Lenovo ThinkPad T500 review

Price when reviewed

Set amongst notebook style icons such as Dell’s Adamo or Apple’s Macbook Pro 13, the Lenovo T500 looks strikingly out of place. Indeed, like a time-traveller from the 1980s shot unceremoniously into 2009, the T500’s dowdy, textured black physique could almost be a museum exhibit of how laptops once used to look.

Lenovo ThinkPad T500 review

But although the ThinkPad’s styling might be archaic, it screams practicality from every corner. The lid tilts back and forth on sturdy hinges, which prevent it from flapping about unduly, and tugging on the well-constructed base elicits barely any flex.

It’s not even especially portable by today’s standards, but while its 2.59kg weight won’t be something you want to carry about every day, you’ll be glad of its excellent display and the supremely comfortable keyboard, trackpad and trackpoint combination.

The keyboard boasts the usual ThinkPad quality. A spacious, uncluttered layout goes hand in hand with slightly concave keys which boast a light but responsive feel – there are few laptops, business-oriented or otherwise which can match the ThinkPad for ergonomics.

The T500 also ignores the fad for 16:9 ratio panels, sticking with the tried and tested 16:10, 15.4in format. The matte display minimises reflections, too. The only disappointment is the 1,280 x 800 native resolution, which can feel a bit cramped at times. Consider a model with a higher resolution panel if serious multitasking is on the agenda.

There’s certainly no lack of power for such tasks. The Core 2 Duo P8400 is a capable performer and it managed a fine 1.15 in our benchmarks. The same can’t be said of 3D performance, though: the Intel integrated graphics are only up to the most basic of rendering tasks.

Meanwhile, with 7hrs 53 minutes of light use battery life, the T500 can spend most of the working day away from a mains socket.

The T500 cements its credentials with a range of business-friendly features. A fingerprint reader comes paired with a TPM 1.2 chip, and there’s no shortage of connectivity either. ExpressCard/54 rubs shoulders with the older PC card standard – something that’s bound to please many IT departments loath to throw away old hardware. There’s a 4-in-1 card reader, three USB ports, mini-Firewire, plus D-SUB and DisplayPort outputs.

That’s not to mention the all-round brilliance of the ThinkVantage software suite. Handling everything from software and driver updates, to ensuring that you backup your system on a regular basis, ThinkVantage has it covered. Even if the operating system should fail to boot, you can always dab the ThinkVantage button and rescue precious files to an external disk.

A pricier version of Lenovo’s T500 has been our second-choice A-list business laptop for some time now, and this model follows in those footsteps. It isn’t stylish, but if you want a practical, comfortable business laptop that’s built to last, you won’t be disappointed by the Lenovo T500.


Warranty3 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions358 x 256 x 37mm (WDH)
Travelling weight3.0kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo P8400
Motherboard chipsetIntel GM45/47
RAM capacity2.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free1
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size15.4in
Resolution screen horizontal1,280
Resolution screen vertical800
Resolution1280 x 800
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 4500MHD
Graphics card RAM32MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Hard disk usable capacity233GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSeagate Momentus 5400.4
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveMatshita UJ862A
Battery capacity5,300mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots1
PC Card slots1
USB ports (downstream)3
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial portsFail
Parallel portsFail
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readeryes
Pointing device typeTouchpad, trackpoint
Audio chipsetConexant HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readeryes
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use7hr 53min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 38min
Overall application benchmark score1.15
Office application benchmark score1.23
2D graphics application benchmark score1.22
Encoding application benchmark score1.01
Multitasking application benchmark score1.12
3D performance (crysis) low settings5fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows Vista Business
OS familyWindows Vista
Recovery methodRecovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software suppliedLenovo ThinkVantage suite, Microsoft Windows XP Professional downgrade disc

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