Replacing the worn-out CCFL display in my Thinkpad x200

So I was in the following situation: I bought a used x200 from a friend a few years ago which seems to be virtually indestructable. Yet it had one major issue: The display had severe signs of age already, namely a yellow tint and insufficient brightness even at 100% backlight. It was still usable indoors, but not under daylight or even in a train. Also the high voltage inverter necessary to drive the display made a constant hum, which was subtle yet nasty.

This led to me buying an x201 which already had LED backlight, and also one can hardly own enough compact Thinkpads, right? I would be using the x201 until this day, if it hadn’t broken down – some day, it made weird fan noises, before switching off and refusing to boot ever again. (It shows something about a fan error, but as far as I could find out it seems to be a common mainboard problem with this model, not the actual fan being broken.)

I was glad to have a backup, but also wanted a newer model (hoping it will last me longer) and went with an x230. So far so good, but having an x200 with a broken display and an x201 where everything but the display was broken kept me thinking whether it was exchangable or everything would blow up due to the inverter.

Yet the internet didn’t really deliver useful information on whether this would work and so I never dared to touch it – until yesterday. I had removed the display panel from the x201 to look for its FRU, which turned out to be 42T0711. And exactly this display was also available in the x200! Should work, shouldn’t it?

Now I just needed to take the risk and try transplanting the display. Luckily the disassembly of older x-series Thinkpads is rather easy and I had done it before. I won’t go into largely boring details here, but two things should be mentioned: It turned out that the cable between mainboard and display was incompatible, so I needed to change that too. And also the LED board within the display bezel which – in case of CCFL displays – carries the inverter. So, if you wanna do the same, make sure you have the cable and LED board, although the latter is not necessary to use the computer, so it’s somewhat optional. Remember to re-connect the bluetooth and camera modules in case your Thinkpad has those (both are optional components).

TL;DR: Are displays interchangeable between Thinkpad models x200 and x201? Yes, they are – check the FRU of the actual component in question!

x200 with the new display already built in, but still lacking the LED board beneath it. Sorry for the crappy photo, it’s the only one I took during this procedure.

Old LED board with the inverter on the right side. For non-CCFL-displays, the right half of the board is just empty. The connector on the left however is incompatible, so you need to change the whole board and can’t just un-solder the now useless inverter.