PC & Hardware

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review: ThinkPad Mini

The ThinkBook series aims to fill the gap between the consumer-focused IdeaPad and business-class ThinkPad.

The Lenovo ThinkBook 13s combines style and performance in an ultra-portable size and aims to fill the gap between the consumer-focused IdeaPad and business-class ThinkPad range

Designed for small businesses, students and people on the go, the ThinkBook can be considered as a slim version of ThinkPad laptops, with some stripped down features. It is also budget-friendly and made to be appealing to the younger generation with a modern design and focus on portability at an affordable price.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review

Our review unit, the ThinkBook 13s-IWL is equipped with a 13.3 ″ FHD (1920×1080) screen, a four-core Intel Core i5-8565U processor, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD and Intel UHD Graphics 620 built-in graphics.

Specifications

The ThinkBook 13s does not include accessories, except for a 65W power supply.

CPUUp to 8th Gen Intel Core i7
RAMDDR4 2400MHz
Max 16GB
GPUOptional: Discrete AMD Radeon 540X with 2GB GDDR5
Integrated Intel UHD 620 on Unified Memory Architecture (UMA)
Storage1x 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
Display13.3” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS antiglare with Dolby Vision HDR (300 nits, 72% CG)
Ports1x USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2
2x USB 3.0 Type A
Headphone / mic combo
HDMI 1.4b
ConnectivityWLAN: 11ac 2 x 2
Bluetooth 5.2
CameraHD type ([email protected])
Audio2 x 2W Harman speakers
BatteryLi-Polymer 45Wh Battery
Slim tip 65W charger
Dimensions307.6mm x 216.4mm x 15.9mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 1.40 kg

The model we’ve received for this review is the ThinkBook 13s-IWL

Design, Build Quality & Ports

Similar to the ThinkPad laptops, the ThinkBook is very minimal in design. It is completely made of aluminum and with only the display frame being plastic. The 13s is sturdy and has a great build quality, it does not flex or bend when applying force.

In terms of durability, the laptop undergoes quality and reliability tests including water spill protection, extreme heat and vibration resistance, as well as a hinge rated for 25,000 open and close cycles.

The laptop comes only in a single color – Mineral Gray and gives it a premium finish, although it would be nice to see one in the iconic ThinkPad black color. With a body size of 307.6 mm x 216.4 mm x 15.9 mm and weight at 1.4 kg, it is very portable and easy to fit in any backpack without any problems. It can also be held easily with one hand.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review

On the left is the Slim-Tip charging port, a HDMI 1.4b port, a USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 port and a 3.5 mm port for headphone and mic combo. Despite having a USB-C port, there is no support for charging or ThunderBolt.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review

Ont right are two USB 3.0 Type A with one being always-on, which can be used for charging even when the laptop is turned off. There is a lack of a memory card slot here.

At the back are the vents for cooling. At the bottom there are three rubber liners for grip. There are also vents here for cooling and on the sides are the stereo speaks from Harman Kardon.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review

In terms of security, the ThinkBook 13s offers a number of features like the fingerprint reader built into the power button with Windows Hello certification, ThinkShutter webcam cover and a Discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) that encrypts data and works in conjunction with Windows 10 security features.

For wireless connectivity, the ThinkBook 13s has Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0. It does not support NFC like its ThinkPad counterparts.

Display

The display hinge is very well built which also makes it difficult to open the laptop with one hand. It also supports flipping the display upto 180 degrees.

The ThinkBook 13s has a 13.3 FHD1920 x 1080 IPS display with support for Dolby Vision and HDR. The display quality is quite good, the colors are natural and has a wide viewing angle of 178 degrees.

The display delivers colors as close to 100% sRGB standard and a maximum brightness of 300 nits. While the display works best indoors, it can also be functional when on the go.

At the top bezel is a 1MP webcam with a microphone and noise cancellation system and is good enough to make video calls. The ThinkBook 13s also includes the ThinkShutter system, a mechanical camera shutter designed to hide the webcam when not in use.

Keyboard & Trackpad

The ThinkBook 13s has a chiclet-type full size keyboard without the numeric keypad. It looks similar to ThinkPad keys but with shorter key travel. A major difference is that the ThinkBook 13s does not include iconic TrackPoint found in the ThinkPad series.

The keys are large, LED back-lit (although slightly dim), and the follows a standard layout. The typing experience is comfortable and accurate. The keys have a travel of 1.5 mm, the keystrokes are quiet and pleasant.

On the top right is the power switch and the ThinkBook 13s has a built-in fingerprint reader here for unlocking. It’s able to recognize fingerprints quickly and makes it convenient to unlock the laptop.

The ThinkBook 13s is equipped with a relatively large trackpad with a smooth finish. It easily recognises movements, multi-finger gestures and is also compatible with Microsoft Precision drivers, making it fully compatible with all Windows 10 gestures. The left and right buttons are integrated within the touchpad and is a bit too soft which can accidentally register clicks while using the touchpad.

Performance

In terms of performance, our review model is equipped with a 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565U Processor with 4 core and 8 threads, integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics, 16GB DDR4 2400MHz memory and 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD storage.

With the configuration, the performance is suitable for general day-to-day tasks such as editing docs, spreadsheets, web browsing, photo editing, watching videos and music.

CPU, GPU & RAM

The ThinkBook 13s is equipped with a power-efficient 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8565 with 4 Cores / 8 threads, 8MB Cache, 4.6 GHz Max Boost and is built with 14nm fabrication processing technology.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review

In Cinebench R20 tests, the ThinkBook 13s scored 310 in single core benchmark and 1,324 in multi-core benchmark. In PCMark 10 benchmark, it recorded a score of 3,878.

BENCHMARKSCORE
Cinebench R20 single core310
Cinebench R20 multi core1,324
PCMark 10 Benchmark3,878
3DMark Sky Diver4,496

The ThinkBook 13s does not come with a dedicated GPU but has an integrated Intel UHD 620 which is sufficient for the use case.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review

In terms of RAM, there is 16 GB LPDDR4 2400 Mhz RAM on board which can be further upgraded to 32 GB.

Storage

Our review unit came with a 512TB NVMe SSD. There is only a single M.2 slot, compatible with PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA, with no space for additional drives. However, depending on the region, there may be different SSDs.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review

The SSD has read speeds of up to 2,269MB per second and write of up to 544MB/s.

Gaming

The UHD Graphics 620 is not meant for gaming but it can play some older titles at 30fps in 720p resolution.

Temperature & Noise

The ThinkBook 13s manages heat efficiently and our review unit remained cool and quiet during most of our tests. However, under sustained load, it can get somewhat loud and warm but is bearable.

Software

The ThinkBook comes pre-installed with Lenovo Vantage. This control panel helps with managing driver updates, touch pad settings, wireless connectivity, battery modes, webcam, audio and fingerprint scanner.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review | Credit: Microsoft

Upgradeability

Similar to the ThinkPad, users can upgrade RAM, SSD storage and WiFi on the ThinkBook 13s. However, there is only one slot for RAM and SSD.

Maintenance and repair can be a bit difficult as you will need a Torx screwdriver to open the bottom panel.

Battery & Audio

ThinkBook 13s is equipped with a 45 Whr battery and according to Lenovo, it can last upto 11 hours. The laptop also supports RapidCharge with the ability to reach 80% of battery within 1 hour.

In practical use, based on the usage and screen brightness, the battery lasts between six to nine hours which is great considering its battery capacity and compact chassis.

Idle (one third brightness, no WiFI)9h 50 min
Web Browsing (one third brightness)8h 40 min
Video Playback (one third brightness)7h 42 min

Audio is powered by 2x 2W speakers certified by Harman Kardon with Dolby Audio support and is loud enough for movies and video calls. As always with laptops, we recommend using a headphone.

Summary

While it lacks some of the essential features of a ThinkPad laptop, the ThinkBook 13s is aimed at the younger generation of professionals, students and freelancers with a modern design and reliable performance.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Review

Apart from being small and lightweight, the ThinkPad also delivers a great battery life and the necessary ports for working on the go with strong enough hardware for work and casual use. Internal hardware such as the RAM, SSD and WiFi can also be replaced.

Some of the drawbacks are the 8th gen Intel processors, the lack of support for USB Type-C charging, no SD card reader and biggest being the laptop can only be charged using the proprietary Lenovo charger.

8

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s

While it lacks some of the essential features of a ThinkPad laptop, the ThinkBook 13s is aimed at the younger generation of professionals, students and freelancers with a modern design and reliable performance.

THE GOOD
  • Good performance
  • Good display
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Solid battery life
  • Water-resistant keyboard
  • Supports Rapid Charging
  • Upgradeable RAM, SSD, WiFi
THE BAD
  • No support for Thunderbolt
  • No support for USB Type-C charging
  • 8th gen Intel processor
  • No SD card reader
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