Install Classic Keyboard on xx30 Series ThinkPads
The Lenovo Thinkpad T430 is rarely recommended by ThinkPad enthusiasts because it was the first generation to use chiclet style keys. The keys feel the same in regards to actuation, but they are oddly shaped, and the new 6-row layout is horrible compared to the 7-row layout used on the T420. (Comparison: T430 | T420)
Many users simply recommend the T420 as the absolute top of the line Thinkpad today because it was the last Thinkpad to feature the old keyboard, and as such, has the latest specs with that design. However, what isn't discussed is that the T410/T420 keyboards actually fit into the T430 chassis, so you can have your cake, and eat it, too!
This guide will explain exactly how to replace your T430's keyboard with a T410 keyboard. Note that I personally used a T410/T410p keyboard, but it should be possible to do this with keyboards labelled for the T420 because they share the same FRU. Please experiment, and if you get it working, feel free to email me.
- 1 Warning
- 2 Required Components
- 3 The replacement
- 4 Handling mismatched keys in software
- 5 Conclusion
Please note that the installation is not perfect. Because the BIOS is what interprets keypresses, some keys simply will not work, and some will not function as intended. For example, the T410's keyboard is printed to have Fn+PageUp activate the Thinklight. However, because this action is actually bound to Fn+Space on the T430 keyboard, you will need to press Fn+Space to activate the ThinkLight after installing the T410 keyboard. This also applies to all of the Fn+F-key binds; the ones printed on the T410 do not work, and actually do the actions listed on the T430 keyboard. For example, Fn+F4 makes the computer sleep, as that is the combo on both keyboards, but Fn+F8 does not toggle the TrackPoint/touchpad input, it actually dims the brightness.
A full table of keys and their compatibility is listed below.
DNF means Does Not Function.
|Key||Function after install||Notes|
|PrtScr/SysRq||DNF||The Menu Key functions as PrtScr|
|Insert||DNF||Can be rebound to a combo if needed|
|Delete||Home||Can be rebound to Delete using SharpKeys|
|Home||DNF||Can be rebound to a combo if needed|
|PgUp||Delete||Can be rebound to PgUp using SharpKeys|
|PgDown||Insert||Can be rebound to PgDown using SharpKeys|
|F10||DNF||Can be rebound to a combo if needed, but will never work in the BIOS|
|CapsLk||CapsLk||The T410's LED indicator does not work - uses the T430's built-in onscreen indicator|
|R&L Shift||R&L Shift|
|Fn||Fn||The BIOS LCtrl & Fn swap does work|
|R&L Ctrl||R&L Ctrl||The BIOS LCtrl & Fn swap does work|
|R&L Windows||R&L Windows|
|R&L Alt||R&L Alt|
|Menu||PrtScr||This key is actually PrtScr on the T430 keyboard, and functions as such when the T410 keyboard is installed. Because of this, there is no Menu key. For me, it appears that this causes the Menu Key to turn on and off at will. Please see this section for more detail.|
|PgLeft||PgUp||Can be rebound to PgLeft using SharpKeys|
|PgRight||PgDown||Can be rebound to PgRight using SharpKeys|
|Punctuation||Punctuation||Too excessive to list, but all work normally|
|Power/Mute/MicMute/VolUp/VolDown/ThinkVantage||All work||All of the overlay keys work, as well as their LEDs|
|TrackPoint/left/middle/right||?||I spilled soda on my machine and I shorted something out regarding the TrackPoint detection, so the keys work for me, but the TrackPoint never has worked correctly, even on my T430 keyboard. I have it disabled in the BIOS, but when the TrackPoint doesn't mess up (rarely happens), it does appear to function for me. This needs further testing but I am 99% sure it should function as intended.|
A compatible ThinkPad
This guide will most likely only work with a T430 (or possibly a T530 using a T510 keyboard). I will only help you with issues if you're using a T430, because that's all I have experience with. Due to the changed touchpad/key structure in the T440, there is no room for the lip on the bottom of the T410/T430 keyboard that houses the TrackPoint's clickers, so it will not fit in a T440, even if it were to work. Similarly, they have completely removed the top overlay that houses the power and audio keys, making the fit even more impossible. Truly, the T440 is the abomination of the ThinkPad line. They even changed the power connector after so many years.
A compatible keyboard
|approx. cost||$45 + $4.99 shipping (Amazon)|
|suppliers||- IBM/Laptop Parts Plus (Amazon) (USA)|
I personally ordered a T410 keyboard, but you can also order a T420 keyboard; they have the same model number. Please be sure to look at the part numbers here in order to assure you buy the right region-specific keyboard. I used the U.S. English keyboard, model number 45N2071. Use the first model number listed - for example, the first model number for the Polish region is 45N2092, NOT 45N2162. If you use the second or third model numbers, you'll get the correct region keyboard, but it will be made by a different manufacturer, and will use different key switches. Additionally, the T400 keyboard will most likely not work, for a variety of reasons. It fits to a different footprint in the chassis, and its overlay keys (Mute, Power) do not have LEDs. It would both not fit, and the additional power being sent to the power/mute keys in order to power the LED would go nowhere. The feedback might actually cause an error.
Removing the old keyboard
Removing the old keyboard will require you to remove the memory module cover (RAM cover), after which you must unscrew two long screws above and below the mSATA slot. From there, you just need to push the keyboard up, and remove it from its place. You should follow the official instructions in order to do this.
Making the new keyboard fit
The new keyboard will not actually fit correctly. Along the bottom edge of the T430 keyboard are four small nubs that fit into place along four idents in the chassis. These nubs help secure the keyboard into place, and make sure it is aligned correctly. The T410 keyboard, however, has five nubs - and they're much thicker. Whereas the T430 nubs are only extensions of the metal plate covering the back of the keyboard, the T410 nubs actually extend upwards and fit the entire thickness of the keyboard. The T410's fifth nub is located under the TrackPoint keys.
I was able to flatten these nubs enough that my T410 keyboard slides into place, although it is a very ugly seam. The most ideal way to do this would be to clip off the TrackPoint key's nub, and remove the extra thickness off the other four nubs, perhaps using a dremel. If someone could do this and report back to me, it would be very helpful.
Installing the new keyboard
After the nubs have been taken care of, the rest of the keyboard installation should be very simple. Just follow the instructions from the Lenovo official guide in reverse, being sure to bend the keyboard connector back the way it was done on the T430's, and NOT twisting it to match. You'll know your keyboard was installed correctly when you can actually install both screws completely.
Handling mismatched keys in software
Not all of the keys work correctly, as detailed in the Keymap Table. However, if a key performs an action, that action can be rebound on a system-wide level to any other action.
This can be done using udev keymap. I don't use Linux, and so I won't provide instructions for that here, but that page should give all the information you need to get it working, along with the Keymap Table's stock remaps. Note that keys that are labelled DNF will never work - this is a BIOS-level issue and no operating system tweaks will fix it.
On Windows, we can use a nifty program called SharpKeys to rebind keys. The program is creates a registry entry in order to remap. Despite the fact that it is portable and does not run upon starting the machine, I suggest you keep the application handy in case Windows overwrites the remap key - this has only happened a few times for me while tweaking things, but it's enough reason to keep the 500kb application installed.
Once you've installed SharpKeys, add four remaps corresponding to the ones on the right, and then click "Write to Registry". Log out of Windows, and when you log back in, your PgUp, Delete, and PgDown keys should be functioning as normal.
The last remap in SharpKeys, Unknown > Turn Key Off, corresponds to disabling the Menu key (key 0x0075). Without this entry, my keyboard was making all left clicks act as though the Menu key was being held down. You may not need this entry, but if you do, be sure to add it. I believe this stems from the fact that there is no Menu Key on the T430 keyboard, but I'm not sure why it was constantly signalling itself as on.
While some keys won't work, it is completely possible to transplant a T410/T420 keyboard into a T430 and use it almost as if nothing ever changed. While Lenovo has killed the ThinkPad line with the T440, at least the last true ThinkPad had the power-saving bonuses of Ivy Bridge behind it.
If this guide helped you at all, feel free to send me an email, and if you have any comments or criticism, be sure to send that, too! I'll try and keep this guide up to date as best I can in order to support users looking to make the switch.