The Lenovo ThinkPad T430 and the ThinkPad Edge E430 14” business laptops are similar in many ways, so what makes the T430 so much more expensive with a starting price of $685 versus $494 for the E430? There of course has to be enough of a difference between these two business laptops to justify the price difference and why you would prefer one over the other. In this article we’ll do a comparison of the ThinkPad T430 and Edge E430 to help you decide which to buy if you or your business are in the position of trying to decide between these two options from Lenovo. First we’ll do a quick overview of each.
ThinkPad T430 Overview
The ThinkPad T430 is part of the long line of “T Series” ThinkPads and is considered by many as the flagship model. In terms of size the ThinkPad T430 sits between the smaller 12.5” screen X230 and larger 15” screen ThinkPad T530. As such, it is the middle of the road option and will suit both the needs of travellers that need a laptop thin and light enough to carry on a long distance flight, but yet still offers a large enough screen and resolution to make for comfortable and efficient work when back at the office. Specifically, the T430 weighs in at 4.77lbs and has a thickness of around 1.20”. That’s nowhere near as light and portable as the 3.3lbs ThinkPad X230, but the 14” screen and option of a 1600 x 900 HD resolution means you can fit a lot on the T430 screen and in turn be more productive.
Design wise the T430 is best described as all black with a rubberized surface finish on the lid and bottom to make for an easy grip. The top and bottom of the case are also made of a magnesium alloy to add extra durability and help the laptop survive the odd drop (within reason).
You of course get the iconic red trackpoint pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard along with a touchpad for dual input options. Aside from the red trackpoint, the mouse buttons also have a red accent and the ThinkVantage button has a blue color, which helps to somewhat break up the color of the otherwise all black finish.
The T430 comes with a range of Intel Core i3 to Core i7 processor choices from the Intel 3rd generation Core family (Ivy Bridge) so you can find the right balance of performance and cost for your needs. Also available is the option to upgrade the hard drive to an SSD for added performance, especially in regards to boot time. The T430 also has the option for Nvidia NVS 5400M dedicated graphics with optimus technology for an added 3D performance boost.
The battery life for the T430 with the standard 6-cell sized battery averages around 5.5 hours, you can also upgrade to a larger 9-cell and add a battery into the optical drive bay for up to 9 hours of battery life.
The T430 comes with the following ports: two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, 4-in-1 media card reader, Mini Display Port, 34mm Express Card slot, Ethernet port (LAN), VGA monitor out. If that’s not enough ports for your needs, you can connect to a docking station using the docking connector port on the bottom of the laptop to expand the type and number of ports available.
The T430 starts at $685 via Lenovo.com at the time of this writing.
ThinkPad Edge E430 Overview
The ThinkPad Edge E430 is part of the small business targeted ThinkPad Edge lineup from Lenovo. The Edge series carries a lower price tag than the regular ThinkPad lineup yet still maintains many of the same benefits and features. The E430 has a 14” screen and weighs in at 4.7lbs. The design of the Edge E430 is slightly different to the typical ThinkPad, it has a curved front edge and a blinking red dot above the “i” in ThinkPad. It has the option of either a matte or glossy screen, depending on your preference. The keyboard is a chiclet style design, just like all other ThinkPads at this point.
The E430 offers a selection of Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. The graphics are supplied by either Intel HD 3000 or Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics GPU depending on what processor you get, there is no option for an upgrade to dedicated graphics. The standard storage is a 500GB hard drive that spins at 5400 RPM, there is no SSD upgrade option online but you could attempt to install an SSD yourself aftermarket.
The build quality if the Edge E430 is very good, but not as rugged as the flagship ThinkPad lineup. It can still standup to the rigors of travel and stand the test of time, while the price tag is more budget oriented that does not equate to cheap feel and build quality.
Speaking of travel, the standard 6-cell battery provides an average of 5 hours and 30 minutes of battery life, that’s pretty good for a budget friendly 14-inch laptop.
The E430 has all the ports you’ll need as a small business user: VGA monitor out, HDMI, Ethernet port, microphone / speaker combo jack, 3 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0, and 4-in-1 card reader. It doesn’t have the DisplayPort for video out which is supported by more monitors used in business settings. There is an HDMI port in place of DisplayPort, since HDMI is used in connectivity with TVs this is more popular with consumers and small businesses.
The E430 starts at $494 on Lenovo.com at the time of this writing.
ThinkPad T430 and E430 Comparison
Tables are most helpful when it comes to making comparisons so here’s our comparison table of important features for the ThinkPad T430 Vs. E430:
|ThinkPad T430||ThinkPad Edge E430|
|Screen Size and Resolution||14.1”, choice of 1366 x 768 or 1600 x 900 high resolution||14.0”, 1366 x 768 resolution no upgrade option|
|Thickness / Thinness||1.18 – 1.20” thick||1.12 – 1.33” thick|
|Matte or Glossy Screen||Matte (Anti-Glare) only||Matte (Anti-Glare) or Glossy option|
|Graphics||Intel HD 3000||Intel HD 3000|
|Processor Options||Core i3, i5, i7 (2nd and 3rd gen)||Core i3, i5, i7 (2nd and 3rd gen)|
|SSD Option Configurable||Yes, SSD Available online||No, SSD not Available online|
|Lid Color Options||Black||Black|
|Built-in Mobile Broadband||Upgrade Available||None Available|
|Built-in Web Cam||720p web cam, dual mics||720p web cam, dual mics|
|Slice Battery Option||External slice battery option||None Available|
|Fingerprint Reader Option||Yes||Yes|
|ThinkVantage Active Protection System||Yes||Yes|
|Spill Resistant Keyboard||Yes||Yes|
|mini-SATA SSD Capable||Yes||Yes|
|Docking Station Port||Yes||No|
|Removable Optical Bay Drive||Yes||No|
The specs show the T430 and E430 to be very close with their feature offerings, but the one big disappointment with the ThinkPad E430 is that you don’t have the option of a higher resolution 1600 x 900 screen like you get with the T430. The higher resolution HD+ screen can really be nice when you need to fit more text on a screen to prevent scrolling, especially if you’re a spreadsheet junky or editing similarly long documents. That said, the screen quality of the T430 and E430 in terms of color saturation, viewing angles and contrast is not the greatest, the ThinkPad X230 offers a gorgeous IPS display that really puts the T430 to shame. Check out our individual reviews of the T430 and E430 to see how the screens appear from various angles.
The T430 and E430 use the same chiclet style design keyboard appearance, that’s a new feature for the T-series but the Edge series has been using a chiclet keyboard design for a while now so nothing new there. Both keyboards are spill resistant, which is great if you’re prone to spilling a little water or coffee now and again – you can’t dump gallons of water on them and still come away undamaged, but a small cup of water should just travel through the drain holes. The feel of the keyboards is pretty much the same, and that means you get the best keyboard in the industry no matter which you choose. ThinkPads are pretty much the gold standard for keyboards. Worth noting is the fact the E430 has a larger clickpad style touchpad with no dedicated buttons while the T430 has a smaller touchpad with dedicated mouse buttons at the bottom. Those that prefer touchpads and a larger size might therefore consider this a benefit of the E430.
The hinges on the T430 are made of metal and are much more sturdy feeling than what you get on the Edge E430. In general, the T430 feels more sturdy as it has a thicker case and more metal used in the chassis along with a carbon fiber reinforced lid. The extra metal actually makes the T430 slightly heavier than the E430. The extra weight is worth the extra strength you get in my opinion.
The battery life with the 6-cell battery on the T430 is about the same as that on the E430 at around 5 – 6 hours depending on usage. However, the ThinkPad T430 has more battery extension options such as a larger 9-cell battery or slice battery that attaches to the bottom of the laptop for all day battery life if you need it.
If the design of the ThinkPad lineup is too boring for your tastes, the Edge E430 might be different enough to make you reconsider. It has a curved front edge design instead of the typical boxy design exemplified by the T430. It also has a cool red blinking dot in the “i” of ThinkPad. If you don’t like too much black, you can go with a red lid or aluminum black on the Edge E430 for an extra $25.
The ThinkPad T430 is more geared towards enterprise users and the built-in docking station support via the port on the bottom of the laptop is one such indicator of this. The Edge E430 does not have a docking station port so you can’t use the port replicator other ThinkPads such as the X, T and W series can all share.
The one factor that’s of course the biggest deal to most buyers is the pricing difference between these two laptops. The T430 starts at $685 with an Intel Core i3 2nd generation processor at the time of this writing while the Edge E430 starts at $494 with a 2nd generation Core i3 processor. That’s almost a $200 difference and significant to many. If you’re on a budget and need to buy ten of these for your staff it’s thousands in savings to go with the E430. Do the benefits of the T430 we’ve discussed justify the extra cost? Well, that’s really up to you to decide since needs and preferences vary by user. If money is no object, I’d go with the T430. If money is a concern (as it is for most) and you don’t need upgrades like a 1600 x 900 resolution screen, built-in mobile broadband or dedicated graphics offered by the T430 then the E430 should be considered as an alternative to the T430 that offers a nice compromise of price and features.