Review of the IBM ThinkPad R51e

IBM ThinkPad R51 Budget Laptop

The IBM ThinkPad R51e has been discontinued for quite some time. It may still be possible to find older laptops like this in the used market but they are generally not good investments. If you happen to be looking for a new low-cost laptop system, we recommend reading our Best Laptops Under $500 list to see some that are currently available.

The Bottom Line

Lenovo's IBM ThinkPad R51e is in major need of an update as the specifications are far below that of competing budget laptop computer systems.


  • Sturdy Design
  • Excellent Keyboard


  • Only 256MB Memory
  • Dated Processor
  • Small Capacity Hard Drive


  • Intel Celeron M 360 (1.4GHz) Processor
  • 256MB PC2-4200 DDR2 Memory
  • 40GB 4200rpm Hard Drive
  • 24x CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive
  • 15-inch XGA (1024x768) LCD
  • Radeon Xpress 200M Integrated Graphics with 128MB Shared Memory
  • v.92 56Kbps Modem, 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11b/g Wireless
  • Two USB 2.0, One Type II PC Card Slot and Express Card/54 Slot
  • 13.1" x 10.6&" x 1.5" @ 6.6 lbs.
  • Windows XP Home and ThinkVantage Suite

Guide Review - IBM ThinkPad R51e

Apr 19 2006 - The IBM ThinkPad R51e is powered by an Intel Celeron M 360 processor. This processor is much slower than the higher level Celeron M, Pentium M, and even Core processors that are found in competing budget notebook systems. To make matters worse, the system only comes equipped with 256MB of PC2-4200 DDR2 memory. This is the bare minimum that should be used in a system running Windows XP and users will encounter a lot of slowdowns running applications unless the memory is upgraded.

Storage is also quite poor for the ThinkPad R51e. The system comes with a fairly small 40GB hard drive that spins at the slower 4200rpm rate reducing its performance. If you have a large number of applications and data files that you need to store, you are going to run into issues unless you elect to use an external drive through one of the USB 2.0 ports. Along with this, the system uses a 24x CD-RW/DVD combo drive rather than a DVD burner that is becoming more frequent on low-cost notebooks.

Because the R series ThinkPad design was made several year ago, the system continues to use the traditional 15-inch LCD panel instead of the widescreen versions. It is powered by the ATI Radeon Xpress 200 integrated graphics. This poses a bit of a problem as the graphics shares the system memory and can use as much as 128MB of the already limited system memory. While it is fine for standard Windows desktop graphics, it lacks any real performance for 3D applications or games.

If there is one thing going for the ThinkPad R51e it is the reliability of a tested design. The sturdy case and excellent keyboard have been used for years and have shown that they can withstand usage. Now Lenovo just needs to get the specifications more in line with other similarly priced notebooks.