80 Comments

  1. I’ve got a T60 for work, and I agree with all of the pros you’ve mentioned. Neither of the first 2 cons happens with my system – I’m not sure if these are T61 specific, or if you’ve just got an issue with your HDD.

    Thanks for the review, good to see the thinkpad line continues to be a good choice for laptop users!

  2. Disk Keeper Slows Everything Down

    Very strange. What version of Diskeeper is it? Maybe it’s an older version 9 or 10? I am running Diskeeper 2007 Pro on my Lenovo N100 and it works flawlessly. This Diskeeper is the full retail version that I bought and installed it after a clean install of XP (I threw out Vista; couldn’t stand it lol!). I have the automatic defrag mode enabled, and have asked it to suspend autodefrag when using the battery. No problems at all- Diskeeper runs in the background, barely uses any resources and defrags the drives automatically (only when on AC power, and only if fragmentation has increased) without slowing anything down. It’s intelligent software and I am quite pleased with the job it does.

  3. I don’t have it set to not defrag when on battery; that must be the problem. The drive, as delivered, was very fragmented, so I had a bad experience with the initial defragmentation while I was running on batteries. I guess I should give modify the defaults and give it another try. I guess the true disappointment is the initial settings as delivered by Lenovo.

  4. Thank you for verifying that this setup actually works with a 2560×1600 monitor! I thought I would have to buy a MacBook to keep using my Dell 3007WFP-HC monitor. Manufacturers are foolish to not include or advertise dual link DVI support, especially if the graphics chipset supports it natively.

  5. I have the same experience on your 2nd con. I didn’t notice this one when I played around the pre-installed Vista OS. I clean install Vista and now I noticed this disturbing sound. I have not experienced this super loud sound in previous laptops. sigh!

  6. Thanks for the review. The first day I received my T61, I installed XP on it and it worked flawlessly and lid on/off did perfectly with XP.

    For defrag, you may want to try contig from SysInternals which I run manually when I am going out for lunch or meeting.

  7. I’m having trouble with dual docking display setup. Every time I dock my laptop i’ve to setup the display. Opening ‘Presentaion Director’, the option of ‘When Notebook is docked’ is grayout. It doesn’t allow me to set Immediately apply this display.

    Have any idea?
    Thanks a bunch

  8. Carlton, how did you get both the Amex deal AND Fat Wallet? When I tried, I had to go to Lenovo through the individual site (so could only get one or the other). Actually, I don’t have Amex, but Visa has a discount too and I had to link to Lenovo thru their site.

    Apparantly the 10% coupon is expired. Also, we all
    missed out on some sweet lenovo outlet sales:
    http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/LenovoPortal/en_US/special-offers.workflow:ShowPromo?LandingPage=/All/US/More%20Ways%20To%20Shop/Outlet

    When I called yesterday, the rep said all the T’s were sold. Oh, well. Thanks for your review.

  9. Getting the dual discounts wasn’t a problem. I just went to the first site (fatwalled), clicked the link, and then opened another tab, went to the Amex Site, clicked the link, and completed the selection and purchase.

  10. Does anyone have the T61 with NVidia internal graphics working in conjunction with the Advanced Dock and a PCIe graphics card?

    If so, what PCIe graphics card are you using?

    I ordered the Advanced Dock and an NVidia Quadro NVS 440 card, but when the card is placed in the Advanced Dock the T61 will not boot to Windows. I had Lenovo send me a replacement Dock, but the replacement will not boot either.

    It would seem that these Advanced Docks are very finicky about which graphics cards they will work with. I called Lenovo tech support to ask if they could recommend a card. They could not. They only want to sell their Lenovo ATI cards, but I am running Windows Vista. Under Vista, you cannot use cards by different manufacturers. You have to use the same driver.

    Plus, the Lenovo ATI graphics cards they recommend can only run 2 monitors. But we can run 2 monitors with the internal NVidia card. So what is the point of the Advanced Dock if we can’t run more monitors with it?

  11. John,

    Which NVidia Quadro NVS 440 card did you get? The x1 or the x16?

    Also, did you happen to solve this issue? I’m thinking about getting the same configuration as you…well…if it works!

    Finally, you say:
    “Under Vista, you cannot use cards by different manufacturers. You have to use the same driver.”

    Where did you hear that? I was not aware of that.

    Thanks!
    Tom

  12. Thanks for the reply.

    I have the x1 model. I was suggested to use the x1 because it runs cooler and is only slightly slower performance.

    No, we have not been able to get it to work yet. The laptop simply refuses to boot to windows with a card installed in the dock. Lenovo tech support was not helpful with this issue. I asked them to tell me if they had a T61 laptop in a dock with a PCIe graphics card, and they didn’t. So, I am not able to confirm if the ThinkPad T61 is actually capable of working as Lenovo advertises. Some people have been successful with the T60, but that is a different laptop.

    I was disappointed when I asked Lenovo to tell me if they knew of any graphics card that would work. All they could suggest was their Lenovo ATI cards. But these cards can only run 2 monitors. And since they are ATI cards, they will disable the internal NVidia card. Under Vista, you cannot run simultaneous graphics cards from different manufacturers. Your cards must use the same driver. I was informed of this by a couple of resources. Digital Tigers told me this, and they are the dealer which sold me my 4 screen array. They know all about using multiple monitors. I also read it on another message board somewhere, but can’t remember where. I’m sure that a quick google search for Vista AND multiple monitors would turn up some details on this.

    According to DT, if you use different cards under Vista then one card will have to be disabled. So if I used one of those Lenovo ATI cards, it would disable my internal NVidia card. This means I could only use monitors on the ATI card, and that card only has 2 outputs. So I could only use 2 screens. This is pointless because I can already run 2 screens off the T61 in the dock without an PCIe card. I honestly think that Lenovo made a goof here. I think they did not research this graphics issue with Vista and simply released the T61 model without actually testing it with an advanced dock and PCIe card. I think they assumed that since the T60 worked, the T61 should too. But the T60 had a different graphics card onboard.

    DT is sending me an ATI graphics card which can run 4 displays. Maybe this one will work.

    I’ll report back after the holiday.

  13. The best suggestion I can make to anyone considering a new computer is to stay away from Vista. It is a complete nightmare. It is the slowest, most obnoxious operating system I have ever encountered. It takes 5 minutes to boot and shut down the laptop. Sometimes it won’t shut down at all. Just hangs on the Shutting Down screen. This laptop is supposed to be fast, but it runs slower than any I’ve ever used. BIG mistake if you get Vista.

  14. Brian….

    My Presentation Director also has the “When Docked” box greyed out. You can select that option.

    To overcome this problem, I created a new Presntation Profile called “Docked”
    I set it to use dual external displays, and then made this the first option in the queue.

  15. Hi John,

    From what I’ve read, the PCIe slot on the Advanced Dock is x1 electrically, so even a x16 card would downshift to the x1 datarate.

    I am wondering if you just have a defective Nvidia x1 card. Have you discussed the issue with PNY? Maybe their x16 card will work?

    Anyway, best of luck with the ATI card…will be very curious to hear what you find.

    Thanks!
    Tom

  16. This is taken from Microsoft.com about the restrictions on graphics cards in Vista:

    Multimonitor Support in WDDM
    On Windows Vista, older XPDM drivers still work and the multi-monitor behavior with XPDM drivers hasn’t changed, because the operating system uses the legacy graphics stack.

    However, the Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM) brings fundamental changes to the management of multiple graphics adapters and external displays. This includes a new restriction, because WDDM drivers do not support “heterogeneous multi-adapter” multi-monitor implementations. Specifically:

    • All graphics adapters in a system must use the same display driver model. That is, all of them should either be running XPDM or WDDM. The driver models are mutually exclusive, and Windows Vista does not allow the simultaneous loading of both an XPDM driver and a WDDM driver.

    If a system has one graphics adapter with a XPDM driver and another with a WDDM driver, then Windows Vista will choose the POST device, which is the one with VGA resources. This is commonly referred to as the “VGA adapter.”

    • If multiple graphics adapters are present in a system, all of them must use the same WDDM driver. If there are two graphics adapters with WDDM drivers from two different manufacturers, then Windows will disable one of them. The VGA adapter will be enabled, and the second device will be disabled.

    Notice that XPDM drivers still support heterogeneous multi-adapter as they did in Windows XP. A user who has such a configuration working fine in Windows XP will encounter a problem when upgrading to Windows Vista. An external monitor connected to one of the graphics adapters will have no video signal, because it is disabled. An error message will appear on system boot, as described later in this article.

    The solution for this problem could be as follows:

    • A user could force the installation of a XPDM driver for each of these devices, and therefore get heterogeneous multi-adapter multi-monitor to work as in Windows XP.

    -Or-

    • The user could change the graphics hardware configuration by choosing multiple graphics adapters that use the same WDDM driver. Graphics adapters from the same ASIC family generally have the same graphics driver. In late 2006, each of the major graphics vendors had a single WDDM driver for all supported WDDM graphics adapters. Please consult the graphics vendor’s Web site for details on their driver support.

  17. The screen blanking after logon is from some vista startup program that checks for external monitors automatically. Just look for it with msconfig and disable.

    Diskeeper I have mine set to shut off when the computer power is on battery only.

    Auto-wake on lid open can easily be set in power settings, the confusing thing I noticed was conflicts between the ThinkVantage software and Vista configurations. The ThinkVantage software overrides the Vista settings, so when you tweak the brightness levels, lid close actions, power button actions, etc. in Vista’s control panel, it won’t work.

  18. Tron: Thanks for the helpful comment! Obviously, Vista has some hidden peculiarities that I haven’t yet found.

    I did find the Auto-sleep on lid close function. It appears to be tied to auto-wake on like open; there is no way to control the two independently. I would rather manually send my computer to sleep mode but Vista seems to wake fairly quickly, so I guess it’s better to just enable this feature.

    Thanks again – I’m glad to get that screen blanking problem gone. Now if I could just figure out what the hard drive chunk-chunks every so often. . .

  19. John,

    I have not purchased a T61 yet. I was looking into it when your very situation was discovered through my research. I have been talking with Chris at Lenovo 866-428-4465 option 4 and extension #332776. I asked about Lenovo testing the T61/Advance Dock and the NVS 440 specifically. He said they did not have the capability. He was nice enough to say that he would inquire about it with his tech department and to check back later this week. I will continue to do so. I am wanting to purchase 3 systems and can not justify $4,000+ for all the hardware if it does not work. I am running three 18″ Mass Mutual monitors with each of my current desktops. I found through NVIDIA that the drivers for the laptop and the NVS 440 are not the same. As I am reading from Microsoft and Vista the drivers would need to be the same for both cards. Correct me if I am wrong. I am very interested in your findings and overall results. Thank-you for posting.

  20. My new graphics card arrived yesterday, and I have installed it in my ThinkPad Advanced Dock(s). (I have 2 docks currently because I was trying to verify that I did not have a bad dock)

    The laptop will not boot with the ATI card, either. This card is an ATI FireMV PCI-e 1x.

    At this point, I have no other conclusion than to say that the Lenovo T61 laptop does not work in conjunction with a PCI-e graphics card and the advanced dock. I believe Lenovo to be guilty of false advertising. Lenovo claims the dock will work with their Lenovo brand ATI cards. I cannot confirm this because I don’t have one of their cards. If what they claim is true, and their Lenovo card works, I still believe Lenovo to be guilty of false advertising. They should not call it a PCI-e card slot in the advanced dock. They should call it a “proprietary graphics slot”, since it only works with their own cards. Calling it a PCI-e slot is misleading because it suggests that a PCI-e graphics card will work. My experience has shown otherwise.

    The two graphics cards by Lenovo are only capable of running 2 external monitors. This is pointless, because the T61 is already capable of running 2 external displays with the internal graphics card. So what is the point of running their ATI card if it can’t run more displays than the laptop already does on its own? You cannot run an ATI card and the internal NVidia card at the same time using Windows Vista.

  21. I called Lenovo tech support again.

    I asked them to answer a very simple question:

    “Has anyone seen a T61 laptop work in conjunction with the Advanced Dock and a PCIe graphics card.”

    Their answer: “No.” And then the support tech asked his supervisor, who also said: No.

    I don’t know what else to do at this point. The support tech didn’t know either. I will most likely call back to request a return of my advanced dock for a full refund, on the grounds of false advertising. The worst part is, I purchased 4 monitors to use with this laptop and now I can only use 2 of them.

  22. John,

    That sucks. I am really sorry to hear that news. It does sound exactly like false advertising.

    One question I have is how you are going to use two monitors on the T61 using just the 1 DVI connection the laptop has. Are these mirrored displays, or will you really have two separate full displays? Are you using a splitter of some sort?

    Thank you for all your contributions to this list!

    -Tom

  23. Oops. I will need to trade my advanced dock for a minidock. The minidock and advanced docks both have a DVI output and a VGA. You can use both of those to drive separate, external displays. I have actually been running 2 monitors this way with my T61 for a while now.

    The only reason to get the advanced dock is for the PCIe slot, which appears not to function.

  24. Hi John,

    I see. Do you see any real quality difference between the DVI and VGA? I mean, can you tell that one monitor is DVI connected and the other is VGA? What is the max resolution you can get on each monitor?

    Thanks!!
    Tom

  25. There is no difference in quality between DVI & VGA that I can see.

    I am running 17 inch Sansung monitors. The resolution is: 1280×1024

  26. I tried to use Fn + F7 to configure Presentation Director, one of the important d feature “Immediatelty conncect to external monitor when Docked” box is greyed out. I checked all the drivers related to this function is up to date, but still no luck. I am running Windows Vista on my T61 with advance docking.
    Also the external USB mouse and keyboard on docking station will not work if there is no power adapter connect to the docking station.

  27. Do you have the name of the service that can be disabled so as to remove the “screen blank out” upon startup? Is it “On Screen Display”?

  28. HC,

    I also cannot get the Presentation Director to allow me to make changes to the box for “When connected to dock” I don’t understand why.

    What I did to work around this issue was to create my own new Profile for PD. I named the profile “Docked” and set it for dual external monitors. I then set Docked as my primary profile by moving it to the top of the list of profiles.

  29. I have 3 months with my T61 Nvidia intel T7300,2gigs and Seagate 7200rpm momentus i Like it but!
    now i have problems with the hard drive , it does a weird noise like if it was old or something so i am going to ask for a new HDD and i have a question for the other T61 owners:
    I have a Core 2 T7300 2ghz and 4MB cache and looking at my task manager i see a huge cpu usage ( from 10 to 60% at normal usage) and sometimes i have noticed a 99% i mean wtf!
    Does anyone has the same case or there is something abnormal on my cpu perfomance?
    i know Vista is slow (dwm.exe ~= 50,000K) but not THAT hungry…

  30. I absolutely detest Vista. It is the slowest, most unstable OS I have ever used. Words can’t begin to describe how horrible it is. Outlook crashes on me at least twice every day. My Norton 360 has begun to crash every time I boot the laptop. I can’t even run basic “important” updates from Windows Update. They fail to install, no matter how many times I try. I am just about to give up and order a downgrade CD for Windows XP.

    The reason your computer is constantly running high CPU and hard drive activity has to do with a combination of processes which are constantly running. Vista itself is very resource hungry. The indexing service runs in the background and causes the hard drive to access constantly. Add to that the huge drain by the Lenovo ThinkVantage software.

  31. Hell yeah!, just kill the thinkvantage process and the cpu usage dropped from 60% to 4%, now checking the taskmngr the cpu usage is from 3% to 11%, i HAVE to install linux immediately

  32. Hell yeah!, just kill the thinkvantage process and the cpu usage dropped from 60% to 4%, now checking the taskmngr the cpu usage is from 3% to 11%.
    Its funny how a nice hardware like this can give me just a “normal” experience with Vista… i am thinking seriously in that downgrade CD.

  33. Carlton or anyone else using a T61 with a docking station to run a 30″ monitor at 2560×1600:

    Which docking station do you have (model#)?

    I am unable to confirm that the NVIDIA Quadro FX 570M can actually display 2560×1600, and Lenovo sales and tech support seem to be without a clue…

  34. Here’s an update:

    The combination of Lenovo T61, NVIDIA Quadro FX 570M, Advanced Mini Dock, Dell 30″ 3007WFP monitor @ 2560×1600 resolution works. I have it running with Vista Business, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with XP or other Vista versions.

    Omar

  35. You said Advanced Mini Dock. Did you mean to say Advanced Dock? The Mini dock doesn’t take a PCI Express graphics card.

    What driver are you using for the Quadro FX? Did you have to disable the internal graphics on the laptop? Does your T61 have nVidia Quadro NVS 140M internal graphics?

  36. John, I did say and mean Advanced Minidock – it has pass-through dual-link DVI and I did not have to change anything besides choosing the 2560×1600 resolution in the nvidia control panel. My T61 has the NVIDIA Quadro FX 570M and it’s driven by whatever driver was supplied by Lenovo/Vista/nVidia. I’m on a different computer at the moment, but I can look up the exact driver later if you wish.

  37. Hi, I have a brand new T61 with the NVS140, advanced mini dock and the 30″ Dell and all I get is a blurred screen! The only resolution that works is the default of 1280×800. What am I missing? Help!

  38. John, below is my exact setup, and the NVIDIA driver version is 7.15.11.5685 dated 12/10/2007

    SYS.6459CT CONFIGURED SYSTEM $1,279.85
    6459CTO CTO THINKPAD T61 WIDESCREEN-1Y
    42V8191 SBBB INTEL CORE 2 DUO T7500
    42V8010 VBB MS WIN VISTA BUSINESS
    42V8504 SBB MS WIN VISTA BUSS.32 US EN
    42V8287 SBB 15.4 WSXGA+ TFT
    42X0819 SBB NVIDIAQUAD FX 570M W/WWAN
    41W2060 VBB 1GB PC2-5300 667MHZ 1DIMM
    42V8195 SBB KEYBOARD US ENGLISH
    42V8295 SBB UN(TRACKPOINT TOUCHPAD)
    42V8169 SBB 100GB HDD,7200RPM
    42V8193 SBB INTEL TURBO MEMORY 1GB
    42V8172 SBB DVD REC.8XMAXDUAL LAY UB-S
    42X0805 VBB PC CARDSLOT EX CARDSLOT
    42V8177 SBB INT.WIRE.WIFI/LINK4965AGN
    41W1508 SBB 6 CELL LI-ION BATTERY
    39T6442 SBB COUNTRY PACK NORTH AMERICA
    42X1524 SBB LP-US ENGLISH
    42X5602 SBB MS XP PROF. US ENG.RCD
    42V8063 SBB MS WAU ENGLISH NA-U MODELS
    42X1232 SBB NEWINTELLAB_DUALCORE/CEPRO
    42V9665 SBB FCC, LABEL
    42V8629 SBB 15WSXGAW/OBTW/OWWANW/OUWB
    39T6440 SBB 56K V.92 DESIGNED MODEM
    42V8657 SBB CL.PLATE T61P WLAN
    41W1748 SBB GEO LABEL US WLAN
    41W2300 SBB LOGO PLATE
    42V8607 SBB INT.WLAN ANTENNA 15.4″
    93P7250 SBB THINKPAD LOGOPLATET-SERIES
    42X0877 SBB MT 6459 SYSTEM LABEL
    42X0850 SBB MECH MISC PARTS
    42V7972 SBB MS LABEL (VISTA PREMIUM)
    42V8605 SBB NO INT.WWAN ANTENNA 15.4″R
    42V8601 SBB NO UWB ANTENNA
    42X0995 SBB PC CARD SLOT EXP.CARD SLOT
    42V8612 SBB ST LCD COVER/BEZEL 15.4″
    42X0842 SBB NVIDOAFX570MW/WWAN,W/AMT
    42V8300 SBB 1GB PC2-5300 DDR2 667MHZ
    42T6638 SBB PACK. US, 15.4″
    250410U LENOVO THINKPAD ADVANCED MINI-DOCK – PORT REPLICATOR $164.25

  39. All – tried a different DVI-I cable and that did the trick… No idea I had a bad cable… I feel much better now. 🙂

  40. DNA,
    I started to write a message to tell you to try a different cable when your new message came along. Glad you figured it out.

    When I bought my Dell 30″ a while ago it came with a bad cable which produced all sorts of artifacts on the screen at all resolutions.

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