Lenovo Updates ThinkPads: New Intel and AMD Processors, New Displays, New Designsby Brett Howse on February 23, 2021 9:01 AM EST
Today Lenovo is announcing a slew of updates across a large portion of their ThinkPad lineup, and updating their business-focused products for 2021. Some of the big changes for this year are impressive and welcome, with Lenovo committing to bringing feature-parity between their AMD and Intel offerings, as well as refreshing some of their laptops with 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and continuing the trend of bringing back 16:10 aspect ratio displays for a better productivity experience.
ThinkPad X13 and X13 Yoga
Although some of the ThinkPad X lineup got refreshed back at CES, Lenovo is continuing the 2021 updates today on the X13 and X13 Yoga products, and the changes make these already impressive devices even more so.
On the processor side, Lenovo is offering either 11th Gen Intel Core – aka Tiger Lake – processors with vPro optional, as well as AMD Ryzen 5000 Pro options. Lenovo says they have heard the feedback from customers and are working hard to close the feature and option gap between the two platforms. For the most part, customers choosing AMD or Intel will have the same specifications and options available for the rest of the product, such as displays, memory, and so on, other than the platform specific features such as Intel supporting Thunderbolt 4 and PCIe 4.0.
The X13 and X13 Yoga will also be getting Wi-Fi 6E meaning 6 GHz support, and for those that want connectivity when out and about, sub-6 5G is an option on the X13, or 4G is available on both models.
Lenovo is also continuing to move to 16:10 displays, with the taller displays filling out more of the body and providing more vertical pixels for productivity. This is a great trend, and one that should not have taken this long to come back to, as of course the original widescreen ThinkPads were all 16:10 before the entire industry moved to 16:9. Lenovo is also proud to offer low-blue light hardware support on the displays, and unlike most low-blue light technologies which cause a red-shift on the display, the backlight physically produces less of the stressful blue lights, allowing the display to still keep the proper white balance.
As this is a proper business machine, there is also addition security such as Match-On-Chip fingerprint readers built into the power button, and the Intel models will support Human Presence Detection which allows the machine to lock when you are away and unlock when you get back. This will be through the IR camera, and as far as the visual camera, Lenovo is including an option for both HD with IR, as well as FHD with IR, the latter being a nice addition thanks to the increase in video conferencing over the last year.
The updated ThinkPad X13 will be available in May starting at $1139 USD, and the X13 Yoga will be available in April starting at $1379.
ThinkPad T14, T14s, and T15
When most people imagine ThinkPad, they likely think of the venerable T Series. Lenovo said they are working on feature parity between Intel and AMD, and one of the changes is not branding the products differently based on the CPU, but for the T series, it doesn’t look like they’ve quite gotten there yet. There will be ThinkPad T14 i, ThinkPad T14s i, and ThinkPad T15 powered by Intel, and for the 14-inch models, the ones branded without the i will be AMD Ryzen based.
Although the T series is, at least for this gen, sticking with 16:9 aspect ratios, with several options for the 14-inch and 15-inch range including UHD displays with Dolby Vision. Lenovo is also offering its PrivacyGuard displays for extra security, and some low-power options depending on how you configure it.
As far as performance, the laptop will offer up to Core i7 11th Gen with vPro options, or AMD Ryzen 5000 Pro. Memory will be up to 32 GB on the S model, and up to 48 GB on the non-S. Storage is up to 2 TB of PCIe storage, with the Intel platforms supporting PCIe 4.0 speeds. The non-S model T14 and the T15 also offers an optional NVIDIA GeForce MX450 with 2 GB of GDDR6, if extra graphics compute is needed over the Intel Iris Xe or AMD Vega 8 graphics.
As with much of the ThinkPad lineup, Lenovo is offering Wi-Fi 6, 6E, and cellular capabilities with 4G and 5G options. As with the ThinkPad X13 range, Lenovo will also be offering FHD webcams with IR as optional upgrades.
Although the T14s is smaller and lighter than the T14, it includes a larger battery at 57 Wh, compared to just 50 Wh in the larger model. The 15-inch T15 also has the 57 Wh battery.
The ThinkPad T14s is one of my favorite laptops around, and it is always nice to see it get updated. The new models will be available starting in March and going through May depending on the model, with prices starting at $1149 for the ThinkPad T14 AMD model.
ThinkPad P14s and P15s
Also getting an update is a couple of the mobile workstation models under the P-Series, and as with the other units there will be both 11th Gen Intel Core with vPro as well as AMD Ryzen 5000 Pro CPU offerings.
The P14s and P15s will both offer 8 GB or 16 GB of soldered memory, as well as a SO-DIMM slot, which will allow for up to 48 GB maximum memory in these thinner and lighter versions of the P-series laptops. Lenovo is also offering the NVIDIA T500 which is the workstation class graphics based on the Turing MX450 and featuring 4 GB of VRAM.
Both the P14s and P15s will offer FHD displays as standard, with a few options such as ePrivacy or Low-Power, and both will offer an optional UHD display with HDR 400 and Dolby Vision HDR. The UHD displays will come with X-Rite factor color calibration.
For those that need a Linux version, Lenovo will be offering Ubuntu 20.04 LTS installs, as well as Red Had as factory options.
Wireless will be Intel Wi-Fi 6E for 6 GHz support thanks to the Intel AX210 on the Tiger Lake models, and the AMD offerings will still support Wi-Fi 6, but without the 6 GHz support.
Although some of the other ThinkPads are being offered with a FHD webcam, the P14s and P15s are not, at least for now. The newer webcam is physically larger, and would take a more comprehensive redesign of the chassis, but the HD webcam does offer IR if needed.
The Intel powered P14s i, and the P15s will be available in March, starting at $1389 for either, with the AMD powered P14s coming in May, and starting at $1169.
ThinkPad L14 and L15
Rounding out the lineup is the least-expensive way to get into a ThinkPad, and that is the L Series. Also being offered in a L14/15 i Intel based, or L14/15 AMD based design, the least expensive offerings still offer some powerful options.
With 11th gen Intel Core with vPro, and AMD Ryzen 5000, there will be two SODIMM slots, thanks to the thicker and heavier design, which means the least expensive models here can be outfitted with the most RAM, at up to 64 GB. There will be Intel Iris Xe, or AMD Vega graphics, and purchasers can opt for NVIDIA GeForce MX 450 as well.
One of the sad realities of a budget device is the display, and the base model comes with a (Yuck) 1366x768 TN panel. Luckily Lenovo offers FHD IPS offerings on both.
Storage is up to 1 TB PCIe SSD, or up to 2 TB spinning hard drive, but you do get Wi-Fi 6 across the range, and optional cellular options.
The L series is really all about entry price, and the new L14 and L15 will be available in May starting at $689.
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hfm - Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - linkThat P15 looks interesting depending on which Intel CPU they put in it. (I need Thunderbolt 4)
akvadrako - Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - linkThis is promising, maybe next time I want to upgrade there will actually be a laptop I want, which is basically a high-end 14" screen, Linux support, good keyboard, AMD CPU+GPU and 32GB RAM.
zamroni - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - linkJust compile new kernel if the built-in Linux kernel doesn't suit your new hardware
phoenix_rizzen - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - linkHP and Lenovo both have laptops that fit that niche, unless you mean a discrete AMD GPU.
HP 15-ef0028ca (last year's model) has an AMD Ryzen Mobile 3500U with a 15" screen and SO-DIMM slots. Runs Ubuntu 20.04 LTS without issues (using KDE).
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 has an AMD Ryzen Mobile 4500U with a 14" screen. Soldered on RAM, and I think the max that could be ordered was 16 GB. Have booted it off LiveUSB sticks with Ubuntu for testing and didn't have any issues, although I didn't use it for much.
I believe Dell and Asus have AMD Ryzen 4000-series (available now) and 5000-series laptops (coming soon).
There's been a bunch of AMD-based laptops reviewed on here.
Will be interesting to see some 5000-series laptops with USB4 reviewed. :)
imaskar - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - linkLenovo IdeaPad runs badly on linux. Tons of stuff doesn't work, lower perf on DC, random hangs. Had to switch back to windows.
zamroni - Friday, February 26, 2021 - linkJust compile new kernel with kernel options that suits your hardware
JimmyZeng - Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - link> Lenovo is also proud to offer low-blue light hardware support on the displays, and unlike most low-blue light technologies which cause a red-shift on the display, the backlight physically produces less of the stressful blue lights, allowing the display to still keep the proper white balance.
How is this physically possible? somebody please explain how is this not pseudo science.
zamroni - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - linkBlue light filter is simply software based.
Display driver reduces the luminance value of blue pixels
Spunjji - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - linkI believe it's to do with the emissions spectrum of the backlight itself.
I'm not 100% sure it's *not* pseudo-science, though - at least not with regard to the end result that this reduction is supposed to achieve.
Wereweeb - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - linkI'm guessing they block a very specific frequency of blue light, based on this:
"Blue light exposure research and studies on animals’ cells have shown that blue light in a range of 415 to 455 nm generated the greatest phototoxic risk to retinal pigment epithelium cells, with photoreceptor cell apoptosis seen early after the retina is damaged by blue light*."