Single Status Update
Since the T480 died I've been using my MSI as a replacement laptop and it sucks so much. I know in my head that upgrading from an i5 2410m to a i5 3320m is not that much in raw CPU performance, but it really was a nice overall upgrade. I ended up buying a ThinkPad X230 because it was nice and small (I've been using a netbook and I really appreciate how small the footprint is), it comes with a battery, and I can RAM/BCLK/iGPU OC on it.
In Cinebench R15, it's only about 30cb faster by stock, but it feels a lot more responsive than the MSI for general day to day tasks. It also has a competent iGPU that can actually not drop any frames at 768p, and it is built a shit ton better (because it's a business laptop). The performance does not really bother me as day to day, it feels the same as the T480 despite having half the cores, half the threads, a quarter of the ram, and like half the single core performance.
It's 768p display is actually a upgrade from the MSI. It is just smaller at the same resolution -> higher PPI, and so it feels nicer to use. The panel (despite it being 6bit TN) is actually a upgrade as well; colours look better, contrast is better, and it gets brighter. Keyboard is fantastic as always, even with the 'gimped' layout.
The trackpad is atrocious because of the drivers. Physically, I feel it is fine and it may work nice in Linux but in Windows it is unusable. Too sensitive and jittery, and it's about as large as my AirPods Pros case. Another issue is that it interferes with the trackpoint polling rate if it is enabled, and so I have disabled it in the bios.
The only issue with this laptop is the SD card reader is a bit wonky because I bought a used one off of eBay and the chassis part of that is broken, but the motherboard is not cracked so I believe I am fine. The only thing I have done to this is upgrade the wifi card from the stock Centrino 2000 N to a Realtek 8812AE (had it laying around). I had to tape pin 51 on the card in order to get Bluetooth working. I used ivyra1n to 'jailbreak'
bios unlockthe x230 in order to bypass the wifi card whitelist, but in the end I will be using coreboot because I want to OC using XMP and XTU does not work for me on the 'jailbroken' bios to oc the iGPU.