The best ThinkPads attract many business users and corporate IT departments thanks to their strong build quality, industry-leading keyboards, hyper accurate pointing sticks and simple black aesthetic. The ThinkPad line has a number of mainstays that Lenovo fans won’t do without, which is why the best ThinkPads are considered the best laptops around.
Even if you’ve already got your heart and your budget committed to a ThinkPad, you’ve got a lot of choices. Lenovo currently sells over a dozen ThinkPad models across several different lines. The laptops all have the same basic aesthetic, but vary greatly when it comes to size, price, screen quality, performance and battery life. Some even have snappier keyboards than others. There are options for the average business user, artists who need a professional tablet or even users who need a beast of a workstation. Looking for something on the creative front? — Check out our Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 review. Also, see our recent Apple MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch) review. If you’re looking for something portable and affordable, check out our HP Chromebook x2 11 review.
Once you’ve made a decision, check out our roundup of the best ThinkPad accessories to bolster your productivity, but if you’re more interested in the best Lenovo laptops in general, we have a page for that, too.
What are the best ThinkPads?
In the world of laptops, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon is a masterpiece. With a lightweight yet durable chassis, the X1 Carbon is an excellent option for business users who are frequently on the go. But the ThinkPad X1 Carbon isn’t just an enterprise notebook: We don’t hesitate recommending this machine to everyday consumers, too, who will appreciate the laptop’s bright, vivid 14-inch display, long battery life, fast performance and immaculate build quality.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga proves that ThinkPads don’t need carbon fiber to compete. Made from CNC aluminum, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga’s chassis is now thinner and lighter yet just as durable as ever. Combine that sleek frame with a gorgeous 1080p display, a best-in-class keyboard and all-day battery life, and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is easily one of the best 2-in-1 laptops around.
Taking a page from its consumer laptop twin — the ThinkPad X1 Extreme — the workstation-class Lenovo ThinkPad P1 offers powerful performance in a thin and lightweight chassis. The optional 4K display pops with rich, vibrant colors, and the P1’s wonderfully comfortable keyboard might just be Lenovo’s best yet. On top of that, the Xeon CPU and Nvidia Quadro P2000, available on the pricier models, offer outstanding performance. It’s a great machine if you’re doing more than plugging numbers into a spreadsheet.
Need something more portable? The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet is a durable and secure 2-in-1 business detachable that’s also powerful enough to let you dominate noobs in Overwatch on the device’s vibrant, 13-inch, 3K display.
Pros: Lenovo took the best business laptop and beefed it up with 11th Gen Intel CPUs. You still get the ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s attractive, slim and durable chassis. Business users who travel frequently will appreciate the 15+ hours of battery life offered by the 1200p version. The 1200p screen was surprisingly bright. And in typical ThinkPad fashion, the latest 9th Gen X1 Carbon has a best-in-class keyboard that you’ll love typing on. It’s easily at the top of the best ThinkPads.
Cons: While we adore this laptop, it’s not truly perfect. It features a poor 720p webcam, no card slot and the touchpad is a bit small. On top of that, the IR camera doesn’t even come included by default, which is odd considering it’s a business notebook.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9) review.
Pros: Your average ThinkPad isn’t very wallet-friendly, but the ThinkPad X13 goes against the grain. For less than $1,000, this machine offers a speedy AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U CPU, a carbon fiber/magnesium alloy design and even a select few security features like a fingerprint reader and an optional IR camera for Windows Hello. Despite the price, Lenovo doesn’t skimp on the keyboard. Its keys felt super responsive. Those concave keys we’ve praised for years have what feels like an impossible amount of travel for a laptop this thin.
Cons: The ThinkPad X13’s affordable price requires a few compromises: namely, the super thick display bezels, the lack of Thunderbolt 3 ports and being limited to only 16GB of RAM. And its battery lasted 7 hours and 53 minutes, landing below the premium laptop average at the time (10:00).
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X13 (AMD) review.
Pros: You already know what the X1 Nano looks like — it’s the classic ThinkPad design except in a smaller, lighter chassis. It’s actually the most portable ThinkPad ever, with its carbon fiber and magnesium frame weighing in at a measly 2 pounds. It has a 13-inch, 2K (2160 x 1350-pixel) anti-glare display. Not 13.3 inches or 13.5 inches, just 13 inches flat, meaning the panel is smaller than those on rival devices. I don’t mind though; the 16:10 aspect ratio has the same height (Y-axis) as most larger panels, it’s just not as wide. Portability is great, but what’s the point if you need to log around a battery charger everywhere you go? Fortunately, with the X1 Nano, you can leave the brick at home. The petite notebook lasted for 12 hours flat on our battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness.
Cons: Buy a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard with the X1 Nano. Well, either that or brave the dongle life. That’s because there are no USB Type-A ports. Our unit has a flat matte-black lid but you can opt for a woven pattern on the lid to accentuate the carbon materials used within. Regardless of which surface you choose, expect to clean lots of smudges — the X1 Nano left a glossy fingerprint every time I touched the design. Below the keyboard is a 3.9 x 2.3-inch touchpad. It has a silky soft-touch texture, the surface responded well to my swipes. My main gripe is the size. Those with larger hands may find their fingers brushing up against the sides.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review.
Pros: Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 is a refinement of the best 2-in-1 laptop for business users. Taking a page from the X1 Carbon, the newest Yoga now flaunts a 14-inch display with a taller 16:10 aspect ratio for more vertical screen space — a boon for enterprise users. Also improving productivity are a wider touchpad and a human presence detection sensor for convenient login and enhanced security. Swapping the engine for 11th Gen Intel chips adds considerably faster performance, but the battery life upgrade is even more enticing; the Gen 6 model lasts for nearly 15 hours on a charge. These perks are packaged in a sleek aluminum chassis with a convenient 2-in-1 design and a handy stylus slot.
Cons: It may not be as lightweight as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon or as alluring as the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga. There’s no SD card and it’s hella expensive, so you have to decide whether or not you can bite the bullet that is its $2,000+ price.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) review.
Lenovo couldn’t have picked a better name for the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 — extreme is the operative word here. When I think of “extreme,” phrases like “to the max,” “out of hand” and “exorbitant” come to mind, which perfectly describe this 16-inch monster. The price tag is definitely extreme with a shocking starting price of $2,951. Whew! This 16-inch laptop, packed with extreme internals such as a top-of-the-line 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and powerful Nvidia 30-series graphics, was built to make its rivals sweat. Someone check on the Dell XPS 15!
This Lenovo laptop is a major improvement from the last ThinkPad X1 Extreme we reviewed (Gen 2). It’s got more battery life, a brighter display and zippier chips. But of course, every monster has its kryptonite. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is no different, especially since it’s up against some fierce competitors.
Still, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is ideal for handling extreme workloads for professionals, whether you’re a creator, architect or engineer. As a cherry on top, they can relax and play their favorite graphics-intensive games after a long day of productivity.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 review.
Pros: The Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook’s Abyss Blue all-aluminum chassis has some chrome flecking, giving the unit some pleasant sparkle. The ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook’s 13-inch, 1080p touch display is crisp and vivid, but not exceptionally bright. With an AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 3500C CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and integrated AMD Radeon Graphics running the lightweight Chrome OS, the Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook’s performance is pretty snappy, with near-instant boot times. The laptop came in at 8 hours and 7 minutes in our in-house battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits).
Cons: There are two tiny slots on either side of the deck where I imagine the smallest speakers in creation are housed. I started listening to Jermaine Stewart’s “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” on full blast, and although it was somewhat loud, the audio quality was tinny. Our review unit is a little pricey for a Chromebook at $766; it comes with a 2.1-GHz AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 3500C CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, integrated AMD Radeon Graphics and a colorful 13-inch, 1080p IPS display.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook review.
With the ThinkPad X12 Detachable, Lenovo takes the Surface Pro concept and improves it with all the goodies associated with the “ThinkPad” brand. Those include a durable, yet lightweight chassis, a relatively bright and vivid 12.3-inch display, and a comfortable keyboard that, along with a stylus, comes bundled with the ThinkPad X12 Detachable.
And unlike the Surface Pro 7+, the ThinkPad X12 lasts for a full day on a charge, although that can be attributed to using low-powered CPUs. There are a few shortcomings — the speakers and cameras aren’t great and there is no USB Type-A port — nonetheless, the ThinkPad X12 Detachable is a standout option for business users who are frequently on the go.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable review.
The ThinkPad E14 aims to do one thing well: be a great productivity machine, and it achieved that goal. This is a good day-to-day business machine with plenty of power to get the essentials done quickly. The ThinkPad E-series is not pandering to consumer need for pomp and circumstance. It consists of business laptops with rugged designs, stronger security than the local bouncer, and enough power for peak productivity.
This mid-tier lineage may not be setting any best laptops lists alight, and that’s OK. They are here to get stuff done, and the ThinkPad E14 takes another step forward with 11th Gen Intel processors to become a seriously capable work laptop with value for money at its core.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad E14 review.
Pros: If you need the versatility of a tablet but you aren’t feeling the whole detach-and-reattach thing, then the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is a great choice. It’s a slim, lightweight 2-in-1 (2.5 pounds, 0.5 inches thick) that features an full sized Pen, which has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and shortcut buttons. While the other ThinkPads have lovely displays, the X1 Yoga’s 13.5-inch, 2K panel beats them all. This baby reproduced 71% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and gleamed with 425 nits of brightness. And in terms of speed, its 11th Gen Core i5 processor notched a solid 4,747 on the Geekbench 5.4 test.
Cons: The ports are where you’ll feel some pain when it comes to the thin X1 Titanium. In short, if you don’t already own a good USB Type-C hub, add that to the budget when you are ordering your X1 Titanium. Turning to the touchpad, the 3.6 x 2.7-inch surface feels diminutive compared to those on many other modern laptops. The haptic feedback versus actually depressing the touchpad was irritating.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga review.
The Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 improves on what was already a winning formula with the original ThinkPad P15 with upgraded performance and stellar battery life for the 1080p model.
The laptop’s 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11950H CPU, Nvidia RTX A5000 GPU and 32GB of RAM make it an absolute workhorse of a workstation. If raw performance is your goal, it will be hard to beat the ThinkPad P15 Gen 2. The one concern for creatives will be the display, but if that’s crucial for you consider the OLED panel option or perhaps an external display.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 review.
How to choose the best ThinkPad for you
Choosing the best ThinkPad for you really depends on your needs. If you’re looking for a vanilla clamshell laptop, you’re more than likely to find everything you want in the Thinkpad X1 Carbon. However, if you’re looking for something more flexible, then the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is the next best bet.
Artists might want to check out the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, while users who need their laptop to have a little more kick, whether it be for video editing or photo editing, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a great choice. If you want to go beyond that, the most powerful ThinkPad you can buy is the Lenovo ThinkPad P1, which is great for all kinds of high taxing work. If you want to prioritize battery life, you could probably find the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 still on sale, but keep in mind that it’s a little old, using an 8th Gen Intel CPU.
How we test the best ThinkPads
We put each laptop through extensive benchmark testing — both synthetic and real-world — before they end up in the hands of our reviewers. We evaluate each aspect of the laptop, including its performance, battery life, display, speakers and heat management.
In our benchmark testing, we use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and sRGB color gamut of the laptop’s display. For performance testing, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests.
To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 4.97GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics test is the Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings at 1080p resolution.
We also run heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in different areas of the laptop. Last but not least, our battery test consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. For MacBooks and premium Windows 10 laptops, a runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise.
These tests are complemented with extensive hands-on testing from our reviewers who critique everything from the laptop’s materials to the feel of its touchpad.