ThinkPad T60 – greatest work laptop?

Welcome, let’s take an extended look at a modern classic – the IBM ThinkPad T60 which might be the greatest work laptop ever created. Check out the video review for more information!

This is the slightly adjusted script of the video above.

Welcome, let’s take an extended look at a modern classic – the IBM ThinkPad T60. A look back at what might be the greatest work laptop off all times. It is still in daily activity as an office machine and at home which speaks for long term quality.

ThinkPad T60 3
ThinkPad T60 and some of its vintage ports line VGA, modem & CardBus

The T60 was the last machine with the IBM label but had a Lenovo tag as well. Business hearsay was that ThinkPads were too expensive to produce and lost money, so IBM sold their brand to Lenovo.

ThinkPad T60 IBM logo
IBM or Lenovo ThinkPad T60?

Design follows traditional ThinkPad aesthetics: simple, timeless, robust… and square and everything has a defined function.

The T60 comes in a 14 or 15 inch model, biggest differences are of course weight and screen size. The T60p variant with p for performance has a stronger graphics card and higher resolution display optional. The T60 was updated twice with the T61 and T400, similar machines, still using Core2Duos so not a generational jump. The T410 was a true successor going to the new Intel Core-I architecture.

ThinkPad T60 2
ThinkPad T60, T61 & T400 are a similar generation

The chassis is old school, feels very nice, sturdy with a structure frame inside which prevents flexing, a problem that plagued the earlier T40 line. A dock connector allows for docks or port replicators that support digital video out DVI and old-school serial and parallel ports as well. There are also drain holes on the underside if you have some water spillage on your keyboard.

How do you restore and clean that surface? Well I made an unconventional video about it, so check it out – looks great again.

The T60 introduced some important new features compared to the earlier T43:

  • New CPUs, maximum are Core2Duo instead of Pentium-M single-cores
  • SATA disks instead of ancient PATA connectors
  • 3GB RAM maximum instead of 2 GB
  • Mobile broadband optional
  • Windows-key, first time in a ThinkPad
  • 16:10 widescreen displays appear as an option for the 15 inch model

The T60 was also the last model to have some iconic features like:

  • IPS Flexview-displays, it took until the T440p to return
  • Infrared port
  • 4:3 displays, which disappeared completely after the T61

When people said that Lenovo quality went down, that is part of the answer.

We have quite a section of ports. The back side has battery, power & fan exhaust. We got a new bigger 20V power connector compared to the 16V connector before. The left side has a second fan exhaust, VGA, modem, Ethernet, microphone, headphone, USB2, CardBus and ExpressCard 54. The ‘X’ marks ExpressCard on top and it is quite useful for example to add USB3 ports or an SD-Card reader. The right side has the hard disk cover, 2 USB2 ports stacked, Kensington lock and the UltraBay Slim with an eject button. It comes with optional DVD drive, second battery or disk drive adapter. You can also reduce weight by using an empty cover. Front side has a WiFi-switch, a single screen latch and an infrared port.

ThinkPad T60 6
UltraBay Slim with exchangeable DVD drive

The T60 does not have serial or parallel ports anymore on the chassis but there is an adapter for the UltraBay which is difficult to buy today. An alternative is a docking station with these ports. Fingerprint reader and Bluetooth are optional and we do not have them here. Webcams do not exist at all in this generation.

Everything has a light like a Christmas tree. We still have eight or ten lights on the display bezel, three more on top plus two Ethernet and two UltraBay lights. Add the infrared light and ThinkLight and you’ll end with up to 19 lights in total. Quite beautiful.

The upgradability of the old ThinkPads is legendary. This model was built in 2007, came with a Core Duo, 1 GB of RAM and a small hard disk.

All available CPUs are single- or dual-cores and removable. We have a Core2Duo T7600 now with 2.3 GHz maxed out – still good enough for most office use. There is an illusive T7600G unlocked CPU that could provide even more performance. One more tip: use Tpfancontrol software to reduce fan noise. It runs quite nice and silent now.

It is recommend to replace the aged hard disks with modern SSDs, but there is a SATA1 speed limit. You should still feel a great speed improvement because of faster access times and a 4K random performance increase.

There is no flap on the underside, so you have to remove the bezel and keyboard on top to access the internals. The T60 came originally with 1 GB RAM and got upgraded to 2 GB dual-channel DDR2 PC2-5300. The maximum of supported RAM are 4 GB physical (2×2), but the BIOS limits us to 3 GB usable which is still enough for office use. There is a BIOS hack available to remove some of that 3 GB limit, but I wouldn’t try it.

ThinkPad T60 7
Remove bezel and keyboard to access internal parts like RAM slots and mPCIe cards

A mini-PCIe slot has a WiFi card in it, though you can not install an mSATA SSD here. We have an additional  proprietary connector for a modem card or an optional Bluetooth card. Some boards with the ATI X1400 or FireGL have a second mini-PCIe slot  with a mobile broadband card but our board with the Intel GPU is empty here.

There are five graphic cards available. We have a venerable Intel GMA 950 which does not support many modern features but it runs cool and quite and is recommend for office use. The ATIs can pack a punch for gaming but run much hotter.

  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1300 (64 MB)
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 (128 MB)
  • ATI Mobility FireGL V5200 (256 MB)

Quite a choice of displays are available here: 4:3, 16:10, TN or IPS. TN displays have lower contrast and limited viewing angels, less than optimal for media and image presentation. Our screen is a low resolution 4:3 TN, still good enough for office applications and you don’t have to worry about windows scaling. Compare it to a 15” IPS model here (video). The hinges still work like new, the chassis was made to last.

  • 14.1″ TFT 1024×768 (XGA)
  • 14.1″ TFT 1400×1050 (SXGA+)
  • 15.0″ TFT 1024×768 (XGA)
  • 15.0″ TFT IPS 1400×1050 (SXGA+)
  • 15.0″ TFT IPS 1600×1200 (UXGA)
  • 15.4″ TFT 1680×1050 (widescreen) (WSXGA+)

Speakers are quite decent actually, loud enough and clear. Let’s hear a music sample (video).

The keyboard is still excellent after all these years and a highlight that fans appreciate. You have full 7 lines of keys, long key travel, good haptic feedback and nearly no wear and tear – nothing better on the market yet. We have dedicated volume and speaker mute buttons with some flexing on top. Compare the old layout to a modern ThinkPad T430s here .

ThinkPad T60 5
Old keyboard T60 and new chiclet keyboard T430s

Of course we have the iconic TrackPoint with accentuated buttons. The trackpad is quite small and works decently well, though it is an afterthought squeezed below the keyboard.

ThinkPad T60 4
Small trackpad with accentuated buttons

Let’s try some games. The Intel GPU is quite limited but still works for some older titles (video).

The T60 came originally with Windows XP and was upgraded to Windows 7 some years ago which is the best choice for stable use today. Windows 10 works fine except for some of the ATI GPUs that do not have dedicated drivers. There are some wonky solutions online for that, but Windows 7 works better with the ATI GPUs. ThinkPads are known to be quite compatible with Linux. I did install the latest version of Mint on a USB stick and it worked fine.

The main battery is removable and there is a smaller, optional UltraBay battery available. Battery life is not great by modern standards. You’ll probably get some hours of work time and you have to buy aftermarket batteries nowadays.

And yet the T60 is the oldest Laptop that works everyday and one of the most iconic ThinkPads of all time because it does exactly what it was made for – an International Business Machine.

Thanks for reading! You can check out more of this blog or my YouTube channel.

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