Lenovo's 14-inch ThinkPad T460 is our favorite business laptop overall, because of its epic battery life, tough chassis, solid performance and snappy keyboard. But for those who want a productivity-centric system with a larger screen, the 15.6-inch ThinkPad T560 offers a similarly excellent combination of usability, durability and security. Starting at a reasonable $809 ($1,286.10 as tested), the T560 one-ups its smaller sibling with a numeric keypad for number crunchers, an optional 3K display and over 21 hours of battery life -- the longest of any laptop we've tested.
Design and Durability
The ThinkPad T560 has the same classic, raven-black ThinkPad aesthetic as most of Lenovo's other business laptops. It has only a few dashes of color, provided by its bright-red status light and TrackPoint nub, so it won't wow the hipsters at the coffee shop. However, if you're buying the T560, you're probably more interested in durability and usability than style.
At 4.8 pounds and 14.98 x 10.16 x 0.88 inches, the ThinkPad T560 isn't particularly thin or light. It was a tight fit in my laptop backpack and felt quite large on my lap. The T560's six-cell battery, which we highly recommend because it more than doubles the machine's endurance, adds a noticeable 0.4 pounds to the weight and tilts up the laptop slightly. The 14-inch ThinkPad T460 (3.8 pounds, or 4.2 pounds with the six-cell battery) is exactly a pound lighter.
However, the T560 is lighter and/or slimmer than other 15-inch business laptops in its price range, including the Dell Latitude E5570 (5.6 pounds, 0.9 inches thick) and the Toshiba Tecra A50 (4.8 pounds, 0.95 inches thick). Dell's XPS 15 consumer-targeted laptop is a bit thinner and lighter, at 4.4 pounds and 0.66 inches thick.
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Made from PPS (polyphenylene sulfide) plastic on the lid and deck, and a glass-fiber-reinforced plastic bottom, the ThinkPad T560 is designed to take some punishment. According to Lenovo, the laptop has passed MIL-SPEC durability benchmarks for extreme temperatures, shocks, dust and vibration. The company also says that all of its ThinkPads are made to pass a series of internal bump, drop and lid open/close tests.
Security and Manageability
The ThinkPad T560 has the security and manageability features that many enterprise IT departments require. Built-in Trusted Platform Module (TPM) encryption helps keep your hard drive or BIOS-level password secure. Intel vPro, available if you choose the Core i5-6300U CPU and above, allows IT managers to log in remotely and wipe the hard drive, flash the BIOS or install software. An optional fingerprint reader ($20) works with Windows Hello.
Keyboard, TrackPoint and Touchpad
The ThinkPad T560's spill-resistant keyboard has well-spaced, gently curved keys that provide a deep 2.41 millimeters of travel (1.5 to 2 mm is typical) for comfortable typing. Number crunchers and spreadsheet mavens, in particular, will appreciate the keyboard's dedicated numeric keypad, which has shortcut keys above it for the calculator app, web browser, file explorer and screen lock. The keyboard's backlight, a $40 option, was more than luminous enough in both its low and high brightness modes.
While the overall key feel is better than on most laptops, the tactile feedback wasn't as strong as we've experienced on some other ThinkPads, including the ThinkPad 13 and the X1 Carbon. Nevertheless, I achieved a rate of 96 words per minute with an error rate under 4 percent on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is well in line with my typical score.
Like most ThinkPads, the T560 has a red TrackPoint pointing stick located between its G and H keys. As on other Lenovo laptops, the little eraser-like nub provides extremely accurate navigation and allows you to perform complex movements, such as highlighting text, clicking on a tiny icon or drawing a precise crop box, without even lifting your hands off of the home row.
If you don't like pointing sticks, the ThinkPad T560's 3.9 x 2.2-inch buttonless touchpad will more than suffice. In our tests, the pad allowed us to move seamlessly around the UI, clicking on icons or drawing figure eights in Windows Paint, without experiencing a hint of the jumpiness we sometimes see with buttonless units. Multitouch gestures -- including pinch to zoom, three-finger swipe (to switch apps) and two-finger scroll -- worked smoothly and consistently.
The 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 nontouch display on our configuration of the ThinkPad T560 offered wide viewing angles and accurate colors. When I watched a trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie, the glowing greens and blues from the apparitions and the green in Slimer's body were quite vibrant but not overly so as we see on some highly saturated displays. Fine details, such as the reflections in a metal hood ornament and the pores on characters' skin, were easy to make out.
The T560's screen didn't fare quite as well on synthetic benchmarks as it did in our subjective testing. According to our colorimeter, the 1080p panel can reproduce a modest 71 percent of the color gamut, which is less than the 89 percent mainstream-laptop category average and well behind the Dell Latitude E5570 (107 percent). However, the XPS 15 with a 1080p screen (71.9 percent) offered similar output, while the Tecra A50 (64 percent) didn't do as well.
Confirming the accuracy we noted in our viewing experience, the laptop's display returned an impressive Delta-E error rate of 0.63 (0 is perfect). That's well above the category average (0.45) and the Tecra A50 (4.54). The Latitude E5570 (0.7) and the XPS 15 (0.51) were similarly accurate.
The ThinkPad T560's matte screen was more than luminous enough in our tests and offered wide viewing angles, with colors staying true at up to 80 degrees to the left or right. However, according to our light meter, the panel registers a modest 237 nits, which is below the 248-nit category average and the Latitude E5570's 242 nits. The Dell XPS scored an impressive 382 nits, while the Tecra A50 trailed the field (172 nits).
In addition to the 1920 x 1080 nontouch model we tested, the T560 is available with a 1920 x 1080 touch panel, a 2880 x 1620 nontouch display or a 1366 x 768 nontouch base model. Only get the low-res, 1366 x 768 screen if you're planning to give the notebook to an underperforming employee … as a punishment.
While the T560's speakers are more than adequate for listening to dialogue, they are far too tinny for jamming to music. When I streamed Daddy Yankee's "Gasolina," the audio was loud enough to fill my dining room, but the percussion sounded painfully distorted. The scratchy guitar section on AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" was equally hard to tolerate.
With the ThinkPad T560, Lenovo found plenty of room for most of the ports a business user would want, with the notable exceptions of USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3. The laptop's right side houses two USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort and a Kensington lock slot. Its left surface contains a smart-card reader, an Ethernet port, an SD card reader, a 3.5-mm audio jack, an HDMI-out port and a third USB 3.0 connector. While few peripherals today require Thunderbolt 3 or USB Type-C, these standards are becoming more and more popular, so users may miss them a year or two down the road.
With its Intel Core i5-6300U CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SATA SSD, our review configuration of the ThinkPad T560 offered solid performance that was more than good enough for productivity and heavy multitasking. Even with more than 20 Chrome tabs open and a 1080p video playing in another window, the T560 didn't suffer from even a hint of lag. However, pricier competitors with more powerful, quad-core processors outpaced Lenovo's laptop on our tests.
On Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance, the ThinkPad T560 scored 6,210, which is better than the Core i5-6200U-powered Toshiba Tecra A50 (5,865) but a bit behind the mainstream-laptop category average (7,625). With their high-wattage, quad-core processors, the Core i7-6820HQ-powered Dell Latitude E5570 (12,148) and Core i7-6700Q-enabled Dell XPS 15 (13,502) scored far better.
Lenovo's laptop took a reasonable 4 minutes and 14 seconds to complete our spreadsheet macro test, which matches 20,000 names with their addresses. That's much faster than the category average (5:05) and the Tecra A50 (4:30) but a bit behind the Latitude E5570 (3:29) and the XPS 15 (3:36).
The T560's 256GB SATA SSD took just 28 seconds to copy 4.97GB of mixed media files, for a rate of 181.76 MBps. That's noticeably faster than the category average (130.06 MBps), slightly quicker than the Latitude E5570's SSD (159 MBps) and light-years ahead of the Tecra A50's hard drive (30.47 MBps). However, the 512GB PCIe-NVMe SSD in the XPS 15 clocked in at a faster 254 MBps.
The ThinkPad T560's integrated Intel HD 520 graphics processor is good enough for video playback, photo editing and light video editing. However, if you're planning to do computer animation or play demanding games, you'll want a laptop with a discrete graphics chip.
Lenovo's laptop scored a respectable 55,599 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall graphics prowess. That score is better than the Tecra A50's mark of 54,622 but far behind the category average (73,744), the Latitude E5570 (91,399) and the XPS 15 (114,482), the latter of which was configured with discrete Nvidia 960M graphics.
If you pack the ThinkPad T560, you can leave your power cord at home. Thanks to Lenovo's Power Bridge technology, which pairs an internal 44-watt-hour battery with a removable three-cell (23 watt-hours) or six-cell (72 watt-hours) unit, the T560 is the longest-lasting laptop we've tested. With the six-cell battery -- a $15 option that adds 0.4 pounds -- Lenovo's laptop lasted an epic 21 hours and 3 minutes on our test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi. That number drops to a still-strong 10 hours and 10 minutes with the three-cell battery on board.
The mainstream-laptop category average is a mere 6 hours and 13 minutes -- miles behind the T560. The Toshiba Tecra A50 (5:59), the Dell Latitude E5570 (7:17) and the Lenovo ThinkPad P50 (8:25) don't come close, either. Lenovo's ThinkPad T460, the 14-inch sibling of the T560, conked out after 17 hours and 4 minutes because its internal battery is only 23 watt-hours.
Thanks to Lenovo's Power Bridge technology, you can also hot-swap the external battery without having to power down the laptop. So if 21 hours isn't enough, you can carry a second unit in your bag and pop it right in as necessary.
On a par with other business laptop webcams, the T560's 720p lens captured bright but splotchy images of my face under the fluorescent lights in our office. Colors, such as the navy blue in my shirt, had a slight yellowish hue, and fine details, such as the hairs in my beard, weren't so easy to make out.
Software and Warranty
Lenovo preloads the ThinkPad T560 with a couple of helpful utilities and a minimal amount of bloatware. Lenovo Companion runs hardware scans on your laptop, finds system updates and provides easy links to support resources. Lenovo Settings lets you configure your Wi-Fi card, sound, camera and display. Unfortunately, like most Windows 10 systems, the laptop also comes with Flipboard and Candy Crush Soda Saga preloaded, along with a shortcut tile that goes to the Photoshop Express page of the Windows Store.
The ThinkPad T560 comes with a standard one-year "depot" warranty, which covers parts and labor, along with the cost of shipping a defective laptop in for service. If you're willing to spend more, you can extend the warranty term up to five years and add on-site service or accidental damage protection, for prices ranging from $19 to $579. See how Lenovo fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Laptop Brands.
The ThinkPad T560 is available in a number of different configurations. If you purchase it from Lenovo.com, you can pick key components, such as the screen, CPU, storage drive, battery and amount of RAM. The display is available in 1366 x 768 nontouch, 1920 x 1080 nontouch, 1920 x 1080 touch and 3K nontouch resolutions. The processor can be a Core i5 or Core i7, and the storage drive can be a mechanical hard drive, a SATA SSD or a blazing-fast PCIe SSD. A backlit keyboard, fingerprint reader and smart-card reader all cost extra.
Though you can't configure a ThinkPad T560 with discrete graphics on Lenovo.com, third-party retailers sell a few versions of the laptop with low-level, Nvidia 940MX graphics on board. For example, PC Connection sells a T560 with a Core i5-6300U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a 1920 x 1080 display and the Nvidia GPU, for $1,564.
The $809.10 starting configuration comes with a 1366 x 768 display, a Core i5-6200U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and a three-cell battery. Our $1,286.10 review unit came with a 1920 x 1080 nontouch screen, a Core i5-6300U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, a six-cell battery and Windows 10 Pro. We strongly recommend configuring the ThinkPad T560 with the six-cell, 72-watt-hour battery (a $15 premium), getting at least the 1080p nontouch screen (a $50 upgrade) and choosing an SSD over a mechanical hard drive.
If you're looking for a mainstream business laptop with a 15-inch screen, the Lenovo ThinkPad T560 should be at the top of your list. Lenovo's laptop is a joy to use because of its sharp, colorful display; comfy keyboard; and pair of accurate pointing devices. Even better, the T560's hot-swappable battery offers the longest battery life of any current laptop, and its MIL-SPEC-tested chassis ensures that it can withstand years of constant use.
Users looking for a laptop that's easier to carry should consider either the consumer-oriented Dell XPS 15 or the 14-inch ThinkPad T460. However, if you want the ultimate 15-inch productivity laptop, the ThinkPad T560 is your best choice.