ThinkPad T400 and T500 Keyboard Stiffness: Myth Busted

September 3, 2008

When we did our quick review of the ThinkPad T400 and T500 a couple of weeks back we were impressed by the usual  outstanding build quality that this latest incarnation of the T Series displayed.

We were particularly impressed with the keyboard, which for us, has always been one of the most important features of any ThinkPad. Typing on a ThinkPad keyboard has always been a joy and it has been a feature that most other manufacturers just dont seem to be able to get close to.

In other words, keyboards are just the best of any notebook, period!

We started to get concerned when we saw posts appearing on several blogs that the keyboard on the new ThinkPad T400/T500 was not as good as previous models and had a lot of flex.

We just did not think this was true and it seems that David cialis tablets Hill from was also concerned. Well, he would be, he is one of the lead designers at Lenovo and has a hand in making sure that all is well with traditional ThinkPad values!

You can read David”s full post here, and it debunks the myth that the keyboard on the latest ThinkPad T series is not as good as the T61.

Thanks David, keep up the good work!


24 Responses to “ThinkPad T400 and T500 Keyboard Stiffness: Myth Busted”

  1. Roy on September 11th, 2008 3:45 pm

    Sorry but that’s just a marketing spin.

    Take a look at the forums of avid thinkpad users. They are ALL saying this new keyboard sucks and not on par with the thinkpad line.

    It is obvious that Lenovo made a huge mistake on this one. I wanted to get the T400 and now i’ll wait until they fix it (if ever).
    Keyboard quality IS EVERYTHING for thinkpad users and Lenovo should not have touched it. Period.

  2. Jack McGregor on September 23rd, 2008 12:12 pm

    I studied this issue intensely before finally deciding, largely on the strength of the above article, to go ahead and buy a T400 anyway, and here’s my take:

    About 90% of the T400 keyboard is just as good as the T42 (which was rock solid). However, the right edge of the keyboard (not the keys themselves so much as the frame holding the keyboard) has a fair amount of flex. I would say my touch is lighter than average, and even so, when I hit the ENTER key with my little finger, I can feel the keyboard flex, and I can see the PgUp and PgDn keys (in the upper right) wiggle. There is also a noticeable noise (somewhere between a tap, a knock, a rattle and a clunk) , presumably relating to the flexing of the keyboard frame, or possibly from it hitting whatever is below the frame) when tapping any of those keys, which you don’t get on any of the other keys in the center or left area of the keyboard.

    For the ENTER key, it’s not horrible, but I would consider it a defect (especially since that is one of the most used keys).

    But in the case of the PgUp and PgDn keys, which I often use for paging rapidly through large documents, I would have to consider it horrible. Again, I’m not pounding on them like a hammer, I’m just putting my little finger on one of them and tapping it rapidly, and it not only makes a considerable racket (noticeable by co-workers yards away), but I can see the entire upper right area of the keyboard flexing, from the 0 number key to the right shift, and everything to the right above it.

    On the other hand, there may be a simple solution – adding some kind of support to the upper right corner of the keyboard frame. Note that the problem does not occur any any of the other corners – either the arrow keys in the lower right, the ESC in the upper left, or the Fn/Ctrl in the lower left.

    I don’t fault Lenovo for trying to make the keyboard lighter, and if they can fix this one issue, I would consider it a success. Until then, I can’t recommend it.

  3. Ian Orford - Editor on September 29th, 2008 11:25 am

    Jack, thanks for your comments. As a user and somebody who took the plunge and bought a new T Series they are incredibly valuable.

    Apologies for the delay in moderating your post. We have been disconcerted by the reports of sub standard keyboards on the new T Series.

    Our own experience just have not born this out. My own particular machine is an IBM ThinkPad Z60m with a Titanium lid, and its built like a tank. Rock solid and with a great keyboard. Nothing on this baby flexes!

    (It is due for retirement, and it will be replaced with a brand new ThinkPad T500)

    Compared to this the new ThinkPad T Series are much lighter. In fact they shave off about 6 oz from the T61, but they just feel they same rock solid build and to be frank, we love the keyboard.

    Feels just as good as any ‘IBM’ ThinkPad that we still have knocking around.

    Personal view? We love the new ThinkPad T400 and the T500, and believe that Lenovo have done a great job, keyboard and all.

    However, we will be making sure that they see all of this feedback so that they can continue to assess it.

    Ian Orford, Editor –

  4. Tony Marik on October 5th, 2008 7:31 pm

    I placed an order for a T400 w/discrete one week ago. After extensive reviews, i decided to not let the keyboard complaints phase me at all, because should i be dissatisfied with the keyboard flex, it costs about $80 to order an official Chicony keyboard which is found on previous Z and T models, has the same fittings and is easy to put in place.
    The reason they managed to shave off weight is that if you take the keyboard out and compare it to the older models, there are holes drilled all over the backplate. If it’s a big problem just replace the keyboard itself… remember… one of the beauties of the Thinkpad is that it’s so modular and upgradable.’s review of the T400 takes the keyboard right out and has photographs of backplate in comparison to older models.
    Hope that helps,

  5. Ian Orford - Editor on October 6th, 2008 8:28 am

    Hi Tony, thanks for your comments. They bring some sanity to the discussion when after all the ThinkPad T400 and T500 are superb notebooks and deserve the great reviews they have had.

    Let us know what you think of the T400 with the exisiting keyboard and whether or not you decide to change it.

    Cheers, Ian Orford Editor –

  6. Saravana on December 11th, 2009 7:11 pm

    Thats a blatant lie. The keyboard of the new thinkpads(T400/ T500)are very bad. If you have noticed he left side of the keyboard has very bad flex and is not easy to type on.

  7. Ian Orford on December 16th, 2009 1:06 pm

    Strong language Saravana! We have been using ThinkPads for years, and we can HONESTLY say that the latest ThinkPad T400 and T500 keyboards are as good as any we have used. Yes there was some flex in the early T400/T500 keyboards. That is now not the case and they are as solid as ever.

    We would suggest you actually go and try one before you accuse people of lying!

  8. Ryan on December 18th, 2009 1:09 am

    Today, I just received two new T400 laptops. I can definitely say that there is considerable flex in the Q, W, and E region of the keyboard as well as the top-right side (O and P). Other areas have some flex, but not nearly as much as the top-left. This is the case with both machines.

    I have owned the R40, T42, T61, all of which have solid keyboards.

    I did a direct side-by-side comparison with my T61 and there is no doubt in my mind the older keyboards are better. When I press down on certain keys (W for example), the adjacent keys crater in too. I’m probably going to swap the keyboards with each other.

    I would give up those few grams of weight saving in favour of a solid keyboard that doesn’t feel like it’s going to break if I put the slightest pressure on it.

  9. Saravana on December 22nd, 2009 12:20 am

    ?Ian Orford:
    > We would suggest you actually go and try one before you accuse people of lying!

    Well, that statement comes from my purchase of a Thinkpad T500 which I am sending it for repairs for the third time now. I received the laptop on Dec 4th and have already sent it twice for keyboard flex and an over heating issue. The keyboard flex was resolved on the second time, when the original keyboard (the one with perforations) was replaced with a better one. This time it does not have any flex. It would have been so much better if the laptop had come with this keyboard.

    I also own a old T40 and a new W700. I have been a big fan of thinkpads till this recent purchase. The keyboard was a big disasspointment.

    I would be more than happy to provide you with my service requests numbers/invoice details of my laptops to back my claims and help in any way.

    Lenovo should have a hard look at its quality standards and customer service before putting in such claims on a public blog.

  10. Ian Orford on December 22nd, 2009 11:19 am

    Sarvana, this is not a Lenovo Blog, it is a privately owned and run site. Whilst we sell and are affiliated to Lenovo we are a private corporation. All the opinions are ours as ardent fans of the ThinkPad brand. We to have been using, servicing and recommending ThinkPads for years.

    Presumably you are happy with your W700? Its the same keyboard. All we can tell you is that yes, there was some flex in the keyboard initially when the new T Series was launched due to an attempt to lighten the component. Everything we have seen over the last 6 months indicates that had been rectified.

    Let me say however, that even the lightened keyboard was far superior than most on the market. If you want to see flex, go try a HP pavilion G60 or G70, then you’ll see what keyboard flex really is!

    In any event, we are sorry that byou have had a challenge and trust that you will stick with ThinkPad, there are some superb new ThinkPad products coming along, including the New ThinkPad T410 and ThinkPad T510 which are outstanding.

  11. Michael on January 12th, 2010 10:48 pm


    Just stumbled upon this website. I’ve been using a ThinkPad T61 for the past couple of years and am looking to upgrade. Two questions:

    1. What would be the next sensible step up: the T500 or the T510?

    2. When exactly was the keyboard flex issue with the T500 resolved? It seems there are a number of authentic complaints about the keyboard. Surely so many people are not simply imagining things!


  12. user on January 13th, 2010 8:17 pm

    I own a T43 and a T400. When I type from one to the other there is definitely a huge difference in the feel and the quality of both keyboards. I feel the T400 is certainly not has solid as the T43, there is a large amount of flex either side of the fingerpad and upper left/right corners of the keyboard. Recently I’ve also had trouble with my ‘u’ key – I have to press it at least 3 times before I get a response. I was disappointed with the quality of this keyboard. I will still continue to buy lenovo because the machine itself is rock solid and great, however I hope that future releases incorproate a more solid chassis that houses a better quality keyboard – much like IBM were pumping out a few years ago

  13. Ian Orford on January 14th, 2010 3:30 pm

    Hi Michael, thanks for the post. First of all let me comment on the T500. In a nutshell, its a stable and very well designed notebook, with superb build quality that performs very well. However, its now 18 month old technology. If you’re OK with that, and you don’t have a burning desire to be absolute cutting edge, the T500 will serve you well, and right now is an absolute bargain, $$$/Performance wise.

    Having said that, and having just spent 2 days with Lenovo and the new laptops at the CES, I have to say that my choice would be the ThinkPad T510. Performance is absolutely amazing, and the keyboard is excellent. The keyboard issues have been rectified on later T400 and T500 models. I have to say though that having been a long time user of ThinkPads, we had no complaints about the T400/T500 keyboard.

    The whole ThinkPadToday site, plus several others is administered on an IBM ThinkPad Z60m, and we could never discern any noticeable difference between that keyboard and our T500. Anybody that thinks there is flex in a ThinkPad keyboard should go and test the new HP and Dell models!

    As for the W510 Michael, as a notebook, it is nothing short of spectacular. Performance is akin to an F16 fighter on afterburners, the screen is superb, and the multi-touch option is excellent. Unless you are a rocket scientist however Michael, and need the extra performance that the Quad Core processors will bring, the price premium over the T510 is difficult to justify.

    Hope that helps?

    Cheers, Ian Orford – Editor,

  14. Pragmatic Paddy » New laptop — the hardware on January 17th, 2010 1:04 pm

    [...] to Lenovo about this, I might be able to fix it with shims.  This has been discussed extensively [...]

  15. Fair Trade on March 29th, 2010 11:14 am

    OK, now I’m in a quandary!
    I came here researching whether I should go for a T400 or a T500 in the next month or two… I’ve been loyal to ThinkPads for a while now -T20, T43, T61 – because I love the quality; especially of the keyboard.
    Please, can anybody point me in the direction of model numbers so I can see which T400/500′s shipped with non-flexing keyboards, if such a thing exists…

  16. Ian Orford on March 29th, 2010 1:33 pm

    Just go with the T510! Or the new ThinkPad Edge 15″, both superb, with excellent keyboards. Cheers, Ian

  17. JoshB on May 26th, 2010 2:05 pm

    I put a t61 keyboard in my w500. Its worlds stiffer plain and simple. Now you can argue that thats because my w500 has seen a beating and as such the chassis isn’t as stiff as it once was. I would argue that my t42p saw much more of a beating and the keyboard is still going strong. New vs new the w/t500 keyboard is fine, but once the chassis sees some action the stiffness of the keyboard is compromised. Luckily a new nmb produced t61 keyboard with the nice stiff steel backing plate drops right in. Of course i shouldn’t have to swap keyboards on a w500 after 11 months, as its a thinkpad not some piece of crap dell. Hopefully they will realize its worth the extra 5 dollars for the steel backing plate (which i would gladly pay extra for) to make sure it STAYS stiff.

  18. andreas on September 4th, 2010 2:20 pm

    Ian Orford
    ITs not a myth, then why would lenovo build a metalframe under keyboard in the late 2009 early 2010 t400 and t500 models?

    Maybe you got that model and then your statement is half true only.

    ive one t500 and i changed to nmn from t61 right away, cause it flexed not much but still annoying.

  19. Ian Orford on September 6th, 2010 12:23 pm

    No, we had an early model Andreas, we do appreciate however that some people perceived the early T400/T500 keyboards to have flex. We just believe that even the early keyboards in those models were still far superior to comparable business class laptops.

  20. greg on September 23rd, 2010 8:42 pm

    Interesting that I stumbled across this 2 year old thread after my wife changed jobs and was issued a (seemingly) new ThinkPad T400. She used to have a T43 which I liked because its solidity really impressed me. I was disappointed with this T400 as there seemed to be a lot of flex in comparison. I decided to do a Google search to see what is up with it and came across this site. It is not a perception; this T400 is definitely not as solid as the T43. My wife noticed it right away. Her home computer is a Compaq Evo n620c that is more solid and has a better flex free keyboard. I am typing on a Compaq nc8000 that has a better keyboard. Her new T400 must be an early build, I am glad to hear that the keyboard can be easily swapped out. But it’s not just the keyboard. The chassis is just not as solid. It seems to have gotten cheaper. The weight difference doesn’t seem to be much. The machine is fast though!
    Just my $.02

  21. Florian on February 3rd, 2011 5:00 am

    There is definitely a lot of flex on the upper right and upper left side. But what’s much worse to me is that, while I do not yet have my laptop for ages yet and do not use it 8hours a day, the “A” and the “E” key are already falling of the keyboard regularly now, despite typing in a very normal manner and having never had such problems with any laptop before.

  22. Ian Orford on February 7th, 2011 4:00 pm

    You must have gotten one of the very early ones. Ask support for a replacement Florian, they should let you have one if your still covered by warranty. Alternatively buy a T61 keyboard from eBay, it fits and is incredibly strong

  23. Gus Gus on March 3rd, 2011 10:11 am

    As a touch-typist I must say that the keyboard desing has really gone downhill on the lenovo thinkpads. I used to own two t23′s, and the nine year old machines still amaze me with their amazing tactile response.

    I recently bought the budget-end Thinkpad Edge 15″, and all I can say is that while general performance and design is pleasing, the keyboad is *horrible*. The keys show strong resistance about midway through pushing down, yet overcoming this resistance does not mean that the key has been pressed. In effect, one must constantly stay on guard and bang the keyboard harder than usual, lest the input doesn’t “stick”. On top of that, the Enter key gives more resistance than others, which means more work for the over-exhausted right pinky.
    To top things off, there seems to be some kind of hollow cavern below the right side of the keyboard. When hitting the Enter, Backslash, or Backspace key, one can hear a resonant thud and light click from the surrounding keys, which react to the vibration.
    Thinkpad Edge 15″ has one of the worst laptop keyboards I have ever used. I will never again buy lenovo.

  24. Ian Orford on March 3rd, 2011 12:19 pm

    Gus, I am sorry but we cannot do anything but disagree with your observations. The keyboard on the Edge 15 is nothing short of superb, and we are not the only ones that say so. Engadget, Cnet, every reviewer that has used the ThinkPad Edge 15 has praised the keyboard!

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