IBM Thinkpad 370C

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IBM Thinkpad 370C Overview


  • Intel 486 DX4 75MHz CPU
  • 4MB memory on-board, 36MB max with 1x32MB module (on proprietary card)
  • 10.4" TFT display (640x480 resolution, 100:1 contrast ratio)
  • Western Digital WD90C24A video chipset 1MB VRAM (1024x768 256 colour capable)
  • 340 or 540MB standard, 810MB or 1.2GB maximum PATA HDD
  • UltraBay with 1.44MB FDD
  • No soundcard


  • Mono speaker (PC beeper only)
  • 2xPCMCIA Slots
  • VGA Output
  • NimH rechargeable battery
  • Dual PS/2, Serial, Parallel ports
  • 20V power supply (separate)
  • Windows 3.1, IBM OS/2, Windows 95, (slightly slow on Windows 95)

IBM 370C 10.4"

Best retro purpose

Early DOS and Windows 3.1 era gaming, for titles released before 1995 or as office computer. Unfortunately, despite the somewhat adequate CPU speed, the video chipset is definitely too slow for anything beyond 320x200 resolution and even 640x480 resolution is quite taxing on Windows 3.1. DOS games support is quite good if you do not need any soundcard and the PC beeper is enough.


Durability and Repair-ability

The plastic quality of most of the chassis is quite good for such an old laptop and the liftable keyboard allows easy access to the floppy drive, hard-drive, battery and RAM. The LCD screen has a fluorescent backlight that is potentially difficult to replace as screens used by IBM on similar laptops can be quite cumbersome to dissassemble (the IBM Thinkpad 755 series). The rubberized coating that flakes over time is one of the most annoying feature of the laptop, as the smell, dirt and stickiness of its gets worse as the laptop aged. It can be cleaned with careful wiping using a smooth sponge and mild concentration iso-propyl alcohol or another alcohol solution.

Greatest features & flaws

Features Flaws
Average Windows 3.1 DOS Gaming platform Cumbersome Windows graphics support
Compact laptop Too slow on Windows 95, limited RAM expansion capability
Durable, comfortable keyboard and trackpoint Poor video chipset, no soundcard
Great Floppy and harddrive access Proprietary power supply connector


A midrange, somewhat compact, business laptop, released in 1995. It had a below average mix of parts for a 486. While the CPU is good for a 486, the sub-par video chipset and the lack of any soundcard seriously position this laptop as more of a low-end model, despite what IBM stated.

The Western Digital branded video chipset was already obsolete by the time of the laptop's release. The lack of any acceleration functions means that even running Windows 3.1 in 640x480 feels sluggish and Windows 95 operation feels very slow. It is very difficult to understand why IBM insisted on using such video chipsets that do not even expose VESA capabilities, requiring loading a special VESA TSR to be able to run Windows in 640x480 resolution. Also, although resolutions such as 1024x768 at 256 colors are possible, they are clearly beyond the user's patience.

The inclusion of a relatively modern TFT screen, having a good contrast ratio and response time is one of the few saving graces in terms of technical prowess as most laptops of its era either had poor color LCDs or good but monochrome ones. RAM capabilities are mixed. The lack of standardization means that memory upgrades are quite difficult to find, as the laptop require a potentially proprietary memory module standard, the so-called memory module adapter, that looks like PCMCIA but is not PCMCIA, to be used.

The included standard capacity harddrive is not adequate as even modest Windows 95 installations with a Microsoft Office 95 package can take around more than 300MB. The harddrive itself is noisy and very bulky (12mm height) but the plastic drive cage along with the laptop's own casing offer excellent noise damping capabilities as metal frames are almost entirely avoided.

One of the famous features of this laptop is the easily lift-able keyboard that is operated by sliding some side latches on the chassis. This offers very easy access to most internal parts such as the battery, harddrive, floppy drive, memory. This was a very nice design feature that, fortunately, does not compromise too much the laptop's rigidity, keyboard feel and durability. Although latches can be damaged with improper operation they do withstand long use quite well and the keyboard hinges survives some rough handling.

The keyboard, trackpoint and trackpoint buttons are at the classic IBM standard. While the keyboard is not quite the best, mainly due to the lift-able design feature that reduced the travelling distance of the keys and made the keyboard feel more rigid than it should, it is still good compared with some low-end products of other manufacturers.

Software support is a mixed experience. While hardware capabilities are not outright bad, the video chipset seriously limit comfortable operating systems to Windows 3.1. Although Windows 95 is entirely possible, you should have at least 16MB of RAM available. DOS gaming is below average as anything newer than Wolfenstein 3D is barely playable, as is the case for the venerable DOOM.