Although there are plenty of business laptops out there, Lenovo's ThinkPad T460 is the best tool for getting work done. Starting at $810 ($1,362.60 as tested), this 14-inch productivity powerhouse combines epic battery life with a comfortable keyboard, an accurate touchpad, a durable chassis and strong performance.
Design and Durability
At 3.8 pounds (4.2 with high-capacity battery) and 13.4 x 9.2 x 0.83 inches, the ThinkPad T460 isn't the thinnest or the lightest 14-inch business laptop. But it is compact enough to carry everywhere or balance on your lap. Lenovo's laptop uses its girth to make room for a removable battery, which provides it with a huge advantage over competitors, particularly if you opt for the 6-cell unit.
The laptop's more-svelte sibling, the ThinkPad T460s, tips the scales at 3 pounds and is just 0.74 inches thick. But it has a sealed-in battery that provides below-average endurance. The Dell Latitude E5470 (13.2 x 9.1 x .9 inches, 3.88 pounds) and the Toshiba Tecra A40 (13.4 x 9.6 x 0.94 inches, 4 pounds) are both bulkier than the T460, while HP's EliteBook 745 G3 (13.3 x 9.3 x 0.74 inches, 3.4 pounds) is a tad thinner and lighter.
The ThinkPad T460 has the same simple, but classy aesthetic as most other Lenovo business laptops. Its matte black chassis is adorned only by silver ThinkPad logos and red status lights on the lid and deck, along with a red TrackPoint on the keyboard.
Lenovo's laptop can survive a few scrapes, thanks to its glass-fiber-reinforced plastic chassis. According to the company, the T460 passed several MIL-SPEC 810G durability tests, including those for extreme temperatures, shocks and vibrations.
With Intel vPro-capable CPU options and a Trusted Platform Module, the ThinkPad T460 has the security and manageability features that enterprise IT departments require. It also comes standard with a fingerprint reader, but unlike the ThinkPad T460s' convenient single-touch sensor, this notebook uses an old-school swipe reader.
Keyboard, TrackPoint and TouchPad
The ThinkPad T460's spill-resistant keyboard provides a truly excellent typing experience, with smile-shaped keys that offer plenty of travel. The keys have 2.33 millimeters of vertical travel, which is among the deepest we've ever seen on a laptop (1.5 to 2mm is typical). The keyboard requires just 50 grams of force to actuate (or press down), so it doesn't feel quite as snappy as most other ThinkPads, which require 55 to 60 grams.
Nevertheless, typing felt really comfortable, and I never found myself "bottoming out," or pressing hard against the base. I reached a higher-than-usual rate of 97 words-per-minute on the 10FastFingers.com typing test with a near-perfect error rate.
Like most ThinkPads, the T460 has a TrackPoint pointing stick between its G and H keys. As usual, the little red nub provided extremely accurate navigation. Whether I was navigating through Windows or highlighting text, and I never had to take my hands off the home row.
If you're not open to using a pointing stick, you'll appreciate the ThinkPad T460's excellent, 2.9 x 3.9-inch touchpad. In my testing, the navigation device proved smooth and responsive, with little of the jumpiness or stickiness we sometimes encounter on buttonless pads. It also responded quickly and consistently to multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll and three-finger swipe.
The ThinkPad T460's 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 touch screen outputs sharp images and fairly accurate but not very rich colors. When I watched a trailer for Captain America: Civil War, fine details like the wrinkles on Steve Roger's forehead and the ridges in his helmet really stood out. The blue in the Captain's costume and the red in Iron Man's armor were subdued and a little dark, but not washed out. Images started to fade a bit at when viewed at greater than 45 degrees to the left or right.
Unlike most touch screens, the one on the T460 is matte rather than glossy, which eliminates some glare. To achieve this effect, Lenovo uses "in-cell touch" technology, which builds the touch screen digitizer directly into the LCD panel and eliminates the need for a separate protective layer.
According to our colorimeter, the ThinkPad T460 reproduces only 67 percent of the sRGB color gamut with both touch and non-touch panels, which is about the same as the T460s (66 percent), but a lot fewer shades than the category average (84 percent). The T460 also comes in behind the Latitude E5470 (113.1 percent) and the HP EliteBook 745 G3 (84.1 percent). However, the laptop's Delta-E error rate is just 0.45 (0 is perfect), which means the colors this screen displays are accurate.
The ThinkPad T460's display brightness maxes out at 239 nits of brightness with a touch screen and 242 nits with non-touch, which is about on a par with the category average (242) and the ThinkPad T460s (240). However, the Latitude E5470 (278) and the EliteBook 745 G3 (317) were both brighter.
The bottom-front-mounted speakers on the T460 are good enough for conferencing and watching videos, but we wouldn't recommend them for music. When I played both AC/DC's guitar-heavy "Back in Black" and Chic's bass-laden "Everybody Dance," the output was loud enough to fill two adjacent rooms, but the drums sounded tinny and the vocals seemed distorted. However, I could clearly hear a separation of sound with different instruments coming from different sides of the system.
The preloaded Dolby Audio software lets you control the equalizer or use presets that are optimized for music, movies, games or voice calls. I found the Dynamic preset, which automatically adjusts the output based on content, to be the best.
Ports and Webcam
The ThinkPad T460 has all the ports that most people need in 2016, but it lacks the USB Type-C connector that would make it futureproof. On the right side sits a 3.5mm jack, an SD card reader, a SIM card slot (for optional 4G), a USB 3 port, Ethernet, HDMI out and a Kensington lock slot. The left side houses a mini DisplayPort, an optional SmartCard reader and two more USB ports for a total of three.
The 720p webcam took bright, colorful images of my face even in dim areas of my office and kitchen.
With its Intel Core i5-6300U CPU, 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD, our review configuration of the ThinkPad T460 was more than capable of intense multitasking and serious productivity work. Even when I had 12 Chrome tabs open and an offline 1080p video playing in another window, the system showed no signs of lag.
The ThinkPad T460 scored a solid 6,708 on Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance. That's comfortably ahead of the Core i5-6200U-powered Toshiba Tecra A40 (5,846), the AMD Pro A8-powered HP EliteBook 745 G3 (5,494) and the 14-inch laptop average (6,271). The Core i5-6300U-enabled ThinkPad T460s got a very similar score (6,796) to its big sibling, but the Dell Latitude E5470 and its quad-core, Intel Core i5-6440HQ CPU got a much stronger score (9,760).
Lenovo's laptop took just 4 minutes and 13 seconds to complete our spreadsheet macro test, which matches 20,000 names with their addresses in OpenOffice Calc. The ThinkPad T460's time is way faster than the category average (5:54), slightly faster than the Toshiba Tecra A40 (4:30) and about equal to the ThinkPad T460s (4:10). The Latitude E5470 was just a bit quicker.
The ThinkPad T460 and its speedy 256GB SSD took just 29 seconds to finish the Laptop File Transfer Test, which involves copying 4.97GB of mixed media files. That's a rate of 175.5 MBps, more than the category average (115.1) and the rates from the Latitude E5470, the EliteBook 745 G3 and the ThinkPad T460s.
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Don't expect to play demanding games or do high-end 3D modeling on the ThinkPad T460, but its integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 GPU is fine for casual games and watching HD video. On 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, a synthetic benchmark that measures graphics prowess, the T460 scored a respectable 65,981, significantly better than the category average (55,432). The ThinkPad T460s did slightly better while the Tecra A40 and the EliteBook 745 G3 trailed by a wide margin. The powerful Latitude E5470 got a much higher score.
The ThinkPad T460 stayed relatively cool throughout our testing. After the laptop streamed a video for 15 minutes, its touchpad and keyboard measured an imperceptible 82 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, well below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The bottom was a bit warmer, clocking in at 95 degrees.
Unlike the slimmer T460s, the ThinkPad T460 has Lenovo's extremely helpful PowerBridge technology, which combines an internal 3-cell battery with a removable 3- or 6-cell unit. Because the external battery runs down first, you can hot-swap in a spare unit, without powering down the computer. Even better, you have the option to buy the laptop with low, medium or high-capacity batteries, and the difference in price between small and large is just $15.
Trust us; you want the high-capacity, 6-cell (72 watt hour) battery. With the larger unit onboard, the ThinkPad T460 lasted a strong 17 hours and 4 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery test, which involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of brightness. With a touch screen, the time dropped to a still-strong 13 hours and 12 minutes However, with the 3-cell battery, the T460 endured for only 8 :26 (non-touch) and 6:40 (touch).
The T460's 6-cell battery runtime is way ahead of the thin-and-light laptop category average (8:06). It also bests the Dell Latitude E5470 (7:16), the Toshiba Tecra A40 (6:44) and the HP EliteBook 745 G3 (5:54). The ThinkPad T460s and its sealed-in battery managed only 7 hours and 21 minutes.
If you buy from Lenovo.com, you can configure the T460 to order, selecting key components such as the screen, CPU, RAM, storage drive and battery. Unfortunately, there's no option to select a PCIe SSD, which is three times faster than a regular SATA-based SSD. (You can do that for the ThinkPad T460s). You also can't get a screen resolution higher than 1920 x 1080 like you can on the lighter ThinkPad.
The $809 base model comes with a 1366 x 768 non-touch display, an Intel Core i3-6100U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. Our $1,362 review configuration came with a 1920 x 1080 touch screen, a Core i5-6300U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 6-cell battery.
We recommend that you configure the T460 with its 6-cell, 72-watt hour battery, which provides double the endurance and costs only $10 more than the default, 3-cell unit. Unless you really need touch, we also advise buying this ThinkPad with the 1920 x 1080 non-touch screen, which is only $50 more than the default 1366 x 768 panel.
Software and Warranty
The ThinkPad T460 comes preloaded with a handful of useful utilities and a small amount of bloatware. Lenovo Settings lets you tweak the power, sound, camera, display and touchpad controls while Lenovo Companion runs hardware scans and checks for system updates. The laptop also comes with Candy Crush Soda Saga, Flipboard and a tile that links to the Windows Store page for Photoshop Express.
Lenovo backs the ThinkPad T460 with a standard, one-year depot warranty, where the company pays for return shipping of defective products. You can also pay between $39 and $579 extra to extend the warranty up to five years, add on-site service or tack on accidental damage protection
Like a pair of Air Jordans on an NBA player, the ThinkPad T460 is a professional tool that will help you soar. The laptop's deep key travel makes it easy to type fast and accurately, while its long endurance helps you work for hours without worrying about running out of juice. Consider the 3-pound ThinkPad T460s if you want a slightly higher-res screen or a faster PCIe SSD and don't spend much time away from an outlet. However, if you want the best mainstream business laptop on the market, the ThinkPad T460 should be at the top of your shopping list. Just make sure you get the high-capacity battery.