If you are in the market for a business laptop that has a nondescript design, have a look at the Lenovo ThinkPad T430 which is following the company’s tradition of valuing form over function. As you would expect from a ThinkPad model, the build quality is excellent and the exterior of the laptop is wrapped around in a carbon fiber reinforced plastic that does not show any signs of flex. The lid’s back is a little bit rubberized while the rest of the system adopts a finely textured surface which is nice to feel. If you like glossy plastics, this isn’t the laptop to get since there aren’t any shiny areas which is why the T430 doesn’t look that attractive on a retailer’s shelf.
Thanks to the use of a metal roll cage that supports the inside of the chassis, the Lenovo ThinkPad T430 is rock solid and is one of the most durable laptops we’ve ever seen. This kind of quality cannot be found on a consumer laptop or other more affordable notebooks. The hinges of the display are made from metal which make the display quite firm so it won’t wobble while you are typing.
Since this is a full-fledged business notebook, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that the list of ports and connectivity features is quite long. Let’s do a 360-degree view of the T430 and see what’s what. The front of the laptop is quite simple as you won’t find anything except for the display latch. At the back things are considerably busier as this is where Lenovo has put the Gigabit Ethernet, AC power jack, battery pack, cooling exhaust vent and a USB 2.0 “always on” port.
On the left spine sits the VGA port, cooling exhaust vent, miniDisplayPort with audio, a headphone and microphone combo jack, along with two USB 3.0 ports. The right side of the Lenovo ThinkPad T430 is home for the Kensington Lock slot, USB 2.0 port, Wi-Fi on/off switch, a four-in-one memory card reader, DVD burner, ExpressCard/34 slot and a SmartCard reader.
The 14-inch display has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels as standard but for more money you could opt for the 1,600 x 900-pixel resolution screen. Both versions are wearing a matte coating which makes the laptop more suitable for a bright office as it will not create those annoying reflections. This screen is not that great since the colors are a little bit grayish while the black levels are not as deep as we would have hoped.
On either side of the keyboard there are stereo speakers which provide the quality that you would expect from a laptop. At a higher volume the sound is distorted while the bass is almost unnoticeable. We remind you that the T430 comes with a headphone and microphone combo jack which means that these two are not separated.
This is the first time for a ThinkPad laptop to be offered with a backlight keyboard, aside from the traditional Think Light which is still here. The keyboard is a little bit better from what we’ve seen from Lenovo, adopting the island-style layout with the extra room between the keys. Compared to the regular ThinkPad keyboards, the one on the T430 provides a more clicky sound while the feedback is very good.
An important drawback of the keyboard would have to be that the Page Up, Page Down, Home and End buttons are not clustered in a nice and organized group as these are all over the keyboard. As far as the touchpad is concerned, this has remained pretty much the same but its dimpled surface is now a bit more pronounced. In the center of the keyboard you’ll see find the red TrackPoint while below the touchpad are the left and right mouse buttons.
There are many configurations available for this model, including the $1,300 version which comes as we were saying earlier with a 14-inch 720p anti-glare display. This model runs on a third-gen Intel Core i5-3320M dual core CPU clocked at 2.60 GHz (up to 3.30 GHz with Turbo Boost) and packs 8 GB of DDR3 memory (16GB MAX), while for graphics it has an integrated Intel HD 4000 with shared system memory.
In the storage department it is configured with a speedy 500GB hard drive from Hitachi which spins at 7,200 rpm. Your wireless necessities will be covered by the Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 and Bluetooth 4.0. Also on board are an HD webcam and an internal tray-load DVD burner. With the massive nine-cell lithium-ion battery, the Lenovo ThinkPad T430 measures 13.8 x 9.1 x 1.2 inches and tips the scales at 4.77 lbs. This version is about $500 more expensive in comparison to the entry-level model. For more money you can get it with the backlit keyboard, the high-res display and a dedicated graphics card from Nvidia.
There’s a small fan located on the laptop’s left side which does a good job at handling the heat without getting noisy at all. This fan will remain off most of the time and while it’s not silent when running at full speed, the noise won’t bother you while you’re working.
We end our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad T430 review by talking about that huge nine-cell (94 Wh) battery which is an optional feature of the model. The reviewers from Notebookreview.com have tested the laptop with this battery and they have reached to the conclusion that it lasts for no less than 15 hours in Windows 7 with the balanced power profile activated, Wi-Fi active, 70% screen brightness, as well as doing a web page refresh once every minute. This has to be one of the best laptops on sale today as far as the performance of the battery is concerned so if you are constantly travelling, the ThinkPad T430 from Lenovo is the laptop to get since it can stay for a long time away from a power outlet.
If you have decided to get this business laptop, we highly recommend that you spend the extra money to get the version with the 1,600 x 900-pixel resolution screen since you get 33% more screen real estate which will significantly improve your work productivity.