Lenovo ThinkPad T420s review

Tom Morgan
26 Mar 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

A powerful and versatile laptop, but poor battery life and business-specific graphics mean it should only appeal to professionals



14 in 1,600x900 display, 1.7kg, 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-2640M, 4.00GB RAM, 160GB disk, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

If there’s one word we would use to describe Lenovo’s ThinkPad range, it’s 'consistent'. The chassis might have got thinner and the components inside are definitely faster, but the T420s looks every bit the same as any other laptop in the range. Its black plastic finish is understated and business-like, which is appropriate considering it’s aimed more at professionals than the home user.

Lenovo ThinkPad T420s

Don’t let the rather plain exterior put you off, as there are some powerful components underneath. An Intel Core i7-2640M running at 2.8GHz, 4GB of RAM and a 160GB SSD should be fast enough to challenge low-end desktop PCs in certain applications, particularly when the processor uses Turbo Boost to reach 3.5GHz. An overall score of 65 in our multimedia benchmark shows the T420s is quick enough for all but the most intensive tasks.

Graphics performance is split between the integrated GPU on Intel’s processor and a dedicated Nvidia NVS 4200M graphics chipset. The NVS 4200M is designed to adhere to the certification process required by many professional applications, so is more suited to CAD work than gaming – in our Dirt 3 test, it could only manage a paltry 14fps. There's no GPU-switching technology to use the processor's less power-hungry graphics chipset, and the T420s's battery life is poor - three and a half hours in our light-use test is far less than we'd expect.

Lenovo ThinkPad T420s

The T420s's screen is a real highlight - its 1,600x900 resolution made both images and text looked pin-sharp. A matte coating also helps diffuse light reflections, so we weren’t distracted by the overhead fluorescent tubes in our office. Colours were mostly accurate, although the disappointing viewing angles meant they only looked their best from a face-on position. There’s a huge amount of screen tilt, so it's easy to find an angle that suits you and to get comfortable with the laptop on a plane or train.

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