Lenovo Thinkpad T430 and T530
Best retro purpose
Late Windows 7 era gaming (DirectX 11 for Nvidia chipsets, DirectX 10 for Intel chipset) or as a very good office computer. High resolution display models are a good choice particularly for more modern games or operating systems such as Windows 7, 8 and 10 that make good use of it. Even if the Intel videocard is not powerful enough for 3D accelerated games in native resolution, performance is decent. All screens are of the TFT type so contrast and response time is very good even if colour reproduction is not that great.
These particular models have a very good CPU performance for laptops of its era and support very large RAM for its time, upto 16GB. This machine is also distinguished due to availability of USB 3 and 2 ports on the same machine as well as mini DVI port, making for a very good feature combo. The only slight issue is the 16:9 screen that is less great for productivity than on older models.
As always, Intel graphics models are cooler running than NVIDIA ones but noticeably slower in 3D games. However, as in other cases, you should not have high hopes of performance even in this case as the more capable video chipsets do not massive cooling to reach hardcore gaming capability as on gaming laptops. Due to lacking performance of Intel graphics chipsets, the 15 inch models that have higher that 1680x1050 resolution screens are not recommended and, even so, their performance would have been better on lower resolutions.
The capability of running with 16GB RAM and SSD drives make these laptops very fast for office work and web browsing, although the graphics chipset may not be great for serious gaming or other demanding applications. Windows 7 and 8 runs fast enough, even with the Intel graphics chipset. Although not the fastest option, running Windows 10 is a good choice, particularly due to the CPU performance and RAM options. Updates are going to run rather well on SSD drives.
Durability and Repair-ability
The 430 and 530 series are still decent designs, although the lineup had focused on weight reductions since the 410/510 series. The trackpad is still disappointing since the rubberized coating can wear in time, leaving an unsighty surface. Fortunately, the surface is still usable and sensitivity is not affected so scrubbing the worn surface with isopropyl alcohol is a very good choice. The surface remains pleasantly durable and comfortable to use after this treatment. There is a small sensitivity improvement compared with the 420/520 series.
Since all LCD screens have LED backlight these models may have a very long life but repairing worn out backlight is very difficult. As in the first generation of LED-backlight screens, the colour reproduction leaves something to be desired but there are some minor improvements compared with the previous 420 and 530 Thinkpad models.
Removable and the fixed drive bay are easy to access and the case itself is easy to disassemble due to obvious markings on the laptop's underside as well as masking black tape placed on screws. Compared with the previous T420 and T520 series, the T430 series uses less screws to secure parts, so disassembly is easier. Some components are interchangeable with the 15-inch screen T530 models.
Fans and the fan blades can be easily cleaned and bearings can be easily greased, providing long service life since fan casing stud mountings can be pried open and placed back again.
Greatest features & flaws
|Larger, more sensitive trackpad||16:9 Screen and size not adapted to chassis size|
|Good speaker placement||Poor trackpad rubberized surface wears in time|
|Durable, comfortable trackpad buttons, decent keyboard||Slow reduction in built quality|
|Adequate cooling system||Annoying Lenovo BIOS limitation of approved Wifi cards|
A mainstream, quite slim, moderately powerful, business laptop, released in 2012. It had an average mix of performance parts, with a much improved CPU performance compared with the previous 420/520 series. The Core i-5 and i-7 range brought a significant performance increase compared with the previous lineup. The graphics module does not feature serious increases but some incremental updates. This model continues the trend of rarer configurations supplied with dedicated graphics. Cost savings further affect the laptop's durability with particular concerns on the trackpad's rubberized coating. The keyboard, although good for typing, continues to have an unpleasant flex to it and is mostly unchanged from the previous models.
The platform is centered on Windows 7 and 8 compatibility, having DDR3 RAM and SATA support with an improved SSDs lineup. The laptop features a well known assortment of ports, as it features both digital video outputs through the miniDVI port as well as two USB 3 and USB 2 ports. This marks the largest improvement from the 420/530 series. The trackpad is unchanged from the previous laptop series. Cooling is clearly improved compared with the previous laptop series due to processors being more energy efficient and requiring less airflow.
The CPU merits a special mention as the Ivy Bridge generation brought some of the largest improvements in CPU performance after many i- series CPU revisions. This means that the performance jump and comparison with previous and future generations is in an interesting spot. Future CPUs do not show the same generational performance jump while the jump over previous ones makes no case for considering the first and second iteration of i CPUs any serious improvements over the old Core 2 Duos. The Ivy Bridge lineup also marks an important divergence point in Lenovo's product lineup as Thinkpads would slowly go towards more portability and less CPU performance upto the 2018 Thinkpad lineups. In a silent matter, Lenovo dropped performance on later Thinkpad models and only the 2018 lineup presents a serious jump over the T430 and T530 laptop lineups in CPU capability. Only graphics will slowly improve upto that point in time.
The LCD screen continues to be the biggest letdown, but for different reasons than on previous models. This series is the second one that features a 16:9 format with no improvement in chassis design. The issue is that for similar productivity, screens could have been larger, in the same chassis, with minor modifications. With no changes, usability actually takes a hit from the previous laptop generation. The only slight improvement over the previous Thinkpad series is in the screen's slightly improved colour reproduction, contrast and backlight.
The wireless networking performance remains largely in line with the previous Thinkpad generation, with no discernible improvement. However, since the 420/520 laptop series no Thinkpad used the fastest networking as the 3x3 antenna configuration has not been available and only the 2x2 one was. The removable drive bay can house an optical drive or a hard drive/ssd drive, if you can find a compatible caddy. The rechargeable battery can be easily removed or replaced. The BIOS and timekeeping battery is a standard CR2032 3V button cell.
The chassis remains a mixed bag. In fact, Lenovo continued to be focused on cost saving approaches and serviceability goals but this slightly reduced the case's rigidity, particularly on the lower and top side of the case. On some laptops there is still a visible curving of the under chassis, despite quite pristine conditions, due to poor manufacturing. The display hinges are still durable but the latching mechanism seems less sturdy than on previous models. The integrated speakers are quite good, although their technology is not the best.
The standard HDDs supplied by Western Digital are reasonably fast and quite silent. The SATA drives offer a similar performance to the previous 420/520 lineup, although SSDs is almost on par in terms of storage capacities and much more advanced in performance. However very fast, modern, spacious SSDs could be retrofitted for massive storage capabilities. No restriction is placed on storage types. The only compatibility drawback is that only Lenovo branded or accepted wireless cards can be used.
Software support is good on Windows 7, Windows 8 and even Windows 10, making for a very wide array of possibilities and flexibility.