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Maximum PC Staff

Mar 10, 2010

Lenovo ThinkPad T400s

At A Glance

Porsche

Lightweight and sturdy build; ergonomic keyboard; good on-the-go performance.

Hyundai Genesis

Isn't as light as ultraportables; SSD can be persnikety with some apps.

While there are plenty of notebooks that can lay claim to stylishness, whether it’s with a sleek, metallic chassis or a trendy graphic enveloping the chassis, the Lenovo ThinkPad T400s foregoes the fashionable aesthetics in favor of comfort, performance, and reliability.

Though it’s outfitted in simple, unassuming black matte, this lightweight gem sports a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP9400 processor and a 128GB SSD drive with 2GB of memory, along with a mixture of other hardware delights, including a USB/eSata port, a 14.1-inch LED-backlit WXGA display, and an optical drive. The T400s also comes equipped with an ergonomic keyboard that’s extremely comfortable for typing on for extended periods of time and includes the ThinkPad’s standard TrackPoint navigation system, as well as a Multi-touch Touchpad.

The T400s features a Magnesium alloy bottom cover and keyboard bezel to provide absorbent shock protection to the motherboard, which means you’ll never have to worry about dropping your laptop bag on the floor or accidentally banging the ThinkPad against something. Since we reviewed the 128GB  SSD model (120GB and 250GB 5,400rpm HDD options are also available), there is the added bonus of having no moving parts that could be damaged in a fall. The T400s also boasts a smaller, slimmer  formfactor than its predecessors, though it weighs about a pound more than the lightest ultraportables available today. We can definitely appreciate its durability, especially since it’s made out of carbon- and glass-fiber—the same material used in sports cars and commercial air planes.

Whether its benchmark scores are those of a sports car is another thing entirely. Our gaming benchmarks proved that the T400s is strictly a work and productivity machine.  As far as photo editing and video encoding go, the ThinkPad surpassed our zero-point rig in the Photoshop and ProShow benchmarks, with scores that were better by 54 percent and 36 percent, respectively.  But it did only slightly better than our zero-point converting video in MainConcept and actually lagged behind that aged machine in Premiere Pro—we attribute this to the fact that the T400s contains an SSD, some of which have been known to fumble in write-speed tests.

The ThinkPad is generously equipped with three USB 2.0 ports, including the aforementioned eSATA hybrid, a 5-in-1 media card, a 34mm Express Card slot, and an integrated 2MP camera. The T400s also includes a VGA port, making it easy to hook it up to most projectors, and the 6-cell battery provided a good three hours of continuous video—not the best in its class, but just enough to finish a three hour tear jerker.

The new T400s definitely extends the ThinkPad X300’s experience and incorporates everything we enjoy out of the ThinkPad family. Relying on this ultraportable as your primary machine depends on your intent; if you’re planning on doing on-the-go video editing and other compute-intensive chores, consider an alternative. But if you are looking for an all-around sturdy machine that can perform your typical work or school functions and be transported with ease, the T400s is a worthy product.

Specifications

Lenovo ThinkPad T400s
CPU 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP9600
RAM 2GB DDR3/1067 MHz
Hard Drive
Toshiba 128GB SSD
Screen 14.1 inch LED backlit WXGA
Lap/Carry Weight
3 lbs 15 oz; 4lbs 9 oz
Benchmarks

Zero-Point Notebook
Lenovo ThinkPad T400s
Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)
1860
2400
Photoshop CS3 (sec)
237
154.3
ProShow (sec)
2416
1775
MainConcept (sec) 3498
3285
Fear (fps)
14
7
Quake 4 (fps)
29.1
15.9
Best scores are bolded. Our zero-point notebook uses a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo E6700, 2GB of DDR2/667 RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a GeForce Go 8600M, and Windows Vista Home Premium. 
THE VERDICT

Lenovo ThinkPad T400s

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