- ProsComfortable backlit keyboard. Dual pointing devices. Durable. Full set of I/O ports.
- ConsRelatively short battery life. Battery is not removable. Lacks USB-C.
- Bottom LineThe Lenovo ThinkPad T460s is slimmer and lighter than its predecessor, and is a prime example of what your mobile office workers need in a business laptop.
Joel Santo Domingo
The Lenovo ThinkPad T460s (starting at $980.10; $1,362.60 as tested) is the latest in a long line of Lenovo business laptops. This Windows 10 PC occupies a sweet spot: modern enough to remain relevant for several years, but priced less at than $1,500. It’s geared to please the majority of office workers, and can fulfill their need for a laptop that’s both new and familiar. It can’t match the portability or battery life of our top pick, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but nevertheless the T460s should be high on your list if you need to purchase a fleet of laptops to satisfy offices from five to 5,000 employees.
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Design and Features
Outwardly, the ThinkPad T460s resembles last year’s ThinkPad T450s, at least from where the user sits. It has the same keyboard, TrackPoint, and TrackPad layout, along with the wide expanse of palm rest that feels like velvet when compared with the hard aluminum deck of the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display and HP EliteBook Folio G1. The biometric fingerprint reader has been relocated to the palm rest, but if you’ve used a ThinkPad T series laptop in the past 10 years, this layout will seem quite familiar.
The laptop is constructed of a combination of materials, including carbon fiber in the lid and magnesium alloy in the base. These substances help keep the weight down to 3.09 pounds, but the system is still MIL-STD 810G certified to withstand vibration, dust, altitude, temperature swings, and electrostatic discharges. It will also shrug off a bit of liquid spilled onto the keyboard, as well as the occasional drop to the floor. It measures 0.74 by 13 by 8.9 inches (HWD), so you can easily slip it in between a binder and your spare shirt in your commute bag.
Though it has an antiglare coating on its display, the T460s has a 10-point touch sensor underneath. That’s a remarkable contrast to the glass-covered, glossy LCD panels of most touch-enabled laptops, such as the HP EliteBook Folio G1. Plus, reflections won’t obscure the screen, even in a brightly lit room. The screen rotates 180 degrees, so you can lay the laptop flat on your work surface. This makes the T460s ideal for showing small presentations, say, in a board meeting.
Entry-level models come with a full HD (1,920-by-1,080 resolution) non-touch screen, but our review unit was equipped with a touch screen at the same resolution. There’s a 2,560-by-1,440-resolution non-touch model available, for $95 more than the full HD touch screen. Full HD will fulfill most business needs, since that screen can easily display two Word documents side-by-side. Graphic design workers and spreadsheet jockeys should pick the WQHD screen, as on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
Connectivity is excellent. On the left side of the laptop, you’ll find the power and headset jacks, a single USB 3.0 port, and an SD card reader. On the opposite side are the Ethernet, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, and two additional USB 3.0 ports, plus a Kensington lock port, a SIM card slot for the optional WWAN module, and space for an optional smart card reader. There’s also a docking port on the bottom of the system, for Lenovo’s ThinkPad Ultra Dock ($269.99). You can connect wirelessly via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.
The thin body is attractive, but it also means that Lenovo had to eschew removable battery options. The T460s has a sealed battery that can’t be simply swapped out when you run out of juice, as on the ThinkPad T450s. If the battery life were longer, it wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but as we’ll discuss below, you may need to keep your AC adapter handy if you need to stay on top of things all day.
You get 8GB of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) for storage. Thankfully, there isn’t a lot of extra software installed beyond Windows 10 Pro and a few Lenovo utilities. The T460s has a one-year warranty, which is much shorter than the three years you get with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and half the duration of the warranty on the Acer TravelMate P645-SG-79QV.
An Intel Core i5-6300U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 powers the ThinkPad T460s. As a result, the system was able to put in a good showing on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test with a better-than-average score of 2,894 points, putting it ahead of competitors like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2,733), Dell Latitude 14 5000 Series (E5450) (2,670), and HP EliteBook Folio 1020 (1,424). That’s fitting, considering that the T460s was built with business tasks like office document creation, Web browsing, and video conferencing in mind. The T460s also fared better than average on 3D tests, though you wouldn’t necessarily use gaming performance as a judge of a business PC.
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Multimedia tests were quite good, too—the laptop topped the charts on the Handbrake video encoding test (2 minutes, 21 seconds) and CineBench 3D rendering test (309 points). It lagged the leaders on the Photoshop test (4:49), but its time was still about average among business laptops on that test, ranging from the speedy Acer Travelmate P645-SG-79QV (needing 4:05) to the slightly more sluggish HP EliteBook 745 G3 (5:52).
Relatively disappointing on our battery rundown test, the T460s lasted 7 hours, 16 minutes, which is 44 minutes short of what we’d consider as all-day computing. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon (10:13) and the latest Apple MacBook (11:37) both last quite a bit longer. That deficiency is compounded by the fact that you can’t swap a fresh battery into the T460s once you deplete the one that’s sealed inside.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T460s is a good laptop to purchase for the majority of your office workers. It has the dual pointing devices that old hands need, a comfortable keyboard for long typing sessions, and a decent array of I/O ports. But despite costing $171 more, the Lenovo X1 Carbon remains our top pick for business laptops given higher-resolution screen, lighter body, more robust battery life, and longer warranty. The 1080p HD version of the HP EliteBook Folio G1 is even lighter and less expensive ($1,469 as tested), but offers limited connectivity and a shorter battery life than the X1 Carbon.
By Joel Santo Domingo
Joel Santo Domingo is the Lead Analyst for the Desktops team at PC Magazine Labs. He joined PC Magazine in 2000, after 7 years of IT work for companies large and small. His background includes managing mobile, desktop and network infrastructure on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Joel is proof that you can escape the retail grind: he wore a yellow polo shirt early in his tech career. Along the way Joel earned a BA in English Literature and an MBA in Information Technology…