Lenovo's business laptops are world-class, with strong build quality, solid security and extensive manageability options. But with so many models to choose from, picking the right laptop from Lenovo's ThinkPad line isn't easy.
To help you wade through your options, we've rounded up our top picks for different needs and budgets. Read on to see our recommendations. Below that, you'll find advice of a more general variety about shopping for a Lenovo laptop.
Best Lenovo Laptops
- $2,515 (starts at $1,322)
- Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5
- Display Size & Resolution
- 15.6 inches, 3840 x 2160 pixels
- Battery Life
- 14.86 x 9.93 x 0.96 inches
- 5.6 lbs.
- $1,286 (starts at $809)
- Intel Core i5-6300U CPU
- Display Size & Resolution
- 15.6 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Battery Life
- 14.98 x 10.16 x 0.88 inches
- 4.8 lbs.
Lenovo ThinkPad T460
Sure, other Lenovo laptops are sleeker and more portable, but none are more well-rounded than the ThinkPad T460. The system combines a top-tier keyboard with long battery life, a durable design, a crisp 14-inch display and strong security options, including a fingerprint reader and hardware encryption that's enabled by default. In fact, the ThinkPad T460 is our favorite overall business laptop, period.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Business-class notebooks don't get much more portable than this. The ThinkPad X1 is so light that I barely noticed it in my workbag. Plus, it doesn't skimp on power or battery life, and includes the same durability and security features, including hardware encryption and a fingerprint reader, as the bulkier ThinkPad T460.
NOTE: At CES 2017 in Las Vegas, Lenovo unveiled its new ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which will come in black or silver. It won't be available until February 2017, and will start at $1,349. We will get our hands on one to review ASAP. But, in the meantime, we can tell you the new model will come in a lighter and smaller frame. Plus, it still manages to include a 14-inch IPS display in a case that traditionally held a 13-inch screen. The new battery should last up to 15.5 hours on a charge, and the Thunderbolt 3 port should speed up your data transfers. The new X1 Carbon will also get a biometric authentication IR camera for Windows Hello logons, and will be the first business-class notebook to support FIDO-enabled biometric authentication for PayPal.
Best battery life
Lenovo ThinkPad T560
If battery life is your chief concern, this is your laptop. The ThinkPad T560 lasted longer on our battery-life test than any other laptop we've ever tested. Plus, you get fast performance and a really comfortable keyboard. Commuters might want to look elsewhere, though, since competing 15-inch notebooks are more portable.
Lenovo ThinkPad P50
Workers who need a little extra oomph in their laptops will like the ThinkPad P50. The 15.6-inch workstation is a real powerhouse, with excellent graphical performance. Plus, you get long battery life and the best keyboard you'll find on any workstation laptop out there. I wouldn't recommend commuting with this beast, though, considering its heft.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga
The X1 Yoga is the most versatile laptop on this list. It retains all the best features of a ThinkPad, such as a great keyboard, strong security — including a fingerprint reader and hardware encryption — and long battery life. On top of all that, you get a flexible, folding design that lets you use the system like a large tablet, along with a built-in active stylus so you can sketch and take notes right on the screen.
NOTE: Similar to the upgrade coming in February for the X1 Carbon, the X1 Yoga is getting similar treatments. It will also be available in black or silver and it will start at $1,499 in February. It, too, will get Thunderbolt 3 and a longer battery life. Plus, Lenovo developed a new ThinkPad Pen Pro for 2017 that we're dying to try out. The new keyboard fully retracts in tablet mode too, offering greater stability. Will bring you a full review ASAP.
Lenovo ThinkPad 13
This might be the perfect productivity companion for budget-minded business users. The ThinkPad 13 is a steal, giving you a best-in-class keyboard, a crisp 13-inch display and long battery life. Plus, it has better durability and security credentials (thanks to built-in hardware encryption) than any other laptop in its price range.
For the price, Lenovo's ThinkPad 13 is a nearly perfect productivity companion for small business owners. It offers a best-in-class-keyboard, long battery life, and better security and durability credentials than you'll find on most other systems in its price range. A sharp 13-inch display and a lightweight design don't hurt, either.
How we evaluate laptops
Every laptop on this list has been fully reviewed on this site. We use precise, repeatable testing procedures to evaluate products, so we can help our readers make informed buying decisions. Our methods include industry-standard synthetic benchmark tests, including the Geekbench 3 performance test and the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test. We also use a variety of in-house tests to assess each laptop's battery life, file-transfer speed and more.
For more information on how we evaluate laptops, check out our testing guide.
What you need to know before buying a Lenovo laptop
You'll find similar durability, security and manageability features across all of Lenovo's business-class laptops. Here's an overview of what to expect from the brand.
You'll find a variety of security features on ThinkPad laptops. Here's a breakdown.
- Encryption: Every ThinkPad is outfitted with a Trusted Platform Module, which enables hardware-based encryption.
- Biometric security: Many models support biometric authentication, which lets you unlock your laptop using your own body (fingerprint or facial recognition).
- Lock slot: A special lock slot, called a Kensington lock, is available on ThinkPads. The slot lets you thwart thieves by physically chaining your system to your desk with a cable.
Many of Lenovo's business laptops offer special manageability tools.
- vPro: Many ThinkPad models come with secure management capabilities enabled by vPro technology. This management platform is baked into higher-end Intel processors, providing access to notebooks at the hardware level. From there, it's possible to run group policy and even software updates, even after a system has been powered down. That functionality can also help you locate, lock or wipe a lost or stolen laptop.
- BIOS management: You get Lenovo's custom BIOS Windows Management Instrumentation on all ThinkPad laptops. The tool makes it simple to manage BIOS settings including passwords, boot order and hardware settings.
ThinkPad laptops come with tough designs.
- MIL-SPEC: Most ThinkPads meet MIL-SPEC durability standards, which means they're tested to withstand dings, pressure, extreme temperatures, humidity, dust and vibrations.
- Spill resistance: A spill-resistant keyboard is available on some ThinkPad models. The feature can safely route small amounts of liquid away from the laptop's circuitry to avoid permanent damage.
Lenovo provides a range of services to ensure the reliability of your company's ThinkPad PCs.
- Warranties: ThinkPads come with a one-year depot warranty that's good for repairs. This warranty includes free shipping as a bonus. Additionally, extended warranties (for up to five years) are available.
- On-site servicing: Lenovo's on-site servicing options include laptop configuration and customization, transferal of data and user settings to new devices, and physical system deployment and removal.
- Tech support: If you sign up for Lenovo's Priority Technical Support plan, you get quick access to a variety of support options. That includes priority routing to customer service technicians on the phone, support for third-party software, and escalation management for large or complex issues.
Add-ons and accessories
A few key add-ons can give your ThinkPad a boost.
- Docking: Lenovo sells several docking stations that will add extra ports when you're at your desk. The low end includes the pluggable OneLink dock. Additionally, snap-on 90W docking stations (which let you dock your laptop just by setting it down) are available for about twice the price.
- Extended batteries: If you're not satisfied with your ThinkPad's battery, you can pick up an extended battery for a range of models. Some ThinkPads also come with PowerBridge functionality, which has a secondary internal battery, so you can hot swap your dead main battery for a freshly charged one.
Most ThinkPad laptops come with a variety of software preloaded, including some utilities and a bit of bloatware.
- Operating system: You can opt for either Windows 7 Professional or Windows 10 at checkout on the majority of ThinkPad laptops.
- Utilities: Most ThinkPads also ship with some Lenovo utilities that vary in usefulness. The Lenovo Companion app, for example, makes it easier to access Lenovo support and run hardware scans. Then there's the Lenovo Settings app that lets you quickly adjust wireless, battery and display settings.
- Bloatware: You also usually get a bunch of unwanted apps (often called "bloatware") on Lenovo laptops. Typical bloatware includes games such as Candy Crush and social media apps like Twitter.
ThinkPads are secure and reliable, and come with seriously comfortable keyboards, but they're not known for their memorable designs. Most have a boxy, matte-black shell without many design flourishes. A design that doesn't draw attention to itself isn't necessarily a bad thing in a work laptop, though.