Workers can't go wrong with Lenovo's ThinkPad T460. It's not the sleekest or most portable business laptop around, but it might be the best overall option for people who want to get things done. With a top-tier keyboard, a durable design, strong security and epic battery life, the T460 is a seriously well-rounded business machine.
It's not exactly heavy, but the ThinkPad T460 isn't the most commuter-friendly work laptop you can buy either. The system weighs in at 3.8 lbs. (or 4.2 lbs. with the extended battery attached), so it can start to feel hefty when you're carrying it back and forth between home and the office. The slimmer ThinkPad T460s (with an "s") is easier to tote around, at just 3 lbs., though it doesn't last as long on a charge.
Most competing 14-inch systems are actually heavier, though. Dell's Latitude E5470 weighs 3.88 lbs., and Toshiba's Tecra A40 tips the scales at 4 lbs. Meanwhile, HP's EliteBook 745 G3 is on the lighter side, at 3.4 lbs.
What commuters will appreciate is the T460's sturdy design, which Lenovo says was tested to withstand dings, drops, chocks, vibrations and extreme temperatures. In my hands, the laptop certainly feels extremely solid and well-built.
The T460 sports solid security credentials, including hardware encryption and a built-in fingerprint reader for added security. Unfortunately, it's an old-school swipe reader, which is a lot less reliable than the single-touch fingerprint sensors found on pricier ThinkPads like the T460s.
While the swipe reader — which requires users to slowly slide their fingers down over the sensor — worked most of the time, it often prompted me to try again with my finger positioned slightly differently. That can get annoying in the long run.
The T460 also comes with an Intel vPro-equipped CPU, which makes it easier for your IT department to securely manage company laptops. The system also inclues a Trusted Platform Module for encryption, which is a perks for workers who want to make sure their sensitive files and documents remain secure.
[Read more: How to Buy a Secure Business Laptop]
The ThinkPad T460's 1,920 x 1,080-pixel display is sharp, even if it's not particularly vibrant. Measuring14-inches, it's big enough for screen-intensive tasks like viewing large documents, but not so large that the system feels cumbersome overall.
Viewing angles could be a bit wider; the picture starts to fade when viewed from an angle of more than 45 degrees, but that's not an issue during typical desktop use. I do like the screen's matte finish, which does a good job of warding off reflections from windows and overhead office lights.
Keyboard and trackpad
The T460's keyboard is ideal for marathon work sessions. The layout offers a generous 2.3 millimeters of key travel on each stroke, making for a comfortable, desktop-like typing experience. The keys also feel snappy, with plenty of feedback on each stroke. Plus, the sculpted shape of the keys makes them easy to navigate by touch alone. For my money, laptop keyboards simply don't get better than this.
Like all ThinkPad models, the T460 offers two different ways to control the mouse cursor. The 2.9 x 3.9-inch touchpad has a nice, smooth finish that lets your finger glide easily, and mouse movement was swift and responsive.
The red TrackPoint nub, located amidst the G, H and B keys, is the second mode of mouse control. It's handy for touch typists, since it gives you extremely accurate control over the cursor without moving your hands from home row on the keyboard.
The T460s' single best feature might be the long battery life you'll get with the notebook's extended battery attached. With the optional six-cell battery, the T460s ran for an incredible 13 hours and 12 minutes. This battery can be added to the system at checkout for just an additional $15. That run time tops the laptop category average of 8 hours and 6 minutes, and it easily bests rivals like the Dell Latitude E5470 (7:16), the Toshiba Tecra A40 (6:44) and the HP Elitebook 745 G3 (5:54).
The downside is that the extended battery adds about a half pound of extra weight, raising the T460 from 3.8 lbs. to about 4.2 lbs. That's a blow to commuters, but they'll probably want the six-cell battery anyway; with the standard, three-cell battery attached, the notebook lasted a scant 6 hours and 40 minutes.
Our ThinkPad T460 review unit came equipped with an Intel Core i5-6300U processor with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. The system handled everything I threw at it and more, without a hint of lag during heavy multitasking. It sped along while I edited two large spreadsheets side by side, with more than a dozen tabs open in my Firefox web browser and HD video streaming in the background.
The T460 racked up a very respectable score of 6,708 on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. That beats out many rival machines, including the Toshiba Tecra A40 (5,846) and HP EliteBook 745 G3 (5,494). And it was on par with its cousin, the slimmer ThinkPadT460s (6,796).
The T460 also fared very well on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in just 4 minutes and 13 seconds, blowing past the category average of 5 minutes and 54 seconds, and beating the Tecra A40's time of 4 minutes and 30 seconds. The Latitude E5470 finished a few seconds quicker, though.
Lenovo sells the T460 in a wide variety of hardware configurations. The baseline model comes with an Intel Core i3-6100U processor that has 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and a low-res 1,366 x 768-pixel nontouch display.
The midrange model we reviewed is a much better sweet spot for workers, though. It comes with a faster Core i5-6300U processor that has 16GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, as well as a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel nontouch display and the extended six-cell battery, all for $1,362.
That said, you can customize just about every aspect of the system's hardware when you order from Lenovo.com. Regardless of your other choices, we strongly recommend opting for the 1,920 x 1,080-pixel nontouch display, which is a $50 upgrade over the baseline model. We didn't have a chance to test the T460 that has a touch screen, but we generally don't recommend touch displays, because they drain your battery faster and have limited use on a standard business laptop.
Dell’s Latitude E5470 sports a nicer display than the ThinkPad T460, but it’s heavier and doesn’t last as long on a charge.
HP’s EliteBook 745 G3 is a bit thinner and lighter than the ThinkPad T460, but it’s battery life is far too short.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad T460s (notice the “s”) is slimmer and more portable than the standard T460, but it doesn't last as long on a charge.
Finally, Lenovo’s ThinkPad T460p (notice the “p”) offers more processing power, but is pricier than the standard T460 and again doesn't last as long on a charge.
The T460 is a work companion that doesn't make many compromises. Starting at just $808, it has all the features that business users need, including a durable design, strong security, fast performance and a comfortable keyboard that's a joy to type on. Plus, it lasts seemingly forever on a charge with the extended battery attached, even if the battery adds a bit of heft to the package.
Commuters might want to consider a more portable machine, like the 3-lb. ThinkPad T460s, which is thinner and lighter than the standard T460 model but doesn't last as long on a charge. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga is another great option, since it sports a versatile folding design and excellent note-taking functionality thanks to its built-in active stylus. It's pricier than the T460, though.
For most workers, the T460's well-rounded feature set and relatively affordable price point are a winning combination.