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ThinkPad T43 review: ThinkPad T43

Our ThinkPad T43 test model measured 12.2 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and just 1 inch thick. At 5.5 pounds, the ThinkPad T43 is of average weight for the thin-and-light category. The blackboard eraser-size AC adapter adds another 0.8 pound to its overall travel weight.


ThinkPad T43

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Sturdy, well-designed case; strong security features; swappable internal bay; standard three-year warranty.

The Bad

Pricier than other comparable systems; only two USB 2.0 ports.

The Bottom Line

The IBM ThinkPad T43 delivers similar performance but lesser battery life than the identically designed ThinkPad T42; we think the latter remains the better buy.
IBM ThinkPad T43
The latest iteration of IBM's corporate thin-and-light, the ThinkPad T43, features the same sturdy case as that of the previous model, the ThinkPad T42--a CNET Editors' Choice. The T43 also features some new components, including Intel's latest-generation Centrino chipset. The new parts contribute a small performance gain in exchange for battery life that's about 30 minutes shorter than that of the T42. Both models are good buys, but if you want the longest battery life, choose the T42; if performance is your top priority, pick up the T43.

It's far from the sexiest laptop on the market, but the ThinkPad T43 is well designed, and it has a number of thoughtful touches, such as a spill-proof keyboard with drain holes. The notebook includes IBM's signature red eraser-head pointing stick, which has a nice, flat top that supports your finger better than the rounded tops on most pointing sticks; two corresponding mouse buttons and a handy scroll button sit just below the keyboard. Below its keyboard, the ThinkPad T43 also features a touch pad with its own two mouse buttons, which are a bit too small. The keyboard itself is wide and comfortable to use. Though there aren't many multimedia controls here--this is a business laptop, after all--you do get external volume controls, including a mute button, as well as a blue IBM button that brings up support information. Our ThinkPad T43 test unit featured a fingerprint sensor on the right-hand side of the wrist rest; swiping your finger over the sensor logs you onto the notebook in lieu of typing in a password (for more details about this biometric security feature, check out our review of the ThinkPad T42).

IBM's laptops are highly configurable, and there are dozens of different models available from a number of online resellers, local computer stores, or IBM's own Web site. CNET's ThinkPad T43 series review offers an overview of your choices.

Priced at $2,049 (as of April 2005), our ThinkPad T43 test unit featured a nice array of higher-end parts, including a fast 1.86GHz Intel Pentium M 750 Sonoma processor; 512MB of speedy, 533MHz RAM; and an ATI Mobility Radeon X300 graphics chip with 64MB of dedicated video memory. Also onboard was a 60GB hard drive spinning at a swift 7,200rpm; a 14.1-inch screen with a fine, 1,400x1,050 native resolution; a multiformat DVD burner in a hot-swappable bay; and an Intel 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi card. Configured this way, our test unit cost hundreds more than competing corporate thin-and-lights we've reviewed, such as the Dell Latitude D610 and the HP Compaq nc6230--both of which included 2GHz PM processors, 512MB of 400MHz memory, 64MB ATI X300 chips, 14.1-inch SXGA+ screens, 80GB 5,400rpm hard drives, and DVD/CD-RW drives.

In CNET Labs' benchmark tests, our test ThinkPad T43 turned in a solid performance. Equipped with specs almost identical to those of the Compaq nc6230 and Latitude D610 systems that we tested, the ThinkPad T43 was slightly faster--most likely because of its speedier hard drive. Still, performance-wise, all three machines are essentially equal. Our ThinkPad T43 test unit shipped with a high-capacity battery (which costs extra) that lasted for a long 306 minutes in our drain tests--at least one hour longer than the Latitude D610's and the nc6230's much smaller, standard cells.

The ThinkPad T43 includes all of the ports and slots we'd expect to see in a business thin-and-light. You get Gigabit Ethernet, S-Video out, audio in and out, and parallel, plus one Type II PC Card slot and an ExpressCard/54 slot. It has only two USB 2.0 ports--probably enough for most users but fewer than the Latitude D610's four and the nc6230's three. Our test unit came loaded with Windows XP Professional; like nearly all corporate notebooks, it came without a productivity suite. IBM bundles some other helpful apps, however, such as IBM-branded versions of Sonic's RecordNow and DLA, as well as InterVideo's WinDVD and WinDVD Creator, for your various CD and DVD burning and playing needs. The ThinkPad T43's security features will reassure even the utterly paranoid: you get the Active Protection System, which, according to IBM, shuts down the hard drive if it detects "excessive" motion, as well as an Embedded Security Subsystem--a hardware encryption feature similar to a Trusted Platform Module (TPM).

IBM backs the ThinkPad T43 with a standard three-year warranty, longer than the industry-average one-year of parts and labor coverage. The term has some generous features, including onsite service and 24/7, toll-free tech support for the life of the warranty. You can choose to configure the system with a shorter or longer warranty, as well as other service options, such as next-business day help. Though IBM's support Web site offers plenty of troubleshooting tips on the ThinkPad T43, the site doesn't include the helpful user forums or real-time tech-support chat features in other support Web sites from Dell and HP.

Mobile application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

Battery life
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

Find out more about how we test Windows notebooks.

System configurations:
Dell Latitude D610
Windows XP Professional; 2GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon X300 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K80 80GB 5,400rpm
HP Compaq nc6230
Windows XP Pro; 2GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon x300 64MB; Toshiba MK8026GAX 80GB 5,400rpm
IBM ThinkPad T42
Windows XP Professional; 1.8GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Fujitsu MHT2040AH 40GB 5,400rpm
IBM ThinkPad T43
Windows XP Professional; 1.86GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon X300 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 60GB 7,200rpm


ThinkPad T43

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 5Performance 7Battery 7Support 7