IBM Thinkpad 560

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IBM Thinkpad 560 Overview


  • Intel Pentium 100, 120 or 133 MHz CPU (soldered to the mainboard, not replaceable)
  • 8MB EDO RAM standard onboard, 40MB max with 32MB module(Intel 430MX chipset)
  • 11 and 12 inch laptops share the same model name using different display chassis:
    • 11.3" DSTN display (800x600 resolution, 30:1 contrast ratio)
    • 12.1" TFT display (800x600 resolution, 100:1 contrast ratio)
  • Trident Cyber9382 video controller 1MB VRAM, 16bit colour upto 800x600 resolution
  • ESS1688 Audio Card, SoundBlaster 2.0/Adlib capable emulation
  • 0.8, 1 or 2GB 4200rpm PATA HDD


  • Mono speakers (upfiring, below the keyboard)
  • 2xPCMCIA Slots
  • VGA Output
  • 10.8V 4800mAh Li Ion rechargeable battery
  • Dual PS/2, Serial, Parallel ports
  • 16V power supply (separate)
  • Windows 3.1, IBM OS/2 and Windows 95/98 support (slow on Windows 98)

IBM 560 12.1"

Best retro purpose

Early Windows 95 era gaming released before 1997 or as office computer. Unfortunately, despite the somewhat adequate CPU speed, the video chipset is very slow (designed in 1994) and only DOS era games run reasonably fast and only those that do not require SVGA resolution and operate only on VGA, MCGA, 320x200 in 256 colors. The low RAM size and slow disk interface also limits any serious vintage gaming attempts.


Durability and Repair-ability

The mediocre plastic quality means that cracks of internal plastic screw stands are common, making disassembly and assembly operations quite difficult, with screws that are difficult to remove or tighten. The difficult access to the hard-drive, requiring full disassembly of the entire chassis is highly annoying. Going further with bad design choices, the LCD screen lamp is mounted vertically and it is very difficult to replace, requiring a full disassembly of the display. This means that you rarely can repair a screen without damaging or affecting something else with dust or slight manipulation mistakes.

Greatest features & flaws

Features Flaws
Great Windows 98/95 3.1 2D Gaming platform Poor Trident video chipset, no CPU cache
Good MS-DOS SoundBlaster compatibility Poor, mono speaker, placed below the keyboard
Durable, comfortable keyboard and trackpoint No trackpad, fragile, laptop upper case and display bezels, prone to many cracks
Fanless, passive CPU cooling, low heat dissipation Flaky rubberized coating, degrading rubber port caps


A low-end, slim, business laptop, released in 1997. It had a somewhat reasonable mix of parts, while the chassis is slim. The choice of EDO RAM and a single user slot, as well as graphics chipset, L2 cache make a theoretically good laptop a very poor, low-end, result, just 1 year after its commercial release. By 1998 the laptop was just too slow to run any Windows 98 software or the operating system itself.

The graphics chipset is really old, obsolete and inadequate. Using an ISA generation card in a laptop of that age is such an example. It is impossible to understand why such an old platform was used, except for cost. Since the graphics chipset does not implement even many Windows 3.x era features, it is already slow even for such an old operating system. For instance, a lack of fast screen scrolling severely limits windows graphics updates making any 2D or 3D graphics slower than on similar videocards such as the venerable S3 Trio 64 or the Chips and Tech 6555x chipsets that were available by 1995-1996.

The LCD TFT screen is somewhat alright but it uses a dated technology that results in low brightness, low contrast and very low long-term performance. Response time is somewhat reasonable. Definitely avoid the DSTN screens as they are way too slow, ghostly, and low-contrast.

The CPU implementation is quite bad. Even if the CPU is passively cooled, with no fan in the chassis, which is fantastic in terms of noise, the rest of the configuration is not that great. It seems that no L2 cache is included, a very strange design choice. This, along with the slow memory severely affects performance compared with a typical Pentium 100-133 CPU. It seems that the platform was actually designed in the first edition Pentium processors era, around 1994, explaining the quirks of its implementation, such as no USB support. Including a 100-133 MHz CPU was only an afterthought due to demand and not hinting at a good design. The keyboard is durable and with good tactile feedback. The trackpoint is mediocre in terms of reliability clearly below the level of the classic, renowned IBM quality.

Not having any removable drive capability is a very bad choice for such a laptop that does not have even a HDD tray. The rechargeable battery can be easily removed or replaced. The BIOS and timekeeping battery is a non-standard CR2016 3V button cell.

The chassis was slim, light, slightly uncomfortable due to the lack of rounded corners. The laptop's case is not durable, plastic frequently cracks due to age or shocks while the lid closing latch is poorly designed, frequently cracking the display case nearby. The display hinges are quite well designed, with no special attention. The integrated speaker is very poor, both due to its position and technology.

The standard HDDs are way too slow for any Windows 98 since they cannot use DMA transfers it means that you are limited at 4-5MB/s transfers. Replacing the harddrive is not straightforward as the system does not accept late Pentium III era drives for a real speed boost.

Software support is great if you like old operating systems. Due to the slow video chipset and RAM size Windows 95 is the most recent operating system you should install. Good DOS sound support due to the ESS1688 chipset that is Sound Blaster compatible means that vintage gaming is a good choice but seriously consider external speakers for reasonable sound quality.