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Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

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owen_r61
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Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#1 Post by owen_r61 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:48 pm

I used to be an active participator in the T41 section of this forum, but that laptop was not able to keep up in this ever changing world of internet and even though I still have that machine it seldom gets any attention. One week ago I was given an R61 with 14.1"/1280x800 screen, 1GB ram, 2.1GHz T8100 cpu and a 160GB hdd. So far, I've put 4GB of ram, an Intel 64GB ssd, and flashed the Bios to the Middleton upgraded firmware. My questions are basically about whether this machine is good enough, as it is now, for my needs. Youtube seems to work perfectly with this setup. The hardest thing that I'd require of the R61 is for it to render 1280x720p AVCHD to mp4. Is there a better cpu than what I have, for my video rendering and what difference would 8GB ram make, over the current 4GB?

Owen

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#2 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:39 pm

Since you clearly have some cash floating around, hop your self on eBay and pick up a T9900 or Q9000 processor.

1: Significant performance increase
2: Significant money saved on heater bill
3: Without a dedicated GPU, rendering will be difficult and slow for you.
Probably should be Thinkpad16by10.

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#3 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:56 pm

Thinkpad4by3 wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:39 pm
Since you clearly have some cash floating around, hop your self on eBay and pick up a T9900 or Q9000 processor.
OP would need a different modded BIOS along with a pinmod to use any of the CPUs in question...

As for the "better" CPU...a T9300/9500, but it really won't be a huge performance upgrade. These machines are a decade old and will never compare well with something even from the Sandy Bridge era.

Personally, I'd upgrade the wireless card to Atheros AR 9380 and call it a day. You could go for a higher-resolution (1440x900) LCD, but that won't be an easy find in good shape with a reasonable price.

My $0.02 only...
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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#4 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:26 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Thinkpad4by3 wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:39 pm
Since you clearly have some cash floating around, hop your self on eBay and pick up a T9900 or Q9000 processor.
OP would need a different modded BIOS along with a pinmod to use any of the CPUs in question...

As for the "better" CPU...a T9300/9500, but it really won't be a huge performance upgrade. These machines are a decade old and will never compare well with something even from the Sandy Bridge era.

Personally, I'd upgrade the wireless card to Atheros AR 9380 and call it a day. You could go for a higher-resolution (1440x900) LCD, but that won't be an easy find in good shape with a reasonable price.

My $0.02 only...
Without a 15" Model, upgrading is a bit difficult.
Probably should be Thinkpad16by10.

Looking For: 386 laptop, IBM or not.

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#5 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:16 pm

Thinkpad4by3 wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:26 pm
]Without a 15" Model, upgrading is a bit difficult.
Huh? I lost you there. Can you please elaborate?
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#6 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:48 pm

The 15" either widescreen or not has much better upgradability.

1440x900 max resolution on 14"
1920x1200 or 2048x1536 on 15"

T61p Planar can go into both 15" units for a dedicated GPU vs. Only Intels Intergrated which wasnt good for much of anything besides displaying basic graphics, unlike the 720p rendering he is trying to do.

The only things he can upgrade are CPU, RAM, WIFI, HDD, and the LCD(Of which the options are horrid) As you know 900px vertical resolution leaves ALOT to be desired. With 1200+ pixels, everything can be done better. Also, IPS is out of the question too, since its not 15" 4:3 or even a good TN panel. Nope, only 14" low-res with atrocious viewing angles.
Probably should be Thinkpad16by10.

Looking For: 386 laptop, IBM or not.

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#7 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:58 pm

Thinkpad4by3 wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:48 pm
The 15" either widescreen or not has much better upgradability.

1440x900 max resolution on 14"
1920x1200 or 2048x1536 on 15"
Fair enough.
T61p Planar can go into both 15" units for a dedicated GPU vs. Only Intels Intergrated which wasnt good for much of anything besides displaying basic graphics, unlike the 720p rendering he is trying to do.
OP could still go for a planar with a standard NVS140M, they were available for 14" WS format. Whether I would take that route myself is a different matter.
The only things he can upgrade are CPU, RAM, WIFI, HDD, and the LCD(Of which the options are horrid) As you know 900px vertical resolution leaves ALOT to be desired. With 1200+ pixels, everything can be done better. Also, IPS is out of the question too, since its not 15" 4:3 or even a good TN panel. Nope, only 14" low-res with atrocious viewing angles.
Well, he's already pretty much done apart from CPU and the wireless card. TBT, if he wants to do any serious video rendering, he'll have to move away from a *61 platform altogether.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#8 Post by owen_r61 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:50 pm

Thank you both for your replies, Thinkpad4x3 and ajkula66. Everthing that I’ve done to the R61 was with old stuff that I had, including the CDs. In 2010 we bought my son a new laptop as he had just graduated high school and was starting school in the fall. That machine’s display eventually went bad and he gave it to me. The 2x2GB sticks of RAM were from that machine. The Intel SSD I bought for the T41 years ago. It cost around $50, as I recall. So I haven’t really thrown any recent money into this R61, at all. Thanks for the cpu suggestions. Ajkula66 though mentions these need pin mods and bios modifications. I’m not at all qualified for either of those two tasks.
The way that this machine is handling everything that I’ve tried with it is absolutely impressive, to me. 14.1” or 15.4”, 1280x800 or 1920x1200 probably doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t know enough to discern a difference while viewing. My wife has a GPU in her high spec laptop and she works daily with video and still images, for her work. My use is for informal videos of our grandchildren, places we/I visit, etc. I have no need for a laptop with graphics card. This machine, as it is, does more than an adequate job of rendering my 720p videos to mp4.
The Atheros AR 9380 wireless card, what more can it do that the stock setup, ajkula66?

Owen

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#9 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:37 pm

owen_r61 wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:50 pm

The Atheros AR 9380 wireless card, what more can it do that the stock setup, ajkula66?
Provides higher connection speeds - up to 450Mbps on a dual band "N" router - along with running cooler and more stable than the stock Intel cards. That's usually the first upgrade that goes into any of my systems from that era.

Is it an absolute "do or die" must-have? No. It's just that I've used it in dozens of not hundreds of ThinkPads and I have yet to find another card that works as well, let alone better. Obviously, YMMV.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#10 Post by wujstefan » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:32 am

Well, R61 can still be very snappy. There are _LOTS_ of people still working on their frankenpads.

Pinmod/bios mod actually really does the job; T9300 is no match compared to T9900 or Q-series.

If lacking graphics power you can always employ a 2503 dock w/external graphics, or get e-gpu (you have an expresscard after all!).
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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#11 Post by owen_r61 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:52 pm

@ajkula66 Thanks for your detailed reply, but really that was over my head. I will look into the subject further though. Also, I know that you said the T9500 isn't much of an upgrade, but I'm just wanting to know if that cpu is just "plug and play" for the R61.

@wujstefan As much as I'd like to have a quad processor in the R61, and 8GB ram to go with that, I really think that kind of mod and all of the many other changes that go along with it, is just too complicated, for me. Thanks for mentioning the dock. I'll look into that, out of curiosity. E-gpu? I've never heard of that. I'll research that some, too.

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#12 Post by ajkula66 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:10 pm

owen_r61 wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:52 pm
Also, I know that you said the T9500 isn't much of an upgrade, but I'm just wanting to know if that cpu is just "plug and play" for the R61.
Yes. T9300/9500 are plug & play and may be worth it at today's prices, as is X9000 but that's not an option that I'd recommend on a cost vs. performance ratio.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

AARP club members:A31p, T42, T43pSF

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PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#13 Post by owen_r61 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:58 pm

Thanks, ajkula66! I am planning to open the R61 up to clean it thoroughly, so I ordered a T9300 to install when I do this. That might not make much of a difference, but I'd still like to see what happens.
Also, and this is off topic a bit, I read your post in your A31p thread, where you mentioned using the Pale Moon browser. I had never heard of this either, but it piqued my curiosity. So I downloaded and installed the latest version of Xubuntu 32bit onto the old T41. Did all the updates and added all of software that I use, then I downloaded the zipped Pale Moon, which can be extracted to a file and ran from a folder, instead of being installed on the system. I set the browser prefences up to my own choices and then headed over to youtube and gave it a test. Wow!!! I was watching videos at 360p/full screen and that was 100%, just perfect. At 480p/full screen I'd say it was 97%, because when a scene would get really busy with motion you could see faltering along the edges of certain objects, but not stuttering, frame dropping type of stuff, at all. 720p, well that didn't work on the T41, at all. So, thank you for prompting me to do this, ajkula66! Now, I have the T41 back on the table using it once again and I must say that both the keyboard and especially the speakers of the T41 are much better than the R61's. I can't believe that I'm using the T41 again. BTW, my T41 has 2GB ram, 2.1GHz cpu and an mSATA ssd in an Aleratec PATA adapter, used in the main bay.

Owen

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#14 Post by owen_r61 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:16 pm

@ajkula66 You suggested the Atheros AR 9380 wifi card. I'm thinking about getting a couple of these for my two Thinkpads. Would you happen to know if the drivers for these cards are supported by the "free-software only" community?.. as my Intel wifi cards are not supported.

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#15 Post by ajkula66 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 5:01 pm

owen_r61 wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:16 pm
@ajkula66 You suggested the Atheros AR 9380 wifi card. I'm thinking about getting a couple of these for my two Thinkpads. Would you happen to know if the drivers for these cards are supported by the "free-software only" community?.. as my Intel wifi cards are not supported.
If you're talking about Linux, 9380 works OOTB on most distros that I've played with. If you're not...then please elaborate... :D
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#16 Post by owen_r61 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:23 pm

I'm speaking about Linux. Not non-free software/hardware Linux, but rather the free-software/hardware community Linux distros. Free as in "freedom and privacy", ie. no backdoors. Libreboot and Trisquel 7.0 fall directly in the path of that which I'm asking about.

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Re: Thinkpad R61 Upgrades Questions?

#17 Post by ajkula66 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:32 pm

owen_r61 wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:23 pm
I'm speaking about Linux. Not non-free software/hardware Linux, but rather the free-software/hardware community Linux distros. Free as in "freedom and privacy", ie. no backdoors. Libreboot and Trisquel 7.0 fall directly in the path of that which I'm asking about.
OK two things here:

1) Libreboot will not work on an R61 AFAIK. No idea about Trisquel since I'm completely and utterly unfamiliar with it.

2) You should probably do your own research on support of Atheros-chipped cards within these communities. I prefer not to make presumptions regarding stuff that I'm clueless about.

Good luck.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

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