Lenovo ThinkPad 13 review

Returning to Form

Lenovo’s ThinkPad lineup is what made the company what it is today, at least in part, but over the years designs and functions on these laptops have changed, not always for the best. With the latest crop of ThinkPads however, the company is taking a step back and with the new ThinkPad 13, they’ve created a machine that is not only good on the eyes but brings back just about everything ThinkPads were always known for.

Back at CES 2016, Lenovo released two variants of the ThinkPad 13, one powered by Windows, the other by Google’s Chrome OS. This review will focus on the Windows-powered variant, however, if you’re interested in the Chrome OS option, click here.

Specs*

  • 13.3″ 1080p IPS Display
  • Intel Core i3-6100U Processor
  • Intel HD Graphics 520
  • 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 42Wh Battery
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit

*as reviewed

Hardware

As far as hardware goes, Lenovo has created a good looking, premium feeling, and durable machine in the ThinkPad 13. With an all-metal body the ThinkPad 13 screams premium, and while it is aimed at the business consumer, I never had any complaints surrounding the design. It’s a classy laptop through and through.

lenovo_thinkpad13_2

As for the build quality, Lenovo has found a sweet spot between good looks and durability, something that’s not always easy to do. The machine feels like it could easily take a drop or two, and in the one minor drop I had with the machine not a bit of damage could be seen.

Display

Within the ThinkPad 13 comes a 13”, Full HD display. This IPS panel not only looks fantastic, but it hits just about every mark I look for in a laptop. The brightness is a tad low, but that’s my sole complaint about the display.

lenovo_thinkpad13_1

Software & Performance

Out of the box, the ThinkPad 13 runs none other than Windows 10. There aren’t any changes to the OS, although there is a bit of extra bloatware pre-loaded. Apps like Lenovo’s, noticeably smaller, suite of apps provide a bit of clutter, but there’s nothing invasive.

Powered by an i3 and 4GB of RAM, the ThinkPad 13 also performs very well. Boot up is very quick, especially for a Windows machine. My day-to-day tasks on the ThinkPad 13 usually involved having multiple Chrome tabs open, a Microsoft Office app or two, and a few miscellaneous applications running at any given time. Through all that, the ThinkPad 13 performed remarkably well. It was very rare that I found myself wanting a bit more power.

Where this machine will struggle however is in gaming. I loaded up Rocket League on the ThinkPad 13 and it was unplayable; however, more casual games have no issues.

Battery Life

Another advantage of the ThinkPad 13 is the battery life. Lenovo rates the ThinkPad 13 at up to 11 hours off of a single charge and I can easily attest to that. I could get through two days of mixed usage with no issues, and even up to a week without charging when using the machine for an hour or so at a time every day.

Charging the machine will use the included Lenovo adapter with Lenovo’s proprietary port. This is a fine port, and I don’t really have any complaints about it. However I do wish Lenovo had opted to use USB C for charging this machine as they’ve done with the Chrome OS model. Another quick note is that the ThinkPad 13 comes with a smaller charging brick compared to previous Lenovo machines which make this an even better machine for travel.

lenovo_thinkpad13_4

Keyboard & Trackpad

All I can say here is WOW. The keyboard on the ThinkPad 13 is absolutely fantastic. The keys provide plenty of travel and are very well spaced. Typing on this machine is an absolute pleasure in every way. I only have two complaints, and neither are deal breakers. The first is the lack of backlighting, enough said. The second is the location of the FN button. Lenovo opted to swap it with the CTRL button and while that’s just something you’d have to get used to, I would have preferred it stayed on the opposite side.

As for the trackpad, it’s fine. There’s nothing bad about it, but there’s nothing particularly noteworthy either. Touch response is good, the size is fine, and there’s even physical buttons and a “nub” if you prefer those methods.

Final Thoughts & Where To Buy

In the end, the Windows version of the ThinkPad 13 is a great laptop. It performs well, looks good, and provides an overall pleasant user experience. At about $600, it’s also not overly expensive either. That $600 will get the base model which we reviewed here; however, you’ll eventually be able to opt for models powered by an i5 processor if you need a bit more raw horsepower.

If you’re looking to buy the ThinkPad 13, it’s available direct from Lenovo, and that’s it. Retail pricing is usually around $650, however Lenovo commonly runs deals that take the price well under $600. If you’re interested, check it out at the link below.

Get it from Lenovo