A31p - a decade later (LONG)

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ajkula66
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG) -- more than a decade!

#31 Post by ajkula66 » Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:49 am

friedrich-eugen wrote:
I hope, I'll find a functional systemboard to reawake my personal A31P and try Windows 7 on it. May be it works, at least not worse than XPSP3...
Yeah, these are getting to be a pain to locate, even for silly old me.

I've recently picked up an ugly-but-functional A31p from a fellow forum member, transplanted my own good parts and am now looking for a well-kept LCD to complete the "glorified typewriter" project...
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#32 Post by friedrich-eugen » Sat Aug 30, 2014 9:56 am

Hello ajkula66,
I just sent a PM to You

Sincerely
__friedrich-eugen__
started with IBM-XT(80186) and AST-Ascentias NB (910N) in the 90ties, relying on Thinkpads (770X, A31P, T60-61P Frankenpads) until 2017,
now using TP W530 FHD (i7 Nvida2GB, 32GB, 256GB SSD & 500GB HDD) and X201/X230T (i7 8/16GB/500GB) Windows10 and a small Yoga 3-11(i7/8GB/512GbSSD)

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#33 Post by schen » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:24 am

Reading this thread is like the ThinkPad Forum "old home week"! From the machine to the members involved in the discussion. Brings back lots of good memories. One of the main reasons I got on this forum to start with!
Family Daily Drivers- T430s, T530, X220
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#34 Post by schaki » Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:44 pm

Quite nice laptop but keyboard is somewhat clumsy with the buttons being larger then they should be. With that said I'm used to a IBM desktop keyboard made in 1998. It is somewhat unfortunate however that the last IBM A-series laptop uses the P4-M (2 ghz in my)M as cpu as that cpu was a heap of [censored], espcially for laptops as it draw more power, develop more heat and not even was a good upgrade in performance from the Pentium III-M Tualatin which was the last PIII-revision and a quite good such.

Bought my A31P in a second hand store this summer and have used it sometimes. What surprised me was that the P4 cpu really struggle to handle Youtube in a satisfying way. I can't watch in full-screen without lagging up even when it only is 360p! No matter what browser I used. Tested with Opera Presto and Chrome, Chrome went best actually and despite being laggy in youtube it was clearly good enough for general web browsing.

If it wasn't for this problem and that I can't get the vga to Plasma Tv to work as it should, then I could have upgraded it with a Micro sd-card as Ssd.
It is a rather weird. The Plasma TV have Vga input among other connections but it won't work at all unless I select CRT in the A31P bios.
When I finally got that to work next problem came up. During bootup the Plasma shows Bios-logo and XP bootscreen correct but the screen go black before the log-in screen appears. Didn't have that problem when I since tested to connect the the A31P to a usual lcd.
Thinkpad X61s with Middleton bios 2.22.

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#35 Post by Dekks » Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:23 pm

A little article about the Netburst P4 used i believe in A31p and why it was so bad. Intel stepped back to the Tulatin tech after realising how bad Netburst was.

http://www.pcper.com/news/Editorial/Yes ... res-tested
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#36 Post by ajkula66 » Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:26 pm

Dekks wrote:A little article about the Netburst P4 used i believe in A31p and why it was so bad. Intel stepped back to the Tulatin tech adter realising how bad Netburst was.
Well...P4M found in A31p is actually Northwood...although I agree that its performance in this day and age is barely acceptable.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#37 Post by dr_st » Sun Nov 09, 2014 3:02 am

NetBurst is the common name to the micro-architecture that all Pentium 4 chips shared.

The Northwoods were probably the best in terms of power/heat output per clock / per unit of performance among this bunch, and for a long time they were tied with Prescotts in terms of performance per clock as well. But on the grand scale of things - they still sucked badly per clock compared to what came afterwards. But not so much compared to what was there before.

As for the article, it is written OK (they could have used more paragraphs to make it more readable), but the information is interesting and relevant. One thing that you can derive from it is why the HyperThreading technology was relevant to the Pentium4 and actually helped improve multi-threaded performance in some cases, despite there being a single physical core: when you have lots of branch mis-predictions and pipeline trashing, the other thread can really get some work time while the first thread is stalled.

With that said, and despite the fact that most people at Intel would admit that NetBurst was terrible, I do feel that people today are not totally fair when judging it, and they miss the big perspective.

While NetBurst is trounced totally by all the architectures that came after that, and by a huge margin, in its time it was still delivering peak performance.

Yes, the contemporary AMDs were beating it soundly clock-for-clock, and even the Pentium III was more efficient in that sense that the Pentium 4, but hey - a Pentium 4 actually could run at 3GHz. The P-III and Athlon XP architecture simply could not. So at that point in time, if you took the very best the P4 had to offer versus the very best of the other architectures, no matter how efficient, the P4 would win, no questions asked.

As I've said it a few times before - in a desktop setting (where I care not about power or battery life - just performance), if I was looking for an ancient system to still be somewhat useful today, I'd take a ~3GHZ P4 with HT over a ~2GHZ Pentium M any day.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#38 Post by Dekks » Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:33 am

dr_st wrote:As I've said it a few times before - in a desktop setting (where I care not about power or battery life - just performance), if I was looking for an ancient system to still be somewhat useful today, I'd take a ~3GHZ P4 with HT over a ~2GHZ Pentium M any day.
Hence the M ;) But i am still surprised that Intel thought Netburst could function as a mobile platform given where the whole ethos of Netburst is to sacrifice everything at the alter of the mighty GHz & where Speedstep was at the time.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#39 Post by dr_st » Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:42 am

Well, NetBurst could and did function as a mobile platform. But that was before the HT variants. The P4-M was, after all, a tad more optimized in terms of power than the desktop variant. And they did have Speedstep to bring them down to 1.2GHz and probably a little lower voltage.

Of course they could only get to ~2.5GHz with no HT, and those were already scorching hot. The optimum for P4-M was around 2GHz. Back in the day they were capable. This was ~2 years before the high-end P4 HTs and the first Pentium Ms.

Granted, some laptop OEMs did try to stick full-fledged desktop P4s into their systems (e.g., G series), but those were basically just desktops in a laptop case. You could never get the case small enough for the system to be actually mobile.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#40 Post by edik » Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:54 pm

http://www.ryer.ru/A31vsX61.jpg

A31 vs X31 ;)

Beautiful machine. And if I recall 3-spindle... probably the only 3-spindle Hard Drive machine built anywhere anytime (other than other AXX) ?

At the time though nothing could pry me from my SXGA+ T30..

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#41 Post by Pokrzept » Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:23 pm

Awesome picture, and it is great to hear that even in 2015 there are still some geeks in love in that particular piece of hardware. I'll try to take few shots of my A31p's in next week - got two allready and two another pieces in unknown state are comming to my place :twisted:
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#42 Post by mediasponge » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:57 pm

Yes, nice pic. It's like the proud momma holding up the baby! :lol: I could probably do one like that. I've still got the A31p and a non-tablet X41.

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#43 Post by ajkula66 » Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:03 pm

dr_st wrote:
Granted, some laptop OEMs did try to stick full-fledged desktop P4s into their systems (e.g., G series), but those were basically just desktops in a laptop case. You could never get the case small enough for the system to be actually mobile.
I have a confession to make...

Always wanted one of those insane, gaudy Alienwares from that era that look like someone smacked a FM transistor radio in their front panel, but almost every single one that I've ever seen was in poor shape...these went up to 3.8 HT I believe...
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#44 Post by 600X » Sat Jan 17, 2015 6:45 am

I recently acquired an A31p in mint condition myself. Even the LCD is still very bright. (brighter than my FrankenPad at least) But then it can't even nearly compete with it in terms of image quality.

Nevertheless, a very nice machine. The soundcard and speakers are the highlight IMO. I'm not a fan of the cheap plastic build, it easily flexes and creaks a lot, but I've had worse. (570E)

I got myself one of those rare Samsung IDE SSD's, will probably install Ubuntu 12.04 and hope that it is still usable. It's definitely performing decently with XP on a HDD at the moment.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#45 Post by MisterB » Sat Jan 17, 2015 10:32 am

Interesting. I've never thought about the Thinkpad A series. After my first Thinkpad, the 770X, I've gone for lighter and slenderer models and have T series and X series. I do have 3 Pentium 4 desktop replacement monsters, all Sony Vaio PCG-GRT 16.1" series from 2003. They are the only laptops I own other than Thinkpads and they have to be among the biggest laptops ever made. They have what Sony calls Xbrite displays. They are beautiful displays, not IPS but interesting in their own right. They are bright, the surface is very glossy and the display quality is gorgeous. Two are SXGA PCG-GRT360ZGs and one is a UXGA PCG-GRT390ZP. All displays are 16.1". Two of them have built in analog TV tuners and video inputs. The video recording and playback quality is very good, better than an external DV unit I have.

One has a Pentium 4 desktop processor at 2.8ghz and the other two Pentium 4-M processors at 3ghz. Speed stepping is primitive, the Pentium 4-M just switches between 1.5ghz and 3ghz. They burn a lot of power. The power adapter is 120W. After reading this thread, I will have to try Youtube on them and see how it works. They were set up for high end video for the standards of the time and have a nice 64mb NVidia GPU.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#46 Post by automobus » Sat Jan 17, 2015 4:54 pm

edik wrote:Beautiful machine. And if I recall 3-spindle... probably the only 3-spindle Hard Drive machine built anywhere anytime (other than other AXX) ?
HP and Dell produced some Mobile Workstation laptops, which accommodate three HDD. ThinkPad Athirty might be the first 3-HDD laptop.

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#47 Post by pianowizard » Sat Jan 17, 2015 5:05 pm

automobus wrote:HP and Dell produced some Mobile Workstation laptops, which accommodate three HDD.
My first laptop, the Dell Inspiron 8200 (a consumer-grade laptop), accommodated three HDDs. I had only one HDD in it though, saving the other two bays for a DVD-ROM drive plus a CDRW drive. The Inspiron 8200 was contemporaneous with the A31p.
automobus wrote:ThinkPad Athirty might be the first 3-HDD laptop.
The Dell Inspiron 8000 was already 3-spindle. It came out before the Thinkpad A30.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#48 Post by edik » Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:08 am

Hmmm you are quite right.

Embarrasingly I owned a Dell Latitude C810 for many years and never even realized until now it was a three spindle system... (replace the floppy and CD/DVD unit)...

I even did a review here (from archive): https://web.archive.org/web/20040612133 ... t.com/~ed/

Must have been dreaming my way through those few years...

The Latitude C8XX/D8XX (and their direct counterparts the consumer Inspiron 8XXX) were heavy powerful beasts that took some rough treatment. I'd argue they were in their way as good as the A2X/A3X range, and probably the direct competitors 2001'ish-2004'ish. They were even I have to admit a heck of a lot more durable. They were built like Tanks.

Interestingly I noted in my review the C810 had the same UXGA panel as the A21p!

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#49 Post by mediasponge » Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:26 pm

Well, I fired up both the A31p and the X41 last nite. Good grief! If you let these things install all the *&$^%*& updates they've been missing since the last time they were fired up, the computer is basically unusable for 3-4 hrs. This is really what makes a single-core system unusable in this day and age. These things really do not multitask well. With an Adobe update running and a Norton update running, and ... you may as well come back tomorrow. As I posted earlier, "The old adage of 'It's good enough for the web' doesn't fly anymore." Museum pieces. That's what I've got. Museum pieces. But I knew that already...

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#50 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:42 pm

mediasponge wrote:With an Adobe update running and a Norton update running, and ... you may as well come back tomorrow.
Well, I don't allow either/or anywhere near my A31p to begin with... :lol:
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#51 Post by pianowizard » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:02 pm

mediasponge wrote:Well, I fired up both the A31p and the X41 last nite. Good grief! If you let these things install all the *&$^%*& updates they've been missing since the last time they were fired up, the computer is basically unusable for 3-4 hrs.
Why are there still updates to install? Are you really running 7 on these?
mediasponge wrote:The old adage of 'It's good enough for the web' doesn't fly anymore...
So true. Many people have continued to repeat this adage, but most of them are cheapskates trying to justify their purchases of cheap, old computers.

My 700MHz PIII Dell Inspiron (running XP) is still used quite often, though I never use it online. It's for watching DVDs, playing MP3 audio files, and once in a while I view PowerPoint files on it (using Microsoft's free PowerPoint Viewer program, not Office). But I am holding on to it only because its 5:4 1280x1024 screen makes it an interesting collectible. Without that feature, I would have let this laptop go long ago.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#52 Post by 600X » Tue Jan 20, 2015 7:15 pm

pianowizard wrote:
mediasponge wrote:The old adage of 'It's good enough for the web' doesn't fly anymore...
So true. Many people have continued to repeat this adage, but most of them are cheapskates trying to justify their purchases of cheap, old computers.
This. Weirdly, back in 2011 I was using my 600X with 500MHz CPU and Windows 2000 without any problems. It could handle pretty much everything I needed it to, though most importantly web browsing of course. At the time I was using Firefox Nightly 6.0. Even 240p YouTube was fine. I was absolutely shocked to discover that none of this was possible anymore when I dug out my 600X again in 2013. I don't know what changed in those two years, maybe it was the fact that I came from a Netbook in 2011, whereas I had expercienced a modern Core i machine by 2013. Whatever it was, I hope I'll be able to set up my new 850MHz 600X to work similiarly well as back in 2011.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#53 Post by mediasponge » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:39 am

pianowizard wrote:
mediasponge wrote:Well, I fired up both the A31p and the X41 last nite. Good grief! If you let these things install all the *&$^%*& updates they've been missing since the last time they were fired up, the computer is basically unusable for 3-4 hrs.
Why are there still updates to install? Are you really running 7 on these?
...
They both have XP Pro SP3. One of them had not gotten the last (no really, this time it IS the last!) MS security update. Both of them needed AV updates, Firefox updates, Adobe updates. All done now. The X41 is still decent as a portable because it's so light and as a "loaner" when one of the primary laptops is in the shop. The A31p is only kept as a novelty.

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#54 Post by ajkula66 » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:16 am

mediasponge wrote: The X41 is still decent as a portable because it's so light and as a "loaner" when one of the primary laptops is in the shop. The A31p is only kept as a novelty.
Well, in all fairness, X41 is a lot younger than A31p so it can be borderline usable nowadays presuming one ditches that atrocity of the HDD that these poor things had originally been shipped with...great little machines these are, although less durable than I would've liked them to be.
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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#55 Post by edik » Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:24 pm

I did have an A30p a few years ago (2013) and found it painfully slow with it's PIII and running XP.

It is now hard to imagine the days when the web was so light that I used a 760XD (P166) for 2-3 years every evening and never ever had an issue with speed (1998-2001).

Somebody should write an Ultra Lite browser that:

a) Strips out Flash and heavy stuff.
b) Strips ads (nasty things that consume lots of CPU nowadays).
c) Renders accurately enough to read text whilst conserving CPU.
d) optimizes Javascript somehow to run more efficiently.

Something that can be run today on say a P166 :) and fast - not the full web 'experience' but enough to be usable daily.

Or... (yes it's a dream, a bit like that CCD 'film' for analog cameras..) why not a PCMCIA card that has a built in CPU that can offload some work/cache with drivers for 95 or even 3.1 onwards.

I'm sure it can be done.

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#56 Post by brchan » Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:40 pm

XP became bloated over the years, which probably is the reason it ran slow on your machine (or possible malware or corrupted drivers). Speaking of performance, small linux distros such as arch linux, tiny core (72mb iso with wifi drivers), and puppy linux will breathe new life into old machines. Also, having tried many supposedly "leightweight" browsers, I have only found 2 that are truly fast: Dillo and Netsurf. Both run on linux.

Dillo is VERY fast (will even work well on a 486 processor) and renders most pages well, so long as there isn't much fancy javasript. It had no trouble on my 770. Netsurf is just a tad slower, but does offer excellent static javascript support, and renders websites completely correct 90% of the time. None support flash, but youtube clients such as minitube or gtk-youtube-viewer are a solution, and run much faster than streaming from a browser.
Current Thinkpads: W530 (functional classic keyboard mod), X301, T61, T60, T43, A31p, T23, 600X, 770
Other: mk5 Toughbook cf-19, mk1 Toughbook cf-53

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#57 Post by ajkula66 » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:24 pm

brchan wrote: Also, having tried many supposedly "leightweight" browsers, I have only found 2 that are truly fast: Dillo and Netsurf. Both run on linux.
The closest thing I've found to a "lightweight" browser in the Windows world is still Kmeleon. And I still wish that there was something even lighter.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

Abused daily: T61p

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#58 Post by PowerPC » Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:02 am

Even on a T60 you will run into minor problems.

My T60 with a T5500 CPU (1.66GHz, CPU Mark 929, 64bit) struggles with 1080p video on YouTube because of the single threaded browser decoder; there are several gimmicks to play those on an external viewer, or to select a lower default quality, but it's not plug-and-play.
Memory is 3GB, and having a number of image forums tabs open on Firefox while running the Bitcoin client makes the computer start using swap memory. The OS I'm using, Xubuntu, is quite light on memory usage.
So, my next step will be finishing the assembly of a T61 Frankie with maxed out memory. I'm still considering if modding a planar to use a quadcore CPU would be a good idea.

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#59 Post by MisterB » Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:00 am

I finally tested Youtube on my Vaio P4 which should be similar in processor power to the A31P. Worked fine at 240p but it wouldn't let me set the resolution higher. I also had an old--by IT standards--version of Firefox on it, 3.5. Youtube complained about it but worked. I didn't bother to upgrade anything to see if the resolution issue was due to the browser. The Vaio is connected to my stereo system and just gets used for internet radio and playing mp3s.
Currently using: A W500, a W520, an X201T, an X220T, an X61T, a 14" T60P, a 15" UXGA T60P, a W700 and a W701.
Currently idle: A spare W500, a spare X61T, a 14" T61, a 15" SXGA+ T60, a 14" T60, and my first Thinkpad, a 770X.

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Re: A31p - a decade later (LONG)

#60 Post by dr_st » Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:58 pm

I find it quite believable that Youtube would limit output resolution on old browsers which it does not want to support. Certain videos also only have 240p versions to begin with, although that's a minority. I don't think Youtube actually tests system hardware and processing power before deciding which video quality to serve, but I could be wrong.
Current: X220 4291-4BG, T410 2537-R46, T60 1952-F76, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G
Collectibles: T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X32 (IPS Screen)
Retired: X61 7673-V2V, A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad
Past: Z61t 9440-A23, T60 2623-D3U, X32 2884-M5U

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