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Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-06, 17:58 PM

Hello: I have a Lenovo T61 (Model 889202U) whose screen blinked the last few times I rebooted (was a bit orange too) but now seems to have completely failed.

 

The machine actually boots up and is running / accessible over the network so I suspect the motherboard is ok, so it's possibly the inverter / LCD screen (as I gather from this very helpful forum). 

 

Question is -- how do I go about ordering the right replacement(s)? I presume the standard thing to do is to get a replacement LCD AND the inverter and try to replace? Thanks much for all the help.

 

In the meantime I was thinking of perhaps getting a second monitor to drive off the VGA port -- if folks have recommendations for that I'm all ears (I imagine a good 20 inch monitor will run 60-70$ ?) Thanks again.

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-06, 19:50 PM

Welcome to the forum.

 

screen blinked the last few times I rebooted (was a bit orange too) but now seems to have completely failed.

 

That suggests the backlight has gone, not the screen or inverter. You can confirm this by shining a flashlight on the screen. If you can see the display faintly then it's the backlight.

 

Backlights are available inexpensively, e.g. on eBay, however you must make sure you get the right part number. Moreover, the job of replaceing the backlight is rather intricate. You may need to have this done by a repair shop.

 

The other alternative is to buy a complete LCD cover assembly with new backlight and LCD panel, etc. This is relatively easy to replace but will be more expensive.

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-06, 20:01 PM

Another thing to consider, , is that if your machine is equipped with the nVidia dGPU, it may have finally failed on you. I believe the MT-M you've provided is such a dGPU-equipped machine, but would probably be able to confirm that. He's had much experience with the issue.

 

Regards.


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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-06, 23:10 PM

Thanks for tagging me Nate, you've got some very good opinions from both members here. First of all if you can shine a flashlight at the screen and see the desktop images, then it appears your back light has failed. However if the screen is black and you can see nothing then it is likely your Nvidia GPU that has failed. If it is the latter I have good news for you, but first some history.

 

The Nvidia GPU issue was never admitted to being a defect by Nvidia, and Lenovo also was not contractually allowed to refer to it as such. Lanova did fix this problem in the last month of production for this series, however your model has the standard screen which was discontinued a few months before the the problem was corrected so none of these models have the good GPU chip. In fact most warranty motherboards had the same bad GPU chip as the one that replaced. Since IBM was selling these laptops to their corporate customer they took the problem much more seriously and distributed newly manufactured motherboards to their corporate customers prophylactically. These new boards weren't all used and some found their way into liquidation when the laptops they were intended for we're retired. These are literally the only standard screed boards that have the problem free Nvidia chip. If you'd like I can get you one of these boards if you send me a private message. To say these are rare would be an understatement and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find one anywhere else at any price. They are brand new in sealed IBM boxes. Do not confuse these with the common refurbished boards which contained an orange sticker saying serviceable used part.

 

If the problem is your screen the solution is to replace the LCD as the backlight is not a serviceable part. It is possible to replace just the backlight, but you won't find a part number on it, nor can you order it by application. What you'll need to do is get a generic part for a 14.1 in with 4 to 3 aspect ratio with single bulb. Some come with wires attached and some are designed to solder in. Next is installing it in the panel and this is tricky. If you've never done this before you are not likely to end up with the perfect screen when you are done. The correct procedure is to do this work in a laboratory grade clean room to prevent dust and foreign material from entering the screen because every Speck of dust that gets in your screen will be lit up as soon as you turn the screen on and it's virtually impossible to remove. Depending on manufacturer you may be able to slide the bulb in with a minimum of disassembly, but then there is also the issue of properly aligning the bulb. Common side effects of a less-than-perfect bulb alignment are unequal lighting, dark spots bright spots and the sunrise glow where the whole lower part of your screen is illuminated much like the Horizon at sunrise.

 

These panels are made by several manufacturers, some of which are sealed in plastic which means you're limited to cutting it open with a Dremel tool then sealing it up with glue and tape. Some have screws to access a metal frame surrounding the LCD assembly and these are often easier yet still very difficult to get perfect results. Personally I don't waste my time with this, exceptions would be if there are no screens available such as a rare obsolete laptop. At some point these models may fit that category but at this time you can find screens to drop in. I can generally buy good used screens in the $50 to $150 range depending on screen resolution and condition.

 

Some members may also be questioning if they should invest a lot of money in one of these laptops, but those of us who are ThinkPad fans or so because of these laptops and none of the new laptops can compare. The t61 model is the Apex of the classic ThinkPad laptop, it's the last full size laptop available with the classic 4:3 aspect ratio, and the first model to be fully 64-bit capable, able to run up to 8GB of RAM, enable SATA 2 through use of a bios update, and thanks to IBM we now have access to bug free Nvidia motherboards and as much as I dislike how Invidia handled this problem I do respect them for making powerful Graphics chips and the fact that they never stopped driver development and likely never will. In comparison the models with ATI graphics made immediately before and immediately after this model have been obsolete since Windows Vista.

 

The above reasons have made your model popular for collectors and for people who simply dislike where the new models have gone.

 

If you have any further questions please feel free to ask, however if you are asking for help acquiring these parts please do not do so in the public forum and respect all Forum rules

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-06, 23:19 PM

PS. Please forgive grammar and typos in the above message. It was dictated using voice to text software via Google, and although it's handy you can see it's not quite ready for primetime. My apologies!

ThinkPad W-510 i7-820QM(1.73-3.06GHz) Quad Core... ThinkPad T500, T9900, 8gb SSD...FrankNpad T-60p/61p (X9000 2.8ghz) 8gb SSD ips FlexView...ThinkPad T-61p (T9300 2.5ghz) 8gb ram...Thinkpad X-61 Tablet 8gb ram.
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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-08, 18:33 PM

Thank you so much for your very informative reply (as you point out -- I really like this laptop + keyboard hence I've continued to retain/use it :). I will try and use the flashlight later today when I get home.

 

I connected a second display using the external VGA port -- and that seems to be working fine (so I presume that indicates that the GPU is ok, but the screen / inverter needs replacement?). 

 

Thanks again for a very useful forum. Amazing resource!

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-08, 18:38 PM

A working VGA port does not indicate that your GPU has not failed. The internal LCD is driven by a digital video signal where the external VGA connector is analog and it's common to see them work when the GPU has failed.

ThinkPad W-510 i7-820QM(1.73-3.06GHz) Quad Core... ThinkPad T500, T9900, 8gb SSD...FrankNpad T-60p/61p (X9000 2.8ghz) 8gb SSD ips FlexView...ThinkPad T-61p (T9300 2.5ghz) 8gb ram...Thinkpad X-61 Tablet 8gb ram.
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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-08, 18:41 PM

Ah.. Got it. Thank you.

 

Will post what I found after I use the flashlight as you / others recommended. 

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-09, 14:27 PM

So I can't see anything when I shine a flashlight.. so as you pointed out perhaps the GPU is gone. Will contact you privately re. how I can get a motherboard replacement separately. 

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-13, 17:08 PM

The fact that you mentioned "orange" indicates that the panel (bulb) has probably died, rather than the inverter, the GPU or a motherboard fuse.  Replacing the backlight is a poor job that rarely yields good results.  I will add that a failing bulb will often show red or orange at startup for some time before failing completely.  Your machine is old enough that it is possible that the bulb was getting sick at the same time some other part died.


Rich


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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-19, 21:32 PM

Thanks to TuuS -- I tried upgrading to a new motherboard, but seem to have gone backward :). When I dis-assembled and re-assembled with the new motherboard, I have a connector (that I'm pretty sure was connected to something, but for the life of me I now can't figure out where it goes).

 

See attached picture.. (there is a connected strand of two wires that originate at a jumper on the left -- and one of them connects to a small board next to the display board at the bottom, but it's the other one I can't figure out where to connect up).

 

Anyhow - I wonder if that's the source of my issue(s) now -- the machine starts -- but a few seconds later shuts down; The old board used to work with the VGA monitor but now that doesn't work either so I wonder if this connector really needs to be connected to something.

 

Thought I'd post here in case folks had any ideas as to what I might try next.. Thanks in advance.

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-19, 21:50 PM

Following up.. located the connector .. (under that board :), but plugging it in still doesn't do the trick. Going to try and swap back the old board to see if that also behaves the same way.

 

O' well. Fun times w/ old hardware :)

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-20, 1:20 AM

Hmm.. old board also behaves the same. No beep no post.. wonder what I messed up? Everything looks correct to me (cpu, connectors etc. seem ok, power from AC is good, but two boards behaving identically..). 

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-20, 3:08 AM

Did you clean off the old thermal paste and cover both cpu and gpu with a good quality thermal paste like Arctic Silver 5?

 

If not the chips will overheat within seconds and shut down. 

 

Apply enough to cover both chips after cleaning with alcohol and a lint free cloth

 

Also be sure you locked the cpu in place with the cam screw by turnind all the way counterclockwise, drop in cpu then turn all the way clockwise until locked. It will turn either 90 or 180 degrees depending which socket is on the board (2 types are used)

 

PS hard to tell on my phone but looks like audio cable connecting modem to soundcard.

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-20, 3:10 AM

First, the 3rd leg of the cable passes the modem through to the docking station port.

 

Does the fan spin for 1/2 second when you press the power button?  If not, I would check the power button and confirm that the screw that holds the CPU in is turned the 1/2 turn it needs to lock.  


Rich


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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-20, 3:36 AM

Thanks for the prompt responses! You are all awesome.

 

I did find where the connector goes so that problem is solved.

 

The fan does spin for a few seconds before it shuts down. Will check the cpu. I'm pretty sure I locked it but will check.

TuuS: there was nothing in the cpu when I looked at it - is adding the paste necessary? Since it was working before I didn't think to add anything but maybe I should? 

 

Secondly I didn't move the GPU.. 

 

Thanks for the help! Anything else I can try?

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-20, 15:40 PM

You need to clean off the old paste and apply fresh.  If you do not it will not be stable and will eventually ruin the CPU.

 

 


Rich


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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-20, 16:20 PM

When you remove the fan assembly there should be some gray crusty residue on the fan and the CPU and GPU chips. This is the Lenovo Factory paste and it was the consistency of toothpaste when the laptop was built but by now it's probably dried up and crusty. If someone has removed this then it's amazing the machine ever worked at all because without doing this properly both the CPU and GPU chips will overheat within seconds and shut down to avoid damaging the computer which is the exact symptoms you reported. Clean first chips with alcohol swab and dry with a lint-free cloth. Buy some Arctic Silver number 5 which is available at any Electronics shop where you can get it from Amazon shipped for about $7 for a small tube. Apply it to both chips to cover the surfaces then apply the heatsink fan assembly. The paste will flow to fill in all the gaps when you press lightly over both areas. Secure the fan in place and then restart and it should boot up normally.

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-20, 17:03 PM

Thanks Tuus! Yes, double checked everything.  CPU is locked.. and I just cleaned and put new thermal paste (pea on top of all three chips that seemed to be covered by the heat sink connected to the fan). 

 

No go.. Behaves the same as before. Fan spins up for a few seconds, and then everything shuts down again. The fact this is happening with both motherboards leads me to suspect something else.. could it be a bad keyboard or other part? Maybe in all the switching around that's now broken? (The power switch on the keyboard does work.. and when I press it -- I can see it powering down and I hear a small winding down short noise from the disk -- so presumably that means not everything is completely hosed?) Thanks for all your help again.

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-20, 17:06 PM

Or maybe the cpu is bad? (There was some dried up goop on top of it that I removed..  with alcohol and put new paste on - that I bought from Best Buy).

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Re: Lenovo T61 screen has gone dark - how to find the right replacement

2018-05-21, 15:45 PM

Here's a picture of my "pea-method with thermal paste" attempt :). I'm going to see if I can perhaps pick up a replacement cpu to see if that's the problem? (since the mboard is new -- I figure it's the next thing to try!)

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