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Upgrading an X61

X60/X61 series specific matters only.
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nachetb
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Upgrading an X61

#1 Post by nachetb » Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:36 am

Hey guys. I recently bought my first thinkpad, an X61. Im pretty happy with it since I payed 30€ for it, but its pretty beat up and also gets really really hot. I was already prepared to do some cleaning and change the thermal paste, but ive read here and seen videos of how annoying it is to change the thermal paste in this pc. Ill use the lenovo manual as a guideline but I would like to ask you some things (also another questions regarding the pc not only the dissasembly):

1. How many components are there to change the thermal compound and which is the best way for each (pad or paste)? I thought id only need to change the cpu one but there seems to be a couple more components with pads and all.
2. Any worth it upgrades or things I may do once I open it up besides cleaning? Its probably the only time ill disassemble the whole thing. I saw some bluetooth chips on ebay for cheap but im not sure if theyre usable on this model.
3. What is the pc card slot for (the one over the sd card reader)? MIne came without the little plastic cover, im not really concerned in replacing it unless its something important.
4. Any clue on where to find 8gb of ddr2 at a decent prize? Theres such a price increase between 4gb of ddr2 and 8gb that I dont really feel its worth it going to 8gb to be honest
5. Your own recommended way to clean, polish and make shiny again plastic parts and keyboard (no polishing for the keyboard)? I thought of using fine grit sandpaper and some plastic moisturizer but everyone has his own way of doing it.

Thanks for your time :)

axur-delmeria
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Re: Upgrading an X61

#2 Post by axur-delmeria » Sun Aug 23, 2020 5:10 am

1. The X61 heatsink cools two components: the processor and the Intel GM965 northbridge chip. The processor needs thermal paste, while the northbridge chip requires a thermal pad. A 20mm x 20mm square, 1mm thick thermal pad should be enough.

2. A common complaint with the X61 is the rather hot palmrest due to the Intel 4965AGN wifi card. You can reduce the heat by upgrading to newer cards like the Intel 6200N or 6300N, Atheros 9380, etc. but do note that this requires flashing the Middleton BIOS to remove the WiFi whitelist. The Bluetooth module is located in the lid beside the left hinge-- not all models have the socket for the Bluetooth module though (you need to replace the LCD cable for that). The last compatible BT module is the one found on the X230, with BT 4.0 capability, FRU 60Y3305, 60Y3303, or 04W3824.

Another recommended upgrade is an SSD.

3. PC Card/Cardbus is an expansion port. You can think of it like a PCI slot for laptops. There are Cadbus adapters for LAN, WiFi, USB 2.0, video capture, etc. Do note that Cardbus is an obsolete technology, and devices that use the Cardbus slot are horribly outdated.
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:

nachetb
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Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Upgrading an X61

#3 Post by nachetb » Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:02 am

Thanks for your reply!

Yeah I already bought a 120gb ssd (enough for what I want it for) and plan on getting middletons bios for the extra speed. So, I have no idea about wifi cards, is there any sort of list for the middleton bios compatible ones, or do they have to have an specific socket or something?

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Re: Upgrading an X61

#4 Post by axur-delmeria » Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:39 am

nachetb wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:02 am
Thanks for your reply!

Yeah I already bought a 120gb ssd (enough for what I want it for) and plan on getting middletons bios for the extra speed. So, I have no idea about wifi cards, is there any sort of list for the middleton bios compatible ones, or do they have to have an specific socket or something?
Let's use this reference image:
Image

The X61 has a full-length mini-PCIe slot (similar to the 2nd from the left). Later WiFi cards (such as those found in the X220, are half-length mini-PCIe (3rd from the left). These can be used with the X61 with the help of a half-length bracket, shown below:

Image

Current WiFi cards (starting from the T440 generation circa 2013) have a new and physically incompatible form factor called M.2 (rightmost card in the first image). There are adapters that allow such M.2 cards to be installed on mini-PCIe slots:

Image

Notes:

Some mini-PCIe WiFi cards will have an issue where it's detected by the system, but the WiFi radio itself is disabled. If this happens, you need to tape/cover pin 20 of the WiFi card's edge connector.

Also, the USB signals are not connected in the X61's WiFi slot, which means the Bluetooth portion of any WiFI+Bluetooth combo cards will not work. However, the WWAN slot beside the WiFI card has USB signals, so you can install the combo card there. But if you run into issues like the BT refusing to activate, you may need to tape Pin 51 on the card.

Reference Image:
Image
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:

nachetb
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Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Upgrading an X61

#5 Post by nachetb » Mon Aug 24, 2020 10:29 am

Thanks a lot for the explanation. Since im not sure how much of the temperature issue is due to thermal paste and how much due to wireless card ill first try the new paste and once its settled see how it goes, if it gets too hot on the palmrest ill try changing it. Do you think this thermal pads are good (sorry its in spanish) https://www.amazon.es/ADWITS-Almohadill ... r=1-3&th=1 by cropping them they should match just fine i think

axur-delmeria
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Re: Upgrading an X61

#6 Post by axur-delmeria » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:08 am

The heat from the wireless card is on the right palmrest. The heat from the prceossor is felt on the left side, on the exhaust vent.
The X61 runs quite hot, and undervolting the processor is recommended.

The thermal pad in your link is OK.
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:

atagunov
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Re: Upgrading an X61

#7 Post by atagunov » Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:10 pm

axur-delmeria wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:08 am
The thermal pad in your link is OK
2 piezas: 20x67x0.5mm, 20x67x1.0mm, 20x67x1.5mm
I have actually been wondering what thickness are useful with Thinkpads, though I guess I could purchase the full set as well and experiment :) X220-X230/T61+W500fan/T520 around here
X220, 2 *T520

axur-delmeria
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Re: Upgrading an X61

#8 Post by axur-delmeria » Mon Aug 24, 2020 9:31 pm

atagunov wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:10 pm
I have actually been wondering what thickness are useful with Thinkpads, though I guess I could purchase the full set as well and experiment :) X220-X230/T61+W500fan/T520 around here
From what I've seen, the thickness varies between models--the thermal pad in the X61 is thinner than the one in the X220. I have a feeling that even a 0.5mm thick pad would work well on an X61, while an X220 might be better off with a 1mm.
That said, it's hard to know the difference, especially since the chips that require thermal pads usually don't have integrated thermal sensors.
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:

nachetb
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:23 am
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Upgrading an X61

#9 Post by nachetb » Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:35 am

Yeah, its great that 3 thickness come with it so we dont mess up hahah. Regarding the temperatures, my X61 is just excessively hot everywhere, yeah the palmrest gets really hot, maybe annoying but not unusable, but the back plate and vent area get extremely hot (like cooking grill kinda hot not even joking). Ill post here how it goes once my upgrades arrive :3

axur-delmeria
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Re: Upgrading an X61

#10 Post by axur-delmeria » Tue Aug 25, 2020 6:12 am

The CPU temperature issues in the X60/61 is serious enough to make me consider using liquid metal pastes, but I have to do my homework first: buy some liquid electrical tape (to protect the area around the CPU die in case the liquid metal spills; and somehow nickel plate the heatsink's CPU contact plate.
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:

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Re: Upgrading an X61

#11 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Aug 25, 2020 7:15 am

For cleaning up, use a Don Limpio Borrador Magico.
If any liquid is needed, use only a few drops of Isopropyl Alcohol 91% or better, let it evaporate when done.
With a dry eraser, you can also (gently) use it on keyboards.
https://www.elcorteingles.es/supermarke ... x-2-units/

Some of the coolest wifi-cards for an X61 are the half-size Intel 6200N and 6300N with a half-size bracket.
Lovely day for a Guinness! (the Real Black Stuff). And pigs CAN fly!
Check out The Boardroom for Parts, Mods and Other Services.
Covid-19: Mask it or Casket!

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Re: Upgrading an X61

#12 Post by atagunov » Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:51 pm

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 7:15 am
For cleaning up, use a Don Limpio Borrador Magico
Sir, if Don Limpio is good any random Magic Eraser should be good as well shouldn't it?
RealBlackStuff wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 7:15 am
If any liquid is needed, use only a few drops of Isopropyl Alcohol 91% or better, let it evaporate when done.
...is this just about processors or Thinkpads in general?

I've recently used a cheap random magic eraser from Amazon on the rubberised lid of my T60. I used water in significant quantities, but not as much as to allow it to get inside T60 :) What can I say? This T60 lid was scratched.. not to death but rather seriously. It has become nicer after the process. However if I put that T60 at an angle to light and look along the surface I can see the motions I had done with magic eraser. I had concluded that it helps with very badly scratched rubberised coating but at the expense of introducing some of its own albeit much smaller scratches. After this I probably would abstain from using it on keyboards..

I was also foolish enough to leave some marks on the bottom of an otherwise immaculate R60 15" with the precise measurement tool. I was stoopid enough not to wait for a battered case.. The result are probably the first scratches on that bottom.. But I don't think anything will cure them. Short of perhaps hot air gun, but I first would try it on a less valuable specimen :)
X220, 2 *T520

nachetb
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Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Upgrading an X61

#13 Post by nachetb » Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:39 am

Im thinking that sandpapering and repainting mate black will be the best option for mine, no it wont have the original grip and material, but original has actually been long gone on mine. Ive seen someone repaint his thinkpad on youtube and looks quite good, id rather have a non original good enough looking laptop than a nasty original finish

axur-delmeria
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Re: Upgrading an X61

#14 Post by axur-delmeria » Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:07 pm

Maybe powdercoating would give better results compared to painting.
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:

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Re: Upgrading an X61

#15 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:52 am

Never tried this on an X60/X61, but my T23 turned out great after removing the paint altogether: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=121754
Lovely day for a Guinness! (the Real Black Stuff). And pigs CAN fly!
Check out The Boardroom for Parts, Mods and Other Services.
Covid-19: Mask it or Casket!

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Re: Upgrading an X61

#16 Post by axur-delmeria » Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:38 am

The X61 lid is made from a magnesium alloy (AZ91D IIRC). AFAIK it's still susceptible to corrosion.
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:

nachetb
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Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Upgrading an X61

#17 Post by nachetb » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:47 am

@axur-delmeria:
Hey, so i tried to follow your guide and ended up buying this card (plus the adapter). https://es.aliexpress.com/item/40012196 ... 63c0U5FLQk

So apparently the current card in my x61 has a speed of 300mb/s while this one has 3000mb/s and bluetooth. Im not that interested for the bluetooth so im not bothered if it doesnt work (since i havent found a cheaper one without bluetooth with this speed). Apparently it works in linux so I imagine it shouldnt give me any issues, do you think its a good card for this model¿?

I just want it to run faster than the current one (which I imagine it does, got a laptop I bought recently and its card has a 900mb/s card so i imagine this one is fast) and not burn my hand on the palmrest

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Re: Upgrading an X61

#18 Post by atagunov » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:54 am

Guess your WiFi speed will also depend on your WiFi access point, which often is combined with a modem by modern Internet providers. Then there is WiFi speed internal to your network - say between your Thinkpad and your own file server - and the speed which you get accessing outside world. On many providers the latter will be limited not by WiFi but by the Internet service you're getting. Apologies if I'm stating the obvious :)
X220, 2 *T520

nachetb
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Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Upgrading an X61

#19 Post by nachetb » Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:40 am

atagunov wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:54 am
Guess your WiFi speed will also depend on your WiFi access point, which often is combined with a modem by modern Internet providers. Then there is WiFi speed internal to your network - say between your Thinkpad and your own file server - and the speed which you get accessing outside world. On many providers the latter will be limited not by WiFi but by the Internet service you're getting. Apologies if I'm stating the obvious :)
I think I get what you mean, ive realized ive gone a bit over the top, when my provider offers me 600mb/s lol. Ive cancelled that card and will try to find another one cheaper :lol:

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Re: Upgrading an X61

#20 Post by atagunov » Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:56 am

Woah, I certainly did not mean to give you any advice on which card to run :( Was just trying to set your expectations right..
X220, 2 *T520

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Re: Upgrading an X61

#21 Post by Shredder11 » Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:12 pm

nachetb wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:47 am
@axur-delmeria:
...ended up buying this card (plus the adapter). https://es.aliexpress.com/item/40012196 ... 63c0U5FLQk
The description on that page says, "Not support IBM/Thinkpad/lenovo/hp laptop.(But for 2016 above of HP/Lenovo laptop, it can support.)". I know Chinese info on these sites can be inaccurate, so it may well work with the X61.
Z61p x3 (C2D T7600, 3GB, 500GB SSD, BCM70015, Advanced Dock x1, Mini Dock x2)
W520 (C2Q i7-2720QM, 8GB, 60GB SSD)
X61 (C2D T7500, 3GB, 250GB SSD, BCM70015)
X61s (2GB, 120GB SSD)
T43p (P M 760, 2GB, IBM Port Replicator II, 128GB SSD)
G41 (P4 3.46GHz, 2GB, 128GB SSD)

nachetb
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Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Upgrading an X61

#22 Post by nachetb » Sat Sep 12, 2020 3:46 am

Shredder11 wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:12 pm
nachetb wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:47 am
@axur-delmeria:
...ended up buying this card (plus the adapter). https://es.aliexpress.com/item/40012196 ... 63c0U5FLQk
The description on that page says, "Not support IBM/Thinkpad/lenovo/hp laptop.(But for 2016 above of HP/Lenovo laptop, it can support.)". I know Chinese info on these sites can be inaccurate, so it may well work with the X61.
I imagined that was assuming you have the standard bios whitelist

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Re: Upgrading an X61

#23 Post by Shredder11 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:25 am

:thumbs-UP:
Z61p x3 (C2D T7600, 3GB, 500GB SSD, BCM70015, Advanced Dock x1, Mini Dock x2)
W520 (C2Q i7-2720QM, 8GB, 60GB SSD)
X61 (C2D T7500, 3GB, 250GB SSD, BCM70015)
X61s (2GB, 120GB SSD)
T43p (P M 760, 2GB, IBM Port Replicator II, 128GB SSD)
G41 (P4 3.46GHz, 2GB, 128GB SSD)

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