The last week or 10 days I’ve been trying a “new” refurbished Thinkpad X240. I’ve had 2 examples of the previous X230 for while and I REALLY like them. Yes, the screen is only 1366x768 but once you relace the (usually 320GB, 5400RPM) HDD with an SSD they are actually quite zippy and usable laptop. They are small and light and perfect for the bedside table laptop for us insomniacs.
The X230 has an Intel 3rd Gen Core i5-3320 processor with Intel graphics. It has 2 RAM slots and can be upgraded to 16GB RAM. The HDD/SSD access is easy and upgrading is also easy. It has 2 x USB3 and 1 x USB2.
The X240 has an Intel 4th Gen Core i5-4300U processor with Intel graphics. BUT, it only has 1 RAM slot with a max of 8GB RAM. The RAM and HDD/SSD needs the whole back of the laptop to be removed (8 screws). Then the RAM is easy but the HDD/SSD isn’t hard but the connector and the frame holding the drive, both are flimsy and while you probably won’t be accessing it often,you need to take care so you don’t pull connector off the thin cable, the frame is a no-screws way of holding the drive, but is plastic you need to carefully bend to free the lugs from the screw mounting holes on the drive. It also only has 1 x USB3 and 1 X USB2 and generally less ports.
Actual performance, well despite being a later generation of i5 the X240 has a slower burst speed and in use I can’t tell any difference in speed over the X230. The X240 is marginally smaller and a little more cpnventional/modern looking. I do think the battery life is a bit better however.
I like both machines, the X240 is a next generation on from the X230, so maybe a year or 2 newer but to be honest I think I like the X230 better and if I was (foolish enought) to buy another machine in this class I’d go with another X230, just because I could expand it to 16GB RAM, It also feels marginally more robust (not that the X240 feels fragile)
I will say both machines have been superb Linux hosts, while I’ve been testing the X240 I’ve tried several Linux distros, initially MX-19, Mint, Ubuntu MATE, Peppermint, Manjaro, ArcoLinux on the 320GB HDD I bought it with. It now has a 1TB SSD like the X230’s I have. I currently have 6 partitions I’ve been swapping back and forth between, 1-MX-19, 2-Manjaro, 3-EndeavourOS, 4-Debian Bullseye (Testing), 5-ArcoLinux and 6-SparkyLinux 6 (based on Debian Bullseye). I will eventually whittle that back to 3 or 4, I don’t need or use a huge drive for what I do. I know the X230 can handle all of those and more (Fedora,OpenSUSE, Mageia, OpenMadriva, Peppermint 9 and 10, Devuan, Xubuntu (and other *buntus), SolydXK) that I’ve had on them over the year or so I’ve owned them.
For the cost of a Chromebook, for a take anywhere, full laptop, I highly suggest you look at a refurbished Thinkpad X230 (or X240). If you want a bit more screen then one of the Thinkpad T430 with the 1600x900 display is a good option, for a slightly heavier and larger package.