Want an IBM ThinkPad

edited January 27 in Hardware

I asked my dad if we can buy an IBM ThinkPad and he said no, saying that it is old, dirty, inefficient, will often have a dead battery, barely working, etc. Can anyone help? I want one, because don't I like these amazing machines that are legendary for their quality and reliability.

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Comments

  • Ah, parents... If you're buying an IBM one, it will definitely be old, slow (by modern standards) and likely have a dead battery. Dirty depends on how the previous owner kept it.

    If you're interested in old ThinkPads, maybe you can convince him some other way - doing extra chores or something in exchange for one. There are many working ones on eBay (excluding the battery), and many that would likely work with just a little bit of work put into it.

    If you convince him somehow, do some research first. Some models have common issues, like the T4x series and graphics issues caused by motherboard flexing and age. For some reason, the T2x series seem to have trouble with the plastic cracking in some spots and the "blink of death" syndrome.

    The 600 series is nice. You may see one that pops up an error message that translates to "fan error". Usually it's not the fan, but rather the CMOS battery has died. Many sellers don't know that and will charge less for the laptop because they think it needs a major repair.

    Good luck

  • Tell him they are cheaper than drugs and alcohol. Just kiddin'

    If he's talking about how efficient it is, it sounds like he's missing the point, and perhaps you need to explain it to him a little bit better. The "vintage computer" hobby isn't about having a fast computer. For me it about using old software on the hardware it was designed to run on. I'm older, so for me it's also a little bit about nostalgia for the way we used to do things on computers. But even then it's just a hobby. I've got a few computers that were antiques when I was a kid, and I'd like a couple more that are perhaps older than me.

    I'd try explaining that as far as vintage computers go, and IBM thinkpad, or any other laptop, will take up WAY less space than something like a PET 2001 or Apple IIe.

    If that doesn't work, well they made thousands of them. When you're grown, I'm sure there will be a few left that someone want to get out of their closet.

  • edited January 28

    I'd like to mention that I don't have any old computers. All there is is a 2018 Lenovo Ideacentre all-in-one and my brother's 2019 HP laptop (both running Windows 10).

  • Maybe it would help to know what model are you after in particular? There are many ThinkPad models to choose from, from the vintage to the current modern age...

  • I aksed my dad again and he said that he would rather buy me a new fancy computer.

    Looks like my dad doesn't see the point of buying an old computer when there is a point. I could also shoot for an IBM desktop. Even though this thread more so concerns ThinkPad, I wonder what IBM machines in general you think I could start with. I know I saw on another thread that the ThinkPad R51 would be a good idea, but I was wondering what other IBM desktops and laptops you think would be the best for me to start with. IBM is the brand I want to start with. IBMs are the best.

  • edited January 28

    The "R" series ThinkPads apparently have a lower build quality than say a T or Z series ThinkPad.

    Personally I think that the T60 with its dual-core CPU would be a better option, as it is still able to watch HD video, browse the web and use old win32 software/games with Windows 2000/XP. T/X/Z61 would be even better, but some will not have IBM branding and watch out for defective nVidia mGPUs.

    I also have a T41 and a PC 300GL desktop. The desktops are not as unique as the laptops, but are mostly business-class (except for PS/1 and Aptiva lines) and as such are still solid, for mine has lasted over 20 years. I even found a matching G54 CRT monitor and I must say, Windows 95 on 800x600 looks very cool, using retrozilla to do basic web browsing.

    And I do like the PC 300GL/PL/XL/NetVista case design. It is fairly recognizable and has a blue bezel to indicate the model. I've seen them in several TV shows!

    You may also be interested in the IBM IntelliStation series of workstations. The early ones have the IBM PC 300 case design in black (even cooler!) and the last ones are the most powerful IBM x86 PCs around.

  • edited January 28

    @win32 said:
    The "R" series ThinkPads apparently have a lower build quality than say a T or Z series ThinkPad.

    Personally I think that the T60 with its dual-core CPU would be a better option, as it is still able to watch HD video, browse the web and use old win32 software/games with Windows 2000/XP. T/X/Z61 would be even better, but some will not have IBM branding and watch out for defective nVidia mGPUs.

    I also have a T41 and a PC 300GL desktop. The desktops are not as unique as the laptops, but are mostly business-class (except for PS/1 and Aptiva lines) and as such are still solid, for mine has lasted over 20 years. I even found a matching G54 CRT monitor and I must say, Windows 95 on 800x600 looks very cool, using retrozilla to do basic web browsing.

    And I do like the PC 300GL/PL/XL/NetVista case design. It is fairly recognizable and has a blue bezel to indicate the model. I've seen them in several TV shows!

    You may also be interested in the IBM IntelliStation series of workstations. The early ones have the IBM PC 300 case design in black (even cooler!) and the last ones are the most powerful IBM x86 PCs around.

    Thank you for the information. I did tell it to my dad, but he was busy as my brother had to do online work on K12.

    I forgot to mention that I live in a small 2-bedroom/1-bathroom apartment in a bad neighborhood. This might affect space for my desktops. As far as laptops go, their unique design, the fact that they're 4:3, and the IBM branding will protect those Hispanics living with us in a high-crime area from stealing the ThinkPads if I take any with me. (And no, I am not racist; I am also not primarily Hispanic, but I do have a Pizza Patrón T-shirt). But IBM ThinkPads will live on with their legendary quality and reliability. I don't care too much about connecting the ThinkPads to the Internet. This is to protect them from viruses, and our CenturyLink internet is sucky anyways. I'll end the rant by saying that IBM ThinkPads are the best.

    P.S. Where can I find a complete list of all IBM desktops and laptops including dates? Would be nice if it listed the specs. Would be also nice if the site used mostly HTML, not one of those JavaScripty sites that people refer to as "modern" and make up most of the web these days, that can be kinda sucky and with boring flat design.

    P.P.S. Have you heard of or visited a certain pizza chain mentioned earlier in this post?

  • edited January 28

    I dunno. Some may feel that the ThinkPads are valuable due to their age and special characteristics, or paraphrasing a post reacting to the theft of a Pentium-233 laptop, someone may steal something just to say they stole it. Somehow I think if I put my Office 2000 box on my doorstep, it would be gone in 20 minutes.

    On the other hand, some may think that the only hardware worth stealing/fencing runs Windows 7/macOS and above.

    Such lists do exist. They have the specs, some original pricing, software combos etc.

    http://ps-2.kev009.com/psref/

    And you will find driver packages for the really old, '90s hardware here:

    http://ps-2.kev009.com/pccbbs/

    it is kinda cryptic but some drivers are only known to exist on that site (like the VxD driver for the ESS ES1989 onboard audio chip). Lenovo had them on their support site but purged them about 7 years ago.

    No, I haven't heard of that chain.

    And I forgot this site. Lots of IBM-related information here:

    http://www.ibmfiles.com/index.htm

  • To me, I've always had sort of a soft spot for the X series, particularily the tablets. My first ever thinkpad was a X41 Tablet with Pentium M 778. It had lasted years, with a very very stable hinge and pretty lasting battery. Still had the IBM logo.
    Even when I attempted to oust it with a Latitude XT and HP Tx2, I still carried it around despite its weight and age. It just seemed like it could take more abuse than the others. Only when I purchased an X230T was I ever able to find a suitable replacement.

    If you're looking for a lighter, older computer my recommendation is an X61T. You may be able to find some with the old IBM branding, and its processing power is decent enough to handle modern web browsing. In addition, I believe there are 1400x1050 screens available but rare. But still a very cheap laptop.
    This would have been my upgrade path if I didn't go for the XT.

    I wouldn't flip into tablet mode public in your area as it may give someone some bad ideas. But in the house, would make for an interesting media streamer. If you're okay using a stylus to interact with the screen. But it's not as bad as it may seem. Even though my three newer tablets can do finger touch, I always find myself using the pen.

  • edited February 3

    I had a conversation last night with my dad, and just asked again today. My dad would still rather get me a new computer or phone, and he thinks getting an old computer isn't practical. In addition, he thinks taking it into a repair shop would be expensive.

  • I don't think most repair shops would touch a computer that old. I'm the one that always gets the business of those using legacy systems.

  • It is amazing your father would want to spend more money rather than save big on a used machine. If I had a child was pressuring me to buy a used device I'd be overjoyed.

    Repair shop? Tell him you'll learn to fix it yourself!
    If he's willing to spend big money on a fancy new machine but thinks a repair shop is expensive, he's kind of nixing himself.
    What's practical is something that does what you want, when you want.

    He clearly has fallen in with the rest of the bandwagon world who believes old will fold and the best thing possible is to support a polluting Chinese sweatshop year after year with hard-earned money, contributing to the world's e-waste problem. No offense intended to your father, but he is severely misinformed.
    Be sure to remind him the power of "fancy new" in the context of the macbook and their shitterfly keyboards that barely last a year. Old? My 2003 D600 has managed to outlive 4 laptops that simply gave up the ghost.

    Probably not what is ideal to you, but a used T430 can be had for under the three digits.

  • @yourepicfailure said:
    Probably not what is ideal to you, but a used T430 can be had for under the three digits.

    I second the T430. It's my main laptop, and it's a very solid machine. I rebuilt and upgraded mine. It can also take a classic-style keyboard from a T420 or T410 if you're willing to work at it. It involves trimming some of the metal edge around the outside, and you have to re-flash the keyboard controller to make all the functions work. It was well worth it though IMO, and I'll keep using it as long as I can. After that, I guess I'll have to spend the money on a T25 or hope that Lenovo releases another classic keyboard model at some point.

  • @Conrad said:
    I had a conversation last night with my dad, and just asked again today. My dad would still rather get me a new computer or phone, and he thinks getting an old computer isn't practical. In addition, he thinks taking it into a repair shop would be expensive.

    With regards to the ThinkPad T60, there's lots of documentation on changing components such as the CPU, RAM and screen, and those parts go for a few dollars each. In the case of replacing the HDD (or upgrading to SSD), all you have to do is open a compartment on the side of the laptop and change it out. No need to send it in!

    Meanwhile my Kaby Lake HP laptop has constant failing hinges, a problem that affects many new consumer-grade laptops but usually not ThinkPads. They are not designed to be user-serviceable nor are the batteries removable! And modern laptop batteries usually last for 2-4 years, whereas my T41 battery still works after 15 1/2 years and my T60 battery lasted for 13 1/2 years.

  • The problem with modern batteries is the fact that designers are trying to cram as much capacity into as little as possible, sacrificing safety and reliability. The smaller charge areas are more prone to wearing down quicker, hence why they don't last as long.

    I do agree as well with your hinge statement. Despite having a single, rotating hinge as convertible laptops the X41 tablet and x230 tablet feel sturdy and solid. Latitude XT and HP Tx2, the hinges (particularly the pivot wheel) seemed wobbly from the start and I have the fear of it failing every time I go to tablet mode.

    @Conrad
    Even though you stated you want a classic, I wouldn't recommend it for now. I personally would recommend a machine in the **30 or **20 series.

  • @win32 said:
    Meanwhile my Kaby Lake HP laptop has constant failing hinges, a problem that affects many new consumer-grade laptops but usually not ThinkPads. They are not designed to be user-serviceable nor are the batteries removable! And modern laptop batteries usually last for 2-4 years, whereas my T41 battery still works after 15 1/2 years and my T60 battery lasted for 13 1/2 years.

    The T61 (possibly the T60 too?) have a record of wobbly hinges. My 14" T61 is still nice and tight, but the 15.1" has quite a bit of play in it.

  • edited February 4

    @yourepicfailure said:
    @Conrad
    Even though you stated you want a classic, I wouldn't recommend it for now. I personally would recommend a machine in the **30 or **20 series.

    I thought you also recommended the X61 Tablet (even though that isn't too old to me)? Some of them still had IBM branding.

    As far as the T61 and their hinges goes, from what I have heard, the overall quality of ThinkPads started to slip when the T61 came out.

  • @Conrad said:
    As far as the T61 and their hinges goes, from what I have heard, the overall quality of ThinkPads started to slip when the T61 came out.

    Eh. There are good models and bad models. I might get flogged for saying this, but in some ways I think Lenovo improved ThinkPads. The T4x series (the last made by IBM) were pretty cheap. The plastic was thinner and the motherboards flexed if you picked them up the wrong way, causing a number of issues. The T6x series feels much more solid, and I think the main issues with them are the graphics issue (which was nVidia's fault more than anything) and the bad hinges on some models.

    I gave my old T60 to someone a few years ago who is notoriously rough on laptops, and she didn't kill it. That's a good enough indicator to me that the build quality is just fine.

  • I had a T61p, T420s, and currently a P51 at work. I’ve never had any major issues with any of them. I use my laptops to service customer equipment, onsite in their data centers, so I’m constantly taking them in and out of my backpack, opening and closing them, bumping them against the back door of the racks, and they seem to hold up fine. I am somewhat careful, though, I’m not going to drop it or spill anything on it.

    I had a work Mac too, and I hate just about everything about using a Mac to do real work. The screen, touch pad, and ssd are great. That’s all I can say nice about them.

  • @Conrad
    That's if you want to pursue the classic models.

  • I forgot to mention this but on another forum, I heard that it is possible to replace the T61's hinges with T60 ones. That same post also implied that the T60 has better hinges than the T61.

  • That may be true. My T60 never had any problems with the hinges.

  • My dad found found a T60 on eBay for about $100, in not-so-great condition, but at least working, running Ubuntu. And his latest excuses not to get it are: "Too many things will break that I can't fix." and "It is a waste of money." (I told him about the availablity of documentation and the fact that parts are cheap.)

  • edited February 4

    You actually got him looking? Maybe it's a start. You might have to just keep working at it. Or try the T430 route. It's a newer machine (2013) but it's still a ThinkPad and it might be a good compromise. It has the ability to run Windows XP 32-bit, 7, 8, and 10 (and of course Linux).

  • Your dad clearly didn't look in the right place or even tried. I just found a "refurbished" T60 in very good condition for 84 USD. Even has all the advertising stickers a NIB unit would have.

    Be there with him.

  • My dad still doesn't want to buy me a ThinkPad. He still thinks they're too difficult to fix and that too many things can go wrong that he can't fix. Also he still thinks they're too old even after telling him most of the disadavntages of the new stuff listed in this thread (except the failing hinges, which I mentioned after I said that the ThinkPad were too old). Apparantly my dad doesn't have much experience repairing stuff, doesn't exactly want to read documentation, and doesn't want to learn to repair stuff.

    Please help.

  • Then you need to build up the reputation and demonstrate that you won't rely on him when things go wrong.
    The key thing is in your post. He thinks the responsibility will lie on him to fix it when it's broken. That is why he doesn't want to buy one. Judging by your post content, this is his biggest concern.

    He wants it to be a "do and forget."

  • edited February 10

    Right now my dad is looking at old laptops on Amazon. Two of the laptops he looked at were:
    A Dell Latitude D620 running Windows XP
    A Lenovo ThinkPad T400 selling for $95
    A Dell Latitude D530

    Side note: he seemed to have forgot at least some of the reasons why we should rather get something old, that I told him the other day. But it's a good thing he's actually looking again.

    UPDATE: I just got him to look at eBay.

    UPDATE 2: My dad seemed to get very upset after looking and at one point said that I was very picky. My dad thinks that we would much rather wait until next August (when we move) and get a fancy new desktop or all-in-one. He also thinks that I would be better off using virtual machines (yes, I already have a lot of virtual machines in VirtualBox, on my Lenovo Ideacentre).

  • Oh geez, not amazon.
    Their third-party "refurbs" often dwindle on the same level as ebay used. Except 50% more expensive.
    I remember purchasing a "refurbished" laptop from an Amazon supported seller.

    Haha yeah, refurbished with pirated just about everything and the idiots were stupid enough to leave the evidence in the recycle bin.

    Pay attention to seller reviews on ebay. Be sure to see feedback on other laptops the seller has sold in the past.

    If you're unsure, post a few links of ones that catch your eye. I'd be happy to help you fish out good choices.

  • I've got a few Thinkpads, and I have to say that they are pretty overrated, especially the older models.

    The T60p is nowhere as durable as people make it out to be. I bought it about a decade ago because I fell for the hype myself, and was disappointed. Here's why:

    • The load times were really bad, however this was mostly fixed by installing an SSD.
    • I got the version with the 1600x1200 screen because it seemed to be neat. But the high resolution screens are very fragile, mine had all sorts of issues, for example lines of the screen would sometimes stop working unless you bent the display in a specific direction, the backlight was very dim, and there were ugly dark spots inside the display layers. A google search reveals that these are all common problems of this machine and screen, but of course they aren't mentioned at all by fanboys.
    • The plastic of the palm rest broke with normal usage, this too is a well documented issue
    • There are also some other issues, like the fact that most of these machines come with a 32bit only CPU installed and that they can only support 3GB RAM in total.
    • The GPU ran very hot even after I replaced the thermal paste. And no, it's not the Nvidia problem from the T61 series, but an ATI GPU.
    • Because the GPU ran so hot, it broke last year, making the whole laptop useless.

    I'm currently using a W520 and an X220 and they are much better machines. The only complaint I have about them is that the backlight flickers at a low frequency, but this can be fixed by software.

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