After selling consumer desktops and laptops in the late 90’s I have a soft spot for the Thinkpad brand. Lenovo purchased the Thinkpad brand in the early 2000’s, but they’ve kept the quality of the line on point, and it’s a solid, reliable line-up they now range. On the success of the Thinkpad line, IBM launched the Thinkbook series mid-last year and they’ve now released the follow-up, the Thinkbook 14 and Thinkbook 15 – which Lenovo have sent over for review.
I’ve had these laptops for longer than I should have – but they’re rather hard to give back. The review units sent over are nicely specced with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processors – though you can get them with an i5, and they came with 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD in each.
The graphics are no slouch, though not quite up to high-end ‘gaming’, with AMD Radeon graphics in both – 620 for Thinkbook 15 and 625 for Thinkbook 14. Both have a FullHD 1920×1080 resolution, and a lovely matte screen which unfortunately isn’t touch enabled, but having a matte finish works exceptionally well in brighter light conditions like cafe, or outside.
The brightness and colour of the LCD display could be a little better, but they’re good enough and have decent, if not outstanding viewing angles, with that matte finish on the display helping a lot in glaring light.
The display has a pretty substantial top and bottom bezel, with a side bezel as well. The top includes a nice 720p webcam, which also includes a privacy slider, great for ensuring no accidental issues on those work Zoom meetings.
The Thinkbook itself is exceptionally nice to hold, it’s slightly thicker than ultrabooks on the market with a bit of heft – 1.5/1.8kg for Thinkbook 14/15. The Thinkbook 14 is all aluminium for the base and lid, while the Thinkbook 15 incorporates a plastic base with an aluminium lid, saving a little bit of weight.
There’s a small rubber strip at the rear of the base, and rubber feet at the front to stop the laptop sliding around on a desk or lap, and raises the base off the desk a little for better airflow.
I didn’t actually notice a lot of noise on the laptops from fans, even when throwing some pretty intense work at them. Lenovo has done a stellar job on the air-flow with the discreet vents underneath and on the undersides which are tucked away out of sight.
The hinge on the Thinkbook range is firm allowing you to reposition the screen with ease, but without having it feel loose. The hinge will allow you to lay the screen almost flat on the desk if you need.
I’m completely in love with the range of ports available on the Thinkbook 14/15 with a good array of USB 2.0 – 3.1, including both USB-A and USB-C connectors.
- 1 x hidden USB 2.0
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (1 x always-on)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1
- 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 (DP + Power Delivery)
- 1 x Ethernet (RJ45)
- 1 x HDMI 1.4b
- 1 x Combo audio/mic
- 1 x AC power adaptor
- 1 x security keyhole
The stand outs for me are the full-size RJ45 Ethernet jack, which tucks away when not in use, and the hidden USB 2.0 port. The USB port itself could be faster, but it’s the recessed part which I love, allowing you to have whichever dongle you want connected, without the worry of someone brushing past and either disconnecting, or breaking the dongle/cable – 😍.
Performance wise, the Intel Core i7 processor handles everything fairly nicely. I found it did struggle under load with some higher-end Adobe Premiere work, but handled a good game of Fortnite and a heap of Minecraft quite easily.
There’s a difference in the setup between the Thinkbook 14 and 15, with the Thinkbook 15 including a numeric keypad as well as the generous full-sized backlit keyboard. While the trackpad is centred on the Thinkbook 14, on the Thinkbook 15 it’s centred on the keyboard, with it overall to the left.
The difference mainly hits when using the laptops, on your lap. I found the Thinkbook 14 far easier to manage on a lap, going back and forth between the keyboard and trackpad than on the 15. The flip side was on a table or desk, the Thinkbook 15 was very easy to use and the numeric keypad made a vast improvement on my normal workflow for data entry on a laptop.
The keyboard is firm but not too firm, but overall very easy to type on. The backlit lighting is subtle without being overbearing to you, or anyone around you – and if you don’t like the backlight, you can turn them off.
The Trackpad is smooth to touch, it supports gestures and is fairly responsive. It’s got a right and left mouse button included, depending on where your finger is located. I wouldn’t be disappointed to see a Trackpoint on the keyboard next time – but that’s just me.
I watched a number of movies on the Thinkbook 14 and 15, and they’re comfy to hold while you do. The sound is pretty decent as well from the two Dolby Audio tuned speakers included.
The Thinkbook 14 and Thinkbook 15 both come with a 3-cell (45Wh), integrated Li-Ion battery, which Lenovo claims will give 9 hours of use on both laptops.
I got around 8.5 hours out of the Thinkbook 14 playing a few movies, writing some articles, a tiny bit of Premiere, and a couple of games. The Thinkbook 15 was a little less with an average of about 8 hours – but this is to be expected with the larger display. Essentially you can get a full work day out of both laptops without having the charger nearby.
The Thinkbooks both come with a 65W Slim USB-C charger which supports RapidCharge, and it’s fairly impressive charging times, with both getting a full charge in about an hour and a half.
I quite like the inclusion of USB-C charging, though you have to be careful on the Thinkbooks, with only one of the USB-C ports on the left (the one closest to the user) able to charge the laptops. If you inadvertently plug it in the wrong port, you’ll regret it when you get the low battery notification.
Should you buy one?
I’ve been using these laptops for more than a month on and off and they’ve been a solid choice to pick up every time. They’re quick to wake from sleep, and with the fingerprint scanner (which works great) securely getting you into your Windows profile quickly.
Lenovo has done a solid job with the Thinkbook line, they’re good, reliable laptops and seem to be a good way to go if you don’t want to spring for the more expensive Thinkpad line.
The Thinkbook series are a nice addition to Lenovo’s line-up, offering some of the design and technical innovation from the Thinkpad line into a more cost effective package.
Depending on your use, both the 14 and 15 have their uses, the 14 is a much more portable unit, but the additional screen real estate and numeric keypad on the 15 are hard to pass up for their functionality.
If you’re in the market for a new laptop with the quality we’ve come to expect from Lenovo, then the Thinkbook series are worth a look.