The ThinkPad T460s sacrifices some battery life for a bit of extra portability. But it's still a great work machine, offering fast performance and solid security features in a sleek package. And while it could stand to last longer on a charge, that might not bother commuters and frequent travelers who want a solid 14-inch work notebook that won't weigh them down.
At just 3 lbs., the T460s feels a lot lighter than last year's 3.8-lb. ThinkPad T450s. It's also a lot easier to lug around than rival laptops like the 3.8-lb. Dell Latitude E5470 or the 3.4-lb. HP EliteBook 745 G3. That's good news for workers who need to carry their laptops between home and the office.
Commuters will also appreciate the notebook's impressive durability credentials: Lenovo says the device was tested to withstand dings, high temperatures, high altitude, humidity and vibration. The system certainly feels extremely durable and well-built to me, thanks to its sturdy carbon fiber lid and magnesium chassis.
The T460s sports a gorgeous, full-HD touch screen with a matte finish that fends off annoying glare and reflections from windows and office lights. At 14 inches, the display is a good size for workers. It's big enough to view large documents and spreadsheets, but small enough to keep the notebook from feeling too cumbersome to carry around.
Text looked crisp and images were clear, with accurate colors. The display is more than bright enough for typical indoor use, topping out at 240 nits. But rival notebooks outshine the T460s, including the HP Elitebook 745 G3 (317 nits) and the Dell Latitude E5470 (278 nits), making them easier to view in direct sunlight.
Keyboard and trackpad
The T460s' keyboard is pretty good overall, but far from the best I’ve seen from the ThinkPad line. On the plus side, the keys are nice and deep, with a generous 1.9 millimeters of travel. Deep keys are a lot more comfortable for marathon typing sessions because they keep you from feeling like you’re "bottoming out" — when the keys hit the base of the keyboard deck with too much force.
On the other hand, the keys felt a bit stiff to me, especially compared to the buttery-smooth feel of the keyboard on last year's ThinkPad T450s. Regardless, the T460s still provides an above-average typing experience, which business users will appreciate.
Like all ThinkPads, the T460s provides two ways to control the mouse cursor. The standard touch pad feels great, with a smooth finish that allows my finger to glide easily. Cursor control felt precise and reliable, and two-finger scrolling was responsive.
There's also a TrackPoint nub located between the G, H and B keys, which lets you control the cursor without moving your hands from home row on the keyboard.
You couldn't ask for a better selection of ports on a work laptop. The right edge includes a USB 3.0 port for connecting accessories, an Ethernet port for connecting to wireless Internet or secure work networks, and HDMI and mini DisplayPort jacks for hooking your laptop up to monitors or projectors. My review model also came with a Smart Card reader for added security.
The left edge, meanwhile, has on extra USB 3.0 port and a 4-in-1 card reader for expanding the notebook's internal storage.
The ThinkPad T460s offers business-class security that should please corporate IT managers and small business owners alike. All models come with hardware encryption, while a fingerprint scanner located to the left of the touchpad ensures that thieves can't access your work data if your laptop is lost or stolen.
The fingerprint scanner proved very reliable during my testing period. While the lower-end ThinkPad T460 (without the S) requires you to swipe your finger slowly down over its scanner, the T460s has a single-touch scanner that swiftly signed me in each time I used it.
At checkout, you can also add a Smart Card Reader to the T460s. That will let you log into your laptop using a physical key card that you carry with you.
The ThinkPad T460s is more portable than its predecessor, but it doesn't last as long on a charge. It ran for a middling 7 hours and 21 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's not terrible, however. Dell's Latitude E5470 and HP'sEliteBook 745 G3 offer similar endurance, though the ThinkPad X1 Yoga ran for a more solid 8 hours and 38 minutes.
Keep in mind that our T460s review model came with a touch display, a feature that tends to drain batteries quickly. Lenovo also sells the system with a standard display, which probably improves its battery life by an hour or two, based on our experience with touch-enabled laptops. We didn't have a chance to test the non-touch model, though.
Our T460s review model came equipped with a sixth-generation, 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state drive storage. That setup provided plenty of computing power for heavy multitasking. I didn't notice a hint of lag while editing a large spreadsheet and streaming HD video, even with a dozen tabs open in my Firefox Web browser.
The system performed well on the Geekbench 3 benchmark test, which measures overall performance, with a solid score of 6,796. That easily beats the category average of 6,271, and edges out similar notebooks such as the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (6,465).
I was also impressed by the T460s' performance on our spreadsheet test. It took the system just 4 minutes and 10 seconds to match 20,000 names to their addresses on a spreadsheet, which is much faster than the category average.
Lenovo sells the ThinkPad T460s in a wide variety of hardware configurations. The low-end model comes with an Intel Core i5-6200 processor with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD for $980.
I reviewed a pricier model, which comes with a faster Core i5 6300U CPU and 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a 1080p touch screen for $1,353. I’d recommend ordering a non-touch model, though, to get better battery life.
Higher-end models offer hardware up to a 6th-Generation Intel Core i7 chip with as much as 20GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state drive storage.
The ThinkPad T460s combines fast performance with business friendly features, including strong security and a durable build. Its 14-inch display is sharp and roomy enough to work on, and commuters will love its relative portability. And starting at $980, it's reasonably affordable compared to other business-class models.
On the other hand, Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga might be an even better option for mobile workers, since it has longer battery life, though it’s a bit pricier, starting at around $1,400. Meanwhile, the ThinkPad T460 (without the S) is heftier, but offers a comfier keyboard in addition to better battery life, and starts at $809.
Still, for a well-rounded work machine that won't weigh you down, the T460s is a very good option.