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Which ThinkPad is right for you?

best thinkpads
(Image credit: Future)

The best ThinkPads attract many business users and corporate IT departments thanks to their strong build quality, industry-leading keyboards, hyper accurate pointing sticks and simple black aesthetic. The ThinkPad line has a number of mainstays that Lenovo fans won't do without, which is why the best ThinkPads are considered the best laptops around.

Even if you've already got your heart and your budget committed to a ThinkPad, you've got a lot of choices. Lenovo currently sells over a dozen ThinkPad models across several different lines. The laptops all have the same basic aesthetic, but vary greatly when it comes to size, price, screen quality, performance and battery life. Some even have snappier keyboards than others.

Once you've made a decision, check out our roundup of the best ThinkPad accessories to bolster your productivity, but if you're more interested in the best Lenovo laptops in general, we have a page for that, too. 

The best ThinkPads you can buy today

  1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen)
  2. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen)
  3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)
  4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet
  5. Lenovo ThinkPad T480
  6. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga
  7. Lenovo ThinkPad P1
  8. Lenovo ThinkPad E580

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen) best thinkpads

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen) is the best ThinkPad of the bunch thanks to its lightweight design, long battery life and vivid display.

1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen)

Best overall ThinkPad you can buy

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch (1080p/4K) | Size: 12.7 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.1 pounds

Attractive, lightweight design
Best-in-class keyboard
Long battery life (on 1080p model)
Bright, vivid display options
4K model has short battery life

Pros: Lenovo took the best business laptop and beefed it up with improved speakers and new security features, including a webcam privacy cover and IR camera. You still get the ThinkPad X1 Carbon's attractive, slim and durable chassis and powerful 8th Gen CPUs. Business users who travel frequently will appreciate the 9+ hours of battery life offered by the 1080p version, but they might want to stay away from the 4K model. Speaking of which, the optional 4K panel on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is absolutely gorgeous, offering a bright and vivid picture. The 1080p screen isn't too shabby, either. And in typical ThinkPad fashion, the latest 7th Gen X1 Carbon has a best-in-class keyboard that you'll love typing on. It's easily at the top of the best ThinkPads.

Cons: There are really only two things we don't like about the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (apart from its lofty price tag). First, the 4K model gets only 5 hours and 33 minutes of battery life, which is well below average. And finally, Lenovo ditched the microSD card reader this year so content creators will have to buy an adapter to upload photos and videos.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen) review.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019) best thinkpads

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019) comes in second as best ThinkPad, but it's basically as good as its clamshell alternative due to slim aluminum chassis, great battery life and awesome keyboard. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

2. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen)

The best 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3 pounds

Bright, vivid 1080p display
Slim, durable aluminum chassis
Best-in-class keyboard
Not available in carbon fiber
No SD card reader

Pros: Lenovo took a risk crafting the X1 Yoga out of metal, but it paid off. The X1 Yoga is the perfect alternative to the X1 Carbon for people who want the versatility of a tablet but aren't feeling the detachable thing. It even lasts longer on a charge, netting an excellent runtime of 10 hours and 18 minutes on our battery test. The X1 Yoga is available with up to a 4K screen but we were perfectly happy with the 1080p panel, but is both bright and vivid. You also get the classic ThinkPad keyboard, which is still better than anything else on the market. But what really sets the X1 Yoga apart are all the extra features it offers, which includes a stylus garage, a webcam cover and a pointing stick.

Cons: As much as we like the new metal chassis, we still wish the ThinkPad X1 Yoga was available with the traditional carbon-fiber finish.  It also lacks a card reader of any sort, which could be a deal-breaker for photographers and videographers. Our biggest reservation, however, is that the ThinkPad X1 Yoga we reviewed is powered by last-gen processors, so you might want to wait for the models with 10th Gen chips.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019) review.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2) best thinkpads

If you need a workhorse version of a ThinkPad, then the best ThinkPad for you is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, as it boasts a discrete GPU, a 4K HDR panel and a luxurious design. (Image credit: Future)

3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)

The best multimedia laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB/64GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 15.6-inch (1080p/4K) | Size: 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3.8 pounds

Attractive, lightweight chassis
Gorgeous 4K HDR anti-glare display
World-class keyboard
Poor battery life (on 4K HDR model)
Storage limited to 1TB

Pros: Whether you're a video editor or even a gamer, the 15-inch ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is an excellent multimedia business laptop that suits your needs. Armed with a Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, this beast can get you through rigorous programs as well as a select few games. It ran the Hitman benchmark on Ultra at 1080p at a solid 47 frames per second. At only 0.7 inches thick and roughly 4.5 pounds, the X1 Extreme is seriously portable for a laptop this size. We were blown away by the system's 4K display, which reproduced 163% of the sRGB color gamut and averaged 384 nits of brightness. It also happens to have a cushy keyboard, and offers the same durability and security features as the Lenovo X1 Carbon. It's one of the best ThinkPads for performance.

Cons: Regardless of all that power and beauty, a battery life of only 5 hours and 28 minutes is a major buzzkill. The fact that the storage is limited to only 1TB is also nuts, considering that laptops like the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro offers up to 8TB of storage.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2) review.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet best thinkpads

Need something detachable but still want that great Lenovo keyboard? The best ThinkPad for you is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet.

4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

The best detachable

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 13-inch (3K) | Size: 12 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches (0.6 w/ keyboard) | Weight: 2 pounds (2.8 w/ keyboard)

Gorgeous design
Durable, MIL-STD 810G tested
Great keyboard and stylus
Impressive webcams
Below-average battery life

Pros: If you need to be versatile in your line of work, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet serves as an excellent, durable and secure 2-in-1 detachable. Artists in particular will appreciate the ThinkPad Pen Pro, which has a full metal body and a elastomer pen tip that supports up to 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Our review unit had a Core i5-8250U processor, which scored 12,772 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance benchmark, flying past the premium laptop average (10,586) at the time of the review. What's also unique about this machine is that its detachable keyboard maintains Lenovo's quality standards: Its keys have a good 1.3 millimeters of travel and require 61 grams of force to actuate. Additionally, its 13-inch, 3K display will lull you into a trance, covering 118 percent of the sRGB spectrum and unleashing a whopping 415 nits of brightness. It has an impressive pair of cameras: The rear has an 8-megapixel resolution while the front has a 2-MP shooter. It adds a lot of variety to Lenovo's best ThinkPads.

Cons: While it's physically portable, the slate's battery lasts only 5 hours and 59 minutes (below the 8:18 average), so you won't be able to survive a typical workday. And if you usually listen to music while you work, it's going to be difficult to jam out with the X1 Tablet's quiet speakers.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet review.

Lenovo ThinkPad T480 best thinkpads

The Lenovo ThinkPad T480 is the best ThinkPad you can buy if you want to prioritize battery life, as it can last 17:19 with an extended battery.

5. Lenovo ThinkPad T480

The laptop with best battery life

CPU: Intel Core i3/Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620/Nvidia MX150 | Storage: 500GB HDD or 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch (768p/1080p/1440p) | Size: 13.3 x 9.2 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 3.6 pounds (4 with battery)

Epic battery life (with extended battery)
Snappy keyboard
Good performance
Dull screen
Heavier than competitors

Pros: With the ThinkPad T480, you never have to worry about your laptop dying during your workday -- or even two. Its six-cell, 72-watt-hour battery lasted a ridiculous 17 hours and 19 minutes on our battery test. You can top that off with a speedy 8th Gen Core i5 processor and an Nvidia MX150 GPU, which is strong enough to take on some light gaming like Dirt 3 (117 fps). In addition, you get a snappy keyboard with 1.7 millimeters of travel and 72 grams of actuation force.

Cons: Unlike other ThinkPads, the T480's 14-inch, 1080p panel is not very colorful, reproducing a bland 77 percent of the sRGB color gamut and averaging 269 nits of brightness.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad T480 review.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga best thinkpads

Need a laptop that has a gorgeous 2K screen? Then the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is the best ThinkPad for you.

6. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

The best 2K laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch (1080p/1440p) | Size: 13.1 x 9 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds

Beautiful 2K HDR screen
Speedy performance
Integrated privacy slider webcam
Durable, elegant design
Expensive

Pros: If you need the versatility of a tablet but you aren't feeling the whole detach-and-reattach thing, then the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a great choice. It's a slim, lightweight 2-in-1 (3.1 pounds, 0.7 inches thick) that features a dockable ThinkPad Pen Pro, which has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and two shortcut buttons. While the other ThinkPads have lovely displays, the X1 Yoga's 14-inch, 2K panel beats them all. This baby reproduced 201 percent of the sRGB gamut and gleamed with 477 nits of brightness. And in terms of speed, its 8th Gen Core i7 processor notched a solid 14,517 on the Geekbench 4 test. It's military-durable and has privacy features like the rest, but what's notable is that it has an integrated privacy slider within the glass of the display, which looks much more subtle than the giant shutter on competing systems.

Cons: The X1 Yoga lasted 7 hours and 42 minutes on our battery test, and while that may not seem that bad, it still isn't reliable enough to get you through the workday, and it falls below the 8:32 premium laptop average. And despite its keys measuring 1.4 millimeters of travel and requiring 65 grams of actuation force, we didn't find this keyboard to be all that great to type on.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga review.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 best thinkpads

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 excels as a workstation, so if you need the power, this is the best ThinkPad you can buy.

7. Lenovo ThinkPad P1

The best workstation

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7/Xeon | GPU: Nvidia Quadro P1000/P2000 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB/64GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB SSD | Display: 14-inch (1080p/4K) | Size: 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 4 pounds

Outstanding performance
Slim, lightweight chassis
Vivid Dolby Vision 4K display
Poor battery life
Runs warm

Pros: The P1 is an absolute powerhouse of a ThinkPad. Our machine boasted a Xeon processor with 32GB of RAM, which ripped apart Geekbench 4, scoring 17,893 and beating the workstation average (17,172). On top of that, its Quadro P2000 GPU ran Dirt 3 at a wild 190 fps. And all of that power is packed into a 0.7-inch slim frame that weighs just 4 pounds. Its 15.6-inch, Dolby Vision 4K display covered 179 percent of the RGB spectrum. This speed demon also features an unbelievably comfortable keyboard, with keys that got a deep 2.2 mm of travel.

Cons: While its display is colorful, it's not very bright, averaging just 285 nits. Not to mention that you'll basically be tied to your desk all day -- the battery lasted just 4 hours and 16 minutes on a charge. It's also worth mentioning that this machine gets a little warm. We measured the underside at 119 degrees Fahrenheit after we played a 15-minute HD video at full screen, which is above our 95-degree comfort threshold.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad P1 review.

Lenovo ThinkPad E580 best thinkpads

If you're on a budget but you still want that sweet keyboard, the best ThinkPad for you is the Lenovo ThinkPad E580.

8. Lenovo ThinkPad E580

The best budget laptop

CPU: Intel 7th Gen Core i5/8th Gen Core i5 | GPU: Intel HD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB SSD | Display: 15.6-inch (768p/1080p) | Size: 14.5 x 9.9 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 4.7 pounds

World-class keyboard
Solid performance
Attractive design
Dim screen
Below-average battery life

Pros: Your average ThinkPad isn't very wallet-friendly, but the E580 goes against the grain. For less than $1,000, this machine offers speedy 8th Gen Core i5 performance, a sexy silver aluminum lid and even a select few security features like dTPM encryption and an optional fingerprint reader. Despite the price, Lenovo doesn't skimp on the keyboard. Its keys felt super responsive, registering 1.8 mm of travel and requiring a solid 72 grams of force to actuate.

Cons: The E580's affordable price requires a few compromises: namely, the display. Its 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 panel covered 80 percent of the sRGB spectrum and averaged 243 nits, which isn't optimal for any art design or photo editing. And while its battery lasted a respectable 8 hours and 19 minutes, it landed below the premium laptop average at the time (8:51).

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad E580 review.