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Upgrading my X61s

X60/X61 series specific matters only.
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KeatonR
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:52 am
Location: Boulder, CO

Upgrading my X61s

#1 Post by KeatonR » Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:16 pm

Contemplating upgrading my X61s. I bought it new years ago and am a longtime Thinkpad fan, but I guess I need to decide if it's worth the time, effort and expense. It's in very good condition.

Here are the current specs:

Windows Vista Business
Intel Core2 Duo CPU, L7500 1.6GHz
4.00 GB RAM
32-bit OS
70 GB HD

Clearly I need to upgrade the OS. Has anyone put Chrome on and just made the Thinkpad into a Chromebook?

But I guess if I'm going to upgrade the OS I should probably move to a SSD first. And add RAM. And I'm reading that doing the Middleton BIOS thing is worthwhile. Anything else?

Thanks in advance!

axur-delmeria
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Location: Metro Manila, Philippines

Re: Upgrading my X61s

#2 Post by axur-delmeria » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:10 pm

SSD is your top priority, as it's a game-changer when it comes to improving the laptop's responsiveness. Middleton BIOS helps because it unlocks SATA II (300 megabytes/sec) mode-- without it, the SATA port is stuck at 150 megabytes/sec max.

I don't know why you'd want ChromeOS when you can put a real Linux distribution without much issue. I've been rocking Debian with Xfce on various X61 units for the better part of a decade.
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

Backup: X601 Core 2 Duo T8100
Toy: X60F Core Solo U1300
On loan: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M
In pieces: two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E; X61 7676-A24; and a BOE-Hydis HV121P01-100 in failed SXGA+ mod
:cry:

KeatonR
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:52 am
Location: Boulder, CO

Re: Upgrading my X61s

#3 Post by KeatonR » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:18 pm

axur-delmeria wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:10 pm
SSD is your top priority, as it's a game-changer when it comes to improving the laptop's responsiveness. Middleton BIOS helps because it unlocks SATA II (300 megabytes/sec) mode-- without it, the SATA port is stuck at 150 megabytes/sec max.

I don't know why you'd want ChromeOS when you can put a real Linux distribution without much issue. I've been rocking Debian with Xfce on various X61 units for the better part of a decade.
Thanks for the reply. I was thinking Chrome because it looks easy and I don't know anything about Linux, but I'll do some digging around and see if it looks like something I'd be comfortable with. And I'll start with the SSD -- thanks!

Hyena
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2015 6:56 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Upgrading my X61s

#4 Post by Hyena » Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:48 pm

KeatonR wrote:
Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:18 pm

Thanks for the reply. I was thinking Chrome because it looks easy and I don't know anything about Linux, but I'll do some digging around and see if it looks like something I'd be comfortable with. And I'll start with the SSD -- thanks!
Definitely 2nd the SSD and Middletons being top priority. I have been making due with only 2gb of ram since I ditched windows 7 years ago. I also agree with the previous post and wouldn't give chrome the time of day either. There are many flavors of linux that are just as easy, if not easier to install than Windows. Ubuntu has a very large support network and is a relative snap to use. It's just gotten a bit bloated these days. You might look into Lubuntu, a lighter build of Ubuntu. I used to run Ubuntu with the Gnome environment on my X61. Now I believe they are onto cinnamon. Don't worry about environments too much. They are all just slight variations on how the GUI behaves and looks. Just try one and see how you like it. Their site even has instructions on making a bootable flash drive so you can take it for a test drive before installing. Once you have played with one flavor, delving into others becomes easier and even fun. Then you can find your own perfectly tailored configuration for your X61. 4GB of ram should be sufficient for the latest version of Ubuntu.

You could also try doing a windows 7 install. It worked just fine for me 5+ years ago with a HDD and 1gb of ram. However, I have heard mixed things from people about the x61 still being able to handle YouTube and such in the last couple years. Not sure if more ram, and the ssd/middletons upgrade would cure that. Bear in mind that 7 support has just come to an end. I don't know how you feel about security going forward.

Jake.Werecat
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Posts: 118
Joined: Thu May 09, 2019 6:46 pm
Location: EU

Re: Upgrading my X61s

#5 Post by Jake.Werecat » Sun May 03, 2020 3:32 pm

Totally agree with what has been already said. Middelton BIOS mod and a decent SSD are a necessity. On top of that I would add upgrading the WLAN card to 802.11b/g/n standard (e.g. Intel 6200/6300) and WWAN if you have one (to Ericsson H5321). These enables the laptop to be used on regular basis. If you really like it, and would like to stick to it as primary machine i would go for 8GB RAM, but due to very expensive DDR2 modules with this capacity its only justified if you use the laptop for something more serious then just office/console use.
X61f, 2x X230, 2x T430

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