Lenovo’s business laptops, also known as ThinkPads, are tough to beat. Across the board, they offer solid security, extensive manageability options, multiple configurations and strong build quality. The slick, if a bit dated, black and red design is downright iconic. And if you’ve not used the red nub to navigate your machine, you’ve not lived. But with so many models to choose from in the ThinkPad line, picking the right Lenovo laptop for your team isn’t easy. Read on to see our choices for different needs and budgets.
How We Evaluate Laptops
Every laptop on this list was reviewed on our sister site, BusinessNewsDaily.com. We use precise, repeatable testing procedures to evaluate products and help our readers make informed buying decisions. Our methods include industry-standard synthetic benchmark tests, including the Geekbench 3 performance test, the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test and the Laptop Mag Battery Test (also from a sister site). Then, we use a variety of in-house tests to assess each laptop’s file transfer speed, display brightness and accuracy and more. Then we interpret those results from a business and IT professional’s point of view to determine which machines make the most sense for your company.
For more information on how we evaluate laptops, check out our testing guide. NOTE: Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.
Lenovo took the wraps off a new and improved ThinkPad X1 lineup at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas. In February, we hope to get our hands on the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon and an upgraded ThinkPad X1 Yoga, both in silver or black. The first will start at $1,349 and the other at $1,499.
The new Carbon gets a smaller and lighter footprint, but it will miraculously hold a 14-inch IPS display inside a space usually filled with 13-inch design. It will pack a longer lasting battery and a full set of ports (including Thunderbolt 3). New security features include an infrared camera and a FIDO-enabled biometric authentication for PayPal.
The 14-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga will also get similar updates. It will also feature a rechargeable pen, improved keyboard and Thunderbolt 3. You'll have to tune back in during February for our full review of both systems.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Lenovo Business Laptop
Lenovo’s business laptops offer similar security, durability and manageability features across the board. Here’s an overview of what to expect from the brand.
Lenovo’s business laptops offer a variety of security features.
- Encryption: All ThinkPad models are equipped with a Trusted Platform Module for hardware-based encryption.
- Biometric security: Biometrics let you keep your computer locked down using your own body. The most common form of biometric authentication is a fingerprint scanner, an option that is available on all ThinkPad models. A few ThinkPads also have cameras capable of facial recognition, so you can unlock your laptop just by looking at it.
- Lock slot: All ThinkPads come with a special slot — called a Kensington lock slot — that lets you physically chain your system to your desk with a cable.
Many of Lenovo’s business laptops offer special manageability tools.
- VPro: Most ThinkPad models are available with secure manageability via Intel vPro technology. VPro is a management platform baked right into certain Intel processors, giving you access to laptops at the hardware level. That makes it possible to run software and group policy updates even when a system has been turned off. The ability to manage a powered-down system also helps when you need to locate the system, restrict access to it, or wipe it clean if it's been lost or stolen.
- BIOS management: ThinkPad laptops come preloaded with Lenovo’s BIOS Windows Management Instrumentation, an interface that makes it easy to manage BIOS settings like passwords, hardware settings and boot order.
- Deployment: Lenovo offers a dedicated support page to help DIYers manage their laptop deployments, including recipe cards for specific laptops. For those companies in need of more hand-holding, there’s the Lenovo Deployment Services, which will configure your devices on-site, for a fee.
ThinkPad laptops generally offer excellent durability features.
- MIL-SPEC: Most ThinkPad models come with MIL-SPEC durability credentials. MIL-SPEC is a set of standards that test ruggedness and resistance to extreme temperatures, pressure, humidity, dust and vibrations.
- Spill resistance: Some ThinkPads offer spill-resistant keyboards that can drain small amounts of moisture, safely routing the liquid away from the laptop’s circuitry.
Lenovo offers a variety of services to ensure the reliability of your company’s ThinkPad PCs.
- Warranties: ThinkPads generally come with a one-year depot warranty for repairs, which includes free return shipping. Extended warranties are available up to five years.
- On-site servicing: A variety of on-site servicing options are available for businesses. Lenovo can configure and customize laptops, transfer data and user settings to new devices, and physically deploy or remove systems from your office.
- Tech support: A subscription to Lenovo’s Priority Technical Support plan gives you quick access to a variety of support options. Services include priority routing to technicians over the phone, third-party software support, and escalation management to help diagnose and resolve large or complex issues.
Add-ons and Accessories
A few key add-ons can make give your ThinkPad a boost.
- Docking: Lenovo sells a variety of desktop docking stations that are compatible with most ThinkPad models. On the low end is the pluggable $119 OneLink dock, with snap-on 170W docking stations available for $299.
- Extended batteries: Some ThinkPad laptops are available with extended batteries that can more than double your battery life. A few models come with Lenovo’s PowerBridge functionality, using a secondary internal battery to let you hot swap your dead main battery for a fresh one.
Lenovo ships most ThinkPad models with a variety of preinstalled software, including some utilities and some bloatware.
- Operating system: Lenovo lets you opt for Windows 7 Professional or Windows 10 Pro at checkout on most ThinkPad models.
- Utilities: You’ll usually get a variety of Lenovo utilities, such as the Companion app that makes it easier to access Lenovo support and run hardware scans, and a Lenovo Settings app that lets you adjust the battery, wireless settings, display and more.
- Bloatware: As is typical with Windows laptops, ThinkPads usually come with bloatware apps installed, including games like Candy Crush and social media apps such as Twitter.
ThinkPad laptops are reliable and secure, but they’re not known for their memorable designs. Most feature a boxy, matte black façade with little in the way of design flourishes. Depending on your taste, the monolithic look could be a good or a bad thing.