A31 is still usable.

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thinkpadgeek91
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A31 is still usable.

#1 Post by thinkpadgeek91 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:08 am

I spent a few hours today getting my A31 working again. I have a Pentium 4M @ 1.9Ghz, 768MB RAM, and a 60GB 7200RPM hard drive in it. I installed Lubuntu and I am really surprised at how well this beast is working even though the specs are very very low. I'm posting this on it now. Very impressive what a lightweight linux distro will do to older hardware!
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#2 Post by dr_st » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:00 am

thinkpadgeek91 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:08 am
Very impressive what a lightweight linux distro will do to older hardware!
Try browsing the modern websites (not this forum, which has always been lightweight), and you will quickly become less impressed. ;)
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#3 Post by ajkula66 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:12 am

thinkpadgeek91 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:08 am
Very impressive what a lightweight linux distro will do to older hardware!
Yes, to some extent.
dr_st wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:00 am
Try browsing the modern websites (not this forum, which has always been lightweight), and you will quickly become less impressed. ;)
This.

There's simply no way of making a P4M CPU work well with today's web, regardless of the OS used. That's why my own A31p has become a part of my recording equipment, and does not go online anymore.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#4 Post by thinkpadgeek91 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:39 am

ajkula66 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:12 am
thinkpadgeek91 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:08 am
Very impressive what a lightweight linux distro will do to older hardware!
Yes, to some extent.
dr_st wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:00 am
Try browsing the modern websites (not this forum, which has always been lightweight), and you will quickly become less impressed. ;)
This.

There's simply no way of making a P4M CPU work well with today's web, regardless of the OS used. That's why my own A31p has become a part of my recording equipment, and does not go online anymore.
I agree it's not perfect. It's nice just to have it running again.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#5 Post by sdfox7 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:31 pm

I don't think it's fair to blame the processor. It may be old but to me the real issue is that you only have 768MB RAM. YouTube by itself will take around 512MB.

My T23 has 1GB RAM and Firefox ESR 45 (I have two IBM factory drives, configured identically, except one is IBM Win2K recovery and the other is IBM XP recovery). My T41 has 2GB RAM and Firefox ESR 52. Both machines still surf the web quite well. Firefox ESR is a good choice for these old machines.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#6 Post by dr_st » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:48 pm

sdfox7 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:31 pm
I don't think it's fair to blame the processor. It may be old but to me the real issue is that you only have 768MB RAM. YouTube by itself will take around 512MB.
RAM has nothing to do with it. These tasks are clearly CPU bound.
sdfox7 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:31 pm
My T23 has 1GB RAM and Firefox ESR 45 (I have two IBM factory drives, configured identically, except one is IBM Win2K recovery and the other is IBM XP recovery). My T41 has 2GB RAM and Firefox ESR 52. Both machines still surf the web quite well. Firefox ESR is a good choice for these old machines.
Either you surf only very light websites (no scripts, no flash, no videos), or your definition of "quite well" is skewed by not having a modern, fast computer around. The difference is quite shocking, and after using a C2Q 3GHz or any Core i system, going back even to the T60 C2D 2GHz is a pain.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#7 Post by sdfox7 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:00 pm

dr_st wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:48 pm
sdfox7 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:31 pm
I don't think it's fair to blame the processor. It may be old but to me the real issue is that you only have 768MB RAM. YouTube by itself will take around 512MB.
RAM has nothing to do with it. These tasks are clearly CPU bound.
sdfox7 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:31 pm
My T23 has 1GB RAM and Firefox ESR 45 (I have two IBM factory drives, configured identically, except one is IBM Win2K recovery and the other is IBM XP recovery). My T41 has 2GB RAM and Firefox ESR 52. Both machines still surf the web quite well. Firefox ESR is a good choice for these old machines.
Either you surf only very light websites (no scripts, no flash, no videos), or your definition of "quite well" is skewed by not having a modern, fast computer around. The difference is quite shocking, and after using a C2Q 3GHz or any Core i system, going back even to the T60 C2D 2GHz is a pain.
I generally have Flash disabled since both browsers are HTML5 capable. Also, video does work, but only if it is at standard definition. Netflix works with Silverlight or HTML5, and Amazon Prime and Hulu work with Flash.

Note that Netflix/Amazon Prime/Hulu will only work with Windows XP since Flash and Silverlight were dropped a long time ago for Windows 2000.

These machines are nearly 15 years old and of course compromises have to be made. I just enjoy using them for basic web browsing and office documents/spreadsheets. They work just fine for productivity.

By the way, the T23 with its deep keyboard is my favorite to use, but I may be getting a 600 soon which I have heard is a great machine. So my opinion could change.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#8 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:24 pm

thinkpadgeek91 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:08 am
I have a Pentium 4M @ 1.9Ghz, 768MB RAM, and a 60GB 7200RPM hard drive in it.
I suggest you to have at least 1GB of RAM inside that computer regardless what OS you use, as long as it's not 9x or dos. Also you wanna make sure to take care of its GPU die otherwise tragedy happens. I personally used some thermal pads to transfer the heat into the CPU heatsink and to reduce the shock at the same time.
sdfox7 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:00 pm
I generally have Flash disabled since both browsers are HTML5 capable. Also, video does work, but only if it is at standard definition. Netflix works with Silverlight or HTML5, and Amazon Prime and Hulu work with Flash.
Well, I wouldn't use that machine for Netflix because standard definition really compromises the high resolution screen of the A30p/A31p models.
I personally use the A3x machines as Spotify playback, and sometimes Microsoft word, thanks to their amazing speakers and keyboards. On top of that you can use it as a very good early-2000 gaming computer if you take care of its GPU.
But to be honest, if you want to use it as a modern main computer, a 15" T43p is the better one to go.
Also in my opinion the keyboard in A3x is much better than the one in T23, but not like that one is not good anyways.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#9 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:05 pm

dr_st wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:48 pm
Either you surf only very light websites (no scripts, no flash, no videos), or your definition of "quite well" is skewed by not having a modern, fast computer around. The difference is quite shocking, and after using a C2Q 3GHz or any Core i system, going back even to the T60 C2D 2GHz is a pain.
I went back to an X301 and I never found it a big deal. That is a 1.6Ghz C2D w/ 8GB RAM.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#10 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:33 pm

dr_st wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:48 pm
Either you surf only very light websites (no scripts, no flash, no videos), or your definition of "quite well" is skewed by not having a modern, fast computer around. The difference is quite shocking, and after using a C2Q 3GHz or any Core i system, going back even to the T60 C2D 2GHz is a pain.
As a matter of fact, I use my T43p to practice my patience. Yeah I do happen to have a C2Q equivalent system beside this T43p (Xeon X3363 OC to 3.2Ghz and 8GB of RAM with SSD), it is blazing fast and doesn't feel like a 2007-2008 system. Some of the key stuff about using a slower hardware is about optimization and keeping track of what you install in your computer. A31 with 1+GB of RAM on itself, even in Windows 7, performs just fine - not blazing fast, but usable.
On my hand, T43p doesn't perform all blazing fast in Windows 10, but it's okay if you disable windows update - thanks to Microsoft Edge for smooth internet browsing (with adblock most webpages scroll without stutter even in UXGA resolution), and the FireGL is massively superior compared to X300 in Windows 7 and newer.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#11 Post by sdfox7 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:41 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:24 pm
Well, I wouldn't use that machine for Netflix because standard definition really compromises the high resolution screen of the A30p/A31p models.
I personally use the A3x machines as Spotify playback, and sometimes Microsoft word, thanks to their amazing speakers and keyboards. On top of that you can use it as a very good early-2000 gaming computer if you take care of its GPU.
But to be honest, if you want to use it as a modern main computer, a 15" T43p is the better one to go.
Also in my opinion the keyboard in A3x is much better than the one in T23, but not like that one is not good anyways.
I understand your point. But just so you know, many sites, including eBay, Google, and this one load just fine with even ancient Firefox 3.6.28. It depends on if your demands are realistic. I basically do email, web browsing, and Office documents.

The below screenshots are from my T23 running Windows 2000, today.

Image 1 Image 2 Image 3
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#12 Post by ajkula66 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:12 pm

sdfox7 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:41 pm
But just so you know, many sites, including eBay, Google, and this one load just fine with even ancient Firefox 3.6.28. It depends on if your demands are realistic. I basically do email, web browsing, and Office documents.
Using an older version of Firefox can undoubtedly help a bit when it comes to browsing web with an older system. However, there are many sites that won't play nice with old browsers. It really depends on where exactly one wants to go, and how fast.

As for the Office stuff, I'm certain that one could still do an awful lot even with a Pentium II, let alone anything newer than that.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#13 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:34 pm

sdfox7 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:41 pm
I understand your point. But just so you know, many sites, including eBay, Google, and this one load just fine with even ancient Firefox 3.6.28. It depends on if your demands are realistic. I basically do email, web browsing, and Office documents.

The below screenshots are from my T23 running Windows 2000, today.

Image 1 Image 2 Image 3
well so does my A30p work just fine with those sites, even under UXGA resolution, Firefox 49 and Windows 7!
https://imgur.com/a/vbRI7
Save for the scrolling experience and also the animations inside webpages. The Radeon 7000 simply just can't do smooth scrolling even back in its days as I don't think people do that back then.
In the other hand, on a T43p, two-finger scrolling results in zero lags and scrolls just like a modern tablet! Also the animations inside pages like eBay do not lag at all.
As for Facebook, well forget about it. You are probably fine if you just wanna send a couple of messages to someone, but talking inside an active group can bring even the Core i series computers to their knees, depending on how active the group is!
Office 2007 can still do wonders on these machines in terms of productivity.
On top of that, unlike T23, you can make a A3x do 720p video playback, thanks to its vastly superior Radeon cards over the older S3 ones.
The problem is not because of how terribly these computers perform, it's really that things like T43p and the T6x perform so much better that the only reasons you use these older computers to do web browsing are either your main computer broke or you are just using a T23/A3x because this is a T23/A3x.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#14 Post by sdfox7 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:47 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:34 pm
well so does my A30p work just fine with those sites, even under UXGA resolution, Firefox 49 and Windows 7!
https://imgur.com/a/vbRI7
Save for the scrolling experience and also the animations inside webpages. The Radeon 7000 simply just can't do smooth scrolling even back in its days as I don't think people do that back then.
In the other hand, on a T43p, two-finger scrolling results in zero lags and scrolls just like a modern tablet! Also the animations inside pages like eBay do not lag at all.
As for Facebook, well forget about it. You are probably fine if you just wanna send a couple of messages to someone, but talking inside an active group can bring even the Core i series computers to their knees, depending on how active the group is!
Office 2007 can still do wonders on these machines in terms of productivity.
On top of that, unlike T23, you can make a A3x do 720p video playback, thanks to its vastly superior Radeon cards over the older S3 ones.
The problem is not because of how terribly these computers perform, it's really that things like T43p and the T6x perform so much better that the only reasons you use these older computers to do web browsing are either your main computer broke or you are just using a T23/A3x because this is a T23/A3x.
For Facebook you can use the mobile site http://m.facebook.com. It works fine.
For Office productivity, under Windows 2000 I use Office 2000 with the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack (fileformatconverters.exe) Under Windows XP I use Office XP with the same compatibility pack. With the compatibility pack you can edit any new Office file (.docx, .pptx.,.xlsx, etc) with the old versions of Office.

I understand what you're saying. For me, the goal is not to tackle every modern task under the sun. It's enjoying the fact that these machines can be used online at all nearly 20 years later. There is a certain thrill about still being able to use these well-built machines years later.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#15 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:12 pm

sdfox7 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:47 pm
It's enjoying the fact that these machines can be used online at all nearly 20 years later. There is a certain thrill about still being able to use these well-built machines years later.
Well that is also the reason why I am sticking to my T43p. That's my first proper computer (well, it's actually the 14.1" T43, but you get the idea), yet that piece of hardware still lives in Windows 10 with my maxed out upgrades performed 2 years ago. Coming into think of this, I would have a much better time using it if I figured out how to do upgrades 3 years earlier. It came with regular specs (2668-44U):

Code: Select all

P M 750(1.86GHz), 512MB RAM, 40GB 5400rpm HD, 14.1in 1024x768 LCD, 64MB ATI Radeon X300, CDRW/DVD, Intel 802.11bg wireless(MPCI), Modem(CDC), 1Gb Ethernet(LOM), UltraNav, Secure Chip, Fingerprint reader, 6 cell Li-Ion batt, WinXP Pro
I got 1GB of RAM inside when I first got the machine, but the other 512mb stick eventually stopped working, so did I broke the XGA display as well as the lid (lid latched with a pencil in-between and lid cracked, so did the LCD after another few years) and replaced it with SXGA+ one. Also survived two water spills just fine, though the fan gave out and got replaced.
But yes, to your point, even a ThinkPad 600 would be usable for office 2003, W2k and some web browsing with Firefox 12. You have your joy union with your T23, I have mine with my T43.
Patience, boys. All good things to those who wait. – Mother Gothel (Tangled)
_________________________________
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2xT43 14.1" 2.26 SXGA+ 2gb 1*fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
Flexview UXGA:
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#16 Post by sdfox7 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:23 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:12 pm
But yes, to your point, even a ThinkPad 600 would be usable for office 2003, W2k and some web browsing with Firefox 12. You have your joy union with your T23, I have mine with my T43.
I just purchased a ThinkPad 600 tonight from Neil. I posted a WTB in the marketplace yesterday and he responded. I should have it in the next few days and I am excited, I've never owned one. Windows 2000 would be more functional, but I'm willing to see how Windows 98 runs on it.
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#17 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:56 pm

sdfox7 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:23 pm
but I'm willing to see how Windows 98 runs on it.
Of course Windows 98 would fly on it, it was supposed to be pre-installed with Windows 98 anyways. Mine did - except the seller upgraded to Windows Me, thus trashing the copy.
Windows 2000 is pretty responsive too; Windows XP takes some response times - but booted up the quickest. I put 416mb (32mb+128mb+256mb) of RAM in mine, so as for modern browsing the RAM bottleneck is "removed".
Patience, boys. All good things to those who wait. – Mother Gothel (Tangled)
_________________________________
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2xT43 14.1" 2.26 SXGA+ 2gb 1*fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
Flexview UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10

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Re: A31 is still usable.

#18 Post by Raidriar » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:36 pm

you guys are also forgetting the very important component called "vRAM" or video ram. You get a whopping 16 or 32MB of vRAM to play with, and thats barely functional for loading a couple high res JPEGs, nevermind entire web pages from 2017. The age of the A31/T30, the WWW doesn't look even close to what is is today. We are very graphics heavy in 2017, and the video card simply cannot cope with all of it, so it dumps it all onto the CPU, which is ever slower at processing this kind of stuff. RAM is a nonissue, I have 1GB in the T30 and running Windows XP + chrome doesn't take it anywhere near that limit.

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Re: A31 is still usable.

#19 Post by sdfox7 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:04 pm

Raidriar wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:36 pm
you guys are also forgetting the very important component called "vRAM" or video ram. You get a whopping 16 or 32MB of vRAM to play with, and thats barely functional for loading a couple high res JPEGs, nevermind entire web pages from 2017. The age of the A31/T30, the WWW doesn't look even close to what is is today. We are very graphics heavy in 2017, and the video card simply cannot cope with all of it, so it dumps it all onto the CPU, which is ever slower at processing this kind of stuff. RAM is a nonissue, I have 1GB in the T30 and running Windows XP + chrome doesn't take it anywhere near that limit.
Doesn't disabling hardware acceleration at the OS/browser level take care of that issue for older video cards?

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Re: A31 is still usable.

#20 Post by kfzhu1229 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:03 pm

Raidriar wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:36 pm
you guys are also forgetting the very important component called "vRAM" or video ram. You get a whopping 16 or 32MB of vRAM to play with, and thats barely functional for loading a couple high res JPEGs, nevermind entire web pages from 2017. The age of the A31/T30, the WWW doesn't look even close to what is is today. We are very graphics heavy in 2017, and the video card simply cannot cope with all of it, so it dumps it all onto the CPU, which is ever slower at processing this kind of stuff. RAM is a nonissue, I have 1GB in the T30 and running Windows XP + chrome doesn't take it anywhere near that limit.
Well, what is more important than VRAM on these old machines for modern use is the DirectX level as well as support for other features such as Pixel Shader. Savage cards in T2x and Radeon 7000 in A30 series are only DX6 capable, though you can force all DX7 programs to work properly in Radeon 7000 by a newer driver. 32mb of VRAM in my A30p NEVER gets fully used unless I run games, as most modern apps don't support hardware acceleration for anything that is lower than DX9 anyways. Heck S3 card in T23 can't even run Windows 7 minesweeper and other Windows 7 games with hardware acceleration, while T22 simply crashes the game, and A30 with Radeon 7000 works just flawlessly.
FYI, I tried opening 16MP pictures from my Galaxy S5 with Windows image viewer on my A30p with 32mb of VRAM, and while it struggles to zoom in and rendering without screen tearing, dragging results in zero lag, at least that's true in Windows 7.
Patience, boys. All good things to those who wait. – Mother Gothel (Tangled)
_________________________________
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
2xT43 14.1" 2.26 SXGA+ 2gb 1*fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
Flexview UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10

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Re: A31 is still usable.

#21 Post by edik » Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:11 pm

Could the A31p play DVD without frame drop?

My memory fades on the earlier machines as I only ever played DVD's on a basic 770 (P233 MMX?) back in 2003.... and that was almost unusable until I spent an extra $20 and located an IBM DVD Accelerator card that slotted in.... then it was as smooth as butter!

2017: T450 i5-5300U/12/256+32/FHD
2007-2014: T520/i7-2760QM/8GB/320GB, WSXGA+, X200s, T500, A31p, A30p, T42p, X60s, X32, X31
Gone but not forgotten 1998-2006: 2006 T43p 2668-H2G (2GB/60), T22 2648-8EG (128/20), 2005 X40, X31, 2004 T30 SXGA+, 600X, 2003 770 P233+DVD Card, 760XD 1998 760XL+104MB

Thinkpad4by3
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#22 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:22 pm

A PMMX and a P4M are 2 completely different animals. I'm pretty sure it can play DVD's but don't hold me to that. Why watch a DVD on it, isn't that what widescreens are for anyway?
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edik
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#23 Post by edik » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:10 pm

Just curious as the the first IBM TP CPU/Graphics card combo that could smoothly play DVD's unaided :)

A Basic non DVD Card 770 P233 MMX couldn't... it worked but it was too jerky... and I assume because the DVD card was marketed also for the X and Z 770's even a PIII (in the Z) with the 770's graphic chipset might have also not been so smooth.

That's why I wondered whether by the A31(p) this could be achieved.

One day will buy a 770+DVD Card just to relive my old days :)

2017: T450 i5-5300U/12/256+32/FHD
2007-2014: T520/i7-2760QM/8GB/320GB, WSXGA+, X200s, T500, A31p, A30p, T42p, X60s, X32, X31
Gone but not forgotten 1998-2006: 2006 T43p 2668-H2G (2GB/60), T22 2648-8EG (128/20), 2005 X40, X31, 2004 T30 SXGA+, 600X, 2003 770 P233+DVD Card, 760XD 1998 760XL+104MB

kfzhu1229
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Re: A31 is still usable.

#24 Post by kfzhu1229 » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:01 pm

edik wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:10 pm
A Basic non DVD Card 770 P233 MMX couldn't... it worked but it was too jerky... and I assume because the DVD card was marketed also for the X and Z 770's even a PIII (in the Z) with the 770's graphic chipset might have also not been so smooth.

That's why I wondered whether by the A31(p) this could be achieved.
Well, I have used my 770ED to play DVDs before, before its power board completely failed. As long as you have the right time-correct software (MPC and the older WinDVD software that came with those machines), it works just fine. However, DVD drives back then do not have region settings. Didn't test this on 770ED itself, but I tested that same drive later long after the motherboard failed by plugging it into a bare A31p motherboard, region-protected DVDs refuse to play, unfortunately. Didn't have time to figure out a way around this.
edik wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:10 pm
One day will buy a 770+DVD Card just to relive my old days :)
Yeah now I have my 770ED with the card in parts. I thought I might as well point this out, if you are interested to get a normal 770 and stick a card in.
Patience, boys. All good things to those who wait. – Mother Gothel (Tangled)
_________________________________
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
2xT43 14.1" 2.26 SXGA+ 2gb 1*fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
Flexview UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10

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