Monday, March 12, 2007

IBM ThinkPad X31-2672

See that ThinkPad X31 above with the lovely wallpaper of Keira and Scarlett? That is my new laptop! Five years since selling my Dell Inspiron 8100, I decided I needed a notebook after all. It isn't exactly new as this is a second hand notebook., but I did get it for £200 from a guy I know. He was planning on getting a new ThinkPad (R-series or T-series), so I guess was lucky I got this cheap! He even bought a new 6-cell battery recently (these costs around £100) and true enough the battery charge hold is almost 99% of the advertised capacity (according to PC Wizard).

Intel Pentium-M (Banias core) 1.4Ghz 1MB L2-cache
Intel i855 chipset
512MB DDR333 PC2700 SO-DIMM RAM (upgraded to 1.25GB, capable of 2GB maximum)
40GB 4200rpm 2.5" (IBM branded, not sure about the actual manufacturer as I haven't open it up yet)
ATi Radeon Mobility M6 16MB AGP 4x (enough for super old games like Red Alert)
1024x768 LCD
Ralink RT2500 Wireless mini-PCI card (I will be upgrading to an Atheros a/b/g, hopefully)
PCMCIA Cardbus type-II slot (powered by Ricoh)
Compact Flash type-II slot
2x USB 2.0, 1x Firewire 1394
D-sub, Parallel port (this may seem useless but I have a laser printer that uses parallel)
Intel PRO 10/100 Gigabeat Ethernet LAN port
Agere AC'97 Modem
IBM infrared port

As the first ultra portable I have ever own I am very pleased with the ThinkPad X31. It is small and light enough, yet gives enough performance for everyday tasks. Despite being three years old, there isn't a single crack on the laptop, only some chipped paint on the LCD screen where a security tagged used to reside. The keyboard keys are still intact and not a single key label is missing (in comparison my old Inspiron 7000 keyboard had keys popping up in the first 8 months of ownership).

I have already replaced one of the 256MB memory stick with a 1GB stick giving the notebook a total of 1.25GB RAM. Other upgrades planned (but not too soon) includes another 1GB RAM stick (bringing it to a maximum of 2GB RAM), an IBM branded Atheros wireless card (£25) and a Travelstar 7K100 hard drive (£100). The priority is to get rid of the unauthorised Ralink card (IBM disables features such as fn+F5 and the WiFi icon for unrecognised cards) as its signal is very weak (though better than my desktop's Belkin PCI card).

Because these upgrades will push the price upwards closer to £400-£500 some might be wondering why I didn't just purchase a new notebook for £700 and save all the trouble (as well as getting Vista and newer processor/RAM and screen technology). Well I like to be able to spread my cost over a period of time and getting a notebook for £200 is the perfect way to do that. I won't be upgrading everything straight away as I see this notebook as an investment that would last 2-3 years. Besides the cheapest 12" ultra portable (X60) by IBM is easily over a thousand quid, and I really couldn't care less about dual core of 64-bit. Gaming can be done on my desktop PC and my consoles.

Upgrading also tends to give me a warm fuzzy feeling.


Update: I finally purchased another 1GB stick and chuck it in. Now I never ever experience any slowdowns due to low RAM! I also installed a Ramdisk driver and allocated 400MB of my RAM as a ramdisk for Firefox cache. I also moved the pagefile there. Even though I have forced Windows to ignore the pagefile (by deleting it at first), some P2P programs always insists on using a pagefile. So there is a reason for creating a pagefile on a Ramdisk after all. With the 400MB ramdisk, Windows XP boots up leaving 1.2GB of free RAM to play with - and that is after loading ZoneAlarm Pro, avast! anti-virus scanner and Spybot S&D. Not bad.


Update: If you are wondering, this is what I have currently installed on my ThinkPad under the Windows partition:

Windows XP SP2
Office 2003
- Word 2003
- Excel 2003
- Outlook 2003
Firefox 2
Opera 9.2
Agnitum Outpost Firewall Pro (trial)
avast! 4.7 Home Edition
AVG Anti-Rootkit 1.1
Spybot Search & Destroy 1.4
O&O Defrag Pro 10 (trial)
PC-Doctor 5
Nero 7

There are other junks as well but most are too trivial to list and some are just trials for testing purposes.

1 comment:

MarYn said...

Useful review. I'm going to buy old X31 too so every piece of information is worth to me. Cheers, MarYn