With the T440s, Lenovo has sent a clear message that this machine is about portability first, power second. Its low-voltage chipset, limited RAM expandability, and hyper-conservative thermal management (which provokes throttling under even moderate GPU load) precludes any possibility of the machine being leveraged for GPU-related work in any way. That’s not to take anything away from its speed; with high scores in PCMark 7 and subjectively snappy performance, the T440s is a winner in general usage. And the GPU-induced throttling is only a problem when GPU load is underfoot—meaning you can fully tax the ULV CPU to full Turbo Boost frequencies without any performance sacrifice. But for those hoping for a Haswell-powered refresh of the thin-and-light, full voltage, sub-four-pound powerhouses that were the T430s and the X230, the T440s’ philosophical shift surely comes as a bit of a disappointment.
While we’re exploring the negatives, the new touchpad design is also probably the worst to date on any mainline ThinkPad in recent memory. The five-button clickpad approach (each click depresses the entire pad) is tolerable at best and frustratingly obtrusive at worst. Pointer jumpiness during clicks aside, it’s also loud and a little bit exhausting to operate, and it makes using the TrackPoint a serious chore. We’re crossing our fingers for a reversal of design on the next refresh… please join us.
Those are the only big sticking points, however; nearly everywhere else, the T440s excels. The keyboard is one of the best we’ve tested, the battery life is truly phenomenal, and the build quality—while obviously not as sturdy as the older and larger ThinkPads—is still undeniably great. We’re also big fans of the screen; the touchscreen option with which our unit came configured is well-handled, with good accuracy, a comfortable surface, and a semi-matte panel finish that renders the notebook far more tolerable in brighter environments than its glossy counterparts. Overall, while we’re disappointed with a few of the design decisions regarding performance options and the irritating touchpad, we have to commend Lenovo on an excellent design elsewhere. With few exceptions, the T440s' $1,500 price tag is warranted; for an all-day business notebook with great general performance, it truly is a top contender.