Notebookcheck

Lenovo ThinkPad T460s (Core i7, WQHD) Ultrabook Review

Till Schönborn (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 03/14/2016

On the way to perfection? Lenovo's T460s is proof that even an excellent notebook like the T450s can be improved. No device from the T4x0s series was ever so light and at the same time so powerful – but users will have to waive expandability and maintainability in return.

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For the original German review, see here.

An update for the classic: The ThinkPad T460s – the unofficial flagship within the business lineup – now got a Skylake update as well. However, faster processors are not the only highlight of the 14-inch device: The 2016 model also differs quite a lot from the predecessor in other areas like the chassis, storage solution and display. We will have a close look at all of these aspects in the following review.

But we want to start with a short overview about the available configurations and their prices: In Germany, the T460s starts at around 1,400 Euros (~$1554, 20F9003SGE) with a Core i5-6200U, 4 GB DDR4-RAM and 192 GB SSD storage. Faster CPUs, more memory and other optional extras like an integrated LTE modem will quickly raise the price – 2,350 Euros (~$2609) for our loaded review model (20FA003GGE) to be precise. If possible, you should therefore make use of the heavily subsidized devices within the Lenovo Campus program (available for students and scientific employees). Apart from pre-configured models for retailers, it is also possible to customize the T460s based on your preferences in Lenovo's online shop.

Overview about configurations (without education discount, excerpt):

ThinkPad T460s (20F9003SGE)

ThinkPad T460s (20F90042GE) ThinkPad T460s (20FA003GGE)

Core i5-6200U

Core i5-6200U Core i7-6600U

4 GB DDR4-RAM

8 GB DDR4-RAM 12 GB DDR4-RAM

192 GB (SSD, SATA)

256 GB (SSD, SATA) 512 GB (SSD, PCIe)

HD Graphics 520

HD Graphics 520 HD Graphics 520

1920 x 1080 pixels, IPS panel

1920 x 1080 pixels, IPS panel 2560 x 1440 pixels, IPS panel

no WWAN

UMTS/LTE UMTS/LTE

starting at 1400 Euros

starting at 1700 Euros starting at 2350 Euros

Many devices compete for the office/business notebook crown. Competitors for the T460s are the HP EliteBook 840 G3 as well as the Dell Latitude E7470. We will primarily compare the ThinkPad with these two models but also consider the outgoing (and discounted) predecessor T450s.

Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE (ThinkPad T460s Series)
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 520, Core: 300 - 1050 MHz, Memory: 1066 MHz, 20.19.15.4380
Memory
12288 MB 
, DDR4-2133, 4 GB integrated + 1x 8 GB module, 1 of 1 slot occupied
Display
14 inch 16:9, 2560x1440 pixel, VVX14T058J02, IPS-Panel, LED-Backlight, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Skylake-U Premium PCH
Storage
Samsung SSD SM951a 512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVKV512), 512 GB 
Soundcard
Intel Skylake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: Headset port (3.5 mm jack), Card Reader: MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC, 1 SmartCard, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Intel Ethernet Connection I219-LM (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.2, Huawei Mobile Broadband ME906s (UMTS/HSPA/LTE + GNSS), LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 18.8 x 331 x 227 ( = 0.74 x 13.03 x 8.94 in)
Battery
49 Wh Lithium-Ion, 23 Wh + 26 Wh (both internal)
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p, fixed focus
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo (2x 1 W), Keyboard: Chiclet, 65-Watt PSU, Lenovo ThinkVantage Tools, Lenovo PowerEngage, Lenovo Companion, 36 Months Warranty
Weight
1.345 kg ( = 47.44 oz / 2.97 pounds), Power Supply: 346 g ( = 12.2 oz / 0.76 pounds)
Price
2350 Euro

 

Case

Even lighter, even thinner – the new T460s.
Even lighter, even thinner – the new T460s.

You might think that the T460s is based on the chassis of the T450s at first – but this is not the case: Lenovo actually reworked the construction at several points and focused on improved mobility in particular. Our review unit is around 19 millimeters high and only tips the scale at around 1.35 kilograms, so it is 2 mm thinner and around 250 grams lighter than before. For comparison: Even a MacBook Air with a smaller 13.3-inch screen basically weighs the same. Subjectively, the boxy ThinkPad appears more massive than it actually is, but it is no problem to hold it in one hand or use it on the lap for longer periods in practice.

Such a diet can always hold risks for the stability and torsion resistance. But not in this case: A complex material mix of magnesium and carbon-fiber reinforced plastic – which can, by the way, convince with a surprisingly sophisticated tactile feel – ensures that the chassis does not warp a lot even under heavy pressure. The situation is similar for the display, which is connected via two hinges. They can prevent bouncing very effectively, but you can still open the lid with just one hand. Lenovo also advertises the certification according to the military standard MIL-STD-810 but does not list all the individual tests (among others, the standard includes temperature, vibration, dust and humidity tests) the ThinkPad successfully passed.

The build quality of the T460s can also withstand an extensive inspection and convinces with small gaps and extremely accurate material transitions. Purely from a visual perspective, there might be more appealing unibody metal Ultrabooks, but such a professional working device is more focused on business qualities anyway. The smooth matte-gray surfaces do not attract fingerprints, and dust as well as smaller scratches can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth.

Average performance of the SD-card reader (Toshiba Exceria Pro UHS-II).
Average performance of the SD-card reader (Toshiba Exceria Pro UHS-II).

Similar to the T560, Lenovo sorted out the old VGA port for the T460s and replaced it with a modern HDMI output. Skylake only supports HDMI 1.4 though and not the latest HDMI 2.0 standard, so the resolution of an external monitor is limited to 2560x1440 pixels (60 Hz) or 3840x2160 pixels (30 Hz), respectively. It is possible to drive 4K panels at 60 Hz via Mini-DisplayPort.

The other ports are similar to the T450s, even though Lenovo slightly adjusted the layout. Two of three USB 3.0 ports are on the right side with the video outputs and Gbit-LAN, while the card reader and the headset port are now in the front area on the left side. Overall, the layout leaves a sophisticated and ergonomic impression; all ports are easily accessible for the user.

You should consider an external docking station if you plan to use the T460s as a stationary device most of the time. It can be attached to the bottom of the ThinkPad. Examples would be the ThinkPad Pro Dock for 150 Euros (~$166), which offers six additional USB ports, a couple of video outputs and several other connectors.

Front: no ports
Front: no ports
Left: power, USB 3.0, fan exhaust, headset port, card reader
Left: power, USB 3.0, fan exhaust, headset port, card reader
Rear: no ports
Rear: no ports
Right: SmartCard reader, USB 3.0, Mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.0, Gbit-LAN, SIM-slot, Kensington lock
Right: SmartCard reader, USB 3.0, Mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.0, Gbit-LAN, SIM-slot, Kensington lock

Communication

Excellent Wi-Fi performance.
Excellent Wi-Fi performance.

Intel's current high-end wireless adapter has the designation Wireless-AC 8260 and now also supports Bluetooth 4.2 besides the Wi-Fi standards 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. Even though the theoretical maximum transfer rate of 867 Mbps (2x2 802.11ac) did not change compared to the predecessors Wireless-AC 7260/7265, the module manages new records at 70 MB/s in our measurements (TP-Link Archer C7, short distance). Range and signal quality are above average as well. Mobile Internet connections for the T460s are provided by a WWAN module from Huawei, which also supports GNSS location services (like GPS) besides the mobile standards UMTS/HSPA/LTE.

Almost on the expected low level is the quality of the webcam. The 0.9 MP sensor takes pale pictures with blurry details and visible noise. Much better is the performance of the accompanying dual-array microphone. Voice recordings are excellent and you do not always need an external headset for Skype and the like.

Security 

The T460s does not need cryptic passwords anymore – a finger from the user is sufficient for a secure login. Previous ThinkPads were equipped with fingerprint scanners as well, but this model generation uses modern touch instead of the old swype-style scanner. A short press with the fingertip is enough to unlock the device within fractions of a second. Easy, reliable and fast.

The other security features do not disappoint, either. You get TPM, vPro support, SmartCard reader, Kensington lock as well as optional passwords for startup, hard drive and BIOS. Here we can also see one reason for the higher price compared to the ThinkPad E and L series.

Accessories

Shipped accessories are limited to a power adapter (65 Watts; 45 Watts for smaller configurations) as well as the usual quick-start guide. We still did not miss anything: The upgrade from the preloaded Windows 7 Professional to Windows 10 Pro was easy and all the drivers and manuals for a clean installation are available on the manufacturer's support website. More information about optional accessories, like the docking stations we mentioned before, will be available in dedicated articles later.

Maintenance

No free slots available.
No free slots available.

Similar to the recently reviewed ThinkPad T560, the T460s also lacks a dedicated maintenance hatch. However, the bottom cover is only secured by five screws and can easily be removed once you loosened them, so even inexperienced users should have no problems opening the device and not damaging it in the process. There are numerous surprises inside the chassis: Lenovo waived the 2.5-inch slot completely and exclusively uses M.2-SSDs (2280). There is unfortunately no information from the manufacturer if every configuration supports fast PCIe-3.0 SSDs – it is possible that the M.2 slot of some SKUs is only attached via SATA. We are also pretty surprised by the fact that both batteries are now integrated; the T450s had one internal and one external battery, and the latter could be replaced on-the-fly.

Furthermore, the ThinkPad only has one DDR4 slot (occupied) as well as the slots for Wi-Fi and WWAN module (occupied). Another 4 GB RAM as well as the processor are soldered onto the motherboard. Commendable: The fan and cooling unit are directly accessible and therefore easy to clean.

Warranty

The standard manufacturer's warranty period of the T460s is three years, which can be extended for a comparatively small amount of money. An upgrade to four years only costs 60 Euros (~$66), while an upgrade of 5 years retails for a very fair price of 120 Euros (~$133). It is more expensive if you want to include additional services or insurances (e. g. accidental protection).

Input Devices

Keyboard

The quality of the ThinkPad keyboard (which slightly differs between the individual series E/L/T/X) was already praised a lot, so we do not have to talk a lot about it. We still want to summarize the most important aspects. The highlight is certainly the very firm pressure point with a long travel, which provides the mechanically-rich feedback. There is not much to criticize here: The plastic keys leave a sophisticated and grippy impression, and the stability is perfect, despite the thin construction. Concave keys (16 x 16 mm) ensure accurate inputs and the two-stage LED illumination provides perfect visibility in every situation. If you do not like the traditional switch of the Fn and Ctrl-key, you can just change it in the BIOS, just like the default action of the function keys (regular F1-F12 or special functions).

Touchpad & TrackPoint

The touchpad, which was still heavily discussed at its introduction, was constantly developed over the previous generations. The current smooth-surfaced model, which provides good gliding capabilities, is very precise. Multi-touch gestures (up to four fingers) in particular are executed very accurately. The latter can, just like pretty much any other setting of the pad, be extensively configured in the driver panel. One issue is still the implementation as a ClickPad: There can still be problems with cursor movements during clicks in practice, because the key area is a part of the input surface. An annoying drawback, but you can avoid it by using the keys above the pad, which are actually for the TrackPoint. By the way, those have a softer and quieter stroke compared to the firm touchpad buttons.

The TrackPoint itself might require a small learning period for ThinkPad newcomers, but the mouse replacement is just as fast and precise when you are used to it.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Two-stage LED illumination
Two-stage LED illumination
Touchpad and TrackPoint
Touchpad and TrackPoint

Display

Subpixel grid
Subpixel grid
Even brightness distribution
Even brightness distribution

Even the base model of the T460s uses a high-quality IPS display with 1920x1080 pixels (157 PPI), but our review unit is equipped with a WQHD panel and 2560x1440 pixels (210 PPI). The high resolution ensures a crisp picture in combination with the 14.0-inch screen, and you cannot see individual pixels even at a short distance. We would recommend a scaling factor of around 150% in the Windows settings to get an acceptable font size.

Besides a higher resolution, the WQHD panel also promises a higher maximum brightness of 300 cd/m², while the Full HD model only reaches 250 cd/m². At least according to the spec sheet – we can only measure 257 cd/m² (WQHD model) and 226 cd/m² (Full HD) in the center, respectively. Even though this should be sufficient in most scenarios, such a discrepancy between the advertised value and reality is always problematic. If the manufacturer cannot rule out certain production fluctuations, they should advertise a lower value in the first place. Compared to the rivals from HP and Dell, which manage more than 350 cd/m², Lenovo is very far behind. The display can at least convince with an even brightness distribution and annoying backlight bleeding is no problem.

The T460s uses PWM below the maximum brightness to control the luminance by activating and deactivating the LED backlight in periodic cycles (frequency: 220 Hz). Sensitive users could therefore notice slight flickering, even though we did not notice it subjectively. The rather mediocre luminance is combined with a very rich black value (0.26 cd/m²), so we get a high contrast ratio of 988:1, which is typical for an IPS panel.

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 220 Hz90 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 220 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 90 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 220 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

In comparison: 59 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 2255 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

252
cd/m²
250
cd/m²
246
cd/m²
243
cd/m²
257
cd/m²
255
cd/m²
241
cd/m²
242
cd/m²
248
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 257 cd/m² Average: 248.2 cd/m² Minimum: 3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 94 %
Center on Battery: 255 cd/m²
Contrast: 988:1 (Black: 0.26 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.59 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 6.38 | - Ø
98% sRGB (Argyll) 65% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.51
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
2.560 x 1.440 IPS-Panel
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
1.920 x 1.080 IPS-Panel
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
1.920 x 1.080 IPS-Panel
HP EliteBook 840 G3 T9X59ET#ABD
1.920 x 1.080 TN-Panel
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
1.920 x 1.080 IPS-Panel
Response Times
-9%
-5%
-14%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
35.6
42
-18%
43
-21%
48
-35%
Response Time Black / White *
29.2
29.2
-0%
25
14%
27
8%
PWM Frequency
220
204
-7%
Screen
-14%
5%
-53%
17%
Brightness
248
211
-15%
281
13%
336
35%
354
43%
Brightness Distribution
94
89
-5%
94
0%
87
-7%
81
-14%
Black Level *
0.26
0.22
15%
0.286
-10%
0.65
-150%
0.26
-0%
Contrast
988
1027
4%
1007
2%
563
-43%
1462
48%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.59
6.44
-40%
4.35
5%
10.26
-124%
3.11
32%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
6.38
5.87
8%
3.7
42%
11.51
-80%
4.35
32%
Gamma
2.51 96%
2.37 101%
2.68 90%
2.4 100%
2.37 101%
CCT
6238 104%
6856 95%
6076 107%
12725 51%
6771 96%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
65
39.58
-39%
54.7
-16%
47
-28%
62
-5%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
98
61.15
-38%
74
-24%
96
-2%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-12% / -13%
5% / 5%
-29% / -40%
2% / 11%

* ... smaller is better

AdobeRGB coverage (64.7%)
AdobeRGB coverage (64.7%)
sRGB coverage (98.1%)
sRGB coverage (98.1%)

The accuracy of the colors (DeltaE 4.6) and grayscale (DeltaE 6.4) is already acceptable ex-works. The full potential of the panel, however, is visible after our calibration, which lowers the DeltaE deviation to an impressively low level (colors: 1.1; grayscale: 0.8). Even some mobile workstations cannot keep up with these results, especially since the color-space coverage is above average. The important sRGB reference is pretty much fully covered, so professional graphics and picture editing is no problem.

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

Thanks to the anti-reflective surface, the T460s can be used outdoors in general, but you will have to expect certain limitations depending on the time and weather. Around 250 cd/m² is the bare minimum we expect for a mobile Ultrabook – and it is rather disappointing that a high-end device for 2,000 Euros (~$2221) just barely manages this level. We want to mention the rivals from Dell and HP once again, which can clearly beat the ThinkPad in this respect.

Outdoor use (overcast)

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
29.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 14.4 ms rise
↘ 14.8 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 67 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (27.2 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
35.6 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 17.2 ms rise
↘ 18.4 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 25 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (44 ms).
Viewing angles Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Viewing angles Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE

Inexpensive and low-quality TN panels are not available for the Lenovo T460s – both the Full HD as well as the WQHD panel of our test model are – as we mentioned before – based on the IPS technology. The latter not only ensures a high contrast ratio and rich colors but also pretty stable pictures independent of the viewing angle. We can only see a slight contrast reduction from extreme angles, but it does not affect the visibility of the picture contents.

Performance

Maximum Turbo clock 3.4 GHz
Maximum Turbo clock 3.4 GHz

Lenovo still uses frugal ULV processors from Intel for the T460s, which are now based on the Skylake generation. Compared to the predecessor Broadwell (also 14 nm manufacturing process), Skylake is about 5% faster at the same clock and can show significant efficiency improvements in some scenarios. The low-end configuration uses the Core i5-6200U (2.3-2.8 GHz), but you can also get the Core i7-6600U (2.6-3.4 GHz) from the review model, which is also the top CPU of the (regular) 15-Watt lineup. However, there are some special chips like the Core i7-6650U with the same CPU performance, but much faster GPUs (Iris Graphics 540, 48 EUs + eDRAM). All available processors for the ThinkPad only include the slower HD Graphics 520 (24 EUs, no eDRAM).

Core i3-6100U Core i5-6200U Core i5-6300U Core i7-6500U Core i7-6600U Core i7-6650U

Cores/Threads

2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4

Nominal Clock

2.3 GHz 2.3 GHz 2.4 GHz 2.5 GHz 2.6 GHz 2.2 GHz

1-Core Turbo

2.3 GHz 2.8 GHz 3.0 GHz 3.1 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.4 GHz

2-Core Turbo

2.3 GHz 2.7 GHz 2.9 GHz 3.0 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.2 GHz

L3-Cache/eDRAM

3 MB 3 MB 3 MB 4 MB 4 MB 4 MB + 64 MB

GPU

HD 520 (1.0 GHz) HD 520 (1.0 GHz) HD 520 (1.0 GHz) HD 520 (1.05 GHz) HD 520 (1.05 GHz) Iris 540 (1.05 GHz)

Skylake works with common DDR3(L)/LPDDR3 memory as well as modern DDR4-RAM, even though the latter offers a much higher memory bandwidth at a potentially lower power consumption. Lenovo soldered 4 GB DDR4-2133 directly onto the motherboard of our T460s, and another 8 GB is inside the only DIMM-slot of the device (dual-channel configuration). The maximum amount of RAM with a 16 GB module is therefore 20 GB; up to 36 GB might be possible with upcoming 32 GB modules.

Processor

Full Turbo Boost in single-...
Full Turbo Boost in single-...
...and multi-core scenarios.
...and multi-core scenarios.
TDP limit increased from 15 to 25 Watts.
TDP limit increased from 15 to 25 Watts.

We use the Single- and Multithread tests of Cinebench R15 to evaluate the Turbo Boost utilization of the processor. This is always a critical point, especially for high-clocked top models of a TDP class – like the Core i7-6600U in this case. Those models often surpass the specified maximum consumption under maximum load, and therefore have to reduce their performance after a short while.

This is no problem for the T460s: The CPU can utilize its Turbo Boost perfectly at 3.2 GHz (Multi) and 3.4 GHz (Single), respectively, and there are no drops even under sustained load. At the same time, we can see that the integrated sensors show a consumption of 20 Watts – how is this possible? The solution is called "configurable TDP", short cTDP. This means the standard TDP of 15 Watts was raised to 25 Watts. With no power constraints, the Core i7-6600U can beat the i5-6200U by around 20% and also outclasses the older Broadwell flagship i7-5600U. The advantage over the other chips for the T460s, the i5-6300U and i7-6500U, however, should be pretty small and not really noticeable in practice.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad T460p
Intel Core i5-6440HQ
145 Points ∼100% +3%
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
Intel Core i7-6600U
142 Points ∼98% +1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U
141 Points ∼97%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
130 Points ∼90% -8%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560-20EWS00000
Intel Core i7-6500U
124 Points ∼86% -12%
Dell Latitude 14 E5470
Intel Core i5-6300U
124 Points ∼86% -12%
HP EliteBook 840 G3 T9X59ET#ABD
Intel Core i7-6500U
119 Points ∼82% -16%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
116 Points ∼80% -18%
Lenovo ThinkPad T560-20FH001FGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
113 Points ∼78% -20%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U
111 Points ∼77% -21%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad T460p
Intel Core i5-6440HQ
513 Points ∼100% +48%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U
347 Points ∼68%
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
Intel Core i7-6600U
334 Points ∼65% -4%
HP EliteBook 840 G3 T9X59ET#ABD
Intel Core i7-6500U
322 Points ∼63% -7%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560-20EWS00000
Intel Core i7-6500U
319 Points ∼62% -8%
Dell Latitude 14 E5470
Intel Core i5-6300U
311 Points ∼61% -10%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
302 Points ∼59% -13%
Lenovo ThinkPad T560-20FH001FGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
290 Points ∼57% -16%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
288 Points ∼56% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U
255 Points ∼50% -27%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad T460p
Intel Core i5-6440HQ
1.66 Points ∼100% +6%
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
Intel Core i7-6600U
1.61 Points ∼97% +3%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U
1.57 Points ∼95%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
1.51 Points ∼91% -4%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560-20EWS00000
Intel Core i7-6500U
1.45 Points ∼87% -8%
Dell Latitude 14 E5470
Intel Core i5-6300U
1.42 Points ∼86% -10%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
1.31 Points ∼79% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad T560-20FH001FGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
1.29 Points ∼78% -18%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U
1.28 Points ∼77% -18%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad T460p
Intel Core i5-6440HQ
5.91 Points ∼100% +54%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U
3.83 Points ∼65%
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
Intel Core i7-6600U
3.58 Points ∼61% -7%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560-20EWS00000
Intel Core i7-6500U
3.55 Points ∼60% -7%
Dell Latitude 14 E5470
Intel Core i5-6300U
3.44 Points ∼58% -10%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
3.31 Points ∼56% -14%
Lenovo ThinkPad T560-20FH001FGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
3.23 Points ∼55% -16%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
3.18 Points ∼54% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U
2.77 Points ∼47% -28%
X264 HD Benchmark 4.0
Pass 2
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U
22.62 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560-20EWS00000
Intel Core i7-6500U
20.95 fps ∼93% -7%
Lenovo ThinkPad T560-20FH001FGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
19.04 fps ∼84% -16%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
18.72 fps ∼83% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U
16.19 fps ∼72% -28%
Pass 1
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U
120.37 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560-20EWS00000
Intel Core i7-6500U
107.55 fps ∼89% -11%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U
102.36 fps ∼85% -15%
Lenovo ThinkPad T560-20FH001FGE
Intel Core i5-6200U
97.96 fps ∼81% -19%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U
86.62 fps ∼72% -28%
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
9052
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
11798
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
5264
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
41.71 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
3.83 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.57 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.9 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
43.93 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
347 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
141 Points
Help

Storage Devices

AS SSD benchmark
AS SSD benchmark

Samsung's SM951a (probably almost identical to the Samsung SM951) inside our review unit is not a common 512 GB SSD with the M.2-2280 standard: Instead of the SATA interface, the SM951a is attached via PCIe 3.0 x4, which allows much higher transfer rates. It also does not use AHCI but uses the NVMe protocol, which was specifically designed for flash-based storage drives. NVMe is supposed to minimize latencies and overhead losses during multiple simultaneous accesses.

As a result, the SM951a is currently one of the fastest SSDs on the (notebook) market. Sequential transfer rates north of 2 GB/s (read) as well as 1.4 GB/s (write) are almost 4 times higher compared to common SATA drives, and the performance with small 4K files is excellent as well. In combination with the good reputation for the durability of Samsung SSDs, it seems that Lenovo made an excellent choice.

Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Samsung SSD SM951a 512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVKV512)
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Samsung CM871 MZ7LF192HCGS
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Samsung SSD PM871 MZ7LN256HCHP
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series SSDSC2BF360A5L
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
Samsung SSD PM851 M.2 2280 256GB
AS SSD
-82%
-50%
-75%
-57%
Score Total
2439
296
-88%
1086
-55%
546
-78%
913
-63%
4K-64 Write
366.01
33.4
-91%
272.25
-26%
83.47
-77%
170
-54%
4K-64 Read
968.26
85.38
-91%
379.99
-61%
210.12
-78%
336.08
-65%
4K Write
114.4
34.38
-70%
84.62
-26%
14.61
-87%
85.05
-26%
4K Read
45.41
14.18
-69%
33.27
-27%
22.19
-51%
30.91
-32%
Seq Write
1407.23
163.29
-88%
285.16
-80%
264.51
-81%
283.73
-80%
Seq Read
2039.37
470.97
-77%
502.69
-75%
489.64
-76%
495.53
-76%
Samsung SSD SM951a 512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVKV512)
Transfer Rate Minimum: 1063.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 1167.5 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 1161.7 MB/s
Access Time: 0 ms
Burst Rate: 254 MB/s
CPU Usage: 3.9 %

System Performance

No more waiting times thanks to the extremely fast PCIe-SSD.
No more waiting times thanks to the extremely fast PCIe-SSD.

Equipped with a high-end CPU, a lot of DDR4 memory and a very fast SSD, the T460s is almost too powerful for office applications and web browsing. It can handle much more and works perfectly as a full-fledged working device with an external (4K) monitor, demanding software and excessive multitasking. We can only see two situations where users will reach the limits of the hardware: Heavily parallelized and CPU-demanding applications (like video editing, simulation software), which can benefit from a quad-core processor like the one inside the sibling ThinkPad T460p (+50-100%). The performance of the HD Graphics 520 is limited as well, even though it can handle simple 3D applications as well as smaller CAD projects with ease.

PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
HD Graphics 520, 6600U, Samsung SSD PM851 M.2 2280 256GB
4543 Points ∼100% +2%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
HD Graphics 520, 6600U, Samsung SSD SM951a 512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVKV512)
4442 Points ∼98%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
HD Graphics 5500, 5600U, Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series SSDSC2BF360A5L
4394 Points ∼97% -1%
HP EliteBook 840 G3 T9X59ET#ABD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
4275 Points ∼94% -4%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung CM871 MZ7LF192HCGS
4121 Points ∼91% -7%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
GeForce 940M, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZ7LN256HCHP
4097 Points ∼90% -8%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460p
HD Graphics 530, 6440HQ, Toshiba MQ01ACF050
4072 Points ∼90% -8%
Creative Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
HD Graphics 520, 6600U, Samsung SSD SM951a 512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVKV512)
4338 Points ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
GeForce 940M, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZ7LN256HCHP
3945 Points ∼91% -9%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung CM871 MZ7LF192HCGS
3644 Points ∼84% -16%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
HD Graphics 5500, 5600U, Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series SSDSC2BF360A5L
3613 Points ∼83% -17%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
HD Graphics 520, 6600U, Samsung SSD SM951a 512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVKV512)
3542 Points ∼100%
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
HD Graphics 520, 6600U, Samsung SSD PM851 M.2 2280 256GB
3344 Points ∼94% -6%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
HD Graphics 5500, 5600U, Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series SSDSC2BF360A5L
3270 Points ∼92% -8%
HP EliteBook 840 G3 T9X59ET#ABD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
3231 Points ∼91% -9%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
GeForce 940M, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZ7LN256HCHP
3128 Points ∼88% -12%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460p
HD Graphics 530, 6440HQ, Toshiba MQ01ACF050
3088 Points ∼87% -13%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung CM871 MZ7LF192HCGS
3024 Points ∼85% -15%
PCMark 7 - Score
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
HD Graphics 520, 6600U, Samsung SSD PM851 M.2 2280 256GB
5194 Points ∼100% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
HD Graphics 520, 6600U, Samsung SSD SM951a 512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVKV512)
5190 Points ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
GeForce 940M, 5200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZ7LN256HCHP
4995 Points ∼96% -4%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
HD Graphics 5500, 5600U, Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series SSDSC2BF360A5L
4797 Points ∼92% -8%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460p
HD Graphics 530, 6440HQ, Toshiba MQ01ACF050
3002 Points ∼58% -42%
PCMark 7 Score
5190 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3542 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
4338 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4442 points
Help

GPU Performance

Performance reserves for smaller CAD projects.
Performance reserves for smaller CAD projects.

We want to have a closer look at the previously mentioned HD Graphics 520. Thanks to several architectural improvements (Intel Gen9 architecture), higher clocks and the higher bandwidth of the DDR4 memory, the GPU can manage a lead of around 20% over its predecessor HD Graphics 5500 (Broadwell, Intel Gen8 architecture) in 3DMark. Even though we appreciate the additional performance, it is still not more than a drop in the ocean: Even a dedicated low-end GPU like the GeForce 920M is about 30% faster; the optional GeForce 940M of the ThinkPad T450s is even 70% faster. It is a bit strange that Lenovo only offers the T460s with the slightly slower GeForce 930M, but the dedicated GPUs are limited for certain configurations in North America.

The best and most efficient solution would have probably been to equip the ThinkPad – at least for an additional charge – with CPU models from the Iris Graphics series. Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 proves that the Iris Graphics 540 of the Core i7-6650U is pretty much on par with the GeForce 930M and GeForce 940M. The additional performance of the Iris 540 is primarily a result of the faster eDRAM cache as well as a wider design with twice the number of shaders, so the i7-6650U does not have a higher TDP compared to the i7-6600U.

Finally, some words about the CAD performance of the HD Graphics 520: It seems there were several (driver) optimizations from Intel, because the performance gains over the HD Graphics 5500 are pretty substantial in some tests of SPECviewperf 12 (medical, SolidWorks). Even the GeForce 940M is clearly beaten in some situations.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Intel Core i7-6650U, Intel Iris Graphics 540
2450 Points ∼100% +73%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
2313 Points ∼94% +63%
Toshiba Satellite L50-C-275
Intel Core i5-6200U, NVIDIA GeForce 930M
2138 Points ∼87% +51%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
1416 Points ∼58%
Lenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
1210 Points ∼49% -15%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460p
Intel Core i5-6440HQ, Intel HD Graphics 530
1162 Points ∼47% -18%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
1156 Points ∼47% -18%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
1117 Points ∼46% -21%
3DMark - 1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
1627 Points ∼100% +74%
Toshiba Satellite L50-C-275
Intel Core i5-6200U, NVIDIA GeForce 930M
1497 Points ∼92% +60%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Intel Core i7-6650U, Intel Iris Graphics 540
1477 Points ∼91% +58%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
935 Points ∼57%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
797 Points ∼49% -15%
Lenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
727 Points ∼45% -22%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460p
Intel Core i5-6440HQ, Intel HD Graphics 530
672 Points ∼41% -28%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
597 Points ∼37% -36%
SPECviewperf 12
1900x1060 Solidworks (sw-03)
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
22.64 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
15.6 fps ∼69% -31%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
14.65 fps ∼65% -35%
1900x1060 Siemens NX (snx-02)
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
2.95 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
2.47 fps ∼84% -16%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
1.81 fps ∼61% -39%
1900x1060 Showcase (showcase-01)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
6.05 fps ∼100% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
6.05 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
4.79 fps ∼79% -21%
1900x1060 Medical (medical-01)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
5.72 fps ∼100% +236%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
1.7 fps ∼30%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
1.02 fps ∼18% -40%
1900x1060 Maya (maya-04)
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
10.89 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
2.09 fps ∼19% -81%
1900x1060 Energy (energy-01)
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
0.08 fps ∼100% +33%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
0.06 fps ∼75% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
0.06 fps ∼75%
1900x1060 Creo (creo-01)
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
10.15 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
8.99 fps ∼89% -11%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
6.68 fps ∼66% -34%
1900x1060 Catia (catia-04)
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
11.62 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
9.71 fps ∼84% -16%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
9.69 fps ∼83% -17%
3DMark 06 Standard
9685 points
3DMark Vantage P Result
5859 points
3DMark 11 Performance
1600 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
58178 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
6097 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
863 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Considering the mediocre 3D performance, the T460s is not really the first choice for gamers, although at least some older titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive can be played smoothly with the Medium preset. Modern titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider, however, are too challenging for the HD 520 even in the XGA resolution and minimum details. More benchmarks of the Intel GPU are available in our database.

Tomb Raider
1366x768 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
36.4 fps ∼100% +42%
Toshiba Satellite L50-C-275
Intel Core i5-6200U, NVIDIA GeForce 930M
33.2 fps ∼91% +29%
HP EliteBook 745 G3
AMD Pro A12-8800B, AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo) (Dual-Channel)
27.8 fps ∼76% +8%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
25.7 fps ∼71%
HP EliteBook 745 G3
AMD Pro A12-8800B, AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
19.6 fps ∼54% -24%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
19.3 fps ∼53% -25%
Lenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
16.8 fps ∼46% -35%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
13.3 fps ∼37% -48%
1366x768 Normal Preset AA:FX AF:4x
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
66.1 fps ∼100% +61%
Toshiba Satellite L50-C-275
Intel Core i5-6200U, NVIDIA GeForce 930M
58.4 fps ∼88% +42%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
41.1 fps ∼62%
HP EliteBook 745 G3
AMD Pro A12-8800B, AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo) (Dual-Channel)
38.5 fps ∼58% -6%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
30.4 fps ∼46% -26%
HP EliteBook 745 G3
AMD Pro A12-8800B, AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
27.5 fps ∼42% -33%
Lenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
25.5 fps ∼39% -38%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
21.1 fps ∼32% -49%
1024x768 Low Preset
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
130.8 fps ∼100% +57%
Toshiba Satellite L50-C-275
Intel Core i5-6200U, NVIDIA GeForce 930M
121.4 fps ∼93% +46%
HP EliteBook 745 G3
AMD Pro A12-8800B, AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo) (Dual-Channel)
86.5 fps ∼66% +4%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
83.1 fps ∼64%
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
61.8 fps ∼47% -26%
HP EliteBook 745 G3
AMD Pro A12-8800B, AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
54.7 fps ∼42% -34%
Lenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
48.3 fps ∼37% -42%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
39.3 fps ∼30% -53%
low med. high ultra
Counter-Strike: GO (2012) 156.310160.931.2fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 83.141.125.710.9fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 55.729.824.57.3fps
Battlefield 4 (2013) 40.429.618.85.9fps
Sims 4 (2014) 182.646.721.815.6fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 14.19.65.3fps

Emissions

System Noise

Frequency amplitude fan (idling, partial load, maximum load).
Frequency amplitude fan (idling, partial load, maximum load).

The fan is usually not only completely deactivated while idling but also during office tasks or web browsing, so the T460s is a completely silent working device. If the fans starts spinning under sustained load, the system noise will hardly surpass 33 dB(A) – which means the notebook won't be audible in many office environments at a usual viewing distance. Only the impractical stress test will make the ThinkPad noticeable at 38.5 dB(A), but we still would not call the steady murmur (mainly in the range between 2 and 4 KHz) particularly disturbing. The predecessor was slightly quieter under maximum load, but the 25-Watt CPU of the T460s (T450s: 15 Watts) also provides much more performance.

Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
Intel Core i5-5200U, NVIDIA GeForce 940M
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
Intel Core i7-5600U, Intel HD Graphics 5500
HP EliteBook 840 G3 T9X59ET#ABD
Intel Core i7-6500U, Intel HD Graphics 520
Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series E7470
Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520
Noise
2%
3%
2%
-7%
-1%
off / environment *
29.2
29.1
-0%
31.2
-7%
31.2
-7%
Idle Minimum *
29.2
29.1
-0%
29.1
-0%
29.1
-0%
31.2
-7%
31.2
-7%
Idle Average *
29.2
29.1
-0%
29.1
-0%
29.1
-0%
32.1
-10%
31.2
-7%
Idle Maximum *
29.2
29.1
-0%
29.1
-0%
29.1
-0%
33.1
-13%
31.2
-7%
Load Average *
33.7
32.3
4%
33.1
2%
34.3
-2%
36.2
-7%
31.9
5%
Load Maximum *
38.5
36.6
5%
34.3
11%
34.8
10%
37.8
2%
31.9
17%

* ... smaller is better

Noise Level

Idle
29.2 / 29.2 / 29.2 dB(A)
Load
33.7 / 38.5 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   ECM8000 + Voltcraft SL-451 (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 29.2 dB(A)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test
Prime95
Prime95

Despite the adjusted processor TDP and the low fan speed, Lenovo can handle the temperature development of the T460s very well. The chassis only reaches values of around 40 °C at two spots even with simultaneous load from the tools Prime95 and FurMark. The rest of the case stays lukewarm and there are no problems when you want to use the notebook on your lap – a very impressive performance for such a thin and powerful Ultrabook.

A look at the hardware sensors shows that the manufacturer has to fiddle a bit for these results: The small CPU cooler cannot handle 25 Watts for longer periods, which is why the GPU clock will fluctuate between the minimum (300 MHz, 20 Watts, core temperature around 70 °C) and maximum clock (1,050 MHz, 25 Watts, core temperature around 75 °C) after a while. The processor on the other hand can maintain its nominal clock of 2.6 GHz. Competitors with the standard 15-Watt TDP show much bigger clock reductions under similar loads.

There should not be any limitations by this in practice: Even 3D games are not as challenging for the processor and graphics card as our stress test, so the Core i7 usually does not consume more than 20 Watts anyway and can always utilize its Turbo Boost potential.

 27.4 °C27.6 °C27.3 °C 
 27.4 °C26.8 °C26.7 °C 
 25.5 °C26.2 °C25.8 °C 
Maximum: 27.6 °C
Average: 26.7 °C
26.7 °C27.5 °C27.3 °C
27.4 °C28.7 °C27.2 °C
26.2 °C26.8 °C26.6 °C
Maximum: 28.7 °C
Average: 27.2 °C
Power Supply (max.)  28.3 °C | Room Temperature 20.6 °C | Fluke 62 Max

Speakers

Speaker measurements (off, 50% volume, maximum volume)
Speaker measurements (off, 50% volume, maximum volume)

It seems that Lenovo not only updated the case of the T460s but also the speakers. They can cover deeper frequencies compared to the T450s, both subjectively and objectively in the measurements. The small speakers are surprisingly linear up to around 250 Hz; the volume will only drop significantly at lower frequencies. Subjectively, we would call the sound pretty balanced and rich, and you can even notice some sort of bass. The maximum volume of 77 dB(A) is unfortunately not really sufficient for bigger rooms, so you should use an external sound system. Such a system can either be attached digitally (HDMI/DisplayPort) or via 3.5 mm jack. The latter provides clean signals, but they are not really powerful enough for high-impedance headphones.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The idle consumption of the T460s is between 3.8-7.8 Watts and therefore slightly higher than the predecessor, but this is primarily a result of the higher display resolution. However, the efficiency improvements of the Skylake platform should outweigh this under medium load.

The consumption under maximum load might be surprisingly high at first: 36.3 (3DMark06) up to 46 Watts (stress test) are about 10 Watts higher than comparable Ultrabooks. If you consider the slightly raised TDP settings of the processor though, the ThinkPad is on the expected level. Lenovo shipped the notebook with a bigger 65 instead of the 45-Watt power adapter to compensate for the higher consumption, so the battery can still be charged under maximum load.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.28 / 0.6 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 3.8 / 7.1 / 7.8 Watt
Load midlight 36.3 / 46 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy

Battery Runtime

We already mentioned that both batteries (26 Wh + 23 Wh) are now inside the case – which raises the question why the manufacturer makes the split for the user and the operating system in the first place. Anyway, this creates two disadvantages compared to the T450s:

  • no battery hot-swap in operation
  • it is not possible to increase the battery capacity

We are therefore eager to see what the T460s can make of the 49 Wh total capacity. The answer: surprisingly long battery runtimes! Even our high-end configuration manages around 6 hours in practice (Wi-Fi surfing or video playback at 150 cd/m²). If you dim the display a bit further or include occasional standby periods, you should easily manage a whole 8-hour business day without charging. Speaking of charging: The ThinkPad needs an agonizing 4 hours from 0 to 100%; but 80% of the maximum capacity is already available after around 90 minutes.

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 T460s-20FA003GGE
49 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20F9003SGE
49 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS1UT00
96 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s-20BWS03F00
48 Wh
Battery Runtime
37%
156%
-1%
Reader / Idle
833
915
10%
1857
123%
774
-7%
Load
62
116
87%
259
318%
88
42%
WiFi v1.3
340
395
16%
648
91%
276
-19%
H.264
397
534
35%
757
91%
322
-19%
WiFi
336
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
13h 53min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
5h 40min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
6h 37min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 02min

Pros

+ sturdy and extremely lightweight chassis construction
+ precise display hinges
+ crisp keyboard
+ fast Wi-Fi performance
+ integrated LTE
+ high-resolution display with wide viewing angles
+ very high application performance
+ low noise and temperature development
+ numerous security features
+ decent battery runtimes
+ 3 years warranty

Cons

- limited expandability
- no USB-C
- average panel luminance
- high price

Verdict

In review: Lenovo ThinkPad T460s. Test model courtesy of Notebooksandmore.
In review: Lenovo ThinkPad T460s. Test model courtesy of Notebooksandmore.

After around one week of comprehensive testing, we can say that the ThinkPad T460s is more than a boring Skylake update of the old T450s – and already one of the best business notebooks in 2016 in our opinion.

Even though the design hardly changed, the T460s is actually a completely new construction with an even thinner and lighter chassis. Its build quality and stability can easily meet the high expectations we have for a notebook with a price far north of 1,000 Euros (~$1110). The same applies for the input devices: If you are looking for a keyboard with a rich pressure point, it will be difficult to find a better alternative right now. The touchpad/ClickPad might not be quite on the same level, but the performance is still solid in combination with the TrackPoint.

We once again want to emphasize the excellent application performance of our – admittedly not inexpensive – high-end configuration. Without any TDP constraints, the Core i7-6600U manages surprising performance results without affecting system noise and temperature development too much. Combined with an SSD, which manages transfer rates of up to 2 GB/s, as well as 12 GB of fast DDR4 memory, the notebook can even handle complex applications with ease. The integrated graphics card can at least provide acceptable frame rates in older games and smaller CAD models.

Our few points of criticism are primarily related to the new chassis construction, which neither offers space for a 2.5-inch drive nor a bigger battery. However, Lenovo really could have implemented a modern USB-C port or a slightly brighter display – some inexpensive consumer notebooks perform better in this respect. This does not really affect the excellent overall impression though. There is no reason why you should not purchase the device if you can and want to invest the necessary 2,350 Euros (~$2609) and also had a look at the competition from HP and Dell.

Note: The test model from notebooksandmore.de is available to us for the next 12 months as a long-term loan. In this time we want to perform long-term tests about the build quality and the battery runtime, review external docking stations, and check the performance with 4K displays as well as the compatibility with Linux. We are happy to receive further suggestions for additional tests!

Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE - 03/09/2016 v5
Till Schönborn

Chassis
93 / 98 → 95%
Keyboard
94%
Pointing Device
87%
Connectivity
74 / 80 → 92%
Weight
71 / 67 → 100%
Battery
87%
Display
87%
Games Performance
57 / 68 → 84%
Application Performance
89 / 92 → 97%
Temperature
92%
Noise
95%
Audio
69%
Camera
53 / 85 → 62%
Average
81%
91%
Office - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo ThinkPad T460s (Core i7, WQHD) Ultrabook Review
Till Schönborn, 2016-03-14 (Update: 2016-03-14)