My Lenovo X300 ThinkPad Notebook experience

Recently our organization purchased for a senior management one of the latest and priciest notebook in town, a Lenovo X300 ThinkPad priced at about USD 2,900 (July 2008).

The notebook at that time was not available in stock on many outlets since we called numerous notebook shops to enquire about its availability. In the end, we contacted Lenovo directly and was forwarded to a distributor who told us that we had to wait for at least 2 weeks in order to get hold of the notebook. Since the decision was already made to purchase this unit, we ordered the notebook and it did indeed reached us in 2 weeks time.

The initial comments we’ve got from people who looked and felt at it for the first time:

  • It doesn’t look good.
  • Wow, it’s damn light.
  • The notebook bag seems heavier that the notebook itself.
  • It doesn’t really looks like it’s worth about USD 2,900. Oh well.. maybe it’s whats inside that matters most.
  • Wow, this notebook is worth more than my 7 year old car!

Once the notebook arrived, I never thought I needed to do anything to it and just passed the notebook the the senior management staff.

A few weeks later, I was requested by the senior management staff to assist in transfering Microsoft Outlook emails and data from the old notebook to the new X300 ThinkPad with Windows Vista Business installed. During this time, I had to activate the wireless connection on the X300 in order to connect to the Internet. Upon successfully setting up the wireless connection, I managed to connect to the Internet for a few minutes before the whole machine just freezed. Moving the mouse didn’t work. Pressing Ctrl + Alt+ Del didn’t work as well. In the end, it just hang and freezed and all I could do was hard reboot by holding on to the Power On button for a long time.

Restarting the machine, it prompted for Safe Mode or to start Windows normally. I went into Safe Mode and the machine loads up fine. Then I restarted to machine, this time it starts Windows normally but once the bottom right icons are about to load up, the machine freezed again. I was like thinking, oh no… I must have messed up the machine. I rebooted the machine at leat 5-6 times and finally decided I had to perform a system recovery through the provided recovery and rescue cd.

So I went through the recovery process, which took about an hour. Just when the system was initializing Microsoft Vista, the machine freezed again! I was getting worried. But one thing that I noticed just before the machine hang. the wireless indicator was blinking. So I thought it could be due to the wireless connection which is causing the machine to freeze. I quickly turned offthe Wireless Radio button at the back of the machine and did the recovery process all over again.

This time the recovery process was successful and the machine starts normally. So I thought I could get back to the original task which was to assist in transfering Microsoft Outlook data. Upon setting up the wireless and got connected to the Internet again the machine freezed after a while. Restarting the machine with wireless turned on also causes the machine to freeze on start up. This is getting annoying. In the end, I decided to give Lenovo Technical Support team a call.

Once I got through to the technical support staff, I told her about the problem. In the end, she suggested that I update all the drivers by going to http://www.lenovo.com/support then search for MIGR-69378 which will then display a list of drivers and software for the Lenovo X300 ThinkPad. She told me to check though the list of drivers and compare it against what was installed on my machine. If you manage to see the list of drivers, which is at least 10+ of them, there are quite a lot to compare against. This would take up at least half a day to compare! Anyway, i told the tech support that I would give it a try. She also advised me to go into msconfig, and disable all software from the start up to find out if the problem is caused by a start up program.

The first driver that I tried to update was the Wireless device. Did this but still no luck. It still freezes. Finally I gave up with the drivers and just sent it to the Lenovo Service Center at Plaza IBM. I sent it in at about 6pm and the next day at 11 am they called to inform me that the notebook is ready and that they have fixed the problem.

I quickly headed back to the service center to collect the notebook. Before leaving I tried the machine to ensure that it will start up. It did indeed start up normally but without any connection to the wireless hotspot. When I requested for permission to get connected to the IBM wireless hotspot, the service agent told me that they have no access, so I’ve got to try it back in the office.

Returning back to the office, I turned on the machine only to find out the machine still freezes when the wireless switch is turned on. Then I suspected that it might be a Microsoft Vista problem rather than X300 problem. So I did a Google search and ended up on a forum which mentioned about a faulty Dlink Wireless Router. Suspecting that the freezing problem is caused by the wireless router, I took the X300 ThinkPad back home and connected it to my Aztech Wireless Router… Walla! the machine started just fine without freezing. I could surf for a long time without the machine crashing or hanging. So I could now confirm and pinpoint that the problem was caused by the machine being incompatible with the Dlink wireless router in the office.

The strange thing is this. In the office, we have all sorts of notebooks. Some Dell, some Toshiba, some Compaq. some with Windows Vista, some with Windows XP. All these could connect to the Dlink Wireless Router with no problems at all!

Sigh.. I have spent way too much time trying to troubleshoot why this X300 ThinkPad doesn’t like the Dlink Wireless Router. In short, it’s quite a bad experience. I had anticipated that such an expensive notebook to not give any problems. Boy, I was wrong.

In the future, if given a choice between purchasing a Lenovo and Dell, I would definately go for a Dell as it does provide me with a peace of mind. I have been using my Dell Inspiron 6000 for nearly 3 years without any problems at all. Also, I have seen and experience the service support from Dell. If your machine is still under its warranty, they will send the technician to where you are in within 2 days and fix up your machine there and then. No questions asked!

Maybe the real problem lies within Microsoft Vista rather than X300. I don’t really know for sure. This is a long post. Hope it helps anyone having the same problem.

* Update 10 October 2008 – Problem Solved

After some more research on the Internet, I finally found this forum which has the solution to this specific problem. You will be surprised to see how easy the fix is.

Basically the problem is caused by a WinSock Corruption: To repair it, simply take the following steps

  1. Click on Start button.
  2. Type Cmd in the Start Search text box.
  3. Right mouse click on CMD and choose Run As Administrator. Allow elevation request.
  4. Type netsh winsock reset in the Command Prompt shell, and then press the Enter key.
  5. Restart the computer.

After running these steps, the Lenovo X300 did not freeze anymore. I’m glad the problem’s solved. But I still don’t understand why WinSock could go corrupted. After all, it’s a new notebook and everything should be new, updated and most importantly, problem free.

But at least now, we all know that the cause of the problem is software related rather than hardware. So Lenovo X300 may not be that bad after all. If you all notice on the left side bar of this page, under searched terms, you will notice that there are people searching for terms such as X300 freezing. So I know I’m not the only person having this problem.

For those having the same problem, do update us on any findings and whether the solution solves your problem.

About the author

Bob Lee

Hi! My name is Bob Lee and I’m a web developer / technical writer who specializes in developing and reviewing web applications. As an entrepreneur, blogger, developer, and tech enthusiast, I have been in this field for more than 10 years, and have been loving every minute of it.

12 Comments

  • dells are deffinitely the bettar value but if i paid that much for a computer i would have never changed over files machine to machine i would just find an online place to stick them to preserve the maching, but i hear that in work we have to do what we dont always want to do:-(

  • Thanks for the cure. My new X300 running Vista x32 SP1 did the same thing — constant system freezes, sometimes as many as 5 per 2 hour period. I was just about to roll the OS back to XP or even Win2k (my favorite OS and very, very stable), when I saw your message. Gave it a shot tonight and so far, Vista is running fine.

    The problem is definitely not the Lenovo hardware, but a Vista problem — another in the list of many.

    As for Dell vs. Lenovo, its ThinkPads every time. Dell laptops may be cheaper (although Dell does not have anything like the X300/X301 in their laptop line) or benchmark faster, but in the real world, they suck. I’ve been in the PC business since the late 1970s and have used every major (and a couple minor) model desktop and laptop. We moved over to Dell Inspirons a few years ago — it was a disaster. Example: my personal 6-month old Inspiron with 24 hr on-site service. On day, it developed a BSD that would not go away, nor would the computer boot past the BSD. Long story short — to get anyone to acknowledge my laptop was still unrepaired after 4 months, I had to threaten a lawsuit. Another died due to overheating (ineffective fan cooling); another caught fire (battery defect); still another, died shortly after the 1-year warranty ended. In each case, Dell refused to perform under the 24-hour on-site repair warranty.

    With IBM (now Lenovo), if I get a problem one brief phone call either gets the laptop fixed or an overnight express guy at my door to pick up the laptop for repair. Seventy-two hours later, its back fixed or a replacement is sent. No problem and no excuses.

    Again, thanks for the info.

  • Hey John, thanks for leaving a feedback. Good to hear that your X300 problem was solved.

    Just in case Winsock Corruption is not the cause of the problem, you might want to try another method.

    The thing is this, when my X300 arrived, it was not fully patched all the way to the latest Vista patches. This happened to my X300 when I received it. Not sure if this happens to yours as well.

    For my case, the freezing problem occurs only when wireless is turned on.

    So to fix the problem, I did all the following using a wired connection:
    1. Run Windows Update all the way till there are no more patches.
    2. Run the ThinkVantage System Update all the way.

    Once everything was updated through a lan cable. I switched on the wireless swith, began browsing and it was all fine from there onwards. Nothing freezes.

    So this is just another method you might want to try just in case Winsock Corruption is not the cause of the problem.

    As for Dell vs. Lenovo, I think it depends on location. I wonder if their customer service and support is under a global initiative. Somehow when I called my Lenovo support here, they refuse to send someone over here to get my problem fixed. Instead, I had to send it to a service center, which I find to be really troublesome. With Dell, they really don’t question me much and just provide a replacement / someone to come over to fix the problem. Like I said, if only we can get good customer support for every product that we buy. That would be great. For now, customer service and support is the key differentiator when it comes to selecting a particular notebook.

    About yout Dell battery defect, what I can say is that their battery is really unreliable. I too have problems with my battery. I hope Dell can improve their battery division.

    Again, thanks for your feedback.

  • Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, I’ve done both and, while the frequency of freezes has declined markedly, I’ve still experienced two in the last 24 hours. I suspect it still a software problem, not a hardware flaw.

    As a matter of practice (more like error, trial and more error), I developed a procedure that I always use immediately after getting a new PC: (i) perform all Windows updates until there are no more, then (ii) perform the manufacturer’s driver, BIOS and application updates, then (iii) install applications and perform their updates. I reboot after each Windows Update, each manufacturer’s update, and after each application install and update. Pain in the butt and time consuming, but has proven very effective in avoiding problems down the line. After that, the PCs generally work flawlessly.

    I’m not sure how MS ever developed its update process, but I would venture to guess that it was done by a committee of college interns at a TGIF keg party!

    I appreciate your comments about Dell vs. Lenovo. My experiences are in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. How Dell can mange to screw up on-site service so badly in this area is beyond the pale. Its all contracted out; sometimes the experience was excellent, sometimes not. For a time on-site service was performed by HP Service (very good service), then later it was IBM Services (just as good). Even the no-name service company Dell contracted with the last time I was forced to use their on-site service was professional. Its was Dell itself that was a poor performer — failed to send parts, billed for parts never shipped, delayed on-site service authorization, authorized then canceled on-site service calls without ever contacting me, etc. I canceled all of our Dell laptop purchase contracts the day they told me that (a) it would take 30 days to get me a replacement for a dead laptop and (b) they would ship only the shell — I would have to disassemble the old laptop, transfer the parts to the new laptop, perform a system restore, then ship the old shell to them. No service tech, let alone an on-site visit.

    Depot repairs are a pain, but my rational based on my experience: Dell has never lived up to its 24 hr on-site commitment, on average taking 5.5 days to get a PC fixed. With IBM/Lenovo service I’ve never gone more than 72 hours without a working laptop. Of course, your mileage may vary!

    Remember, my comments are limited to laptops. Don’t get me started on IBM/Lenovo support for desktops!!!

    If its all the same to you, I’ll keep you posted through this forum on my investigations into my continuing X300 freeze problem in the hopes someone else can be spared this annoyance.

    Thank you for the opportunity and conversation.

  • A progress report . . .

    Well, the frequency of the freezes has declined markedly but still persists. About 1 a day on average. There seems to be a pattern with some process making a call to the internet through the wireless LAN card. It does not appear to be the card itself or other hardware problem but I can’t be 100% sure.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen this type of error before associated with marginal memory chips, so I pulled the access panel off the bottom. The installed chips are not from any manufacturer I’ve ever heard of, so I’ve ordered two (2) 2GB RAM chips from Crucial ($22 each).

    Will advise as events develop.

    I pulled the memory

  • John.. is your wireless device Intel 4965agn? Just wondering if we’re using the same wireless device.

    I definitely had problem with the Intel 4965agn. It just keeps freezing when turned on. But when everything is updated, it’s ok.

    I suspect your problem could also be due to a combination of the wireless device driver + OS + ThinkVantange latest driver updates.

    Are you on Vista as well?

    Wareprise.com’s latest post..An easy way to hide folders in USB thumbdrive or PC hard disk

  • Yes, that’s the wireless adapter installed, I am running Windows Vista Business x32 (fully patched), and I’ve run Lenovo’s System Update for newest patches.

    Do you suggest rolling back the wireless driver? Or, pull the plug on the wireless device? If so, what wireless device do you recommend?

    Thanks!

  • John, I believe the hardware should work fine and you shouldn’t have to put on another wireless device.

    Have you tested if your machine freezes if you turn off the wireless radio switch, and just use the notebook on wired cable? In my case, the freeze will only occur when there is wireless activity. So for sure, the problem is caused by X300 wireless.

    From my experience, I too did a patch on Vista and Lenovo System Update. But during the process of updating it using wireless, it freezed. So my suspect is that the updates were not completed / done halfway. I also suspect that Lenovo System Update is not smart enough to detect and ward an incomplete update. Just treats it as completed as long as it’s started.

    What I did to fix my problem:
    1. Backup everything in the notebook
    2. Put on the X300 recovery cd and let it recover
    3. Windows update all the way
    4. Lenovo system update all the way

    All these should be done without the wireless radio turned on. Use a lan cable with Internet access.

    After troubleshooting for nearly a week and sending to Lenovo service center, this was how I managed to fix the problem.

    Not sure if these steps apply to your machine, but you can give it a try. This method can be considered a total restore from factory settings.

  • I tried an alternative approach. I used PC Pitstop’s Driver Alert program (http://www.pcpitstop.com/store/driveralert.asp) to scan the system for up-to-date drivers.

    The program discovered that both the wireless adapter and the LCD screen drivers were out of date. So, I downloaded them. That’s when the fun began!

    Despite running the Intel install program, the wireless adapter driver did NOT update. This is a installer bug. But, running Vista’s built-in Update Driver|Search the internet feature failed, too. Vista kept stating the latest driver was installed when it was was not. So, both the Intel install program and Vista (either of which Lenovo’s System Update must rely on to do the actual install) failed to update the driver despite some impressive hard dish activity.

    Vista is probably more at fault; not only does the automatic driver update feature fail, but the semi-automatic update feature also failed miserably.

    To install the newest driver, select Device Manager|Network Adapters|Wireless Adapter|Properties|Advanced|Update Driver and do EVERYTHING manually. DO NOT LET VISTA AUTOMATICALLY SEARCH FOR THE NEW DRIVER — it won’t find it! Be sure to select “Have Disk” when prompted, then drill down to the updated driver. Click on the new driver, select OK a couple times and — BINGO — the new driver installs. Reboot.

    Same for the LCD display driver — Vista would not find it on the hard drive. Again, I had to use the most primitive, forced driver update procedure to get the new driver to install. [It probably did not help matters that this driver’s update did not come with any install program or installation instructions.]

    Hopefully, this new wireless driver (ver. 12.1.0.14 dated 8/28/2008) and display driver (ver. 4.20.0.0 dated 6/9/2008) will cure the freeze problem.

    I will keep you posted.

  • I’ve been looking at different power supply units for my Acer model; it’s strange because the model it says my notebook requires is different from the model that came with the notebook, maybe I should get in contact with Acer to solve this issue. Anyway, I found your blog post very insightful.

  • So far, this posting is the only one I’ve found so far that seems most closely related to my problem and at least had a solution. But the solution hasn’t worked for me.

    I have 2 T61P laptops: my work one has XP installed, and the personal one has Vista. Both use ThinkVantage Access Connections and both seemed to be working just fine until a week ago after I came back from out of town.

    Both laptops freeze when booting up, before I can even get to the log on screen to Windows. Turn off the wireless radio and they boot up just fine. Then I turn on the wireless radio again after logging into Windows, and the wireless works for a bit, then both laptops freeze again within about 10 minutes.

    For the work laptop with XP, I updated ThinkVantage Access Connections to the latest (Version 5.72). No help. I took that laptop to other places with wifi (Starbucks, friends’ houses) and it works just fine. I tried a friend’s netbook with Windows 7 Starter at my home. Netbook works fine. Then I decided to switch routers from Airlink to Linksys. Still the same symptoms. Finally, I found your site, and decided to try the WinSock solution on my personal laptop (with Vista). Still experiencing the same freezing symptoms as before.

    I don’t believe either laptop had any updates done recently, but I suppose the next thing I’ll try is to update the drivers. Frustrating!

  • Veronica,

    The Winsock solution only worked for a while for me but the freezing problems came back.

    Instead I did a full windows update until there were no more updates followed by updating ThinkVantage Access Connections and updating everything there. This made it work.

    I believe the problem lies at ThinkVantage + potential driver problems. Trying to update the driver is something I would try out.

    Hope you get your laptop freezing problem fixed soon. And yes, it can be really frustrating.

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