Update on Jan 23: We updated this article with additional information provided by Lenovo.
Lenovo's ThinkPads regularly rank at the top of our best business laptops list, but a serious issue with newer models threatens to damage their strong reputation.
ThinkPad laptops from 2017 to 2019 reportedly contain defective USB-C firmware. First reported by Notebookcheck, the problems are widespread enough for Lenovo to post a support page (opens in new tab) titled "Critical Intel Thunderbolt Software and Firmware Updates."
Based on that document, the USB-C ports in more than a dozen ThinkPad laptops are experiencing serious issues. The problems aren't with the USB-C controllers themselves but with a firmware update pushed out in Aug 2019 that causes software corruption.
Lenovo posted a list of symptoms customers could encounter if they own a defective device:
Lenovo ThinkPad USB-C problems
- USB-C port not working
- Intel Thunderbolt controller not visible in the OS/Device Manager
- USB-C or Thunderbolt docking stations not visible or having connectivity problems
- HDMI output not available
- System battery not charging with a USB-C power adapter connected to the USB-C port
- Intel Thunderbolt pop-up error message
- Intel Thunderbolt safe mode error message
- BIOS Thunderbolt communication error or hang during POST
Which ThinkPad models are affected?
Dozens of ThinkPad models are affected by USB-C failures, including some of our favorite devices. Among those are the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (5th Gen to 7th Gen), X1 Yoga (2nd Gen to 4th Gen), and P-series ThinkPads. It's worth pointing out that the X1 Extreme and ThinkPad P1 have different firmware and aren't affected.
Lenovo posted a full list of affected laptops, and it's not pretty:
- P43s (Type 20RH, 20RJ)
- P52 (Type 20M9, 20MA)
- P52s (Type 20LB, 20LC)
- P53s (Type 20N6, 20N7)
- P71 (type 20HK, 20HL)
- T470 (Type 20HD, 20HE)
- T470 (Type 20JM, 20JN)
- T470s (type 20HF, 20HG)
- T470s (type 20JS, 20JT)
- T480 (Type 20L5, 20L6)
- T480s (type 20L7, 20L8)
- T490 (Type 20N2, 20N3)
- T490 (Type 20RY, 20RX)
- T490 (Type 20Q9, 20QH)
- T490s (Type 20NX, 20NY)
- T570 (Type 20H9,20HA)
- T570 (Type 20JW, 20JX)
- T580 (Type 20L9, 20LA)
- T590 (Type 20N4, 20N5)
- X1 Carbon 5th Gen - (Type 20HR, 20HQ)
- X1 Carbon 6th Gen - (Type 20KH, 20KG)
- X1 Carbon 7th Gen - (Type 20QD, 20QE)
- X1 Carbon 7th Gen - (Type 20R1, 20R2)
- X1 Yoga 2nd Gen (Type 20JD, 20JE, 20JF, 20JG)
- X1 Yoga 3rd Gen (Type 20LD, 20LE, 20LF, 20LG)
- X1 Yoga 4th Gen (Type 20QF, 20QG)
- X1 Yoga 4th Gen (Type 20SA, 20SB)
- X1 Tablet 3rd Gen (Type 20KJ, 20KK)
- X280 (Type 20KF, 20KE)
- Yoga 370 (Type 20JJ, 20JH)
- X380 Yoga (Type 20NN, 20QN)
- X390 (Type 20Q0, 20Q1)
- X390 Yoga (Type 20LH, 20LJ)
- P51 (Type 20MM, 20MN)
- P51 (Type 20HH, 20HJ)
- P51s (Type 20HB, 20HC)
- P51s (Type 20JY, 20K0)
- P72 (Type 20MB, 20MC)
What to do if you own a ThinkPad
If you own a ThinkPad laptop, go to Lenovo's support page (opens in new tab), scroll to the bottom and download the appropriate drivers.
These driver and firmware packages are designed to fix any USB-C problems. If they don't, Lenovo urges you to reach out to Lenovo Technical Support. Lenovo is adding more drivers for more laptops, if yours isn't currently listed.