Heat and Noise
The small fan on the left side of the notebook takes care of generated heat quietly and efficiently. It stays off the majority of the time; I only saw it come on when I was doing something more resource-intensive such as watching a flash video. It doesn't develop a whine. The fan is not silent at full speed but can be ignored or dismissed as background noise.
The ultra-powerful 94Wh, 9-cell battery propelled our test unit to a whopping 15 hours of battery life during our standard battery rundown test (Windows 7 Balanced power profile, 70% screen brightness, wireless active and refreshing a web page every 60 seconds). This is above and beyond what we expect from a notebook, even one with this large of a battery. The 9-cell battery is a worthwhile upgrade. 15 hours!
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
The ThinkPad T430 generally remains the king of 14-inch business notebooks though I have a few reservations. Bad news first: the base 1366x768 screen has too little resolution to get quality multitasking work done if you work with spreadsheets or multiple windows. The higher resolution 1600x900 upgrade is a must. Secondly is the keyboard. What?! A complaint about a ThinkPad keyboard? Lenovo 'upgraded' to a Chiclet-style model; it feels great and as a ThinkPad owner I'm not disappointed but the layout is not the same. The multi-colored keys are also gone. It's still a great keyboard but no longer true to its roots.
Otherwise the T430 is almost bulletproof. Chassis strength is excellent; it literally has no flex. Battery life with the extended 9-cell is an unbelievable 15 hours. It has plenty of input/output ports including DisplayPort with audio. And lastly it's a reasonable value starting at $849; use coupons to knock the price down further.
Software & Support
* Ratings averaged to produce final score
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