The CF-51 F.A.Q.

Discussion in 'Panasonic' started by OperationDinnerOut, Oct 31, 2010.

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  1. OperationDinnerOut

    OperationDinnerOut Notebook Consultant

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    In a similar vein to the incredibly-useful CF-29 FAQ, now we shall have one for the CF-51. I'm hoping to distill and simplify the myriad small details regarding this model.

    Also, the CF-51 seems to enjoy substantial availability on eBay - much more so than the CF-73.

    Panasonic has a very useful "Business Support FAQ" for this model: Toughbook Support

    As always, be sure to keep the Toughbook Configurator handy, as it's a great resource for North American configurations. Yes, unfortunately, the Configurator does not know anything about Toughbooks from regions outside North America. Still, it's very useful. Just make sure to use Internet Explorer - that website seems not to work properly with any other browser.

    === Model summary:

    The Toughbook CF-51 is a 15-inch "desktop alternative" unit in the semi-rugged class. This model is similar in purpose and configuration to your typical mobile-workstation laptop from around the same time period, but is of course built to be somewhat more rugged.

    === Marks, or "What's inside this thing?"

    CF-51s follow a similar mark system to other Toughbooks, with a twist - each mark has an "LL" version with lower-end specs. There are also "Federal" models, which are stripped of their wireless cards. There are three marks total.

    [Mk1 _]: CF-51A/B - Pentium M 1.70GHz, 855PM chipset
    [Mk1LL]: CF-51C/D/E/G/H - Pentium M 1.60GHz, 855GM
    [Mk2 _]: CF-51J/K - Pentium M 2.00GHz, 915PM
    [Mk2LL]: CF-51L/M - Pentium M 1.73GHz, 915GM
    [Mk3 _]: CF-51P/Q - Core Duo T2500 2.00GHz, 945PM
    [Mk3LL]: CF-51R/S - Core Duo T2300 1.66GHz, 945GM

    Another oddity about these units is that the fifth character after "51" in the extended model number (for example, the "F" in CF-51xxxxFxx) also refers to the mark. I'm not sure, but I would assume that the fifth character must always match up with one particular corresponding first letter. Personally, I never worry about the fifth letter - it's the first letter that gives you the most important info on the CPU and chipset.

    === Integrated Options

    Available on some units:
    * SmartCard reader
    * SD card reader
    * Fingerprint reader (rare) - located near the power button
    * Bluetooth (rare)

    The following were NOT available from Panasonic, as far as I can tell:
    * WWAN
    * GPS
    * Touchscreen
    * Backlit keyboard
    * Handle

    === Chipsets and CPU

    * 855 (Mk1/Mk1LL) and 915 (Mk2/Mk2LL) are chipsets meant specifically for the Pentium M. They do not support any of the later dual-core Intel CPUs.
    * 945 (Mk3/Mk3LL) is the first Intel chipset to support Core/Core 2.

    You'll notice that the mainboard chipset name always ends in "GM" or "PM". In Intel's naming scheme, the "M" indicates a mobile chipset. The "G" further indicates an integrated graphics processor, or IGP. The "P" merely indicates that the IGP is omitted. See below for more info on video chipsets.

    CF-51 uses a socketed CPU - that is, the CPU is NOT soldered on (unlike more rugged Toughbooks), and is thus replaceable. The dual-core CF-51s shipped only with a Core Duo. They were never equipped stock with a Core 2 Duo. However, other forum members have found that the Core Duo can be upgraded to certain models of Core 2 Duo. See also: http://forum.notebookreview.com/panasonic/526150-cf-51-cpu-upgrading.html

    CPU sockets:
    * Pre-Mk3: Socket 479
    * Mk3/Mk3LL: Socket M

    Socket M supports standard-voltage "Merom"-family Core 2 Duo processors. Be advised that many Merom processors use the incompatible Socket P.

    Wikipedia:
    List of Intel Pentium M microprocessors - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    List of Intel Core microprocessors - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    List of Intel Core 2 microprocessors - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Interestingly, the service manual for the CF-51GAMxAKM implies that there were Celeron-equipped CF-51G units. However, I have never seen one. The Configurator does not list any such models, either.

    === Memory:

    Two SO-DIMM slots, accessible from the underside of the laptop. The CF-51 has no onboard RAM, contrary to what the Panasonic FAQ states. Perhaps they're referring to "onboard" memory as the minimum memory capacity that they support.

    RAM Types - Taken from the Business Support FAQ:

    (Mk1) -- DDR PC-2700
    (Mk1LL) -- DDR2 PC2-4200 (A typo perhaps? 855 chipset is DDR1-only)
    (Mk2) -- DDR2 PC2-4200
    (Mk2LL) -- DDR2 PC2-4200
    (Mk3) -- DDR2 PC2-4200
    (Mk3LL) -- DDR2 PC2-4200

    Maximum RAM

    Mk1/Mk1LL : 2.0 GB
    Mk2/Mk2LL : 2.0 GB
    Mk3/Mk3LL : 4.0 GB

    === LCD and video chipset

    All CF-51s use a 15" LCD. The majority of the units that seem to be available have an XGA (1024x768) screen. However, the non-LL versions either came standard with, or had available, a much nicer UXGA (1600x1200) screen as an option.

    I mentioned the PM/GM chipset suffixes earlier. In the case of the CF-51 (and with many other manufacturer's laptops), the "P" indicates the absence of and integrated video controller in the Intel chipset, and implies that there is a discrete video chipset. Far newer laptops like the CF-31 actually have *both* an IGP and a discrete chipset (for battery-life/performance flexibility), but the CF-51, and most laptops from the same era, have either an IGP or a discrete video chipset, and not both.

    The GPU included with Intel's "GM" suffix chipsets is completely sufficient for desktop tasks, but is generally considered pretty weak when it comes to video-accelerated tasks. Also, Intel's integrated GPUs have no VRAM of their own, and so they borrow from system RAM. This is slow, but sufficient for low-end tasks.

    When I say "discrete" graphics, I am referring to a dedicated GPU chip, rather than the one that would be built-in to the mainboard chipset (Intel 855GM, 915GM, and 945GM).

    The non-LL Mk2 and Mk3 (and maybe the Mk1) have an ATI discrete video chipset, while all the LL models use the standard Intel chipset video device.

    Panasonic's Toughbook Support FAQ for the CF-51 lists the Mk2LL as having a discrete video chipset (ATI Mobility Radeon X300). However, I own a CF-51L personally, and it certainly has only an Intel integrated video chipset. I'm fairly sure all Mk2LL units are the same in this regard - IGP-only, no discrete video chipset.

    === Hard drives

    All CF-51s use a 2.5" IDE/PATA hard drive, regardless of mark. Yes, even the Core Duo models!

    The hard drive caddy is shock-mounted, and lacks a heater.

    The Samsung HM160HC is a very popular IDE drive on NBR for refurbishing laptops that still use an IDE drive. At the time of writing, these drives tend to run about $65 online. Check Newegg.

    On eBay, CF-51s are very frequently sold without their hard drive caddies. At the time of writing (Oct 2010), this caddy will generally cost you at least $70 (and more like $100), on eBay or anywhere else. I managed to get one from Heartland for $60, plus shipping - Part no. DFWV99A0112, for a CF-51P (Mk3).

    The caddy was produced under several different part numbers, even though all the caddies are IDE.

    === Power supply

    Mk1/Mk1LL and Mk2/Mk2LL:
    * 15.6V, 5.0A power supply, part number: CF-AA1653AM. Same connector as the CF-18, CF-29, and CF-73, and it appears that this adapter is shared between all of those models.
    * The well-known IBM Thinkpad power supply (16V, 4.5A) seems to work quite well, and its ratings are very close to the factory-spec. This particular IBM power supply seems to be available under very many different IBM FRU numbers.
    Mk3/Mk3LL (the Core Duo models):
    * 15.6V, 8.0A, part number CF-AA1683AM , common with the CF-52 and CF-74
    * Same connector as the previous CF-51 series, but the rated current (and thus wattage) is much higher.

    I've used the IBM power supply (16V/4.5A) successfully to power my CF-51P, but be very aware that running a power supply that far above its ratings may very well start a fire. Please be careful, and don't leave your non-standard setup unattended!

    UPDATE....The IBM power supply will power the 51 and charge the battery but not both at the same time. The power supply will get very very hot. On my 51MK3 the charge light was going off and on while the 51 was running but when it was off the charge light would stay on and charge the battery.


    === Wireless LAN

    Pre-Mk3: MiniPCI slot on the top of the mainboard. Shipped with either an Intel 2200 (802.11b/g) or an Intel 2915 (802.11a/b/g) card.

    Mk3/Mk3LL: MiniPCIe (MiniPCI Express), with an Intel 3945 A/B/G card.

    Unlike many laptops of the same time period (inlcuding even the CF-73 and CF-29), the CF-51 has its wireless LAN antennas in the base/cabinet part of the unit, and not in the LCD assembly. They are located on the left and right edges, about halfway between the front and back, adjacent to the keyboard.

    Federal models: I don't own one, but it appears that only the wireless card is removed, and not the antennas or cables. You just need to supply your own card.

    As an interesting side note regarding laptops in general, I have always found that Pentium M laptops (Intel 855 or 915 mainboard chipsets) nearly always have a miniPCI slot and not a miniPCIe slot. Dual-core laptops (Intel 945 and later chipsets) are just the opposite - miniPCIe only.

    === Keyboard

    Looks like the same standard black/graphite-colored keyboard as the CF-73 and CF-29, but where those units' keyboards have two connectors (internally), the CF-51's keyboard has only one. Keyboard can be swapped with one from a CF-50.

    The CF-51 does not support a backlit keyboard of any kind. Backlit keyboards need a third connector for power, and so we speculate that a backlit keyboard would fit in the space, and would function as a keyboard, but would never light up.

    === Battery/Media Pocket (MP)

    Main battery: Same as the CF-29
    Media pocket: Same batteries, optical drives, and other modules as the CF-73

    Note: By all means, feel free to purchase used batteries, but know that it's strongly recommended by forum regulars that you buy only actual Panasonic batteries, and not any of these cheaper no-name batteries that are so prevalent online. Check the picture for "Panasonic" in the upper-left of the battery's label.

    Also be aware that we have so far no reports of a successful re-cell of a Panasonic battery, due to some aspect of the Panasonic battery's internal microcontroller.

    === Operating Systems and Drivers

    Panasonic seems to have focused on Windows XP for this series, even through the Mk3/Mk3LL. They have some information available through their Vista Upgrade Program, but it's rather complex, and the info is generally not specific to any Toughbook model. It also looks like it was translated from Japanese.

    Keep in mind that Panasonic is still shipping (and their customers are still ordering) rugged Toughbooks with Windows XP... yes, even the CF-74, CF-30, and CF-31.

    Regardless, I installed Windows 7 Professional and Ubuntu 10.10 on my CF-51P with great success.

    Windows 7:
    * Does not have the Radeon X1300 driver by default, but it's available on Windows Update.
    * Same situation with the SmartCard reader.
    * After a full update, you'll still see one unknown device in the Device Manager. This is the Panasonic Hotkey device, with ID ACPI\MAT0019. The following very-helpful site came up on a Google search: ACPI\MAT0019 and ACPI\MAT0020 on Panasonic Toughbooks. I installed the driver he provided (from Panasonic). It's not labeled as such, but I would assume it's either the XP driver for the 51, or a Vista/Win7 driver from a similarly-equipped dual-core Toughbook.

    It's pretty easy to get full functionality from Windows 7 on the CF-51 (Mk3 at least), but see the CF-18mk1 and Windows 7 Howto for more info on the thought process involved in installing Windows 7 on a Toughbook whose only official drivers are for XP. This ought to be especially helpful for those of you with a pre-Mk3 Toughbook, particularly with regard to drivers for video chipsets and Panasonic-specific devices.

    I have confirmed that the following "incorrect" drivers will install correctly:
    * CF-52 Mk1 (Vista), "Panasonic Common Components Application" [installed on a CF-51 Mk3]
    * CF-52 Mk1 (Vista), "Touch Pad Driver" [installed on a CF-51 Mk3]

    See the following on WikiSpaces for one user's experience with dual-booting Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.10 on a CF-51 Mk2LL: http://toughbook.wikispaces.com/CF-51

    More OS and driver info to be posted later.
     
  2. toughasnails

    toughasnails Toughbook Moderator Moderator

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    Wow, very good job. Rep to you. Not sure if you seen this or not http://forum.notebookreview.com/panasonic/526150-cf-51-cpu-upgrading.html but my CF-51 MK3LL is now a Core 2 Duo T7200 2.0 MHz running Windows 7.

    Update: I have now upgraded to the T7600 2.33MHz and it runs great but for the price the T7200 will give you more bang for your buck
    T7200 - $40.00
    T7600 - $80.00+
     
  3. OperationDinnerOut

    OperationDinnerOut Notebook Consultant

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    @toughasnails: I added your link to the relevant section. Thank you!
     
  4. Alex

    Alex Super Moderator

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    Good FAQ guide OperationDinnerOut
    It looks better than my cf-18 FAQ

    This is one of the most confusing toughbooks
    It would be helpful if owners can add to the info here so we have first hand information

    Reading Panasonic's documentation is confusing

    From the info I found
    The mk-1 will except 2GB total ram
    Either a PC2700 compliant RAM module or a PC2100 compliant RAM module can be added.
    Video Memory is confusing as it states 128 MB in one document and 64 MB elsewhere

    MK3 Ram is 4GB max with 128 MB Video Memory
     
  5. capt.dogfish

    capt.dogfish The Curmudgeon

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    Great job, thanks for your effort. However, I think you are incorrect in your warning on power supply.

    "* 15.6V, 8.0A, part number CF-AA1683AM , common with the CF-52 and CF-74
    * Same connector as the previous CF-51 series, but the input current (and thus wattage) are much higher. I've used the IBM power supply successfully to power my CF-51P, but be very aware that running a power supply that far above its ratings may very well start a fire. Please be careful, and don't leave your non-standard setup unattended!"

    I'm not sure what you mean by "input current", and the Toughbook doesn't care about the higher amperage, it will just use what it needs. Your lighting circuits in your house are probably 15 or 20amp, but that doesn't mean they will blow a 60 watt light bulb. Its the voltage which can get you in trouble. There are Sony and IBM power supplies out there which match the TB voltage requirements and have matching plugs, and there are almost identical ones which are 20v and have been known to blow fuses on Toughbooks.
    CAP
     
  6. Driller

    Driller Notebook Evangelist

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    Dinner out is a GO! loved that movie, well written and executed, both the movie and your information, another way to deal with the china connection, Still would love to know was this model "duplicated" as so many other laptops are from the chinese connection as it states on the bottom assembled in USA of foriegn components. When we hear from Rusty we'll learn of details of the T7500 mobile cpu upgrade, which probably involves a bios upgrade or some tricks he figured out. I think he set us to searching for this on our own which is a good thing. Looking forward to hearing from him soon. You did a great job in this organized listing of the cf-51. I confirm toughasnails with the T7200 upgrade and look for the elusive T7500 pathway. thanks Operation Dinner Out, you and the movie got class.............Driller
     
  7. ohlip

    ohlip Toughbook Modder

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    Well done., man! But with regards to keyboard. The keyboard of cf-51 is different from CF-73,Cf-29 and others. It only share with the CF-50 unit with the same one cable ribbon on it.

    On battery: At least on my behalf, I use the battery of CF-30 to one of my CF-51(dual core) not sure to single core but it works like a champ. You just need to take out the little plastic bump on it side in oder to slide in inside.


    ohlip
     
  8. OperationDinnerOut

    OperationDinnerOut Notebook Consultant

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    @Tomcat57: I have updated the memory section. I wonder if the discrete-graphics models should all be considered to have 64MB VRAM, if they are not specifically listed as 128MB.

    @capt.dogfish:
    I clarified the wording in that section. What I meant was that the CF-51 itself had a higher input current, and that using a 15.6V or 16V PSU with only a 4.5-5.0A rating could overstress the PSU to the point of it catching on fire - definitely not good. You're quite correct that the laptop will only draw as much current as it needs.

    Take a look at that section now, and see if it reads a little better!

    @ohlip:
    I have updated the keyboard section to reflect this. So, the CF-51 keyboard looks just like the 29/73 keyboard, but has only one connector instead of two. Anyone know why that is? Can the two-connector keyboard be used in a CF-51, with the second connector unused?

    I'm not familiar with the CF-30 (though I wish I were!). Where is this "bump" you refer to? On the CF-30 battery? Inside the CF-51 itself?
     
  9. toughasnails

    toughasnails Toughbook Moderator Moderator

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    On the CF-30 Battery, check out the picture of the CF-30 battery.
     

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  10. OperationDinnerOut

    OperationDinnerOut Notebook Consultant

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    Regarding the CF-30 battery -
    Is that bump easily removable? With the battery continue to work properly with the CF-30 after one modifies it in this way?

    Also, on a related note... Will the CF-29/51 batteries work normally with a CF-30? How about the CF-52?
     
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