IBM Thinkpad X61s
Best retro purpose
Mid Windows XP era gaming (DirectX 9 for ATI chipsets, DirectX 7-8 for Intel chipset) or as office computer. You shouldn't expect the same flexibility, capability and comfort as on larger 14 or 15inch laptops but if portability is important, this laptop is well suited. It should be noted that the 3D videocard is not very powerful and the CPU is even slower than on a typical T61 laptop so performance is seriously lacking and Windows 7 or Vista is not really suited for such a model.
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. The fixed drive bay is 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. Compared with the X61 laptop, the only major drawback is that the CPU is soldered, thus repairs are limited to mostly RAM and disk drive.
The LCD screen's fluorescent backlight is not as easy to replace as on the large Thinkpad T61 laptop as the LCD display is a thinner requires more attention during repair and disassembly. The fan is not as easily accessible for cleaning and replacement as on larger Thinkpad T61 models but it is not deliberately designed as such, it is mostly a consequence of compact case requirements.
Greatest features & flaws
|Good contrast and colour gamut (last 4:3 screen laptops)||Somewhat slow CPU for this laptop class and no CPU upgrade capability|
|Thinnest laptop in its class, highly portable||Somewhat cramped keyboard, poor cooling due to the compact design|
|Durable construction||No trackpad, no DVI/HDMI output except on docking station|
|Adequate cooling system although slightly noisy||Annoying IBM/Lenovo BIOS limitation of approved Wifi cards|
An ultra compact, very slim, moderately powerful, business laptop, released in 2006. It had a below average mix of performance parts, with a quite slow CPU due to cooling constrains and a somewhat lacking graphics module with no higher powered graphics option than the Intel integrated chipset, creating a relatively lackluster configuration with the only straight advantage of being very portable.
The platform is centered on Windows XP compatibility, with DDR2 RAM and SATA but not yet a webcam, even if these features were available at that time on other manufacturers' laptops. Overall, there are very small changes between X60 and X61 model in terms of graphics performance although some CPU generational improvements are welcome. The lack of trackpad a noticeable design compromise but the trackpoint is mostly reasonable. Cooling has an annoyingly whiny fan, meaning that you either choose noise or inadequate cooling, there is no in-between choice. The feeling of an under-powered laptop is quite obvious due to CPU frequency and power compromises.
The LCD screen is mostly acceptable but it has lower brightness and contrast compared with a standard 14 inch screen but this was entirely expected when this laptop was available on the market. The 1024x768 resolution screen feels somewhat cramped on a 12 inch screen on Windows XP but feels overly unsuited for Windows Vista and Seven. Another drawback is that the screen itself has quite poor colour gamut, being quite obvious on gradients. Overall, it seems that this laptop was a seriously obvious compromise in terms of quality compared with a standard sized Thinkpad.
The Intel Core 2 Duo CPU means that running a 64 bit operating system is possible although RAM limitations make less than 4GB to be available on the system so the biggest improvement is in relative performance and better power usage The Intel video chipset is a very poor option as it does not support Hardware TnL or other capabilities, making it suitable for legacy gaming or application support. The CPU cooling is not quite adequate The keyboard is quite durable, comfortable and feels relatively adequate despite the laptop's format constraints.
The lack of a removable drive bay is not a very major missing feature as most laptops, with the notable exception of Apple ones, did not have an optical drive. The rechargeable battery can be easily removed or replaced. The BIOS and timekeeping battery is a standard CR2032 3V button cell.
The chassis was slightly smaller than on a X61 laptop but the difference is very minor. The display hinges are overly engineered, with great durability. The integrated speakers are not that great, being very small and placed in the traditional, compromising, downfiring position.
The standard HDDs supplied by Western Digital are reasonably fast and quite silent. The SATA drives offer a good performance boost compared with the T4x series PATA drives, while also supporting exotic, very fast, modern SSDs. No restriction is placed on HDD types. The only compatibility drawback is that only IBM branded or accepted wireless cards can be used.
Software support is good on Windows XP but slightly less polished for Windows Seven. This is somewhat obvious as drivers are actually released with full compatibility upto Windows Vista and the lackluster Intel video chipset is entirely unsuitable for the Windows 7 GUI acceleration requirements.