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a long-lived T61 ?

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acz
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a long-lived T61 ?

#1 Post by acz » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:29 pm

I am no expert, but able to follow instructions, and seek advice from the experienced users here.

My trusty T61 is model 7658, Core 2 Duo T9300, 4 GB of RAM, BIOS 7LETC7WW 2.27
The hard drive is Hitachi Travelstar HTS725032A9A364 = 320GB SATA-300.
Amazingly, this laptop has been a real frequent flyer workhorse since August 2007. It is currently running 64-bit Windows 7 Pro SP1, with MS Office Pro 2010.

I used to stay on top of Lenovo System Update as well as Microsoft Windows Update, but got out of that habit over the last couple of years as MS patch reliability has slid downhill.

I think it should be possible to keep this reliable machine working for a few more years, perhaps at least until Win 7 support ends in January 2020. After that, it might be a perfectly good box for learning Linux. I do not think I would ever put Win 10 on this PC.

The PC is not used for coding or anything exotic. It is used heavily for internet browsing (Firefox) and email (Thunderbird). It must be able to receive and open attachments coming in from diverse clients (mostly Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).

The main reason to patch this machine going forward would be to try to keep it secure from cyber threats, insofar as that is possible. Patches or updates that improve its performance would certainly be welcome, and I am willing to invest some $$ - for an SSD or more RAM, for example.

Therefore, I would like to return to careful use of Windows Update (with guidance from Woody Leonhard and Susan Bradley). Moreover, I should probably check in with Lenovo updates to see what I have missed during the last two years or more.

I believe that this CPU will not receive any patches from Intel or Lenovo to prevent Spectre/Meltdown threats.

Several questions have occurred to me:
  • 1. My BIOS 2.27 dates from 2010, Lenovo offers BIOS 2.30 from April 2012.
    I read that I must install from CD-ROM for 64-bit OS.
    2. I have been reading here about the Middleton BIOS, which certainly sounds intriguing. It seems that could be a worthwhile update, it might even increase the throughput of my current HD (?) and then I could add RAM and use an SSD. Looking at http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Middleton’s_BIOS
    I believe that I would install Middleton version 2.29-1.08 from CD-ROM only, since I have a 64-bit OS. Would this be a better idea that the Lenovo bios?
    3. My battery died years ago, and would be necessary for any BIOS update – what would be a good source to order a replacement battery?
    4. I think I would also want to get an Ultrabay hard drive caddy so that I could use two drives (swapping out the original Optiarc DVD RW) – I would appreciate any suggestion about where to buy a caddy.
    5. Does anyone have experience adding a USB 3 connection by using the ExpressCard/PC Card slot?
    6. Lastly, I have a one-pixel high dim horizontal line on the 1440x900 display; it is quite tolerable now, but what might be the cost to replace that?
Yes, I expect that some will say “if it ain’t broke, don’t invest a dollar or an hour in fixing it.”
In addition, some might say just retire the T61 and just go buy a new T470 or T480. I might do that after seeing the responses to this post.
However, this is a well-built Thinkpad after all, and the many posts on this forum suggest that it should tolerate tinkering rather well. Right?
Thank you for taking the time to read this longer-than-I-intended email, and much appreciation for any suggestions.
A

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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#2 Post by TPFanatic » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:41 pm

About expresscard devices, I got an expresscard to SD/XC adapter for my T500 but it only worked after disabling PCI Express power management in the BIOS. When I tried it in the T61 I could not get it to work reliably, also of note that setting is completely missing in the T61 BIOS.

If you want to flash Middleton's do it from a bootable CD, or your 32 bit OS, because for some reason Lenovo says it is unsafe to use the flasher utility from 64 bit Windows.
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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#3 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:35 pm

1) Install Middleton's BIOS from self-booting CD as suggested above.
2) get an SSD, e.g. Samsung EVO-850 or Sandisk Extreme Pro, min. ~250GB
3) make a battery extension cord, as shown here: https://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.p ... 06#p680106 and borrow any battery that fits T60/T61/X60/X61 etc. up to T/X/Wx40
Then continue living without battery if you like.
4) these caddies are difficult to find, post a WTB in the Marketforum
5) check the T6x forum
6) check the T6x forum for Sharp WUXGA screens Oops, I thought you had 15.4" WS instead of 14.1" WS
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Screamer
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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#4 Post by Screamer » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:50 pm

acz wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:29 pm
2) I have been reading here about the Middleton BIOS, which certainly sounds intriguing. It seems that could be a worthwhile update, it might even increase the throughput of my current HD (?) and then I could add RAM and use an SSD.
3) My battery died years ago, and would be necessary for any BIOS update – what would be a good source to order a replacement battery?
4) I think I would also want to get an Ultrabay hard drive caddy so that I could use two drives (swapping out the original Optiarc DVD RW) – I would appreciate any suggestion about where to buy a caddy.
5) Does anyone have experience adding a USB 3 connection by using the ExpressCard/PC Card slot?
6) Lastly, I have a one-pixel high dim horizontal line on the 1440x900 display; it is quite tolerable now, but what might be the cost to replace that?
2) It will not increase your throughput of your current HDD as far as I know, your HDD does not seem to hit the limit of SATA I's maximum transfer speed (187.5 MB/s). Only if you do install an SSD, then you will see the improvements with middleton's BIOS. middleton's BIOS also removes the whitelist, so you can install any MiniPCI-E wireless adapter as you see fit.

3) eBay or Amazon, just be very careful with certain non-genuine batteries that do not sit in flush with your T61. I had bought a 6-cell battery meant for the R50e (looks genuine, but doesn't fit?), and the 2nd latch on the left just did not want to go in for some reason. The first latch on the right did, but the 2nd latch appears to be incapable of being pushed in due to some ledge preventing it from going all the way in.

4) This looks genuine, try it. It is a little costly though, but I would suggest genuine parts against non-genuine parts.

5) No experience unfortunately. Though, you could try giving this a shot, I heard this should work fine.

6) According to eBay, the prices ranges from $22-$120. You could try this one out.

EDIT: A little more information on middleton's BIOS enabling SATA II speeds. If your HDD's transfer speeds don't exceed 187.5 MB/s, it means that SATA II being enabled won't do anything for your HDD. middleton's BIOS enabling SATA II speeds only matter to SSDs or even HDDs that can go above 187.5 MB/s, the ones that have their transfer speeds below the limit of 187.5 MB/s are not affected because they can't hit the maximum transfer rate of SATA I (187.5 MB/s). That is why I thought your current HDD wouldn't benefit from SATA II being enabled.
Last edited by Screamer on Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

wujstefan
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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#5 Post by wujstefan » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:10 am

Screamer wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:50 pm
2) It will not increase your throughput of your current HDD as far as I know, your HDD does not seem to hit the limit of SATA I's maximum transfer speed (187.5 MB/s). Only if you do install an SSD, then you will see the improvements with middleton's BIOS. middleton's BIOS also removes the whitelist, so you can install any MiniPCI-E wireless adapter as you see fit.

3) eBay or Amazon, just be very careful with certain non-genuine batteries that do not sit in flush with your T61. I had bought a 6-cell battery meant for the R50e (looks genuine, but doesn't fit?), and the 2nd latch on the left just did not want to go in for some reason. The first latch on the right did, but the 2nd latch appears to be incapable of being pushed in due to some ledge preventing it from going all the way in.

4) This looks genuine, try it. It is a little costly though, but I would suggest genuine parts against non-genuine parts.

5) No experience unfortunately. Though, you could try giving this a shot, I heard this should work fine.

6) According to eBay, the prices ranges from $22-$120. You could try this one out.
2) Middleton enables SATA-II support. It does make a huge difference.
3) Drop me a PM. I should still have a 14,1" WS genuine battery.
4) no difference genuine or generic considering caddies, and I have owned more than 50. Just do not buy a $2 caddy, quality will be dramatic.
5) dig the forum; mine work just fine
6) It is 14,1" WS, which makes both the battery and the display pretty hard to get. However, again, you can PM me. I have finished my T/R projects and have lots of spares to share, and not too expensive. Sharp WUXGA option is 15,4", so not for your system.

If I can make a suggestion, getting a well-shaped albeit stripped 15,4" T61/R61 with a good battery would be cheaper than LCD + a good battery for 14,1" WS version.
Dailies:
X201s - travel / garage
HP Elitebook 8770w (FHD IPS, SSD, Q4000M, 16Gb) - daily
Collectibles:
T43 (LED Flexview UXGA), Z60t, G41, R30, R50e, R61i
Under construction:
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acz
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Location: Texas Hill Country

Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#6 Post by acz » Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:14 am

Thank you for all the helpful comments so far. I am encouraged that no one said "don't waste your time". With a busy summer ahead, I just have to make the time to proceed.
A

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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#7 Post by theterminator93 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:08 pm

Good input in this thread. The T61 is a fine machine, with a few quirks like any other model, but still worth the time investment to keep running.

I "frankenpadded" a secondhand T60 with the T61 motherboard and use it daily as my workhorse on the job. Is it a little long in the tooth? Sure. But is it still a great machine and a pleasure to work on? Even more so. :)

I too am going to run Windows 7 on it as long as possible. Among the first things I did was apply the Middleton BIOS and install a SSD. I also maxed out at 8GB RAM. The unit is very responsive - nearly on par with the newer models. Areas it leaves a bit to be desired are first and foremost, battery life. 3 hours on a full charge is typical with moderate use. I've got just about all the UltraBay options available (extra batteries, Serial/Parallel IO, DVD, HDD caddy) and those alone are the primary reason I continue to keep it in service. The flexibility of being able to flip between any of those devices is really the highlight of this model in today's day and age where there's no ports on anything. Another drawback is GPU performance and age - which with the modern web, relegates rendering of content to the CPU... which brings performance down noticeably with some pages. Otherwise performance is fine, and with a couple spare ultrabay batteries and a good 9 cell, I get a full day's runtime out of it.

You can look into the 1066 FSB mod as well, even the quad core mod, to further enhance performance if that's what you need.
Daily: T25 | W520 i7-2860QM·Quadro 2000m·IPS FHD | T420 i7-2640M·NVS 4200m·IPS FHD | X220 i7-2640M | T601F T9900·NVS 140M·IPS UXGA
Wife's: T61p T9500·2010 FX570m·WUXGA | X220T i7-2640M
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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#8 Post by storm-chaser » Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:22 am

Sounds like you've taken great care of your machine and it's great to see you've kept it around and plan on using it for a long time to come.
As already mentioned the MiddleTon BIOS is a great upgrade. You don't really need to go all out with your SSD purchase. Real world results mean you won't benifit at all from running a SATA III SSD. As your Read speed is limited to about 280 MB/s and write speed is limited to about 85MB/s. SSD prices are very low right now so you could check newegg for some deals. You don't need a 250GB SDD, I've been operating from a 60GB SSD with Windows 10 for years now and I have no issues. I use a network storage device to manage all of my larger files. But again, it's all down to what you're personal needs will be. I'm just pointing out Windows 10 will easily run on a 60GB SSD. I would go for middle of the road, something like a 120GB drive should be sufficient.

You can also download ThrottleStop 8.5 for overclocking and undervotling. Since you have a T9300 processor you can use ThrottleStop to activate Dual IDA mode. This offers an approximate 13% performance boost over the stock 2.5Ghz speed, resulting in a 13.5 multi for a 2.7Ghz clock speed across both cores. This is an early "turbo core" feature that ThrottleStop can take advantage of. You can also undervot the CPU for maximum heat savings, as I have my T9300 at 1.1625 Vcore @ 2.7Ghz.


You can also download and run TPFanControl for managing your CPU fan speed. However, the program settings are counter-intuative and aggrevating in some cases. Use at your own risk! lol
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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#9 Post by wujstefan » Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:21 am

You don't need to install Throttlestop to enable D-IDA. It works out-of-the-box when you load Middleton.

You may consider FSB-mod (it is pretty simple) with Highsuns' BIOS instead of Middleton, this will in short enable Quad-Core support on your system. And this makes a difference really, but requires an SPD-mod on your RAM as well. I did not find undervolting that effective on quad-cores (Q9100 and QX9300 tested), but both top 800FSB Penryns (T9300, T9500, X9000) and 1066FSB ones (T9900, X9100) accept way lower voltages without stability loss.

X9000 may come extremely useful to your needs, and involves just swapping the CPU. Have in mind it runs reasonably hotter than non-xtreme penryns, and undervolting is very reasonable here.

You did not mention which graphics chip your system uses, and this is also very important here. Graphics is the bottleneck of this system for most users (unless you use it with 2503 dock or eGPU device).

I have numerous systems I use every day (incl. topped Elitebook 8770w), but my trusted R61i just makes me smile when I work on it. Too bad R-series in 4:3 ratio are not capable of running Quad-Cores due to heat issues... Maybe I will build my last Frankie out of what I'm left :)
Dailies:
X201s - travel / garage
HP Elitebook 8770w (FHD IPS, SSD, Q4000M, 16Gb) - daily
Collectibles:
T43 (LED Flexview UXGA), Z60t, G41, R30, R50e, R61i
Under construction:
A31, R52p, T22, A22m, R40, T30, Z61m

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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#10 Post by storm-chaser » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:00 pm

You will need ThrottleStop if you wish to undervolt, which as mentioned, which is a good thing when it comes to running the hotter C2D chips, such as the X9000, T9300 or T9500.

You can use Task Scheduler to run your ThrottleStop config at startup so you can have your CPU dialed in the background. When you need more processing power you can always turn up the wick as throttlestop will run in the notification area!

An X9000 CPU can run about 3.6 Ghz with the fan at full speed and you should still be okay with heat. The X9000 is the CPU I run in my T61p and I love it. I'm not the kinda guy to just set it and forget it, I like tweaking and tuning so it suites me well. Now, If I could just find a better program to manage fan speed I'd be happy. TPFanControl, as I already mentioned, is not the greatest designed program and the settings are counter-intuative.
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Lenovo T61 14.1" - Core 2 Duo T9300 @ 2.7Ghz
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wujstefan
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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#11 Post by wujstefan » Tue Jun 26, 2018 3:27 pm

storm-chaser wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:00 pm
You will need ThrottleStop if you wish to undervolt
Yup.
I personally preffer RMClock modded with W7 input file; it gives more options. And I simply like it better ;)
storm-chaser wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:00 pm
TPFanControl, as I already mentioned, is not the greatest designed program and the settings are counter-intuative.
I'd say it's just fine. Have you tried NotebookFanControl? It gives better control on the fan. You will most possibly need to read out the output states to find out which bit is responsible for fan control.
Dailies:
X201s - travel / garage
HP Elitebook 8770w (FHD IPS, SSD, Q4000M, 16Gb) - daily
Collectibles:
T43 (LED Flexview UXGA), Z60t, G41, R30, R50e, R61i
Under construction:
A31, R52p, T22, A22m, R40, T30, Z61m

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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#12 Post by Cigarguy » Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:26 pm

My portable computing needs is very similar to yours. Web browsing and some office stuff. For that a T60 platforum is perfectly fine for me. For a T61, I would stay with a T9300, upgrade to a SSD and possibly the RAM but 2x4 GB DDR2 sodimm is too expensive for this platform. The biggest value for money and upgrade in the computing experience is from HDD to SSD for OS and programs.

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Re: a long-lived T61 ?

#13 Post by theterminator93 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:22 pm

I tend to use IBM_ECW and TPFanControl for my hardware undervolting/SpeedStep config needs... but each has their own favorite for their own reasons. Figured I'd point out the combo. :)
Daily: T25 | W520 i7-2860QM·Quadro 2000m·IPS FHD | T420 i7-2640M·NVS 4200m·IPS FHD | X220 i7-2640M | T601F T9900·NVS 140M·IPS UXGA
Wife's: T61p T9500·2010 FX570m·WUXGA | X220T i7-2640M
Others: T61p·61·43·42p|X41T·24·23·22|G41|A31p·22m|i1200|TransNote|380D|365XD|701C|755C

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