Thinkpad x41 with an mSATA SSD

By | 2016/11/05

I recently picked up a like-new Thinkpad x41. I replaced the existing IDE drive with a new 64GB mSATA SSD. Here are the details!


Specs

Thinkpad x41 (non-tablet)
1.5GHz Pentium M (32bit operating systems only)
1.5GB DDR2 (512 built-in, one free slot for 1GB stick max)
12″ / 1024×768
About 2.5lbs
Intel GMA 900
Broadcom BCM5751M Gigabit NIC
Intel 2915abg wireless
Bluetooth (Broadcom)
Modem
vga port
SD card slot
PCMCIA / CardBus
Fingerprint reader
Overhead keyboard light
Audio in/out jacks
2xUSB 2.0 (I added two additional with this CardBus adapter)
60GB 1.8″ IDE drive (replaced with msata)
8-cell battery
Mechanical keyboard

Optional X4 Ultrabase dock provides:

3 additional USB 2.0 ports
Optical drive or second sata disk
vga port
Parallel and serial ports
Gigabit NIC
Modem
Stereo speakers


mSATA to IDE Adapter

The x41 requires a 3.3 volt mSATA to IDE adapter. There are a few of these on amazon. Be sure to get 3.3 volt and not 5 volt.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009BA76EI/

https://www.amazon.com/Msata-Converter-Adapter-Convert-Thinkpad/dp/B00DIUTTGU/


mSATA disk of choice

Any mSATA disk should do.

I picked up this mSATA disk:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ELQZCSE/

img_20161030_211540
Non-Thinkpad Disks and Alternate BIOS

When using a non-approved hard disk, the laptop will beep twice at boot and complain at you, requiring one to hit ESC to continue booting.

An unofficial modified BIOS exists to get rid of this warning at boot. See this page for more info.


Replace IDE with mSATA

Replacing the IDE drive with the mSATA in its adapter took about 1 hour, most of the time being trial and error of figuring out how to slide the small adapter in and line up the IDE pins.

I do not have any good method or way to do this. The only advice I would have is to use gravity flipping the laptop either towards or away from you as the adapter is guided in. Using the IDE drive’s housing helps to line things up and can be yanked out after the adapter has been inserted.

There will be a desire to disassemble the entire laptop – I caution to not do that but keep trying using rubber bands or other methods to guide the adapter in place.

img_20161030_212225


Performance

The laptop performs great, seemingly better than expected despite the older CPU.

The video card ram is only 64MB so I would suggest disabling any desktop effects.

The mech keyboard is wonderful and perhaps the biggest draw to this laptop for me other than the extremely portable size.

Note: SSD trim does not work, and gives a disk I/O error when attempting fstrim on the mSATA SSD.

The interesting/odd thing is that this chipset actually has and uses an intel SATA controller which is then made IDE by an adapter.

OS: Debian stretch 32bit, KDE plasma 5.8.x

stmiller@wagner:~$ uname -a
Linux wagner 4.7.0-1-686-pae #1 SMP Debian 4.7.8-1 (2016-10-19) i686 GNU/Linux

memory usage at desktop:

stmiller@wagner:~$ free -m
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available              
Mem:           1503         231         748          49         523        1043                    
Swap:          1524           0        1524                                                        

disk:

stmiller@wagner:~$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda

/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads:   1282 MB in  2.00 seconds = 640.71 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 276 MB in  3.01 seconds =  91.58 MB/sec

geekbench:

https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/955185

youtube:

360p works without stuttering. Higher quality videos play but with stuttering.

external display:

With all desktop effects / compositing off (to save video ram) a 23″ 1080p external display works great as a secondary or primary display.


Other geeky details

stmiller@wagner:~$ lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 915GM/PM/GMS/910GML Express Processor to DRAM Controller (rev 03)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Mobile 915GM/GMS/910GML Express Graphics Controller (rev 03)
00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corporation Mobile 915GM/GMS/910GML Express Graphics Controller (rev 03)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 03)
00:1d.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #1 (rev 03)
00:1d.1 USB controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #2 (rev 03)
00:1d.2 USB controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #3 (rev 03)
00:1d.3 USB controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #4 (rev 03)
00:1d.7 USB controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller (rev 03)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev d3)
00:1e.2 Multimedia audio controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) AC'97 Audio Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801FBM (ICH6M) LPC Interface Bridge (rev 03)
00:1f.2 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801FBM (ICH6M) SATA Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 03)
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5751M Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express (rev 11)
04:00.0 CardBus bridge: Ricoh Co Ltd RL5c476 II (rev 8d)
04:00.1 SD Host controller: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter (rev 13)
04:02.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 2915ABG [Calexico2] Network Connection (rev 05)
05:00.0 USB controller: NEC Corporation OHCI USB Controller (rev 43)
05:00.1 USB controller: NEC Corporation OHCI USB Controller (rev 43)
05:00.2 USB controller: NEC Corporation uPD72010x USB 2.0 Controller (rev 04)

stmiller@wagner:~$ lsusb
Bus 008 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 007 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 006 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 003 Device 002: ID 0483:2016 STMicroelectronics Fingerprint Reader
Bus 003 Device 003: ID 0a5c:201e Broadcom Corp. IBM Integrated Bluetooth IV
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub

stmiller@wagner:~$ cat /proc/cpuinfo 
processor       : 0
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 13
model name      : Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor 1.50GHz
stepping        : 8
microcode       : 0x20
cpu MHz         : 1500.000
cache size      : 2048 KB
physical id     : 0
siblings        : 1
core id         : 0
cpu cores       : 1
apicid          : 0
initial apicid  : 0
fdiv_bug        : no
f00f_bug        : no
coma_bug        : no
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 2
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss tm pbe nx bts eagerfpu est tm2
bugs            :
bogomips        : 2992.50
clflush size    : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes   : 32 bits physical, 32 bits virtual
power management:

stmiller@wagner:~$ sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda
smartctl 6.6 2016-05-31 r4324 [i686-linux-4.7.0-1-686-pae] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-16, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Model Family:     JMicron based SSDs
Device Model:     ADATA SP310
Serial Number:    2G3420074299
LU WWN Device Id: 5 000000 000000000
Firmware Version: 5.2
User Capacity:    64,023,257,088 bytes [64.0 GB]
Sector Size:      512 bytes logical/physical
Rotation Rate:    Solid State Device
Form Factor:      2.5 inches
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   ACS-2 (minor revision not indicated)
SATA Version is:  SATA 3.1, 3.0 Gb/s
Local Time is:    Sat Nov  5 20:51:24 2016 EDT
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x00) Offline data collection activity
                                        was never started.
                                        Auto Offline Data Collection: Disabled.
Self-test execution status:      (   0) The previous self-test routine completed
                                        without error or no self-test has ever 
                                        been run.
Total time to complete Offline 
data collection:                (   32) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:                    (0x5b) SMART execute Offline immediate.
                                        Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
                                        Suspend Offline collection upon new
                                        command.
                                        Offline surface scan supported.
                                        Self-test supported.
                                        No Conveyance Self-test supported.
                                        Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003) Saves SMART data before entering
                                        power-saving mode.
                                        Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01) Error logging supported.
                                        General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine 
recommended polling time:        (   1) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (   1) minutes.
SCT capabilities:              (0x0039) SCT Status supported.
                                        SCT Error Recovery Control supported.
                                        SCT Feature Control supported.
                                        SCT Data Table supported.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 16
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
ID# ATTRIBUTE_NAME          FLAG     VALUE WORST THRESH TYPE      UPDATED  WHEN_FAILED RAW_VALUE
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000a   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
  2 Throughput_Performance  0x0005   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Offline      -       0
  3 Unknown_JMF_Attribute   0x0007   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0013   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  7 Unknown_JMF_Attribute   0x000b   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  8 Unknown_JMF_Attribute   0x0005   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Offline      -       0
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       8
 10 Unknown_JMF_Attribute   0x0013   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       20
167 Unknown_JMF_Attribute   0x0022   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
168 SATA_Phy_Error_Count    0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       51
169 Unknown_JMF_Attribute   0x0013   100   100   010    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
170 Bad_Block_Count         0x0013   100   100   010    Pre-fail  Always       -       0 0 0
173 Erase_Count             0x0012   199   199   000    Old_age   Always       -       2 5 4
175 Bad_Cluster_Table_Count 0x0013   100   100   010    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
180 Unused_Rsvd_Blk_Cnt_Tot 0x0033   100   100   020    Pre-fail  Always       -       276
192 Unexpect_Power_Loss_Ct  0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       3
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   051   051   030    Old_age   Always       -       49 (Min/Max 40/51)
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
231 Temperature_Celsius     0x0033   100   100   005    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
233 Unknown_JMF_Attribute   0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       433623296
234 Unknown_JMF_Attribute   0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       436064320
240 Unknown_JMF_Attribute   0x0013   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
241 Total_LBAs_Written      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       406557227
242 Total_LBAs_Read         0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       514615479


Rock on,