- Intel Core i5-3320M Processor (3M Cache, up to 3.30 GHz)
- Windows 7 Professional
- 14.0″ HD+ (1600 x 900) LED Backlit Anti-Glare Display, Mobile Broadband Ready (upgraded option)
- Intel HD Graphics 4000
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 (1 DIMM) – Samsung (upgraded after purchase to 16GB in 2 DIMMs)
- Backlit Keyboard (upgraded option)
- UltraNav multi-touch touchpad & TrackPoint with Fingerprint Reader (upgraded option)
- 720p HD Camera Mic (upgraded option)
- 500GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm – Hitachi HTS725050A7E630 (upgraded option)
- DVD Recordable (9.5mm [3/8"] in Ultrabay) – Matashita
- Express Card Slot & 4 in 1 Card Reader (upgraded option)
- Bluetooth 4.0 with Antenna (upgraded option)
- Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 AGN (upgraded option)
- 6 Cell Lithium Battery T81+ – Sanyo
- 90W AC Adapter – US (2pin)
Build and Design
The T430s is nearly identical to the T420s, maintaining the spartan, business look familiar in ThinkPad machines. At 13.50″ x 9.05″ x 0.83″ – 1.02″ (front to back), it feels thin, somewhat wide, and surprisingly light. According to Lenovo, the roll cage surrounding the key components is made of magnesium, and the chassis and lid are composed of “carbon fiber reinforced materials” to keep the weight in check, bringing the laptop to around 4 lbs. Like most ThinkPads, durability and fit and finish are impressive.
No parts creak, and all joints align perfectly. The top of the lid is a soft-touch material with the Lenovo logo and ThinkPad logo on the left and right. The hinges attaching the lid to the body are metal and appropriately stiff, making a solid impression.
Traditionally, one of the major trade-offs in getting the slim model in the T series versus the larger, heavier model is a reduction in battery life. The T430s is no exception. Its 6-cell, 81+, 3700 mAh Li-ion battery lasted four hours and eight minutes with the screen at level 11 (roughly 70 percent) with a website refreshing every 60 seconds on the “Power Source Optimized” power plan. While not a particularly impressive number, reducing the screen brightness, turning off bluetooth and some other components would undoubtedly help extend that number. A 3-cell battery is available for the UltraBay as well. With both batteries, Lenovo claims the T430s can last 13 hours. This claim seems unlikely, even utilizing a battery maximization plan and the screen brightness very low. A little under ten hours seems closer to the likely maximum with both batteries.
Lenovo also claims the T430s can charge its battery to 80 percent in 30 minutes; a feature they call RapidCharge. In practice, the battery only made it from exhaustion to 46 percent in 30 minutes. Confusingly, Lenovo calls RapidCharge an “option” but no special batteries or software settings are available to activate it. Perhaps the hardware or software necessary to achieve such rapid charging will come at a later date. Regardless, charging did occur quickly and goes a long way toward making up for the somewhat weak battery life.
Overall, the T430s is a rock solid business machine capable of handling some more demanding programs, despite its low weight and thinness. The easy upgradability is nice, especially as other manufacturers reduce the number of user-replaceable parts. While the battery life is not stellar, the low weight of the system makes it easy to travel with, even with the AC adapter. The screen continues to be a weak spot, but is sufficient for business uses. We would have perhaps preferred the classic ThinkPad keyboard over the new “Precision” keyboard with chiclet keys, but the keyboard remains an overall strong point. The laptop reviewed here is destined to be further upgraded with an mSATA SSD as the main drive, boosting the overall performance of the machine and freeing the included hard drive for use as file storage. In sum, the T430s is easy to recommend as portable but powerful business machine with a build quality which should allow it to last.