Refurb Thinkpads, was Re: [ltp] Thinkpadd T430U

Paul Seelig
Tue, 18 Mar 2014 23:51:22 +0100

On 03/18/2014 10:23 PM, Helen Borrie wrote:
> Well, long story short, the T61 is so good that I gave the T60 to the
> technophobe, set up the database server on the old T42 and set up the
> T61 for myself.  I love the T61  more, I confess, than the T60.  More
> real estate on the screen, better video.  Missing from it, though, is
> any useful PCMCIA ports (one is diverted as a Smartcard socket, the
> other as an SD card reader).  From the stickies on it, this refurb
> appears to be one of a bunch of custom builds the refurbisher bought
> from a local Telco.  It also has 3G built in, which is of no interest
> to me.

Are you aware that any 15" T60 shell hosting one of those amazing
IPS/Flexview screens can easily have a T61 replacement board, giving you
the capability of using 2x4=8GB RAM together with one of those nice cool
running Penryn CPU's?

I am currently typing on exactly such a machine running an up to date
Debian/unstable. Besides those 8GB RAM, it is also hosting a T9300 CPU
and a 256GB OEM Lenovo/Samsung SSD.

If you search the international for the term
"Frankenpad", you will find a wealth of information about this T60/T61
hybrid machine. If you'd also read German, or through a translation
service, then the same would apply to the site.

There is a comprehensive article in German about Frankenpad modding
at which was a good reference for my own
attempts building a few of these machines myself. One of them i keep
safely stashed away as a fallback should anything ever happen to my
daily work horse. As it is comparatively easy to do, lots of people
already went that route in order to give their trusty old T60 a whole
new lease of life.

This is mainly possible because A) the standard mainboard for a 4:3 form
factor T60 always fits into any size T60 machine, be it either the 14.1"
or the 15" variety, as long as it is not one of the rare widescreen
machines. And secondly, B) the 4:3 form factor 14.1" T61 mainboards are
almost 100% compatible with their T60 brethren, and only little manual
modification of the metal roll cage is required to make it fit properly.

The huge advantage of such a T61 mainboard is that it gives you the
possibility of running a total of 8GB RAM and the possibility to use
cool running second generation 64bit capable Core2Duo Penryn CPU's. Also
there is a well known and tested modified T61 BIOS out there which
removes the artifical SATA-I limitation of the SATA-II capable Santa
Rosa chipset of the T61 mainboard:

If using one of the cool running Penryn CPU's (T8100, T8300 or T9300,
T9500) and combining it with the fan from a T500, these machines are
usually very quiet and cool. As i am typing these lines, my Frankenpad
system is in the range of about 45° Celsius and with the fan silently
turning on and slowly spinning only once in a while. Thanks to the
absence of a normal HDD with it's rotating disk, this machine is
strangely silent due to it's SSD replacement without moving parts.

As the icing on the cake, the people in the Thinkpad modding scene found
out about LED BOE Hydis UXGA (1200x1600) displays. While not made for
Thinkpads, but rather for some unknown (to me) "medical devices", they
can be adapted to a 15" T60 display shell.

The guy hosting does such modifications on
a regular basis, and he even also builds such Frankenpads for a living.
There is indeed demand for such machines, and lots of it!

Personally, I plan to keep my Frankenpads a few more years to come and
therefore have already prepared for inevitable future repairs.