I'm thinking about getting a (cheap) used Thinkpad X2n0 (n in {3,4,5,6}) for traveling. Obviously an SSD is usually preferable but my question is focusing on the aspect of robustness constrained by price given that a notebook that you travel with will experience occasional bumping.

How delicate are HDDs in your experience?

  • What about n=2? Fitting an SSD requires removing one screw, and they are nearly impervious to damage. The keyboard even has spill drain holes. Mar 14 '19 at 13:05
  • my preferred source for used notebooks doesn't sell the X220. and frankly speaking I am skeptical of the nostalgia popular among Thinkpad fans. I am susceptible for it, too, though.
    – Raffael
    Mar 14 '19 at 13:24

I can't think of any advantage to an HDD, other than cost.

  1. Even with automatic parking, the risk of a scratch from a drop is non-trivial, if the drive is in use. (My fairly severe drop resulted in a straight-line gouge across about a quarter of the drive. Luckily, every file not crossing the gouge could be recovered in full.)
  2. They use more battery power, so you will need to find a charger more often.
  3. They are heavier and noisier.
  • 1
    As a professional writer I haul my laptop all around Europe; it's an X250 with an SSD. I've bumped it hard enough to require replacing the keyboard bezel, but the SSD has never given me any trouble at all. And I bless the power consumption, because I can take notes from a whole 8-hour conference day on a single battery charge.
    – MadHatter
    Mar 14 '19 at 11:31

I was just going to leave you with Andrew's answer, but then I saw you tagged your question , so I figured I have something to add.

You absolutely should use an SSD instead of HDD. I spent several months on a bicycle tour of North America last year and took a brand new ThinkPad E570 with me. Instead of a hard drive I installed a 256GB NVMe drive and a 1TB SSD. I also had an external rotational hard drive in a USB enclosure, which I occasionally brought out to store large video files and other backups.

It was bumped around repeatedly and took a lot of cosmetic damage. I broke the screen twice, somehow killed the DVD burner, and completely wore out the left button on the trackpad.

But I had thought ahead and got next-day on site service, which I made liberal use of. Each time they came to wherever I was, provided it had an address, and fixed it the next day as promised.

With all that, though, nothing ever went wrong with any of the drives.

I would recommend you strongly consider getting a new laptop with such an on-site warranty service, if your budget allows it. You may end up having to use it, and if you do you'll be very glad you had it.

  • "and completely wore out the left button on the trackpad" - On all the laptops I had, no trackpad (including buttons) survived longer than 3 months :-D
    – NicolasB
    Mar 14 '19 at 14:04
  • @NicolasB I also use a mouse, so the trackpad has lasted a bit longer than it otherwise would. Mar 14 '19 at 15:54
  • I mostly use a mouse too. I don't like trackpads very much ;-)
    – NicolasB
    Mar 14 '19 at 15:57

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