Which ThinkPad is Right For You?
For many business users and corporate IT departments, nothing but a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop will do. Whether it's their strong build quality, industry-leading keyboards, hyper accurate pointing sticks, or simple black aesthetic, the ThinkPad line has a number of mainstays that Lenovo fans won't do without.
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 20 ThinkPad models across 9 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. So which ThinkPad is right for you? The answer depends on your priorities.
Best Overall: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Pros: The ThinkPad X1 Carbon has all the hallmarks of a perfect business laptop. Packed into its attractive, slim body is a powerful 8th Gen Core i7 processor combined with a battery that can last up to 10 hours and 28 minutes with a 2K HDR panel and 11:01 in 1080p. Its 14-inch, 2K HDR display covered a vivid 199 percent of the sRGB color spectrum and averaged 469 nits of brightness on our light meter, making it perfect for watching movies on the go. Its keyboard offers great tactile feedback, registering 1.8 millimeters of travel and requiring 71 grams of actuation force. To top it all off, its carbon-fiber chassis passed a dozen MIL-STD-810G durability tests, including those for extreme temperatures, shocks and vibrations, and the system offers security features like Intel vPro, an infrared camera with a privacy shutter and a fingerprint reader.
Cons: There's not much weighing this machine down, aside from a pair of too-quiet speakers and a grainy webcam. However, after purchasing several units for ourselves, we discovered inconsistent quality control: The keyboard and display were not as good as the ones on the model we initially reviewed.
CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch (1080p/1440p) | Size: 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds
Best for Multimedia: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Pros: Whether you're a video editor or even a gamer, the 15-inch ThinkPad X1 Extreme is an excellent multimedia business laptop that suits your needs. Armed with a Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU, this beast can get you through rigorous programs as well as a select few games. It ran the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark on Very High at 1080p at a playable 35 frames per second. At only 0.7 inches thick and roughly 4 pounds, the X1 Extreme is seriously portable for a laptop this size. We were blown away by the system's 4K display, which reproduced 186 percent of the sRGB color gamut and averaged 366 nits of brightness. It also happens to have a cushy keyboard that has 1.7 millimeters of travel and requires 78 grams of force to actuate. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme also offers the same durability and security features as the Lenovo X1 Carbon, but with an added Smart Card option.
Cons: Regardless of all that power and beauty, a battery life of only 6 hours and 7 minutes is a major buzzkill (the premium laptop average was 8:14 at the time). It also gets pretty warm, too — the center of the underside clocked in at 116 degrees (123 being the hottest on the underside near the hinge) after it streamed a 15-minute HD video.
CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti | 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: 4 pounds
Best Detachable: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet
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.
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.
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)
Best Battery Life: Lenovo ThinkPad T480
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.
CPU: Intel Core i3/Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620/Nvidia MX150 | RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB/32GB | 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)
Best 2-in-1: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga
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.
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
Best Workstation: Lenovo ThinkPad P1
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.
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
Most Affordable: Lenovo ThinkPad E580
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).
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
Credit: Laptop Mag