Hands on: Lenovo ThinkPad T460 review

An affordable and versatile workhorse

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The unattractive Lenovo ThinkPad T460 won't be the laptop heartthrob of CES 2016. But if you're willing to fully customize this laptop, it will reward you with high-end specs and a 14-hour battery life, according to Lenovo.

For

  • Up to 32GB of RAM
  • 1TB of storage
  • 14 hour battery life

Against

  • Boxy and heavy
  • Full HD-only

If you're looking for an affordable work laptop that won't pack the bells and whistles of higher-end devices, the Lenovo ThinkPad T460 (starting at $909, about £619, AU$1,269) might be the ideal notebook for you.

Built with an abundance of upgrade options, the T460 can serve as an inexpensive secondary office device, or it can be your all-purpose workhorse. No matter how much money you sink into it though, it won't be a showpiece that makes your friends brim with envy.

But that's okay – a device that's capable of storing 1TB of data, 32GB of RAM and can last up to 14 hours on a single charge has enough personality to offset its unfortunate physique.

Lenovo ThinkPad T460

Design

Like the incredible Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga and respectable Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon the T460 features the signature ThinkPad black-on-black chassis, chiclet-style keyboard and dual-button clickpad.

Unlike the thin X1 laptops, the T460 is a boxy and heavy device that looks and feels more like a mobile workstation than an Ultrabook.

The T460 weighs a whopping 3.8 pounds (1.7kg) and is 0.83 inches (21mm) thick. These measurements are reminiscent of laptops from a bygone era. So, if you're concerned about transporting your notebook everywhere you go, or if you want something that can slide into small backpacks, you might want to look elsewhere.

Lenovo ThinkPad T460

Specs

Part of the reason for the T460's lack of aesthetic charm is its incredible variety of ports and connections. The T460 features HDMI, Ethernet, SD Card reader, Mini DisplayPort, a smart card reader and 3 USB ports. Not bad at all.

Lenovo ThinkPad T460

What's most attractive about this laptop is its reported 14-hour battery life. If Lenovo's claim rings true, you'll be able to keep this bad boy powered through almost two full days of work. That's pretty incredible, especially for something that features impressive hardware under the hood. Unfortunately, until we run it through our battery life tests, we won't know for sure if Lenovo is exaggerating. Stay tuned.

As I mentioned earlier in this piece, you can customize this laptop with up to 1TB of storage, 32GB of RAM and an Intel Core i7 processor. For those who don't have the coin to go all-in on a laptop, you can start with the Core i3 version, 16GB of RAM and just 128GB of storage. But honestly, if you're going to buy a laptop this big and boxy, you should probably outfit it at the highest level in order to maximize performance. Otherwise, there are nicer, less expensive laptops that store only 128GB of data and run on Intel Core i3 processors.

Lenovo ThinkPad T460

You can also choose between an HD or a Full HD display. The Full HD version can be configured to include a touchscreen. However, neither version of this display will blow you away, so if you're a design professional that requires exact detail, you might want to look elsewhere.

One thing that is cool about the touch version of this laptop is that it features a true matte overlay; unlike other low-end matte touchscreens, there isn't a layer separating the part of the screen you touch from the part that displays images. This should help to improve responsiveness and reduce overall laptop weight.

Early verdict

The Lenovo ThinkPad T460 isn't going to win any design awards. It's built to perform at a high level and at a reasonable price. ThinkPads typically perform on par if not better than similarly priced and specced laptops from other manufacturers, so if you're after performance and versatility, this laptop might be a solid pick.

However, until I run this device through our gauntlet of benchmarks and battery life tests, I won't be able to tell if it's a workhorse, or an oinker. What I do know is that it features pretty stellar hardware, its projected battery life is insane and it's available at a reasonable price. Keep an eye on this one.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.