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Lenovo ThinkBook 13s review – competitive 13-inch ultrabook (Core i5, UHD 620)

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s evaluation – aggressive 13-inch ultrabook (Core i5, UHD 620)

Lenovo’s (and beforehand IBM’s) ThinkPads are a few of the hottest ultraportable notebooks of the final many years. However what in case you want a strong all-day ultrabook and don’t just like the sober black appears or don’t have the price range to go along with a ThinkPad?

Right here enters the ThinkBook sequence, a brand new addition to Lenovo’s lineup of ultrabooks ranging from the second a part of 2019.

Don’t get carried away by the slightly deceptive naming, although, ThinkBooks and ThinkPads have little or no in frequent. In actual fact, they’re slightly rebranded and barely tweaked IdeaPads, therefore the dearth of sure Thinkpad-reserved options and the extra reasonably priced price-tag.

We’ve spent the final weeks with a retail model of the smaller ThinkBook 13s 13-inch ultrabook, and gathered all our impressions under, with the strong components and the quirks. The laptop computer got here from Lenovo for us to evaluation, however as at all times, that doesn’t impression our ideas about it in any manner.

Specs as reviewed

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s-IWL
Display screen 13.Three inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, non-touch, matte
Processor Intel Whiskey Lake Core i5-8265U CPU, quad-core
Video Intel UHD 620, non-compulsory AMD Radeon 540X 2 GB
Reminiscence eight GB DDR4 2666 MHz (1x DIMM)
Storage 256 GB SSD (WDC PC SN520 – M.2 PCIe x2 80 mm)
Connectivity Wi-fi AC (Intel AC 9560), Bluetooth 5.zero
Ports 1x USB-A Three.1 gen 2, 2x USB-C gen 2 (with DP and charging), microSD card reader, mic/headphone
Battery 45 Wh, 65 Wh charger
Dimension 308 mm or 12.12” (w) x 216 mm or eight.5” (d) x 15.9 mm or zero.5” (h)
Weight 2.91 lbs (1.32 kg), + .eight lbs (.35 kg) charger, EU model
Extras white backlit keyboard, HD webcam, stereo backside audio system, finger sensor

Lenovo provides the ThinkBook 13s in a number of configurations, constructed across the identical barebone with Core U , an IPS matte display, and a 45Wh battery. You’ll be able to choose between Core i5 or i7 processors, numerous quantities of storage and reminiscence, in addition to an non-compulsory Radeon 540X devoted graphics. Our evaluation unit is a base-level configuration, glorious for every day use, however not that properly fitted to extra demanding hundreds that would profit from the i7 CPU, the dGPU and extra RAM.

There’s additionally a ThinkBook 14s variant, which is just about the identical laptop computer, however with a 14-inch show, dimmer 250-nits panel and elevated weight of 1.5 kg – Three.Three lbs. There’s higher worth within the 13-inch variant imo.

That apart, a ThinkBook 15s can be scheduled for the close to future, and that must be an attention-grabbing 15-inch ultraportable with 10th gen Intel , a bigger battery and improved IO. We’re wanting ahead to present this a spin in a future evaluation.

Design and development

Aesthetically, the ThinkBook borrows loads from the Ideapad strains. The laptop computer is available in a dark-grey coloration scheme and appears skilled, however can be pleasant to make use of and hides smudges and scratches properly.

Steel is used for the whole outer chassis, with the one seen plastic being across the show. Lenovo didn’t skimp on the standard, choosing thick items of aluminum for the lid, inside, and underside. That’s why the laptop computer feels sturdy and extra premium than you’d maybe count on at its worth vary.

The ThinkBook 13s will not be very compact by right now’s requirements, although, and you may inform that from the thick high and backside bezels across the show. It’s nonetheless a slim and glossy laptop, however the bigger footprint and the strong steel development add as much as a complete weight of simply shy of three lbs (1.Three kg). You’ll discover smaller and lighter 13-inch and even 14-inch ultrabooks on the market, however the improve in weight will not be one thing that bothered me in precise use. In actual fact, the additional weight is compensated by the construct high quality and the decrease pricing right here.

I might have, nonetheless, anticipated a extra spacious palm-rest and clickpad with this taller design, however that’s not the case. Lenovo pushed the keyboard in direction of the center of the chassis, leaving a reasonably thick half above and consuming into the palm-rest.

For comparability, I’ve added some pics of the ThinkBook 13s subsequent to my XPS 13, one of many high ultraportables in the marketplace and in addition one of many smallest.

The ThinkBook 13s scores properly in terms of practicality, nevertheless it’s not with out quirks. Two strong hinges maintain the display in place as arrange, and permit it to lean again flat to 180 levels. You’ll, nonetheless, want each palms to raise up the show and break previous the preliminary resistance. That apart, the underside toes are solely averagely grippy and the entrance lip and corners are slightly sharp and can chew into your wrists on cramped desks.

I’ll additionally add the truth that Lenovo determined shiny always-on mild across the Energy button is one thing folks would admire. What had been they pondering? That mild is senseless to me and it’s extraordinarily annoying when making an attempt to look at a film in a darkish room. They need to have minimize it off fully, or a minimum of tie it to the keyboard’s illumination so it might be in some way turned off.

As for the IO, there are two USB-A ports on the left aspect, and HDMI, USB-C, headphone jack and USB PD power-in on the opposite. The laptop computer lacks Thunderbolt Three help and doesn’t cost by way of USB-C, however by way of the usual rectangular USB Energy Supply Lenovo plug of the previous IdeaPads.

All in all, the ThinkBook 13s appears and feels quite a bit like a rebranded Lenovo Ideapad 730s. That’s not a complain, simply don’t count on this to be some kind of a ThinkPad, it’s not. What it’s, although, is a sturdily constructed and nice-looking on a regular basis ultrabook with a flexible matte display, full-size keyboard, and respectable IO. Thus, regardless of its quirks, this ThinkBook has what it takes to be a reliable journey companion or college laptop.

Keyboard and trackpad

The ThinkBook 13s borrows its inputs from the IdeaPad and Yoga sequence.

Which means the keyboard will get short-travel and slightly shallow chiclet keys with a barely rounded backside form and clean coating. There’s little to complain concerning the format, other than the truth that the Up and Down keys are shorter than the others. Even the Ctrl and Fn keys are in the correct place, not like on different Lenovo laptops.

In actual fact, the inputs additional show that there’s little in frequent between the ThinkBook and ThinkPad strains. You’re not going to search out the taller keyboard of the Thinkpad right here, nor a Trackpoint or devoted click on buttons, however a less complicated keyboard and a typical plastic clickpad.

I’ve typed this complete evaluation on the ThinkBook 13s and bought alongside wonderful with this keyboard. I didn’t discover it notably quick or correct, nevertheless it’s OK when you get used to it and I additionally discovered it very quiet, completely satisfactory for library-use and different silent environments.

The keyboard can be backlit, with White LEDs and two brightness ranges to select from. Gentle creeps out from beneath the higher Perform keys, however that apart, the illumination is even and properly applied. There’s even a bodily Caps Lock indicator, and the lights activate by swiping your fingers over the clickpad.

Talking of that, the clickpad is a plastic floor of pretty small measurement, as a result of small palm-rest talked about within the earlier part. It labored wonderful with every day use, although, but the floor feels a bit low-cost and rattles with faucets. The bodily clicks within the corners are additionally slightly clumsy and loud.

Lenovo additionally added a finger-sensor on this laptop computer, built-in inside the Energy Button, and never positioned on the palm-rest as on the older IdeaPads. That makes excellent sense and it really works properly with Home windows Hi there, however I nonetheless don’t get why they needed to embody that always-on shiny mild round it.

Display screen

The ThinkBook 13s will get a 13.Three-inch IPS display with FHD decision and matte non-touch ending.

It makes use of a mid-level high quality panel from AU Optronics, with a measured most brightness of 273 cd/m2, glorious distinction of above 1200:1 and deep blacks. The panel additionally covers 68% of the AdobeRGB coloration gamut, making it a wonderful alternative for on a regular basis use and even for infrequent coloration correct work, particularly after calibration.

Extra particulars under, measured with a Spyder4 sensor:

  • Panel HardwareID: Au Optronics AUO5A2D  (B133HAN05.A);
  • Protection: 94.5% sRGB, 67.5% AdobeRGB, 71.Four% DCI P3;
  • Measured gamma: 2.39;
  • Max brightness in the midst of the display: 273 cd/m2 on energy;
  • Distinction at max brightness: 1268:1;
  • White level: 7100 Okay;
  • Black on max brightness: zero.21 cd/m2;
  • Common DeltaE: zero.6 calibrated;
  • Response time: 29 ms GTG;
  • PWM: Sure, 25 KHz at <20% brightness.


The panel’s brightness and coloration protection are uniform, and we didn’t discover any apparent mild bleeding on black backgrounds both. You’ll need to calibrate the panel with a purpose to tackle the Gamma, Colours and White Level imbalances, or you should utilize our calibrated profile accessible right here.

, efficiency and improve choices

Our check model is a base-level configuration of the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s, with the Core i5-8265U Whiskey Lake processor, Intel UHD 620 graphics, eight GB of RAM, and a 256 GB PCIe x2 SSD.

Increased tier variants might be specced as much as a Core i7-8565U processor, 16 GB of RAM, 1 TB PCIe x4 storage and an AMD Radeon 540X devoted graphics.

The CPU and GPU are soldered on the motherboard, however the RAM and storage are upgradeable. Getting inside is straightforward and requires to take away the back-panel, maintain in place by a handful of Torx screws. As soon as inside, you’ll discover that the DIMM is additional hidden beneath a metallic cowl that you simply’ll have to drag out, and the M.2 slot helps each 2230 (like on our pattern) and 2280 SSD requirements.

Total it’s good to see the power to nonetheless improve the reminiscence and storage on a 2019 ultraportable, with most different choices going with soldered RAM and even storage nowadays. Which means you should purchase a base-level variant and improve it your self, which permits for flexibility and also will value you lower than shopping for the upgrades from the OEM.

This base-level configuration is completely satisfactory for on a regular basis use: shopping, motion pictures, music, text-editing and such.

Based mostly on this implementation, the i7 processor will not be required even in case you plan to multitask and run occasional demanding software program, however in these circumstances, extra RAM would assist. Lastly, the i7 will present its energy in taxing chores, however don’t count on greater than 10-15% enhance over the i5. As for the Radeon 540X dGPU, we’ll contact on its worth additional down.

For now, although, we check the CPU’s habits in demanding hundreds by operating Cinebench R15 for 10+ occasions in a loop, with 2-Three sec delay between every run, which simulates a 100% load on all of the cores. Usually, moveable implementations of this CPU return excessive scores for the primary run, however decrease ones as soon as warmth builds up and the processor must clock down to deal with the thermal and energy limitations.

The i5-8265U settled for frequencies of two.Four-2.5 GHz on our pattern, a typical TDP of 15 W, temperatures of 77-78 levels Celsius and roughly 525 factors. That’s a typical implementation of this processor, and Lenovo doesn’t supply any Efficiency profiles like on a few of their ThinkPads, which might improve the Energy restrict and permit the CPU to run at higher-clocks on this state of affairs.

Additional efficiency might be squeezed by undervolting the processor (with Throttlestop, defined right here). Our pattern ran completely steady at -100 mV. On this case, the i5 settles for frequencies of two.6-2.7 GHz, the identical TDP of 15 W and temperatures of 77-78 levels Celsius, however roughly 580 factors within the Cinebench loop check. That places it on par with inventory 15W implementations of the Core i7-8565U. After all, the i7 variants will also be additional improved with undervolting, however as talked about above, will finish at roughly 620-650 factors within the sustained Cinebench loop, so inside 10-15% of the i5.

Our pattern additionally carried out very properly whereas unplugged,  as you possibly can see within the logs and footage under.

Subsequent, we’ve included a set of benchmarks, for these of you curious about numbers, which we’ve run on the Greatest-Efficiency energy profile in Home windows, with default voltage settings:

  • 3DMark 13 – Hearth Strike: 1002 (Graphics – 1082, Physics – 9026);
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 411 (Graphics – 359, CPU – 2371);
  • GeekBench Four.Four.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 4264, Multi-core: 12318;
  • GeekBench 5.zero.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 977, Multi-core: 3117;
  • CineBench R15 (greatest run): CPU 583 cb, CPU Single Core 152 cb;
  • CineBench R20 (greatest run): CPU 1257 cb;

Then we reran a few of the benchmarks on the -100 mV undervolted profile, which allowed a fairly important improve in CPU associated assessments and, as anticipated, just about no modifications in GPU scores:

  • 3DMark 13 – Hearth Strike: 1002 (Graphics – 1078, Physics – 10167);
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 414 (Graphics – 361, CPU – 2545);
  • PassMark: Score: 3340, CPU mark: 8540, 3D Graphics Mark: 1066;
  • GeekBench Four.Four.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 4213, Multi-core: 13095;
  • GeekBench 5.zero.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 968, Multi-core: 3347;
  • CineBench R15 (greatest run): CPU 653 cb, CPU Single Core 151 cb;
  • CineBench R20 (greatest run): CPU 1419 cb;

All these present the strong CPU/GPU efficiency with inventory settings, and the slight enhance as soon as the processor in undervolted.

Let’s contact on the graphics facet for a bit. Our configuration comes with Intel’s UHD 620 iGPU, and there’s solely a lot it might probably do. We gave it a strive in Want for Velocity: Most Needed, which is an older however nonetheless pretty taxing sport. The log under exhibits fixed GPU clocks and glorious thermals, however paired with the processor clocking all the way down to and under its 1.6 GHz base-frequency. Which means the implementation pushes energy onto the iGPU with a purpose to enhance the gaming efficiency as a lot as doable inside the mixed 15W TDP shared by the CPU and GPU.

Should you go for the Radeon 540X variant, which is merely a $50 improve on Lenovo’s web site however won’t accessible worldwide, the CPU will profit from the complete 15W, whereas the graphics shall be pushed onto the dGPU. The thermal module inside this ThinkBook appears able to cooling the i7 + 540X fashions, however we haven’t truly examined that with a purpose to affirm it.

So far as the efficiency goes, the 540X is an entry-level dGPU and will fare just a bit higher than the Nvidia MX150/MX250 chips. It’s a rebranded RX 540 that’s been included in lower-tier ultraportables over the past yr. It will get extra CUDA cores than the Nvidia choices, however barely slower reminiscence. AMD provides variants with both 2 or Four GB of GDDR5 reminiscence, and the previous is bundled with the ThinkBook 13s.

All in all, the 540X will assist with video games, permitting respectable efficiency in less complicated titles at FHD decision and medium settings. It’s not going to make a gaming laptop computer out of this ThinkBook 13s, nevertheless it’s sufficient to make it an alternate for the Core i/MX250 ultrabooks on the market.

However, in case you’re primarily on the lookout for an on a regular basis ultrabook, the Radeon chip will not be a necessity and the bottom degree Core i5 fashions are completely appropriate for mundane duties and multitasking.

Noise, Warmth, Connectivity, audio system, and others

Our i5/UHD 620 configuration is for positive underpowered for the thermal module contained in the ThinkBook 13s, which is designed to deal with extra energy and warmth. It will get two followers and only a single heatpipe, with the parts grouped on one aspect. I’m not an enormous fan of this method, nevertheless it does wonderful for this type of .

Again to our evaluation unit, it runs cool with every day use and with gaming, with the CPU averaging 70-78 levels in even probably the most demanding hundreds, and the casing barely going previous 40 levels on the underside.

The followers stay silent with primary on a regular basis use, when watching Netflix as an example, however they do kick on with multitasking, which I discover pointless. It’s much more annoying on account of the truth that they’ve a very audible hum. Our sensor solely recorded noise ranges of round 35-37 dB at head-level with every day use, however that hum makes the followers extra current then the sensor suggests. The identical sensor measured noise ranges of 42-43 dB whereas operating Want for Velocity.

We haven’t seen any sort of digital noise or coil whine on our unit, which is nice information however doesn’t imply you received’t essentially get any on yours.

*Day by day Use – operating Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, followers 35-37 dB
*Load – taking part in Want for Velocity: Most Needed for 30 minutes,  followers 42-43 dB

For connectivity, there’s an Intel 9560 wi-fi module inside this laptop computer, with Bluetooth 5.zero. In carried out OK on this implementation, each close to the router and additional away with obstacles in between, however you will see sooner wi-fi on different ultrabooks.

So far as the audio system go, there’s a set of them firing via cuts on the lateral sides of the underbelly, and so they’re fairly poor. Lastly one thing in frequent with ThinkPads 🙁 We measured pretty low most volumes of about 70-72 dB at head degree, with none distortions, however the sound is bass poor, with lows solely noticeable from round 150 Hz. Consequently, these audio system sound hole and tinny.

Lastly, we’ll point out the included 720p digicam. It’s positioned on the high of the display, the place it ought to, is flanked by microphones and will get a bodily Shutter cowl, however the high quality is mediocre at greatest.

Battery life

There’s solely a 45 Wh battery contained in the ThinkBook 13s, which is smaller than on most present ultrabooks. The implementation is, nonetheless, very environment friendly, one of the vital environment friendly I’ve examined currently, so that you’ll find yourself with fairly good runtimes.

Right here’s what we bought on our evaluation unit, with the display’s brightness set at round 120 nits (~40 brightness).

  • Four W (~10+ h of use) – textual content modifying in Google Drive, Higher Battery Mode, display at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • Three.5 W (~12+ h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Higher Battery Mode, display at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • Three.Three W (~13+ h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Higher Battery Mode, display at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 9.eight W (~Four h 30 min of use) – shopping in Edge, Higher Efficiency Mode, display at 40%, Wi-Fi ON.

Yeah, I used to be simply as impressed by these video runtimes. With every day use don’t count on greater than Four-6 hours of use, however that’s nonetheless about on par with rivals that get 50ish Wh batteries.

The laptop computer comes with a 45W charger that plugs-in by way of the rectangular-plug we’ve seen on a number of previous Lenovo gadgets. It’s a two-piece design with a standardly sized brick, and a full cost takes about one hour and 45 minutes. There’s no fast charging and this will’t cost by way of USB-C both.

Value and availability

The Lenovo ThinkBook 13s is stocked in shops in most areas as of October 2019.

The bottom-level variant reviewed right here, with the Core i5 processor, eight GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD goes for below $800 within the US, round 750 EUR in Germany and round 850 GBP within the UK.

Upgrades are slightly costly. You’ll be able to create your individual configuration on Lenovo’s web site, the place an i7 / 16 GB / 512 GB configuration jumps to round $1150, with $50 additional for the Radeon graphics, or you’ll find pre-configured fashions in most on-line shops. $1100-$1200 for this type of configuration in a transportable shell continues to be pretty aggressive, however you will see solid-alternatives across the identical price-point, together with the Asus ZenBook 13 and ZenBook 14 or the HP Spectre x360 convertible.

The identical higher-tier variant goes for about 1000 GBP within the UK and 1100 EUR in Germany.

Costs and configurations will fluctuate over time, so observe this hyperlink for up to date data on the time you’re studying this text. We earn a small fee in case you select to purchase by way of our hyperlinks, which permits us to maintain doing what we do.

Closing ideas

I believe there’s nice worth on this ThinkBook 13s as a mid-priced ultrabook for on a regular basis use, for multitasking and college/workplace work.

It’s a flexible product: appears good and it’s properly constructed, will get an excellent matte display and a good keyboard, handles every day chores with out chocking and lasts for fairly some time on a cost, regardless of its pretty small battery. It’s additionally competitively priced and one of many few ultrabooks that also enable customers to simply improve RAM and storage, which suggests you may get a lower-tier variant after which improve it as soon as the time comes, and as soon as your price range permits it.

However, this isn’t as compact or as mild as a few of the different choices on the market, it doesn’t get a touchscreen choice, settles for crappy audio system and doesn’t get all the newest options and software program choices of the upper tier ultrabooks, both from Lenovo and the competitors. Amongst these, there’s no IR digicam, no front-speakers, no Thunderbolt Three or USB-C charging and no customizable Energy profiles that may enable for higher administration of efficiency/thermals and noise, based mostly in your precise wants.

This additionally lacks a few of the business-grade options you’re getting with the Lenovo ThinkPads. And right here’s the place I discover the naming complicated and I really feel it units the unsuitable expectations. It is a ThinkBook, and also you’d count on it to share most of its traits with the ThinkPad line, however in actuality, it’s truly a rebranded and tweaked IdeaPad. I imagine you’ll find yourself proud of the ThinkBook 13s in case you’re conscious of this facet and get it with the correct expectations, however you won’t in case you’re anticipating ThinkPad high quality and traits and a fraction of the associated fee.

We’ll wrap up our evaluation of the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s-IWL right here. the feedback part under awaits your ideas and questions, so get in contact, we’re round to speak and assist out if we are able to.

Disclaimer: Our content material is reader-supported. Should you purchase via a few of the hyperlinks on our website, we could earn an affiliate fee. Study extra.

Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I have been protecting cell computer systems because the 2000s and you will principally discover critiques and thorough guides written by me right here on the location.

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