Best ThinkPad in 2021: Which Lenovo business laptop is best?


best thinkpads

(Image credit: Future)

There are a few mainstays in the ThinkPad line that Lenovo fans can’t live without, which is why the best ThinkPads are considered the best. Because of their strong build quality, industry-leading keyboards, hyper-accurate pointing sticks, and simple black aesthetic, the best ThinkPads appeal to many business users and corporate IT departments.

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Some have even more responsive keyboards than others. There are options for the typical business user, artists who require a professional tablet, and even users who require a workstation that is a beast. Lenovo currently offers over a dozen ThinkPad models in a variety of lines. The laptops all have a similar basic design, but they differ significantly in terms of size, price, screen quality, performance, and battery life. Even if you’ve already set your heart and wallet on a ThinkPad, you still have a lot of options.

Check out our roundup of the best after you’ve made your decision. best ThinkPad accessories to help you be more productive, but if you’re more concerned with the best Lenovo laptopsWe also have a page for that in general. Look into it. Apple’s new iPad 9 and iPad mini 6 tablets are available for pre-order now..

What are the best ThinkPads? 

The Thinkpad X1 Carbon is a masterpiece in the world of laptops. The X1 Carbon is an excellent option for business users who are frequently on the go, thanks to its lightweight yet durable chassis. But the ThinkPad X1 Carbon isn’t just for business: We have no reservations in recommending it to everyday users, who will appreciate the laptop’s bright, vivid 14-inch display, long battery life, quick performance, and impeccable build quality.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga demonstrates that carbon fiber isn’t required for ThinkPads to compete. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga is easily one of the best 2-in-1 laptops available, thanks to its sleek design, stunning 1080p display, best-in-class keyboard, and all-day battery life. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga’s chassis, made of CNC aluminum, is now thinner and lighter while remaining as durable as ever.

If you’re doing more than just plugging numbers into a spreadsheet, this is a fantastic machine. The workstation-class Lenovo ThinkPad P1 follows in the footsteps of its consumer laptop sibling, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, by providing powerful performance in a thin and lightweight chassis. Furthermore, the Xeon CPU and Nvidia Quadro P2000, which are only available on the higher-end models, provide exceptional performance. The optional 4K display has rich, vibrant colors, and Lenovo’s P1 keyboard is one of the most comfortable they’ve ever made.

Do you require something that is more portable? The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet is a tough and secure 2-in-1 business tablet that’s also powerful enough to let you dominate noobs in Overwatch on its bright 13-inch 3K display.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9) makes subtle improvements to an already excellent business laptop.
(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9)

Best overall ThinkPad you can buy

Specifications

CPU:

Intel Core i7-1165G7

GPU:
Iris Xe
RAM:
16GB
Storage:
512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Display:
14-inch (1200p, 16:10)
Size:
The dimensions are 12.4 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches.
Weight:
2.5 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Slim, lightweight design


+Good 14-inch, 16:10 FHD+ display


+Class-leading keyboard


+Great quad speakers

Reasons to avoid

Poor 720p webcam

Pros:And, as you’d expect from a ThinkPad, the latest 9th Gen X1 Carbon has a best-in-class keyboard that you’ll enjoy typing on. Lenovo upgraded the best business laptop with 11th generation Intel processors. The 1200p version’s 15+ hours of battery life will be appreciated by business users who travel frequently. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s attractive, slim, and durable chassis is still available. The 1200p screen had a surprising amount of brightness. It’s unquestionably among the best ThinkPads.

Cons: While we adore this laptop, it isn’t without flaws. Furthermore, despite the fact that this is a business notebook, the IR camera is not included by default. It has a 720p webcam that isn’t very good, no card slot, and a small touchpad.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9) review

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The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 (AMD) is the best ThinkPad for you if you’re on a budget but still want that sweet keyboard.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

2. Lenovo ThinkPad X13 (AMD)

The best budget laptop

Specifications
CPU:
AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U
GPU:
AMD Radeon
RAM:
8GB/16GB
Storage:
128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB SSD
Display:
15.6-inch (768p/1080p)
Size:
The dimensions are 12.3 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches.
Weight:
2.8 pounds

Reasons to buy


+Outstanding performance


+Durable chassis


+Best-in-class keyboard

Reasons to avoid

Subpar battery life


Thick display bezels

Pros: The ThinkPad X13 goes against the grain of the average ThinkPad in terms of price. Lenovo doesn’t skimp on the keyboard, despite the price. For a laptop this thin, those concave keys we’ve praised for years have what feels like an impossible amount of travel. Its keys were extremely responsive. This machine comes with a fast AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U CPU, a carbon fiber/magnesium alloy design, and a few security features like a fingerprint reader and an optional IR camera for Windows Hello for less than $1,000.

Cons: The ThinkPad X13’s low price necessitates a few concessions, including super thick display bezels, a lack of Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a memory limit of only 16GB. The battery lasted 7 hours and 53 minutes, which was less than the premium laptop average of the time (10:00).

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 (AMD) review

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Lenovo’s X1 Nano proves that a 13-inch ultraportable version of the X1 Carbon is suitable for both consumers and professionals.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Best 13-inch ThinkPad

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core i7
GPU:
Intel Iris Xe
RAM:
16GB
Storage:
512GB
Display:
13-inch, 2K
Size:
The dimensions are 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.66 inches.
Weight:
2 pounds

Reasons to buy


+Stylish, stealthy design


+Bright 13-inch, 2K display


+Weighs 2 pounds


+12-hour battery life

Reasons to avoid

Limited ports

Pros: The X1 Nano, on the other hand, allows you to leave the brick at home. Portability is great, but what good is it if you have to carry a battery charger with you everywhere? It’s actually the lightest ThinkPad ever, weighing only 2 pounds thanks to its carbon fiber and magnesium frame. You already know how the X1 Nano looks: it’s a smaller, lighter version of the classic ThinkPad design. But that’s okay with me; the 16:10 aspect ratio is the same height (Y-axis) as most larger panels, just not as wide. It has a 13-inch anti-glare 2K (2160 x 1350-pixel) display. On our battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the petite notebook lasted for 12 hours flat. The panel is smaller than those on rival devices, measuring 13 inches flat rather than 13.3 or 13.5 inches.

Cons: With the X1 Nano, you can get a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. It has a silky soft-touch texture, and my swipes were well received. Our unit comes with a flat matte-black lid, but you can upgrade to a woven pattern to highlight the carbon materials inside. Expect to clean a lot of smudges, no matter which surface you choose — the X1 Nano left a glossy fingerprint every time I touched it. This is due to the lack of USB Type-A ports. The size is my main complaint. Fingers of those with larger hands may brush up against the sides. A 3.9 x 2.3-inch touchpad sits beneath the keyboard. Either that, or live a dongle’s life.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review

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Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga tweaks the formula just enough to keep its position as the best (a lot of) money can buy 2-in-1 business laptop.
(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6)

The best 2-in-1 Thinkpad

Specifications
Display:
IPS (16:10), 14-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel
CPU:
Intel Core i7-1165G7
Weight:
3 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Solid, sleek design


+Fantastic keyboard


+Speedy performance


+Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

Expensive

Pros:These features are housed in a stylish aluminum chassis with a 2-in-1 design and a stylus slot. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 from Lenovo is an improved version of the best 2-in-1 laptop for business users. Taking a page from the X1 Carbon, the new Yoga has a 14-inch display with a taller 16:10 aspect ratio for more vertical screen space, which is ideal for business users. A wider touchpad and a human presence detection sensor for convenient login and enhanced security also boost productivity. The engine upgrade to 11th Gen Intel chips improves performance significantly, but the battery life improvement is even more appealing; the Gen 6 model lasts nearly 15 hours on a charge.

Cons:It’s not as light as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and it’s not as attractive as the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga. There’s no SD card, and it’s quite pricey, so you’ll have to decide whether or not you’re willing to pay the $2,000+ price tag.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) review

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If you need a workhorse ThinkPad, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is the best option, as it comes with a discrete GPU, a 4K HDR panel, and a luxurious design.
(Image credit: Future)

5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)

The best multimedia laptop

Specifications
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:
The dimensions are 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches.
Weight:
3.8 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Attractive, lightweight chassis


+Gorgeous 4K HDR anti-glare display


+World-class keyboard

Reasons to avoid

Poor battery life (on 4K HDR model)


Storage limited to 1TB

Pros: The 15-inch ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is an excellent multimedia business laptop that suits your needs, whether you’re a video editor or a gamer. It’s one of the most powerful ThinkPads available. It achieved a solid 47 frames per second on the Hitman benchmark in Ultra at 1080p. The system’s 4K display blew us away, reproducing 163% of the sRGB color gamut and averaging 384 nits of brightness. The X1 Extreme is seriously portable for a laptop this size, measuring only 0.7 inches thick and weighing around 4.5 pounds. It also comes with a comfortable keyboard and the same durability and security features as the Lenovo X1 Carbon. With a Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, this beast can handle even the most demanding programs and games.

Cons: The fact that the storage is limited to only 1TB is also absurd, given that laptops like the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch can hold up to 8TB of data. Despite all of the power and beauty, the battery life is only 5 hours and 28 minutes, which is a major letdown.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2) review

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The Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Chromebook is a capable performer that is typical of the Chromebook market.
(Image credit: Future)

6. Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

The best Chromebook

Specifications
CPU:
AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 3500C
GPU:
AMD Radeon Graphics
RAM:
8GB
Storage:
128GB SSD
Display:
13-inch, 1080p
Size:
The dimensions are 12.1 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches.
Weight:
3.2 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Snappy performance


+Durable, lightweight design


+Colorful display


+Solid battery life

Reasons to avoid

Pricey

Pros: In our in-house battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits), the laptop lasted 8 hours and 7 minutes. The 13-inch, 1080p touch display on the ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook is crisp and vivid, but not particularly bright. The Abyss Blue all-aluminum chassis of the Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook has some chrome flecking, giving it a nice gleam. The Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook’s performance is pretty quick, with near-instant boot times thanks to an AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 3500C CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and integrated AMD Radeon Graphics running the lightweight Chrome OS.

Cons: With a 2.1-GHz AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 3500C CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, integrated AMD Radeon Graphics, and a colorful 13-inch, 1080p IPS display, our review unit is a little pricey for a Chromebook at $766. I turned up the volume on Jermaine Stewart’s “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off,” and while it was loud, the audio quality was tinny. I imagine the smallest speakers in the universe are housed in two tiny slots on either side of the deck.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook review

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The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet is the best ThinkPad for you. You want a detachable keyboard, but you also want that great Lenovo keyboard.

7. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

The best detachable

Specifications
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 if you include the keyboard)
Weight:
2 pounds (2.8 w/ keyboard)

Reasons to buy

+Gorgeous design


+Durable, MIL-STD 810G tested


+Great keyboard and stylus


+Impressive webcams

Reasons to avoid

Below-average battery life

Pros: It gives Lenovo’s best ThinkPads a lot more variety. This machine is also unique in that its detachable keyboard meets Lenovo’s quality standards: The ThinkPad X1 Tablet is an excellent, durable, and secure 2-in-1 detachable if you need to be versatile in your line of work. It has an impressive pair of cameras: an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. The ThinkPad Pen Pro, which has a full metal body and an elastomer pen tip with up to 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, will appeal to artists in particular. Its 13-inch, 3K display, which covers 118 percent of the sRGB spectrum and emits a whopping 415 nits of brightness, will also lull you into a trance. The Core i5-8250U processor in our review unit scored 12,772 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance benchmark, far exceeding the premium laptop average (10,586) at the time of the review. Its keys have a travel of 1.3 millimeters and require 61 grams of force to operate.

Cons: It’ll be difficult to jam out with the X1 Tablet’s quiet speakers if you usually listen to music while working. The slate’s battery lasts only 5 hours and 59 minutes (below the 8:18 average), so you won’t be able to get through a typical workday with it.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet review

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

8. Lenovo ThinkPad T480

The laptop with best battery life

Specifications
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:
The dimensions are 13.3 x 9.2 x 0.8 inches.
Weight:
3.6 pounds (4 with battery)

Reasons to buy

+Epic battery life (with extended battery)


+Snappy keyboard


+Good performance

Reasons to avoid

Dull screen


Heavier than competitors

Pros: A snappy keyboard with 1.7 millimeters of travel and 72 grams of actuation force is also included. A fast 8th Gen Core i5 processor and an Nvidia MX150 GPU round out the package, which is capable of handling light gaming like Dirt 3 (117 fps). The music was free of tinniness when we played AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” The ThinkPad T480 sounded pretty good for a mainstream business laptop. You’ll never have to worry about your laptop dying during a workday — or even two — with the ThinkPad T480. On our battery test, its six-cell, 72-watt-hour battery lasted an incredible 17 hours and 19 minutes.

Cons: The T480’s 14-inch, 1080p panel, unlike that of other ThinkPads, is not particularly colorful, reproducing only 77 percent of the sRGB color gamut and averaging 269 nits of brightness.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad T480 review

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The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is the thinnest ThinkPad ever, but it still packs a punch in terms of battery life, performance, and a practical 3:2 aspect ratio.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

9. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga

The best 2K laptop

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core i5-1130G7
GPU:
Intel Iris Xe
RAM:
16GB
Storage:
512GB SSD
Display:
13.5-inch (2K)
Size:
The dimensions are 11.7 x 9.2 x 0.45 inches.
Weight:
2.5 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Unbelievably thin


+Solid and durable chassis


+Decent webcam


+Bright and unique 3:2 display

Reasons to avoid

Haptic touchpad isn’t great

Pros: This baby covered 71% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and had a brightness of 425 nits. While the other ThinkPads have nice displays, the 13.5-inch 2K panel on the X1 Yoga outperforms them all. It’s a slim, lightweight 2-in-1 (2.5 pounds, 0.5 inches thick) with a full-size Pen with 4,096 pressure sensitivity levels and shortcut buttons. On the Geekbench 5.4 test, its 11th Gen Core i5 processor scored a respectable 4,747 points. The ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is a great choice if you need the versatility of a tablet but don’t want to deal with the detach-and-reattach process.

Cons: In comparison to the touchpads found on many other modern laptops, the 3.6 x 2.7-inch surface feels small. It was annoying to get haptic feedback instead of actually pressing the touchpad. When it comes to the thin X1 Titanium, the ports are where you’ll feel the pinch. In other words, if you don’t already have a good USB Type-C hub, factor it into your X1 Titanium budget.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga review

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The Lenovo ThinkPad P15 packs a punch in terms of performance, but it also comes with a price and size to match.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

10. Lenovo ThinkPad P15

Best workstation

Specifications
Display:
15.6-inch, 4K
CPU:
Intel Core i9-10885H vPro
GPU:
Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 Max-Q
RAM:
32GB
Storage:
1TB SSD
Battery Life:
3:56
Weight:
6.1 pounds

Reasons to buy


+Stellar performance and graphics


+Excellent array of ports


+Bright and crisp 4K display


+Comfortable typing experience

Reasons to avoid

Weak battery life on 4K model

Pros: Its 15.6-inch 4K screen covered 84% of the DCI-P3 color space. The keyboard on this speed demon is unbelievably comfortable. Furthermore, its Quadro RTX 5000 Max-Q GPU was capable of running Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm in 4K at a blistering 93 frames per second. Our machine had a Core i9-10885H CPU and 32GB of RAM, and it smashed Geekbench 5.3 with a score of 7,784. The ThinkPad P15 is an absolute powerhouse.

Cons: In our battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, it only lasted 3 hours and 56 minutes. Anyone who requires this level of performance in a mobile form factor will be moved to tears by workstation pricing. The ThinkPad P15 Gen 1 earns the highest praise I can give it: utilitarian. Even though I knew this, the $7,879 retail price of my ThinkPad P15 Gen 1 review unit made me do a double take. Even by workstation standards, that’s a lot of space, and the featureless matte-black chassis doesn’t give off a premium vibe. With a weight of 6.1 pounds and dimensions of 14.8 x 9.9 x 1.2 inches, it’s a monster of a laptop.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad P15 review

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How to choose the best ThinkPad for you 

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga, on the other hand, is a better option if you want something more flexible. If you’re looking for a basic clamshell laptop, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon is more than likely to meet your needs. Choosing the best ThinkPad for you is largely determined by your requirements.

The ThinkPad X1 Tablet is a great choice for artists, while the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a great choice for users who need their laptop to have a little more kick, whether it’s for video editing or photo editing. If you want to prioritize battery life, you might be able to find the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 on sale, but keep in mind that it’s a little outdated, as it’s powered by an Intel 8th Generation processor. If you need more power, the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is the most powerful ThinkPad available, making it ideal for high-demand tasks.

How we test the best ThinkPads 

Before our reviewers get their hands on a laptop, we put it through extensive benchmark testing, both synthetic and real-world. We look at the laptop’s performance, battery life, display, speakers, and heat management, among other things.

We use a Klein K10 colorimeter to determine the brightness and sRGB color gamut of the laptop’s display during our benchmarking. We put the laptop through a slew of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests, to see how well it performs.

We put the laptop through its paces by converting a 4K video to 1080p resolution and duplicating a 4.97GB multimedia file. The Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings at 1080p resolution is our real-world graphics test.

Finally, our battery test entails continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. A runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result for MacBooks and premium Windows 10 laptops, whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise. We also perform heat tests on the laptop by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in various areas.

Our reviewers also put the laptop through extensive hands-on testing, critiquing everything from the materials to the feel of the touchpad.

He’s the best at everything he does, and he never loses. That’s why you’ll see his byline on the latest Souls-like challenge now and then. Rami Tabari works for Laptop Mag as a Senior Writer. He looks at every type of laptop, as well as other cool technology. He can be found sitting at his desk, surrounded by a hoarder’s dream of laptops, and when he makes it out to civilization, he can be found watching terrible anime or playing some kind of excruciatingly difficult game.