Lenovo ThinkPad L560 Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

MIL-SPEC tested; Deep key travel; Long battery life

The Cons

Muted display; Muddled speakers

Verdict

The ThinkPad L560 offers long battery life and deep key travel, but its display and speakers leave something to be desired.

Designed for small-to-medium-size businesses, Lenovo's ThinkPad L series of laptops offers enterprise-level security and durability at a more affordable price than the company's other laptops. The 15.6-inch member of this lineup, the ThinkPad L560, starts at a budget-friendly $719 ($1,084 as tested) and wowed us with a comfortable keyboard, long-lasting battery and MIL-SPEC-tested design. However, you can get a lighter laptop with even more endurance if you're willing to spend more.

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Design

Lenovo's iconic design isn't going anywhere soon. The ThinkPad L560 continues the tradition of black rectangular slabs. The L560 is made of ABS/PC plastic, but its more expensive sibling, the T560, uses glass-fiber-reinforced material for a far more premium feel.

Lenovo ThinkPad L560The L560's lid features Lenovo's logo and the ThinkPad emblem but is otherwise undecorated. Opening the laptop reveals the 15.6-inch, 1080p display, a full keyboard with number pad and red TrackPoint, and a touchpad with red and blue accents. The ThinkPad logo can be found a second time on the palm rest.

At 5 pounds and 14.9 x 9.8 x 1.2 inches, the L560 is a fairly average size and weight for a 15-inch business notebook. The Dell Latitude E5570 (14.8 x 9.9 x 0.9) is heavier at 5.6 pounds, while the Lenovo ThinkPad T560 (15 x 10.2 x 0.9 inches) is 4.8 pounds with a standard battery and 5.2 pounds with an extended battery. To get much lighter, you have to move to a 14-inch notebook such as the Toshiba Tecra A40 (13.4 x 9.6 x 0.9 inches), which weighs 4 pounds.

MORE: Best Lenovo Laptops

Ports

Lenovo ThinkPad L560
Three sides of the L560 feature ports for peripherals and external monitors to make you more productive. The left side has a power jack, a mini DisplayPort, a VGA output, a USB 3.0 port and an SD card reader. The right side houses an audio jack, a DVD drive, two more USB 3.0 ports and a security lock slot. On the back is another USB 3.0 port and an Ethernet jack.

Display

The L560's 15.6-inch, 1080p screen is dark, and the majority of colors were muted and bland. When I watched the trailer for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, the soldiers' dress regalia appeared far darker than their usual fern green and actor Joe Alwyn's bright blue eyes appeared black and gray in some scenes.

Lenovo ThinkPad L560
The display covers 60 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is less than the mainstream category average of 88 percent. The Latitude E5570 produced an excellent 107 percent of the gamut, while the T560 and the Tecra A40 covered 71 percent and 72 percent, respectively.

The colors on this ThinkPad's screen aren't the most precise; the L560's panel registered a Delta-E score of 1.22 (the closer to zero, the better). That's far better than the average of 4.19 (and the Tecra A40's horrendous score of 5.5), but the T560 (0.6) and the Latitude E5570 (0.7) have more accurate displays.

The display isn't terribly bright, measuring 236 nits on our light meter; the average is slightly higher at 259 nits. None of the L560's competitors met the average, either: The E5570 (242 nits), the T560 (237 nits) and the Tecra A40 (a horribly low 188 nits) were all darker than we'd like.

Durability and Security

The ThinkPad L560 comes with durability and security features that should keep both your hardware and data safe. It is MIL-STD-810G tested to prevent damage due to extreme temperatures, shocks and vibrations, which should be more than enough toughness for business travel.

On the security side, the L560 comes with TPM to protect sensitive data and an optional $10 fingerprint reader that's compatible with Windows Hello.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The ThinkPad L560's keyboard is surprisingly deep and makes for a desktop-class typing experience. It has 2.3 millimeters of travel and requires 57 grams of force to press. There is a tiny bit of flex, but I didn't notice it when I was typing. I found the keyboard to be very comfortable, but I wish there was a little more feedback when I pressed the keys down.

Lenovo ThinkPad L560
On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I reached my average 110 words per minute, but my error rate hit 3 percent (my average is 2 percent).

The 3.9 x 2.2 touchpad was responsive when I navigated the web and performed gestures in Windows 10. I found it to have too much friction against my fingers, which felt weird when I scrolled.

Audio

Sound emanating from the ThinkPad L560's speakers is a muddled mess. When I listened to "Ghostbusters (I'm Not Afraid)" Fall Out Boy's guitars and vocals struggled for control of the track, and the bass was all but nonexistent. The vocals cleared up a bit during Missy Elliott's verse, as the guitars became much softer, but the problems resumed soon after.The included Dolby Audio app features equalizer presets for voice, music, gaming and movies, but none of them improved the quality of the sound. We recommend you leave it on the default setting.

Performance

Powered by a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, our review configuration of the ThinkPad L560 was great for multitasking. I had 16 tabs open in Chrome (one of which was streaming 1080p video from YouTube) before I noticed some lag when switching between pages.

On the Geekbench 3 synthetic overall benchmark test, the L560 scored 6,250, falling short of the mainstream category average of 7,251. It beat out the T560 (6,210, Core i5-6300U) and the Tecra A40 (5,846, Core i5-6200U), but the Latitude E5570 (12,148, Core i7-6820HQ) had a much higher score, thanks to a better processor.

Lenovo ThinkPad L560It took the L560 32 seconds to copy 4.97GB of mixed-media files, a rate of 157.1 megabytes per second. The Latitude E5570 matched that time exactly, and the ThinkPad T560 was even faster with a speed of 181.7 MBps, far higher than the 128.1 MBps average. The Tecra A40's hard drive was sluggish, attaining a rate of only 27.93 MBps.

The L560 took 4 minutes and 30 seconds to complete our OpenOffice spreadsheet macro test, which pairs 20,000 names and addresses. This was faster than the average of 5:02 and the exact same time as the Toshiba Tecra A40. The T560 was slightly quicker at 4:14, while the Latitude E5570 took the gold with its time of 3:29.

With integrated Intel HD Graphics 520, the ThinkPad L560 isn't powerful enough for intensive gaming like Metro Last Light or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but should be fine for browser-based titles like Words with Friends. It earned a score of 61,912 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark test, which is lower than the mainstream category average of 73,353. The ThinkPad T560 (55,599) and the Tecra A40 (54,343) had lower scores with the same integrated Intel graphics.  The Dell Latitude E5570 had a much higher score of 91,399, thanks to discrete AMD Radeon R7 M360 graphics, so it could play some PC games on the lowest settings.

Battery Life

The L560 has enough juice to last your entire workday on a charge. It ran for 8 hours and 58 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which consists of browsing the web continuously over Wi-Fi. That's much better than the 6:31 mainstream category average, and it outlasted the Tecra A40 (6:44) and the Latitude E5570 (7:17). The T560 blew the competition out of the water, enduring for 10:10 with its standard three-cell battery and an incredible 21:03 with an extended six-cell battery. 

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

Webcam

Lenovo ThinkPad L560
The 720p webcam is fantastic for teleconferencing. A selfie I took with the camera was sharp and vivid. My red T-shirt popped and the teal wall at the far end of the room appeared as it does in real life. I could also make out facial details such as my dimple and the individual hairs on my head. 

Heat

The L560 stayed pretty cool throughout our testing. After streaming 15 minutes of video from Hulu, the bottom of the laptop reached 96.5 degrees Fahrenheit, just over our 95-degree comfort threshold.  The center of the keyboard (86.5 degrees) and the touchpad (84 degrees) stayed nice and cool.

Software and Warranty

The preinstalled software on the L560 is a mix of useful utilities from Lenovo and some bloatware baked into Windows 10. Among the junk are Twitter, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Flipboard and a persistent link to download PicsArt Photo Studio in the start menu. Lenovo has added Companion, which runs hardware scans and provides easy access to Support and Settings, which lets you configure the audio, the battery, wireless settings, the display and the camera.

Lenovo offers a one-year warranty on the L560. See how it did on our Best and Worst Brands ratings and Tech Support Showdown.

Configuration

Our $1,084 ThinkPad L560 came with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1080p display and a 256GB SSD. The $719 base model includes a Core i3-6100U CPU; 4GB of RAM; a 500GB, 7200-rpm HDD; and a 1366 x 768 display.

Lenovo ThinkPad L560
For $1,016, you can get a Core i5-6300U CPU; 8GB of RAM; a 500GB, 7200-rpm HDD; and a 1080p display. If you don't see exactly what you want among the existing options, you can customize any of the starting configurations for additional cost.

Compared to ThinkPad T560

The T560 is Lenovo's standard 15-inch standard-bearer with a lighter, slimmer design, better build quality, longer battery life, superior display and more configuration options (including Core i7 processors). Of course, you're going to spend more money to buy it. When we priced a T560 with the same specs as our L560, it cost $1,174, which is $90 more.

I'd pay for the upgrade for the longer battery life alone, but businesses buying in bulk, especially those tight on cash, will appreciate the discount for a similar machine.

Bottom Line

The ThinkPad L560 may not be as thin or light as some of Lenovo's more expensive computers, but it's keyboard, performance, MIL-SPEC-tested chassis and long battery life make it a fine computer for those looking to save a little bit of cash.

For those who want a lighter, thinner notebook with even more endurance, Lenovo's own ThinkPad T560 (starting at $809) is slightly more expensive but delivers on both fronts. You can also get far more configuration options and power in the Dell Latitude E5570 (starting at $769).

But if you don't want or need the fanciest specs and don't mind a little extra heft, the ThinkPad T560 is a strong choice. The screen and speakers are far from the best out there, but for most office work, the L560 will more than get the job done.

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CPU 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U
Operating System Windows 10 Pro
RAM 8GB
RAM Upgradable to 16GB
Hard Drive Size 256GB SSD
Hard Drive Speed
Hard Drive Type SSD
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 15.6
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 520
Video Memory
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Wi-Fi Model Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.1
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 3.9 x 2.2
Ports (excluding USB) Mini DisplayPort
Ports (excluding USB) SD card slot
Ports (excluding USB) security lock slot
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
Ports (excluding USB) VGA
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
USB Ports 4
Card Slots 4-1 card reader
Warranty/Support 1-year warranty
Size 14.8 x 9.8 x 1.21 inches
Weight 5 pounds
Company Website lenovo.com
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