Notebookcheck

Lenovo ThinkPad T450 Ultrabook Review

Till Schönborn (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 04/09/2015

Cutting the wrong corners? Compromises in the casing, screen and configuration make the ThinkPad T450 a comparatively affordable alternative to the high-end T450s model. However, the buyer should carefully consider whether the money saved really makes up for the drawbacks.

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For the original German review, see here.

As shining as the Lenovo ThinkPad T450s was in our recent test, the premium-range device's price of well over 1000 Euros (~$1077) would not fit in everyone's budget. Fortunately, the manufacturer has a somewhat less costly alternative in its lineup: The ThinkPad T450.

The potential saving is largely based on the slimmed down configuration of the basic models, which are available with Core i3 processors and simple WXGA screens. However, the T450 can be configured just as extensively as the T450s - a few tidbits, such as a Full HD IPS screen, are exclusively reserved for the higher positioned sister model. Our review sample comes from Lenovo's Campus program, and therefore only pupils, students and teachers can buy it. On the other hand, the currently 1150 Euros (~$1240) model can boast with a fast Core i5-5200U, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. The 14-inch screen has a resolution of 1600x900 pixels, and is powered by the integrated HD Graphics 5500.

Rivals of the ThinkPad T450 are, for example, the Dell Latitude E7450, the HP EliteBook 840 G2, and the AsusPro Advanced BU401LA. Beyond that, we would like to examine whether the price difference to the T450 is appropriate or if the buyer should choose Lenovo's flagship from the outset.

Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 5500, Core: 300 - 900 MHz, single-channel memory, 10.18.10.4013
Memory
8192 MB 
, 1x 8 GB DDR3L-1600, 1 of 2 slots filled
Display
14 inch 16:9, 1600x900 pixel, Samsung LTN140KT14401, TN screen, LED backlight, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Broadwell-U PCH-LP (Premium)
Storage
Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP, 256 GB 
, 174 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Broadwell PCH-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 VGA, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headset jack (3.5 millimeters), Card Reader: 4-in-1 (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC), 1 SmartCard, 1 Fingerprint Reader
Networking
Intel Ethernet Connection I218-V (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 (a/b/g/h/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 21 x 339 x 232.5 ( = 0.83 x 13.35 x 9.15 in)
Battery
48 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 24 Wh integrated + 24 Wh external
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p
Additional features
Speakers: stereo (2x 1 W), Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 45 watt power supply, brochures, ThinkVantage Tools, Nitro Pro 9, Norton Internet Security (trial), 36 Months Warranty
Weight
1.73 kg ( = 61.02 oz / 3.81 pounds), Power Supply: 220 g ( = 7.76 oz / 0.49 pounds)
Price
1150 Euro

 

Differences from the Former Model

Opened underside
Opened underside

Identical dimensions, identical weight - Lenovo has apparently adopted the casing from the ThinkPad T440 without any modifications. Therefore, we will not reanalyze it and would refer to our review from last year. Unlike the T450s, the T450 has slightly more depth and approximately 150 gram (~5.3 oz) heavier weight, which is due in part to the different casing materials. For example, the display lid is made of GRP (T450) and not the lighter CFP (T450s).

Some innovations are found in a few other aspects when compared with the T440. For example, a USB 3.0 port has been added to the connectivity (same layout as in the T450s), and a second DDR3 slot has been installed inside the casing. The T450 even stands out from the T450s with this. The latter has only one slot and 4 GB of soldered memory.

Last but not least: Of course, the T450 also features the revised UltraNav unit, comprised of touchpad and TrackPoint including dedicated keys, common to all 2015 ThinkPad models. More details about it can also be found in our review of the T450s.

(The following screenshots show the ThinkPad T450s with identical layout)

Left: Power socket, USB 3.0, mini-DisplayPort, USB 3.0, SmartCard reader
Left: Power socket, USB 3.0, mini-DisplayPort, USB 3.0, SmartCard reader
Right: Headset jack, card reader, SIM slot, USB 3.0, Gbit LAN, VGA, Kensington Lock
Right: Headset jack, card reader, SIM slot, USB 3.0, Gbit LAN, VGA, Kensington Lock

Display

T450 buyers can choose from three different 14-inch screens that are all based on low-cost TN technology. A WXGA screen with 1366x768 pixels 200 cd/m², 350:1, 112 ppi) marks the start, followed by the WXGA++ model with 1600x900 pixels (250 cd/m², 400:1, 131 ppi) that we are testing. Lenovo also has a touchscreen version of the latter screen, which however not only boosts the price, but also the laptop's weight and thickness. Furthermore, the additional touchscreen layer reduces the screen's brightness (212.5 cd/m²).

Unfortunately, the brightness rates promised by the manufacturer do not have much in common with reality. Rather than 250 cd/m², we only measured a modest 163 cd/m² in our review sample - more than just a slight deviation. Additionally, the backlight does not illuminate the entire screen evenly. Instead, it gets markedly weaker from top to bottom. The screen exhibits some weak PWM flickering when the brightness is reduced; but it is unlikely that most users would notice this. We needed a 60 fps video clip as proof.

185
cd/m²
188
cd/m²
200
cd/m²
148
cd/m²
166
cd/m²
159
cd/m²
139
cd/m²
135
cd/m²
148
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 200 cd/m² Average: 163.1 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 68 %
Center on Battery: 166 cd/m²
Contrast: 234:1 (Black: 0.71 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 7.16 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 7.62 | - Ø
37.8% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.25
Lenovo ThinkPad T450
Dell Latitude E7450
HP EliteBook 840 G2
AsusPro Advanced BU401LA
Lenovo ThinkPad T440
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s
Screen
85%
-9%
22%
-1%
96%
Brightness
163
257
58%
240
47%
209
28%
268
64%
268
64%
Brightness Distribution
68
75
10%
84
24%
89
31%
86
26%
91
34%
Black Level *
0.71
0.3
58%
0.8
-13%
0.436
39%
0.918
-29%
0.245
65%
Contrast
234
933
299%
334
43%
495
112%
320
37%
1110
374%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
7.16
3.45
52%
12.71
-78%
9.63
-34%
10.9
-52%
4.35
39%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
7.62
3.35
56%
13.91
-83%
10.72
-41%
11.88
-56%
3.7
51%
Gamma
2.25 107%
2.37 101%
2.35 102%
2.49 96%
2.37 101%
2.68 90%
CCT
9371 69%
6940 94%
20099 32%
12873 50%
15518 42%
6076 107%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
37.8
60
59%
37.2
-2%
44.8
19%
40
6%
54.7
45%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
92
83.5

* ... smaller is better

AdobeRGB coverage (37.8 %)
AdobeRGB coverage (37.8 %)
sRGB coverage (54.5 %)
sRGB coverage (54.5 %)

As mentioned before, the screen from Samsung (model number: LTN140KT14401) is a TN model. One of the many drawbacks of this technology is a tendency for a lower contrast than in a higher quality and slightly more expensive IPS model. The model at hand does a particularly poor job with a ratio of 234:1, and again deviates from the rate in Lenovo's spec sheet (400:1). Consequently, the image is extremely pale and lifeless, black image areas shift into a bright gray, particularly in low ambient light.

It is hardly surprising that the screen shows weaknesses in color reproduction in view of the disappointing presentation. The screen suffers under a visible bluish cast ex-factory. However, calibration can significantly reduce  the high DeltaE shift in the colors and grayscale levels. Nevertheless, the ThinkPad T450 will remain unsuitable for professional graphic designers and photographers (at least without an external monitor) because the important color spaces like Adobe and RGB are inadequately covered.

ColorChecker (pre-calibration)
ColorChecker (pre-calibration)
Saturation Sweeps (pre-calibration)
Saturation Sweeps (pre-calibration)
Grayscale (pre-calibration)
Grayscale (pre-calibration)
ColorChecker (post-calibration)
ColorChecker (post-calibration)
Saturation Sweeps (post-calibration)
Saturation Sweeps (post-calibration)
Grayscale (post-calibration)
Grayscale (post-calibration)

Despite the screen's anti-reflective surface, we cannot recommend the T450 for outdoor use. The far too low maximum brightness makes legibility difficult in the shade; the content is only vaguely recognizable in direct sunlight. Therefore, our review sample takes the last place in our comparison round - an extremely embarrassing presentation considering the four-figure purchase price.

Outdoors

Viewing angles: Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Viewing angles: Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE

The user will only find a true reproduction when looking straight at the screen. The slightest deviation, particularly upward or downward, leads to an intense contrast loss and/or inverted colors. This often results in an extremely annoying restriction, which again reinforces our call for a viewing angle stable, bright and high-contrast IPS screen.

Performance

2.7 GHz maximum Turbo clock rate
2.7 GHz maximum Turbo clock rate

Intel's Core i5-5200U is the successor of the popular Core i5-4200U and Core i5-4210U Haswell models. As well as marginally higher clock rates ranging from 2.2 to 2.7 GHz (2 cores: 2.5 GHz), the dual-core chip also offers approximately 5% higher per-MHz performance thanks to the optimized Broadwell micro-architecture. Despite the new 14 nanometer manufacturing process, the nominal TDP of 15 watts remains unchanged. More information and benchmarks can be found in our CPU database.

Lenovo does not provide dedicated graphic solutions for the ThinkPad T450. Thus, the integrated HD Graphics 5500 has to take care of video output. The HD 5500 is located in the low-end sector, although it now has 24 EUs rather than 20 execution units (HD Graphics 4400, Haswell), and supports the latest DirectX 11.2 API. There are undoubtedly better alternatives for up-to-date 3D games.

Our review sample excels with a 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of DDR3L-1600 RAM in terms of memory configuration. The manufacturer only fills one of the two DIMM slots, which facilitates upgrade intentions, but also forces the memory controller in the slower single-channel mode. As with other Broadwell laptops, the T450 also works seamlessly with (unfortunately still very pricey) 16 GB modules. Consequently, it would principally be possible to upgrade the RAM up to 32 GB.

Core i5-5200U Core i5-4200U Core i5-4210U

Architecture

Broadwell Haswell Haswell

Lithography

14 nm 22 nm 22 nm

Base clock / Turbo DC / Turbo SC

2.2 / 2.5 / 2.7 GHz 1.6 / 2.3 / 2.6 GHz 1.7 / 2.4 / 2.7 GHz

Cores/Threads

2/4 2/4 2/4

L3-Cache

3 MB 3 MB 3 MB

Graphics unit

HD Graphics 5500
24 EUs, 300 - 900 MHz
HD Graphics 4400
20 EUs, 200 - 1000 MHz
HD Graphics 4400
20 EUs, 200 - 1000 MHz

Memory controller

Dual-Channel 1600 MHz Dual-Channel 1600 MHz Dual-Channel 1600 MHz

System information: Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE

Processor

Ideal Turbo utilization in single and...
Ideal Turbo utilization in single and...
...multi-threading.
...multi-threading.

Regardless of whether AC or battery mode - the Turbo of the Core i5-5200U was always ideally utilized. This means that the maximum clock rates of 2.5 GHz (multithreading) and 2.7 GHz (single threading) remained stable even during prolonged benchmarks. Therefore, the ThinkPad achieves the exact same performance level as the EliteBook 840 G2 based on the same CPU and outperforms the i5-4200U in the precursor by approximately 10 to 15%.

Alternatively, the T450 can be configured with faster Broadwell processors such as the i5-5300U or i7-5600U. However, buyers should think twice about paying the extra price in view of their modest performance increase of just about 8 and 18%. Subjectively, the differences do not range within a noticeable magnitude.

Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U
1.26 Points ∼83%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
1.51 Points ∼100% +20%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U
1.35 Points ∼89% +7%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U
1.42 Points ∼94% +13%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U
1.26 Points ∼83% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6A002PB
Intel Core i5-4200U
1.14 Points ∼75% -10%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U
2.85 Points ∼86%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
3.31 Points ∼100% +16%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U
3.07 Points ∼93% +8%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U
2.9 Points ∼88% +2%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U
2.81 Points ∼85% -1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6A002PB
Intel Core i5-4200U
2.46 Points ∼74% -14%
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U
110 Points ∼85%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
130 Points ∼100% +18%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U
117 Points ∼90% +6%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U
124 Points ∼95% +13%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U
109 Points ∼84% -1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6A002PB
Intel Core i5-4200U
98 Points ∼75% -11%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U
262 Points ∼87%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
302 Points ∼100% +15%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U
280 Points ∼93% +7%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U
271 Points ∼90% +3%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U
259 Points ∼86% -1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6A002PB
Intel Core i5-4200U
228 Points ∼75% -13%
X264 HD Benchmark 4.0
Pass 2 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U
16.28 fps ∼87%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
18.72 fps ∼100% +15%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U
17.51 fps ∼94% +8%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U
18.37 fps ∼98% +13%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6A002PB
Intel Core i5-4200U
14 fps ∼75% -14%
Pass 1 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U
84.34 fps ∼82%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
102.36 fps ∼100% +21%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U
92.11 fps ∼90% +9%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U
95.5 fps ∼93% +13%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6A002PB
Intel Core i5-4200U
75 fps ∼73% -11%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4069
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
5473
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
8700
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
5380 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
11112 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
5607 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.26 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
18.73 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.85 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
262 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
25.09 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
98 %
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
110 Points
Help

Storage Device

AS-SSD benchmark
AS-SSD benchmark

Unlike the basic configuration of the T450 that has to be satisfied with a low-cost, 500 GB hard drive, our review sample is equipped with a fast SSD in a 2.5-inch format. The M.2 2242 slot in the laptop is empty ex-factory, and the user can install either another SSD or a WWAN module.

The installed hard drive is a Samsung PM851 that is closely related to the more consumer oriented SSD 840 line and relies on a TLC flash memory. Except for the mediocre sequential write performance, the data rates that we ascertained were consistently impressive. However, that is not all: SSDs from Samsung belong to the most reliable models on the market, which will probably be of more importance to the customers than the last ounce of performance.

Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
Transfer Rate Minimum: 151.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 449.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 387.1 MB/s
Access Time: 0.1 ms
Burst Rate: 178.8 MB/s
CPU Usage: 1 %

System Performance

Overall, the combination of a fast-reacting SSD and fast processor ensure an extremely responsive system that easily copes with common office applications. Thanks to its 8 GB of RAM, the T450 has enough reserves for multitasking. However, the two cores in the Core i5-5200U will find their limits sooner or later. At least the CPU with a TDP of only 15 watts achieves roughly the same performance as a 35-watt Core i5-3210M from 2012 - the T series has not become much faster in the past three years, but it is now more energy efficient and mobile. It is in the eye of the beholder whether this development is positive or negative. Fortunately, Lenovo has a suitable alternative for performance junkies in its portfolio with the ThinkPad T440p

The T450 places itself on par with HP's EliteBook 840 G2 in the synthetic benchmarks, while the Latitude E7450 and the ThinkPad T450s with a stronger processor manage a slight lead. The AsusPro BU401LA surprises with the best PCMark 7 score, but lags far behind in the newer PCMark 8 - a behavior that we do not really understand, but which might be due to a different weighting of single performance factors.

PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
HD Graphics 5500, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
4241 Points ∼53%
Dell Latitude E7450
HD Graphics 5500, 5300U, Samsung SSD PM851 mSATA 128 GB
4650 Points ∼58% +10%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
HD Graphics 5500, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
4139 Points ∼51% -2%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
HD Graphics 5000, 4650U, Liteonit LCS-256M6S
5190 Points ∼64% +22%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
HD Graphics 5500, 5600U, Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series SSDSC2BF360A5L
4797 Points ∼60% +13%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
HD Graphics 5500, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
4101 Points ∼63%
Dell Latitude E7450
HD Graphics 5500, 5300U, Samsung SSD PM851 mSATA 128 GB
4002 Points ∼61% -2%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
HD Graphics 5500, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
4044 Points ∼62% -1%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
HD Graphics 5000, 4650U, Liteonit LCS-256M6S
3261 Points ∼50% -20%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
HD Graphics 5500, 5600U, Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series SSDSC2BF360A5L
4394 Points ∼67% +7%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
HD Graphics 5500, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
3125 Points ∼34%
Dell Latitude E7450
HD Graphics 5500, 5300U, Samsung SSD PM851 mSATA 128 GB
3459 Points ∼37% +11%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
HD Graphics 5500, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
3139 Points ∼34% 0%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
HD Graphics 5000, 4650U, Liteonit LCS-256M6S
2495 Points ∼27% -20%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
HD Graphics 5500, 5600U, Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series SSDSC2BF360A5L
3613 Points ∼39% +16%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
HD Graphics 5500, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
2989 Points ∼50%
Dell Latitude E7450
HD Graphics 5500, 5300U, Samsung SSD PM851 mSATA 128 GB
2932 Points ∼49% -2%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
HD Graphics 5500, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
2936 Points ∼49% -2%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
HD Graphics 5000, 4650U, Liteonit LCS-256M6S
2711 Points ∼45% -9%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
HD Graphics 5500, 5600U, Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series SSDSC2BF360A5L
3270 Points ∼55% +9%
PCMark 7 Score
4241 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2989 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
3125 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4101 points
Help

Graphics Card

4K, H.265: smooth rendering during medium CPU load
4K, H.265: smooth rendering during medium CPU load

As the middle option, also known as GT2, of the Broadwell GPU, the HD Graphics 5500 (24 EUs) is exactly located between the HD Graphics (GT1, 12 EUs) and HD Graphics 6000 (GT3, 48 EUs). The GT1 version is exclusively found in Celeron and Pentium processors, and the GT3 version is reserved for only a few Core i5 and Core i7 models.

Unlike our previous T440 review sample, the T450 in this article competes with only one memory module, which lessens the 3D performance by approximately 20%. This corresponds roughly to the performance difference between the HD Graphics 4400 and HD Graphics 5500 - or in other words: An HD 5500 with a single-channel interface cannot outrun the HD 4400 with a dual-channel memory.

However, the ThinkPad can be entrusted with multimedia tasks and simple 3D applications without any hesitation, and even smaller CAD projects are possible with some concessions. For anything beyond that, a laptop with a dedicated GPU is recommended - even absolute low-end solutions, such as a GeForce 820M, are often 50% faster in synthetic benchmarks.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
976 Points ∼78%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
1023 Points ∼82% +5%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
940 Points ∼75% -4%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U, Intel HD Graphics 5000
1120 Points ∼90% +15%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
1251 Points ∼100% +28%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6005YGE
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400
901 Points ∼72% -8%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
597 Points ∼79%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
619 Points ∼82% +4%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
548 Points ∼73% -8%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U, Intel HD Graphics 5000
644 Points ∼86% +8%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
753 Points ∼100% +26%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
4544 Points ∼79%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
4655 Points ∼81% +2%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
4342 Points ∼75% -4%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U, Intel HD Graphics 5000
4565 Points ∼79% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
5782 Points ∼100% +27%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6005YGE
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400
4485 Points ∼78% -1%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
39908 Points ∼72%
Dell Latitude E7450
Intel Core i5-5300U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
43346 Points ∼78% +9%
HP EliteBook 840 G2
Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
37502 Points ∼67% -6%
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
Intel Core i7-4650U, Intel HD Graphics 5000
45548 Points ∼82% +14%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
55793 Points ∼100% +40%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6005YGE
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400
39078 Points ∼70% -2%
3DMark 11 Performance
976 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
39908 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
4544 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
597 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Clock rates and power consumption in Dota 2
Clock rates and power consumption in Dota 2

Since we have already tested the HD Graphics 5500 many times, we will briefly examine the gaming performance here, and refer to the multitude of benchmark results in our database. In summary: Up-to-date games like “Battlefield Hardline” stutter in an unplayable manner even with minimum settings and 1024x768 pixels. Older classics like “Dota 2” or “Counter-Strike: GO” are not a problem for the GPU, even in the native screen resolution in some cases.

low med. high ultra
Tomb Raider (2013) 44.922.614.7fps
Dota 2 (2013) 58.333.7fps
Thief (2014) 13.59.17.5fps

Emissions

System Noise

Modern ULV processors with such a low consumption level in idle and partial load have made an active cooling superfluous. This is also true for our ThinkPad. The fan is almost never enabled in everyday use and the system is completely silent. However, this is only the case when a configuration without mechanical storage devices is selected.

During the full load, the cooling starts up after a while, and reaches a maximum of  35 dB(A). Although the T450 is slightly louder than the T440 (max. 33.5 dB(A)) or the EliteBook 840 G2 (max. 34.2 dB(A)), the laptop can also be described as extremely quiet and not at all distracting.

Noise Level

Idle
29.2 / 29.2 / 29.2 dB(A)
Load
34.9 / 35.1 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft SL-451 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test
Prime95
Prime95

Despite the sporadically running fan, the user does not have to worry about critical temperatures. During our stress test, a hot spot of 47 °C (~117 °F) developed on the underside's center exactly over the processor. Otherwise, the entire device barely got lukewarm and thus can be used on the lap without hesitation.

The Core i5-5200U loaded with Prime95 and FurMark settled at acceptable 66 °C (~151 °F) after a short peak of approximately 74 °C (~165 °F). However, like in all other rivals it throttled slightly (CPU: 1.5 GHz; GPU: 750 MHz). Here, the low TDP is the limiting factor despite its 14-nanometer production. This behavior was not observed outside synthetic load tools.

 27.4 °C28 °C29.7 °C 
 28.7 °C28.5 °C30.3 °C 
 26.5 °C27.3 °C27.6 °C 
Maximum: 30.3 °C
Average: 28.2 °C
30.2 °C29.5 °C29.5 °C
29.5 °C31 °C28.8 °C
27.4 °C26.9 °C26 °C
Maximum: 31 °C
Average: 28.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  31.4 °C | Room Temperature 21.4 °C | Fluke 62 Max

Speakers

Audio settings
Audio settings

Lenovo seems to have largely adopted the integrated stereo speakers from the precursor. The very loud and clear sounding speakers are sufficient for simple purposes like Skype. However unfortunately, the playback lacks the desired emphasis in the bass range. Compared with other office laptops, the ThinkPad only does an average job, and the user should consider connecting an external sound system via the jack when required. The audio signal can also be rendered digitally via the mini-DisplayPort.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Where the T440 still had a minimum idle requirement of 4.1 to 9.7 watts, the T450 is satisfied with just 3 to 6.4 watts. However, it would be wrong to ascribe the entire saving to the new Broadwell platform - the brighter screen and the conventional hard drive in the T440 are probably responsible for most of this difference.

The consumption skyrocketed to just over 40 watts for about 30 seconds only to drop just below 30 watts again during load. This decrease is due to the onset of the TDP limitation: The Core i5 can temporarily take in considerably more than the specified 15 watts, provided that certain parameters are fulfilled (temperature, time limit). The included power supply with a maximum output of 45 watts seems sufficiently sized.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 3 / 5.5 / 6.4 Watt
Load midlight 28.4 / 40.7 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Extech Power Analyzer 380803

Battery Runtime

Impressive efficiency: the CPU's average consumption of 2 watts in the Wi-Fi test.
Impressive efficiency: the CPU's average consumption of 2 watts in the Wi-Fi test.

The T450 uses the same battery system as its T450s sister model. Rather than installing one large battery, Lenovo opts for two smaller units, one of which is screwed inside the casing (24 Wh) and the other inserted in the laptop's rear (24 Wh; 48 or 72 Wh optionally available). The advantage of this solution: Hot-swapping the external battery is possible, i.e. the laptop does not have to be shut down. Thus, the ThinkPad has a total of 48 Wh of electrical power available, which is slightly less than the Latitude E7450 (54 Wh) or the EliteBook 840 G2 (50 Wh).

The low power consumption actually gives hope for long battery runtimes, which is only the case in the idle mode (energy saving mode, minimum brightness, Wi-Fi off). In our Wi-Fi and H.264 assessments, practical partial load and adapted screen brightness (approximately 150 cd/m²), the T450 shut down after a little over 5 hours - a rather below average result in the comparison round. It took 3 hours for the completely depleted batteries to be fully recharged.

Reader's test
Reader's test
Wi-Fi test
Wi-Fi test
H.264 test
H.264 test
Classic test
Classic test
Charging
Charging
Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE
48 Wh
Dell Latitude E7450
54 Wh
HP EliteBook 840 G2
50 Wh
Asus ASUSPRO Advanced BU401LA-CZ020G
53 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
48 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T440 20B6005YGE
48 Wh
Battery Runtime
20%
15%
1%
-8%
-3%
Reader / Idle
935
714
-24%
961
3%
699
-25%
774
-17%
858
-8%
Load
93
115
24%
112
20%
120
29%
88
-5%
96
3%
WiFi v1.3
324
422
30%
422
30%
276
-15%
H.264
300
452
51%
324
8%
296
-1%
322
7%
WiFi
459
310
336
260
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
15h 35min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
5h 24min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
5h 00min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 33min

Pros

+ Stiff, impeccably built casing
+ Outstanding keyboard
+ Decent application performance
+ Low power consumption
+ Low noise and temperature development
+ LTE module or M.2 SSD can be retrofitted
+ Extensive security features
+ 3-year warranty

Cons

- TN screen with low brightness and weak contrast ratio
- Uncomfortable ClickPad
- Middling battery life

Verdict

Lenovo ThinkPad T450. Test model courtesy of campuspoint.de
Lenovo ThinkPad T450. Test model courtesy of campuspoint.de

You get what you pay for - admittedly, the saying is a bit hackneyed and the ThinkPad T450 is definitely not a product that earns the label "cheap". Nevertheless, a grain of truth is found: Lenovo's decision to install such a low-quality screen in a laptop with a price tag of over 1000 Euros (~$1077) - and that probably just to justify the even higher price of the T450s - is difficult to comprehend.

The extremely disappointing TN screen is even more aggravating because the T450 barely gives reason for complaint. Its casing, connectivity and input devices hardly differ if at all, from its more expensive sister model. In addition, the noise and temperature development range on a comparably low level. Beyond that, our review sample shines with a very balanced configuration comprised of a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and SSD that represent a healthy compromise of performance and costs. The battery life could be slightly better, but this drawback can easily be solved at relatively low expense with a larger battery.

In a nutshell, the ThinkPad T450 might be interesting for those buyers who work at home and have an external monitor at hand.

We would warmly recommend everyone else to accept the surcharge for the T450s or to look at the competition from HP or Dell. Both competitors are (at least optionally) available with bright, high-resolution and viewing angle-stable IPS screens, and can compete with the quality of the ThinkPad lineup.

Lenovo ThinkPad T450-20BV001VGE - 04/04/2015 v4(old)
Till Schönborn

Chassis
88 / 98 → 90%
Keyboard
94%
Pointing Device
85%
Connectivity
72 / 80 → 90%
Weight
66 / 67 → 98%
Battery
87%
Display
72%
Games Performance
62 / 68 → 91%
Application Performance
78 / 92 → 85%
Temperature
89%
Noise
95%
Audio
56%
Camera
53 / 85 → 62%
Average
77%
84%
Office - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Lenovo ThinkPad T450 Ultrabook Review
Till Schönborn, 2015-04- 9 (Update: 2015-04-10)