The Lenovo ThinkPad T450s Review: Bridging The Ultrabookby Brett Howse on September 15, 2015 8:00 AM EST
It is hard to mistake a ThinkPad. They have had a consistent look, and it has served the brand well. At CES in January, Lenovo showed off the 100 millionth ThinkPad, and the brand has always carried a consistent understated look. The T450s does not differ in this regard, and carries the familiar matte black exterior and ThinkPad logo on the lid. The T450s is a 14-inch model just like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon but unlike the X1 it has a thicker body with squared off sides. It is a couple of millimeters thicker than the X1 Carbon and tips the scales at about 3.5 lbs.
The slightly thicker dimensions make a big difference in a couple of features with the T450s. Unlike the X1 Carbon, there is just barely enough room for a RJ-45 port for wired networking, which is very important in a lot of business scenarios. The X1 Carbon has built in wired networking as well but requires a dongle to access it. There is a full assortment of connectivity options, and the T450s includes a docking port for use with the optional ThinkPad Ultra Dock, which offers a large selection of connectivity options, display outputs, and USB.
ThinkPad Docking Port (Bottom)
The biggest benefit to the thicker chassis though is extra travel possible in the keyboard. The ThinkPad brand is well known for their keyboards, and the one fitted to the T450s is really a great one. Key presses are firm and the extra travel makes for a pretty fantastic typing experience. It is likely the best laptop keyboard that I have had the pleasure to use, and with the move to thinner and thinner devices it is great to see one that leverages a thicker design to give a better experience.
As a ThinkPad, it also includes the TrackPoint in the keyboard. This is certainly a love it or hate it concept, but I personally find the TrackPoint to be a much more accurate way to navigate, and you do not have to remove your fingers from the keys to do the navigation. The 2015 ThinkPad models have also returned to actual buttons for the TrackPoint which is going to please a lot of fans. For those that prefer a track pad, the T450s has a very nice one of these as well, but unlike the TrackPoint there are no dedicated buttons for it. You can of course turn to the physical buttons at the top for the TrackPoint as well but it is designed as a clickpad and works well. The ThinkPad T450s really nails down input, offering a fantastic keyboard, the TrackPoint, and a good clickpad. If you are someone who does a lot of typing, this notebook would certainly be one to consider on that point alone.
Normally I don’t dedicate much of the review to the underside of a notebook, because generally there’s not much to say. That’s not the case on the T450s though. Here is where we see Lenovo’s Power Bridge technology in action. At the back of the notebook is the half size removable battery, and it can easily be removed and replaced with another one without having to power down the laptop. We’ll dig into this more in the battery life section. The battery is nestled in close to the docking port and has two latches to remove it and slide in a new battery.
Rear Battery and removal latch
Lenovo brands the ThinkPad T450s an Ultrabook, and it is maybe not as thin and light as most Ultrabooks, but the design itself should not be a detraction because they have not gone as slim and light as something like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. In fact, by providing a slightly bigger laptop, you gain a lot of advantages that we have kind of lost over the years, including an Ethernet port, and the ability to fit a very good keyboard inside. The design is very much ThinkPad, and people who like the matte black conservative look should really like the T450s. The thin bezels make the T450s feel more like a 13-inch notebook which is nice The integrated fingerprint reader makes login a breeze, and will work with Windows 10’s Hello feature.
Despite the ThinkPad X1 Carbon being what I would consider Lenovo’s flagship ThinkPad, I really like the T450s because of the keyboard, but really the Power Bridge adds the capability to have unlimited battery life (assuming you have enough batteries). A full dock makes this work with a more traditional docking station unlike the X1 Carbon which needs to be connected with a dongle.
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justmiff - Sunday, September 20, 2015 - linkHang on, it states in Intel's ARK platform the the 5300U can support only up to 16GB of RAM. Where does this strange 20GB number come from? Though I would recommend adding another module regardless to gian the benefit of dual channel memory, I don't much thing 20GB of RAM in this machine is addressable.
Harry_Wild - Saturday, September 26, 2015 - linkIt impossible to achieve 16GB RAM; if the first slot is filled with soldered 4GB stick! There is no 12GB stick! You an upgrade to 12GB or 20GB!
lophiomys - Sunday, September 20, 2015 - linkWhen I saw only "Optional 1920x1080 IPS" as the better option for the screen, I stopped reading.
I am typing this on a 10year old T43p with 1600x1200 UXGA (133DPI) and would expect a high-DPI matte "Retina" screen for the better an option, best in 4:3 form factor.
Actuallykeith - Friday, September 25, 2015 - linkI notice you say the maximum memory is 20Gb, I guess 4Gb on board plus a 16Gb in the second slot. However on their website Lenovo state the maximum memory as 12Gb. I'm confused, are they correct or you, did you try it?
Actuallykeith - Friday, September 25, 2015 - linkHi, looked more closely at their US site and although the spec says 12Gb max, the config allows 20Gb, so I've answered my own question. Cheers
Harry_Wild - Saturday, September 26, 2015 - linkJust purchase a T450 with 8GB. It has a 4GB stick soldered in the first slot and a 4GB in the second slot beside it, why not just have on 8Gb soldered in and forget about dualism. I have to now wait a few years for the 16GB stick which is approximately $200; to fall. If you buy the 8GB stick for around $50; you only get 4 extra GBs. Lenovo is not doing me any favorites with their idiotic practice in matching RAM size!
FYoung - Tuesday, November 10, 2015 - linkThanks for the review, which is very informative.
I have a question. Can the docking port on the bottom still mate with the docking station when an upgraded taller battery is installed?
Lad - Thursday, August 19, 2021 - linkMy ThinkPad T450 is not clocking the 17 to 21 hours of battery life. I recently reinstall everything and my dual batteries both can make upto 5 hrs of fully charged. What do I need to do so as to get my batteries efficient to its powerhouse of 21 hours.
Help please, if you know the twikings of the drivers or what ....