PROS / The laptop has decent connectivity options with USB-C, USB 3.0 and HDMI.
CONS / Its hardware limitations make for less-than-impressive performance.
VERDICT / The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 may not be the thinnest or fastest laptop in our lineup, but it delivers good enough performance for general business use without costing as much as top performers.
The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 is about as basic a business laptop as you can get. While other work laptops offer better performance or slimmer, lighter designs, the ThinkPad 13 has a decent feature set and good display while covering all the basics for an affordable price.
The most budget-friendly business notebook in our review, the ThinkPad 13 doesn’t boast very impressive hardware. It comes standard with a low-powered Intel Core i3-6100U processor and a relatively small 4GB of RAM. The performance isn’t fantastic compared to most competing systems – we gave it a C overall – but for basic work like checking emails and writing up paperwork, it’s enough. It delivered decent graphics performance in our testing, earning an A rating thanks to the Intel HD Graphics 520 integrated graphics solution. Storage is also limited, with a 128GB solid-state drive coming standard. If you need more productive capability, the laptop can be configured with a Core i5-6300U and up to 16GB of RAM, but both changes only bring it up to the level of every other business notebook we reviewed. You can also increase the size of the hard drive to 512GB.
The ThinkPad 13 is a bit of a break from tradition for Lenovo, available in matte silver as well as basic black. The two varieties are slightly different in terms of construction – the black model is constructed of polycarbonate and ABS plastic, while the silver model includes aluminum in the chassis design. Despite these differences, the systems are otherwise identical, measuring 0.78 x 12.68 x 8.78 inches and weighing 3.15 pounds.
The laptop’s 13.3-inch display comes in full HD, with 1920 x 1080 resolution, but there aren’t any higher-resolution or touchscreen options. The screen offers middling brightness (241 nits) but great color accuracy (DeltaE 0.7).
The ThinkPad 13 is outfitted with three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI output, SD card slot and – most surprising at this price range – a USB-C port. A docking connector lets you quickly connect to everything at your desk, like a monitor, keyboard and mouse, but then disconnect quickly to pack up and go at the end of the day. An optional fingerprint reader offers extra security, while networking is done entirely through 802.11ac Wi-Fi, with no Ethernet connection.
The ThinkPad 13 is covered with a one-year warranty, which includes both free phone service and remote access for tech support. Lenovo’s customer support is good, ranking fifth out of 10 major brands in Laptop Mag’s independent testing. Extras like on-site service and accidental damage coverage are available for an additional fee.
The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 may not be a powerhouse compared to other professional laptops, but it is a decent basic business-class laptop for a more affordable price than more premium competitors. If you can make do with basic performance, the rest of the laptop is pretty good, with a healthy feature set and solid construction.