My old laptop was falling apart, but buying a new one presented all kinds of ethical problems of which I have become increasingly aware. Also new laptops are badly made and I always much preferred the squarer 4:3 screens that weirdly got phased out in the switch to widescreen five years ago (around the same time that storing a collection of films on a laptop became practical I guess).
So, I built my dream laptop from ebay purchases (all prices include postage):
- IBM Thinkpad T60 with 1024×768 screen and 2GB RAM – £164.95
The last IBM branded thinkpad, widely considered the best laptops amongst linux musicians :) Apparently it is possible to find T61s with 4:3 screens but I couldn’t find one.
I did buy a T60 for £118, which had a higher resolution screen but it arrived damaged, and only had 1GB RAM. This one arrived beautifully reconditioned, well worth the extra, and the 1024×768 screen is good for matching projector resolutions.
- T7600 cpu – £94.99
Replacing the 1.8GHz processor with a faster 2.33 GHz one, the fastest that the T60 is compatible with. Installing it was tricky and nerve-wracking but a youtube video helped me through it. £95 is expensive for a second hand cpu, but that’s because it’s the fastest of its class and so in high demand..
- Arctic silver paste – £5.75
To help keep the faster processor cool. I was worried I’d have to upgrade the fan too but the cpu temperature has been fine so far.
- A Kingston 96GB SSD drive – £85.00
This probably makes a bigger speed difference than replacing the CPU, and makes the laptop much quieter.. I didn’t put much research into this but read that more expensive drives aren’t faster because of limitations of using an older laptop
- 9 cell battery – £20.55
The laptop came with a working battery, but £20 for a 6+ hour battery life is a no brainer.
So the total is £371, not that cheap but it’s a really nice, fast (for my uses), quiet and robust laptop. Returning to a 4:3 screen feels like opening the door after years squinting through a letterbox. Also, screw planned obsolescence, hopefully this five year old laptop will be with me for years to come.