Price (RRP): $from 1339
The Lenovo ThinkBook is a new ‘sub-brand’ aimed at the SMB market. The Lenovo ThinkBook 13s and 14s sit above its consumer IdeaPad range and below its enterprise ThinkPad range.
We think the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s has hit the nail squarely on the head offering business-focused features at reasonable prices.
But to make such a good price means some sacrifices. The Lenovo ThinkBook 13s is not really a business-grade device – more a beefed-up consumer-grade one.
Still bang for buck it is hard to beat.
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s-IWL
As tested Model 20R90079AU
- Intel Core i7-8565U 1.8/4.6GHz (optional i5-8265U 1.6/3.9GHz)
- 8GB/256GB (option 16GB and up to 512GB M.2 2242 SSD PCIe 3.0 x 2
- 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080, 300nit, IPS
- 4 cell battery 45W
- Windows 10 Pro
- 1-year return to Lenovo
- $1589 (range $1339 to 1779)
The Lenovo ThinkBook 13s comes attractively packaged in a dark silver case. It is restrained rather than out there like its funky Yoga series. More a business focus. Mind you the shiny silver trackpad (Mylar coated) is just a little different.
While the screen has small side bezels, the top and bottom are large, and the black surround is a little bland.
Yes, it has a solid, conservative business look about it.
Screen – EXCEED but not touch!
13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080, 16:9, 300nit, IPS
I am so used to touch that I habitually try to touch this screen to no avail.
The panel is an Innolux N133HCE-EN2, a-Si IPS LED. It uses a WLED (white) backlight. It has an anti-glare 3H coating.
- 300-320nits and relatively even brightness although some backlight bleed
- Contrast of 800:1 (blacks are deeper grey .3nits and reduce contrast)
- 100% sRGB, 65% AdobeRGB or 72% NTSC and Delta E of 2.4 (below 4 is good).
- Reasonable off-angle viewing to 40°
- 40ms G-t-G
- Display can open to 180° flat
The panel supports Dolby Vision and high-dynamic-range (HDR). Specs-wise it supports the Windows HDR display setting that does improve colour accuracy but not the definition in the dark or bright areas.
We could not test Dolby Vision, but Lenovo is not won’t to make outrageous claims.
In all, it’s a good panel with accurate sRGB and adequate brightness.
Processor – PASS
Intel Core i7-8565U 1.8/4.6GHz (optional i5-8265U 1.6/3.9GHz), 14nm, 15W TDP.
While the processor is a good all-rounder, it is quite dated, but that is one way to keep costs down for no real downside. The 14nm means that it needs proper cooling to get the best results. In fact, Lenovo has two fans and copper pipe cooling, and we saw TDP go up to 30W momentarily to handle loads (on 240V power).
PassMark is single/multi 2338/8880 – roughly equivalent to the AMC Ryzen 7 Pro 2500U
The i5-8265 is 2143/8012 – quite a deal faster than the AMD Ryzen 5 2550U (although Ryzen has just announced its 3000 series that are faster).
Throttling – PASS
While the CPU temperature reached 70°, it did not throttle on 240V power. On battery, it throttles to about 80%. The fan noise goes from 29-39dB under load. Temperatures maxed at top/bottom at 40°
Graphics – PASS
Embedded Intel UHD Graphics 620 (roughly equivalent to a GeForce 910M or 920M). It is fine for productivity and content consumption. It supports HVEC.265 with 10-bit colours and Google’s VP9 codec decoding. That means Netflix compatible.
Gamers can read the full benchmarks here.
Ram – PASS
8GB DDR4-2400 is on a single SO-DIMM (so its single channel), so you can safely buy that and replace it with a 16 or even 32GB later. But it won’t be as fast as dual channel (two lots of ram)
Storage – PASS
It uses an M.2 2242 is a short version of the popular 2280 card. At present the maximum available size is 512GB. From the maintenance manual, it looks like a 2280 card will fit as well (not tested and can’t find if it supports PCIe 3.0 x 4 lane).
But the SanDisk PC SN520 drive is only PCIe 3.0 x 2 lane meaning its speed is about half that of a 4 lane.
Sequential read/write was 1700/1300Mbps, but it did return quite respectable random read/write speeds, so it is a great business drive.
Wi-Fi – PASS
Wi-Fi Intel Wireless AC 9560 Wi-Fi 2×2 card. It is a standard M.2 2230 card and achieves 866Mbps at 2 metres from our reference D-Link AC5300 router.
With the right router (supporting HT80/160) it can achieve up to 1.8Gbps (more like 1.2)
Bluetooth 5.0 is the latest standard.
Ports – PASSable
- USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps
- 2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 (1 x always-on)
- HDMI 1.4b
- 3.5mm Combo audio/mic
The USB-C port does not support PD upstream charging – this means it must use its power adaptor. It does support alt DisplayPort for use with docks or dongles.
Thunderbolt 3 is now the expectation of business notebooks.
Sound – PASS
- Dual speakers by Harman, 2 x 2W
- Dolby Audio X3 provides +/-12dB EQ boost but its not very useful.
- Skype for Business certified
- Dual array mics optimised for voice recognition
- 3.5mm audio combo jack
- 70dB – not loud
- No bass, mid building from 200Hz to flat from 250Hz to 16kHz
- Bright vocal sound signature more for clear voice and vocals – lack of bass means it is not for music lovers.
- BT 5.0 provided good sound levels to headphones
Battery – PASSable due to proprietary charger
65W ‘slim tip’ charger is proprietary to Lenovo. I cannot understand why it can’t charge via USB-C, and you have to use the supplied proprietary charger.
However, Lenovo claims 11 hours of battery life on a single charge and Rapid Charge provides 80% capacity in an hour.
- Complete charge two hours
- Typical use – nine hours
- Video loop – ten hours
- 10% load – 1.3 hours
Camera – PASS
HD 720p camera with physical camera ThinkShutter – meant for Skype
Keyboard – PASS
A full-sized keyboard with LED backlight but its more the IdeaPad/Yoga standard than the enterprise ThinkPad keyboard. Hotkeys enabled for Skype calls.
It has a 1.00mm throw and 40g actuation making it a decent hunt and peck keyboard but not for writing ‘War and Peace’.
The trackpad is large – 10.5 x 6.5 cm with a smooth Mylar surface. It supports Windows Precision 10-finger gestures.
Touch fingerprint reader (Windows Hello certified) on the power button
Build – PASS
Mineral Grey, 307.6 x 216.4 x 15.9 (mm) x 1.32kg
The LCD is in a metallised plastic frame, and the base is milled anodised aluminium. The hinges are zinc-alloy hinge coated with both indium and Stannum (tin) to enhance resistance to corrosion and optimise Wi-Fi reception.
It is designed to be field serviceable, and the comprehensive Maintenance Guide is here.
This shows what is ‘tech-savvy customer replaceable’ (CRU) versus a trained service technician (FRU). In reality it has one SO-DIM and an M.2 2242 PCIe NVMe 3.0 x 2 lane SSD slot.
GadgetGuy’s take – the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s is a sheep in wolf’s clothing
While it passes all tests, it is not really a business notebook – just a Yoga dressed in a suit. Things like lack of Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C PD charging and a PCIe 3.0 x 2 lane SSD mean it would not rate up there in enterprise land.
But let’s be positive. The price is great, and Joe and Jane Average are getting a well-made, reasonably specified computer.
You can find other Lenovo reviews here