Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

Windows Vista x64 on the Lenovo ThinkPad T61p

Windows Vista x64 on the Lenovo ThinkPad T61p

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t61p I'm x64 and I'm not turning back.  Pay attention software developers, your x86 time is running out fast.  One of my applications didn't make the x64 cut.  We'll talk about application compatibility in a few minutes.

The Platform

I recently purchased a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p.  It's the 15.4" 1680x1050 native resolution model with the Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA Quadro FX 570M with 256MB memory, 4GB of useable RAM, 200GB 7200rpm Hitachi hard drive, DVD burner, IEEE 1394 port, ExpressCard slot, etc.  Basically this is one of the top machines on the market.  It may well be the top business machine.

Application Compatibility

Like many of you, I have a healthy mix of applications I've grown to know and love over time.  Ok, love may be a bit strong, but lets just say we all have applications that would be considered "show stoppers" if they didn't work.  Right?  We also have applications you just know are going to fail. 

As it turns out, I have no show stoppers yet but they may be coming.  I'm not done installing everything yet.  I actually have to do real work during the day and I have three blogs posts coming on some stuff I've been working on in secret

So what failed?  As expected, Adobe Premiere Elements v3 fell flat on it's face.  In fact, if you install and run the application on my machine, it goes into a complete I/O loop and a hard power off is required.  Nasty, really nasty and it hosed my reliability index number right out of the gate. The Adobe site says it's 32bit only in the system requirements.  Obviously they are aware it has issues.  But of ALL of my applications, it's the only one that doesn't work.  I'll still contact their support department and see if we have any internal workarounds, but the writing is on the wall Adobe.  Dreamweaver 8 works, but I cannot update it with the 8.02 patch I need to keep my FTP site settings.  I'll try to spend some time resolving that one, too.

T61pWNSAT One application I fully expected to fail, but didn't, is the HP Photosmart 2610 All-in-One software for my color printer/scanner/copier.  I was really happy to see that work especially since I just discovered the Windows Vista compatible version not too long ago.

I haven't installed any games yet but I'll let you know how that goes.  I plan to install a few before the weekend is out.  I wonder if Halo 2 for Windows Vista will work.  Placing bets?

Performance

Anyone wondering how this performs?  Thermonuclear!  I haven't started doing any serious number crunching yet, but that is coming.  Anecdotal evidence aside, here's the screenshot of my Windows Vista Performance Index from WinSAT score information.  Compare that to my T60p from last year.  Notice anything different?  Yea, the GPU is smoking baby!!!

As you can see from the result, this machine is equivalent in performance to nearly every top laptop on the market including the Apple MacBook Pro.  There's one big difference however, my machine runs quiet and cool.  Lenovo did a great job with the new thermal design and right now, I'm running my machine without the benefit of all of their power management tools.  The fan is nearly silent and the 200GB Hitachi drive I bought at newegg.com is much quieter than the 100GB drives in my stable.

You may have noticed on all of the top machines right now, that the best score you'll see is generally a 4.8 or 4.9 because of memory bandwidth.  I have been in discussions with the Windows Vista developers on this for months so we'll see if they change things for SP1.

Other T61p Observations

I'm sure you're wondering a bit more about the machine.  When people think about the ThinkPad, they immediately talk about solid built machines, excellent keyboards, and conservative looks.  The new T61p doesn't disappoint and Lenovo actually raised the bar in some areas.

The 15.4" screen I have is the LG screen and runs at a native 1680x1050 resolution also known as WSXGA+.  It is brighter than the T60p 15.4" widescreen I have.  The rage is to go after the higher resolution 1920x1200 (WUXGA) screen.  You'll have at least a 4-6 week lead time on one of those right now.  In fact, Lenovo stopped selling them on lenovo.com until they can fill their backlog. 

Be sure to to evaluate these resolutions before you buy.  Many people can't handle WUXGA on a 15.4" monitor.  One thing about the screen... it is not centered in the LCD bezel.  There's about a quarter inch more bezel on the left than the right.  My understanding is that there are wires and antenna leads in that area.  It doesn't bother me but it might bother you if you are and engineer, architect, or other "precise person".

The keyboard is still awesome although I prefer the one on my T60p.  They are certainly different feeling and sounding.  This keyboard emits a little more noise on key taps.  It's no big deal to me but I wonder how my wife will like it. 

The until itself feels very solid.  Since it's a widescreen model, it's obviously wider than your standard 14 or 15" notebook.  Keep that in mind if you are using a backpack.  It fits perfectly in my Wenger Synergy backpack.  You'll find these backpacks nearly everywhere now.  BestBuy has them.  The T61p is balanced nicely and easy to grip with the strange matt black finish.  I like that.  I don't want to drop it.  The speakers are ok, but not great.  It's a business laptop, nuff said.

The T61p now has a IEEE 1394 Firewire port.  I haven't used it yet, but that's coming now that I have to pick another video capture and DVD production software product.  I am very glad it has one considering the T60p doesn't.

I've only just begun putting this through it's paces.  I have no plans to run some of our server applications on it since I am getting new business machines soon anyway.  I do however plan to install x64 SUSE 10 SP1 soon on another hard drive.  I expect it will run nicely.  We'll see...

That's it for now.  If you are considering a purchase, look for this unit on sale.  You should be able to get it loaded up nearly identical to mine for about $2000-2100.  You may have to do like I did and order it with a 1GB RAM stick and the cheapest hard drive to cut cost there, but the Lenovo ThinkPad T61p is very reasonably priced in my opinion.

Let me know if you have any questions...

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  • What do you mean about the memory scores?  My machine gets a 5.9 on memory.  Are you talking about laptops?

  • Yes sir.  The comment was about laptops that are currently constrained with a 667MHz memory bottleneck.

  • Exciting news for anyone that has been following the Thinkpad line of laptops. Of course, you can add 4GB of RAM to a T60/T60p but due to i945 chipset limitations (mainly dealing with PCI-E MMIO space and x86 braindamage), the maximum usable RAM will

  • RE: 64-bit apps, amen brother.  I realize we are among the early adoptors but I am down to only one x32 machine and it almost never gets turned on.  I am ready for developers to change the mindset and develop first for x64 and then consider backporting to legacy x32...  Are we there yet?  How 'bout now?  :-)

  • I got all inspired and flatten my machine last night and reloaded Vista in x64.  Nice to have all 4 gig of memory that I wasn't able to get to in x86 but I'm stuck... anyone know of a program to mount an iso that works in Vista 64?

  • What have you tried so far?  Most of DVD/CD software packages I have, have something but I just haven't tried them yet. I'm probably going to install Roxio 9 today and I'll see how WinImage works as well.

  • One last point that may not be apparent in this post, the T61p has the Intel "Santa Rosa" PM965 so it allows full access to all of the installed memory.  The amount of possible memory in my T61p will go up later when 4GB SoDIMMS become available and affordable.

    Only the latest machines on the market have this capability.  For instance, I have a Latitude D820 that will run x64 operating systems, but it cannot use more than 3GB of memory.  This is pretty well documented and should not worry people that aren't running virtual machines environments or other apps needing more than 3GB.

  • I've tried MagicISO and Daemon tools.  Both claim to work in Vista64 but neither does so far.  Daemon won't even install correctly.  Fortunately I have a stack of RW's so it's not a showstopper so far but I'm really missing that...

  • Speaking of changing OS's.... is there any way to deactivate MS software?  I had Office on my x32 Vista and now that I'm on x64 I need to reinstall it... but that dings against my activation limit...

  • "I've tried MagicISO and Daemon tools.  Both claim to work in Vista64 but neither does so far."

    you may have to disable driver signing in the boot options.

    i have used both of these on 64bit with sucess.

  • I wonder if any of the wwan cards are 64-bit compatible. :-(

  • I'll be trying my Verizon PC5740 this weekend.

  • Rob, I don't think the activation problem will be an issue. Besides, don't you have a TechNet subscription?

    For the record, I would love to see a way for each of use to manage our product keys in the manner Rob suggests.  That doesn't exist today but you can always call the activation support center and describe the issue.  I don't think they are in the habit of denying activation for legit installs.

  • Ok, I just tried my Verizon PC5740 PCMCIA card.  update.microsoft.com does not have x64 drivers for it so after the insertion of the card, the driver failed to install.

    However, the VZAccess software at www.vzam.net does so after installing the software which includes the driver, the insertion and driver install worked.  I am posting this reply via the EVDO connection.

    Your mileage is going to vary by chipset and card, but it looks like Verizon is covering your x64 back.

  • Like many of you, I'm the forgiving sort of person. I use a "three strikes" rule when I spend my money