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W500 defective ATI cards?

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Lockheed
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W500 defective ATI cards?

#1 Post by Lockheed » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:05 am

I was about to get a W500, however, I just found on german Thinkwiki, that W500 develop some kind of issue with the ATI card.
http://thinkwiki.de/w500 - at the bottom.


I previously had two laptops affected by Nvidia bug, so I would like to avoid getting another lemon.

Does anyone know anything more about it? Should I be weary about getting W500 as one day it might lose its discrete card?
T420s - i7, 16GB RAM, Samsung 850 EVO + 1TB Hitachi 9.5mm, Nvidia, Oleh Bios.
W500 - C2D P9500, 8GB RAM, Samsung 830 SSD + 750GB Hitachi HDD, Intel+ATI GPU, bright WUXGA, FP-reader
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:12 am

W500 has ATI graphics.
W510 and newer have nVidia graphics.
The same goes for the T500/T510 and newer.
Both series with ATI (especially W5x0) have had overheating problems.
T510 supports 8GB RAM, but the W510 supports 16GB.
The T500/T510 and newer (plus the R500) are also available with Intel graphics.
Unless you need powerful graphics for e.g. Photoshop and the likes, I'd go for a T500/T510/T520 or R500 with Intel graphics.
If you want 16:10 screens, get a T500/W500/R500.
These three also still run with Core 2 Duo CPUs.
And you need to check each LCD for CCFL or LED backlight version.
All others have the (IMHO awful) 16:9 screens, come with LED backlight, and have an i3/i5/i7 CPU.
I suggest you get the specs from all wanted ones, and compare them in detail (in case I made a mistake above).
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#3 Post by QWERTY Andreas » Mon Aug 05, 2013 3:40 pm

I have a W500, and i dont have problems with overheating, but the laptop can become pretty hot under heavy load. I can run both Furmark and Prime95 at the same time, without overheating.

It might be hot, but it will, however, stay exceptionally cool under light load with Intel Graphics.

I haven't heard about the chips dying because of heat, as a major problem. I had my motherboard swapped by warranty once, after 3 years of heavy use and playing intensive games. It began to get in trouble on a hot summerday, after i had used it to play "Battlefield Bad Company 2", some hot days playing in a row (BF:BC2 is on the limit of what this system can handle, Graphics wise).

So i don't believe it will become a problem, unless you abuse it a lot with heavy-Graphics, a lot of thermal cycling and in a hot room. And then it MIGHT become a problem. If you are unlucky.

The newer W510 with quadcore, runs far hotter than the W500 - idle temps on the CPU is more than 10C higher!

TL:DR; I don't think you should be afraid of the heat. The W500 is a fine machine.
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#4 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:43 pm

QWERTY Andreas wrote:
TL:DR; I don't think you should be afraid of the heat. The W500 is a fine machine.
Agreed. I've had a W500 for six months as a daily driver, and liked it a lot, apart from the Samsung WUXGA LCD which was one of the worst panels I've ever had the pain of using.

That being said, if you're into gaming, you're better off with one generation older (T61p) or younger (T/W510) unit.
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#5 Post by Lockheed » Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:32 pm

Thanks guys.

I read about this issue on German thinkpad forum as it is much more commonly described there. It seems to be heat-related, and apparently reflowing it with oven might work, just like with Nvidia. Nonetheless, I hope it will never come to this.

I got one with P-class processor, so it should be even cooler. I also plan to put Arctic Silver in it, and undervolt it as usual.
So I hope heat will not be a problem, even though I intend to use it under linux and Wine programs can stress hardware quite significantly even when doing seemingly nothing.

@ajkula66,
I wonder why did you say T61p is better for gaming. From what I read, W500 is supposed to have GPU with better performance than T510 and close to T520.
T420s - i7, 16GB RAM, Samsung 850 EVO + 1TB Hitachi 9.5mm, Nvidia, Oleh Bios.
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#6 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:22 pm

I don't recall benchmarking the ATi card in W500, but once you get the machine, run Freestone on it and report back.

The V5700 was meant to be a CAD chip, not a gaming card. I might be wrong, but would like to see the results anyway.
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#7 Post by QWERTY Andreas » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:06 am

ajkula66 wrote:I don't recall benchmarking the ATi card in W500, but once you get the machine, run Freestone on it and report back.

The V5700 was meant to be a CAD chip, not a gaming card. I might be wrong, but would like to see the results anyway.
I have both a T61p frankenpad and a W500.

Both the Quadro Card and the FireGL Card are CAD Cards, however they are both based on a "mainstream"/"Gaming" chip (with more vRAM and different drivers). The FireGL Card and the Quadro Card are equally fast on stock settings, however the Quadro can be overclocked (a gentle OC can improve the performance by around 15-25%).

I got 3.8K in 3Dmark '06 on both my T60/1p and my W500 in 3Dmark '06, and i got 4.9K with OC on the T60/1p

So if you dont plan to OC the Card, they are the same.
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#8 Post by precip9 » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:30 pm

I have replaced the CPUs in three W500's. In order to be sure the sink is working, I use
http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html

The GPU is cooled by the same heatpipe assembly that cools the CPU and the motherboard bridge. But by comparison with the CPU, the contact plate on the GPU is not fixed with the same precision. The CPU has four spring loaded screws. The GPU plate is held by a stamped stainless steel plate that runs from the back to the front of the chassis. And instead of grease, the GPU has an elastomeric pad. Since I did not have replacement pads handy, I used an ordinary high quality thermal grease.

I did not notice much temperature elevation with the GPU toggled on, but I don't do anything that really stresses it. But I have a simple habit that keeps the laptop cooler:

For extended use, prop the back of the laptop up with two plastic milk carton caps under the rubber feet. A little air space between the laptop and the table makes an enormous difference. With Hwmonitor, you can keep an eye on the GPU.
W500x3 with T9900, , T400 highnit 1280x800 with P9600, X61sx3, X61Tx3.

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#9 Post by Lockheed » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:15 am

precip9 wrote:instead of grease, the GPU has an elastomeric pad. Since I did not have replacement pads handy, I used an ordinary high quality thermal grease.
What you are talking about is not GPU but Intel chipset. ATI GPU has the same thermal grease on it, as CPU.
precip9 wrote:I did not notice much temperature elevation with the GPU toggled on, but I don't do anything that really stresses it.
I undervolted the CPU and replaced the dry thermal grease with the most famous thermal paste called "Silver-something". Temps went down to 44 C / 52 C (CPU/GPU) on idle, and 78 C / 85 C on total load of both CPU and GPU. This is with ambient temperature of ~30-35 C.

I use internal thinkpad CPU temp sensor which is much more accurate than the two temperatures given to separate cores by the processor, which is why CPU temp is higher, than reported by the standard sensor.
T420s - i7, 16GB RAM, Samsung 850 EVO + 1TB Hitachi 9.5mm, Nvidia, Oleh Bios.
W500 - C2D P9500, 8GB RAM, Samsung 830 SSD + 750GB Hitachi HDD, Intel+ATI GPU, bright WUXGA, FP-reader
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#10 Post by precip9 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:48 am

Lockheed wrote:
precip9 wrote:instead of grease, the GPU has an elastomeric pad. Since I did not have replacement pads handy, I used an ordinary high quality thermal grease.
What you are talking about is not GPU but Intel chipset. ATI GPU has the same thermal grease on it, as CPU.
I forgot. I did the swaps last summer.
precip9 wrote:I did not notice much temperature elevation with the GPU toggled on, but I don't do anything that really stresses it.
Lockheed wrote:I undervolted the CPU and replaced the dry thermal grease with the most famous thermal paste called "Silver-something". Temps went down to 44 C / 52 C (CPU/GPU) on idle, and 78 C / 85 C on total load of both CPU and GPU. This is with ambient temperature of ~30-35 C.
I would never put silver in a machine. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisker_%28metallurgy%29
I'm sure you are careful. Still, I prefer not to worry about being careful. There are ceramic formulations, almost as good as silver, that are harmless wherever they end up. But I wonder about the German failures. Under heavy use, the fan runs, dust accumulates. Could those failures be due to dust impeding the cooling, or dried thermal paste, rather than cracked wire bonds/solder joints?
Lockheed wrote:I use internal thinkpad CPU temp sensor which is much more accurate than the two temperatures given to separate cores by the processor, which is why CPU temp is higher, than reported by the standard sensor.
I found that under light load, the temperature of the GPU actually tracks the CPU, due to the shared heat pipe arrangement.
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#11 Post by Zak » Fri Aug 16, 2013 12:23 pm

Both the T61p and W500 have an issue where the BIOS will not run the fan at its true maximum speed (around 5000 RPM) unless specifically directed to by software. See the Thinkwiki article on controlling fan speed for some suitable tools. Perhaps counterintuitively, the level called "disengaged" by the Linux thinkpad-acpi module means something to the effect of "send full power to the fan and do not attempt to regulate its speed".

The T61p's QuadroFX is known to be defective unless manufactured after August 2008, and I have had one fail. Keeping it cool may help is last longer, but there's no point in getting a higher-end GPU if you're not doing things that cause it to heat up. The W500's FireGL has no defects I'm aware of, but is affected by ATI's habit of dropping driver support for relatively new hardware. Recent Linux distributions will require using open source drivers, which last I checked had worse performance and power/thermal management than ATI's proprietary driver. I don't know as much about Windows; last I checked I could get a usable ATI driver for Windows 7. I have no idea if there's one that works for Windows 8.

Using an open source driver without power management and no third-party or manual fan control, the W500's FireGL would overheat and cause the machine to suddenly power off after a minute or two at idle, causing the machine to shut down. The fan never went over it's regular high-speed setting of around 3200 RPM. I once read on this forum that Lenovo acknowledged the fan speed issue as a defect and gave W500 owners who had problems as a result replacement machines under warranty.

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#12 Post by precip9 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 12:47 pm

Zak wrote: The T61p's QuadroFX is known to be defective unless manufactured after August 2008, and I have had one fail. Keeping it cool may help is last longer, but there's no point in getting a higher-end GPU if you're not doing things that cause it to heat up.
Is it possible to determine the actual date of manufacture without taking the machine apart?
Zak wrote: The W500's FireGL has no defects I'm aware of, but is affected by ATI's habit of dropping driver support for relatively new hardware. ... I don't know as much about Windows; last I checked I could get a usable ATI driver for Windows 7. I have no idea if there's one that works for Windows 8.
The Lenovo driver works for both Windows 7 and 8. Windows 7 is straightforward. Windows 8 requires a specific manual installation procedure, detailed in this thread. I worked this out on a W500 with a preview copy of Windows 8.
http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=67&t=106918
Zak wrote: Using an open source driver without power management and no third-party or manual fan control, the W500's FireGL would overheat and cause the machine to suddenly power off after a minute or two at idle, causing the machine to shut down. The fan never went over it's regular high-speed setting of around 3200 RPM. I once read on this forum that Lenovo acknowledged the fan speed issue as a defect and gave W500 owners who had problems as a result replacement machines under warranty.
Interesting. I'll watch for this with HWMonitor, and look for a 3rd party fan control app if it occurs.
W500x3 with T9900, , T400 highnit 1280x800 with P9600, X61sx3, X61Tx3.

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#13 Post by Lockheed » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:46 pm

@Zak, thanks for pointing out the fan issue. That would explain why the temperature climb is so steep when under heavy load.

As for temp on open source drivers, it was tolerable on idle even before replacing thermal paste. Idle was around 60-65 Celsius.
2D performance of opensource drivers was always better. 3D performance appears to have been very much improved recently, see here:
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Talk:ATI

The only problem that remains is power management which causes higher temperatures. This is why I have to stick to Catalyst. At least for the moment.

precip9 wrote:Interesting. I'll watch for this with HWMonitor, and look for a 3rd party fan control app if it occurs.
I think you missed the point. He was talking about Linux. Windows users don't need to worry about that.
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#14 Post by Zak » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:47 pm

precip9 wrote:Is it possible to determine the actual date of manufacture without taking the machine apart?
There might be some way to look it up by serial number, but I don't know that. To make matters worse, I've read rumors of counterfeit post-8/08 Nvidia chips - older, possibly discarded parts with later dates stamped on them. It's my impression that there were no newly-manufactured T61ps with non-defective GPUs, so the only ones that are certainly good are those with warranty replacement motherboards after 8/08.

I saw somebody trying to sell a 4:3 T61p warranty board on Ebay for $500 last year.

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#15 Post by Adda » Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:15 am

The W510 supports 32GB of memory, 4x8GB.

By default it's the hottest running ThinkPad I have ever owned, but with the right configuration, it can become one of the coolest running performance oriented ThinkPads around.

I have played a lot of games on mine, and tortured it with what most people call unreasonable loads, crashed it many times from overheating.
But it still works perfectly well, 3 years old now.

I have explained the stuff I have done to get temps down, but since no one has shown interest in what I have said on the matter, so far, I'll answer questions rather then start ranting to myself.

You can get temps below 70C during heavy loads on both CPU and GPU with this machine, while it's running faster then default, which would make it run at 85C or more.

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#16 Post by Lockheed » Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:22 am

I player around with fan control under linux, and now under load I am getting no more than 78 C on GPU and 63 C on CPU, while still being nearly inaudible (ie. not using the top fan speed).
I am quite satisfied with that, and could go even lower if I use the highest fan speed.


@Adda, why are you talking about W510, which is an entirely different machine?
Different CPUs, different GPUs, different chipset.
T420s - i7, 16GB RAM, Samsung 850 EVO + 1TB Hitachi 9.5mm, Nvidia, Oleh Bios.
W500 - C2D P9500, 8GB RAM, Samsung 830 SSD + 750GB Hitachi HDD, Intel+ATI GPU, bright WUXGA, FP-reader
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#17 Post by Adda » Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:39 am

~Lockheed

Because if you are thinking about getting a W500, I see no reason not to get a W510 in stead, I have had a T500, the W510 is definitely a better ThinkPad in my opinion.
Better screen, better keyboard, better built quality, tougher construction and much better performance.
My T500 had a P9600 CPU and the HD3650 GPU is as fast as the FireGL V5700, it just had half the memory.

The only advantage of the T/W500 is that it supports IBM_ECW, is slimmer then the W510 and the switchable graphics enable longer battery life.

But I might be late, as far as I can see you already bought a W500?

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#18 Post by Lockheed » Sat Aug 17, 2013 9:13 am

Yup, I got W500, and here is why I didn't get:

a) T510
- much more expensive
- slower GPU
- 16:9 format
- low availability in Europe

b) W510
- all of the above
- it doesn't work with 90W travel charger

c) T520 imported from the US:
- 500 euro more expensive after tax and shipping, while I got W500 for 400 euro


So, at least for me, the W500 was a superior choice.
T420s - i7, 16GB RAM, Samsung 850 EVO + 1TB Hitachi 9.5mm, Nvidia, Oleh Bios.
W500 - C2D P9500, 8GB RAM, Samsung 830 SSD + 750GB Hitachi HDD, Intel+ATI GPU, bright WUXGA, FP-reader
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#19 Post by Adda » Sat Aug 17, 2013 9:17 am

I agree, it seems the only advantage to you, form the 510 series, is the bright LED backlit displays

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#20 Post by precip9 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:53 pm

Adda wrote:~Lockheed
My T500 had a P9600 CPU and the HD3650 GPU is as fast as the FireGL V5700, it just had half the memory.
That is not correct. The FireGL has almost twice the number of pipelines vs the HD3650.
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#21 Post by Adda » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:59 pm

precip9 wrote: That is not correct. The FireGL has almost twice the number of pipelines vs the HD3650.
I am correct:

V5700
http://www.notebookcheck.net/ATI-Mobili ... 783.0.html

HD3650
http://www.notebookcheck.net/ATI-Mobili ... 839.0.html

Same chip, same clocks, different BIOS and drivers, however, a mobility modded Radeon driver will happily install on a FireGL.

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#22 Post by precip9 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:37 pm

Adda wrote:
precip9 wrote: That is not correct. The FireGL has almost twice the number of pipelines vs the HD3650.
I am correct:
Yes, you are. I had it confused with the HD3470 in the T400.
W500x3 with T9900, , T400 highnit 1280x800 with P9600, X61sx3, X61Tx3.

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#23 Post by 600X » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:33 pm

I had a W500 once. I am one of those guys whose ATI decided to die. It is not yet sure whether it is actually a common problem or bug, but the FireGL's are indeed starting to die on some W500's. Just keep that in mind. If you don't abuse your unit I'm sure it will last you long enough though.

I used my W500 for gaming. It performed well, but not as good as I had hoped. Especially since some games created errors. Turns out the FireGL is a horrible choice for gaming as the CAD drivers can cause performance problems and other issues. In my case the FireGL wasn't able to compile the shaders necessary for one of my games.

That is why I have switched to a T500 with HD3650 which performs much better at games.

The original WUXGA was horrible so I swapped it for a brand new Sharp WUXGA. Lenovo never used those panels which is something that I don't understand. The Sharp is far superior to the original WUXGA displays.
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#24 Post by precip9 » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:59 pm

Did you try regreasing the heatsink
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#25 Post by Adda » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:01 am

Aurora wrote:I had a W500 once. I am one of those guys whose ATI decided to die. It is not yet sure whether it is actually a common problem or bug, but the FireGL's are indeed starting to die on some W500's. Just keep that in mind. If you don't abuse your unit I'm sure it will last you long enough though.

I used my W500 for gaming. It performed well, but not as good as I had hoped. Especially since some games created errors. Turns out the FireGL is a horrible choice for gaming as the CAD drivers can cause performance problems and other issues. In my case the FireGL wasn't able to compile the shaders necessary for one of my games.

That is why I have switched to a T500 with HD3650 which performs much better at games.

The original WUXGA was horrible so I swapped it for a brand new Sharp WUXGA. Lenovo never used those panels which is something that I don't understand. The Sharp is far superior to the original WUXGA displays.
Did you try a mobility modded Radeon driver on that W500?
A FireGL should perform the same as a Radeon if the same driver is used.

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600X
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#26 Post by 600X » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:57 pm

Adda wrote:Did you try a mobility modded Radeon driver on that W500?
A FireGL should perform the same as a Radeon if the same driver is used.
No I didn't. I've read about modded Radeon drivers before, I believe you can use them to turn the FireGL5250 in the T60 into an X1700. However, I never really understood how it works, where to download them and how to install them.

I have a T500 with HD3650 now anyway so it doesn't really matter.
Daily: T440p
ThinkPads: 600X (i3), A31p (FlexView), X41, T43, T60 (FlexView), T61p (4:3), R61 (QXGA), X301 (AFFS), W500, X1

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#27 Post by Adda » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:10 pm

Aurora wrote: No I didn't. I've read about modded Radeon drivers before, I believe you can use them to turn the FireGL5250 in the T60 into an X1700. However, I never really understood how it works, where to download them and how to install them.

I have a T500 with HD3650 now anyway so it doesn't really matter.
It is more simple then you think.

Download the latest Radeon driver that is compatible with the Radeon version of your card, in this case HD3650.

Download Mobility Modder and install it.

Run the Radeon driver install, it'll tell you you don't have the necessary hardware to continue, so exit.

Run Mobility Modder and point it to the directory the Radeon driver got extracted to.

When it's done, uninstall the old driver and reboot.

Then run the Radeon driver install, it should install without issues, you might get a warning that the driver isn't signed, but I don't think it'll prevent installing the driver.

Reboot and you are done, the card should still be called FireGL and all that, but it runs on a Radeon driver with all it's optimizations.

If the same driver is used, the only difference between Radeon and FireGL cards is the BIOS.
All the FireGL BIOS does is enable hassle free install of a FireGL driver, and enable certain OpenGL features used for CAD and more.

Maybe the latest driver made for the desktop HD3650, performs better then the Radeon Mobility driver you are using now.
Installing that is the same procedure as above.

ThinkPad A30
Pentium III-M 933MHz
Crucial 2x256MB 133MHz CL2
Mobility Radeon 16MB
15" UXGA FlexView
Zheino Classic A 32GB
Samsung SpinPoint M5S 160GB
NEC DVD+-RW ND-6650A
Broadcom MiniPCI BCM43222 802.11n Dual Band
AKE BC168 USB 2.0
26P8287 203 "Malaysia"
46L4697
02K6898
02K6753

600X
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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#28 Post by 600X » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:14 pm

Thanks for the explanation! Might come in handy if I ever decide to get a T60 with FireGL. However this solution is not suitable for my T500/W500 because I would like to use the switchable graphics feature which is only available if you use lenovo's all-in-one driver pack.
Daily: T440p
ThinkPads: 600X (i3), A31p (FlexView), X41, T43, T60 (FlexView), T61p (4:3), R61 (QXGA), X301 (AFFS), W500, X1

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Re: W500 defective ATI cards?

#29 Post by Adda » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:16 pm

Aurora wrote:Thanks for the explanation! Might come in handy if I ever decide to get a T60 with FireGL. However this solution is not suitable for my T500/W500 because I would like to use the switchable graphics feature which is only available if you use lenovo's all-in-one driver pack.
Aah yes forgot about switchable graphics, and now that I have checked, it seems both the desktop and mobile version of HD3650 uses the same driver version.
So modding the desktop driver and installing that, would be a waste of time.

ThinkPad A30
Pentium III-M 933MHz
Crucial 2x256MB 133MHz CL2
Mobility Radeon 16MB
15" UXGA FlexView
Zheino Classic A 32GB
Samsung SpinPoint M5S 160GB
NEC DVD+-RW ND-6650A
Broadcom MiniPCI BCM43222 802.11n Dual Band
AKE BC168 USB 2.0
26P8287 203 "Malaysia"
46L4697
02K6898
02K6753

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