Are you searching for a laptop that is both affordable and capable of handling all of your daily computing tasks? If yes, this Lenovo ThinkPad T420 review might just be what you are looking for!
Itechguides' Take on Lenovo ThinkPad T420
The Lenovo ThinkPad T420 is a 14-inch powerhouse that offers exceptional performance at an affordable price. This laptop comes with a decent amount of ports and an exceptional keyboard. However, it lacks USB 3.0 and HDMI ports, and also its touchpad is a little too small for a 14-inch laptop.
- Durable design
- Quiet keyboard
- Exceptional battery life
- Strong performance
- No USB 3.0 and HDMI port
- Small touchpad
To familiarize you with the Lenovo ThinkPad T420, I’ll go through its features and specifications in this review. I’ll also go over the laptop’s design, processor, RAM, graphics, storage, and battery life performances.
In addition to going over the specifications, I’ll compare the laptop to some of its closest competitors as well as its predecessor. Moreover, I will provide a rating in each section of this review to help you understand how the laptop fared in each one.
Finally, after reading this review, you will have all the information you need to know about the Lenovo ThinkPad T420.
My Initial Thoughts
ThinkPad T series laptops from Lenovo have long been the most impressive models on the business laptop market. This is due to their exceptional build quality, powerful performance, and outstanding keyboards.
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The Lenovo ThinkPad T420 continues this distinguished legacy. The laptop features a powerful Core i7 processor, a durable build quality, and a very pleasant keyboard.
In addition to its exceptional features, this laptop is also affordable. At the time I wrote this review in August 2021, the ThinkPad T420 starts at a price of $195.00.
Having already mentioned a few of the ThinkPad T420’s attributes, let get into more details below!
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Design, Dimension & Weight Review
The ThinkPad T420 maintains the original ThinkPad appearance that business users have grown to appreciate over time. Furthermore, the ThinkPad T420’s design appears to be very similar to that of its predecessor, the T410.
The entire exterior of the ThinkPad T420 is made of plastic but in matte black. This matte plastic is more scratch-resistant than glossy plastic, and it also resists fingerprints and dust.
Furthermore, the lid of the laptop is made of rubberized ABS plastic. The laptop’s bottom, on the other hand, is made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic.
Two metal hinges keep the lid firmly attached to the laptop’s chassis. The lid keeps the screen in place without flexing and protects it from knocks and pressure thanks to the robust metal hinges.
On the upper left of the laptop’s lid is a silver Lenovo logo. Also, on the upper right corner of the lid is a slanted “ThinkPad” logo.
The chassis of the Lenovo ThinkPad T420 is quite durable and strong – ThinkPad T-series laptops have strong internal frameworks that reduce flex. This is beneficial to the internal circuit boards; the less they flex, the safer.
In terms of the laptop’s display, the T420 has a 14-inch screen that features an anti-glare coating. Additionally, the laptop’s display also comes in two resolutions.
You can either buy the laptop in HD (1366 x 768) or HD+ (1600 x 900).
My review laptop has a 14-inch display with a resolution of HD+ (1600 x 900). With a maximum brightness of 320 cd/m2, this display is clear and vivid.
Moreover, the viewing angles are pretty good; however, you may notice some color distortion from vertical angles. On a brighter note, the display screen’s anti-glare coating prevents reflections, making it suitable for outdoor use.
Above the laptop’s display screen sits a 720p HD Camera. This webcam takes crisp and clear images, and it can also be used to unlock the laptop via facial recognition.
The ThinkPad T420 comes with a 7-row, spill-resistant keyboard with a full range of keys. On the keyboard, even infrequently used keys like scroll lock and pause are available.
The keyboard layout is great, with the (F1-F12) keys divided into four groups at the top. Also, the Home, End, PgUp, PgDn, and Delete keys are separated into a group of four.
Furthermore, the keys have just the appropriate amount of travel. Therefore, providing your finger muscles enough time to know when a key is fully pressed, which is quite helpful for accurate and fast typing.
Additionally, the spring mechanism instantly pops the keys back up while remaining solid enough to allow you to relax your fingers on the keys. Lastly, the keyboard is pretty quiet, making it ideal for usage in meetings or classrooms – no clicky or annoying sounds, just a pleasant low octave sound.
There’s a blue ThinkVantage button at the top of the keyboard that you may use to launch system diagnostics and other activities. In addition to the ThinkVantage button, the top of the keyboard also features the volume keys and power button.
On each side of the ThinkPad T420’s keyboard, there are two stereo speakers. This set of speakers are adequate for watching video clips, but they lack the power and bass needed to enjoy music.
The T420 features both a Touchpad and a TrackPoint, just like other ThinkPad laptops. By hitting the F8 and FN keys together, you can disable and enable the touchpad and TrackPoint individually.
The TrackPoint can be found just in the center of the keyboard. The touchpad, on the other hand, is located just underneath the keyboard.
Moreover, TrackPoint is an ideal alternative to the touchpad – to control the cursor on the screen. Additionally, the TrackPoint is very responsive and also easy to use.
However, if you don’t like the TrackPoint, you can use the 76.2 x 44.45 mm touchpad. The touchpad’s anti-glare textured surface is very smooth, making it easier to move your finger on.
However, the touchpad is pretty small. As a result, performing multi-touch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom on it might be a little difficult.
Due to the fact that the ThinkPad T420 features both a TrackPoint and touchpad, it has two sets of mouse buttons. The mouse buttons have decent key travel and provide just the right amount of feedback.
Moving on, the ThinkPad T420 has a lot of ports, however, a number of key ones are missing. An Express Card 34 slot, DVD/CD-RW combo drive, 5-in-1 memory card reader, USB 2.0 port, and USB 2.0/eSATA port are located on the right side.
On the rear of the laptop, there is a FireWire port and a USB 2.0 port. However, on the left side, you’ll find a VGA, DisplayPort, Ethernet, and another USB 2.0 port.
USB 3.0 ports and HDMI ports are totally lacking from the ThinkPad T420. These are particularly regrettable omissions given that Lenovo offers USB 3.0 and HDMI on several other ThinkPad laptops.
Lenovo packed the ThinkPad T420 with the basic range of ThinkVantage utilities. The ThinkVantage Power Manager is one of them, and it allows you to control the laptop’s power profile.
Access Connections, which manages your wireless connections, is also one of the ThinkVantage utilities. The T420 also features Corel DVD Movie Factory, which may be used to burn discs.
Moving on, the ThinkPad T420’s dimensions and weight are 340.5 x 233 x 30.1 and 2240 g, respectively. Comparatively, the ThinkPad T420 weighs more than Toshiba’s Tecra R840.
Specifically, the Toshiba Tecra R840 measures 340.36 x 238.76 x 27.94 mm and weighs 2086.52 g. On a bright note, the ThinkPad T420 is lighter than its predecessor, as well as the Dell Latitude E6420.
Overall, the Thinkpad T420 is a durable laptop with an excellent keyboard and a good number of ports. Therefore, for its overall design, I will rate it an eight out of ten.
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Processor (CPU) Performance Review
The Lenovo Thinkpad T420 comes with a 2nd Gen 4-core Intel Core i7-2620M processor. This Core i7 processor is based on Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture and features a cache of 4 MB.
Additionally, the processor has a base frequency of 2.70 GHz and a maximum frequency of 3.40 GHz. With this processor, the T420 is capable of handling numerous computing tasks such as web browsing, photo-editing, as well as multitasking.
To determine the performance of the ThinkPad T420 with this Core i7 processor, I conducted a wPrime processor benchmark test. The wPrime is a multi-threaded benchmark tool that uses Newton’s method of estimation to evaluate a computer’s processing performance.
The estimated runtime required to calculate the processor’s hyper-threading ability is the result of the test – a shorter runtime indicates better performance. According to the results of the test, the ThinkPad T420 recorded a runtime of 16.65 seconds.
Comparatively, the HP EliteBook 8560p achieved a runtime of 15.79 seconds. Therefore, the HP EliteBook 8560p has a better performance compared to the ThinkPad T420.
However, in comparison with its predecessor (ThinkPad T410), the ThinkPad T420 performed better. On the wPrime processor benchmark test, the ThinkPad T410 recorded a runtime of 16.82 seconds.
Finally, the Lenovo Thinkpad T420’s processing performance is impressive, especially considering that it surpassed its predecessor in the benchmark test. However, it was unable to outperform one of its closest competitors on the same benchmark test.
Therefore, I’ll rate it an eight in this processor review section.
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Memory (RAM) Performance Review
In terms of memory, Lenovo equips the ThinkPad T420 with two 1333 MHz SO-DIMM RAM slots. These RAM slots support a maximum memory capacity of 4 GB RAM each – 8 GB altogether.
Even by business laptop standards, a maximum memory capacity of 8 GB is poor. This is because most users purchase business laptops for work or intensive computing tasks and not for play.
However, the 8 GB RAM on my review laptop was a decent multitasker. As a result, I was able to open different applications together such as Microsoft Excel and Corel Draw.
While these applications were still running, I also opened 10 Chrome tabs, with one of those tabs streaming music on Spotify. Moreover, I didn’t notice any lag or slowness despite these tasks and applications running simultaneously.
However, I started noticing the laptop slowing down when I tried editing a picture on Corel Draw.
Moving on, I conducted a PCMark Vantage benchmark test to measure the overall performance of the ThinkPad T420. Based on the PCMark Vantage test results, the ThinkPad T420 achieved a score of 8,122 points.
Unfortunately, this score isn’t enough to beat the Dell Latitude E6420 score of 9220 points. However, the ThinkPad T420 performed better than its fellow ThinkPad model, the ThinkPad T420s which scored 6197 points.
In conclusion, the Thinkpad T420’s maximum memory capacity is relatively poor and it also underperforms when compared to its competitors. Therefore, I will rate the T420 a seven in this memory review section.
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Storage Options & Performance Review
For storage, the ThinkPad T420 offers numerous storage options. The laptop is available with either a 7200 RPM SATA HDD or SSD storage.
The 7200 RPM SATA HDD storage option supports a maximum storage of 500 GB while the SSD supports up to 128 GB. Moreover, the ThinkPad T420 also comes with a 5-in-1 media card reader for extra storage expansion.
The ThinkPad T420 laptop I reviewed shipped with a 7200 RPM SATA HDD which has a storage capacity of 500 GB. To assess the performance of the laptop’s HDD storage, I conducted a CrystalDiskMark benchmark test.
CrystalDiskMark is a benchmarking software for analyzing a computer’s storage drive’s speed and overall performance. According to the results of the CrystalDiskMark benchmark test, the ThinkPad T420 has a sequential read speed of 94.39 MB/s.
Also, the ThinkPad T420 has a sequential write speed of 94.25 MB/s.
To further assess the ThinkPad T420’s performance with the HDD storage, I conducted a file transfer test. On the file transfer test, it took the laptop 3 minutes and 5 seconds to copy 4.97GB of multimedia files.
Moreover, this was done at a transfer rate of 27.5 MB/s which is slightly above the category average of 26 MB/s. However, it was way behind the Dell Latitude E6420’s transfer rate of 34.6 MB/s.
Finally, I will rate the performance of the ThinkPad T420 in this storage review section a seven out of ten.
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Graphics Card Performance Review
For graphics, the ThinkPad T420 comes with two graphics card options. The laptop is available either with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, or NVIDIA NVS 4200M.
Moreover, you can use the graphics cards individually or combined.
The ThinkPad T430 features NVIDIA’s Optimus graphics switching technology. It toggles between the two graphics cards on the laptop when they are used together to provide maximum performance or minimum power usage.
The integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 features a base GPU frequency of 650 MHz and a boost GPU frequency of 1300 MHz. Sadly, this graphics card doesn’t feature a dedicated VRAM.
Therefore, when using the graphics card on the T420, don’t expect it to run graphics-demanding applications or games smoothly. On the bright note, the NVIDIA NVS 4200M features a dedicated VRAM of 1 GB DDR3.
The NVIDIA NVS 4200M also has a base GPU frequency of 810 MHz and a boost frequency of 1620 MHz.
The ThinkPad T420 laptop I reviewed came with both the integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, and NVIDIA NVS 4200M. So, I conducted a 3DMark 06 test on the laptop to determine the overall performance of the graphics cards.
Based on the results of the 3DMark 06 test, the ThinkPad T420 scored 5,583 points. Comparatively, the ThinkPad T420 achieved a better score than the Dell Latitude E6420 and HP EliteBook 8460p.
The EliteBook 8460p, on the other hand, uses an AMD Radeon HD 6470M graphics card.
I also conducted a real-world gaming test on the laptop to further assess the performance of its graphics cards. The ThinkPad T420 isn’t a gaming laptop, but its graphics card with dedicated VRAM is strong enough to play some popular title games.
For instance, the ThinkPad T420 achieved a solid frame rate of 61 fps when playing World of Warcraft. This frame rate is higher than the Dell Latitude E6420’s 41 fps.
On more graphic-demanding games such as Far Cry 2, the T420 achieved a frame rate of 37 fps.
Finally, despite the fact that the ThinkPad T420 isn’t for gaming nevertheless, it can play a few popular games. Therefore, I will rate the laptop an eight for its exceptional graphics performance.
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Battery Life & Performance Review
For battery, the ThinkPad T420 comes with two battery configurations. The laptop is available with a 6-cell, 57 Whr Li-ion or 9-cell, 94 Whr Li-Ion battery.
My review laptop features a 9-cell, 94 Whr Li-Ion battery. With this 9-cell battery, the ThinkPad T420 should last an entire day.
Practically, on a battery test which includes continuous surfing the internet via Wi-Fi, the laptop lasted an impressive 10 hours and 36 minutes. This runtime is more than double the category average of 5 hours and 15 minutes.
Finally, I will rate the ThinkPad T420 a nine out of ten for its impressive battery performance. This rating is based on the 9-cell battery performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, it isn’t. The Lenovo ThinkPad T420 has a 14-inch display with an anti-glare coating. It also offers two screen resolution options.
The ThinkPad T420 was released back in February 2011.
The ThinkPad T420 starts at a price of $195.00 when I published this article in August 2021.
No. The ThinkPad T420 isn’t meant for gaming. However, its NVIDIA NVS 4200M graphics card is capable of running most games.
The ThinkPad line was first introduced in October 1992.
My Final Thoughts
The Lenovo ThinkPad T420 is a well-built 14-inch business laptop that offers a lot at a good price. It features the ThinkPad trademarks of excellent build quality and a good keyboard.
Almost everything about the ThinkPad T420 appeals to me, from its long battery life to its numerous graphics options. Its touchpad, on the other hand, is a little too small, and it lacks a USB 3.0 port, which is a major flaw.
Overall, the ThinkPad T420 is not just a fantastic business laptop, but also a great option for home and school use.
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