Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Review: The Best Business Laptop?

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Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 8
    • Usability
    • 10
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.29
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


  • Pros

    • Good build quality
    • Excellent keyboard and trackpad/touchpad
    • High-resolution 900p anti-glare screen
    • 10 hours of battery life!
  • Cons

    • Weak speakers
    • Design might not appeal to all

Quick Take

Bottom line, the ThinkPad T420 is an excellent choice for business, home, and student use.

The 14-inch ThinkPad T420 business notebook has an excellent screen, keyboard, and battery life. We explain why this “business rugged” notebook is a great choice for hard-working customers.

Build and Design
The T420 looks … pretty much like what ThinkPads have always looked like. It’s a classic design that places function over form. Take the exterior plastics, for example. They have a matte texture which is scratch-resistant and does not show fingerprints/dust (as opposed to glossy plastic). The plastics are of good quality and don’t rattle when tapped by a fingernail. The fit and finish is consistent all over – there are no rough edges and gaps between the various pieces are the same.

The chassis strength is excellent; T-series ThinkPads have strong internal frames that prevent flex. This is good for the internal circuit boards – the less they flex the better in the long term. The lid is securely anchored to the chassis via two metal hinges. The lid itself affords the screen good protection from bumps and pressure but lacks the magnesium alloy backing of notebooks like the Dell Latitude E6420 or HP EliteBook 8460p.

Overall the quality and build are top notch. Keep in mind the T-series notebooks are quite popular for corporate fleet use; they must handle years of abuse from not-so-careful employees in order to provide a good return on investment for the company. They’re built to last and it shows.

Upgrading the T420 is a simple task; a single cover under the chassis holds the memory and the hard drive slides out the left side of the chassis.

Ports and Features
The T420 has a solid array of input and output ports. It’s also worth noting the T420 has a docking station port on its underside – Lenovo sells several different models, all offering plug-and-play compatibility and connections to many more ports. This functionality is a feature of a true business notebook; lower-end “business” notebooks do not have them, nor do consumer models. All picture descriptions are left to right.

Front: Screen latch

Back: IEEE-1394 mini-Firewire, USB 2.0, battery pack, AC power, cooling exhaust vent

Left: Cooling exhaust vent, VGA, Ethernet, DisplayPort (top), USB 2.0 (bottom)

Right: DVD burner, ExpressCard/34 (top), media card reader (bottom), USB 2.0 (top), USB 2.0 + eSATA combo port (bottom)



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