How to set up an external widescreen LCD monitor with an IBM ThinkPad

ThinkPadR50

  1. download latest video drivers from ATI
  2. download DriverHeaven’s DH Mobility Modder.net tool and follow the instructions (as summarised here)
  3. uninstall current drivers supplied by IBM / Lenovo
  4. install new drivers – this step will most likely fail, but should at least copy the driver files to the computer
  5. unzip Mobility Modder zip file and run the MobilityDotNET.exe file
  6. point the modder tool at the directory where the drivers were installed and let the tool do its magic
  7. run the video driver setup program – it should now work and install the drivers!
  8. you might need to install the monitor definition files that came with your external screen as well

The only thing I haven’t got working yet is to get IBM’s Presentation Director to recognise the new resolutions available on the external monitor – although I did work around this by configuring the screens directly using ATI’s Catalyst Control Center and then using the “Capture” facility in Presentation Director to set that as “My Normal Display Settings” (which unfortunately you cannot duplicate to generate multiple configurations).

A bit of background:

My parents are staying with us at the moment, and Dad brought his IBM ThinkPad R50 with him. He decided to buy a new external monitor so we went to the local computer store and he chose a new Samsung 20″ widescreen LCD monitor (1680×1050 resolution).

Unfortunately, when we went to connect it to his R50, the laptop wouldn’t recognise the new widescreen resolution. I tried loading the monitor drivers that came with the screen, but that didn’t help. I tried updating all the other laptop drivers (especially video) from IBM, but that didn’t help either … the laptop simply didn’t recognise what resolutions the screen could do.

After some searching on Google, I came across the DriverHeaven website and their DH Mobility Modder.net tool.

Apparently ATI deliberately prevent OEM machines (eg laptops with ATI chips embedded like the ATI MOBILITY RADEON 7500 in the ThinkPad R50) from downloading and installing drivers directly from ATI – they expect you to get them from the PC manufacturer (which is normally good enough) … however, when the laptop manufacturer fails to include support for new monitor resolutions running on the external VGA display – it becomes an issue.

Fortunately DriverHeaven’s tool will trick the installer into thinking it’s just a regular PC and not an OEM model, and so will allow the drivers (which generally work very well) to be installed, with all the support for the new screen resolutions available in modern monitors.

Once installed, I was able to use the Catalyst Control Center to configure the external screen – and it worked a treat.

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