Mauriat Miranda     mjmwired

Lenovo Thinkpad T61 Failure

Towards the end of last summer I purchased a new laptop since I was on road quite frequently. I selected a Lenovo Thinkpad T61 notebook for two reasons: well known reliability and a I got a good deal from a friend. It was working flawlessly till I updated it with XP SP3 (note that I purchased Windows Vista Business but later installed Windows XP). I found myself having occasional lockups and reboots. I downgraded SP3 but I still found it occasionally problematic. I decided that I would eventually re-install everything when I got the chance.

Several weeks ago a collegue informed that several laptops with Nvidia video were failing due to overheating or packaging or something. I really did not pay attention for several reasons. I thought my problems were software related, I never saw noticeable video failures, and the heat/fan noise from my laptop never seemed unusual. In any event my Thinkpad totally DIED the other night. I'm reporting this information in case others might find it useful.

I have a Thinkpad T61. Core 2 Duo 7500 2.2Ghz. Nvidia Quadro 140M 128MB. My laptop info.

1. I noticed a higher number of lockups recently. The only time I could see a blue screen i noticed the following error:
Which according to Microsoft help indicates a hardware error.

2. I had updated almost every component using both Windows Update and the Thinkvantage System Update. I did manually update to BIOS 2.19-1.08 (2008/06/11). Additionally I did update the Nvidia driver.

3. A hour before the failure occured I had played with the Microsoft WorldWide Telescope application. I do not know if this is taxing the system too much.

4. When the failure occured I was not there, and upon returning I found the screen totally off. I had left the lid open. I assumed it had gone to "Standby" or "Sleep". So I tried to push the Power button for it to wakeup, but it did not respond. I tried rebooting. With no luck. The screen would not start.

5. The behavior when turning it on is as follows. The LED's blink as if it was turning on. The screen never powers up. The hard drive does power up, but I hear no major disk activity. I cannot tell if the CPU fan is active, it seems like it is. I hear no beeping or any indication that maybe just the screen is not working. Battery or external power does the same. Pretty much dead.

What to do? Well I postponed calling support because I plan to use my external SATA adapter to back up (and clean) my data. I highly recommend everyone keeps an SATA to USB adapter for times like this. (I also have a IDE to USB adapter, also about $20)

Fortunately, I did do a warranty upgrade for 2 years, drop off service. So even though I am in my original warranty period, I do not have to ship it anywhere, I can take it to a local service center. I have heard of some reports online of users insisting Dell (or other manufacturers) giving a warranty extension. I have not tried that yet, so I will make the call this week after my backup.

More to report later.

Posted in: Technology,


  • Garrick on August 5, 2008 ~ 01:01 AM

    Hey Mauriet,
    Sorry to hear your laptop died on you.

    I changed 2 laptops in the last 3 yrs!! (Luckily my company paid for them!!!)

    I did installed SP3 on my MS Win Prof… and coundn't connect to our LAN ! Called in the service tech's and they said "Please be happy with the XP updates that you get since SP3 is more or less made up of these update (Correct me if I'm wrong)" and they couldn't figure out why SP3 was causing these problems. Well I observed the same problems on other Desktops. Well we all uninstalled SP3 and everything went back to normal.

    I have another problem, my laptop is getting so hot (100+Centigrade)! Well I just dont have the time to go to HP as its under extended warranty. Wonder what the problem is …. maybe I need to add more RAM as I am using FlyakiteOSK (Mac Shell for XP) and I think its increased Swap file size to 1 Gig.

    Oh BTW i found Mp3tag very usefull as most of my collection is from Torrents and I really do need to clean up those tags!!

  • Rob Russell on August 11, 2008 ~ 01:13 PM


  • Jen on September 20, 2008 ~ 12:00 AM

    I purchased a Lenovo Thinkpad T61 running Windows XP in May that recently failed as well. This is the fourth Thinkpad I've owned (with the previous three being manufactured by IBM) and selected it for its robust features at a reasonable price…not to mention the idea of a REAL video card (Nvidia Quadro) had me sold. I have never encountered a Thinkpad was unable to respond to the blue AccessIBM/ThinkVantage button during the boot after a crash. After multiple calls with tech support and they sent me the Windows setup discs (this was NOT a problem with the O/S), I mailed it back to them and it was repaired in just a day. The repair slip indicated that my hard drive was replaced due to blue screening and that they updated BIOS/embedded controller. I just encountered the "blue screen of death" again and have barely touched my now empty hard drive!!! It's a good thing I'm still under warranty, but now I'm trying to discover how many other T61 owners are experiencing these problems. I'm not sure if I have a lemon or if this is a widespread problem.

  • Jon Prall on September 23, 2008 ~ 08:20 PM

    Sorry about your troubles… I have an older T60p that has the ATI 5750 chipset and a T7600 (2.3) proc.

    At work I support many T61s and they usually have the nVdia Quadro 570M chipset. That's a little old. nVidia has come out with the 135/140/145 which are in the Dell 820s we get. The 570 is pretty decent but not what nVidia is pushing now. The 110/120/135/140 nVidia chipsets are horrible. Not stable and really slow. They have 150/160 and some other models above the 140 that I dont have experience with.

    Lenovo puts ATI chipsets in some of their computers and while ATI has a bad rap, it's always my computer at the office that is fast. Mine is 18 months old.

    Sadly - the chipsets in laptops today are meant to only do one thing and that is run Vista with Aero. That's it. Anything else wouldn't be 'business'.


  • ED on September 21, 2009 ~ 09:09 AM

    I also have a ThinkPad T61 with NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M (purchased 6/08). After several months of use, I found it impossible to run any sort of software design programs that used very complex graphics - the PC would continually lock up. Eventually, I replaced a graphics driver and that seemed to help.

    However, I still have occassional lock-up and freeze problems. WHen this occurs, my current window will create hundreds of shadows outline images when moved. It's very bizarre looking and certainly seems to be related to a screen graphics problem.

    Could this problem be caused by the chipset that you mentioned? How can this be corrected or upgraded?


  • Nicolas on April 9, 2011 ~ 08:08 AM

    I bought my first Thinkpad (T61) in 2008 as I was going to university that summer. It was nearly the same configuration of yours, and 3 years have past, I haven't seen any graphic card failure problem. But I was really woried about this issue, beacause I am afraid that will happen some day. And I will be out of warranty this August.