Want a solid 14” business class laptop? Look no further than the Lenovo ThinkPad T410. It’s the upgrade from the T400 and like the T400, it’ll do just about anything you throw at it. My wife uses the T400 and loves hers. She likes it better than her previous T61p because it’s smaller, lighter and easier to carry around. Because the ThinkPad T410 has been on the market now for a little while, look for a good deal or promotion.
This review will be pretty brief. The machine is solid and I have few complaints. I took some pictures of the T410 sandwiched between a W510 and the X201 eval units I had. We’ll go over those in a few minutes. Let’s review the specs of the machine, screen, keyboard, performance and other traits first.
The Specs and Performance
Lenovo ThinkPad T410 Model 2522-K4U. Intel Core i7 processor i7-620M with dual-core, PC3-8500 1066MHz or PC3-10600 1333MHz DDR3, non-parity, dual-channel capable, two 204-pin SO-DIMM sockets, 14.1" (358mm) WXGA+ (1440x900) color, anti-glare, LED backlight, 220 nits, 16:10 aspect ratio, 300:1 contrast ratio, NVIDIA® Quadro® NVS3100M, PCI Express® x16, 512MB memory.
As you can see, this machine is well equipped. Most of the machines that have come on the market the past few months are trying to balance performance with battery consumption. Most machines in this class size and weight also have the same CPU, GPU and chipset. In the case of this T410, the chipset is identical to the HP 8440p I reviewed back in March. It also scored an identical result on the Windows 7 Experience Index (WEI). CPU = 6.8, RAM = 5.9, Graphics = 4.9, Gaming Graphics = 5.9, Hard Disk = 5.9.
Not exactly a blazing score, but very respectable for a 14” business class machine. It wasn’t designed to play Starcraft II or Call of Duty. Your call of duty are those spreadsheets staring you in the face. Grin.
The Keyboard and TrackPad
The Lenovo/IBM keyboards are legendary and this machine’s keyboard is also very good. I’ll leave it up to the old timers to rate this keyboard against the legends of the past. You really notice the keyboard when you attempt to use other brands.
I really did not like the keyboards on the HP machines for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason was that the keyboard was shifted to the left and not centered in the machine. There is no such issue on the T410. It’s centered right down the middle like it should be.
Like the W510 I have, I like the small little touches Lenovo has applied to the keyboard dressing. Little lights in the key for caps lock, mic mute, etc. I especially like the mic mute light. Comes in real handy on conference calls and such.
I am not a big fan of the new trackpads. I prefer a smooth surface and I still haven’t found the right settings for palm and finger sensitivity and pressure. On occasion the mouse does bizarre stuff and I have yet to figure out if it’s me or the trackpad. It’s probably me but I am still searching for the answer.
The LCD screen in the T410 isn’t anything special. It’s actually pretty average. Screen angles are ok, brightness is ok, colors are ok, etc. It’s just ok. On the upside, the screen resolution is 1440x900 which is a good res for a 14” screen. I really can’t tell if the screen is any better or worse than the T400. They look pretty similar to me.
Most of the laptops I use are plugged into a KVM switch when I am not traveling. Therefore, the machine is used more with an external LCD monitor than it is the built in LCD panel. So I wouldn’t get too hung up about the screen unless you use it 100% of the time. If you do, then that would be an important shopping point. The screen is certainly better than the HP 8440p. I found the 8440p dimmer in comparison.
Chassis and Build
The T410 chassis and build quality is very good as expected. There’s easy access to the two SoDIMM slots from the bottom cover. The battery is nicely integrated to raise the device slightly off your desk or lap. There is plenty of venting to keep the machine reasonably cool during normal operations.
Access to the 2.5” hard drive primary bay is relatively easy (one screw). You can swap the DVD drive with a hard drive caddy if you want to run with two hard drives. The DVD bay is called the Ultrabay and it’s 9.5mm high.
I didn’t detect any noticeable flex in the device thought the LCD lid does have some. The LCD lid is hinged with the famous stainless steel hinges which drop into the frame for a sturdy connection.
I don’t like the new speaker grills. This is true for the T410 and the W510. The look like great dust and crud catchers. I’m wondering what they will look like after three years. Probably pretty scary.
Photo Tour and Comments
- Front - as you can see in the picture, I have the W510, T410, X201 tablet and X201s stacked on top of each other to give you a size and port placement comparison across these machines. I’ll be using the W510 for the next three years as it’s my daily machine now. All four of the machine have a lid release level and several of the machines have the Ricoh multicard reader on front. The black shiny bump on the tablet is an antenna. It looks nearly identical to the bumps that were on the T60p.
- Back - like the front, there isn’t a lot going on in the back. You can easily see the intake and copper cooling coil on the T410 and W510. If you look closely you can see the thickness or height difference between the T410 and W510. It isn’t a massive difference but you can tell when you are holding on to them. Notice power plugs into the back of the T410 and W510. It’s on the side for the X machines. The yellow port on the left back of the W510 is a powered USB 2.0 port.
- Top - the top down view of the machines is slightly off center so it makes the picture look a little weird. The shadows also play tricks on your eyes. I lined the machines up flush left (or pretty close) and you can see the two X machines are the same width. It’s pretty clear how much smaller they are compared to the T410 and W510. That’s a blue Windows 7 lid sticker on the W510.
- Left - as you can see, most of the ports are located on the left side of these machines. Please refer to the Front and back pics for the stack order. Notice on the T410 and W510 the DisplayPort connection. The W510 has two blue USB 3.0 ports and a USB/eSATA combo port. Firewire IEEE 1394 is also present on the W510. Pay particular attention to the size of the X machines. The X201s is much smaller from depth and thinness perspective. If I would have lined them up flush with the front edge it would be much more pronounced in the picture. In your hand it’s a huge difference. Another interesting thing on the X machines is the 54mm ExpressCard slot present in the pic. That surprised me.
- Right - like the left side, there’s all sorts of interesting stuff to notice. The hard drive adaptor in the W510 can also be used in the T410. It leaves that ugly little gap in the W510 Ultrabay but on the bright side, there’s room for the fatty Blu-ray drive. The W510 has a 34mm ExpressCard slot. The Ricoh multicard reader is also visible. The combo audio jack is visible on the T410 and W510. I really don’t know what Lenovo was thinking on the combo jack. The T410 also has a 34mm ExpressCard slot and you can see the eSATA port just below it. Look closely at the back rubber feet on the X201s which is the machine on the top. The battery is so thick the normal feet don’t even touch. You don’t really notice this when the machine is on your lap, but I thought I would point it out. The W510 has an oddly placed Ethernet port on the right side. I’m glad it’s close to the back. This sort of stuff really makes you wonder how machines are designed.
Because I felt a number of Microsoft employees would buy the T410 for their daily machine, I tested Windows Server 2008 R2 on it with Hyper-V. That install wasn’t without its share of complications. As we have discovered in the prior generation of ThinkPads, there is no inbox driver for wired and wireless networking when it comes to the R2 install. You must still download the ethernet driver from lenovo.com then manually update the banged out ethernet device in Device Manager.
Be prepared to install the R2 SP1 beta because it resolves a number of issues trying to run Hyper-V on the T410 and W510 with this class of processors. To clarify, it’s required. After installation, I didn’t see any further problems. Ship that puppy. Grin.
I did not test VMWare Workstation 7 or Oracle VirtualBox and probably won’t before I return the eval unit. If you plan to run any of the virtualization products, you are going to want to procure the Ultrabay hard drive adaptor/caddy and add a second hard drive.
Another solid machine from Lenovo. If you are looking for a 14” machine that is easy to carry in a backpack or messenger, you’ll like this machine. With 8GB of RAM and a second hard drive, you have a small but powerful platform to handle a variety of scenarios and roles. This isn’t a gaming machine, but the GPU should be able to handle a variety of needs with the occasional gaming session. Enjoy and buy with confidence.