Lenovo Thinkpad T61 (766515M)

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Lenovo Thinkpad T61 (766515M)
  • Lenovo Thinkpad T61 (766515M)
  • Lenovo Thinkpad T61 (766515M)
  • Lenovo Thinkpad T61 (766515M)

Pros

  • Solid build, Good performance, Good battery life, DVD drive hot-pluggable and can be replaced with an extra battery

Cons

  • No draft-n Wi-Fi

Bottom Line

The Lenovo ThinkPad T61 is a solid nugget of a machine with a good deal of power under the hood and will keep things running smooth under most conditions. Although it lacks the draft-n Wi-Fi connectivity it still boasts the speed of the new Santa Rosa platform.

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A strong performer with a rugged design, the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 is a solid machine and it represents the next generation of business notebooks based on Intel's latest Centrino platform codenamed Santa Rosa.

Inside the familiar black chassis Lenovo has bundled in some of the latest gear, including an NVIDIA 8M-GS graphics chip and some perks from Intel's new Santa Rosa Centrino Duo platform. At its heart is an Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz CPU with an 800MHz front side bus (FSB), but the Wi-Fi is only 802.11 a/b/g, not draft-n. As it's not a Centrino Pro notebook it also lacks the Active Management technology.

On top of all that Lenovo has toughened up this notebook by adding another roll cage into the design. The hard drive roll cage has been in the ThinkPad range for some time, now it also includes a roll cage for the top cover to reinforce the display and, according to Lenovo, improve the performance of its wireless connectivity by reducing LCD noise and eliminating the need for external antennas. Indeed, the 14.1in screen seems very secure, exhibiting no stress or distortion when pressure is applied to its back.

However, that's not all Lenovo is claiming. According to Lenovo, the noise levels and temperature of the T61 have also been reduced over previous models. Although we have no tests to confirm this, it is safe to say that the notebook runs quietly and remained at a comfortable temperature throughout our tests.

The new CPUs from Intel, including the T7300 in the ThinkPad T61, all include some power saving and performance boosting features. One feature is called Enhanced Dynamic Acceleration, which will power down one core of the CPU when it's not needed, and use some of the power saved to boost the still-active core, giving it more speed. On top of that the FSB has been increased from 667MHz to 800MHz, providing more bandwidth and faster communication between the CPU, the memory and the chipset.

In WorldBench 6, our Windows Vista-based benchmarking software, the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 scored a total of 70. This is a nice score for a business notebook and shows it can handle its sown when it comes to applications like Firefox 2, Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.

It also did reasonably well in our worst-case scenario battery test. For this test we loop a DVD until the battery drains. It's a worst case scenario because a DVD will use the speakers, the optical drive and the other main components such as the screen and CPU, for maximum drainage. In this test the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 lasted for 100 minutes. The DVD drive can also be hot-plugged, meaning it can be taken out while the machine is on, and replaced with an extra battery for extended life.

Thanks to the increased FSB the CPU now has more room to push data around at higher speeds. This means two CPU's with identical frequencies, one with an 800MHz FSB and one with a 667MHz FSB will actually perform differently. We did an MP3 encoding test to see how well this 2.0GHz CPU with an 800MHZ FSB ran. In this test we encode 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kpbs MP3s. It took the Lenovo T61 133 seconds to complete this task. It took the Toshiba Satellite Pro P100 (PSPAEA-00G00D) using a 2.0GHz (667MHz FSB) CPU 143 seconds, while the Asus W5FE (2P002A) using a 2.16GHz (667MHz FSB) CPU achieved a more comparable time of 135 seconds.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T61 also ships with ThinkVantage software. ThinkVantage gives quick access to a number of features ranging from system backups and web support to profile selection, data migration features.

With a resolution of 1280 x 800 the screen is sharp and has good contrast levels, though it is just a little dark. The keyboard is comfortable to type on and includes volume controls and a ThinkVantage shortcut button. Touchpad and track-point users have both been considered, as the T61 includes one of each. You'll also find a fingerprint scanner for added security. A simple feature that always pleases us is the keyboard light that projects down from the top edge of the screen, lighting the keyboard for working at night.

There's plenty of connectivity starting with three USB 2.0 ports and a mini FireWire port. There's VGA for monitor output and a both PC Card and Express Card slots. As mentioned above, networking includes Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g, but there is also a gigabit Ethernet port and a 56k modem.

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