Laptop, meet Soldering Iron

ltmon's picture

My Thinkpad T61P has died :(

It seems like a common problem, with the graphics chip not being adequately cooled enough to survive several hundred hours of ET:QW and more than enough Padman and SG as well.

The most common issue is the chip itself breaking free from the mainboard, so I pulled apart the entire thing to see if I couldn’t solder it back on again. 3 hours later, after a long disassembly and testing some 100 or more solder points for continuity it seems that the chip itself is fully fried and not just disconnected.

A replacement graphics chip means a replacement mainboard, which also means $$$, and I’m a year out of warranty.

For the short term I’ve borrowed an older laptop from work. Luckily the replacement booted fully off my T61P hdd after about half an hour of playing with drivers. Unluckily it has an old Intel integrated chipset, which barely runs a desktop… it’s painfully slow and has a crusty low-res monitor.

For the long term, I now have one of these suckers on order:

15.6” 1680×1050
Core i7
Quadro FX 880M (similar to GeForce 330M, but a little slower)

RRP of around $4500, but much cheaper with various coupons, sales, tax breaks and supplier NFR pricing I can get.

I know I should hate Thinkpads now, but every other brand just looks like so much cheap plastic in comparison. Maybe the top end Sony’s and Apple’s get partial credit, but the good ones are even more expensive again.


Microman's picture


You could have spent the same on a desktop, and got a very good gaming model.

Any reason you chose to use a laptop?

ltmon's picture


This is primarily a work laptop. The boss pays for a good amount of it and I can claim tax exemption on it as well. I like powerful laptop for work, as I’m almost always running databases, app servers and virtual machines amongst other things. In fact, it gets more use as a portable server than a desktop.

The fact that I can play the occasional game when I get home is a bonus.

n0mad's picture

ThinkPad g00d ch0ice

The missus has been using ThinkPads f0r w0rk the last few years and
I must admit the build quality is bar n0ne…..

At that price I w0uld g0 Deskt0p & Lapt0p and have change left0ver…

Have U th0ught ab0ut a sec0undhand Ex Lease Lapt0p LT ?


ltmon's picture

Always a Thinkpad

Once you’ve had one, very few people go back. At least if you’ve had a T-series, X-series or W-series which are top-of-the-line. That said, their quality has dropped over the last 5 years to compete on price a little more, but they’re still well ahead of the competition.

Ex-lease are always about 3 years old or more. Also, very few ex-lease are anything other than base model, with slow CPU and integrated video, which would be painful to use. With the price I can get this one for (well less than half retail, paid for interest free over 1 year) it just doesn’t seem worth it.

Think of it as a workstation I can move more than a laptop. It’s gotta be powerful enough to run a lot of stuff, and I need to work from home, the office and sometimes on site.

Sha8doW's picture


so no gamin action from lt for a while!

hope you are able to get a new system soon and come back to the foray

ltmon's picture


4-5 weeks seems like the lead time to get the new one. I could have been 8 days, but I opted for the HD+ LCD (need my hi-res monitor).

Sha8doW's picture

(need my hi-res monitor)

True dat!

Microman's picture


@Lt: Mind if I ask what you do for a living?

Robag's picture

well u know if Ltmon

had a player profile
all questions would be answered :)

hint hint :)


Microman's picture


Perhaps we should make each member’s name link to the profile page :-).

Sorry, didn’t realise he had one :-)

ltmon's picture


My job title is technically “Senior Software Engineer”, but I’m more “I.T. dogsbody” at the moment. I work for a very small consultancy, which means I end up doing all sorts of things.

I do a few server implementations (large-ish Sun SPARC stuff), and currently spend a good half of my week helping a TB-scale database at the Bureau of Meteorology run. Add about half a dozen applications I wrote or part-wrote that require regular upgrades, bug fixes and maintenance tasks, and it keeps me busy.

Microman's picture


What language do you spend most of your time writing?

Sounds like the equivalent job to what I want to get in electrical engineering… Bit of this, bit of that. I like working on smaller projects (a month or two), that way I get more variety. Small companies are good in that way.

ltmon's picture

Small companies

A small company is a blessing and curse in my experience. I’ve worked for a few dodgy ones, but this lot are very good. No unpaid overtime, mostly decent projects, but a few crap ones have to be done to pay the bills.

I primarily know Java, but also use C, PHP, Ruby. Scala and Erlang when I find somewhere to squeeze them in also ;)

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