Lenovo ThinkPads are suffering from USB-C problems – here's how to fix them

(Image credit: Future)

A large number of Lenovo ThinkPad laptops are suffering from serious issues relating to the USB Type-C port and Thunderbolt controller, but there is a fix in the form of firmware and driver updates.

The details of the nasty gremlins in the works are provided via a Lenovo support page, where you will also find the relevant system updates for the different affected devices.

This was highlighted by Notebook Check, and there’s a long list of affected models provided by Lenovo, all of which are ThinkPad notebooks from 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The common denominator is seemingly that all the affected devices have Thunderbolt controllers, and they have gone wrong, or the USB-C port itself has become faulty.

Lenovo lists the various problems which can emerge with these machines, and are likely to do so within the first six to 12 months of ‘typical usage’ of the laptop.

Those issues include the USB-C port simply not working anymore, or experiencing connectivity problems. Alternatively, video output may fail, or power delivery via the USB-C port might fall over. In other words, the Type-C port will either fail completely or partly.

Furthermore, the user may get Thunderbolt error messages (and potentially a system hang at the start of boot-up).

So either the controller is failing, or the port is failing, on a whole swathe of ThinkPads including Yoga models, and different flavors of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, X1 Yoga and X1 Tablet.

How to fix Lenovo ThinkPads USB-C problems

Owners of the ThinkPad laptops highlighted are advised by Lenovo to immediately update with the relevant Intel driver and firmware packages. You'll find the list of necessary updates for any particular affected device in a table towards the bottom of the web page.

Be sure to install both of these updates, and the manufacturer recommends that you should install the driver first, followed by the firmware update.

Lenovo also observes that: “Users with NVM version 4.0 please connect a Thunderbolt device to the system prior to updating firmware.”

Furthermore, if installing the above packages doesn’t help, you need to contact Lenovo technical support, who will doubtless advise you on the next steps to take.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).