Review Lenovo Thinkpad T400 Notebook
Business Device from Tradition.
As Value Line models are thought for private users, under the name "ThinkPad" devices are found for professional use. The T-series tries straddling between performance, power efficiency and portability besides a row of other ThinkPad series. Read more to find out how successful the tested T400 (Type: 6474-19G, also known as NM819GE) takes this challenge.
The T400 with a 14.1 inch display belongs to the current model range of the T-series just like the bigger T500 models with a 15.4 inch widescreen display. Together they become heir to the previous T61 models. In opposition, the Txxp models, thus the more efficient mobile workstations are relieved from the W-series, which encloses the recently tested W700 (17 inch) besides the ThinkPad W500 (15.4 inch).
The T400 models are offered in numerous different configurations. These differ not only in view of the performance-bearing components (CPU, GPU, hard disk and main storage capacity), but also in consideration of display technology and available features. Our colleagues from Notebookreview had another model with a High-Nit LED display, a bigger RAM capacity and faster hard disk (link to their test report) in the test. It's not surprising that this model cut off better in regards to display brightness and performance. Besides this, there are also models with an independent ATI Mobility Radeon 3470 available.
Apart from the smaller measurements of 335 millimeters breadth, 239 millimeters depth and 31.9 millimeters height, the case of the T400s is similar to its bigger counterpart, the T500. It also shows the same, already known from other models, weak points in the area of the Ultrabay-Drive slot and on the plastic cover over the keyboard. The case may possibly give away a bit under point pressure and creak if not even crackle (in the area of the optical drive).
The stability of the case barely leaves room for critique, this being supported from a magnesium roll cage in its interior. The base unit shows itself as very buckling resistant and as long as you don't pick the notebook up in the area of the drive, you can handle the notebook without further ado. The display stability also turns out very impressive. The display lid gives in slightly at pressure but it's barely possible to provoke distortions on the activated display. Therefore the T500 can be picked up at a corner of the display without further thought. Therefore picking up the notebook at a display edge without a hesitation also remains possible on the T500. The display frame differs here, giving away considerably under pressure whereas distortions on the activated display also become obvious.
Even though the hinges seem to be small, particularly the left one, the use of metal stands the test. Therefore they are very robust and hold the display absolutely tight in postition and allow an easy adjusting of the display opening angle, anyway. With help from the proven double hook latch and the display's Clamshell design, this closes cleanly and securely with the base unit in a shut state. An infiltration of foreign materials can be practically excluded. The locked display is opened by a lever on the right front edge of the display. This is fairly stiff and clacks at use.
The included 6 cell battery protrudes at the back of our test sample, which restricts the opening angle insignificantly, though. The notebook can still be opened marginally over 180° with it. Unfortunately the battery doesn't sit very tight in the case, but rather wobbles somewhat.
Apart from the hard disk, which can be changed with the removal of only one screw, the maintenance of the T400s isn't easy. In order to, for instance, expand the main storage you have to remove five screws from the notebook's bottom side so that you can access the system components after removing the keyboard and touchpad.
The ThinkPad T400 offers all important ports. There are three USB ports, which are, unfortunately, placed vertically. Therefore the use of somewhat thicker USB sticks with this notebook isn't optimal.
The port distribution is optimized for righties. No other ports are found on this side apart from the optical drive. The back side is only occupied from the Kensington lock, the battery and the power socket.
Lefties won't be too pleased about the two, fairly far in the front of the left side positioned USB ports. Possible connected network cables, modem cable and VGA cable could provide for an additional restriction of the free work surface, which are all pretty much in the middle of the left edge. Aside from that, the left side also has a PC Card slot and an Express Card/54 slot. The good news: There is a docking station on the bottom side of the T400s, which could ban annoying cables to the back side of the notebook.
Both the 3.5mm audio port for headphones and microphone, as well as a lever for the main control of all means of radio communication are positioned on the front side of the device.
It is advisable to study the specifications of the available model in consideration of communication equipment because there are various configurations offered.
This model has an integrated gigabit network module (Intel 82567LM) for an efficient cabled network connection. It has been equipped with an Intel 5300 wireless LAN module in order to keep up with the state-of-the-art in regards to WLAN. With the Intel 5300 chip a maximum data transfer rate of up to 450 Mbps is therefore possible. In opposition to this, other models are equipped with an Intel 5100 module, with which merely a maximum of 300Mbps are possible.
Our test device also has an integrated Bluetooth 2.0 module and is prepared for a UMTS broadband modem. This means, the notebook has the respective cables and antennas, in order to make a fast installation of a correlating broadband modem possible even afterwards.
To the offered security features count, among others, a TPM Chip (Trusted Platform Module), with which you can code your data on the hard disk, a fingerprint reader (depending on configuration) or a Smartcard reader, which is optionally inserted into the device over the PC Card slot. The buffer defiant hard disk counts to the standard configuration of ThinkPads.
Not only these hardware related configuration qualities but also the ThinkVantage software provide for an additional measure of operating comfort and data security. The blue ThinkVantage button above the keyboard lets the ThinkVantage Productivity Center start, which is special software with which a row of notebook settings can be made. For instance various network connections can be configured and managed or quick and easy data security and recovery or even passwords administrated and downloads of current updates for the notebooks let themselves be executed here.
Above that, pressing the ThinkVantage button at system start makes it possible to reset the system to a previous operational state, if it doesn't boot at one time and as long as the backup on the hard disk is okay. At a hard disk crash you will have to fall back on another recovery medium anyway – which, unfortunately, doesn't belong to the scope of delivery.
Quite a bit of accessories are available for the ThinkPad T400, for instance various notebook cases, diverse docking solutions and batteries, alternate configurations for the Ultrabay-Drive slot (Blu-Ray, second hard disk, battery and external input devices).
The common Vista variations as well as also Window XP are available as the operating system, which is still often used in the business sector. Windows Vista business 32 Bit was preinstalled on our test device. The system can be reset to the preinstalled settings ex-factory via a recovery partition. Recovery DVDs for Windows Vista or installation CDs for XP aren't included.
In regards to warranty, Lenovo offers 3 years of worldwide "bring-in" guaranty on the T400. The notebook has to be sent in, in case of a failure. For an "on-site" service with next working day response you have to attain an own warranty extension, which makes about 100.00 Euros more. If you would even like to extend to a 4 year "on-site" service, you have to count with about 108.00 Euros.
In short, the well-known and well-proven IBM keyboard is on board. The keyboard offers, apart from CRTL and Fn in opposite order, a standard layout with a two rowed blue enter key and a clearly arranged key grouping. The keys have slightly concave heads with a pleasant size of 18 millimeters width and 17 millimeters depth. The effective size is reduced by being beveled on the left, right and front to 12 millimeters width and 14 millimeters depth, but typos due to the enlarged distance to neighboring keys are rare anyway.
Pressure resistance and feedback are designed so that pleasant typing is possible. The keyboard is fairly loud especially at vigorous typing, in particular the space bar. Generally you can touch type with this keyboard right away without any problems.
There are only a few hot keys; three are for controlling the volume or rather muting and the already famous, above mentioned ThinkVantage button.
Touchpad and trackpoint can be both activated and deactivated over Fn-F8 independent of each other. Both have the usual Thinkpad qualities. The touchpad distinguishes itself through a pleasant, gliding-eager surface and is let in somewhat into the case so that its boundaries are very palpable without having a sharp edge. The vertical and horizontal scroll area is optically marked and works flawlessly. The touchpad buttons run smoothly, are quiet and show a pleasantly long stroke length.
The red trackpoint in the middle of the case attracts attention, as usual. Additionally to the standard cap, two further trackpoint caps (all are red, only the form differs) are included. With this there ought to be something for every taste. Just like the touchpad, the trackpoint allows a very precise movement of the mouse cursor. Unfortunately the correlating buttons are somewhat louder and click audibly; but there are no complaints as for the functionality.
Lenovo currently offers two different display variations for the Thinkpad T400. Both have a resolution of 1440x900WXGA+. As some models are equipped with an LED illuminated display, our test model makes use of the CCFL technology. The LED panel provides for a higher brightness and better illumination.
The built in screen reached a maximum value of 212cd/m2 in the central display area. Particularly in the right upper display area a brightness decrease of down to 163.3cd/m2 was noted, which causes a somewhat lower display illumination of about 77.0%.
A relatively modest result for the maximum contrast value of 108:1 results of a relatively high black value of 1.96cd/m2.
A matt surface and a maximum brightness of about 200cd/m2, which is also available in battery mode, also allow a notebook use outdoors. However, the applied screen could be a bit brighter for this intention, especially for working in the sun. Whereas our colleagues at Notebookreview could establish a value of 678 cd/m2 for the High-Nit LED display model and confirm that this has a particularly good outdoor suitability.
The viewing angles of the tested screen are subjectively sufficient horizontally, but a loss of contrast has to be counted with by slanting of the viewing angle. Vertically, it already comes to image distortions at slight deviations from the ideal, perpendicular viewing angle in the way of a darkening or rather an over-illumination.
The T400 offers extensive configuration options in regards to hardware equipment in order to appeal to the largest possible clientele and to fit the notebook perfectly to the individual needs of each single user. Being based on the Montevina platform, it can be equipped with a whole row of Core 2 Duo processors with vPro technology. Our test model had a P8600 processor with 2.4 GHz, which delivers an excellent price for value ratio.
An integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphic chip was responsible for the graphic in the tested T400. In compliance there are also models with a hybrid graphic solution available, though. Depending on the efficiency need or energy savings requirement at mobile use an alteration between the integrated Intel GMA 4500 MHD chip and a dedicated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 graphic card can be made. This modification function can be executed under Windows Vista even when being used.
The ThinkPad T400 can be equipped with up to 4 GB RAM, according to the manufacturer's declaration. There were two fast 1024 MB DDR3 (PC-8500) memory bars built in to the tested model. Therewith both RAM slots were occupied and for an upgrade at least one of these two chips has to be exchanged.
Depending on the configuration the various hard disks are used in the ThinkPad T400. Aside from the usual hard disks with 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm, also Solid State Drives (SSD) can be chosen from. The appliance of a second hard disk via the Ultrabay-Drive slot is also thinkable. Either you can increase the total storage capacity or provide for additional data security through drive mirroring with that.
A WD1600BEVS from Western Digital is used in our test sample in regards to mass storage. The data carrier with a rotation velocity of 5400 rpm has a gross storage capacity of 160GB. The data carrier reached average results with transfer rates of up to 68.4 MB/sec and an access time of 17.0 milliseconds in the HDTune benchmark test.
The from us tested T400 model reached 5013 PCMarks in the PCMark05, whereas the tested model from Notebookreview reached with 5305 PCMarks, a better performance of 6%. This relatively small difference results out of the larger main storage capacity and the faster hard disk (7200 rpm) in the from Notebookreview tested model. In comparison to the T500 (DDR2 RAM) is to note: a fast DDR3 RAM, for instance in both T400 models in regards to performance is advantageous.
Our test candidate is therefore well equipped for basic office functions and internet. De facto, these applications and also simple image processing ran smoothly and barely had interruptions. This device is neither designed nor equipped for sophisticated games. A ThinkPad T400 model with a dedicated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 graphic card might prove to be beneficial for 3D applications.
|3DMark 2001SE Standard||6796 points|
|3DMark 03 Standard||2853 points|
|PCMark 05 Standard||5013 points|
|PCMark Vantage Result||2179 points|
no benchmarks found
The notebook is very quiet with an average of 30 dB(A) and merely the running noise of the hard disk is audible without load (idle) and with usual office applications. Unfortunately, an agitating high frequency peep tone becomes partly audible – but not in the energy savings profile, though.
The notebook gets slightly louder with a maximum of 31.8 dB(A) under load, whereas the noise development stays within a frame. DVD playing is even a bit louder with 34.3 dB(A), but movie enjoyment is still possible.
28.2 / 30 / 30 dB(A)
||34.3 / dB(A)|
||31.8 / 31.8 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
The temperature also stays within a frame under load. A maximum temperature of merely 31.2 degrees Celsius is reached on the upper side in the left back area, above the louver on the side edge. With a maximum value of 37 degrees Celsius, measured in the middle, the bottom side gets a bit warmer. Because just about body temperature is reached, there is no argument against the use on the thighs.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 31.4 °C / 89 F, compared to the average of 34.2 °C / 94 F, ranging from 21.2 to 62.5 °C for the class Office.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 37 °C / 99 F, compared to the average of 36.7 °C / 98 F
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 30.2 °C / 86.4 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 27.8 °C / 82 F (-2.4 °C / -4.4 F).
The loudspeakers are found on the left and right of the keyboard in the back area. Their sound isn't spectacular. The maximum volume is okay but their sound is tinny and thin because the basses and the midrange tones are weak. They are sufficient for occasional video viewing, but the use of headphones is advisable. The sound via 3.5 millimeter headphones remained inconspicuous.
Just like in the Thinkpad T500, a 6 cell lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 5200 mAh (56.16Wh) is applied in the ThinkPad T400 from Lenovo. Alternately a larger 9 cell battery is also offered for the T400 as well as an Ultrabay supplementary battery.
The 6 cell battery already protrudes slightly out of the back side of the case. Besides that, it is an identical assembly part as used in the previous T61 models. The new Ultrabay battery can be used in older models, but older Ultrabay batteries, in opposition to the 9 cell main battery, not in the new T-series models, T400 and T500.
The included 6 cell battery shows the same weaknesses as those in the T500: It also sits in the T400 with a very sizeable gap in the case and wobbles somewhat in a docked state.
In the BatteryEater Reader's test at minimum brightness, activated energy savings profile and deactivated WLAN, it delivered a maximum runtime of 266 minutes (4 hours, 26 minutes). The T400 still survived 98 minutes (1 hour 38 minutes) under load in the BatteryEater Classic test. With an activated wireless module you can work for approx. 175 minutes (2 hours, 55 minutes) without a break before you have to charge the battery again. DVD movies can be enjoyed for up to 127 minutes (2 hours, 7 minutes) with the 6 cell battery without a break.
|Off / Standby||0 / 0 Watt|
|Idle|| 8.8 / 16.3 / 17.8 Watt|
38.8 / 41.2 Watt|
With the T400 Lenovo managed to design a professional notebook with communication features and a good mobility once again. The main focus of the tested notebook, with Intel Core 2 CPU and integrated GMA 4500 MHD graphic chip, lies definitely on office and internet applications. If there is more need for 3D performance, you may find these in the T400 models with hybrid resolution. The allow changing between the integrated graphic chip and a dedicated ATI Mobility Radeon HD3470, depending on performance requirements or rather energy savings requirement.
The base for this equipment is a very buckling resistant, robust case, which can especially score due to the stable display and the massive hinges. But at a closer look you can find weak points, such as in the Ultrabay slot area.
The classic ThinkPad qualities were maintained also for the input devices. The keyboard has a very user-friendly layout and pleasant typing traits, even if it is partly a bit loud. The trackpoint/touchpad have the usual high-quality.
Mobility doesn't come short either, with a relatively energy saving P8600, integrated GMA4500 MHD graphic chip, matt display and standard 6 cell battery. The battery life can be extended through choosing the appropriate graphic chip in models with the hybrid-graphic solution. The optional battery variants, such as a larger 9 cell main battery or even an Ultrabay supplementary battery can also contribute to an extension of power socket independence.
An office notebook like the Lenovo ThinkPad T400 also benefits from the very low emissions. This applies just as well to the notebook's soundscape as to the surface temperature, which always stays within a limit.
Conclusively you can say that the Lenovo T400 office notebook can be recommended for professional or private users, who put value on an extensive mobility but don't want to or can't completely sacrifice certain performance reserves.
Many thanks to Cyberport.de who kindly provided us with the test device. You can configure and purchase it here, as well.