What's hot: Solid build and excellent keyboard. Good gaming and multimedia capabilities.
What's not: Battery takes too long to charge.
Reviewed March 1, 2010 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
The ThinkPad T series notebooks are one of Lenovo’s most popular models and the series includes the 14.1” T400/T410 and the 15.6” T500/T510 notebooks. At the moment, Lenovo offers the Intel Core 2 Duo configurations at discounted prices (T400/T500), and the new T410/T510 Intel Core i5 and i7 configurations. We look at the Lenovo ThinkPad T410 14.1-inch notebook in this review. The ThinkPad T410 runs on the dual core Intel Core i5-M540 at 2.53 GHz with 4GB memory. Although the processor clock speed on the T410 isn’t higher than some the Core 2 Duo T400 notebooks, the new Core i5 feels very speedy and the higher benchmark results match real life performance. The ThinkPad T410 has integrated Intel GMA HD graphics, and it surprised us with very good gaming performance.
The ThinkPad T410 offers different hard drive configurations including 160GB – 320GB HDD (5400rpm), 250GB – 500GB HDD (7200rpm) and up to 160GB SSD. The notebook comes with a 9.5mm thin DVD multilburner optical drive and it has built-in Wi-Fi, WiMAX (optional) and Mobile Broadband (optional). The ThinkPad runs Windows 7 64-bit and it comes with a suite of Lenovo software that we actually enjoyed using.
Design and Ergonomics
The Lenovo ThinkPad T410 has the signature ThinkPad design that includes an excellent keyboard, grippy matte black finish and a very sturdy build. The black notebook isn’t light by today’s trendy thin notebook standards, and it weighs at least 5 pounds with the 6-cell battery. But for those who want a notebook that’s built like a tank, this is the hardware for you. The Lenovo ThinkPad T410 has a retina-burning bright LED display that’s 14.1” in size and 1280 x 800 in resolution with a 16:10 aspect ratio. Though very bright, the display isn’t particularly color saturated. The display looks slick surrounded by thin bezels that also house a 2-megapixel webcam in the top bezel. The standard keyboard offers an excellent typing experience with large keys and great travel. Like most ThinkPad notebooks, the T410 has both the Lenovo trademark TrackPoint and a large multitouch touchpad. Each cursor navigation control has its own set of mouse buttons. The fingerprint scanner lives next to the touchpad on the right.
The notebook has a row of smaller keys above the keyboard and these include the Function keys, a Delete key (yeah!) and dedicated speaker volume, mute and mic keys. Lenovo’s ThinkVantage suite of tools also has its own dedicated launch button. Two loud stereo speakers flank the keyboard, and they sound good. If you play music tracks, games or video that have good channel separation, you will hear the effects fully through these speakers. The ThinkPad T410 has a multiburner DVD drive that’s slim and reasonably fast. The eject button is a bit too small and we found ourselves hunting for it.
Horsepower and Performance
The Lenovo ThinkPad T410 currently offers three processor configurations: the Intel Core i5-M520M at 2.4GHz with 3MB L3 cache and 1066MHZ FSB, the i5-M540M at 2.53GHz with 3MB L3 cache and 1066MHz FSB, and the i7-620M at 2.66GHz with 4MB L3 cache and 1066MHz FSB. The Intel Arrandale CPUs have significantly improved performance and the benchmarks show it. The Intel GMA HD integrated GPU in the T410 has 12 unified shaders and DirectX 10 support. The notebook has 2GB memory (1067MHz) soldered on the motherboard and an additional DIMM slot ready for up to 4GB 1333MHz memory expansion. Some users might not like this as the max RAM can only go up to 6 gigs (other configurations allow for 8 gigs and firmware updates should now allow for 8 gigs on this config). The integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD managed some impressive gaming for integrated graphics.
Lenovo offers both traditional hard drive options as well as SSD options. The hard drive options include 160GB (5400rpm) at the lowest capacity up to 500GB (7200rpm) with the middle sized drives, the 250GB and the 320GB, in either 5400rpm or 720rpm. The ThinkPad T410 comes with a built-in optical drive that’s DVD Recordable 8x Max Dual Layer, Ultrabay Slim (Serial ATA) drive by Matshita.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T410 has built-in Wi-Fi Intel 1000 b/g/n and offers other wireless options including built-in Verizon Mobile, AT&T Mobile Broadband (Gobi 2000) HSDPA 3G with GPS as well as WiMAX. The built-in Wi-Fi has a great reception and streaming video via Wi-Fi works smoothly. Bluetooth is available as an option.
We put the Lenovo ThinkPad T410 through the PCMark Vantage benchmark tests and it scored better in most categories than the Lenovo ThinkPad T400s running on the Intel Core 2 Duo P9600 CPU. The only score in which the ThinkPad T400 beat out the T410 is the HDD test, and that’s because our T400 had a 128GB SSD and the T410 has a 320 gig HDD. We provided both benchmark results for your comparison. Both notebooks were running at default power management settings:
Lenovo ThinkPad T410: PCMark Suite: 6920
Memory Suite: 3372
TV and Movie Suite: 3911
Gaming Suite: 3672
Music Suite: 5963
Communication Suite: 8208
Productivity Suite: 5957
HDD Test Suite: 3758
Lenovo ThinkPad T400s:
PCMark Suite overall score: 4586
Memory Suite: 2743
TV and Movies Suite: 2668
Gaming Suite: 3373
Music Suite: 5026
Communication Suite: 4012
Productivity Suite: 4670
HDD Test Suite: 7128
The Windows 7 Experience Index for the Lenovo ThinkPad T410: (on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9) Processor: 6.8
Gaming Graphics: 5.3
Primary hard disk: 5.5
The ThinkPad T410 feels responsive when running productivity software such as MS Office, and IE 8 has much-improved speed on the T410. Third-party software also runs smoothly on the ThinkPad including Adobe Photoshop and BlackBerry Desktop software. DVD playback is super smooth using the included Intervideo WinDVD player, and Netflix streams over Wi-Fi smoothly. Hulu playback is a bit jerky over Wi-Fi, but that’s not uncommon even with powerful notebooks.
With integrated graphics you might think gaming is limited to casual games and older games, but the gaming tests on the ThinkPad T410 tell us otherwise. The Intel GMA HD integrated graphics can handle games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 reasonably well. The game played smoothly for the most part with some frame drops in later missions. We’ve put together a video of the Lenovo ThinkPad T410 playing Modern Warfare 2 below. The game was running at 1024 x 768 resolution with the following settings:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 settings:
Aspect Ratio: Auto
Screen Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Sync Every Frame: No
Specular Map: Yes
Depth of Field: Yes
Soften Smoke Edges: Yes
Bullet Impacts: Yes
Texture Quality: Automatic
Video of the T410 playing Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 2:
The system runs most software at a cool 37 degrees Celsius, and it does get hotter when running Modern Warfare 2, reaching 54 degrees Celsius.
Ports and Slots
The Lenovo ThinkPad T410 has ample USB ports: 4 USB ports with 1 of them powered. The notebook also comes with an RJ45 port, IEEE 1394 FireWire port, VGA, a mic in/audio out combo jack as well as a 5-in-1 card MMC media reader. There is a 34mm ExpressCard slot.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T410 comes with a standard 6-cell Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery and you can upgrade that to an optional 9-cell battery for an extra $50. The 6-cell battery runtimes are good for a 14.1” notebook. In our real life battery tests, the Lenovo lasted 2.5 hours playing a DVD with Wi-Fi turned on and the screen brightness set to max. It used about 30% battery life playing a 40-minute Hulu show over Wi-Fi with brightness set to max using the Video Playback mode in power settings. When doing productivity tasks such as editing Word documents, viewing spreadsheets, checking email and surfing the web occasionally, the notebook lasted 4.5 hours. While the battery life is pretty good, the ThinkPad T410 charges slowly. If you run multimedia content frequently on the Lenovo, the charging time might actually be higher than usage time.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T410 comes with Windows 7 and the standard Microsoft software including IE, Windows Media Player as well as Adobe Acrobat Reader and Flash. When you first turn on the ThinkPad T410 it will walk you through setting up your Wi-Fi network as well as enrolling fingerprints and password protection. Microsoft Office 2007 60-day trial software is pre-installed. The notebook also has a 30-day trial version of McAfee VirusScan Plus. Other third-party software includes Corel DVD Movie Factory and InterVideo WinDVD 8.
Lenovo bundles some very useful utilities including the Snipping Tool screen capturing tool, password Vault, Power Management and ThinkVantage restore and recovery suite. Like most resent Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks, the Lenovo ThinkPad T410 comes with a recovery partition and ThinkVantage can help you restore files and the system to previous backup points including the original factory state. To launch the full suite of restore and recovery utilities by Lenovo, start the system and press the F11 key when the Lenovo Logo is showing. The tools also allow you to create recovery media. The power management software on the T410 has very extensive settings and offers a good number of pre-set modes (max battery life, video playback, etc.) as well as user customizable settings.
The new Intel Core i5 processors are serious performers making the Lenovo ThinkPad T410 a fast notebook. The T410 is speedy at productivity tasks and shows drastic gaming performance improvements compared to the outgoing T400. The display is super bright and the keyboard is excellent. The notebook has the classic ThinkPad solid build and 14.1” is a good size for business travelers. If you are using an older ThinkPad model and are ready to upgrade to a new ThinkPad, the T410 should be on your short list. If you have the money, go for the SSD option on the T410. And if you want something even lighter, check out the ThinkPad T410s (the “s” is for skinny) that weighs only 3.9 pounds.
Pro: Solid build and excellent keyboard. Gaming abilities improved quite a bit.
Con: Soldered DIMM slot on motherboard, battery takes too long to charge.
Price: Starts at $1,345 (sale price $999); $1,570 as configured for the review unit (sale price: $1214)
Display: 14.1” WXGA display, 1280 x 800 resolution, 16:10 aspect, 200 Nit. VGA port onboard. Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD with AMT integrated graphics.
Battery: 6-cell Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery, 5.2Ah 57Wh. Our tests got 4.5 hours general usage and 2.5 hours of DVD playback.
Performance: Intel Core i5-M540 at 2.53 GHz, 3MB L3 cache, 1066MHz FSB, 35W. 4GB DDR2 1067MHz memory, 6 gigs max. One soldered DIMM on motherboard, one additional DIMM slot. 320GB hard drive, SSD options are available.
Size: 13.13 x 9.41 x 1.08/1.25 inches. Weight: starts at 5 pounds with a 6-cell battery.
Drives: DVD Recordable 8x Max Dual Layer, Ultrabay Slim (Serial ATA) drive by Matshita.
Networking: 10/100 Ethernet. Intel wireless WiFi 802.11b/g/n. Bluetooth optional, 3G WWAN Broadband (Gobi) optional (Verizon) and WiMAX optional.
Ports and Slots: 4 USB slots (one of them is powered and 1 eSATA), VGA, Ethernet RJ45, mic/headphone combo jack, 5-in-1 media reader and ExpressCard 34mm slot.
Audio: Stereo speakers, mic/headphone combo jack.
Software: Windows 7 Professional Edition. MS Office 2007 60 day trial, McAfee VirusScan Plus 30-day trial, Corel DVD Movie Factory and InterVideo WinDVD 8. Snipping Tool screen capturing tool, password Vault, Power Management and ThinkVantage restore and recovery suite. Fingerprint scanning software included.