I've used FreeBSD as my OS for over 10 years and if all goes well by this time next week will be the proud owner of a W520 and T61 I just purchased off ebay. The W520 was acquired with the intent of utilizing it for casual gaming but I have every intent of making the T61 a FreeBSD box for use as my everyday machine.
These will be my first Thinkpads but they are revered in the FreeBSD community and I researched them for compatibility before making my decision. The W520 was recommended in the FreeBSD forums and the T61 shows to be compatible in the laptop section of the FreeBSD wiki with these comments:
acpi_ibm seems to work just fine. No issues noted.
volume control buttons control the application with focus; not the global sound mixer
drm2 supports the graphics hardware with hardware OpenGL
middle mouse button seems to not work out of the box
Do not disable "Security -> IO Port Access -> Modem" in BIOS , otherwise it will fail to resume.
Having tpm.ko loaded breaks suspend. TPM doesn't work after resume.
USB power after suspend/resume cycle has been fixed in FreeBSD-11.https://wiki.freebsd.org/Laptops/Thinkpad_T61
I don't anticipate any problems at all building FreeBSD on the T61, although the W520 might need Discreet Graphics turned on or off.
The T61 is a 7661-CTO with T7700 2.4Ghz, 3GB RAM, 80GB HD with 9 cell battery running Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit from a private seller. (He states it to be an 86GB drive but may be reading the space left on a 100GB HD after OS install.) It will replace a 10 year old Sony Vaio w/ T2060 1.6Ghz, 2GB RAM and 100GB HD running FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE-p8 32bit.
I had my heart set on a box with the IBM logo, but when I saw how pristine this machine looked I went with it at $105 US plus shipping. After all, it's what's on the inside that counts, and it will give me a good base machine as far as some modest upgrades are concerned. Right now I plan to build a 32 bit system on it till I upgrade the RAM and HD and then go with the 64 bit version of FreeBSD.
The W520 is a 4276-3JU, 2760QM 2.40 GHz, nVidia Quadro 1000M, 8GB RAM, 500GB HD running Win10 Pro and was going for just under $300. It appears to come from a work environment but the sellers feedback included comments from 2 different people who appeared to have purchased boxen from the same lot extolling their virtues as clean machines.
And while my stated intent on the use of the W520 was for gaming, I'm really more into retro console gaming. The last PC game I bought was Oblivion and I'd like to continue where I left off on that for a while, but in all likelihood the day will come I wipe Win10 and dedicate it to FreeBSD, too. I also have a Gateway NV53A, AMD Phenom II x 3 N830 @ 2.8GHz, ATI Mobile Radeon HD 4250, 4GB RAM and 1TB HD I used briefly for gaming but gave it over to FreeBSD after having to replace the HD.
I'm really excited about getting such quality machines and my birthday is this week so I deserve it.
I'll be sure to let everyone know how they work out and to provide plenty of pix.
Edit: I found a couple IBM Thinkpad logo stickers on ebay for the T61 so it's all good.