10-23-2011 10:32 AM
Just composed long message with lots of semi-relevant background that was apparently lost when I attempted to post it, so will be more brief on this try.
I recently picked up a T61P (model 6459-CTO) on eBay. It appears to have been restored to its factory-shipped state running XP on a 160 GB hard drive. I just bought a Seagate Momentus 750GB 7200RPM SATA/300 drive to swap in before doing a clean install of Windows 7 64-bit. (This is for my son, who is studying engineering & industrial design in college, so he uses some fairly demanding applications.)
BTW, while I'm not completely ignorant, I'm also not a techie, and much of what I've read getting to this poing went over my head.
Thanks in advance
10-23-2011 11:32 AM
The middleton bios is a modified Lenovo bios that removes the bits used to disable the SATA2 support. Lenovo claims to hae done this to make it more compatible with legacy devices. I don't agree that completely disabling sata2 support was the best way to handle this, but since this is a lenovo forum, I should advise you that your using an unsupported bios, do so at your own risk.
It also has some other changes. It will allow running a Penryn cpu on a Meron only board (although not give full penryn support), and will disable the MiniPCIe whitelist error (error 1802).
If you are going to use this bios, I'd do it before you install a 64bit OS, so you can run it from the harddrive. The bootable cdrom disc gives no option to abort if the system seems unstable. Also make sure you have a good stable 32bit operating system before attempting the bios update. A random blue screen of death during update and your system board could be unusable.
As for benefit, you'd definitely get faster transfer speeds with that harddrive, but the most noticable difference would be when using SSD drives.
Regarding which drive to use. I too bought one of the seagate models you have, for $79 on tiger direct's ebay store. I then found a similar Hatachi model with the same specs for $74.99 on amazon.com, so I got a few of them for my other thinkpads. As for which brand is best, I've had an equal share of failures from western digital and seagate lately, but don't recall any Hatachi drive failing within 5years or so. That was my rational, but I originally got the seagate for the same reason you did.
I too want to move to SSD boot drive with second drive in ultrabay, but it occurs to me that SSD drives should have a muchh lower failure rate then mechnical drives, but even the better rated drives don't show that, so I suspect the technology just isn't there yet, so I'll give it another year or so before buying several SSDs. I look forward to the day, but I have enabled SATA2 on my T61 models in the meantime. I haven't done before/after benchmark tests with mechanical drives, and haven't seen any noticable difference on normal usage. If you do it, just be prepared to accept the risk involved, and definitely don't do it if your under warranty.
10-23-2011 12:15 PM
Thanks very much for the fast and thoughtful reply. It's very helpul.
I'm upgrading this used T61p from eBay for my son, but I also have had a 6459-CTO (since new in mid-'08), and so some of my interest in how far it makes sense to take upgrading is with an eye on it. I've been tempted to buy a new laptop, but it's been hard to pull the trigger with mine still getting the job done as well as it does.
I've been loyal to Seagates in desktop computers for a long time, but finally had one go bad in a NAS storage device earlier this year, and my impression is that they may not be as dependable as they used to be. I'll look into a comparable Hitachi.
I don't have a lot of time to play the role of tech support for the rest of my family. I've flashed the bios before, but it's been a while and I always closed my eyes and crossed my fingers without a deep understanding of what I was doing. My impression based on your response is that the risk/benefit ratio in support of flashing the Middleton bios for the sake of optimizing performance of a non-SSD is probably not highly compelling. Tell me if I'm wrong, but if I replace the HD, install Windows 7 64-bit, and then later decide to flash the bios (e.g., after deciding to go with an SSD), I can simply put the old drive back in and boot from it to do the biod update (per your advice). Is that right, or am I missing something (other than the hassle of rebuilding the drive from scratch again).
10-23-2011 12:41 PM
Yes, you can install a drive with 32bit OS to flash the bios. I chose this exact method on my x64bit t61 models. You can also boot from a 32bit windows disc and run the update from the harddrive on your 64bit system, or of course use the bootable iso version of the bios. I've seen the bootable iso destroy a t61 personally, but later inspection revieled the computers cd/dvd drive had issues, so it wasn't the bios fault, except for the shortcoming that it will proceed even if the system has read errors or is unstable. I've also noticed that the flashing seems to be smoother on vista/seven, then it does on windows XP. I've done 4 of them on windows xp in the last couple weeks, all have appeared to complete, then restart the process to write two additional blocks of data... very scary, but all completed successfully.
I do agree that you're not going to see a huge advantage with sata2 on a mechnical drive, and there is risk, so proceed accordingly.
I've always been a fan of seagate in the past, but in the last several years I've had many failures, with them and western digital both.
10-23-2011 02:14 PM
So I should be able to 1) swap in the new 750GB 7200RPM SATA/300 drive with no BIOS configuation changes (boot order is currently set to CD-ROM first, and 2) install Windows 7 64-bit onto the new drive from the installation disc with no other preparation and that's not a bad idea, right?
I also picked up a matched pair of ADATA 2GB DDR2 800 RAM cards. Should it matter whether I install them before or after upgrading the hard drive and doing the clean installation of Windows 7 64-bit?
10-23-2011 02:44 PM
You don't need to do any bios upgrades to install your harddrive or ram. Also note that your t61 will gladly accept 4GB sodimms (ddr2), giving you a max total ram of 8GB.
The order of the upgrades doesn't matter, but I usually recommend doing them one at a time, make sure it's stable, then proceed to the next. This makes tracking down problems much easier.