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Bluetooth on the Lenovo Thinkpad X220 with Windows 10

The Bluetooth module that came fitted to my Lenovo Thinkpad X220 was the Broadcom BCM92070MD_LENO . This is not detected by Windows 10 by default (amusingly it does appear to be detected by default by Linux distros such as Ubuntu/Mint etc.). Indeed, until I stripped down my Thinkpad, I assumed I didn't have a Bluetooth module! This module has its own dedicated hardware interface (a "BDC socket") beneath the palm rest, and does not take up the mSATA nor PCIe half mini card slots (the PCIe socket on my Thinkpad was already occupied by the Intel N 6205 b/g/n WiFi adapter). Note that the Bluetooth antenna is printed on the module itself, it does not require a separate antenna connection. The BCM92070MD is a Bluetooth 3 module and does not seem to require any particular version of the BIOS, although it does continue to work with a modified BIOS such as the Whitelist BIOS.

Installing the following Broadcom Bluetooth drivers, strangely from the Hewlett-Packard website, allowed Windows 10 to detect Bluetooth on the BCM92070MD on my Thinkpad X220.

ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp74501-75000/sp74543.exe

I recommend a reboot after installing these drivers.

Remember that you will need to:

• Ensure that the wireless hardware switch on the left side of the X220 is switched to the GREEN (on) position. For colour-blind users, note that the alternative is black (off), so you will be able to distinguish this indicator. I'm also colour-blind and had the colour checked by my daughters (females are almost - almost - impossible to be colour-blind).

• Ensure Windows 10 is not in aeroplane mode. This can be done from the action bar (Notifications sidebar) or it can be done by pressing FN-F5. You may need to press FN-F5 more than once to cycle through the various options (on other laptops, I've seen them cycle through "all off", "all on", "WiFi only", "Bluetooth only" but not necessarily in that order). If you don't have the Lenovo bloatware installed, then you may be doing this without any on-screen indication that the mode has changed.

The Bluetooth indicator at the bottom of the screen, above the PrtSc & ScrLk keys, should light up when Bluetooth is activated. I believe this light is either on or off, and doesn't change colour, but I'm not calling a daughter over again to confirm that.

If this still doesn't work, it's possible that your Thinkpad does not have a Bluetooth module at all. You should strip down and physically inspect your Thinkpad. Unplug and remove the battery, then remove the keyboard and the palm rest ("C surface") only. The WiFi and Bluetooth modules will be under the palm rest. Here's some guides:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Trx6kEH_oJc - Laptop Retrospective's guide to stripping down and replacing the PCIe WiFi module; also shows more generally, how to remove the keyboard and palm rest

http://www.myfixguide.com/manual/lenovo-thinkpad-x220-disassembly/ - MyFixGuide's thorough pictorial guide to X220 disassembly covering much more than just the keyboard and palm rest ("C surface").

Here's a photo of the area underneath the palm rest from MyFixGuide, to which I've added arrows labelling the WiFi and Bluetooth modules:

If you don't have a Bluetooth module, you have two options:

• Buy a Broadcom BCM92070MD FRU 60y3271 module from eBay for eight quid or so, strip down your Thinkpad and fit it, or...

• Replace the PCIe N 6205 WiFi module with an Intel 7260 module from eBay for fifteen quid or so. This combined module is an upgrade which provides both WiFi (including WiFi C; the original only provides up to WiFi N) and Bluetooth 4 (including Bluetooth Low Energy; the original BCM92070MD only provides Bluetooth 3). However you will also need to flash your X220 BIOS to the "Whitelist BIOS". Note that the Whitelist BIOS allows you to do potentially stupid things that could brick your Thinkpad, There are two good video guides:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsCfFOywZs0 - Laptop Retrospective's guide to updating the BIOS to the 1.46 Whitelist BIOS (also known as the Whitelist Removed BIOS)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Trx6kEH_oJc - As previously mentioned, Laptop Retrospective's guide to stripping down and replacing the PCIe WiFi module

To be honest, I found the performance of the factory-fitted Broadcom module to be a little flaky under Windows 10. My headset, which worked fine with other Windows 10 laptops and Android phones, suffered from audio drops, and when disconnected wouldn't reconnect without turning Bluetooth off and back on again ("Hullo, IT..."). It is possible that there are better Windows 10 drivers out there than the ones I linked from the HP website - do email me if you find any better.

Finally, it's well worth having a look at McDonnellTech's Thinkpad X220 Resources web page, for general X220 tips.

Comments, errors and corrections to: andrew@aoakley.com

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Public Domain - Andrew Oakley - 2018-09-04

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