IBM Thinkpad T42p
Best retro purpose
Mid Windows XP era gaming (DirectX 7-9) or as a medium performance office computer. The high resolution display is not a great design choice. On this FireGL chipset (which is actually comparable to Radeon 9600), 3D accelerated games in native resolution can be run, which is a massive improvement compared with the T40p model but standard compared with the T42 models. The Windows XP GUI, unfortunately, looks way too small in native resolution with no magnifying applied and if applied, looks odd due to Windows scaling issues. Moreover, high resolution screens are of the IPS type, using old technology that doesn't refresh fast enough, leaving noticeable trails on fast moving objects. Contrast is also lower for IPS screens. ATI Radeon 9600 is not as cool running as Radeon 7500 ones. Windows Vista or 7 runs acceptable, but RAM size limitations are still an issue.
Compatibility-wise, the laptop stands similar to the T42 models with top specs due to the slightly different implementation of drivers on FireGL vs Radeon chipset lines, meaning that the T40p is a poor choice even if you can run Windows 98SE as well as Windows XP (dual-boot). There is no reason to look for a T42p model rather than a standard T42 model, unless you really want to have this type of laptop.
Durability and Repair-ability
Good plastic quality means that case cracks are less common than on other models but the model by itself is not immune. Removable and fixed drive bay are easy to access and the case itself is easy to disassemble due to obvious markings on the laptop's underside as well as masking black tape placed on screws. Many generations (series) of laptops, such as the T40/T41/T42/T43 use the same, easy to find screws, trackpads and buttons, keyboards, cooling systems are interchangeable while screens, palmrests, bezels are specific to laptops sizes.
The LCD screen's fluorescent backlight is somewhat hard to replace since screens are slim. LCD screens can be inter-changed to suit a specific native resolution requirement if the proper original cabling is available. Fans and the fan blades can be easily cleaned and bearings can be easily greased, providing long service life since fan casing stud mountings can be pried open and placed back again.
Greatest features & flaws
|Very slim yet configurable laptop||Same case as on T40, T41, T42 laptops, no true high-end features|
|Powerful ATI Fire GL T2 chipset||Insufficient cooling, no DVI/HDMI output except on docking station|
|Durable, stiff keyboard||Shorter life trackpoint buttons|
|Reduced CPU speed and cooling noise on DOS/Windows 95/98||Annoying IBM/Lenovo BIOS limitation of approved Wifi cards|
A mainstream, quite slim, powerful, business laptop, released in 2002. Despite the laptop being marketed as a pro model, the reason for the p added to the model number, the features and performance are almost entirely similar to a T40 model except that it was always sold with the high resolution screen, the graphics chipset had the top Radeon 9600 capability and double the VRAM. This means that the model was severly overpriced. It had a relatively above average mix of performance parts, although it departed from the Windows 98 compatibility slightly, as the FireGL 9600 shows some glitches on this operating system. Windows XP performance is alright with nothing special to report. The cooling system is improved compared with the T42 model with Radeon 7500 graphics chipset but identical to Radeon 9600. The screen is similar with the one on T42 models with the high resolution option.
The LCD screen has quite good specifications but high resolution ones are slightly dimmer overall and on the screen edges. Response time is very high on IPS screens, with lots of ghosting, making the laptop having this display suited only for office use. Also, due to the medium quality screen resizing, running 1024x768 or lower resolutions on 1400x1050 screens looks quite blurry. Screens can be easily replaced between similar models but the connector must also be replaced if using different T4x series screens.
It has a quite fast CPU, especially if you compare it with the lacking Pentium 4, despite all the CPU frequency disadvantage you may consider. The battery life and power consumption values are much better. The CPU does not release too much heat compared with previous Pentium 4 models. Unfortunately, the higher performing models with ATI graphics require serious cooling, are noisier and operate warmer. The keyboard is durable and with good tactile feedback. The trackpad buttons are not very durable even if the trackpad itself is so. The trackpoint and keyboard are at the level of the classic, renowed IBM quality.
The removable drive bay can house an optical drive or a hard drive, if you can find a compatible caddy. was a very poor choice, since the belt driven disk rotation fails after many years, compatible belts being harder to find unreliable. The rechargeable battery can be easily removed or replaced. The BIOS and timekeeping battery is a standard CR2032 3V button cell.
The chassis was slim, light, very comfortable, even thinner than later IBM or Lenovo models. The laptop's case is very durable, but plastic can still crack due to age or shocks. The display hinges are overly engineered, eternal. The integrated speakers are quite good, although their position, size and technology is not the best.
The standard HDDs supplied by Western Digital and Hitachi are reasonably fast and quite silent. The only drawback is that only IBM branded or accepted wireless cards can be used.
Software support is great in Windows XP and only average on Windows 98. While it is possible to run Windows 98 SE with Radeon 9600 chipsets (FireGL is mostly a rebranded standard Radeon), the graphics compatibility issues mean that you cannot reliably use it as such. It is entirely possible to dual-boot Windows 98 and Windows XP. Moreover, if you use web browsers you may notice the severe lackluster performance compared with modern expectations. The same goes for wireless as this mode of connectivity was not considered for low-latency or high speed transfers, even if, on paper, it supports well established standards.