Review Lenovo Thinkpad T61 14,1'' SXGA+
Solid Office Notebook. The ThinkPad T61 is a notebook which should especially attract business customers. Lenovo products are top regarding user-friendliness and data security. Here the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 scores points by many reasonable details. Furthermore Lenovo's customer support is excellent. Knowing the part number, it's pretty easy to quickly order most parts.
This is another review of a Lenovo ThinkPad T61 model, the UI02BGE (8889-2 BG) with T7300 CPU and a 14,1-inch SXGA+ display (1.400x1050 pixels). Further review of ThinkPad T61 models can be found here (14,1" WXGA+, T7700, Quadro NVS 140M) and here ( 14,1" WXGA+, T7300, Quadro NVS 140M).
The ThinkPad T61 looks typical Lenovo, black, edgy, and huge. However, according to its size of 31,2 x 25,5 x 2,4 to 2.7 cm³ and its weight of about 2.50 kg, it is actually not bigger or heavier than other 14,1-inch business notebooks.
Picking up this notebooks, its case proves to be really robust, because of its flexural rigid construction. Generally, the ThinkPad T61 is far robuster than average notebooks are. However, alike its predecessor, the T60, the plastic covers at the palm rest areas emit slightly creaking noises when trying to twist the case. The area next to the DVD drive (UltraBay slot) also considerably yields when applying force.
According to Lenovo a special honeycomb construction in the lid should protect the sensible display than standard constructions. We actually needed to apply a lot of force in order to provoke interferences at the display. The lid is wrapped with in a soft material, which feels nice to the touch and is also less sensitive to scratches than the finish of competitor notebooks.
The other parts of the ThinkPad T61's case are also good. There lid closed exactly. The stable and uncovered steel hinges are able to support the adjusted opening angle without problems. There is hardly any see-saw of the display noticeable at shocks or vibrations.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T61 provides only the most necessary standard interfaces. The reviewed T61 came without a card reader for nowadays already omnipresent flash memory cards, without a DVI-D port for connecting an external high-quality screen, and without Firewire (i.LINK, IEEE 1394), an alternative to USB 2.0.
Besides three USB ports for connecting a printer or other USB devices, the reviewed notebook provided a docking port, a modern ExpressCard slot and a PCMCIA slot for expansion cards such as TV or DSL modules. If want to connect an external wide-screen display and aren't satisfied with the analog VGA port, you'll need to additionally buy ThinkPad's docking solution, which provides a DVI-D port.
Regarding wired data communications, the Thinkpad T61 provides fast GigaBit-LAN and the usual integrated 56K modem. Wireless communication is possible via Bluetooth and WLAN. Wireless Bluetooth headsets even make wireless Voice over IP possible. A switch at the front side allows to easily switch the wireless communication modules on respectively off.
By default the Lenovo T61 is shipped without any recovery media. However, a single touch recovery solution provides an easy way to restore the system as long as the pre-installed recovery partition stays untouched. Further security features provided are: an actively shock-protected hard disk, a biometric fingerprint reader, and a TPM (Trusted Platform Module).
Providing 90 keys, the Lenovo ThinkPad T61's keyboard convinces by a clear feedback. Its clicking noise sounds good too. The effective size of the keycaps is 1,3 x 1,4 cm² and they are attached tightly to the keyswitches.
A user-friendly, blue enter key, which extends over two rows is provided. Because the keyboard layout of Lenovo keyboards differ from the standard by reverting the order of the left Ctrl and Fn key and by placing the Del and Ins key at the right top of the kryboard in a group of six keys. So, typing mistakes are likely at the beginning.
ThinkVantage, a key-feature of theT61, improves user-friendliness very much. Besides the so-called ThinkLight keyboard light there are three hot keys. One of them can be used to launch recovery from the hidden recovery partition by simply pressing a key.
The size of the touch pad is 5,6 x 3,8 cm², which is not extraordinary big. However, a track point and additional toggle buttons providing mouse button equivalents are also available. The track point's speed of reaction is low, but it is very precise. Overall, it provides a user-friendly way of moving the mouse pointer around.
A number of different panels are available for the ThinkPad T61. Besides 14.1 inch displays, there are also 15.4 inch panels, whereas the available resolutions range from 1024x768 (XGA) to very fine 1680x1050 pixels (WSXGA+). The reviewed notebook came with a 14.1 inch SXGA+ display with a high resolution of 1400x1050 pixels. This LCD-panel is by Samsung and its type number is LTN141P4. The matte display surface contributes to the comfort and ergonomics, because it hardly reflects.
The average brightness of the display is 139.7 cd/m² during mains operation and 87.5 cd/m² in battery mode, because the display is automatically dimmed. However, automatic dimming in battery mode can be deactivated by a BIOS setting. A maximum brightness of 159.8 cd/m² and a black value of 1.1 cd/m² give a contrast ratio of moderate 145:1.
Hint: Although you can manually set the brightness to "full" in the BIOS or in the ThinkPad configuration, and, so, get a nearly equally bright display than in mains operation, the maximum brightness is still a little to low for trouble-free work in the sunshine.
The luminance distribution is not uniform. In mains operation there is a difference of nearly 22% between the brightest (159.8 cd/m², top center) and the darkest segment (124.7 cd/m², left bottom corner) of the display. In battery mode the difference is 23.6% - average of this notebook class.
When we tried different bright backgrounds, we detected that the image only marginally blurs, depending on the viewing angle. But, at the bottom of the screen there is an area of 1cm height, which is obviously brighter.
Directly compared to our reference display, the 20-inch MVA LCD Viewsonic VP2030b, the display of the ThinkPad T61 has a good color neutrality. However, its viewing angles are rather narrow. If you change the opening angle, you'll quickly face a loss of contrast, whereas important details of our reference images get unrecognizable. Horizontally, the viewing angles confirm to the average of this type of panels.
Core components are a Core 2 Duo T7300 by Intel with 2.00 GHz and Intel's chip set 965 PM Express. Furthermore, the reviewed notebook came with 2.048 MByte main memory (RAM), which is sufficient for running a 64 bit Windows version.
If you want to upgrade main memory, you can continue using the provided DDRII 667 module as a second slot is free. According to Lenovo, the reviewed T61 model can be equipped with up to four gigabytes of RAM.
CPU-Z-Information about the Lenovo Thinkpad T61 UI02BGE
The reviewed ThinkPad T61 comes with a Quadro NVS 140 M (G86GLM) Nvidia with 128 Megabytes of dedicated video memory. The Quadro NVS 140M is a middle class video card for business, which provides optimized and certified drivers for finance and business applications. However, its performance is not sufficient for current games. E.g., F.E.A.R. runs only smoothly, if you decrease the resolution to 1.024 x 768 pixels, whereas number of details is "medium" and anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF) is off.
Benchmarks and GPU Information about the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 UI02BGE: GPU Z, Cinebench R10, Crystalmark 2004 and Vista Performance Index.
|Shading 32Bit||2408 Points|
|Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit||3600 Points|
|Rendering Single 32Bit||1971 Points|
|1024x768||Ultra, 0xAA, 0xAF||25.4 fps|
Computer max. | grafic max.:
1024x768 | 4xAA/16xAF | min. 09 fps | avg. 17 fps | max. 34 fps | less than 25 fps: 83 %
1024x768 | 0xAA/00xAF | min. 12 fps | avg. 21 fps | max. 37 fps | less than 25 fps: 79 %
Computer max. | grafic med.:
1024x768 | 0xAA/00xAF | min. 20 fps | avg. 38 fps | max. 64 fps | less than 25 fps: 03 %
The provided mass storage devices of the ThinkPad T61 is a 120 GByte serial ATA hard disk, in more detail a HTS 541612 J9SA00 by Hitachi. With a revolution speed of 5400 revs/min, the average data transfer rate measured with HDTune is 37.1 MB/s. This is alright, considering that the reference hard disk, a Seagate ST 910021 A with 7200 revs/min, has a an average data transfer rate fo 40 MB/s.
Furthermore, the T61 comes with a 8x DVD burner, a GSA-U10N by LG Electronics inserted in an UltraBay slot. If required, you can replace this slim-line drive by a supplement battery in order to increase the battery runtime.
|3DMark 2001SE Standard||13566 points|
|3DMark 03 Standard||5242 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||3177 points|
|3DMark 06 Standard||1406 points|
|PCMark 05 Standard||4724 points|
In the idle mode under Windows 64-bit and power save mode activated, the noise level is in average 34.5 dB, which is nicely quiet. You'll be able to still hear the T61 in quiet environments, but, it's low-frequency noise is far from being annoying.
Overall, you can consider the T61 a comparably quiet notebook, regardless of performance demand.
The noise level of its DVD drive is also alright. We measured a maximum of 39.3 dB(A). So, DVD drive access won't disturb office work.
34.5 / 35.2 / 36.5 dB(A)
||39.3 / 39.9 dB(A)|
||37.3 / 37.9 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
Our infra-red sensor, which works contact-free, proved that the surface temperatures of the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 stay always alright. Despite of the compact 14 inch case and the silent fan, the maximum temperature of the top side measured in the center in front of the keyboard was only 35.5 degrees. The average temperature on the top side is 31.3°C, which is low.
Also the bottom side of the T61 stays alright. Although, the maximum measured left, below the cooling system of the CPU and the heat pipe of the video card is as high as 39.6°C, the average of 35.2°C is still alright.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 35.5 °C / 96 F, compared to the average of 34 °C / 93 F, ranging from 21.2 to 62.5 °C for the class Office.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 39.6 °C / 103 F, compared to the average of 36.5 °C / 98 F
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 31.4 °C / 88.5 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28 °C / 82.4 F (-3.4 °C / -6.1 F).
The two speakers of the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 are located at the bottom side, central, immediately below the front edge. Their sound is by no means wonderful, the basses and high tones are weak, however, the middle tones are alright. They are sufficient for non-demanding background music - for nothing more.
In contrast to predecessor models the ThinkPad T61 comes with a 5.200 mAh battery, which does not exceed the case. In idle mode and with dimmed display, the power demand of the notebook is 20.1 Watt only.
We measured a maximum runtime of about four hours for the 56 Wh 6 cell battery. However, under full load with brightest display setting, the runtime was just about 1 hour.
If you do not need the DVD drive, you can insert a 2700mAh supplement battery into the UltraBay slot in order to increase the runtime. Furthermore, there are also other more powerful battery solutions available.
|Off / Standby||0 / 0 Watt|
|Idle|| 20.1 / 24.6 / 26.3 Watt|
44.6 / 58 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max:
Overall, the T61 is an interesting notebook, whereas Lenovo focuses on business customers. Regarding user-friendliness and data security you'll hardly find any better. The Lenovo ThinkPad T61 scores points in these aspects by a lot of reasonable details. Furthermore, even Lenovo's service is top. Most of its parts and accessories can be easily ordered by their part number.
The Thinkpad T61 UI02BGE (8889-2 BG) offers good performance in solid case. With this equipment, office work really becomes child's play. The input devices are user-friendly, the noise and temperature emissions alright. Accessories, like docking station and supplement batteries ease the life of traveling customers.
Still, some details could yet be improved. E.g., the available ports do no longer confirm the current standard, and the LCD panel should be brighter. Although the recovery system can be launch by pressing a single button, we feel that recovery media should belong to the base equipment of business notebooks instead of shifting the responsibility of creating such to the customer.
Overall, the ThinkPad T61 is a scalable business solution, which comprehensive security features. Costing 2000,- EUR it's not really a bargain. However, it's really user-friendly and reliable.