burning my lap
  • mSATA SSD was soooo easy to install (under two minutes if you are taking your time)
  • i5 processor handles well, so far no slowdowns
  • very fast resume from sleep and hibernate (might be the SSD helping out a bunch too)
  • Online resources are great (manuals and drivers at support.lenovo.com)
Keep in mind this list is after only 9 hours with the device; I am sure I will like it more and more as time passes.
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Pictures are sure to come soon! I'll add them as soon as I get a chance!
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PS: Feel free to ask me any questions, or correct me about anything!

Tags (to help people find this page): lenovo edge e530 bootloop, thinkpad ssd bootloop, msata ssd bootloop, e530 bootloop, thinkpad edge bootloop, edge fn keys

7 comments:

  1. did you try any app requires high graphic performance?
    thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should post this as an official update to this post, but I'm too lazy. I actually ended up deciding that having the extra battery life was worth trading the E530 for the previous E520, so the next day I RMA'ed it back to Lenovo. I then bought the E520 off Newegg, but it had a dead/stuck pixel, so I RMA'ed that one back too. I should be getting the third (and hopefully final) laptop next week, so when that one comes, I'll do some graphic intensive testing for you and let you know how it works out. Do you have a specific game or program in mind that you would me to test out for you when the new laptop comes in?

      Delete
  2. did you try DPClat with use wifi connection (like playing YouTube HD video)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, I had it for such a short time that I really didn't get a chance to do anything significant with it, let alone test latency. In fact, and I'll probably be posting a new post about this when I get a chance, I ended up not getting the E530 OR the E520, and instead just opted to go all out and spend a bunch on a brand new customized W530, which I have had for about a month now and absolutely love.

      Delete
  3. I have this notebook and I also want an msata ssd in order to install a different os, but i don't see a free msata slot. Did you remove something?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just picked up an E530 too and found it annoying I couldn't boot off a flash drive (even though it's an option in the BIOS). I found this article which just makes me dislike Windows 8 even more.

    http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/detail.page?DocID=HT076905

    Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

    (Last comment was removed because I wanted to add to the comment... never noticed there is no edit button)

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Lenovo e530c user manual says not to install an OS on an mSATA.

    ReplyDelete

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