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 Post subject: ThinkPad graphics, quality and power cable questions
 Post Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:43 am 
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Posts: 225
Scott,

1) What are your thoughts on the GPUs in the T-series being either low
performance integrated solutions, or bottom of the line discrete
solutions, with low amounts of video memory compared to competing lines?
2) Have you noticed any problems with Lenovo designed ThinkPad models?
For the T60 line, from repair personal I've been told they are not at
all elegantly designed and are hard to work on, and from T60 owners, I'm
hearing of fit and finish problems, higher than normal failure rates,
and lack of response to customer concerns from Lenovo.

Also, if a power connector barrel keeps falling out of the power slot on
the ThinkPad, is there something broken in the barrel, or the power slot?


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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:44 am 
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Quote:
1) What are your thoughts on the GPUs in the T-series being either low
performance integrated solutions, or bottom of the line discrete solutions,
with low amounts of video memory compared to competing lines?


Integrated graphics are excellent for non-gaming laptops, while I'd recommend
discrete graphics for systems where gaming was more of a consideration.
ThinkPads are generally well-balanced systems, as such they don't normally
offer any models designed for ultimate gaming. If ultimate gaming is what you
want in a laptop, then other mfrs. usually offer higher end discrete graphics
than what is generally available in ThinkPads. Unfortunately if you go
with another mfr. you lose all of the other ThinkPad benefits as well.

Because I think gaming and laptops don't mix well anyway (much cheaper
desktops can usually outperform expensive "gaming" laptops), in most cases I
recommend *avoiding* discrete video and going with integrated video instead.
Note that Intel's integrated graphics solutions fully support Vista Aero,
however I also don't usually recommend running the Aero glass interface on
laptops due to the resulting increased power consumption and shorter battery
life: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1040_22-6181366.html

I recently had an experience with both integrated and discrete video. It
started when I purchased a new R60 with optional 128MB ATI Mobility RADEON
X1400 discrete video. To my dismay, I quickly discovered that the battery
life was 50% less than on the same model with integrated GMA-950 graphics:
http://www.lenovoblogs.com/insidethebox/?p=40#comments

I also found sporadic problems with dual display (extended desktop) operation
including periodic flickering, cursor artifacts when transitioning from one
display to the other (sometimes causing total graphic lockups), and scrolling
problems depending strangely on the relative positioning of the two displays:
http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?t=40063

The dual display (extended desktop) problems seemed to be mainly due to
issues with the ATI drivers, and even though I updated with several new
versions the problems persisted.

Since gaming is of no concern for me, I quickly realized I had made a huge
mistake in ordering the discrete graphics (a $100 option). The only real
component difference between discrete and integrated graphics models was the
motherboard, which I could purchase separately, but that would be expensive
and then what would I do with the original?

Instead I purchased a complete new base model R60 with the integrated
graphics and swapped over the components from my original discrete graphics
unit (incl. SXGA+ display, 2GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, DVD+-R/RW burner,
bluetooth and fingerprint reader). Then I reassembled my original discrete
graphics system with all of the components removed from the base system. The
buyer essentially got a base model R60 with an upgraded motherboard that
included a $100 value discrete graphics "upgrade" for free, which I suppose
was a good deal for them.

But even though it cost me a little extra time and money, I think I got the
better end of the bargain: My battery life is now 50% greater than it was
with the discrete graphics (the system runs that much cooler as well), all of
the dual-display flicker/cursor/lockup problems are gone, and I even noticed
that the standby/resume is somewhat faster with the integrated graphics as
well.

One more thing I didn't realize: The T6x/R6x systems with integrated graphics
come with a smaller (and lighter weight) 65W AC adapter, while those with
discrete graphics come with a physically larger and heavier 90W adapter. The
systems with integrated graphics can use *either* adapter, while the systems
with discrete graphics *must* use only the larger (bulkier) 90W unit. The
smaller adapter is lighter and fits better in my travel case.

Bottom line: When I eventually retire my R60 for an "R80" in a few years,
I'll be sure to order it with integrated graphics the *first* time around. <g>

Quote:
>2) Have you noticed any problems with Lenovo designed ThinkPad
models? For the T60 line, from repair personal I've been told they are not at
all elegantly designed and are hard to work on, and from T60 owners, I'm
hearing of fit and finish problems, higher than normal failure rates, and lack
of response to customer concerns from Lenovo.


I've taken several newer model ThinkPads apart, and have worked on many older
models over the years as well. The new T6x/R6x models are some of the easiest
to work on that I've seen. Both include a high strength magnesium "rollcage"
frame in the base, which makes them both stronger and stiffer than previous
models. They have the best keyboards, great screens, and replaceable external
connectors. They have stronger reinforced lids
http://www.lenovoblogs.com/insidethebox/?p=19 including a magnesium frame in
the newest models: http://www.lenovoblogs.com/insidethebox/?p=80

Bottom line: According to my extensive experience and observations the
overall design, construction, quality and support of recent ThinkPads is
better than ever, and I expect that trend to continue.

Quote:
>Also, if a power connector barrel keeps falling out of the power slot
on the ThinkPad, is there something broken in the barrel, or the power slot?


Generally it means that somebody kicked or jerked the power cord out of the
laptop at an angle, which often bends the tang in the socket outward such
that it no longer has a firm grip on the barrel. The solution is to either
use a small jeweler's screwdriver or hook and pick tool
http://tinyurl.com/2486ty to bend the tang back to its original inward
position, or to simply replace the connector.

Note that many of the external connectors on newer ThinkPad models are
implemented via pigtails. This means that the connector visible to the
outside is NOT soldered directly to the motherboard, but is instead a loose
connector that is connected to the motherboard internally with a short cable.

This means that for example if you accidentally damage the power connector,
you can order a simple plug-in replacement. The replacement connector
pigtails are sold in kits that comprise several of the external connectors in
a single kit costing usually around $40.

You can look up the part number for the kit in the HMM (Hardware Maintenance
Manual) parts listings for the intended ThinkPad system. For example, the DC
input power connector for my R60 is shown as part "a" in the following
diagram: http://tinyurl.com/2zjar6

If you click on that part and follow the links you'll see that the DC power
cable is included in the "System miscellaneous parts" kit p/n 41W5150, which
also includes the Modem, USB and FireWire I/O ports/cables for $40.25. Scott.


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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:19 am 
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Location: Minneapolis, MN
Is there a graphical or descriptive how-to for realigning the tang on the AC port? Wouldn't want to bend it into a completely unrepairable situation, or worse, break it off. Thanks.


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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:34 am 
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Quote:
Generally it means that somebody kicked or jerked the power cord out of the
laptop at an angle, which often bends the tang in the socket outward such
that it no longer has a firm grip on the barrel. The solution is to either
use a small jeweler's screwdriver or hook and pick tool
http://tinyurl.com/2486ty to bend the tang back to its original inward
position, or to simply replace the connector.

Note that many of the external connectors on newer ThinkPad models are
implemented via pigtails. This means that the connector visible to the
outside is NOT soldered directly to the motherboard, but is instead a loose
connector that is connected to the motherboard internally with a short cable.

This means that for example if you accidentally damage the power connector,
you can order a simple plug-in replacement. The replacement connector
pigtails are sold in kits that comprise several of the external connectors in
a single kit costing usually around $40.

You can look up the part number for the kit in the HMM (Hardware Maintenance
Manual) parts listings for the intended ThinkPad system. For example, the DC
input power connector for my R60 is shown as part "a" in the following
diagram: http://tinyurl.com/2zjar6

If you click on that part and follow the links you'll see that the DC power
cable is included in the "System miscellaneous parts" kit p/n 41W5150, which
also includes the Modem, USB and FireWire I/O ports/cables for $40.25. Scott.


It appears the "DC in cable" (same as AC port?) is FRU part number 13R2915 for my machine, which includes a number of other cables and parts as well. Unfortunately, the IBM Retail Part Order section to order from the "Maintenance parts site" cannot find this part. So its up to the hook & pick tools.


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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:37 am 
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I recommend using an undamaged one as a guide. Repeated bending can fatigue the metal and cause the tang to fail, but that is not likely unless you bend it several times. If you do break it, you can order a new one for about $40.

Note that the online parts system sometimes doesn't have certain parts listed, in which case you'll have to call them via telephone. If you call they can give you the price and take the order directly. Scott.


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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:53 am 
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Scott wrote:
I recommend using an undamaged one as a guide. Repeated bending can fatigue the metal and cause the tang to fail, but that is not likely unless you bend it several times. If you do break it, you can order a new one for about $40.

Note that the online parts system sometimes doesn't have certain parts listed, in which case you'll have to call them via telephone. If you call they can give you the price and take the order directly. Scott.


So the tang is currently a single small piece of metal that is pressed up against the rim of the AC port. What I want to do is pull this tang outwards, towards the center point of the port hole? The tang in my dock appears to be closer to the center than the tang in the ThinkPad.


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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 6:16 pm 
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Exactly. Make it look like the one in your dock.


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 Post Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:30 am 
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The tang is too far pressed against the rim, can't get the probe between the tang and the rim. Under warranty, I've had IBM send out FRU 13R2915, and after some more insistence, a new set of screws (to replace all removed screws per the BM repair manual for the T42). I've also been told that if anything is damaged in the process, this would void the warranty. At least not a near 100% damage rate as with depot repair...


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 Post Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:43 am 
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Now they've changed their minds, are trying to force me into depot repair, and I should get a call from a supervisor within 2 hours...


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 Post Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:38 pm 
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Called back myself after about 3 hours and 15 minutes of not receiving a callback. Supervisor was not available, on phone with another customer, but they said he'd call me back when done. About 22 minutes later, got a call from the supervisor. I told him that I've been a laptop repair tech, worked on ThinkPads (well, 2 or 3), and felt that I was capable of handling my own repair. So he then reiterated the fact that if I damaged anything, would be a billable repair. I confirmed my knowledge of this. They will send out 13R2915 (misc parts including "DC in cable" [same thing as AC port I'm told] and 13R2916 (screw kit).

Replacing the "DC in cable" is not covered in the "ThinkPad Computer Hardware Maintenance Manual." From observation, am I correct in thinking the following steps are required?

1020, remove battery pack
1040, remove hard drive
1060, remove keyboard
1090, remove Bluetooth/Modem daughter card
1110, remove keyboard bezel
1120, remove Mini PCI Adapter
1210, remove 15" LCD assembly

Then disconnect, unscrew AC port thing, screw in new AC port, connect to motherboard. Go in reverse up list.

If there are any shortcuts or unnecessary steps, would be happy to hear those. Also, anything I should watch out for, critical steps where I could by sloppiness or inattention severely damage things? Thanks.


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 Post Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:40 pm 
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Repair Manual is MIGR-46464.

(Suggest allow edit of posts for train of thought messiness)


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 Post Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:02 pm 
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That's pretty cool, very few (if any) other mfrs. would send you repair parts like that for free, allow *you* to install them, and retain your warranty in the process. Kudos to Lenovo, that is just another of the many reasons they are the best.

As far as the replacement goes, it sounds like you've found the necessary info and steps in the manual. As you do the job you'll figure out if anything else needs to be removed or not. Let me know how it goes, Scott.


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