The best ThinkPad laptops – Digital Trends

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?
Lenovo’s ThinkPad is one of the most iconic laptop lineups, with a black-on-black aesthetic (in most cases) that makes a ThinkPad instantly recognizable from a distance. ThinkPads are extremely well-built and laptops with business-oriented designs, but they’ve gained a following of loyal users who love the line’s construction and durability. You’ll find a ThinkPad on several of our best-of lists, including the best 14-inch laptops and the best business laptops.
If you’re looking for a laptop that will meet your business demands or just last you a long while, then consider our list of the best ThinkPads. You’ll find a mix of thin and light machines, 2-in-1s, and the most powerful ThinkPads, offering something for everyone.
Why you should buy this: It’s the best all-around ThinkPad available today.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a solidly built laptop with great all-around performance.
Why we chose the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9:
Lenovo has some upcoming laptops in the ThinkPad Z series that should give the ThinkPad X1 Carbon a run for its money, but for now, the Gen 9 version of the X1 Carbon is the best all-around ThinkPad you can buy. Technically a business-class laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is a great option for anyone looking for a 14-inch laptop for demanding productivity workflows.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is built around a productivity-friendly 16:10 14-inch display that’s bright and offers above-average colors and contrast, with a UHD+ (3,840 x 2,400) option with even higher brightness. It can be configured with a range of Intel 11th-gen CPUs, from the Core i5-1135G7 up to the Core i7-1185G7 with vPro, and up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. Two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4, a full-size HDMI port, and a USB-A 3.2 port provide excellent connectivity, and battery life is among the best we’ve seen from a ThinkPad.
You’ll love the spill-resistant ThinkPad keyboard, which includes the traditional red ThinkPoint nubbin nestled in the center. The biggest limitation of the laptop is its integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, which allows it to manage low-end gaming at best.
Why you should buy this: It’s a detachable tablet built with ThinkPad durability and business features.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants any detachable tablet, as long as it’s a ThinkPad.
Why we chose the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable:
The detachable tablet is a uniquely flexible laptop, able to function as a clamshell thanks to a keyboard that attaches – – usually magnetically — to the bottom of a tablet that can just as easily be used as a simple slate. The ThinkPad X12 Detachable is one of the better examples of the form, with all of the usual ThinkPad durability and aesthetic with a functional design that rivals the best 2-in-1s.
One of the most important features of a detachable tablet is its keyboard, and the ThinkPad X12 Detachable’s version is one of the best. It offers a solid typing surface with the traditional ThinkPad keyboard design, and it’s a pure joy to use. The active pen provides precise and accurate support for Windows Inking, making it a great platform for handwriting and sketching.
It’s not the fastest laptop around. Like many of the thinner and lighter laptops on this list, it utilizes Intel’s low-power 11th-gen CPUs from the Core i3-1110G4 up to the Core i7-1180G7. If you choose the former, then you’ll find productivity performance to be lacking, but starting with the Core i5-1130G7, the ThinkPad X12 Detachable can handle most productivity workloads with ease. The 12.3-inch display is just Full HD+ (1,920 x 1,280), which is plenty sharp but not quite as sharp as some other detachable tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro 8. But don’t let that stop you; the display is bright and colorful and a real pleasure in real-world use.
Why you should buy this: It offers the most power you can configure in a ThinkPad.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants to run demanding creative apps or do some serious gaming.
Why we chose the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4:
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is all about power. It’s the ThinkPad to buy if you’re going to be running demanding creative applications, and it’s also the fastest ThinkPad for gaming. It’s a larger machine but worth it if you need a portable powerhouse.
The latest model packs a 16:10 16-inch display into a chassis that’s around the same size as the previous 15.6-inch model. In fact, it’s a little thinner while being just a quarter of a pound heavier. Display options include WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600) and UHD+ options, with the latter sporting Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) support. Inside, you’ll find CPU options ranging from the 45-watt Intel 11th-gen Core i7-11800H up to the Core i9-11950H with vPro. GPU options include the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, RTX 3060, and RTX 3080. Up to 64GB of RAM and two storage slots each supporting up to 2TB SSDs round out the laptop’s performance ceiling.
Thanks to its high-end components and aggressively designed thermals, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 can tackle both creative applications that can utilize the GPU and even some 4K gaming. It’s the ThinkPad to buy if you want a laptop that’s both powerful and — thanks to its upgradeable design — built for the future.
Why you should buy this: It’s a thin and light convertible 2-in-1 with ThinkPad quality and a unique style.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a convertible 2-in-1 with the ThinkPad legacy.
Why we chose the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga:
The ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is the convertible 2-in-1 in Lenovo’s ThinkPad lineup, and it stands out thanks to its use of titanium and carbon fiber in the lid. The rest of the chassis is a magnesium-aluminum alloy that makes it strikingly thin at 0.45 inches and light at 2.45 pounds. The X1 Titanium Yoga also has a silver-gray chassis that maintains the usual Lenovo red accents but eschews the black aesthetic overall.
Inside is a low-power version of Intel’s 11th-gen processors, from the Core i5-1130G7 to the Core i7-1180G7 with vPro. Up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage can be configured, with a single 13.5-inch QHD (2,256 x 1,504) IPS display as the only option. Performance is fine for general productivity use, but it might fall a little behind on extremely demanding workflows. There’s optional 4G LTE or 5G WWLAN support that can keep the laptop connected anywhere.
As a convertible 2-in-1, the display is touch-enabled by default with support for Lenovo’s Precision active pen. The hinge works well in opening with one hand while holding the display steady in one of the four modes: Clamshell, tent, media, and tablet.
Why you should buy this: It’s built for specialized applications and can be easily upgraded.
Who’s it for: Anyone who needs a portable workstation that’s certified and upgradeable.
Why we chose the Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2:
Sometimes you want a laptop that provides not only more power but a design that’s aimed at mission-critical applications and provides a ton of expandability. If so, then a portable workstation is what you’re looking for, and the ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 is Lenovo’s offering in the lineup.
This is an old-school workstation that’s thicker and heavier than other ThinkPads. That’s because it offers a thermal design that aims to maximize performance and the ability to easily upgrade many of its components, including the RAM and storage. You’ll find a 15.6-inch UHD (3,840 x 2,160) display in the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio by default that’s bright with excellent contrast. Its colors aren’t quite wide enough for the most demanding creative types, but there’s an OLED option that takes care of that problem.
The other components are aimed at creative and scientific applications that crave certified drivers and processing support, including Intel’s Xeon CPUs and Nvidia’s Quadro GPUs. You can configure up to 128GB of RAM and up to 6TB of SSD storage. Again, these can be upgraded, so you can start small and grow as your demands increase. The ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 gives the ThinkPad line a portable powerhouse that meets very exacting specifications.
Why you should buy this: It’s the smallest ThinkPad you can buy without compromising.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a tiny laptop that doesn’t skimp on functionality.
Why we chose the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano:
If you want all the ThinkPad build quality and iconic aesthetic wrapped up in a small package, then the X1 Nano is the machine for you. It weighs just 1.99 pounds and it’s relatively thin at 0.55-0.66 inches, with a chassis that’s tiny thanks to its slightly smaller 13-inch display and small display bezels.
Speaking of the display, it’s in the 16:10 aspect ratio and enjoys a 2.5K (2,160 x 1,350) resolution that’s sharp and bright and offers optional touch capabilities. The diminutive laptop is powered by efficient 11th-gen Intel CPUs ranging from the Core i5-1030G7 up to the Core i7-1180G7 with vPro. You can configure up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage, making for a truly portable productivity machine as long as your tasks aren’t too demanding. LTE 4G and 5G WWAN support is optional, further enhancing the machine’s portability. You might not like the lack of wired connectivity, though, with just two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports.
Despite its small size, the ThinkPad X1 Nano is just as sturdy as the rest of the line. You’ll find no bending, flexing, or twisting anywhere in the lid or chassis, giving you confidence that this tiny laptop will last as long as you need it.
Upgrade your lifestyleDigital Trends helps readers keep tabs on the fast-paced world of tech with all the latest news, fun product reviews, insightful editorials, and one-of-a-kind sneak peeks.


Leave a Comment