Aug 4, 2012

Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Tablet - ThinkPad UltraBase Series 3 (docking station)

Gear: X230T, UltraBase Series 3, Cooler Master NotePal Ergostand, Kensington lock, ThinkPad SATA HD Bay Adapter 3, Blu-ray Burner, LotFancy Disk Bay Adapter, WD10JPVT 1TB Drive, U3011 30" Monitor, more X230T Accessories.

One feature that I love about the X230T is the docking station capabilities. The X230T's docking station is the UltraBase Series 3. This is the same docking station that works for the X220 laptop and X220T (therefore sometimes it is called the "ThinkPad X220 Ultrabase").

Previously I did an UltraBase Series 3 post, but I did not have the X220T to try it out. This time I have the X230T so I can test all of the capabilities.

The X230T is a fine mobile system, but it can also be used as a "desktop computer" when attached to the docking station. All of the USB devices, monitors, speakers, and so on, can be connected to the X230T instantly by using the docking station. I have always hated plugging/unplugging cables, so this is a solution.

UltraBase Series 3 Features:
  • Top
    • Battery accomodation space.
    • Docking port.
    • Drain rail and hole.
  • Left
    • Undock button and release latch.
  • Front
    • Speaker holes (for the laptop version).
    • Power button.
  • Right
    • Drive bay (supports optical drives, or hard drives via adapter).
    • Drive release latch.
    • Lock (keys are included with new systems).
  • Back
    • Lock port
    • 4x USB 2.0 ports.
    • Headphone and Microphone ports.
    • VGA and DisplayPort.
    • Ethernet and power port.

The docking station's body is a light plastic. Don't expect the docking station to sustain much physical abuse. But it should be ok as long as you behave. ;)

1 Issue
When the X230T is docked the left side will be fine, but the right feels like it has a gap. This gap allows movement of the X230T, therefore it may not work well for people who type a lot. You would have to set your palm down and then type to not notice this gap. I usually do not type on the X230T's keyboard when the system is docked, because of my Cooler Master Notepal Ergostand setup I use an external keyboard.

As I have acquired gear I have started to realize how easily it would be for some dumb-ass retard to break into my place and steal my stuff. When I'm around I'll use the 2nd amendment, but when I'm not at home I am responsible for securing my stuff. The Dell U3011 30 inch monitor (related post) and the UltraBase Series 3 have security features. It will be easy to attach these devices to a Kensington lock and to a table.

Optical Drive/Hard Drive
The UltraBase Series 3 does not come with an optical drive, you will have to buy that separately. If an optical drive is not what you need, but would like to have a bigger storage hard drive you can get an attachment to fit hard drives (I'm not sure if the ThinkPad SATA HD Bay Adapter 3 would be the compatible adapter).

External Monitors
Because the X230T has a VGA and a DisplayPort and the UltraBase Series 3 also has a VGA and DisplayPort, you would assume that you could have up to 4 external monitors + the X230T screen active.  This of course is not the case.  You can only have 2 screens at the same time (within some specific configurations).

Possible configurations:
  • 1 DisplayPort + 1 VGA.
  • 1 DisplayPort + X230T Screen.
  • 1 VGA + X230T Screen.
  • 1 VGA + 1 VGA does NOT work.
  • 1 DisplayPort + 1 DisplayPort may or may not work (assumed since I cannot test it)
  • Go to "More Monitor Ideas" below for other configurations.

Quote from an anonymous reader:

I finally got another DisplayPort cable and had a chance to test whether 2 DisplayPort will work simultaneously. They *DO* work. I can drive 2 monitors using the DisplayPort on the Ultrabase and the one on X230t itself. So it is possible to use 2 DisplayPorts. I suggest you revise your post"
The rest of his comment is below.

Possible resolutions:
  • 2560 x 1600 via DisplayPort.
  • 2048 x 1280 via VGA

Hope that helps.

Disk Drive Bay Adapter

Gear: X230T, UltraBase Series 3, Cooler Master NotePal Ergostand, Kensington lock, ThinkPad SATA HD Bay Adapter 3, Blu-ray Burner, LotFancy Disk Bay Adapter, WD10JPVT 1TB Drive, U3011 30" Monitor, more X230T Accessories.

The UltraBase Series 3 is capable of having an optical drive or a disk drive. The optical drive can be for CDs/DVDs/Blu-Ray discs. I don't need the optical drive, but I do need a hard disk drive.

There are many adapters available in the market, some expensive and others not. I got a cheap LotFancy Disk Drive Bay Adapter that can handle a Western Digital 1TB drive (2.5" 9.5mm thick). The adapter has one drawback, and that is that it doesn't "catch" and therefore is not that easy to eject (a thin knife seems to work well to eject the adapter).

The docking station treats the adapter+disk as a USB device, which makes it easy to plug-in and eject. No crazy sparks will go on... like if you tried plugging in a sata drive while a desktop PC is on.

If the hard disk drive is not formatted you will have to do that yourself through the "Disk Management" tool of Windows 7. Hit the Windows key and type "disk partitions" and you should see an option titled "Create and format hard disk partitions." Once in the Disk Management tool you should see your drive, and it's "dormant" so to activate it you have to format it. Right click on the disk and select "format", name your disk and click OK. The drive will become enabled and you will be able to access it through Explorer.

I hope this helps clear some of the mystery behind this port and the compatible drive bay adapter. Enjoy!

Monitor Related Questions

Hey Jesse,

I understand you tested out the monitor capabilities of the lenovo x230t and came to the verdict that AT MOST, it can only have 2 displays active at one time. However, I don't recall you using a USB monitor. Do you think that with the Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 - USB LCD Monitor that you are selling, you would be able to get three screens running successfully using the laptop screen + displayport/VGA + the USB thinkvision monitor? Thanks for everything man :)

USB monitors are different than the DisplayPort/VGA monitors. The USB monitors are based on DisplayLink technology, and I think it allows up to 7 USB monitors to be attached.

Yes you can have VGA + DisplayPort + USB monitors. One thing you got to keep in mind is that the performance of these USB monitors is slower. Info on ThinkVision LT1421, Toshiba 14 Inch USB Monitor, MIMO UM-710S.

More Monitor Ideas

USB monitors are slow when compared to regular monitors.  The X230T can ouput a DisplayPort signal via it's port on the side or through the port on the UltraBase Series 3.  The DisplayPort output can be split to two DVI/VGA/HDMI output with the right adapter (DisplayPort 1x2 Splitter).  Thus you can have the X230T's screen active, and add two monitors going through the DisplayPort.  The Windows software will treat the two monitors  as a single wide display.  The performance that you'll get should be better than what you would get through USB monitors.

Gear: DisplayPort to 1x2 Splitter.

A method of connecting more monitors through the DisplayPort.  There are DP to 2x DVI or DP to 2x HDMI.  The brand shown above can be found here.


Keep System ON while lid is closed

Press win key, type "Change what closing the lid does."  On the "Plugged in" column go to "When I close the lid:" and change the setting to "Do nothing."

Ensure that Lenovo Power Manager settings are consistent with Windows Power Options.



  1. Your reviews have been extremely helpful and I plan on donating to keep it alive. As a fellow service member I respect your endeavors here. Your reviews on the S10-3T let me to get that and now I'm curious how the touch feature compares with this Wacom digitizer to the S10. Thanks if you can comment!

    1. The responsiveness of the touch is about the same on the S10-3T as it is on Wacom systems (X201T, X220T, X230T, Series 7 Slate). The touch differences are on the number of touch points and the digitizer input.

      The S10-3T should be fine for many simpler tasks, while the other systems have improved internals which gives them better performance.

      Software is the other element that affects overall performance. If the software is not touch friendly, then the touch screen is pretty useless. There are some touch friendly apps in Windows 7, but Windows 8 will have more. There are not that many dgitizer friendly programs. Microsoft OneNote and Sketchbook Pro are good examples of proper programs designed with pen input in mind.

      That's all for now.

  2. Thanks for the reply. I just ordered my X230T, my primary reason being its great internals that will be a welcome upgrade from my S10-3T's atom processor. I'm looking forward to a bios update the Lenovo crew is apparently working on to allow full eGPU functionality. I'll probably build a eGPU and leave it here in the desert for when I deploy. Speaking of I saw a marine that looked like you today, almost asked but figured that would be a little creepy. Donations coming your way man thanks for the great info.

    1. I have also considered the eGPU on the X230T because it has plenty of processing power, but the GPU could be better. Currently I have a HP laptop for graphic intensive stuff, and the X230T for everything else. I would like to have a single system, and with the eGPU it can be done. When the funds allow it I might do that, and then sell my gaming laptop.

      BTW, you will not see me in a military base anymore, I'm no longer an active Marine. I'm doing university now, and a few weeks ago someone recognized me. He was like "hey, are you Jesse Andersen?" We talked for a while and figured out that there are 3 people with convertible tablets at the university, so I'm still an unknown guy. :)

      I got a few weeks off school, so I'm open to suggestions on what to go over next.

      Good luck if you deploy, the pre-deployment training would probably be tougher now than actual deployments (guess it depends where you deploy). FYI, you can no longer use air dusters to clean laptops... dumb idiots were getting high off those (a few tards died too).

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for the thorough review and explanations.

    I have a question, do you know if it's possible to connect 2 monitors simultaneously *without* a docking station, i.e. by using the built-in VGA port + built-in mini-display port ?

    Thanks !

    1. 2 monitors max at the same time with or without the docking station (1 VGA, 1 DisplayPort). By the way, it is a "DisplayPort" and not a "mini-display port".

    2. Thanks for your answer, especially since this information is nowhere to be found on the Lenovo documents.

      For the DisplayPort I was thinking of the X230 non-tablet version which looks like it has a mini one: http://asset0.cbsistatic.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2012/05/30/08_Lenovo_Thinkpad_X230_35313302_610x458.jpg

      Interesting difference, I wonder why !

    3. Some differences of the laptop and tablet version can lead to confusion. On the X230T documents a
      mini DisplayPort adapter" is listed as compatible, but that is not correct. That accessory would be for the laptop version.

      I have no idea why Lenovo did what they did, but they probably had a strategy behind it (maybe to minimize expenses by using the same body as the X220T).

  4. Jesse,

    Thank you very much for sharing this information. This has been mighty helpful because there is so much confusion about this. I called Lenovo tech support, but they don't know anything (talked to 5+ people, seriously). Lenovo support site does not list Ultrabase 3 as being compatible with X230t while their product information site does say they are compatible. Their sales site actually list all the series 3 docking stations as being compatible. Ridiculous! So thank you for this hands-on information.

    I have an additional questions. First, did you have a chance to test out 2 DisplayPort setting? I heard that X220 can output 2 digital videos when it is used with a mini-dock (with 2 DVI and 2 DisplayPorts). I assume X230 can do the same. So I am wondering if X230t can do that as well. Thanks.

    1. If I was a Lenovo employee I would dedicate myself to covering and answering every question regarding their products. Many customer service reps have not seen and tested the devices, and they go by what documents say. Sometimes the documents can have faulty information.

      As far as I'm aware the X230T is only compatible with the Series 3 Ultrabase and the configurations are listed above. The X230 laptop might be compatible with the mini dock, but I have not tested it.

  5. Jesse,

    I finally got another DisplayPort cable and had a chance to test whether 2 DisplayPort will work simultaneously. They *DO* work. I can drive 2 monitors using the DisplayPort on the Ultrabase and the one on X230t itself. So it is possible to use 2 DisplayPorts. I suggest you revise your post. While I appreciate your work, I don't think it is a good practice to present your "assumptions" as if they were facts. Your post could mislead people. You almost made me give up on using 2 digital ports. But still, I appreciate all your work.

    1. My intentions have never been to mislead people, that is why I mentioned the "assumption" key word on the video and on the post. I clearly stated that I could not "test it", and that leaves a window open for those that want to investigate the matter. Everything that I say/write is not 100% true, because I am human and make mistakes.

      I have revised the post and video with the new information, and future readers will see what you had to say.

    2. does anyone know if it can cope with both DisplayPort monitors running at 2560x1440?

    3. It does :)
      In fact it seems it will even support the laptop screen too (i.e. 3 independent screens) although the resolution of the external monitors is forced downwards in that configuration.

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  7. I checked with Lenovo support about the correct Disk Drive Bay Adapter for the UltraBase Series 3. They recommended Lenovo part 43N3412.

    1. That one is also known as the Bay Adapter 3.

  8. im thinking about purchasing this computer, however i was wondering if windows 8 will run on the tablet. is there anyway you could test this out?

    1. It will run Windows 8. I'm not sure if the existing Win 7 drivers are fully compatible with Windows 8 though.

    2. i called lenovo they informed me that windows 8 needs 10 finger multitouch to work and the x230t only has 4. they said that it will not work and they have no plans of upgrading the x230t to make it windows 8 compatible. i know you did a review of simple tap wich makes it more tablet friendly is there any other tablet themed software you would recommend for the x230t?

    3. I think the fellow that answered your question might be a little misinformed. Windows 8 works on desktop computers that don't have any multitouch... so we can argue that Windows 8 will work with the X230T. The X230T has 2-point multitouch, but is capable of 5-point gestures. (no idea how that works)

      A video of the older X220T with the five finger gestures:

      Lenovo might not officially support Windows 8 on the X230T, but that doesn't mean that you cannot install Win 8. Now, what this means is that Lenovo may not release Win 8 drivers, but the Win 7 ones might still work.

      Personally I do not care about installing Win 8 on my X230T. If I was to test it... it would be in a virtual machine, and not as my primary operating system.

      The software depends on what your needs are. I use Microsoft OneNote for a lot of math, plans, sketches, and general notes that require the digitizer pen.

  9. Placed my order today for my X230T with multi-touch display. Asked Lenovo if I could have it shipped with Windows 8 Pro 64. They said no, it has to come with Windows 7 Pro 64. However, you can get Windows 8 upgrade for £15 (about $20).


    1. Be careful with upgrading your X230T to Win 8, as Lenovo does NOT have official drivers for that operating system. Therefore, if you have issues with your system Lenovo is NOT liable to help you.

      If you want to test Win 8 I would recommend having a dual boot configuration. If Win 8 is good then you can remove Win 7.

  10. I've watched your reviews for a while (the number of videos the number of videos is fantastic and I love how through you are) I ordered an x230 Tablet. I want to get a samsung 840 pro SSD and I was wondering if I could use the ultrabase bay to clone the stock HDD to the 840 pro. Do you think that would be possible/easy to do?

    1. Yes. But if you can, get an SSD with the cloning kit included (it will save you headaches). Like this one:

  11. Thank you for the blog Jesse. I have an X230 and an ultrabase 3 that I use at the office to connect to an external monitor. The problem I've noticed when using this combination is the following:

    If I undock the laptop to go to a meeting room and come back, I can't seem to figure out the way to be able to simply dock the laptop, and then use the external monitor with the lid closed. It just won't happen. The laptop either goes to sleep (because of the power manager settings), or (if I disable that setting), it doesn't switch the display over to the external monitor after closing the lid. Seems the only way is to manually hit the Fn+F7 combo to change the display setting.

    Maybe this is not a product, but user problem? :D

    1. Refresh this page and scroll to the last posted image. It has instructions to keep your system on while the lid is closed. This works when the system is either docked or not.

    2. Jesse, thank you very much for your quick response. Unfortunately this setting doesn't seem to fix the problem. I actually had this setting changed that way a while back and just confirmed it again (do nothing when lid is closed). I even had that selected for both plugged in and on battery.

      Actually, I think what's causing the problem is that the computer is being locked as soon as I close the lid. At least it seems that way because if just close the lid and open it again (regardless of whether I'm on power or not or whether I'm docked or not), I get presented with the lock screen and asked to log in when I open the lid again (keep in mind the computer doesn't go to sleep or hibernate or anything during the time the lid is closed).

      I tried to look for any setting that could cause the screen to lock when the lid is closed, but couldn't find anything. I tried the "Don't require a password" option and it didn't change a thing, I still get asked for the password.

      I'm completely baffled by this.

    3. Ensure that Lenovo Power Manager is consistent with Windows Power Options. It is likely that Lenovo's power program is overwriting what Windows is doing.

    4. Yeah I actually checked that multiple times. Both settings (what to do when lid is closed and whether to require password upon resume) in both lenovo power manger and windows power manager are identical (do nothing, and no password).

      The thing is, there is nothing in either Lenovo's or Windows' power manager that says "lock the screen" when the lid is closed. It's either sleep, hibernate or shut down. I can't figure out why my computer is locking the screen (it's not sleeping, not hibernating nor shutting down). Maybe there's a setting for it somewhere else but I can't find it. I even disabled the password after screen saver option!

      Are you able to close the lid without the computer locking and asking you to enter your password again?

      Thanks again for your answer Jesse.

    5. Yes I can close the lid of my X230T without the system sleeping or locking. I do not have a password. I'm trying to recall whether I had this issue or not... if I did it went away when I conducted the tweaks and updated software (make sure to reboot after changes).

  12. Hi Jesse,
    I have ordered my x230t but have a question. Is there any docking station for the machine with USB 3.0 - cause this would be much faster for external DVD or hard discs as USB 2.0 (from the Ultrabase). Without such a port I have to unlock the Ultrabase plus unplug the USB 3.0 cable each time i will take the x230t with me and this sucks a little bit.



    1. There is no compatible X230T docking station that supports USB 3.0. The only USB 3.0 ports are those found on the sides of the X230T. I would love to say that the Mini Dock Plus 3 with USB 3.0 was compatible, but the list only includes the X230 laptop.

  13. Thanks for the fast feedback - so i have to live with this point.
    And thanks for your interesting blog - one of the best sources about the t-series

  14. Hey Jesse, what kind of specs should I be looking for, if I want to add an optical drive to the docking station?

    1. Every X230T version should support the Ultrabase.

    2. I meant the optical drive for the ultrabase. I'm thinking for purchasing one since the x230T does not come with one. Are there specific specs I should be searching for when making this purchase?

    3. There are a few versions, but your needs will dictate what you should buy. There are DVD write/read and there's even Blu-Ray write/read (this one also reads DVDs). The Blu-Ray would be the best, but it's also the most expensive.

  15. Hi Jesse,

    Could you please tell me the exact dimensions (in metric preferably) of the Lenovo ThinkPad UltraBase Series 3.
    It appears to get thinner at the front. Is this true?

    I ask as I currently have my x230t resting on an adjustable wooden drawing board as I use the x230t for digital art purposes.
    There is already an incline from the angle of the drawing board, But I'm just wondering if the Ultrabase would add much more of an angle/height?

    I have cables coming from external monitors and USB everything, it'll be easier to have them all located at the back as opposed to every port on the TabletPC.

    Also, Do you have any tips for the well known x230t WiFi issues when in tablet mode? I currently use a WiFi USB adapter when in Tablet mode as the WiFi reception becomes horribly slow.

    1. At the moment I'm not near the Ultrabase and cannot give you specific measurements. Some stats can be found at

      Regarding wifi issues, ensure that you give it as much power as the system may need. Use Lenovo Power Manager and Device Manager to do that.

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  17. Hi Jesse,

    May i ask if you have encountered issue rebooting the laptop when docked? I have x230 laptop with ultrabase 3 docking station with 2nd hdd on the optical bay.

    My problem is laptop will no bootup when i restart it. I have to shut it down and turn it on so it will boot up completely.

    This issue is happening regardless windows 7 or 8. all drivers and bios already updated.


    1. Maybe it's the boot device priority--which can be modified in the bios.

  18. Can you give some input on the speakers in the ultrabase? Do they work in conjunction with the speakers on the face of the screen, when docked? My x200t had puny sound, but the ultrabase helped a lot. I now have an x230t but no ultrabase. The x230t clearly has a louder system onboard, but I also use it to sometimes watch movies, etc. I am interested in having a bit more pep/ volume/ base. Does the ultrabase provide this? Or replace the laptop speakers when docked? Do they help it sound better? I know that's kind of entertainment focused, but it would be helpful to know. No one has mentioned it anywhere. Thanks!

    1. There are NO speakers on the UltraBase. The docking station has a 3.5mm output so you can connect external speakers. To get better audio you must use external speakers, either through 3.5mm, USB, or DisplayPort.

  19. How strange! There are two on the x200t ultrabase. I thought you said there were two little speakers in the front of the Ultrabase in your video review of it. Sorry for the confusion. :)

    1. The X220T and X230T have the speakers on the screen bezel, while the laptop versions (X220 and X230) have speakers near the palm rest area. The UltraBase takes into account the X220/X230 speaker position and thus Lenovo added those slots to disseminate audio.

  20. I just thought I'd share with you and other people looking at the x230t my artist review here.

    I use the x230t for 2D animation and digital art on a daily basis and it works swimmingly.

    Just thought I'd put it out to the community as you've helped me out with your fantastic reviews here.
    Thanks, mate.


  21. Excellent review and I feel tempting to buy the product. I have never seen the Lenovo thinkpad as I see it now! Thanks for the expressing your wonderful views.

  22. Two questions..... When I dock this it freezes every time. But when I undock everything is cool. Also I have the ODD and even though I put in a disk nothing happens at all?

    I have been everywhere and all my drivers are good but nothing happens

    1. I don't recall having those problems with my unit, and don't know why it would do that if your drivers are updated.