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Lenovo ThinkPad T440s Ultrabook Review: The Ultimate Business Ultraportable?

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Performance - Storage Devices, Synthetic GPU, Gaming

Performance – Storage Devices

Let’s take a look next at the solid-state drive in greater detail:

AS SSD Benchmark

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AS SSD is a great way to open for any solid-state drive.  Here, the score of 776 reveals some weaknesses, however; specifically, write performance is slow for an SSD, and the 4K performance (especially with 64 threads) is nothing special either.  These deficiencies add up to underwhelming scores in both the read/write columns, but the system still feels quick regardless, especially compared to those with a standard mechanical drive.

ATTO Disk Benchmarks

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The Samsung drive’s disappointing write performance is again exemplified here across all chunk sizes.  With literally half of the write speed of the X240’s 256 GB variant, it’s just one more reason to bite the bullet and go with the larger capacity drive.

CrystalDiskMark 3.0

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Again, quick read speeds and oddly limited write speeds, unwilling to budge beyond the ~130 MB/s mark.

HD Tune

Finally, here’s HD Tune’s results:

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Gaming Performance

Seeing as it’s low-voltage, we obviously can’t expect too much from the T440s’ integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, which is clocked at 200 MHz – 1000 MHz (Turbo Boost under available thermal headroom).  Plus, the single-channel RAM design further inhibits the integrated GPU’s capabilities seeing as the memory is shared.  Nevertheless, that won’t stop us from throwing our usual array of GPU tests at it, beginning with our synthetic GPU benchmarks.  Let’s see what happens.

Synthetic GPU Benchmarks

We begin with 3DMark (2013 edition).

3DMark (2013)

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The most interesting thing about this particular graph is the X240’s higher scores, especially on Ice Storm. We would attribute this to the increased amount of RAM available to the GPU on the X240 (which features 8 GB of RAM as opposed to 4 GB, though both machines are single-channel configurations), as not many other configuration differences exist; the throttling situation is the same for both.  Strangely, however, the Flex 14 also was beaten by the same margin, and it also features 8 GB of RAM.  So, mysterious as it may be, here are our results, with the T440s and Flex 14 within throwing distance of one another, and the X240 oddly a few leaps ahead.

3DMark 11

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3DMark 11, on the other hand, offers no such discrepancies, with the T440s actually beating the X240 by a small margin.  The Flex 14 falls even further behind, with the X230 nearly matching its score.

Gaming Benchmarks

Now let’s take a look at some actual games.  Quite clearly, not much gaming enjoyment will be possible on the T440s, but it’s still worthwhile to see just how it stands in comparison to other notebooks.

Just Cause 2

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Forgoing the temptations to load up the multiplayer mod and wreak some senseless havoc, we benchmarked Just Cause 2 under various different settings templates and found that—as expected—it’s basically unplayable.  The most relevant comparison given the inadequacies of the graphics adapter is 768p, low detail, and so that’s what we’ve graphed above.  As you can see, with around 16 frames per second, the T440s performs even more poorly than the IdeaPad Flex 14—not surprising when you factor in its penchant for throttling under even short-term GPU stress.

StarCraft II

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Although Medium quality graphic settings are pretty iffy, the T440s (like most machines) can at least handle StarCraft II on Low.

Diablo III

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Diablo III is unfortunately borderline even on Low settings.  You might be able to dial back the resolution some to be safe, but for the most part the game is pretty stuttery on the T440s.

For record-keeping purposes, we also benchmarked the performance in Metro 2033 and Bioshock Infinite, but with scores of 10 and 18 frames per second (respectively) on Low settings at 768p, these clearly are not practical options.

February 3, 2014 | 11:37 AM - Posted by pdjblum

I am purely a desktop guy, but I mostly always read pc per laptop/notebook reviews. I thought the touchpad is a critical i/o part of a laptop? Assuming this is the case, I really do not know how you can give it a gold award with such a fatal flaw? Whenever I had to use laptops in the past, I used an external mouse because I could never get used to touchpads. But I am in the minority, and I would think having a horrible touchpad would be a deal breaker for most veteran laptop users.

Otherwise, very nice review. Thanks.

February 3, 2014 | 11:44 AM - Posted by Jwolf (not verified)

You cant go wrong with a Thinkpad. Besides the keyboard layout change I find their laptops perfect. They dont look pretty but wont break if you drop them.

February 3, 2014 | 11:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Love Lenovo`s battery options and their getting the things that matter right.
Sounds like the right company bought Moto ; )

February 3, 2014 | 12:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Do a review of the OneLink Dock ! Sounds amazing !

February 3, 2014 | 12:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hello Moto !

February 3, 2014 | 06:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The unit you reviewed came with the AUO display? I heard a lot of people are having issue with LG display
can you please check and let us know ?

February 3, 2014 | 08:10 PM - Posted by Daniel (not verified)

Look out with these models if you want to plug in an external display. I've got 150 of these (touchscreen model, Windows 8.1) here at work running through the pro docks, and the attached display will lose sync and blank out at random intervals. Sometimes it will come back, other times you're forced to unplug and replug the display.

Lenovo have acknowledged that there's an issue with the display subsystem, and are currently working with Intel on a fix.

We've seen the issue whether connected through DisplayPort, analog VGA, or DVI-D - and on several different makes and models of connected external display. We've been told that we're not the only customer experiencing this issue either.

That said, I've got two HP LE2202x displays currently plugged into my own T440s, and it has been fine for the several months that I've been using it.

As for pointer jumpiness when clicking the trackpad, I find that it's not too bad once the correct Synaptics software's installed. If the software's not installed, the trackpad's basically unusable. Still, the pointing interface is worse than on old models like the X1 Carbon. The lack of separate buttons above the trackpad for use with the touchpoint is a real pain if you're used to the old design.

I think they're a good machine, and even despite the display issues would still buy them again if I had to do it over. They're solid-feeling, have a good keyboard, the touchscreen works well, and they have good battery life.

February 3, 2014 | 09:15 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Man..This is quite maddening. I am an IT consultant for the past 20+ years and for the past 6 have been using an older MacBook pro. Still working on it now. It is showing it's age and honestly I am quite bored of OSX. I work with windows, OSx and Linux and have been researching notebooks for the past month or so to find one for me. Basically my plan is to install Linux as a desktop OS and virtual box Windows 8.1, etc if I need windows apps.

Basically, it was a toss up with the dell xps 13 and this T440s and the XPS 13 has some sort of high pitched whine issue so that pushed me closer to getting the T440s. The trackpad on the T440s really does not bother me since I have been using the trackpad on the macbook all this time and am used to the full pad. I have never used the trackpoint. So this system really seemed to be the one.

However, what are the lead times on these? Lenovo has a sale going on now and it looks like 3-4 week leads. I am really hard on computers and this one really seemed to fit the bill.

ALSO, is anyone else running Linux on these boxes? I have been reading issues with Wifi and touchpad.

Thanks
Dave

February 24, 2014 | 01:22 AM - Posted by Giako (not verified)

Hi Dave,

I am also coming from a 5 years of MAC Pro and through reviews I found the T440s the most suitable successor. However before to buy it I stil l want to see clear this trackpad point. I used with the MAC Pro trackpad which let me forgot the mouse. Do you think the T440s has a comparable trackpad?

February 4, 2014 | 01:01 PM - Posted by Steve Schardein

@pdjblum:

Yes, the touchpad is definitely really important.  In fact, it's one of the primary reasons this machine did not receive an Editor's Choice, which--given a better touchpad and improved GPU performance--it otherwise certainly would have.  It is an excellent PC, but with just a couple of notable drawbacks.  My next review, the ThinkPad X240, will be going live soon as well.  The conclusions there are slightly different... it's a delicate game. :-)

All in all what I want to communicate here is that this is a top-tier model, but that a few missteps hold it back from what I would consider to be the pinnacle of excellence that many of its predecessors were.  Gold seems appropriate to me under the circumstances!

 

@Anonymous:

Yep, this one is an AUO display.  No quality issues that I can detect.

 

@Daniel:

Thanks for the feedback/warnings on this.  I didn't notice any problems with display output, but then again I didn't operate with either a dock or an external monitor for any lengthy period of time.

 

@Anonymous2:

No idea on lead times or Linux compatibility... all I know is mine worked great with Windows and it arrived without my even asking! ;-D

 

Thanks for the feedback everyone, glad you enjoyed the review.  Stay tuned for my X240 review soon!

 

-Steve

February 4, 2014 | 01:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hello. Thanks for the great review. The X240 has the same touchpad. But I have to say that I come from a mac. The touchpad for the last several years has been the large glass one where the button pushes down. To me coming from a mac the touchpad appears like it will be awesome. The 2 physical buttons (to me) appear to be old school. I know on my mac when I figured out all of the gestures and scrolling, etc I found the experience on any other touchpad painful. So I guess it is where you come from and how you are used to using the notebook. I think if people give it time they will come to the conclusion that it is far better...IMHO.

Plus, no offense but I could never imagine ever using the trackpoint. Again from my perspective I think..."Hello...This is the 1980's and we want your trackpoint back". But again it depends on how you interface with the notebook. Trackpoint for some and touchpad for others. It seems like the new touchpoint is being crucified by a lot of purists. I think they need to give it time.

One thing that does bother me too is that the CPU is dual core and not quad core. And the HD4400 is not wonderful. A Macbook Pro 13 has a dual core and an HD5200 (iris) graphics and the price is about the same. A midrange macbook pro 13 is $1499.00

So fun.

Thanks
Dave
Again, thanks for the awesome review. Love it.

February 5, 2014 | 02:55 PM - Posted by Dan (not verified)

Waiting to see some reviews of the actual workhorse laptop in the T-series, the T440p.

February 5, 2014 | 03:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

the T440P is not worth it
with the max configuration it comes to $2000+

February 5, 2014 | 04:53 PM - Posted by localhostrulez (not verified)

What are idle CPU temps like? When you actually use the machine, does it ever feel slow? (ex. open 10 pages in new tabs at once)

February 5, 2014 | 09:38 PM - Posted by blitzio

Nice writing, really enjoyed the review!

February 8, 2014 | 11:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Having used it, the touchpad and fake "buttons" are indeed horrible, give terrible control, and the entire trackpad apparatus rattles and moves around with use.

February 12, 2014 | 03:46 PM - Posted by Radomir (not verified)

T440s the best The Ultimate Business Ultraportable laptop with 14" display.The best foto of laptop on entire web.You have stile.

Radomir SERBIA

March 2, 2014 | 06:41 AM - Posted by amadsilentthirst

What the blazes are these modes for battery life??

Reading the review with no links or explanation as to what the Classic or Reading "MODE" actual is, makes all the graphs and details about the battery null and void

At least put a link to where you explain your testing methodology, and yes I can imagine what a reading test is, but that's not numbers...

May 5, 2014 | 01:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Clicking the huge Touchpad as right/left click buttons for the TrackPoint reminds me of a BlackBerry Storm. (That's not a compliment)

August 2, 2014 | 09:55 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

hi..

how to enable mouse pad for lenovo t440s

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