ThinkPad T440p: A Review

A quad-core i7, 1080p IPS display, a quality backlit keyboard, and legendary ThinkPad durability, for under $350? It’s possible! In this review, I’ll analyze a Lenovo ThinkPad T440p, and determine whether it deserves the Yutaka Channel Seal of Approval.

The Basics

I received my ThinkPad T440p a few weeks ago after ordering it on eBay. Since then, I’ve had some time with it and I feel like I can give my perspective on it. I was deciding between this and the T430; which, while more upgradeable, is stuck with an Ivy Bridge CPU and TN displays without modification (a potential dealbreaker). I also ordered the new laptop with a touchpad from a T450, a 1080p IPS display, and a 500GB SSD from Western Digital. Unfortunately, I ran into a few problems with the display, which I’ll cover later.

Display Woes (And Picking The Right Screen)

My display of choice was actually recommended to me in the Thinkpad Lenovo IBM Facebook group, an AUO B140HAN01.3. Sadly, I made the grave mistake of ordering a listed “compatible” display. Instead, I received a Innolux N140HCA-EAB, a panel with worse color and brightness. Luckily, the seller accepted returns, so I sent the display back and ordered the proper AUO panel, this time checking to make sure I would actually get the one I wanted.

Taking a Look At The Display

When I initially received the laptop, it came with a 1600×900 TN panel, which I took a picture of here.

T440p before any modifications.

The colors were okay, but the screen gave me a headache after a short while, and the group suggested the specific display upgrades they liked. I followed their advice, and bought the AUO panel I mentioned earlier. The difference was major, with the higher resolution and lack of headaches.

T440p with the 1080p IPS panel installed. Did I mention there was an anime aspect to this blog?

Upgrade Paths

The T440p is one of the easiest ThinkPads to open up, unlike my W541 from the same generation. Two screws and you have access to almost any component you might want to replace. Well, except the touchpad. Being used to the W541’s touchpad, I felt like the “clunkpad” the T440p came with was unusable, especially without drivers.

Replacing the touchpad requires disassembling most of the laptop, save for the motherboard and a few other parts. I recommend following the HMM unless you’re absolutely sure you know that you’re doing. In any case, the upgrade was well worth it.

On my eBay search, I found that there were two types of “new” 3-button touchpads, one from Synaptics, and the other from ALPS. I ended up ordering an ALPS touchpad, as it came with fast shipping and I was moving very soon. This was fine, as I found that in Linux, there are no noticeable differences between Synaptics and ALPS touchpads.

T450 touchpad. The keyboard is a LiteOn backlit type.

The SSD was also very easy to install, requiring only one more screw to take out. The WD Blue 500GB I installed does the trick very well, and is actually my other recommendation for SATA SSD’s, after the Samsung 860 series. I also installed another 64GB Sandisk z400 SSD in the WWAN slot as a boot drive, and boot times are now almost instant.

Getting Work Done

The Intel i7-4800MQ is a powerhouse even today, still competitive with 8th gen Intel CPUs 4 years newer. I installed Pop!_OS, a Debian-based Linux distribution. I chose it mainly for it’s excellent support for GPU switching, as my T440p came with the GT 730M. It installed without any issues, and everything “just works”.

The keyboard is exceptionally good, admittedly even better than the non-NMB “classic” keyboard of ThinkPads past. I could type all day on it and my hands won’t get tired.

Final Thoughts

This is the perfect machine. It might be big and bulky, but it’s also packed with features and is very easily upgradeable. If you can find an i5 for under $150, or a mostly upgraded one like mine for under $250, I would definitely go for it. Therefore, the ThinkPad T440p receives the Yutaka Channel Seal of Approval.

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