PROS / The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook is a top performer thanks to its Intel Core i5 processor.
CONS / It’s far more expensive than most Chromebooks.
VERDICT / The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook may be pricier than other Chrome-based laptops, but it delivers unbeatable performance and has great connectivity options.
The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook isn’t just another laptop running Chrome OS – it’s also one of the best models in our Chromebook comparison. It’s the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner, thanks to its best-in-category performance, great connectivity and solid support options.
Performance & Specs
Outfitted with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U processor and 8GB of RAM, the ThinkPad 13 is the best-equipped Chromebook in our review, offering unbeaten performance and as smooth and fast an experience as you’ll get on a Chrome OS laptop. Performance tests all put the ThinkPad 13 at the top of the list, with a category-leading 171.27 points in Jet Stream 1.1 and an average of 63 frames per second (fps) in WebGL Aquarium.
That said, in a Chromebook this sort of performance may be overkill. You can find specific use cases that make the most of this processing power, such as photo editing or streaming video from several sites at once, but this ultimately is a level of performance that the Chrome operating system simply isn’t built to take advantage of. It also comes at a steep cost, with our review unit selling for far more than other entrants in the category. In this price range, you can get a decent Windows-based machine without the compromises on software support and offline capability that a Chromebook has.
Aside from a Chrome logo, the ThinkPad 13 looks identical to Windows-based laptops in the ThinkPad lineup, with the usual basic black color scheme. The plastic construction is lightweight, weighing 3.2 pounds while measuring just 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches. The build quality obviously doesn’t feel as solid as the milled aluminum of other top Chromebooks, but it boasts a Mil-Spec 810G-certified design, built to withstand shock, vibration, and extremes in humidity and temperature. That level of ruggedness is welcome for a notebook computer that is likely to be slipped into a backpack, carried to work or school, and subjected to all the vagaries of use in public places. The ThinkPad 13 lasted nine hours and eight minutes in our battery tests, which sits it right in the middle of the pack.
With no touchscreen and no Android support, the ThinkPad 13 is a prime example of the last generation of Chromebooks. The newest Chromebooks coming out this year all have these features, making the ThinkPad 13 one of the better models in last year’s crop.
The laptop’s 13.3-inch screen offers full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. Thanks to an Inter-Plane Switching (IPS) panel, the display looks good, with vibrant colors and wide viewing angles. What it doesn’t offer, however, is touch capability.
The ThinkPad 13 has a healthy number of ports, including two USB Type-C ports and two USB 3.0 ports, making it one of only three models in our review that supports both the new and old standards. A built-in SD card slot can be used for external media, but with no video ports, you need to buy a separate adapter dongle to connect to a second monitor.
Help & Support
Of the companies included in our review, Lenovo has one of the best overall ratings for quality of customer service. The ThinkPad 13 Chromebook is covered with a standard one-year warranty, but this coverage is backed up with capable technical support. Online materials help you solve some problems on your own, while dedicated support personnel can be reached via phone, through live chat on Lenovo’s website or by social media. When our colleagues at Laptop Mag surveyed Lenovo’s support offerings, they had high-praise for the company’s large database of online support materials and a callback service that eliminates the hold times when calling tech support by phone.
The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook is one of the best Chrome OS laptops of last year. With an Intel Core i5 processor, it’s easily the fastest, most powerful Chromebook we reviewed, and the use of Lenovo’s classic ThinkPad design makes it a laptop that can stand alongside the best notebook computers. While it’s not as versatile as some of the newer convertible Chromebooks and is pricier than most budget shoppers want to pay, it’s undoubtedly one of the top models on the market.