Today I received my first batch of ThinkPad X230s to deploy and the build quality is as expected albeit with one caveat.  The disappointing and crippled keyboard with one less row of keys and a different layout is a nuisance.  I do not mind the chiclet keyboard as the backlight is a classy touch and a nice surprise that they kept the ThinkLight in place as well giving us options on which to use.

The first things that I did was boot it up with the standard hard drive that was included a 320GB, 7200rpm (revolutions per minute) to see what changes Windows 8 and Lenovo brought to the table.  It was a very clean integration featuring the Metro UI experience.  Once the OS was all loaded up I went to C:\Windows\Web and copied off the Lenovo Wallpapers for future use.

Second, once I grabbed the files I shut it down and flipped it over to remove the included 4 GB DDR3- 1600MHz (1 DIMM) and 320GB spindle with a total of 3 screws from the case and 4 screws from the HDD caddy.  It was replaced with 16 GB DDR3 – 1600 MHz that was purchased for $50 from Newegg compared to the $340 Lenovo charges and a Samsung 830 Series 256 GB SSD (solid state drive) from B&H Photo, Video & Pro Audio for $162 versus Lenovo’s closest offering of a 180GB SSD, SATA3 for $380.  These simple extra steps saved a total of $508 and is a significant difference when the quantity is multiplied with additional machines.

Third, it was time to install a fresh copy of Windows 8 Pro that I opted to upgrade for $50.  I downloaded the ISO and used the Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool to create a bootable USB.  I found that it did not boot into the installer like it normally does.  I figured that it has something to do with the new UEFI (unified extensible firmware interface) mode and Secure Boot.  The default setting is now UEFI Only preventing a non-UEFI installer from loading.

Here are the steps to create a UEFI Bootable USB with Windows 8.

Method 1:

  1. Make sure you have a Windows 8 ISO image file prepared.
  2. Format your USB drive in FAT32.
  3. Extract the ISO using 7-Zip or similar program.
  4. Copy all the files from it to the USB drive.
  5. Insure “UEFI Only” or something along those lines are selected so it boots correctly as opposed to the traditional “Legacy” or “BIOS” mode.
  6. From there it should load up the UEFI Windows 8 installer and proceed with Windows installation normally.

Method 2:

  1. Make sure you have a Windows 8 ISO image file prepared.
  2. Attach USB flash drive (at least 4GB) directly to your computer.
  3. Download Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool.
  4. Run the tool and follow the instructions.
  5. Create a new folder on your computer disk (i.e. C:\WIN8)
  6. Copy all the files from your USB drive to the newly created folder.
  7. Right click on the USB drive icon in Computer window and select “Format…” from the context menu.  Select “FAT32 (Default)” in “File system” drop down menu.  Click “Start” and wait until the drive gets formatted.
  8. Copy all the files from the folder you created earlier (i.e. C:\WIN8) to the newly formatted FAT32 drive.
  9. Your UEFI Windows 8 installation USB drive is ready.  Attach it to USB 2.0 port (some computers do not boot from USB 3.0 ports) of the computer you want to get Windows installed.
  10. Reboot computer and the installer should work normally with all the benefits of UEFI.

The reasons for all these step is the Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool formats the USB drive as NTFS and that type of filesystem is not supported for UEFI booting.