Built for small-to-medium-size businesses with big requirements and modest budgets, the ThinkPad L460 offers a great mix of durability, security and usability, all at an affordable price. Starting at $692 ($1,056 as configured), this 14-inch laptop is less expensive than Lenovo's ThinkPad T460 and competitors like the Dell Latitude E7470, but still offers a sharp screen, best-in-class keyboard, MIL-SPEC-tested chassis and more than 12 hours of endurance. The ThinkPad L460 cuts a couple of corners, but provides first-class productivity and plenty of value for the money.
The ThinkPad L460 has the same, simple, black aesthetic as most of Lenovo's other business laptops, but it is made of cheaper-looking material than its more expensive siblings. Where the ThinkPad T460 has a smooth, glass-fiber-reinforced chassis, the L460's ABS/PC plastic chassis has a rough surface that just doesn't have the same, premium feel. However, the body feels very solid and sturdy, with hinges that seem especially tight.
Though light enough to carry around all day, Lenovo's laptop is noticeably thicker and heavier than both its competitors and its slightly pricier sibling. The L460 measures 13.34 x 9.23 x 0.95 inches and weighs 4 pounds with its three-cell battery, or 4.4 pounds with its optional six-cell battery. The Lenovo ThinkPad T460 is 0.12 inches thinner and 0.4 pounds lighter, weighing 3.8/4.2 pounds with its three- and six-cell battery options.
Dell's Latitude E7470 (3.13 pounds, 13.19 x 9.13 x 0.74 inches) out-slims both Lenovos, while Toshiba's Tecra A40-C (4 pounds, 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.94 inches) is about the same size as the L460.
|Lenovo ThinkPad L460 Size|
|Weight||4.0 pounds (3-cell battery) / 4.4 pounds (6-cell)|
|Dimensions||13.34 x 9.23 x 0.95 inches|
The ThinkPad L460 is designed to withstand some abuse. According to Lenovo, the laptop has passed MIL-SPEC 810G tests for extreme temperatures, shocks and vibrations. Like all ThinkPads, it has also undergone internal bump and stress tests to make sure it can handle getting knocked around as you travel. The spill-resistant keyboard takes small water splashes and drain them out of a hole in the bottom of the system.
IT managers will appreciate the ThinkPad L460's solid security features, including TPM encryption and optional Intel vPro manageability. You can also configure the laptop with a smart-card reader ($10) and fingerprint reader ($20).
The ThinkPad L460's 14-inch, 1920 x 1080, matte display offers accurate colors, sharp details and solid viewing angles. When I watched a trailer for Ghostbusters, fine details such as the dirt on a subway wall or the reflections on a hood ornament appeared prominent. The green and blue glow of the ghosts seemed true, though not overly rich. However, many objects, particularly skin tones, seemed to have a slight red bias. Colors stayed true at up to 80 degrees to the left and right, washing out only slightly at a full 90 degrees.
According to our colorimeter, the L460 can reproduce 67 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is a bit below the 14-inch laptop category average (80 percent) but identical to the ThinkPad T460's score. The Dell Latitude E7470 (118 percent) and Toshiba Tecra A40-C (72 percent) both did better.
|Lenovo ThinkPad L460 Display: Test Results|
|Benchmark||Score||How it Compares|
|Brightness||233 nits||Below Average|
|Color Gamut (sRGB)||67 percent||Below Average|
|Color Accuracy (Delta e)||0.25||Strong|
The L460's screen is also quite accurate, achieving a Delta E error rating of just 0.25 (0 is perfect), which is far better than the category average (2.23) and about on par with the scores of the Latitude E7470 (0.5) and ThinkPad T460 (0.5)
Registering 233 nits on our light meter, the ThinkPad L460's display is just a little dimmer than the category average (246 nits) but nearly identical to the showing by the T460's panel (239 nits). However, the Latitude E7470 (338 nits) was quite a bit brighter.
With the L460's powerful, bottom-mounted speakers, you'll have no problem giving audio-visual presentations to a giant conference room full of people. When I played AC/DC's "Back in Black" on the laptop, the volume was loud enough to fill the entire first floor of my house. There was a clear separation of sound between instruments on the left and vocals on the right. Though there was some major tinniness at maximum volume, the output was richer and more accurate than on most laptops we test. The bundled Dolby Audio app lets you choose from among presets for different sound-types -- Movie, Music, Game and Voice -- though I found the catchall Dynamic mode sounded best.
Keyboard, TrackPoint and Touchpad
Even among Lenovo's business laptops, which have a reputation for providing typing comfort, the ThinkPad L460's keyboard stands out as one of the best. The gently curved chiclet keys offer a very deep 2.1mm of travel (1.5 to 2mm is typical) and a level of tactile feedback that provides just the right amount of resistance, without becoming stiff. Thanks to the keyboard's snappy feel and generous travel, I reached a rate of 107 words per minute with an error rate below 1 percent on the 10FastFingers test. That's one of my best scores ever and far above my typical, 96-wpm and 3 percent mark.
Unfortunately, for those who need helping finding their keys in the dark, the ThinkPad L460's keyboard doesn't have a backlight option.
Like most other ThinkPads, the L460 has a red TrackPoint pointing stick between its G and H keys. Navigating the desktop, clicking on icons and highlighting text was extremely accurate with the little red nub, and best of all, I never had to lift my hands off of the home row, so I could work faster.
For those who don't like pointing sticks, the L460 also has a 3.9 x 2.2-inch touchpad. The buttonless pad offers mostly accurate navigation around the desktop, but it was occasionally jumpy, and sometimes the pointer stuck and I had to pick up my finger and swipe again. On the bright side, multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe worked flawlessly.
Ports and Webcam
The ThinkPad L460 makes room for almost every port a business user could want, including a VGA connector for outputting to old-school monitors and projectors. The left side houses a mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, VGA, a Kensington Lock slot and two USB 3.0 ports. The right side contains the 3.5mm audio jack, optional smart-card reader and a third USB 3.0 port. The front lip holds an SD Card reader. Unfortunately, there's no USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 port for the next generation of peripherals.
The 720p webcam captured colorful, detailed images of my face in both a dark room and under the fluorescent lights of my office. As with most laptop cameras, the images had some visual noise and splotchiness.
With a Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, our review configuration of the ThinkPad L460 offered strong performance for multitasking and productivity. Even with more than a dozen tabs open and a 1080p video playing in another window, I was able to switch tasks and work on this review without a hint of lag.
|ThinkPad L460 (Core i5 / 8GB / 256GB): Performance Tests|
|Benchmark||Score||How it Compares|
|Spreadsheet Macro Test||4:32||Above Average|
|File Transfer Test||157.1 MBps||Above Average|
Lenovo's laptop scored a solid 6,245 on Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance. That's slightly behind the 14-inch laptop category average (6,475) and the Core i5-6300U-powered Lenovo ThinkPad T460 (6,708), but the Latitude E7470 (6,059) and Toshiba A40-C (5,846), which have the same CPU as the L460, both fared worse.
The L460 took just 4 minutes and 32 seconds to complete our spreadsheet macro test, which involves matching 20,000 names with their addresses in OpenOffice Calc. That time is much faster than the category average (5:52) and about on par with the Latitude E7470 (4:30) and Tecra A40-C (4:30). However, the T460 (4:13) was 19 seconds quicker.
The laptop's 256GB SSD copied 4.97GB worth of mixed-media files in just 32 seconds. That's a rate of 157.1 MBps, comfortably ahead of the category average (137.5 MBps), the Latitude E7470 (132.3 MBps) and the hard-drive-powered Tecra A40-C (27.9 MBps). The Thinkpad T460 was a tad faster, though (175.5 MBps).
With integrated Intel HD 520 graphics, the ThinkPad L460 is powerful enough to play videos and do some light media editing, but we wouldn't recommend gaming or doing 3D modeling. Lenovo's laptop scored 62,267 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, a synthetic test which measures graphics prowess. That's higher than the category average (56,655), the Latitude E7470's score (59,801) and the Tecra A40-C's showing (54,373) but about 5 percent behind the T460's mark (65,981).
The ThinkPad L460 can last a long time on a charge, depending on which of its three removable batteries you choose. With its high-capacity battery, which has six cells and can store 72 watt-hours of juice, the laptop lasted a strong 12 hours and 51 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi. That's more than 4 hours longer than the category average (8:22) and far ahead of the Latitude E7470's time (9:16) and Tecra A40-C's showing (6:44). However, with a high-capacity battery on board, the ThinkPad T460 lasted for a whopping 17hours and 4 minutes.
|Laptop (Battery)||Battery Life (hh:mm)|
|Lenovo ThinkPad L460 (6-cell, 72 Whr)||12:51|
|Lenovo ThinkPad L460 (6-cell, 48 Whr)||9:31|
|Lenovo ThinkPad L460 (3-cell)||4:16|
Using the medium-capacity battery, which has six cells but 48 watt-hours of energy, the L460 lasted for 9 hours and 31 minutes, but with its three-cell battery, it managed only a weak 4 hours and 16 minutes. Considering that both six-cell batteries add only 0.4 pounds to the chassis and the high-capacity unit adds only $15 to the price, you should definitely opt for the 72-watt-hour unit.
Like the T460 and several other ThinkPads, the L460 uses Lenovo's Power Bridge technology, which pairs the laptop's external battery with a three-cell internal unit. Because there's always a battery inside, you can swap out the removable one without shutting down your PC. If you want to carry spare batteries in your bag, you can go a really long time without a charge.
Software and Warranty
Lenovo preloads the ThinkPad L460 with a few useful utilities and a small amount of bloatware. Lenovo Solution Center performs hardware scans, provides detailed system information and has links to support resources. Lenovo Settings gives you fine control over your network card, touchpad, webcam and other key subsystems. Lenovo Companion provides a lot of the same functionality as Solution Center, checking your system health and linking to the company's support forums and knowledge base. SHAREit makes it easy to transfer files among your devices over Wi-Fi.
The laptop also has a few apps you don't need, including Candy Crush Soda Saga, Flipboard and a tile which links to the Windows Store page for PicsArt Photo Studio, a free image editor.
Lenovo backs the ThinkPad L460 with a standard one year "depot" warranty on parts and labor, under which the company pays for return shipping. You can pay from $19 to $579 extra to extend the warranty up to five years, or add on-site service and accidental damage protection. See how Lenovo fared on our Tech Support Showdown and our Best and Worst Laptop Brand Ratings.
The ThinkPad L460 starts at $692. For that price, you get a Core i3-6100U CPU, 1366 x 768 display, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. Our $1056.60 review configuration has a Core i5-6200U CPU, 1920 x 1080 nontouch display, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, along with a fingerprint scanner and smart card reader.
If you purchase your laptop directly from Lenovo, you can choose a Core i3 or i5 CPU, a hard drive or SSD, the battery capacity you want, and the amount of RAM. We strongly recommend configuring with the 1920 x 1080 screen, a $50 option and the high-capacity battery, which adds just $15 to the price.
|Lenovo ThinkPad L460 Cost By Configuration|
|Config||Screen||CPU||RAM / Storage||Price|
|Base||1366 x 768||Core i3||4GB / 500GB||$692|
|Recommend||1920 x 1080||Core i5||8GB / 256GB||$1056|
Compared to the ThinkPad T460
Lenovo's 14-inch ThinkPad T460 is very similar to the L460, but is a little thinner and lighter while lasting as many as 5 hours longer on a charge. It also has a slightly more premium design, an optional backlit keyboard and the ability to configure with a Core i7 processor.
However, the T460 also costs about $120 more, depending on the configuration. You'll pay $809 for a model with the same specs as the $692 base-level L460 (Core i3, 1366 screen, 4GB, 500GB). A T460 with the same config as our L460 review unit goes for $1,182.
The Bottom Line
Thanks to its durable chassis, sharp screen, excellent typing experience and long battery life, the ThinkPad L460 is a great choice for small companies or productivity-centric users on a budget. Its best-in-class keyboard alone makes the L460 worth the price of admission. If you can afford to spend about $120 more, we prefer the ThinkPad T460 for its classier design, lighter chassis and longer battery life. However, if you're looking for a powerful 14-inch business laptop at an affordable price, the ThinkPad L460 should be near the top of your list.