Review: Lenovo's ThinkPad 13 Is A Top Pick For A Budget Business Laptop


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While many of Lenovo's latest ThinkPad business laptops are not aimed at budget conscious buyers, the second-gen ThinkPad 13 is an exception. And like the other ThinkPads we've spent time with recently, it delivered well in our tryout.

For a price tag below $800, the model we tried in the CRN Test Center comes with an FHD touch screen display (13.3 inches), a seventh-gen Intel Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM. While the CPU and RAM are below what some business users might think they need, we found the laptop gave a solid performance and wasn't significantly slower than other ThinkPads we've tested of late, such as the ThinkPad 470S and ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

[Related: Review: Lenovo's New ThinkPad X1 Carbon Is A Highly Portable Workhorse]

The 470S, however, is priced at nearly $1,100 and the X1 Carbon starts at $1,400. With the ThinkPad 13, you can get some key elements that those laptops have to offer for much less money. The 1,920 x 1,080 display resolution is the same as on the X1 Carbon and 470S, and the ThinkPad 13 even has one thing you won't find on the X1 Carbon – a touchscreen option. Without the touchscreen, you can knock another $120 off the price of the ThinkPad 13, but we wouldn't recommend that because then your resolution would go down to 1,366 x 768.

Importantly, the touchpad on the ThinkPad 13 is every bit as good as that of the X1 Carbon or 470S, from our experience. The keys feel a bit cheaper, but that's not a deal-breaker. And the keyboard is pretty quiet, too.

What's less quiet is the fan on the laptop. It came on regularly during our tryout, and it's definitely noisy as far as laptop fans go. It's the biggest drawback we encountered with the ThinkPad 13.

On battery life, we got 4.5 hours on a charge in our test. That's not atrocious, especially considering that the laptop has a battery-hogging touchscreen. But by comparison, the X1 Carbon yielded 8.5 hours of battery life in our tryout.

Like other ThinkPads, Lenovo says the ThinkPad 13 has passed a series of durability tests. And other business-friendly features include a number of ports – three USB-A, USB-C, HDMI and a card reader that supports SD and three other types of cards.

The ThinkPad 13 gets decent marks on portability with a weight of 3.17 pounds and a thickness of 0.77 of an inch. That's certainly not as impressive as the X1 Carbon, or the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, but you've got to save money somewhere to make this an affordability-oriented laptop.

All-around, we think Lenovo's second-gen ThinkPad 13 is a good basic laptop for business productivity. It has some nice updates in the form of a touchscreen and USB-C, making for a good value at $789.

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