Lenovo ThinkPad T420 review: Lenovo ThinkPad T420

The included Nvidia Optimus graphics aren't earth-shattering, but provide a nice boost over integrated Intel graphics. They're enough for moderate graphics work and even some gaming.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad T420
553 
HP Envy 14
608 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad T420
84 
HP Envy 14
93 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad T420
111 
HP Envy 14
121 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad T420
442 
HP Envy 14
294 

Juice box
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Average watts/hour
Off (60%) 0.29
Sleep (10%) 0.68
Idle (25%) 6.81
Load (05%) 44.23
Raw kWh number 36.41
Annual power consumption cost $4.13

Annual power consumption cost
Lenovo ThinkPad T420
$4.13 
HP Envy 14
$5.78 

With an attached nine-cell battery (for an extra $50), the Lenovo ThinkPad T420 lasted an impressive 7 hours and 22 minutes in our video playback test. Sure, that's with the extended battery, but it ranks as one of the best battery performances from any recent laptop we've reviewed, beaten only by the HP dv7-6b55dx. It bests the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro I compared it with, but that laptop has an internal battery with no added cost or bulge.

Lenovo offers a standard one-year warranty on the ThinkPad T420. That can be upgraded in various ways on Lenovo's Web site. For example, add up to four years, along with accidental damage protectionl, for $329. A separate battery warranty extension can also be purchased, up to four years for $139. Lenovo's Web site and customer service offer a solid set of support options, and the included blue ThinkVantage button on the T420 is good for accessing a set of onboard diagnostic tools and support documents.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T420 is exactly what you think it is: a big old-fashioned ThinkPad, but upgraded with current processors and specs. It could do with a partial makeover and more modern ports like HDMI--and it's more expensive overall than we'd prefer for the specs included--but those who crave a new experience in an old comfy pair of enterprise-friendly shoes will get what they paid for.

System configurations

Lenovo ThinkPad T420
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2520M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia NVS 4200M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 3000; 500GB Toshiba 7,200rpm

HP Envy 14
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB (Dedicated) Intel HD 3000; 750GB Western Digital 7,200rpm

Dell Inspiron N411z
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 3000; 750GB Western Digital 7,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite E305-S1990X
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Gateway ID47H02u
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

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Where to Buy See All

Lenovo ThinkPad T420s 4174 - 14" - Core i5 2520M - Windows 7 Pro 64-bit - 4 GB RAM - 160 GB SSD

Part Number: 4174LVU
MSRP: $2,499.00 Low Price: $2,110.32 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Installed Size 4 GB
  • Weight 3.7 lbs
About The Author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.