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Lenovo ThinkPad S431 Touch review

Your daddy's ThinkPad gets a modern refresh

Our Verdict

At this price and in this configuration, the S431 Touch is a winner. It is comfortable to type and work on, with reliable mouse controls and snappy performance. And it has very few of the kinds of recurring annoyances that so many other PC laptops (at all price levels) possess.

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1600 x 900
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Balanced price for performance
  • Excellent touchpad
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Solid, sturdy chassis

Against

  • Sub-par display
  • Average weight
  • Disappointing battery life
Ratings in depth

Lenovo ThinkPad S431 Touch review
Lenovo ThinkPad S431 Touch review
Lenovo ThinkPad S431 Touch review
Lenovo ThinkPad S431 Touch review
Lenovo ThinkPad S431 Touch review

Lenovo isn't the number one PC manufacturer on the planet by chance. No, the world's largest PC maker has claimed the top spot because it has consistently and repeatedly cranked out a number of different laptops and tablet devices across all use cases, form-factors, and categories.

ThinkPad is the company's workhorse; when you bring up the brand with road warriors, the conversation you tend to get into is not unlike talking about classic cars and memorable drives with a car enthusiast. Boxy, black, with a simple logo, that ubiquitous red Trackpoint mouse controller (still present here), and an emphasis on security, the ThinkPad will always be a more serious-looking counterpoint to the sleek, silver MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

Lately, Lenovo has begun to shift the image of the ThinkPad a bit. Last year, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon introduced a sharp-looking, ultra-light form-factor to the ThinkPad line-up. This year, the upcoming ThinkPad Yoga 2 Pro will present business users with tremendous versatility and multiple use modes more common to the consumer space.

So where does the ThinkPad S431 Touch reside on this continuum? Squarely targeting small business owners and more basic use cases, the S431 is a simple machine, but like many Lenovo rigs these days, it packs a solid amount of power and versatility under the hood.

Lenovo ThinkPad S431 Touch review

Relatively speaking, $949 for this system is a solid deal, particularly in light of the performance, which blows away the tier immediately below the S431 Touch, and competes favorably with the price tier just above it.

Lenovo calls the S431 an ultrabook, and on a technical level, we'd agree. With a touchscreen, a slim profile, and sensible power/performance ratios, it does qualify for this category. However, after using the system in everyday fashion for a full week and a half, calling this device an ultrabook feels like it is selling it short. We'll call it a premium ultrabook instead.

Basic black kit 2.0

ThinkPad S431 Touch review

On the surface, there is nothing particularly flashy or striking about the ThinkPad. Stark, black, and serious-looking, the S431 upholds a fine ThinkPad tradition dating all the way back to 1992.

We'll say this much: in a land populated by all kinds of colorful, chromed-out, and flashy systems, it's actually quite refreshing to carry around this sleek, simple-looking system. Other people clearly feel this way too. We received a number of questions and comments from ThinkPad fans asking us what exactly we were carrying. And when people saw the ThinkPad logo, they were excited.

Lenovo ThinkPad S431 Touch review

The big difference is the S431's slim profile and its slightly glossy look and feel, which is a departure from the matte-finish ThinkPad of yesteryear. Made of sand-blasted aluminum on a magnesium frame, the chassis itself has a slightly shiny surface, with the ThinkPad logo prominently displayed in the bottom right-hand corner of the system. Like other modern ThinkPad portables, the "I" on the logo lights up when it's operating.

ThinkPad S431 Touch review

Thanks to the lightweight-but-sturdy magnesium chassis, this laptop feels more substantial and solid than most consumer systems. Measuring 13.11 x 8.8 x .8-inches, it's surprisingly thin, and at 4.1 pounds, it doesn't tip the scales. It's not as light as we hoped, but at the same time, it is certainly not a burden to carry around. At least the sturdy, solid feeling at least justifies the weight.

If you haven't seen a Thinkpad in a while, you may be comforted and/or surprised to see the familiar presence of the red dot thumbstick between the G, H, and B keys. The keyboard itself utilizes modern, Chiclet-style keys. We confess that, initially, the clickpad, which exhibits a surprising amount of travel on downward mouse presses, concerned us. We were worried that over time, it would feel too boggy for rapid-fire, day to day use.

ThinkPad S431 Touch review

Both feel phenomenal, by the way—but we'll get into that a little later in this review.

Finally, we absolutely love that you can lay the laptop flat at a 180-degree angle. Not that we'd do that very often, but it means that during stand-up meetings, you can push the screen back far enough that everyone can look at it. Given the screen's sub-par viewing angles, this is important.

Tech Specs

Product TypeUltrabook
Hard Drive Capacity500 GB
TouchscreenYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD Graphics 4000
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time5.90 Hour
Finger Print ReaderYes
Solid State Drive Capacity24 GB
HDMIYes
WebcamYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
DVINo
WimaxNo
Product FamilyThinkPad S431
Operating System Architecture64-bit
Keyboard BacklightYes
Processor Modeli7-3687U
ColourGunmetal
Operating SystemWindows 8 Pro
Brand NameLenovo
Processor Speed2.10 GHz
Processor TypeCore i7
Screen Size35.6 cm (14")
Number of Cells4-cell
Screen Resolution1600 x 900
Standard Memory8 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.78 kg
Cache4 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelHM76 Express
Number of Total Memory Slots1
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
WWAN SupportedNo
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
vPro TechnologyNo
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports2
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Memory StandardDDR3L-1600/PC3-12800
Height20.6 mm
Width333 mm
Depth225 mm
Screen ModeHD+
Memory TechnologyDDR3L SDRAM
Product SeriesS431
ManufacturerLenovo Group Limited
Product Model20AX000VUS
Product NameThinkPad S431 (20AX-000VUS)
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad, Trackpoint
Product LineThinkPad
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number20AX000VUS
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.lenovo.com/uk/en/
Marketing Information

Stylish, Svelte Design. Premium Features.

The S431 shell combines aluminum and magnesium alloy for both durability and lightness. A single unified hinge adds strength, while also enabling 180-degree opening so the Ultrabook lies flat or rests at any angle. Unique attention to detail like indented sides for carrying add to the eloquent convenience. Black ports and a sandblast finish come standard.

Maximum Memory8 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Limited Warranty1 Year