ThinkPad X240: replacing touchpad and keyboard

5 Jan

Since I started using ThinkPad R500 in 2008, I immediately felt in love with Lenovo’s trackpoint which I think is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel (I had had Dell Latitude for four years prior to that and I hated their trackpoint as it was utter sh*t). So when I was about to replace R500 with a new X240 after six years, I was a bit skeptical about the idea to merge the buttons and touchpad into a single touchpad/button thingy. But I really wanted to ditch the heavy brick and have a small lightweight laptop (wish I had gotten X61 instead of R500) so I went with X240.

X240’s sore – trackpad

After I got my X240 and turned off touchpad functionality and all the gestures, I thought that it ain’t so bad and I can still use the trackpoint as before. But whenever I took the old R500 off the shelf for some lab work, I realized, how much I miss the old trackpoint with proper left/middle/right buttons instead of that one loud piece of sheet on X240. Sadly, after about a year of usage, I suddenly missed even more the sturdiness and build quality of the old R500.

2015_12_25__20_27_47
Yep, it’s broken. And no, I did not drop it.

To my surprise Lenovo refused to replace the bezel (I guess most of you saw that coming). Luckily, as I was shopping for a new bezel on eBay, among the search results I noticed a few new touchpads WITH REAL BUTTONS! After a bit of googling and reading I found out that Lenovo in the meantime came to senses and for X250/T450/X1 3rd gen. series they ditched the frugal shitty touchpad and brought back one with the hardware buttons. Since X240 and X250 share much of the same hardware, it is possible to replace X240 one-piece-of-sheet touchpad with an awesome-with-real-buttons one from X250.

Shopping

Once I was on a shopping spree, besides a new bezel and a touchpad I also bought a new backlit keyboard (again, I did not realize Lenovo removed the illumination light found on every ThinkPad before and started offering backlit keyboards when I bought my X240 – as an extra). My old keyboard was one with Slovak layout but I use US layout most of the time so I was constantly looking for the correct buttons to press. Therefore I wanted the new backlit keyboard to have standard US layout. However, as I found out, the US layout is featuring small horizontal ENTER key, not a big vertical one as found on my old keyboard. As a compromise I bought UK layout, which is probably the closest one to US layout featuring big ENTER key.


List of hardware

FRU numberDescriptionPrice
Total71.99€
04X5180X240 keyboard bezel with touchpad and fingerprint reader7.50€
Does not have sepparate FRU (00HT390 for bezel w/ touchpad)X250 touchpad18.50€
04X0244X240/X250 CS13X keyboard, UK layout, LiteOn, backlit45.99€

Replacing the touchpad

Since I bought a new X250 touchpad and X240 bezel as well, I could start replacing the touchpad without dismantling the laptop, first. After removing the black tape and exposing the connector, I opened it and removed the ribbon cable. Then I pried off the top of the touchpad, revealing the base (the top is snapped on the steel wires by plastic clips). After that, I lifted the base from the bezel (it’s glued on by a double-sided tape).


Once I had removed the touchpad, I flipped it over and compared the base of both touchpads.

2015_12_25__20_58_39As you can see, the X250 touchpad (on the right) has differently molded the recessed part and won’t slide into the X240 bezel fully. It can be fitted, but it will not touch with the bezel along the edges, as the recessed base is constraining the touchpad to sink into the opening. The result is the touchpad will stand out a bit higher as it’s supposed to.


The following part is not for the faint-hearted. You need to modify the bezel so the opening will fit the new X250 touchpad. I used a cutting knife for this task (the plastic is quite thin so the knife will do the job nicely). You also need to remove the metal latches from the touchpad’s base (with a Dremel or metal cutting scissors). If you’re not up to the task, I suggest you buy the whole X250 bezel with assembled touchpad (FRU 00HT390 for version with finger-print reader, 00HT391 without finger-print reader).


Once the excess plastic edge and metal latches are cut off, the touchpad will fit in nicely. You can reapply double-sided tape and attach the touchpad. The result can bee seen on the following pictures.


Replacing the keyboard

Procedure for replacing the keyboard is a bit of a hassle, because you need to remove the whole mainboard and there’s a lot of double-sided tape involved. Luckily, there are no special requirements or restrictions on upgrading the keyboard with backlight, you simply switch the keyboards, reconnect the ribbon cables and you are done (no need to reinstall drivers or change values in BIOS/Windows settings).


Here is a nice youtube video by TechSolvers guiding you through opening up X240 and replacing the keyboard.

One addition to the video – when disconnecting ribbon cable from finger-print reader (at 14:02), do not pull out the cable as instructed in the video. There is a black latch that needs to be released, first.

2016_01_06__17_47_47

Installing drivers for touchpad

When you have everything back in place, you need to downgrade the Windows drivers to version 18.0.7.57 (the latest version as of today is 18.0.7.109), as 18.0.7.57 is the latest version the touchpad with hardware buttons is fully supported (I am not sure why Lenovo removed the support from the newer drivers, but maybe it’s a business decision to boost the sales of X250 models 🙂 ). Otherwise, the hardware buttons do not work in Windows. To proceed with the downgrade, uninstall Synaptics ThinkPad UltraNav Driver through control panel and install package UltraNav[n10gx25w].exe from Lenovo (or you can use local mirror). Once you have the new driver installed, disable automatic updates for Synaptics UltraNav Driver in Lenovo System Update (by clicking Do not show this update link).

synaptics_ultranav_driver

Under the mouse properties in control panel you can then control and adjust all the features of the new touchpad along with the trackpoint (I have disabled the touchpad completely and use only hardware buttons along with the trackpoint).

synaptics_ultranav_center

For the reference, here is the version information for the UltraNav Driver after version 18.0.7.57:

VERSION INFORMATION

  The following versions have been released to date.

  Package       Rev.  Issue Date
  ----------    ----  ----------
  18.0.7.109    01    2016/08/15
  18.0.7.103    01    2015/02/17
  18.0.7.100    02    2015/02/05
  18.0.7.100    01    2015/01/26
  18.0.7.98     01    2014/11/07
  18.0.7.57     02    2014/10/28
  18.0.7.57     01    2014/09/19

  Note: Revision number (Rev.) is for administrative purpose of this README document and is not related to software version. There is no need to upgrade this software when the revision number changes.

  To check the version of software, refer to the Determining which version is installed section.


Summary of Changes

  Where: <   >        Package version number
         [Important]  Important update
         (New)        New function or enhancement
         (Fix)        Correction to existing function

<18.0.7.109>
- (Fix) Fixed security vulnerability issue caused by version of libpng package used.

<18.0.7.103>
- (Fix) Fixed an issue where TouchPad/TrackPoint might be enabled when Lid was closed.

<18.0.7.100>
- [Important] Ended support for ThinkPad Helix 2nd Gen (Machine types: 20CG, 20CH). Note: For ThinkPad Helix 2nd Gen (Machine types: 20CG, 20CH), use the Synaptics ThinkPad UltraNav Driver version 18.1.27.14 (N10GW15W) or higher.
- (Fix) Removed ThinkPad W541 from the support models (typo).

<18.0.7.100>
- (New) Added support for switching scroll direction in Metro Applications.
- (New) Renamed the Device Name.
- (New) All 3 finger and 4 finger gestures are disabled by default (Added Win7).
- (New) 2 finger rotate and edge swipes gestures are disabled by default (Added Win7).

<18.0.7.98>
- (New) Edge Tap Filtering enabled by default.
- (New) Gesture Filtering disabled by default.
- (New) 2 finger rotate disabled by default. (Win8.1 only)
- (New) All 3/4 finger gestures disabled by default. (Win8.1 only)
- (New) Edge swipe gesture disabled by default. (Win8.1 only)

<18.0.7.57>
- (New) Added support for ThinkPad Helix 2nd Gen (Machine types: 20CG, 20CH).

<18.0.7.57>
- (New) Added new multi-language support to help Win8 search for Mouse properties
- (New) Added top right button zone for Touchpad mode.
- (Fix) Fixed an issue on broken translations in GUI
- (Fix) Fixed "Click Anywhere" label in Mouse Properties Not Aligned in Japanese OS
- (Fix) Fixed "Button Size" label missing issue Mouse Properties in Japanese OS
- (Fix) Fixed an issue on click function not working until system restart right after the overwrite installation from driver version 18.0.7.34

From what I can tell, the new drivers do not bring any new functionality except enabling/disabling some setting defaults. I have been using the new touchpad with 18.0.7.57 driver for over two months, now, and I had zero issues so far, so I am certainly not missing anything having older drivers (I don’t think there could be an issue big enough to force me to move back to the old button-less touchpad, anyway).

Showcase

Here are a few images after the whole procedure along with a video showing the trackpad buttons and backlit keyboard really work 🙂


Before
Before: Thinkpad X240 with standard TouchPad and Slovak keyboard
After
After: ThinkPad X240 with TouhcPad from X250 and UK backlit keyboard

13 Replies to “ThinkPad X240: replacing touchpad and keyboard

  1. Many thanks for your tutorial. I need to replace the keyboard bezel (i.e. the palmrest). The video you linked shows how to replace the keyboard, but how do you proceed to replace the bezel?

    • Hi George,
      follow the video to the point where you flip the mainboard over and remove keyboard. Once you do that, just remove three screws holding the left hinge
      Left Hinge
      and three screws holding the right hinge
      Right Hinge
      Then you pull the hinges up and back and free the cables that go from the mainboard to the display. Now you should be able to slide the palmrest towards you.

    • Hello Chris, I bought the parts on eBay. Try searching by FRU number (04X5180, 04X0244, or 00HT390) or by phrase “thinkpad x240 touchpad buttons”.

  2. Many thanks for this. But to confirm, and help to avoid disaster, the X250 palmrest and touchpad will fit unto the X240 base? (This, really, is something Lenovo should do for everyone suffering with the X240.

    • Hi Keith. Yes, X250 palmrest with touchpad will fit into X240 without problems. See the following pictures depicting X250 bezel.
      X250 bezel front
      X250 bezel back

  3. Hey,

    Something I have really big problems with is removing the ribbon that’s under the black tape directly connected to the trackpad-is the white connector also to flip up`? Do I just pull the ribbon with force? Is there any trick to this? I really don’t want to destroy anything!

    Would be super helpful if you could answer me! Thanks!

    • Hello, disconnecting the ribbon cable from the trackpad is super easy. You need to release the black latch (flip it up) on the white connector and then you can pull out the cable.
      Trackpad connector closed
      Trackpad connector open

  4. Hi There,
    I upgraded my touchpad with success but however after approximately 1 hour of use my trackpoint move alone to the top of my screen.
    Please how to solve this problem?

    Lenovo X240 / Product: 20AMS0880C / Bios: GIET89WW (2.39)
    Windows 7 64bits SP1 / 18.0.7.57 ultranav driver.
    Please i need help…. many thanks.

    • Hi,

      do you mean your mouse pointer moves on the screen without touching anything? This is what has been happening to me occasionally since I bought the laptop. It was the same with the old trackpoint/touchpad/keyboard as well as on the replaced one regardless of FW/SW used. I just leave the trackpoint for a few seconds alone and the movement stops and then I can resume working. I think it’s some problem with the calibration of the sensors or something and kinda got used to it.

      • Hi,
        Yes my mouse pointer moved alone to the top of my screen without touching anything. I reinstalled the 18.0.7.57 ultranav driver and this problem stopped.
        Now my touchpad and trackpad works perfectly !

  5. Some useful info here, and you gave me the strength and confidence to attempt to replace my touchpad.

    But for anyone who attempts to replace JUST the touchpad —

    I DIDN’T HAVE TO DISASSEMBLE MUCH OF ANYTHING.

    Following your instructions, I tore down the whole computer, only to see finally that only the keyboard replacement required all that dismantling. I put it all together again, and then I found on a Reddit post that you can just POP OFF THE TOUCHPAD. It’s held on with double-sided tape. I pried a screwdriver under the button, and it easily popped off, revealing that arrangement with the cross wire etc, that allows it to move and click. I had to pry with a knife underneath all that, and then the whole mechanism came free.

    The only challenge I encountered was the ribbon cable. As you instruct, pry up the black release and the cable comes free. Placing it into the connector on the replacement touchpad was delicate and frustrating. I finally used a tweezers to provide more force, and it finally went in far enough to clip the black clamp back down to hold it. You MIGHT need to remove the laptop bottom case and peel off the black tape covering the ribbon cable in order to have enough slack to pull off this maneuver. But you certainly don’t have to start removing the hard drive, speaker, CMOS battery, etc, no flipping of the mother board, etc.

    The link to the driver was invaluable, as my trackpoint buttons didn’t work until I installed the driver from your link. Note, I did not uninstall my current driver, just ran the software at the link and it installed the new driver. Now everything works fine.

    I appreciate your help in getting me started, and hope to never do this again. Whew!

    • Yes, you can replace the touchpad without dismantling anything else, but without modifications to the bezel (which are easier done if you have access to the bottom of the bezel), the touchpad will be not flush with the surface and might be pressing against the LCD when the lid is closed. I suggest removing the back cover (without need to remove HDD, socondary battery, or speaker), which can be easily done, while providing an easy access to the touchpad’s connector.

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