Many people still love and use their T60's. This doesn't come as a surprise; they are really awesome machines and some even call them the last true ThinkPads. However, one problem that haunts many T60 owners, especially those with discrete ATI graphics (basically the majority) is heat.
Now there are a number of reasons why the T60 runs hot or at least hotter than one might like it to. In this guide I'll show you how to get your T60 with ATI to reach a maximum temperature of 55°C
combined. Got your attention? Good, then let's get started.1. Reasons why the T60 ATI runs hot
Most people will probably just scream "it's all the ATI's fault" but the truth is that there are a number of factors that contribute to the massive heat being produced. Yes, the ATI is one of the big culprits, but another big one is the CPU. While 65nm Merom CPU's are certainly very decent, they do run a lot hotter than say a slightly newer 45nm Penryn. Penryn CPU's are much more efficient than Merom CPU's, thus Merom CPU's tend to create more heat even when performing "light tasks" such as watching a YouTube video, despite both having a TDP of 35W. (which is quite high for a thin machine like the T60)
As I have already mentioned, the ATI itself is of course one of the biggest heat generators, despite having a relatively low TDP of about 15W for the X1300 and X1400. For comparison, the NVS140M has 10W, the FX570M has 35W and the HD3650M has 30W. Since the ATI can not be switched off and was produced using a 90nm manufacturing process, it constantly creates a significant amount of heat that needs plenty of cooling.
Next on the list is the heat sink and fan. Most people are aware that the T60 heat sink and fan assembly is inferior to what the T61 and T500 have to offer, which is why the latter heat sinks are a popular choice among FrankenPad modders. The T60 fan is relatively inefficient and loud. Furthermore, the ATI and Northbridge chips are connected to the T60 heat sink via thick thermal pads, which transfer heat a lot worse than a thin layer of thermal paste.
The locations of the big culprits certainly play a role as well since the 4 major chips (CPU, ATI, Northbridge, Southbridge) are all located next to each other. (more or less) Even the wireless card which is used in the T60 runs very hot, especially for today's standards.
It's not just the hardware however, software can have quite an impact on the heat being produced as well. Most users will probably be wanting to install Windows 7. However, the T60 does not officially support Windows 7. Nevertheless, pretty much everything works OOTB. Which is great, if it weren't for that pesky ATI. A straight forward driver installation is not possible, because there are no Windows 7 drivers for the ATI. Why would you care? Even though the ATI can't switch itself off, it does have power saving features. The catch is, you need to enable them in the Catalyst Control Center, which of course requires a working set of drivers.2. Getting started
Now that you know why
your T60 is running hot (apart from the obvious like dust in the fan) we can focus on what to do to make it run cooler. I'll be demonstrating everything on my 14" T60 with the following specs:
CPU: T7200 2GHz
RAM: 2x1GB Kingston HyperX
GPU: ATI X1400
Storage: 128GB Samsung 470 SSD
Screen: 14" SXGA+ (1400x1050)
Wireless: Intel 5100
Keyboard: T400 style
BIOS: 2.27 no 1802/no whitelist
OS: Windows 7 Pro x863. Parts to replace
Without any further delays, the big secret is simple: Ditch the stock fan and heat sink and replace it with a W500
or T500 ATI
heat sink. (including fan) This will make the biggest difference and address the biggest issues. With the W500 heat sink, you get better heat dissipation for the CPU thanks to the dual heat pipe design. The heat spreader for the GPU now has direct contact with the GPU itself, so you can apply thermal paste and get rid of those horrible thermal pads. Since the W500 heat sink is designed for a 30W GPU, it will easily handle the 15W X1400.
Coupled with the new, more silent and more efficient fan, the amount of heat being transferred is significantly higher. Needless to say, you should try to apply a razor-thin layer of evenly spread thermal paste on both the CPU and GPU to achieve the best results. Keep in mind that some thermal paste requires up to 200h of usage time before it reaches maximum efficiency. I recommend Arctic Cooling (which needs said 200h) or if you feel like you're up to it, IC Diamond.
(click to enlarge)
Next, we will replace that hot running wireless adapter. (the Intel 3965) You'll need the modified BIOS
to install a different wireless card. I can recommend the Intel 5100 as it runs very cool and is quite cheap, although any modern Intel card will essentially fit the bill. Don't be confused by the pics, I took them before I installed the new wireless card.
In case you haven't done so yet, you should also install a SSD. It will keep your palmrest nice and cool and contribute to a more silent machine. Needless to say, the performance boost by itself is already worth it.
You might also want to consider replacing the keyboard with the newer T400 style keyboard
which no longer has a solid steel plate supporting the keys, but instead a sheet of metal with holes in it, making it a lot lighter. This is a somewhat controversial thing to do because you will loose the advantage of having a good keyboard, which is kind of the point of having a ThinkPad. The difference is not major, but it does allow the insides to breath a bit. That being said, the new keyboard isn't all bad, and I would still recommend installing it if you want the best results possible.
One last thing you should do, in case you haven't done this either, is install a newer and more efficient Core 2 Duo instead of Core Duo. The T7200 offers good performance for little money. A T5600 or similar should be sufficient for most tasks as well. Your system will run significantly cooler with a Core 2 Duo. If you want to take your T60 one step further, then look out for a L2400. The old low voltage processors used to be the same size as the standard voltage CPU's (35mm x 35mm) and were even available as PGA models. The U7600 may be suitable as well.4. The other hardware tweaks
After taking care of the big guys, it's time to do some smaller modifications to your T60. You should have an excess T60 heat sink with 2 thermal pads. Do not throw it away. Instead, carefully remove the thermal pads from the heat sink. Now what you may ask? Well, the time has come to completely disassemble your T60. Sadly, there is no other option, because you need to apply both thermal pads to the Southbridge. This will create a heat-bridge and allow the heat of the Southbridge to be transferred to the magnesium rollcage. This way it stays away from the bottom of the machine, which is a crucial step in achieving our goal of a T60 that stays cool to the touch. Just view this as an opportunity to completely clean your unit on the inside and get rid of all the dust. You can also use an aftermarket thermal pad with a size of 30mm x 30mm and a thickness of 2mm.
(click to enlarge)
(notice the thermal pads located beneath the BIOS battery)
Although the RAM doesn't run hot on the T60 with ATI, you can still install RAM with a heat sink if you wish to. I believe G.Skill offer compatible 2GB DDR2 modules. Alternatively, you can buy aftermarket heat sinks and apply them to your current RAM.
As you might have noticed I also removed the modem and modem cables. This should aid in preventing heat congestion, especially when combined with an efficient wireless card, which is located right next to where the modem used to be.
Finally, spread a thin layer of thermal paste on top of the silver plate of the GPU part of the heat sink. When reassembling the T60, this surface will connect to the keyboard and transfer some heat from the GPU to the keyboard, thus allowing the heat sink to retain a higher heat capacity. This can be a bit messy, so be careful. As always, the trick is to use as little thermal paste as possible. I consider this step optional
because I wasn't able to notice a significant temperature difference and applying new thermal paste every time you remove the keyboard is quite annoying.5. Setting up Windows 7 correctly
I think most of us are capable of setting up Windows 7 and installing all the necessary drivers without any hiccups. Just try not to install any unnecessary junk (ThinkVantage software). Also don't forget the important chipset drivers. If you feel like you are incapable of doing this(
), I have, in light of the recent driver sweep by lenovo, uploaded a full directory of all Windows 7 drivers and tools I used for my T60. Since even AMD has removed all drivers for older devices from their website, I don't even have any other choice than to provide everything you need in my cloud:ThinkPad T60 full driver package for Win 7 32-bit
In my package you will find the latest Mobility Radeon X1400 drivers that are available. If you have a different card then you will need to either revert to Vista drivers or try out an experimental Windows 8/8.1/10 driver that includes drivers for all ATI cards that were equipped on the T60. (link to be added)
Before installing the ATI drivers you will need to mod them with the well known Mobility Modder
. However, as if this were some cruel joke (
), even that site has been, at least temporarily, shifted, so that the download links for the tool may still work, but the instructions on how to use it are gone. I'm sure plenty of people have used the tool before. If necessary simply ask around if someone still has the instructions on how to use it. If I remember correctly you just need to extract the ATI driver and use the tool to mod the binary folder and then proceed with the installation normally.
Once all the drivers are installed properly, open the CCC (Catalyst Control Center), go to Powerplay
settings and set everything to maximum power savings
. That way the X1400 runs at a much lower clock rate (128MHz as opposed to the standard 452MHz) and produces significantly less heat.
At the moment though, 55°C during prime95 and Furmark is still a dream rather than reality. In order to fulfill this dream you will need to undervolt
the CPU. I'm sure most of you already saw this coming. But just like getting the ATI into power saving mode, it is absolutely crucial to undervolt the CPU in order to take care of the hot nature of Merom CPU's. To do so I used the widely popular tool RMClock
. I just let my T7200 run at full speed (2GHz) but at just 1.0125V
instead of 1.2500V
. Your CPU sample may need higher voltages or may even be able to go lower.
Finally, you need to install TPFC
. You will need it because the fan will only start running when the CPU hits something like 60°C, so you will need to manually set it to constantly run at stage 1.
(click to enlarge)5.1. Linux
I can only speak for Ubuntu-based distributions. These fully support all T60 ATI variants out of the box. You only need to install TLP and use it to configure the ATI clock rates. You can choose from low, mid and high clock rates. To undervolt the CPU, you can use PHC.6. That's it!
You should now have a T60 that runs cooler than ever before!
You can try running prime95 and Furmark to see what temperatures you reach. Before running Furmark you will need to set the ATI to Balanced
in Powerplay, otherwise it will crash. Also use fan stage 7
(click to enlarge)Some side notes: You might also need to adjust the W500 heat sink a bit since it was not meant to be used in the T60. Just make sure that the heat spreaders are even and have good contact with the chips. To test if the contact is good, press down on the heat sink really hard during Furmark. If the temperature suddenly drops by a few degrees then you will need to straighten the heat spreader to make it sit evenly on the GPU. Some bending will be required. You might need a few attempts.
Instead of the stock T60 bracket which does not fit on the W500 heat sink, I am using a slightly modified version of the T61 bracket. It is also possible to not use any bracket at all since the keyboard presses down on the GPU heat spreader. (due to the higher position of the X1400 compared to the HD3650M)
For best results, follow every single step in this guide and don't skip anything.
I do not take responsibility if anything goes wrong. Proceed with these modifications at your own risk!Moderator edit:
Moved topic to this (the T6x) forum, and made it to a sticky... so that more people may see and thus benefit from it.