It is hard to mistake a ThinkPad. They have had a consistent look, and it has served the brand well. At CES in January, Lenovo showed off the 100 millionth ThinkPad, and the brand has always carried a consistent understated look. The T450s does not differ in this regard, and carries the familiar matte black exterior and ThinkPad logo on the lid. The T450s is a 14-inch model just like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon but unlike the X1 it has a thicker body with squared off sides. It is a couple of millimeters thicker than the X1 Carbon and tips the scales at about 3.5 lbs.

The slightly thicker dimensions make a big difference in a couple of features with the T450s. Unlike the X1 Carbon, there is just barely enough room for a RJ-45 port for wired networking, which is very important in a lot of business scenarios. The X1 Carbon has built in wired networking as well but requires a dongle to access it. There is a full assortment of connectivity options, and the T450s includes a docking port for use with the optional ThinkPad Ultra Dock, which offers a large selection of connectivity options, display outputs, and USB.

ThinkPad Docking Port (Bottom)

The biggest benefit to the thicker chassis though is extra travel possible in the keyboard. The ThinkPad brand is well known for their keyboards, and the one fitted to the T450s is really a great one. Key presses are firm and the extra travel makes for a pretty fantastic typing experience. It is likely the best laptop keyboard that I have had the pleasure to use, and with the move to thinner and thinner devices it is great to see one that leverages a thicker design to give a better experience.

As a ThinkPad, it also includes the TrackPoint in the keyboard. This is certainly a love it or hate it concept, but I personally find the TrackPoint to be a much more accurate way to navigate, and you do not have to remove your fingers from the keys to do the navigation. The 2015 ThinkPad models have also returned to actual buttons for the TrackPoint which is going to please a lot of fans. For those that prefer a track pad, the T450s has a very nice one of these as well, but unlike the TrackPoint there are no dedicated buttons for it. You can of course turn to the physical buttons at the top for the TrackPoint as well but it is designed as a clickpad and works well. The ThinkPad T450s really nails down input, offering a fantastic keyboard, the TrackPoint, and a good clickpad. If you are someone who does a lot of typing, this notebook would certainly be one to consider on that point alone.

Normally I don’t dedicate much of the review to the underside of a notebook, because generally there’s not much to say. That’s not the case on the T450s though. Here is where we see Lenovo’s Power Bridge technology in action. At the back of the notebook is the half size removable battery, and it can easily be removed and replaced with another one without having to power down the laptop. We’ll dig into this more in the battery life section. The battery is nestled in close to the docking port and has two latches to remove it and slide in a new battery.

Rear Battery and removal latch

Lenovo brands the ThinkPad T450s an Ultrabook, and it is maybe not as thin and light as most Ultrabooks, but the design itself should not be a detraction because they have not gone as slim and light as something like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. In fact, by providing a slightly bigger laptop, you gain a lot of advantages that we have kind of lost over the years, including an Ethernet port, and the ability to fit a very good keyboard inside. The design is very much ThinkPad, and people who like the matte black conservative look should really like the T450s. The thin bezels make the T450s feel more like a 13-inch notebook which is nice The integrated fingerprint reader makes login a breeze, and will work with Windows 10’s Hello feature.

Despite the ThinkPad X1 Carbon being what I would consider Lenovo’s flagship ThinkPad, I really like the T450s because of the keyboard, but really the Power Bridge adds the capability to have unlimited battery life (assuming you have enough batteries). A full dock makes this work with a more traditional docking station unlike the X1 Carbon which needs to be connected with a dongle.

Introduction System Performance
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  • deontologist - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    "spll-resistant keyboard"

  • overzealot - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Brett: Did you test the audio jack?
    I recently bought a Thinkpad Yoga 14 and the amount of background hiss out of the 3.5mm jack is just terrible. It's practically unusable, even with my least sensitive headphones.
    I'm hoping that it's just this model that sucks, but given a lack of testing in reviews I'm assuming they just don't even bother to get decent audio any more.
  • nerd1 - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I have used (now old) TPY 12 and was positively surprised at the audio quality. It was very clean with zero white noise, and I can say it was on par with macbooks and surface 3 pro.
  • Brett Howse - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I definitely used the headphone jack and didn't notice any issues. I'll try and make a note to point this out in reviews going forward.
  • overzealot - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    Thanks, I appreciate the responses.
    And I'm glad that it isn't a problem in all modern laptops.
  • Morawka - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    great all around powerhouse of a notebook. Sure it doesnt get as much battery life as the Dell XPS 13" but then again, this thinkpad has 3x the connectors, and i/o. no doubt the difference in battery efficiency.

    I love the true pro features such as integrated LTE, Ethernet, Display Port, Dual Battery for swap without power down, and fingerprint sensor.

    this is a true business class notebook that hardly anyone can match. Now i just wish they would have waited a month for skylake, but no doubt they will refresh the line once those mobile chips are out.

    Clap Clap for LTE and IPS display
  • GekkePrutser - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I really wish Lenovo would make the trackpoint optional.. I personally hate them, and a trackpad is just fine for me. The track point is really in the way when I'm typing and it gives an annoying bounce when I hit it by mistake. I usually remove the rubber cap to minimize this but it would be much better for me not to have it at all.
  • mscommerce - Monday, September 28, 2015 - link

    Ok, you don't get the point.

    [Sorry, nothing personal. I just couldn't pass up on the obvious pun :p ]
  • jasperjones - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I realize you guys are primarily interested in the hardware. Nevertheless, I feel this review is incomplete, as it doesn't address the software side of things. With scandals such as Superfish and the Lenovo Service Engine (which is implemented at the BIOS level and survives even clean installs), I'm very hesitant to buy Lenovo at this point.
  • Brett Howse - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Those were never part of ThinkPads. I'm not going to claim Lenovo is innocent because clearly they made some bad decisions but it never affected this device.

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