Whether you’re looking for powerful internals or an awesome keyboard, Lenovo laptops are both reliable and highly rated. Here at PCWorld, we’ve personally used and tested a number of Lenovo laptops, from ThinkPads to Yogas and everything in between.
While everything on the list below has its pros and cons, there’s one laptop that really stands out from the rest. The Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon Gen 9 nabbed our top spot because of its roomy display, stellar keyboard, and quiet operation. Read on to learn more, and be sure to visit our guide to the best laptops overall if you want to peruse the cream of the crop from every notebook maker.
1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 – Best overall
ThinkPads are generally hailed as being awesome business laptops because of their comfortable keyboards and silent operation. With its quiet keyboard, security features, and booming audio, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is one such laptop. It’s packing a quad-core Core i7-1185G7, 16GB of RAM, and integrated Iris Xe graphics. That means it’s well-equipped to handle “Office and other productivity apps” and “a variety of multitasking scenarios.” The real star of the show is the 16:10 display, though, as it gives you plenty of room to work with. If you consider yourself a business professional, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up.
If you’re looking for all-day battery life, you’ve come to the right place. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano lasted about sixteen hours during our battery test, in which we looped 4K video. That’s pretty impressive for a 48-Watt-hour battery. And, weighing just shy of two pounds, the Nano is also shockingly lightweight. In our review, the tester “loved toting it around” from room to room. If you’re looking for a portable laptop with fantastic battery life, the Nano is a great option.
3. Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 14IIL05 82A4000MUS – Best budget
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 has a lot to offer. Not only is it affordable (well under a grand), but it also features discrete graphics. That’s a pretty unique combination right there. Between the Core i5 processor and the discrete Nvidia GeForce MX350, you can expect a good amount of productivity power out of this machine. It can handle “Office and daily PC duties with ease.” And, as with most Lenovo laptops, the keyboard is an absolute dream to type on. According to our tester, “the keys themselves offer plenty of travel and keystrokes feel snappy and springy.” Battery life is mediocre, but aside from that, it’s a great laptop for all of the features you’re getting.
If you prefer using Chrome OS over anything else, you’ll want to check out Lenovo’s Chromebook Flex 5. It has a 1080p IPS display, a responsive keyboard, and an Intel Core i3-1011U processor. Personally, I like Chromebooks because they’re largely virus free and they make great productivity machines. While the Flex 5 isn’t the most powerful laptop in the world, the “processor is a cut above the Pentium- and Celeron-powered machines that sell in the $200 to $300 range.” The 13-inch touchscreen display also produces sharp visuals and can swing around 360-degrees. The fact that this Chromebook is a convertible makes it much more versatile.
When it comes to the Lenovo Flex 5G laptop, there’s a lot to love. It has blazingly fast 5G data speeds, a bright FHD display, and super long battery life. What more can you ask for? When we put the Flex 5G through our battery test, which simulates real-world use, it lasted a whopping 27 hours. While that’s all well and good, the laptop weighs around three pounds, as it needs more space to house the massive 60 Watt-hour battery. That means it’s won’t weigh down your backpack, but it’s not the lightest ultraportable laptop around. The Arm-based Qualcomm Snapdragon processor also can run into some software compatibility problems with applications that don’t come from the Microsoft Store in Windows. That said, if you stick mostly to browser and Office-type work and prioritize all day battery life with on-the-go mobile connectivity, the Flex 5G is a great laptop.
If you need a basic business laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad E13 is a good option. It comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The 14-inch 1080p IPS matte finish display is visible in direct sunlight, but the “300-nit brightness level is on the dim side for a higher-end laptop.” That said, the keyboard offers plenty of tactile feedback and the port selection is diverse. The ThinkPad E14 does surprisingly well under heavier loads, too. That said, the trackpad is a bit small and battery life is relatively unimpressive. These tradeoffs don’t come as a surprise, though, as the E14 is an entry-level model.
If you’re working with a tight budget, the Lenovo ThinkBook 14s Yoga is a more affordable option. It delivers solid mid-range performance like office productivity tasks, web browsing, video conferencing, and so on. Like most Lenovo laptops, the keyboard feels “snappy and quiet when pressed.” It’s a good keyboard for long typing sessions, that’s for sure. That said, there are some trade-offs to be aware of. According to our tester, the Yoga runs a bit warm and battery life is less-than-stellar. We managed to squeeze out about seven hours on a single charge, which is far from a fully work day. The 1080 IPS touchscreen display is pretty dim, too.
Ah, here we are at the billion dollar question. Do you spring for a basic Chromebook or go for a Windows laptop with more features? Well, it really depends on your personal lifestyle and what you plan on using your laptop for. For example, Chromebooks are a great low cost option for those who just want the basics. I use a Chromebook as my primary work laptop, as it has everything I need for both editing and writing. If you travel a bunch for work, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a laptop with solid battery life. If you’re still unsure, don’t sweat it. I’ve put together a list of quick tips below.
Laptop type: The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of laptop you’re looking for. There’s traditional clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and much more. The displays on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for example, can swing around 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop like a tablet. They can also be propped up like a tent for viewing movies or participating in video calls. Chromebooks, on the other hand, exclusively run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS and are generally used for everyday tasks. All you need is a Gmail account and boom, you’re in. There are pros and cons to each of them. Chromebooks are affordable and generally have good battery life whereas convertibles are normally lightweight and portable.
CPU: If it’s CPU power you’re looking for, the cream of the crop is the Intel Core i7-1185G7. It’s a quad-core, eight-thread CPU with “awesomely high clock speeds.” It can hit up to 4.8Hz on boost, too. However, a Core i7 is more suited to gaming and more intense work than everyday tasks. Intel processors are available in Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. The higher the number, the more powerful the CPU. If you don’t need a ton of power, Intel Core i5 processors are your best bet, as they offer middling performance at a decent price. Basic office and web work gets along just fine on a Core i3, however.
Graphics: You’ll want a discrete graphics card for hardcore gaming or editing videos. It’s separate from the processor, so you can expect higher performance out of it. Integrated graphics, on the other hand, are attached to the CPU and uses less power as a result. This is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, especially if you’re not doing anything that’s graphics-intensive.
Display size: If you’re a video editor or someone who does a lot of multimedia work, you’ll want a display that’s anywhere from 15- to 17-inches. The sweet spot is really anywhere from 13- to 14-inches, though. The bigger the display, the heavier your laptop is going to be. A 13- or 14-inch display is the best in terms of portability and value.
Battery life: If you plan on taking your laptop anywhere with you, aim for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of classes. Obviously, more is always better. Just know that the bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop.
Price: The price really depends on your budget. If you’re strapped for cash (been there, trust me), go for a Chromebook or an entry-level business laptop. These laptops are good choices for students or young professionals. If you can afford to spend more, the versatility of a 2-in-1 laptop is really worth it.
Ports: A wide array of ports is always a plus in my book, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I’d recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is especially useful for when you want to hook up to an external monitor.
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