Phone, Smartphone, Notebook and Gadget Reviews and buyers guide

Home > Laptop Reviews > Lenovo ThinkPad 13


Lenovo ThinkPad 13

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star

What's Hot: Low price, light weight, strong build, great keyboard.

What's Not: Keyboard isn't backlit. Lower end display and specs, but those are appropriate for the price.


Reviewed May 27, 2016 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

ThinkPads are durable, have great keyboards and are relatively upgradable, but they're generally not inexpensive. Lenovo has experimented with affordable ThinkPads like the Edge series, but they weren't the best looking and the specs were decidedly low end. With the ThinkPad 13, Lenovo has made a business quality Ultrabook that's extremely affordable--our base Core i3 review unit starts at $510, and a nicely configured ThinkPad 13 with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8 gigs of RAM, a 256 gig SSD and a full HD display is currently $682 on Lenovo's website. In a world where most ThinkPads are over a grand, that's certainly easier on the budget.

Something has to give for the lower price, and in this case there's little lost unless you're hunting for top specs like a very high resolution display, faster PCIe SSDs or a touch screen. The 3.17 lb., 0.75" thick laptop has a sturdy build with no flex, and the lid is aluminum while the rest is a mix of ABS and polycarbonate plastics. It's passed 8 MIL spec tests for temperature, sand intrusion and vibration. It's also available in silver just in case the usual ThinkPad matte black is too dull for you.

Specs are decent but there are no high end options--after all, Lenovo has more expensive lines if you want top features. It's available with Intel Skylake 6th generation dual core Ultrabook 15 watt CPUs with Intel HD 520 graphics--your choice of Core i3 or Core i5. You can get it with 4, 8 or 16 gigs of DDR4 (not the usual slower DDR3L RAM used in most competing Ultrabooks) and a 128 or 256 gig M.2 SATA3 SSD. The laptop has Intel's higher end 8260 dual band 802.11ac 2 x 2 WiFi with Bluetooth 4.1. It does not have a backlit keyboard, but it does have stereo speakers with good volume and reasonable fullness and a 720p webcam.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

The laptop is refreshingly upgradable, though getting the bottom cover off is a chore. There are 9 Phillips head screws, and three are hidden under rubber plugs at the front end. These plugs are a pain to get out, and when you replace them, put them back in the right hole (they're not identical). Then there are the myriad contentious plastic clips. Use a plastic spudger or some thin piece of plastic to work the bottom off. When you're finally inside, you'll have access to the battery, the M.2 SATA3 SSD slot (not compatible with faster PCIe SSD drives), two (yes two!) RAM slots and the socketed wireless card. It's uncommon to see a RAM slot, let alone two on a 13" Ultrabook.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

Ports are good, and we even have a USB-C gen. 1 port (5 Gbps, same speed as USB 3.0) that supports DisplayPort and charging. The laptop has three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, 3.5mm combo audio, an SD card slot and a lock slot.

We have the base model with the 2.1 GHz Intel Core i3-6100U dual core CPU, 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD. Benchmarks are thus as low as they go for this model, with performance in benchmarks that sits well below the Core i5 and is similar to the Core M series (though the Core M can't long sustain the clock speeds that the Core i3 uses as its baseline). We expect that the Core i5 model with 8 gigs of RAM would closely match other recent laptops running on those same specs.


PCMark8 Home Accelerated:  2888

Geekbench 3: 2396/ 5215

wPrime: 20.75  seconds

Keyboard and Trackpad

This is every bit a ThinkPad keyboard with the ergonomic, sculpted keys, good key damping and adequate key travel unconstrained by skinniness. I love everything about it except the fact it's not backlit. If you're a writer, this is a great keyboard. It has the usual ThinkPad TrackPoint eraser stick pointer nestled in the keyboard and three hardware buttons at the top of the trackpad for that pointer.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

The trackpad is made by Elan rather than the usual ThinkPad Synaptics unit, and it's actually quite good, with reliable tracking and a variety of multi-finger and edge scrolling features supported in the control panel (not quite as full-featured as high end ThinkPads).


Deals and Shopping:


Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Video Review



There's only one display option, a 1920 x 1080 IPS matte non-touch display that's decent given the price. There's no touch screen here, and this is not a convertible (though the hinges allow it to lay flat at 180 degrees). Lenovo claims the display has 220 nits of brightness, and ours actually exceeded that at 231 nits according to our Spyder4 Pro colorimeter. That's not terribly bright, but in this price range it's average. The display is sufficiently bright for indoor use and the (non-grainy) matte finish mitigates glare, but it's not something you'd want to use in bright light outdoors. The 0.47 black level at max brightness combined with our 231 nits of brightness works out to a nearly 500:1 contrast ratio, which is reasonable for this price range (even more expensive laptops can have similar contrast). Color gamut isn't up to professional graphics and video editing at 66% of sRGB (near 100% is ideal and is found in more expensive laptops) and 49% of Adobe RGB. That said, it's actually a nice looking display with pleasing, albeit not stunning, colors and fine contrast for movie watching and reading text.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

Battery Life

Here's the benefit of a Core i3 CPU, the reasonable full HD resolution and a laptop that isn't trying to be the thinnest and lightest on the market. Our review unit ran for 9 hours of productivity and streaming video use when set to 50% brightness (which I found too dim) and WiFi on. With brightness set to 75%, we averaged 7.5 to 8 hours of actual use time on a charge. If you play games (not an Ultrabook's forte) or edit video for long sessions, expect shorter runtimes. The ThinkPad 13 has a 42 Whr, 3 cell battery, and that's an average capacity for a 13" Ultrabook that's not of the super-skinny variety. It ships with a 45 watt charger (the standard kind with a compact power brick and two lengths of cord).

Lenovo ThinkPad 13


If you're fond of ThinkPads but have found their price prohibitive, this could be the laptop for you. It brings the core essence of the ThinkPad line--- a great keyboard, rugged build, upgradability and solid core specs at a very reasonable price. It's not chunky and it's fairly light too. Granted, you won't get sexy features like a touch screen, super high resolution screens or even the useful backlit keyboard here, but for the price, it's a literally solid laptop with a full HD display, Intel Core CPUs, SSDs and the option to upgrade to 16 gigs of RAM.

Price: starting at ~ $510


Related Reviews:

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Review

Lenovo ThinkPad T460s Video Review

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260 Review

Dell XPS 13 Review

13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display Review

Samsung Notebook 9 Review


blog comments powered by Disqus


Display: 13.3" IPS matte, mon-touch full HD 1920 x 1080 display. Intel HD 520 integrated graphics. HDMI and USB-C (supporting display out) ports.

Battery: 3 cell, 42 WHr Lithium Ion rechargeable.

Performance: Intel 6th generation Skylake dual core, 15 watt Ultrabook Coer i5 and Core i5 CPUs available. 4, 8 or 16 gigs DDR4 RAM in two slots. 128 or 256 gig M.2 SSD (SATA3).

Size: 4.47 x 2.78 x .53 inches. Weight: 3.17 pounds (1.44 kg).

Camera: 720p webcam.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Intel 8260 dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth.

Software: Windows 10.

Expansion and Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB-C 3.1 gen. 1 port, HDMI, 3.5mm audio and SD card slot.



All Phone Reviews
Smartphone Reviews
Android Phone Reviews
Windows Phone Reviews
HTC Phone Reviews
LG Phone Reviews
Motorola Phone Reviews
Nokia Phone Reviews
Samsung Phone Reviews
Sony Phone Reviews
AT&T Phone Reviews
Sprint Phone Reviews
T-Mobile Phone Reviews
Verizon Phone Reviews
Unlocked GSM Phone Reviews


All Tablet Reviews
Android Tablet Reviews
Tablet Comparisons
Android Tablet Comparisons



Laptop Reviews
Ultrabook Reviews
Laptop Comparisons
Best Ultrabooks



Bluetooth Headsets
iPhone and iPad Accessories
eBook Readers
Camera Reviews

iPhone Game Reviews
iPad Game Reviews

iPhone Case Reviews
iPad Case Reviews


RSS News Feed

About Us

Contact Us


Site Map