ThinkBook is Lenovo’s laptop computer model for small-business entrepreneurs who cannot afford (or at the least, justify) elite enterprise ThinkPads, and the primary ThinkBook 13s reviewed by PC Labs, in August 2019, seemed the half. It was a superbly good 13.3-inch ultraportable with an unremarkable eighth Technology Intel Core i5 processor and a ditto full HD show. The ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 (begins at $870; $1,009 as examined), nevertheless, belies its funds standing. Not solely does it leap to an eleventh Technology Core i5 with the newest Intel Evo bells and whistles, however it additionally has a downright flashy higher-resolution (2,560-by-1,600-pixel) contact display with a 16:10 (relatively than extra acquainted) 16:9 side ratio. It nonetheless matches under premium-priced ultraportables just like the Dell XPS 13 in our hierarchy of prime laptops at its display measurement, however the ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 is a first-class worth and an especially likable little pocket book.
A Suppose-Household Feud
For customers selecting between well-known ThinkPad matte-black and the ThinkBook’s two-tone grey, Lenovo is its personal chief competitor, since there are not any fewer than three terrific ThinkPad ultraportables: the 14-inch X1 Carbon, the 13-inch X1 Nano, and—closest of all to immediately’s topic—the 13.3-inch ThinkPad X13, whose worth as examined in October 2020 was inside $5 of our ThinkBook 13s Gen 2. The X13 has a sooner AMD Ryzen 5 Professional CPU and an arguably nicer keyboard; the ThinkBook has twice the RAM, a sharper display, and a Thunderbolt 4/USB4 port.
Our ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 take a look at unit, $1,009 from on-line sellers, has the identical Core i5-1135G7 processor, 256GB NVMe solid-state drive, and Home windows 10 Professional because the $870 base mannequin, however it provides a contact display and boosts the principle system reminiscence from 8GB to 16GB. A $1,111 mannequin at Lenovo.com could also be a fair higher deal; it enhances our system with a Core i7 chip and a 512GB SSD.
At 0.59 by 11.8 by 8.3 inches, the aluminum-clad ThinkBook is a bit bulkier than one other competitor with a 16:10 show, the dearer Razer Book 13, however a little bit lighter (2.78 versus 3.09 kilos). The Asus ZenBook 13 is about the identical measurement (0.55 by 12 by 8 inches) however lighter nonetheless at 2.36 kilos. There is no flex should you grasp the Lenovo’s display corners or press the keyboard deck.
The display bezels are skinny, although the highest border makes room for a 720p webcam with a sliding safety shutter. The facility button doubles as a fingerprint reader for Home windows Hi there logins. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth are commonplace. Two USB 3.2 Sort-A ports, one all the time on, be a part of a security-cable locking notch on the fitting edge.
On the left you will discover the HDMI port that snooty ultraportables just like the XPS 13 omit, so that you needn’t fuss with a DisplayPort adapter to attach an exterior monitor. There’s additionally an audio jack and a USB4 port with Thunderbolt 4 functionality, although the ability adapter makes use of it so you possibly can’t use USB-C or Thunderbolt peripherals whereas the system is plugged in.
Catching the HP Bug
Whereas high-end ThinkPad keyboards are the envy of the business, ThinkBook keyboards do not impress me fairly as a lot. The ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 lacks devoted House, Finish, Web page Up, and Web page Down keys, making you group the Fn key with the cursor arrows to set off these capabilities.
Additionally, the latter are organized in a slipshod, HP-style row as a substitute of the correct inverted T. On the constructive facet, the backlit keyboard has a quick typing really feel and top-row controls that embrace keys to position and finish convention calls. The buttonless touchpad is not very massive, however it glides easily, with a snug click on motion.
The display side ratio means a bit much less scrolling as you peruse textual content or net pages. The offbeat decision makes nice particulars attractively sharp, whereas IPS know-how ensures broad viewing angles. Brightness and distinction are good, if not distinctive, and colours are vivid and well-saturated. (Lenovo says the panel covers 100% of the sRGB gamut.) White backgrounds are crisp and never dingy.
The webcam, although, is your common low-resolution affair, capturing colourful if barely dim photos with minimal static. The fingerprint reader works nice, letting you activate the laptop computer and log in with one press. Backside-mounted audio system produce sound that is greater than loud sufficient however suffers from growth or echo when cranked up; there’s not a lot bass however you possibly can hear overlapping tracks clearly. Dolby Audio software program affords music, film, recreation, and voice presets and an equalizer.
Bloatware is minimal. A Lenovo Vantage utility centralizes system updates, efficiency tuning, and Wi-Fi safety (in addition to advertisements for a $30 annual tuneup service). One other utility, Look by Mirametrix, makes use of the webcam to comply with your gaze and assist swap amongst apps should you’re utilizing an exterior show. A McAfee anti-malware trial, in the meantime, expires shortly and nags you continuously.
Testing the ThinkBook 13s Gen 2: Ultraportables Can Be Ultracompetitive
For our benchmark charts, I matched the ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 towards the abovementioned Razer Guide 13, Asus ZenBook 13, and Lenovo ThinkPad X13, in addition to the Acer Swift 3. You possibly can see their fundamental specs within the desk under.
Productiveness and Media Exams
PCMark 10 and eight are holistic efficiency suites developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (previously Futuremark). The PCMark 10 take a look at we run simulates completely different real-world productiveness and content-creation workflows. We use it to evaluate general system efficiency for office-centric duties akin to phrase processing, spreadsheet wrestling, net searching, and videoconferencing. PCMark 8, in the meantime, has a storage subtest that we use to evaluate the pace of the system’s boot drive. Each yield a proprietary numeric rating; greater numbers are higher. (See extra about how we test laptops.)
All 5 of those lightweights topped the 4,000 factors that point out wonderful productiveness in PCMark 10, so that they’re a terrific match for Microsoft Workplace or Google Docs. Their speedy SSDs breezed by means of PCMark 8’s storage train.
Subsequent is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 take a look at, which is totally threaded to utilize all accessible processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU relatively than the GPU to render a posh picture. The result’s a proprietary rating indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
Cinebench is usually an excellent predictor of our Handbrake video enhancing benchmark, wherein we put a stopwatch on techniques as they transcode a short film from 4K decision right down to 1080p. It, too, is a tricky take a look at for multi-core, multi-threaded CPUs; decrease instances are higher.
The ThinkBook’s Core i5-1135G7 mobile CPU is a quad-core, 2.4GHz (4.2GHz turbo) chip that is a little bit of an overachiever. Regardless of competing with Core i7s right here, it roughly tied for second place in each checks, trailing the six-core Ryzen 5 Professional of the ThinkPad X13.
We additionally run a customized Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Utilizing an early 2018 launch of the Artistic Cloud model of Photoshop, we apply a collection of 10 complicated filters and results to a typical JPEG take a look at picture. We time every operation and add up the entire (decrease instances are higher). The Photoshop take a look at stresses the CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, however it will probably additionally reap the benefits of most GPUs to hurry up the method of making use of filters.
The AMD-based ThinkPad faltered barely whereas the ThinkBook managed a stable middle-of-the-pack end. Its top-quality, better-than-1080p-resolution show is a plus for picture enhancing, however its lack of an SD or microSD card slot for importing pictures is a minus.
We take a look at Home windows techniques’ relative graphics muscle with two gaming simulations, 3DMark and Superposition. The primary has two DirectX 11 subtests, Sky Diver and Hearth Strike, appropriate for mainstream PCs with built-in graphics and higher-end gaming rigs respectively. The second makes use of the Unigine engine to render and pan by means of an in depth 3D scene at two decision and picture high quality settings with outcomes measured in frames per second (fps); 30fps is often thought of a good goal for easy animation whereas avid avid gamers choose 60fps or greater.
Intel’s Iris Xe built-in graphics are a transparent enchancment on their predecessors, however nonetheless nowhere close to a match for the discrete GPUs of true gaming laptops. None of those productivity-oriented portables is admittedly suited to taking part in video games, although informal or browser-based titles could be okay.
Battery Rundown Check
After totally recharging the laptop computer, we arrange the machine in power-save mode (versus balanced or high-performance mode) the place accessible and make a number of different battery-conserving tweaks in preparation for our unplugged video rundown take a look at. (We additionally flip Wi-Fi off, placing the laptop computer into airplane mode.) On this take a look at, we loop a video—a regionally saved 720p file of the Blender Basis brief movie Tears of Steel—with display brightness set at 50 p.c and quantity at one hundred pc till the system quits.
A robust silver medal for the ThinkBook, which ought to simply get you thru a full day of labor or faculty plus a night of Netflix or different streaming leisure. Keep in mind once we thought ourselves fortunate to get 5 or 6 hours away from an AC outlet? No, I do not miss these days both.
Verdict: Suppose on This Deal
Our Editors’ Alternative award holders amongst ultraportables embrace the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and Nano, the Dell XPS 13, and the Razer Guide 13. The ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 would not fairly rise to their stage, however it prices much less, and it is a completely succesful, handy productiveness companion. If you would like one thing a little bit completely different and a little bit snazzier than a standard compact, it is nicely value testing.