Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E430 Review


The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E430 is a 14.0” screen notebook targeted at small business buyers or really anyone that’s on a budget but still wants a laptop with good build quality.  The E430 starts at a very reasonable price of $549 when configured with an Intel Core i3 2nd generation processor.  At the current time the latest 3rd generation of Intel Core i3 and i5 processors are not available, though we expect that will change in the coming months.  However, for most small business or home office users, there’s no real need for the latest and greatest technology.  Rather, what you’ll be looking for is a durable and reliable work horse that’s got at least some portability factor.

ThinkPad Edge E430

Let’s go over the ThinkPad E430 specs as configured for this review unit:

  • Screen: 14.0” 1366 x 768
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-2350 2.30GHz
  • Memory: 4GB RAM
  • OS: Windows 7 Premium 64-bit
  • Graphics: Intel HD 3000
  • Storage: 320GB HD 7200RPM
  • Battery: 6-cell Li-Ion
  • Optical Drive: DVD Burner
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Weight: 4.74lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.36″ x 9.21″ x 1.12-1.33″
  • Ports: 2 USB 2.0 (1 powered), 2 USB 3.0, HDMI, monitor out, Headphone/Microphone port
  • Warranty: 1-year

This model was ordered directly from Lenovo.com for $549 before taxes which will vary by state, shipping is always free from Lenovo.  It took about 2-weeks between ordering and receiving the laptop.  Here’s a look at the packaging the notebook came in:

ThinkPad E430 box

Design and Build

The ThinkPad E430 comes with a rubberized matte black lid finish, making it easy to grip when picking up.  There is an option for a red lid or brushed aluminum finish, both of those upgrade options will cost you money though.  The standard black finish is going to be the choice for most, it’s professional looking, classic and an unmistakably ThinkPad look.  Around the edge of the lid is a silver plastic trim which helps break up the otherwise all black color.  There is no latch used for closing the lid down, it relies on tension from the hinge.

ThinkPad E430 logo

The edges and corners of the laptop are all noticeably curved, this prevents any sharp edges and makes for a less boxy look.  The lid and keyboard area have a ThinkPad logo in which the dot on the “i” lights up, an interesting design touch.   The keyboard uses a chiclet style design, while we would say this is different from a typical ThinkPad, rumor has it all future models will adopt this.  You still get the red pointing stick and multi-navigation buttons at the bottom of the keyboard, along with a touchpad that has integrated mouse buttons as well.

One interesting design change with the Edge series is that they now have a drop hinge.  This is good for those who need to use a laptop when traveling as it makes the screen height slightly less, if you’re on an airplane with the person in front tilted back you’ll come to understand why.  It’s worth noting that the hinges are strong, stiff and prevent any screen wobble from occurring as you type.

drop hinge on the e430

The E430 weighs in at 4.74lbs, that’s not exactly light for a 14” laptop but still means you have a good degree of portability.  If you’re a student you could easily slip this into your backpack and it’d pretty much feel just like another textbook.

In regards to build quality, the casing is all plastic and does not feel as high quality as the flagship T-series ThinkPads, however it’s far from being chintzy and given the $500 or so price tag you’re getting an above average build and durability for the price.  The keyboard is of course very good, we’ll cover more on that later in the review.

Screen

The ThinkPad Edge E430 has a 14.0” screen with 1366 x 768 resolution.  There are no options to upgrade the resolution, though you can choose between either glossy (VibrantView) or matte (AntiGlare).  If you’re a business user I highly recommend sticking with the standard matte screen finish, it reduces eye strain which is important when you have to stare at a screen for several hours on end.  As far as screen quality, the E430 screen is nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done and is certainly bright enough for indoor use.  The viewing angles are just so-so, below are some pictures I took of the screen tilted at various angles:

ThinkPad E430 screen ThinkPad E430 screen tilted forward
IMGT3702 IMGT3703

Performance

The performance on the ThinkPad Edge E430 is quite amazing for the price.   While some will be disappointed not to see the latest 3rd generation Intel processors available in this model yet, the reality is most small business or student users will be just fine with last years Intel Core i3 or i5 processor.  The 2nd Generation Sandy Bridge Intel processors offer excellent performance and battery life and, best of all, a budget friendly price.   For those just using a computer to surf the web, use Office applications and do productivity work there’s no need to pay for any component upgrades.  However, if you insist on having a faster machine then to boost performance you can get a mini SSD drive to speed the boot up and wake from sleep times, Lenovo is currently charging $60 for a 16GB mSSD.  It’s nice that the standard 320GB hard drive is a faster spinning 7200RPM drive.  I think for most people on a budget looking to spend under $600 the standard hard drive option and maybe a $50 upgrade to a faster Core i5 processor will be the only real areas worth spending a bit more if you feel the need.

I ran a couple of benchmarks so you can get an idea for what the performance is like on the Edge E430.  First up is the always popular but not so useful Windows Experience Index:

image

The 4.8 score the ThinkPad E430 achieved reflects the overall lowest sub-component score, which is the graphics in this case.  The rest of the components scored nearly 6 or above, indicating the graphics is the bottleneck in performance.  However, since most people will not be using the E430 for gaming it’s really not a big deal.

The benchmark program PCMark Vantage is a good program for generating an overall performance score of a laptop.  The E430 scored 5,816 PCMarks:

image

Here’s a comparison of that score to other similar notebooks:

PCMark Vantage Benchmark Results

Laptop PCMark Vantage Score
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E430 – Intel Core i3-2350M 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 5,816 PCMarks
SONY VAIO SA – Intel Core i5-2430M, AMD 6750M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 7,007 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 6,056 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 3450 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30Ghz, 4GB RAM 5,901 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron N411z – Intel Core i3-2330m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 5,285 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 – Intel Core i3-2310m 2.1GHz, 2GB RAM 3,204 PCMarks

Obviously the E430 does not win the battle of being the most powerful laptop with its given configuration, but any score in the 5,000+ range still indicates a very capable machine and will suffice for most business needs.  You’ll have no problem multi-tasking and having several browser tabs open if you have either a Core i3 or i5 processor.  Full HD video playback will also be smooth, a lot of people mistakenly believe Flash and Silverlight video such as Netflix uses needs a good graphics card to run smoothly, but in fact processing power is more important.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The ThinkPad Edge E430 has a chiclet style keyboard, something you’ll see in most laptops today and rumor has it will make its way into all of the ThinkPads released this year.  The use of an island style keyboard does have the benefit of offering more spacing between keys and also preventing my personal peeve of seeing crumbs get between keys never to be seen again (I know, you shouldn’t be eating or drinking over a keyboard, but many still do it).   The downside of a chiclet style design is that if you have long fingernails they may get caught under the more raised type keys, and if you really hate change then the different key spacing may throw you off.

ThinkPad E430 keyboard

With that all said, despite the different design the E430 keyboard feels much like a regular ThinkPad keyboard — each key has a nice travel distance and a very solid stroke, there is no flex or “clickety-clack” going on at all. The keyboard allows you to move your fingers fast and the noise is minimal even if you’re a key punishing typist like myself. One complaint is that the The Page Up and Page Down keys are ridiculously small and poorly located on the lower right side.

The touchpad on the E430 is a generous size which is nice for moving the cursor around the screen if you prefer the touchpad over the pointing stick.  There are left and right mouse buttons integrated into the bottom of the touchpad, just like the clickpad you get with the MacBook Pro.  Personally I prefer using the red pointing stick Lenovo puts in the middle of the keyboard, it’s nice to have this feature on a laptop that cost just over $500 – generally it’s reserved for expensive $1,000+ business laptops.

ThinkPad E430 Battery Life

You can configure the Edge E430 with either a 6-cell 48WH or 62WH battery, this review unit has the higher capacity 62WH.  The battery is replaceable, meaning you can take it out and swap in a spare new battery whenever you need to.  This is a better solution than laptops that have sealed batteries like the MacBook lineup, but that’s just my opinion.  To test battery life I set the screen brightness to 1/3 level, left wireless on and a browser open that refreshed every 60 seconds.  Under this scenario the E430 achieved 6 hours and 25 minutes of battery life.  If you were to be watching video with screen brightness all the way up then the amount of battery life would most certainly drop to around 4.5 hours.  Overall though, this is good battery life and certainly and should make it a good option for those that need to move around and be away from an outlet for long periods of time.

ThinkPad E430 Input and Output Ports

The input and output ports you get on a laptop is of course an important aspect.  The E430 has a generous array of ports that will fulfill most users needs.  We’ll take a tour around the E430 and detail what port is located where:

ThinkPad E430 left side

On the left side you get a VGA monitor out port, 1 USB 2.0 port, 2 USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI port

IMGT3680

On the right side you get 1 USB 2.0 port that is powered so you can charge devices such as a cell phone via USB even when the laptop is turned off. You also get an Ethernet RJ-45 port and headphone/microphone combo port. Notice the optical drive is here on the right side too.

E430 front side

On the front side of the E430 there is an SD card reader, handy for transferring photos from your camera and other small devices.

Overall this is a very good port selection and should suit the needs of 99% of business users.

Heat & Noise

The Edge E430 uses a large vent that’s located on the left side toward the back.  The laptop isn’t all that thin so there’s plenty of room for ventilation which results in an overall cool running laptop and your legs will remain burn free.  The fan hardly ever came on during normal usage so you don’t need to worry about being that guy in the meeting room or classroom that distracts everyone with the noisy laptop.

ThinkPad Edge E430 Review Conclusion

If you’re on a budget, as many small and medium business buyers are these days, then the ThinkPad E430 with its quality build and good performance is a great buy in the mid $500 range.  The E430 is small and light enough to carry around from meeting to meeting and can easily be plugged into a larger monitor via HDMI or VGA out when you’re at your desk.  The design of the Edge series is a little more modern than the boxy classic ThinkPads; the curved edges, option of a colored lid and illuminated ThinkPad logo are just a few examples.   That said, the E430 is still not going to really turn heads in public.  Nonetheless, if you’re a practically minded person and you don’t need a flashy computer but rather one that is built well, costs a reasonable amount and gets the job done then the E430 should be on your short list to consider.

Interested in Purchasing this Lenovo ThinkPad Laptop?

Here are the country specific links to Lenovo.com with current deals!



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28 Responses to Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E430 Review

  1. swordsandfairies May 6, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Thanks for the review! I was looking all over the internet for a review on may3rd and couldn’t find anything, and then two days later voila! thank you!

    Just have a couple of Questions:
    Did you get the camera for $30 (when selecting the upgrades on Lenovo’s website)? how is it? or did it come with a webcam?

    also I didn’t really understand this bit: “There are left and right mouse buttons integrated into the bottom of the touchpad, just like the clickpad you get with the MacBook Pro.”

    do you mean the entire touchpad is a giant button that clicks near the bottom?

    Thanks again!

    • Andrew Baxter May 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

      And thanks for reading the review. I skipped the camera option, so sorry to say I can’t really report on the quality of it. The area where the webcam would be is just filled in with plastic instead of a camera lens. For the mouse buttons on the touchpad, you can register a left mouse click by pushing down anywhere on the touchpad, and the only way to do a right click is by hitting the lower right side (as most would naturally do). There’s a small black line to indicate where the left and right click areas are on the touchpad. Those that are using the pointing stick will just use the ultranav buttons (the buttons with red stripes). Hope that makes sense!

  2. swordsanfairies May 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Thank you! Also I saw on the forums where you posted a quick review someone asked (don’t know if you didn’t see this or what) if with the drop hinges the screen still bends back 180 degrees?

    • Andrew Baxter May 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      Just responded to that question, thanks for alerting me to it. The screen does not bend back 180 degrees, it goes back about 135 degrees.

  3. Abutab May 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Thanks for the review. I read everything you write.
    Why did you choose 6 Cell Li-Ion 62WH battery and not the default 48WH?

    • Andrew Baxter May 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

      Hi Abutab, thanks for reading the review. I went with the 62WH battery due to the fact it offers slightly better battery life than the 48WH, around 30% more in fact which amounts to a couple of hours of battery life.

  4. Soham May 10, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    So whats the difference with E420??? i own one with 2nd gen i3..was thinking of buying the same one for my brother.
    my proc is 2nd gen i3 2350

    • Andrew Baxter May 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

      You get USB 3.0 in the E430, that wasn’t present in the E420. Right now processors are the same, but in the coming months the new Intel Ivy Bridge processors will show up in the E430. The E420 has an ExpressCard slot, the E430 does not — I don’t think that matters for most people, but some may care. The ports are also located on different sides.

      As far as performance though they’ll be exactly the same as things stand now!

  5. Valued Customer May 11, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    Very helpful review. A few questions.

    1. With the 62 WH battery, you gained about 30% in battery life compared to the default 48 WH, but did the 62 WH increase the weight or dimensions (protrude)?

    2. Which is better; Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 with BT4 or Thinkpad b/g/n with BT4?

    3. Also, what is your opinion on the warranty options. 3 year base, 3 year total protection, or none at all?

    • Andrew Baxter May 11, 2012 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks for the feedback!

      1. I don’t have the exact numbers on weight increase, but it does not protrude or add any extra volume. I’d imagine the weight has to be slightly different, but it’s not going to make a whole lot of difference, maybe a couple of ounces at the most.

      2. Go with the Intel 2230, it should have slightly better range and is in general considered a better chip

      3. Warranty is very much up to a buyer’s comfort level with risk. It’s like recommending U.S. treasuries versus stocks, it depends on your situation in life and who you are. That said, my recommendation is to buy it with a credit card that offers an extra year of buyer protection (adds a year of warranty), American Express is such an example, I believe Discover and Visa offer this with most of their cards as well. Research your credit card prospectus to find out. If this were a $3,000 computer I’d say definitely get total protection as there’s a lot at stake to lose, but since it’s under $800 (I assume) then I don’t think it’s worth going all out with an expensive total coverage 3-year warranty.

  6. Valued Customer May 11, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Thank you for your thorough responses, super helpful.

    One more question, only because they (Lenovo) offers the option, does the A/C charger make a difference in charging/power performance? Meaning, going with the 2-pin vs. the 3-pin?

    • Andrew Baxter May 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      Nope, performance would not change at all, the 3rd pin would only be to ground it which I suppose is slightly safer, but unnecessary, I’ve never ever heard of somebody being electrocuted by their laptop!

  7. Maggie May 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    I was under the impression that 1600×900 screen upgrade would be available for the E430. Andrew, have you heard from Lenovo regarding this?

    • Andrew Baxter May 16, 2012 at 1:19 am #

      Nope, there won’t be a 1600 x 900 upgrade for the E430. Would have to look at the T430 for that.

  8. Eric May 17, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the review. I am currently using a x301, but looking to go to a 14inch at least for more screen but still portable. I use my laptop for trading so also connected to a second screen and running charting software that sucks its feed through the internet plus multiple windows. The x301 is not coping well with slowness and sometimes jerkiness (its has 4GB RAM). Would you know if this laptop will do a better job and also connect to another monitor (I am using a 24″ external monitor as my second screen) since its resolution is lower than my current laptop.

    Thanks for your reply in advance

    • Andrew Baxter May 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      Hi Eric, the E430 would certainly perform better than the X301 as it has a more recent processor along with standard voltage, the X301 has what’s called an ultra low voltage processor and probably around half the performance of the Core i3/i5 processor in the E430. As far as multiple screens, the E430 has HDMI or a monitor out port and would have no problem outputting video in high resolution (1920 x 1080 for instance) on a larger monitor.

    • Eric May 25, 2012 at 4:49 am #

      Thanks Andrew. I was thinking of using the laptop instead of a desktop so I am portable to do my trading. I use 4 monitors with my desktop that was why I wanted to know I could power multiple monitors with the laptop, or maybe wait for the s430?

  9. Tyler K May 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    Hi Andrew,

    The “Input and Output Ports” section contains some erroneous parts. Looks like you used the E420 review for your template for the E430 but missed a few edits in spots (hehe — copy and paste strikes again and claims another victim) !

    - three mentions of the E420 … when in fact it is the E430 that is being reviewed
    - the descriptions of ports available on the various sides/fascia are incorrect in a few spots i.e the text doesn’t match the pictures
    * LS: there is no “headphone/microphone combo port and media card reader slot” on the LS.
    * FS:. “On the front side of the E430 there is an SD card reader” which is correct, but then you should have removed the later “There are no ports located on the front of the Edge” ..

    • Andrew Baxter May 19, 2012 at 1:47 am #

      Ha! What an idiot mistake that was. Thanks Tyler for catching that E420 ports portion transposed into the E430 review, I’m sure other have either been confused or had a chuckle there. I think it’s all cleaned up now.

  10. Gary May 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    just noticed that this model can now be configured with the i7-3612QM in the y480!
    any hope for the t430 to get the same processor?

    • Gary May 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

      correction… it’s not the same processor after all…
      still, any hope for a quad core i7 in the t430?

  11. kadir May 31, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Hi people,

    I came across this web site and all the laptop reviews are awesome detailed! Thanks for the good reviews.

    I would like to get opinion on 2 different laptop and eventually i will buy one of them.
    First one is

    IdeaPad Y480 Laptop – 20934WU – Dawn Grey: Weekly Deal $839.00

    System components
    3rd generation Intel Core I7-3610QM Processor ( 2.30GHz 1333MHz 6MB)
    Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64
    NVIDIA GeForce GT640M 2GB
    8.0GB PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MHz
    14.0″ HD Glare with integrated camera 1366×768
    Industry Standard Touchpad
    500GB 7200
    DVD Recordable (Dual Layer)
    6 Cell Lithium-Ion
    Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2200BGN
    Bluetooth Version 4.0
    One year
    Notebook
    HD 720p webcam
    HDMI (Out)

    and SECOND one is my configuration

    ThinkPad Edge E430 Laptop $820.80

    System components
    Intel Core i7-3612QM Processor (6MB Cache, 2.10GHz)
    Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit)
    14.0″ W HD (1366 x 768 ) LED VibrantView, Midnight Black
    Intel HD Graphics (WWAN or mSATA capable)
    4 GB PC3-12800 DDR3 (1 DIMM)
    Keyboard – US English
    UltraNav with FingerPrint Reader
    720p HD Camera
    500GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm
    Hard Disk Driver Performance Booster
    DVD Recordable
    6 cell Li-Ion Battery 62WH – 75+
    65W AC Adapter – US (3pin)
    ThinkPad a/b/g/n Wireless BT Combo (2×2 ABGN & BT4.0)

    So I am not a gamer, all I want is good and fast working laptop that I can use applications like solidworks.. etc.

    and low heat and long battery life would be good.

    I am more towards to Y480 I feel like it will have a better performance and backlit keyboard is really cool :)

    Please let me know what you guys think about this 2 laptops..
    Price/performance/life….etc.

    Thanks a lot for your comments and suggestions.

  12. Emily June 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Thanks for the great review!

    Always liked the non-flashy look of the ThinkPads, never have to worry about thieves :)

  13. Thomas June 16, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    Got my e430 yesterday with the ivy bridge i7, probably the best money i have ever spent on a laptop. The cpu runs as cool or cooler than my desktop, and the battery life is a huge step up from my old dell. However, the best thing i have found about it is the thinkpad keyboard. I heard people would buy these laptops because they love the thinkpad keyboard, and now i understand why. Lenovo’s thinkpad line from now on is going to be the line of computers i go to first.

  14. Lily June 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    Hello!
    I just wanted to ask just how good the i3 processor is, as I’m on a tight student budget and I would likely use the laptop for programming, and photoshop tasks. Also, how would that particularly config handle for example, 720p or 1080p youtube videos?

    • Andrew Baxter June 17, 2012 at 1:40 am #

      Hi Lily, oh you’d be fine with the Core i3 processor and it’s what I’d recommend for anyone on a budget, it can definitely handle playing back 1080p streaming video from online sources and programming doesn’t require much power. Photoshop will benefit from the dual cores of the Core i3, there’s only minor benefits to getting a more powerful Quad Core i7 processor for Photoshop.

  15. sobhan July 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    hi guys can you tell me the performance of the E430 Lenovo thinkpad, so please help tht i can buy this laptop or not.

    • Thomas July 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

      Unfortunately, it all depends on what processor you plan on purchasing. I have the ivy bridge i7, and the performance is quite nice. However, i also upgraded my ram (did it myself to save a lot of money), and threw in an OCZ Vertex 4 128gb ssd into it. In short, the performance is awesome, and i am more than happy with it. I am even able to play diablo 3 quite well on low settings at native res and i never have any hiccups while playing, even in the later portions of the game where you have a crazy number of enemies on screen at once. In short, the performance is very good for the money, and the build quality of the laptop is something that you can’t go wrong with. I can’t even tell its working hard aside from the fan spinning (which is quiet) by the lack of heat that i feel on the keyboard and such.

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