Lenovo ThinkPad T430u Ultrabook
Sometimes, less is simply more ¨C at least Lenovo seems to think so and offers a particularly slim version of the business classic T430 dubbed ThinkPad T430s. But that is not enough and the manufacturer now also enters the ultrabook range with the new, ultra-thin T430u. This ThinkPad is to be the perfect companion for those on the move.
For a price of approximately 900 Euros (~$1176), Lenovo's ThinkPad T430u represents an affordable alternative to the elegant X1 Carbon. Our midrange configuration (N3F3GGE, from 950 Euros/~$1241) integrates an energy-efficient Core i5-3317U, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. As a special highlight, this model can also score with Nvidia's GeForce GT 620M, which promises a noticeable performance boost in contrast to the integrated Intel graphics. Replacement battery for Lenovo ThinkPad X230
Not only business laptops, such as Dell's Latitude E6430s, belong to the T430u's rivals. Other, more consumer oriented ultrabooks, such as Fujitsu's LifeBook U772 or Acer's Aspire TimelineU M5-481TG, also compete. We now want to examine whether Lenovo can prevail against them in proven ThinkPad manner.
Ultrabook or not, the T430u does not differ much from its bigger siblings in regard to shape or design. Its restrained looks do not exactly convey the elegance of a unibody MacBook; the motto "form follows function" comes closer. Ergonomic, matte black surfaces underpin Lenovo's claim to have consistently designed a laptop made for professional use. The buyer merely has to waive on a protecting clamshell frame and the additional display latch found in other T400 models. Replacement battery for ThinkPad X230i
Compared with the usual ultrabook standards, the T430u is truly not a lightweight. It is even slightly heavier than the T430s with a weight of 1.87 kilograms (~4.1 pounds) and very remote from some other contenders. Fujitsu's LifeBook U772 not only weighs 500 grams (~1.1 pounds) less, but is also over 5 mm (~0.2 in) thinner than the 2.1 centimeter (~0.83 inch) high ThinkPad. Nevertheless, the T430u is a very portable device that should at least clearly be preferred over the T430(s) for regular transportation. Replacement battery for LENOVO ThinkPad X230 Hybrid
Although Lenovo relies on a fairly thick case and materials like glass fiber reinforced plastic (FRP), the stability is not completely convincing. The chassis defies selective pressure without problems, but proves to be a bit susceptible to our warping attempts. This also applies to the display that the manufacturer states has been additionally reinforced with aluminum. Some other laptops, such as Asus' UX31A, presented a slightly better performance here. We admit that we are complaining on an exceptionally high level and do not want to forget that the ThinkPad can also score with a few advantages, for example the very precise metal hinges. Replacement battery for Lenovo S200
This successful presentation is finished off with a meticulous workmanship that only exhibits minor weaknesses when looking closely. Considering its price range, the T430u has absolutely fulfilled our expectations.
The ThinkPad T430u is the first, and until now, only model from the T400 series that does not sport a conventional 35 Watt CPU, but an energy-efficient ULV processor with a TDP of merely 17 Watts. Although this has a positive effect on power consumption and temperature development, it also results in a performance loss. Our configuration is powered by a midrange Core i5-3317U that features two computing cores with a default clock of 1.7 GHz each. Depending on the load, the Ivy Bridge CPU can ignite a maximum Turbo Boost of 2.6 GHz and also make use of Hyperthreading technology. As usual, further details can be found in our CPU database. Replacement battery for Lenovo S260
While most business laptops rely only on integrated graphic solutions, Lenovo additionally equips a few T430u models with a GeForce GT 620M. Nvidia's Optimus dynamically switches between the dedicated and integrated CPU so that the GeForce GT 620M is only active when it is really needed. Thus, only the efficient HD Graphics 4000 is enabled for video acceleration or undemanding tasks. Replacement battery for Lenovo S280
The T430u is not exactly generously equipped with a 4 GB working memory (1x 4 GB DDR3-1600 from Hynix), but it is enough. In return, the 128 GB SSD is particularly noteworthy since it promises short booting times and a very responsive system.
The cooling is not always designed for ensuring the maximum Turbo speed during longer CPU full load, particularly in compact ultrabooks. Here, we have to compliment Lenovo. The Core i5-3317U in the T430u stably maintains its maximum clock of 2.4 (2 cores) and 2.6 GHz (1 core) even in extreme situations. Replacement battery for Lenovo s220
This is reflected in good benchmark scores. The ThinkPad achieved 2.39 points in Cinebench R11.5 (64-bit), which is only roughly 20 percent less than with the 35 Watt Core i5-3210M model. The much more expensive Core i7-3517U can only surpass this by 15 percent. The differences in the Cinebench R10 (64-bit) single thread test are equally slim. Our test device achieved 4508 points here. In our opinion, the i5-3317U is the perfect compromise of price, performance and power consumption. Replacement battery for Lenovo s230
A fast storage device that makes loading programs and booting times is more important than the processor's performance in many situations. In line with that, Lenovo equips the ThinkPad with a swift SSD that comes from Toshiba and is dubbed THNSNF128GCSS. A 2.5-inch drive with a height of 7 millimeters (~0.276 in) is found. It is connected via SATA III and features a total flash memory capacity of 128 GB (19 nanometer MLC-NAND). Replacement battery for Lenovo s270
The controller designed by Toshiba excels with extremely high transfer rates. The SSD can compete with the best models on the market due to a sequential transfer speed of 506 MB/s (read) and 455 MB/s (write). Although, for example, Samsung's SSD 830 processes small 4K files a bit faster, Toshiba's drive counters with superior performances in parallel read/write access (4K-64Thrd).
The combination of a Core i5 processor and swift SSD lets the ThinkPad achieve an excellent system performance. With 4208 points in PCMark 7, the T430u is just behind Dell's Latitude E6430s (5896 points) and Fujitsu's LifeBook U772 (5039 points). However, this difference will hardly be noticed in practical use. The PCMark range only has a limited validity since it is a pure synthetic benchmark anyway. Therefore, we would like to briefly report about our subjective practical experience. Replacement battery for Lenovo G770
We could hardly complain about not having enough power during our tests. The ULV processor easily coped with all routine applications and offered enough reserves to even occasionally deal with demanding tasks such as video transcoding. The fewest users will likely yearn for an even faster quad-core CPU. More impressive was the speed of the storage device. Windows 8 was ready to go in 10 seconds after a cold start and many programs started within fractions of a second - SSD power makes it possible. Replacement battery for Lenovo G770A
The combination of a Core i5 processor and swift SSD lets the ThinkPad achieve an excellent system performance. With 4208 points in PCMark 7, the T430u is just behind Dell's Latitude E6430s (5896 points) and Fujitsu's LifeBook U772 (5039 points). However, this difference will hardly be noticed in practical use. The PCMark range only has a limited validity since it is a pure synthetic benchmark anyway. Therefore, we would like to briefly report about our subjective practical experience. Replacement battery for Lenovo G770E
We could hardly complain about not having enough power during our tests. The ULV processor easily coped with all routine applications and offered enough reserves to even occasionally deal with demanding tasks such as video transcoding. The fewest users will likely yearn for an even faster quad-core CPU. More impressive was the speed of the storage device. Windows 8 was ready to go in 10 seconds after a cold start and many programs started within fractions of a second - SSD power makes it possible. Replacement battery for Lenovo G770L
The gaming performance of a business laptop like the T430u is certainly a more secondary issue. However, the ThinkPad is quite suitable to render most up-to-date games smoothly, providing the user makes compromises in resolution and details.
The ultrabook even provided playable frame rates in the screen's native resolution and high settings for Diablo 3 and Dishonored. Even anti-aliasing can be enabled on a low level to enhance the image quality. Anno 2070 and particularly Battlefield 3 have much higher requirements on the GT 620M and consequently, only 1024x768 pixels and low or medium details should be selected. In contrast to contenders featuring an integrated graphics, it is a clear improvement. Replacement battery for Lenovo IdeaPad G770
Lenovo has created an extremely quiet ultrabook with the ThinkPad T430u in almost every operating state. Although the fan is never completely disabled even at idle, the low noise level of 30.9 to 31.1 dB (A) is extremely quiet. The device is virtually silent in most surroundings. The fan stably maintains its low speed in routine use with office programs, Internet browsing and similar applications. Replacement battery for Lenovo IdeaPad G770A
The noise increases during long CPU or graphics-heavy software use. We ascertained a rate of 32.9 dB (A) in 3DMark 06 here. Some laptops have already achieved higher rates in idle operation. The fan's low-pitched frequency and steady noise contribute to this and ensures that the ThinkPad remains in the background acoustically. The T430u takes a top position in comparison with the contenders. Replacement battery for Lenovo IdeaPad G770E
The T430u's power consumption ranges on the level of comparably configured laptops. With 7.2 to 10.9 Watts at idle, the ThinkPad is even on a par with laptops that do not feature a dedicated graphics card, which is particularly due to Nvidia's Optimus. Replacement battery for Lenovo IdeaPad G575A
Interestingly, the power consumption during load and enabled GeForce GPU remained modest. We merely measured just below 37 Watts in 3DMark 06 - so 3 to 4 Watts more than with the noticeably weaker HD Graphics 4000. The GT 620M obviously benefits from its low clock rate and the 28 nanometer processing, and is thus especially efficient. The included 65 Watt PSU is more than sufficiently sized and also easily coped with our stress test (42.4 Watts). Replacement battery for Lenovo IdeaPad G770L
Like in most ultrabooks, the T430u's battery is not removable. Unlike the T430 and T430s, it cannot be expanded due to the lack of an UltraBay slot. The lithium-polymer battery features a capacity of 47 Wh, which is to achieve a maximum runtime of 6.6 hours according to Lenovo.
We recorded 6 hours and 16 minutes via the Battery Eater's Reader's test (energy-saving mode, wireless modules and GPU off, minimum brightness) in our assessments and can thus confirm the manufacturer's specifications. Replacement battery for Lenovo G575
The user can count on approximately 3 to 4 hours in practical use. Exactly 3 hours and 25 minutes in our standardized Wi-Fi test (energy-saving mode, GPU disabled, 150 cd/m²) is not a bad time. However, it is at best average for this device category (LifeBook U772: 5 hours 17 minutes). Replacement battery for Lenovo G575M
The Battery Eater's Classic test (high-performance, wireless module and GPU enabled, maximum brightness) reduced the battery runtime to almost two hours. The full performance is demanded from the processor and graphics card here and they are not artificially throttled. The user can thus rely on the full speed away from the mains. Replacement battery for Lenovo G575A
This much is certain: The tried ThinkPad recipe also works perfectly in ultrabook size. Although the T430u has room for improvement, it fuses many of the strengths that have been valued by regular customers for now 20 years.
Among them, a solid and well-processed casing that does not feature the elegance of a unibody chassis, but excels with very useful qualities, such as matte surfaces or long-lasting metal hinges. Especially noteworthy are the high-quality input devices that Lenovo also continually improves. Our past complaints have been heard and a bigger touchpad is now finally implemented. The traditional TrackPoint is naturally also still incorporated. Replacement battery for Lenovo G575E
However, where there is light there is also shadow, and this can literally be transferred to the screen in this case. Much worse than the TN screen's unsatisfactory quality is the weak backlight, which restricts outdoor suitability. The battery runtimes also lag behind the top rates in this device category. Replacement battery for Lenovo G575L
The ThinkPad can score again in performance. Virtually every ultrabook offers a Core i5 processor and a swift SSD, but only a few contenders offer an additional GeForce GPU option. It ensures that the T430u can replace a full-blown laptop in games and 3D applications. Lenovo also keeps absolute control over the emissions; hardly a comparable device stays this cool and quiet. Replacement battery for Lenovo G575G
In a nutshell, we can say that the T430u is an attractive laptop for business and private customers alike if the buyer can relinquish the last ounce of mobility. The current price of 950 Euros (~$1241) is fair throughout considering the given offerings.