IBM Thinkpad 760XL

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IBM Thinkpad 760XL Overview


  • Intel Pentium MMX 166 MHz CPU (soldered to the mainboard, not replaceable)
  • 8MB EDO RAM standard onboard, 104MB max with 64MB module(Intel 430MX chipset)
  • 12.1" TFT display (800x600 resolution, 100:1 contrast ratio)
  • Trident Cyber9385 video controller 1MB VRAM, 16bit colour upto 800x600 resolution
  • ESS1688 Audio Card, SoundBlaster 2.0/Adlib capable emulation
  • 2.1, 3 or 5.1GB 4200rpm PATA HDD
  • UltraBayThick with 1.44MB Floppy or CD-ROM drive


  • Stereo speakers (upfiring, on the palmrest)
  • 2xPCMCIA Slots
  • VGA Output
  • 10.8V 4800mAh Li Ion rechargeable battery
  • Dual PS/2, Serial, Parallel, Infrared ports
  • 20V power supply (separate)
  • Windows 3.1, IBM OS/2, Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 95 support (slightly slow on Windows 98)

IBM 760XL 12.1"

Best retro purpose

Early Windows 95 era gaming for titles released before 1997 or as an 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 good RAM size expansion options are great for vintage gaming purposes.


Durability and Repair-ability

Good plastic quality means that cracks of internal plastic are less common than on other models but the model by itself is not immune. Although the hard-drive is not as easily accesible as on more modern Thinkpads, it is quite easy to remove, 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
Very good colour gamut for TFT screen (great backlight) Degrading rubberized case coating
Compact, flexible configuration (two RAM slots, removable drives) Somewhat small palmrest
Good speakers, easy access to RAM and drives Rare (proprietary) four pin power supply connector


A mainstream, somewhat slim, business laptop, released in 1997. Despite the laptop's marketing suggesting a top of the line model, the feature set, especially the video chipset, limits the potential. The laptop was famous for its tiltable keyboard and easy access to internal parts, being among the first to have such flexibility. Due to the old graphics chipset, by 1998, the laptop was slightly 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.

The CPU implementation is reasonable. Compared with older IBM Thinkpad 760 models the CPU is actively cooled, reducing unpleasant heat accumulation even though fan noise is noticeable.

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. 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.

The removable drive bay flexibility is very good as it supports an easy to replace floppy or cd-rom drive that can be easily swapped. The hard drive can be replaced easily enough although the drive sits inside a plastic cage. This is not as bad as it seems as the plastic case reduces the typical drive operating noise to a comfortable level. The rechargeable battery can be easily removed or replaced. The BIOS and timekeeping battery is a standard CR2032 3V button cell.

The chassis was somewhat slim, light, slightly uncomfortable due to the lack of rounded corners. The laptop's case is somewhat durable, plastic but the lid closing latch hooks or locks may be damaged if improperly operated. The display hinges are quite well designed. The integrated speakers are good although they can be obstructed easily by hands.

The standard HDDs are somewhat slow for any Windows 98 since they cannot use UDMA transfers and this means that you are limited at around 10MB/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 Windows 95 is a very good choice although Windows 98 can also be run. 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.