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T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

T60/T61 series specific matters only
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Suzuka
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T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#1 Post by Suzuka » Wed Aug 26, 2020 3:24 pm

Hi. I'm writing you with bad news, I think another T61 is gone.

I have been reading the forum and the manual but I can't quite believe that the problem is death of the motherboard or maybe it could be another error. I don't want to lose hope.

What surprises me is that, as I put the charger plug, the computer starts the sequence that I show in the video, 4 beeps for four 4 times without pressing the power key. Without having to hit the power button. It also does that sequence if I press the power button.

I uploaded a 15 second video with the sequence to Youtube: https://youtu.be/po3fEZNopfE

I have tried:
  • Disconnect the RAM and keep doing the same even if it don't have RAM.
  • Remove the hard drive and the CD player and keep doing the same.
  • Change the hard drive for another that I know works perfectly and continues to do the same
  • Change the RAM for another and keep doing the same.
  • Unplug the keyboard and keep doing the same.
  • Disconnect the BIOS stack and keep doing the same.
  • I've cleaned the BIOS stack pins with rubbing alcohol and it still does the same.
  • I have also done the “magic” sequences of shutting down, disconnecting and pressing the button 10 or 15 times and then pressing for 30 seconds and no luck. Keep doing the same.
It saddens me to think that it is the motherboard as it will not be worth repairing, the laptop is in very good condition and for my father's use it was perfect.

I put some images in case they could help identify the problem:
Image
Image
Image

Thanks for your help.

Excuse my bad English, it's not my language.

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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#2 Post by Cigarguy » Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:04 pm

These machines have been great machines over the years but it is getting to be 12+ years old which is a very long time in computer life. Failure at this age can be due to a number of reasons. They are inexpensive and easy to replace. You could look for another used T61 and swap the MB or maybe look at upgrading to a T500 or newer laptop. I myself prefer a widescreen 15.4" T500 over the same format T61 because T500 don't have the Nvidia failure, take DDR3 and a faster CPU.

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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#3 Post by atagunov » Wed Aug 26, 2020 5:00 pm

In my understanding - let others correct me - the right way to pinpoint the fault is this:

- put T61 onto a 2504 docking station that exposes LPT port
- attach a motherboard post analyser
- try to boot and watch the number on the analyser

These two lots above are the items which I have purchased with this purpose. You see it's all still theoretical to me..

Now I understand a very common case of T61 fault are dying nVidia video cards. Is yours an nVidia machine?

If the fault is indeed with nVidia card the only way to fix it properly is to replace the video card chip. I understand that if yours is an nVidia 14.1" widescreen machine it should have G86-740-A2 (NVS140M). These can be replaced either with same name - newer date chips or with G86-741-A2 (I understand). Or possibly with other closely named chips.. The process of replacing these chips is known as "BGA rework". I guess you could possibly search for this service locally, within your country or outside of it. Serious laptop repair shops should be offering the service. Phone repair shops might be offering it too but they probably don't have large enough "BGA rework stations" to heat up all of the motherboard. It is highly desirable to heat all of the motherboard to avoid it getting damaged. Some daredevils though have violated this rule and their Thinkpads have lived through it. Respect and applaud to them :) I don't know how much the service might cost. I read about a certain guy charging something like £75 somewhere in Russia but that's just one sample and is not representetive. That is for the work I think. The chip on AliExpress costs probably around £12. Nobody really knows how good they are. I've ordered a couple of chips from TaoBao for about £9 a piece but then I got to get them shipped China -> UK for extra charge from the intermediary.. AliExpress seems easier for a one-off purchase.

So assuming it's a video card fault (not guaranteed) you could try to get it fixed. I was considering learning how do it myself but for me it's a hobby and I'm still a long way from being able to do the work. I guess my aim was to somehow build home herd of functioning T60/T61 and R60/T61 Frankenpad machines with healthy nVidia cards. Don't know why I want it.. It's not like I actually need a herd..

Oh actually it is possible to purchase a replacement motherboard. You know this list of motherboard FRU-s right? Since yours seems to be 14.1" widescreen only the first section on that page is relevant to you - with six FRU-s in it. They do float on ebay sometimes. There are some on TaoBao. TaoBao is a lot of trouble though - you need an intermediary (superbuy.com or similar) you need app on the phone and you need to ask sellers who advertise the boards if they actually have them. Using google translate if you don't speak Chinese. But it's possible to get a motherboard from them. I got a 14" 4:3 one. I purchased here and it cost me 150 yuan. See that it's listed at 98 yuan? :) That's why you got to talk to them.. Only then will you know if they got one and how much it will cost. Then it's probably up to 100 yuan to have it shipped. I'm suffering 15% markup on currency conversion - part of it is the intermediary fee, part of it is that you got to pay in US dollars only - to superbuy.com at least - and my account is in GBP. So at current exchange rate this should be (150+100)÷9.08×1.15 = £32. Hmm.. if you choose to buy nVidia again it will be again old nVidia so again susceptible to failing..

Yet another option is to purchase a whole 14.1" widescreen T61 or T61p to source the replacement motherboard from it. You obviously don't care what condition the body is in but you care that the motherboard is all right.

On my personal scale 15" 4:3 T60/R60/R61 bodies are valuable and so are T61(p) motherboards fitting them: 14" 4:3 and 15.4" widescreen. I personally attribute less value to 14.1 widescreen machines.. They are of a size where you can get a newer better machine - T400, T410, T500, T510 - hope I'm not inventing names here - or even I dare say to into T*20 or T*30 generation. Their motherboards don't work in 15" 4:3 T60/R60/R61 bodies either.
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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#4 Post by olex126 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 7:52 pm

Hi.

Four beeps x four repeats is your planar (motherboard) security chip on a T61.

It's been corrupted.

Regards.

Dave
Previous & Collection Thinkpads: 701C A22m A30/A31p T23p x2 T30 T41 X31 various 750's 760's & 390's.

DD's & Test Benches: X41T, X60T & X61T's, various T42p-T43p's, x200 x201 x220T x230 T520 W530 T601F LED (X9000/8Gb/250SSD/W7 U)


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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#5 Post by olex126 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:38 pm

Sorry Suzuka, I hit the "Send" button before I finished the reply!

To try and fix a corrupted security chip (without replacing the motherboard....)

1. Remove all power: A/C adapter, battery AND CMOS battery.

2. Hold down on the power button for ten seconds, ten times in a row (eliminates capacitor charge.)

3. Replace CMOS battery and main battery.

4. Press the power button.

Hopefully this MAY revive the board...if not, probably a replacement might be in order....not sure about soldering in a new security chip, I thought they were tied to the board ID, but I could be wrong...maybe someone else can chip in on that aspect.

Regards.

Dave
Previous & Collection Thinkpads: 701C A22m A30/A31p T23p x2 T30 T41 X31 various 750's 760's & 390's.

DD's & Test Benches: X41T, X60T & X61T's, various T42p-T43p's, x200 x201 x220T x230 T520 W530 T601F LED (X9000/8Gb/250SSD/W7 U)


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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#6 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed Aug 26, 2020 11:16 pm

That machine is a 14.1" widescreen T61 with Intel GPU.
Replacement FRUs (with Intel GPU) would be: 41W1487 or 42W7866.
If you'd want to go the nVidia way (NOT recommended in this case) you'd also need another discrete fan.
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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#7 Post by Suzuka » Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:12 am

Cigarguy wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:04 pm
These machines have been great machines over the years but it is getting to be 12+ years old which is a very long time in computer life. Failure at this age can be due to a number of reasons. They are inexpensive and easy to replace. You could look for another used T61 and swap the MB or maybe look at upgrading to a T500 or newer laptop. I myself prefer a widescreen 15.4" T500 over the same format T61 because T500 don't have the Nvidia failure, take DDR3 and a faster CPU.
It is clear that it has its years, the problem is that they get used to that machine and also, the use was quite light so it worked well (email, Amazon, print some reservation ...) The sensible thing would be to sell it in pieces and with what you get pay a t400 or t500 or similar.
olex126 wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:38 pm
Sorry Suzuka, I hit the "Send" button before I finished the reply!

To try and fix a corrupted security chip (without replacing the motherboard....)

1. Remove all power: A/C adapter, battery AND CMOS battery.

2. Hold down on the power button for ten seconds, ten times in a row (eliminates capacitor charge.)

3. Replace CMOS battery and main battery.

4. Press the power button.

Hopefully this MAY revive the board...if not, probably a replacement might be in order....not sure about soldering in a new security chip, I thought they were tied to the board ID, but I could be wrong...maybe someone else can chip in on that aspect.

Regards.

Dave
I did it but could not fix it. Thank you.
RealBlackStuff wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 11:16 pm
That machine is a 14.1" widescreen T61 with Intel GPU.
Replacement FRUs (with Intel GPU) would be: 41W1487 or 42W7866.
If you'd want to go the nVidia way (NOT recommended in this case) you'd also need another discrete fan.
Thank you for telling me which model it is, I was not sure and now at least I could locate the part I need to get it working again. I'm just considering staying with Intel.

I will ask at another local workshop because the last one I asked, he told me more than € 180 ($ 200).

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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#8 Post by atagunov » Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:18 am

Suzuka wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:12 am
I will ask at another local workshop because the last one I asked, he told me more than € 180 ($ 200).
I'd check ebay/AliExpress and TaoBao as last resort. $200 seems way too high for the mobo.. and your photos show you're quite capable to doing the work :) As noted earlier I paid around £32 overall for a similar motherboard, though it was quite a bit of hassle with Tao and intermediary and wasn't fast either.
Last edited by atagunov on Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#9 Post by Cigarguy » Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:30 am

Last bare bones T61 I bought from a local reseller was $20-$40 Cdn. Bare bone T61 do not come with a battery, HDD or RAM but everything else works. $50 to $100 Cdn is bare bone T500 or T510 in good condition for me. An end user who is used to a T61 will not notice the difference between a T61, T500 or T510 in the same screen size format.

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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#10 Post by atagunov » Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:43 am

Cigarguy wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:30 am
An end user who is used to a T61 will not notice the difference between a T61, T500 or T510 in the same screen size format.
Sounds about right. It also seems quite a bit of parts can be reused?

- HDD/SSD definitely
- apparently the battery if it's a T500 - it seems T500 takes the same batt as a T61 - I have been corrected, a battery from 14.1" 16:10 T61 cannot be re-used in a T500 and it's not clear if it can be re-used in a T400
- RAM apparently cannot be reused as T500/T510 take DDR3 and T61 takes DDR2 but because DDR3 is so much cheaper it seems worthwhile anyway - you either upgrade to 8Gb much cheaper or make a profit selling 8Gb DDR2 and buying 8Gb DDR3
- keyboard could probably be transplanted from T61 to T500? not sure? definitely not to T510
Last edited by atagunov on Sat Aug 29, 2020 5:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#11 Post by Suzuka » Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:07 pm

Forgive me Atugunov , I just realized that I did not include the answer I gave you to your previous message. I was telling you that I don't have the Lenovo dock to test it.

atagunov wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:18 am
Suzuka wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:12 am
I will ask at another local workshop because the last one I asked, he told me more than € 180 ($ 200).
I'd check ebay/AliExpress and TaoBao as last resort. $200 seems way too high for the mobo.. and your photos show you're quite capable to doing the work :) As noted earlier I paid around £32 overall for a similar motherboard, though it was quite a bit of hassle with Tao and intermediary and wasn't fast either.
Regarding the budget for the repair they have given me, I think it influences that right now with the pandemic, the increase in teleworking and online classes, used laptops are much more expensive and that the store will have a lot of work so it is not interested my repair.

The truth is that I have done the "basic" process of opening the T61 and also put an SSD but I am "afraid" to use the motherboard, compared to what I have done so far it seems "major surgery". I will try to see some videos on YouTube to see if I can achieve more confidence.

I also keep checking Ebay motherboards and used product sales pages online.

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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#12 Post by atagunov » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:03 pm

Suzuka wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:07 pm
I will try to see some videos on YouTube to see if I can achieve more confidence
Somebody said these Lenovo's are like Lego :) Easy to take apart and easy to put together. The bible is the HMM - "hardware maintenance manual", just search for HMM T61 and you will likely find it. Conveniently enough you land back on this very website. Of course it's important which screw went where as they differ in sizes sometimes.. Another thing you'd need is the thermal paste.. Lots of different opinions on which is best! Seems Arctic MX4 is pretty common these days, I'm waiting for Noctua NT-H1 and our respected master RealBlackStuff these days uses Phobia Nano Grease Extreme (not HeGrease) but it's a little expensive and a bit rare.. right now there are 3 tubes on UK Amazone. Heh had I known it would be available I probably wouldn't have purchased NT-H1 :) You'd also need some 100% IPA alcohol to clean off old thermal paste..

I'd seriously consider a T400 upgrade too if you can find the machine. Same battery, same disk, same keyboard, 3x-4x cheaper RAM. My workhorses incidentally are T520-s, in my view they are quite nice even if bulky. So T420 must be nice as well but less bulky. Still same screen size as your T61. Correction: it's 16:9 while your T61 is 16:10.
Last edited by atagunov on Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#13 Post by kfzhu1229 » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:43 pm

I agree with going into a T400 or T500 if a 4:3 screen is not something you are after.
the 4GB DDR2 sticks are extremely sought after here and right now it's at the peak in terms of price tag. Selling those now would give you a heck of a lot of profit.
Since T400 and T500 lacks the specialness factor of the T61 they are cheaper in the cost of ownership and gives you much more value.
As for the lego part, pretty much every business class laptop is made to be easy to be disassembled. Though some are easier than others. For instance you might not like to take off the LCD before having access to the palmrest like the case on most Dell Latitudes of that era.
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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#14 Post by atagunov » Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:09 pm

Okay, actually T420 is 16:9 while 14.1" T61 is 16:10. Incidentally T410 and T400 are also 16:10. It's possible though to get used to either..
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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#15 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:44 am

To make things a bit more confusing, there is also a 14.1" T61 in 4:3.
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Re: T61: Another dead motherboard or is there any hope?

#16 Post by cadillacmike68 » Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:41 am

You can either get a replacement motherboard - should not be that expensive- or get another T61 like yours - will be more expensive, or get a minimal T400 or T500. Or you can get a minimal T61 and replace the hard drive optical drive, memory and keep going. Memory for the T400 / T500 is much cheaper than for a T561 but you already have T61 memory. Since your T61 is a 14" wide screen the battery is different from all the other T61s and T500s. It MIGHT fit in a T400, I don't know. The hard drive should go right in to a T400 or T500 and and after a couple reboots to get the video drivers sorted out should be fine. Your charger - if it is a 95 Watt will work in a T400 or T500. The 65 Watt charger might not be powerful enough.
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