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IBM NetVista X40; Iconic Computer | Nostalgia Nerd

IBM NetVista X40; Iconic Computer | Nostalgia Nerd


IBM’s PC naming conventions, might have had
a bland start. The IBM Personal Computer, IBM XT, IBM AT,
PS/1, PS/2, but by the 90s, IBM had started knocking out appetising names. Thinkpad, Aptiva, NetVista. These are names which intrigue, which immediately
conjour images in the mind, and I’m not just talking about Paul Reiser’s face. These were each pretty ground breaking computer
lines in themselves. Lines which helped re-define IBM after their
losses to clone manufacturers. I mean, they still had the IBM Personal Computer
range, but we’re going to look at the computer which put an end to that. Yes, a computer, defined by some as so iconic,
that the 2019 HBO series Watchmen, decided to use the name as part of canon. In this universe, the IBM NetVista X41 is
the FBI’s cutting edge electronic database, replacing hard copy blue books. A note from FBI Director James Doyan titled
“The Computer and You” notes the advantage of using the new Electronic Mail, word processing
and scanning abilities of the NetVista, over the hard, techno-phobia entrenched ways. But it’s not the only show to make use of
this diverging technology. Take a look at various shows from the early
00’s and you may just see a NetVista knocking about. These elegant machines were compact, stylish,
but above all, looked like the future. Especially in an era when people were starting
to move away from CRTs to flat panel displays. Fast forward 20 years, and well, they still
look pretty sweet. This is an X40 model. I picked it up on eBay for under £100, but
back in the day, this thing would have cost you a pretty penny, even for the base model. High prices and over engineered devices was
a staple for Big Blue. In 1994 the IBM Aptiva range of home computers
was launched, replacing the PS/1 line, and adding some funky finesse into the bargain. Check out that sliding panel. What a thing of intrigue & elegance, well,
until they all started to break. But since losing so much desktop market in
the late 80s, this was their new approach; diverging from the norm. Creating machines that stood out, and for
the most part, bar some atrocious advertising campaigns, it worked. The Aptiva line was a success, appealing to
the casual, and perhaps new, PC user, who wanted something nice, something quality. This appeal lasted throughout the 90s, but
by the end, clone manufacturers were one again serving up both a sweeter, and cheaper slice
of pie. Sticking to their dual marketing tradition;
Running parallel to the Aptiva was the somewhat blander, IBM PC Series, aimed at business,
and a replacement to their PS/2 line. These machines looked nice enough, but they
were very much tuned for the corporate world. A world, which, again, up until the late 90s,
was awash with cream and beige PC boxes, featuring a familiar chunky CRT stacked on top. With both these lines looking long in the
tooth, in the summer of 2000, IBM decided to create a single, unifying platform to tie
both their home and business marketing methods together. Their solution, was the NetVista range; borrowing
from the NetVista thin client machines launched earlier that year. Although originally the NetVista named was
used simply for a client/server and internet software suite from 1996. It seems as though IBM really wanted to hang
onto the name. This new, encompassing range now provided
a choice of machines suitable for both home, office and even kiosk use. These weren’t any old boxes, in fact borrowing
a lot of design and naming elements from their portable line; the bolder, and highly successful
ThinkPad, designed by Richard Sapper. To appease those scared of change, models
were initially available in the standard pearl-grey colouring, but were quickly superseded by
black shrouded numbers. NetVistas were available in a standard desktop
format, called the M range or a tower setup; the A line. But if you felt really snazzy, then you could
pick up an elegant all-in-one designs, pre-fixed as the X series, which not only sounded cooler,
but gave a subtle nod to the integrated XGA TFT display. And all this was necessary, because the real
driver was not only clone manufacturers, but, Apple, bringing aesthetic to the forefront
with their iMacs. Having a rectangular box as your PC was starting
to look a little, well, naff. Of course, the added elegance would cost you
more – significantly more – and consumers didn’t seem to care that this additional cost
actually limited your future options. This is the net Netvista X40i, and it’s the first in new line of internet capable, sort of legacy free systems from IBM. Now this one has a built in LCD, an all in one; the first one we’ve seen from IBM All the computer guts, sit right behind the LCD screen. Now there a couple of things to like about this system, and unfortunately, a lot not to like… The thing we really don’t like about this system is how you get inside to add more memory, or access 2 mini PCI slots Not all reviews were this damming, and actually,
it was quite praised in some magazine and even on user forums. So, let’s take a closer look ourselves and
form an opinion; [Suitable panning music] Released in August 2000, this X40 is a machine
conjured by the aforementioned industrial designer, Richard Sapper. Hence why, we’re again breaking from the shackles
of Peal-Grey. Just like the ThinkPad, the NetVista X40 has
a number of clever and elegant solutions; Pressing this button, will drop down the CD-ROM
and disk drive bay. Offering an elegant, and polished solution
to those bulky and clumsy media disks. I mean, who needs them anyway, this is the
21st century! For space saving, IBM opted for a laptop style
DVD drive here, which although a bit more flimsy, works well enough. What doesn’t work as well is this whole drop
down section. It would appear that my unit’s 20 years have
been have been a harsh 20 years, and it can take a bit of force to pull it down. The side of the monitor reveals several USB
1.1 ports, which make them easy to access, although can distract from the look when you’ve
got wires aplenty coming out. It would be like Medusa’s head. We can also access our audio ports here, although
we do get built in speakers, tucked neatly underneath the drive bay. The rear of the system has a few more USB
ports, but you’ll see no parallel or serial here. Not that IBM ever liked them. This is one of the earliest machines to completely
do away with most of the conventional sockets, in favour of almost pure USB. A bold choice, especially as this is still
very much the early days of USB, and with USB 2.0 only appearing in April of 2000, IBM
have suck with version 1.1. What we do still have are PS/2, ethernet and
modem ports. These are tucked right away underneath the
monitor, and if you weren’t told they were there, you’d probably have no idea. The monitor can also be tilted slightly, which
is nice. The keyboard I have, is almost the correct
model, but it misses a couple of features, including volume and media controls to the
top right. But, it’s still the same basic design, and
is designed to tuck away entirely under the monitor. The idea being that, you can then easily transport
the X40 from desk to desk, using the built in carry handle. Slightly later iterations, namely the X40i,
had fully wireless keyboards with numerous extra media and command buttons. Unfortunately, I also don’t have the original
IBM scroll-point mouse, but this Microsoft USB mouse serves the same purpose. The whole unit is a sleek and inviting affair,
being aesthetically pleasing and bold, without incorporating the garishness seen on some
other stand out computers of the time. You could even get a desk support radial arm
that the entire system could attach to, leaving you with as much desk space as you need. Although if you have a later model, such as
the X41, you might find yourself with a massive power brick, rather than the excellent built
in power supply of the X40. I suspect this was needed for uprated power
requirements, but it doesn’t half detach from the sleekness and mobility of this original
outing. In fact, we should look inside, just so you
can see how densely packed this thing is. Getting into the base is incredibly easy. Just remove this piece of plastic, but really,
other than the power supply and some ribbon cables for the floppy and DVD drive, there’s
not a lot down here. The actual guts are behind the screen itself. The actual design was far less screw packed
than previous computers, meaning you just have to remove a couple of panels, loosen
a couple of screws around the monitor, and you’re in, The back panel then gives you further
instructions for getting to the real guts. Essentially, remove this hard-drive, a Quantum
Fireball no less, loosen these finger screws, remove this panel, and you have the custom
motherboard within. Nestled neatly behind the 15″ screen we have
a custom IBM motherboard, made in Taiwan, and it’s expectantly cut down from what you’d
expect on a PC at this time. Running an SiS630 chipset with a 133MHz bus
speed, this thing has a 128 bit SIS-305 video core, which was far from state of the art,
but could push some reasonable 3D, although it does borrow a chunk of system memory. Memory, which in this case consists of 2 128MB
168-pin DIMM modules. We’ve got the Intel Pentium III clocked at
667MHz under that heatsink, with the fan actually attached to the other side of the case. There was a Celeron version available too,
but no-one wants that. We’ve got the EIDE connection here at the
top, with the ribbon cable for the DVD drive above it. The screen is connected straight to the motherboard,
so your choices of connecting an external screen are somewhat limited. Interestingly down here, we’ve got 2 mini
PCI slots, currently with a modem installed in one, and the other free, for, well, anything
that you can fit in these half height slots. Sound is again integrated, with a Cirrus Logic
CS 4299 processor, featuring 3D sound, which isn’t too shabby coming from the integrated
speakers. Oh, the Quantum Fireball I removed earlier
is 20Gigs, which isn’t half bad for the time. Plenty of space for some game installs, if
you fancy it. Anyway, after removing the coin battery, which
was just beginning to corrode, getting this thing back together was pretty simple, and
that’s despite what some reviewers claimed. We spent about an hour trying to line the screws up, and it would not line up… So, if you do buy one of these, do’n’t ever open it up! Because you’ll never get it closed. This thing is never going back together again that’s a real bad design problem, right there It
also revealed what these pipe like features on the back are. They simply make room for those PCI slots,
even though, initially, it looks like some kind of sweet cooling system. Alright, let’s boot this thing up, and see
what’s what. Maybe remove this sticker first; we know what’s
inside now thanks chap. First, a quick look around the April 2001
AmiBIOS is in order. Pretty standard BIOS for this era. We can tweak the graphics options. Change the USB functionality. Mess about with ROM shadowing. The X41 BIOS, I believe had some more unique
features, such as the ability to lock the drive drop-down bay, and some additional security
and encryption measures, but there’s not much of that on offer here. Now, despite what the sticker says, we’re
actually treated to Windows Millennium edition on this baby. I say treated. It’s here. That’s about as far as I’ll go. BUT, being ME, it comes with all the desktop
themes, and screensavers from previous Plus! packs, and of all the PCs, surely THIS is
the one to make use of the Computer theme. Given the guts of the thing are literally
behind the screen. This wallpaper is perfect. One thing to note, is that the sound of the
Quantum Fireball is absolutely exquisite. I’m gonna run a Defrag, just do you can listen
to the archival platted ecstasy of this little drive…. that’s something isn’t it? It’s a fairly clean install, so the defrag
doesn’t take long, and then we can have a play with some settings, games, screensavers. I always like to get acquainted with a machine
in this manner. Just going through standard Windows programs. I always feel like the fluidity and pace of
the screensavers helps me gauge just how fast each machine is, and well, this one seems
to get along just fine. I can’t imagine having any problems with this
machine in typical office use. Even the keyboard offers a satisfying click
and responsiveness. Maybe no the best. But certainly not the worst keyboard of the
time. But, really, I need to run some bench-marking,
so here’s a copy of 3D Mark 2001, and this is the demo provided. As you can see, we’re not exactly getting
double figures in the Frames Per Second. This is the era where you could get away with
games running at between 10 and 15 frames per second. BUT 3, probably not so great. Yeah, this really isn’t machine suited for
the cutting edge of gaming at the time. It’s benchmark of 281 is distinctly on the
below average side. But, I reckon it’ll still play some games
from the late ’90s and even 2000’s well enough to get by. *Spon*
Ok, we’ve just gotta stop there, so I can thank this video’s sponsor; SkillShare I’ve now been using Skillshare for a few months,
and already I’ve got a LOT from it. The beauty of it, is you can learn almost
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Premium Membership to the first 500 people who click the link in the description box,
to help you explore your creativity. After that it’s only around $10 per month. Nice. OK. Back to the main event! *Spon*
What have we got here… Thief II, let’s give that a go. Now this is a game from 2000. It requires a 3D card, but doesn’t have the
most demanding specifications. But I’m gonna try it at full resolution and
see what we get…. Actually, it’s not that bad. Motion is pretty smooth, well about 15fps
most of the time. Which, WAS acceptable back then. Of course, at a lower resolution, it would
be smooth as southern gravy, so I’m happy with that. Tomb Raider III. Again, full resolution, 1024×768, and it’s
running like a dream. Perfectly playable. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. Same thing. I’m starting to really quite like this X40. Ok, how about the devastatingly, hardware
shattering phenomenon that is SHEEP. Well, blow me, it runs like a dream. Finally. Prince of Persia 3D. Well, apart from some sound issues on the
intro video. Which, is probably down to drivers, it works
splendidly. This could turn out to be a go to gaming machine
for late 90s entertainment. Fits on the desk nice. Looks nice. Boots nice. Plays nice. Sounds nice. I think in all honesty, had I owned this in
the year 2000, I would have been thrilled, and owning it today, well, I think I’m even
more thrilled. It might not be the fastest kid on the block,
but it’s elegance almost makes up for it. The screen is crisp, defined. The keyboard is nice. I could get used to this. But what happened to this IBM range. What was the fate of the NetVista line? Everything that has a beginning, has an end,
and for IBM’s NetVista, that end wasn’t too far away. The peak of the range was the X41 model, featuring
a 1.8GHz Pentium 4 coupled with an ATi Rage 128 display processor. It was a slightly more bulky model, that didn’t
really offer that much more in scope or potential. The limited flexibility of the range meant
the line was always going to be short lived, and by 2004, the IBM ThinkCentre had replaced
it. These machines had the space and flexibility
to incorporate the bulky and hot Pentium 4 line, without being too fussy. By 2005, IBM would leave the market entirely,
selling it’s personal computing business to Lenovo, who continued the line for several
years. I like to think of the NetVista as IBM’s last
flourish in a personal computing domain which they, really created. Their PC technology may have been torn from
them by clone manufacturers, but they created a platform which has lasted to this day, and
the NetVista line was a worthy nod to their previous creative and inspiring technology. As for this X40. Well, I think it has earnt a permanent place
in my office. So expect to see it in future videos to come. Thanks for watching, have a great evening.

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90 thoughts on “IBM NetVista X40; Iconic Computer | Nostalgia Nerd

  1. You should try and find the orngial recovery cds or DVDs for that model of ibm pc that would be a good video

  2. Anyone remember when they were selling IBM Aptiva's on tv? Late 90s – almost 2 year old hardware and they were selling it for $1k

  3. pentium 3 is a bit of a sad era, too young to be really interesting as vintage / retro and too old to have any practical use in modern life.

  4. I used to colour spray my keyboard and pc……anyone else do any self mods?
    I once tried to install my Segamaster system II into a 486 pc SX 33 😀 It was a large flat box and I cut a slot in the top for the cartridge 😀
    It worked well 😀

  5. I had one, great kit, better than iMac by far too, I mean, flatscreen all in one way before the iMac G4 and G5. I still have my Aptiva M and S series, but let the Netvista go sadly… love my Aptiva's. Also, I think XT and AT sound cool, it did mean something remember! I have 4x XTs and 1x AT, and love them, a time when things were built to last! I might have to part with a couple of XTs though, they take up a lot of room!

  6. OMG I was part of a design group for the X41 variations, and EWG (Early Warning Group) for this … what a flashback!

  7. I like your video, but your selection in background noise is quite
    annoying. This irritating "drone" sound had me type this comment and
    quit the video slightly before the 10:00 mark. Please don't use this
    kind of annoying humming sounds again?

  8. Back in the early 00's I worked on quite a lot of MiniPCI cards and systems. So, when the reviewer from that rather negative review talked about getting to the MiniPCI slots (plural) I got a bit excited. Then I got disappointed when I saw that those were in fact not MiniPCI, but just low-profile PCI. And then I got a bit more disappointed when you repeated the mis-naming 🙁 Those aren't MiniPCI slots. They aren't even mini anythings. Just plain low-profile PCI. Loved the video, great presentation as always!

  9. Have you ever tried running a 3D Mark 2001 benchmark on modern hardware?

    I have and the results are crazy 1-2000FPS and a score of up to 115000 3D Marks.

  10. Got to say, this is one of the sexier looking AIOs out there.
    Too bad these things are so expensive, I could totally see those things being more than enough for the average user.

  11. Move a large CRT monitor up three flights of stairs and you may start to understand why people moved to flat panels lol

  12. I bought a NetVista X41 off ebay in 2005 for $250 and made it a dedicated MAME station. It had a ATI Rage 128 Ultra GPU which ran Quake 3 surprisingly quite well.

  13. I'd love to see what expansions you could throw into this thing, just how far it could be pushed as a platform. Talk about some interesting old tech, weird I never saw it growing up though, I'd have been seven or eight when these were popping up I think. All anyone I ever knew had was beige boxes, and always windows 98SE too, or XP later on.

  14. Screw the NetVista, I want to see more of that video with the Gateway Profile. That's the first new information I've seen on the Profile II in years. It's even hard to find pictures of the things.

  15. I picked one of these up a few years ago. I have 98SE on mine, and while it's not a powerhouse it's definitely one of the most reliable computers I've ever used. Also runs Windows 2000 well, which I'm tempted to put back on it at times, but 98 has better compatibility with games of the era, plus the support for DOS/3.1 stuff is much better. A great little machine to be sure.

  16. What is the song that starts at about 15:13? I really need to know. I don't know what it is about it, but I really dig this track.

  17. @1:29 I thought it was funny you pointing out all the cool computers but the characters of the show are all looking at or passing around… paper.

  18. I need one of these. And a pair of fresh fine healthy 12mb Voodoo 2 cards. And the SLI cable. In the year 2000. That's right, send me back in time. Lugging this to a LAN party.. oh right LCD vs CRT :/ cl_framerate 95 and we did Quake 2 like never before

  19. Lovely look at a lovely machine! Their NetVista series is a favorite indeed, and I've always wanted to find one of these all-in-ones.

    Actually never realized the name began as a networking software suite, but it makes perfect sense in hindsight.

  20. 20:30 I had THE SAME sound issues with the intro as a kid, and my PC was decent. So I think you're correct that this isn't a performance issue.

  21. Get a small air compressor nerd, it's 10x more powerful than the cans, and will pay for itself once you've been through 10 cans or so 😉

  22. Love it! Been there, done that, and moved on.
    But, I do love the nostalgia and remembering the beginnings and history.
    Really, well done and, thanks! 🙂

  23. I stand here, right here, and I'm supposed to say something. I say, "Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo."

  24. Ahh yes the IBM X40 these were some pretty good machines for their time, funny story about these is my highschool had a slew of these all throughout the school on a network, a friend and i thoroughly enjoyed hacking into these remotely while being in class and exploiting the many "faults" of windows unstable security issues it had, fun times don't regret it at all. Man I still wish I had some of my old computer's from back in the day, I used to a slew of them in my basement bedroom all setup some were old 386 and 486 machine's and the oldest computer I had was my grandmother's old Tandy 1000 complete with the original King's quest and kings quest 2 👍 sadly I don't have them anymore I donated them to a school that was needing computers at the time and didn't have the budget to buy new ones so at least I know they went to good use.

  25. Keep your ads at the end. Not the middle. Not the middle-end. The very end, without segue. Don't become one of THOSE youtubers.

  26. I've had one of these NetVista AIOs donated to me (exact same model as shown in @6:17) several years ago. It was in fully working order. That thing was built like a tank, really high quality. And it looked great too.
    Sadly, I had to toss it due to lack of storage space.

  27. We need ASMR of that disk. I've got one in my G3 (original hard disk wasn't going too well), and it's absolutely musical.

  28. Really? The lack of flickering, rich color gamut, distortions, and coil noise are more than enough reason to ditch CRTs. And forget about them like a bad dream.

  29. I remember repairing some of those machines under warranty back in the day! The back panel really wasn't very hard to put back on, that reviewer is just a dolt. They were pretty neat machines provided you did mostly basic office stuff or POS type work with them.
    I remember deploying several of the ThinkCentre A50 machines at a local dentist office way back when too. Along with the sale of the PC division to Lenovo in 2005. I was at the IBM/Lenovo Think Open event at Disney World in May of 2005. Those were interesting times since I as a manager/rep of a 3rd party repair facility had a lot of questions.
    I still have my wooden IBM Business Partner plaque hanging up near my home tech bench with 8 different badges on it. Each badges signifying different types of IBM equipment I as a tech was certified to perform warranty support on. 🙂

  30. Man IBM was ahead of time with their design just for the dark color theme of their stuff alone. Everyone else was still beige / dull grey / off white

  31. I remember seeing a lot of these being used as point-of-sale terminals. I wonder if there was a touch-screen option, even way back then? I want to say there was.

  32. That legacy free stuff reminds me how it was probably not the best time back than to be going legacy free when many peripherals where still using some of the old connectors and what not, and some of those things STILL remain today on some computers and if you really need to, you can get addon cards or adapters to connect old devices or modern serial/parallel port stuff for machines and development stuff.

  33. The X41 was a little bit more "normal", just had a mostly-regular mATX board in it with a full set of ports, most people weren't ready to go fully legacy-free just yet. I think it even had a regular VGA cable going to the internal monitor. The massive external brick and Wilamette P4 nuclear reactor kind of ruins it though, would take a high spec P3 over that any day. They weren't even using DDR memory which was quite a damper on the P4.

  34. Speaking of beige, can you get modern but old school looking beige atx cases? I wouldn't mind bringing beige back

  35. mini-pci is what laptops used for things like wifi cards and modems and is definitely not what is inside this computer. Those are standard pci slots that require half-height cards, due to the case.

  36. get an LG 55C9 and you will never wonder why people moved away from CRT's again… and why people might move away from LCD's… though burn-in of OLED could still be an issue

    also stick in a pci TNT2 and it'll run awesome, nice little late-90s gaming machine.

    the sound issues likely from the slow laptop cd drive.

  37. @5:40 Jim Louderback! So great to see him, he was really a great tech journalist and editorial force in the industry back in the day. God, I miss the old days of PC Magazine!

  38. I saw NetVista for about $20 CAD at Value Village very long time ago but unfortunately, I do not buy it because it do not power up.

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