Tag Archives: Thinkpad

T510 Touchpad Resurfacing


I found a forum.thinkpads thread while looking into another touchpad issue recently, and learned two important facts:

  1. The bumpy touchpad texture I never loved that had worn off my T510 is just a sticker.
  2. Those stickers are replaceable.

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T60p Repair

I opened up my old T60p for some repairs the other night, just posting to share what I did now that I’m reasonably certain it worked. The objective of this project was to do something about the relatively high temperatures and annoying buzzing noise coming from the cooling system. This particular machine is on it’s third cooling assembly (the assembly was replaced twice under warranty), and based on comments on from other owners, thermal issues and rattling fans are endemic to the model, mostly thanks to a few poor design decisions.
The surgery:

  • * Oiled (I used BSB Speed Bearings Lube, which is probably Sililcone oil with some adulterants to make it Shear thinning) the fan assembly, basically following msb0b’s guide. The only major deviation is that instead of cutting the aluminized tape, I just used it as a hinge and folded back the jacket. I also note that there is some foam insulation tape on my heatsink assemby, presumably added in later manufactured asssemblies to help with vibrations.
  • * Bent (compound bend) the heatpipe to lower the GPU section about 2mm, as some of the folks in this thread suggest. Basically, I put some thermal paste on the GPU, and bent and reseated until the contact area was appropriate. I was a little afraid bending the heatpipe would harm it (efficiency wise), or crack it from metal fatigue, but nothing was damaged and the contact is better. This is a logical fix- those thermal pads never provide very good conductivity, particularly where they are reasonably thick.
  • * Replaced the CPU thermal compound and GPU thermal pad with Arctic Silver Ceramique (my favorite for almost all thermal-conductivity needs). I left the thermal pad on the north-bridge intact, as there don’t seem to be any major thermal issues with that component, and the pad over it wasn’t damaged.

Based on some cursory tests, the system is running cooler (Both overall and CPU-GPU delta) than it did even with a new cooling assembly. Idle, I’m seeing 43/41c (5-10 degree reduction), and a half-assed “Stress Test” running SupCom for a few minutes only produced temps in the low 80s, with the GPU about 5deg hotter than the CPU– my recollection is that the GPU tended to be in the high 90s under similar conditions, and the CPU in the mid 80s. The big win is on noise; the irritating rattle is gone, and the fan is at most a tiny bit louder than a new one, based on a procedure I should be able to replicate for free.

The wonderful thing about Thinkpads is that they are designed to be mostly user-serviceable (Lenovo cooperatively provides the service manuals as PDFs online, and even allows FRU orders), and they are very common machines, so there are lots of other people playing with them and sharing their experiences, making things like Linux support and after-market mods particularly well explored and documented. Even with the slight design issue, the T60p was a solid machine for 3.5 years, and I far prefer serviceable and working well to being unserviceable and being “slicker… until it dies”. Speaking of vendors of unserviceable hardware, I’m considering setting it up as a hackintosh (at least on one partition) just for fun when I get some time…

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New Laptop!

My new laptop arrived thursday, and it is a beautiful thing.
(It should be pretty apparent which one is the new one…)

It is a Lenovo ThinkPad T510 (4313 Chassis), with a Core i7 620M (2 cores at 2.66Ghz, Hyperthreaded to 4), 8GB of RAM, a 15.6” 1920×1080 LED Backlit screen, Nvidia Quadro NVS 3100M graphics, 500Gb 7200RPM HDD, and lots of doodads)

Like a good geek, the first two things I did, after booting it up to check that everything worked, were opening it up to poke around and upgrade the RAM (Like all OEMs, Lenovo WAY overcharge for RAM), and blowing away the included Windows Whatever(tm) install for an ArchLinux system (and a smaller partition with a …”fixed”… copy of Windows 7 for games and such).

It is tentatively named “Ahu” in keeping with my “Man made stone structures” naming scheme for full sized computers. (Current active machines are a Lenovo T60p named “Monolith” and a used, modified Dell Optiplex GX280 named “Dolmen”)

Just to keep them together:
Things I like:
* The screen is GEORGOUS, bright, good colors, and 1920×1080 is a whole lot of pixels. Way, Way better than the T60p, even when it was new.
* This thing is a powerhouse. Not “Mindblowing” fast, but close, and 8GB of RAM covers a multitude of software sins.
* nVidia graphics, simply because the nVidia drivers are a lot less of a hassle than the ATI ones under Linux.
* SD Slot – I have lots of SD-using devices, it seems to be the defacto standard, having one built in is super handy.
* Build quailty – It feels sturdy. Actually, even sturdier than the T60p, no squeaks, rattles, or flexing.
* Rounded edges – They screw with the classic Thinkpad aesthetics a little bit, but it means the angles where the palm rest has a sharp edge in your wrists are gone (except for one spot on the right where the latch sits).

Things I dont’ like:
* The textured, flush touchpad is TERRIBLE on first use. It is clumsy to use (different resistance pushing and pulling), feels bad, and doesn’t have recessed edges to put your finger against when scrolling. I’m one of those weirdos who actually likes touchpads, and the one in my T60p is excellent, so this is quite a disappointment. I seem to be acclimating, but it still isn’t as comfortable as it’s predecessor.
* The machine is bulky; If I could have a new 4:3@15” with decent (>1050 vertical lines) resolution I would have gone for that, but they simply don’t make them anymore. 16:9 is a stupid shape for computers. Unfortunately, all my stuff is sized for 4:3@15”, so despite my careful purchase of a matching sleeve, the damn thing doesn’t fit in some of my normal bags and accessories.
* There is a cutout in the palmrest for some part I don’t have, I think a pantone color calibration sensor? or possibly the fingerprint reader? with a blank cover in it. My fingerprint-reader-less T60p has a smooth palm rest with no slot, I was hoping for the same.
* No ThinkPad goodie bag. My T60p came with a variety of extra Trackpoint (eugh) nubs, some “security” (Torx) screws, and some other trivial accessories. It was a nice touch, that is now gone.
* Exposed optical eject button: This thing is so well designed it’s really noticeable that there is an oversight in that the eject button is placed where it is pressed when picking the laptop up by the sides.

Most of the gripes are incredibly minor, and I’m really, really pleased with the machine. I’m Currently in the process of taking it from “shiny new piece of hardware” to “home,” which takes a while for me. Most of the configuration is working well, even the parts I’m doing differently (trying to avoid tpb and use direct acpi or xfce features). Convienently, Arch just added a proper multilib repository (literally the day I got the machine), so none of the old 64 bit OS disadvantages are asserting themselves.

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