Lenovo IdeaPad vs. ThinkPad : Which is Greatest for You?

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Lenovo has a number of laptop computer traces geared toward varied buyer sorts. There’s the IdeaPad for funds and mid-range consumers, the Yoga for mainstream premium customers, the ThinkBook for small companies, and the ThinkPad for companies of all sizes. There’s some overlap for positive, however Lenovo has carried out a decent job of making a plethora of laptops that may meet nearly any want. And so they’re wonderful machines, displaying up on quite a lot of our best-of lists, together with greatest enterprise laptops.

We’re going to focus right here on the IdeaPad versus ThinkPad, two traces that you simply’ll seemingly run throughout essentially the most as you’re doing all of your analysis. Though high-end IdeaPad laptops share some options with ThinkPad machines, there are sufficient variations to choose between them moderately clear.


Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro sitting angled on a table.
Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

You will get ThinkPads and IdeaPads in quite a lot of sizes and styles. The ThinkPad line is a bit more various, as a result of, along with the clamshells and 360-degree convertible 2-in-1s you will get with the IdeaPad line, there’s the ThinkPad X12 Removable pill that extends the road.

When it comes to their development, the ThinkPad line is extra uniform, typically utilizing a mixture of aluminum, magnesium, and carbon fiber relying on the mannequin. Now and again, some plastic will discover its method into the combo. The sturdiest ThinkPads are principally aluminum and carbon fiber — their magnesium chassis and lids are typically extra versatile.

IdeaPads could be constituted of varied supplies, together with aluminum, magnesium, aluminum-magnesium alloys, and plastic. They don’t are typically as sturdy as ThinkPads, with extra lid bending and flexing within the keyboard deck and chassis. That’s notably true with essentially the most budget-oriented IdeaPads, which might begin at underneath $500, the place your typical ThinkPad will price you at the least $1,000 and most frequently significantly extra. One instance of an IdeaPad that’s each costly and rather less sturdy is the IdeaPad Slim 7i Professional, which remains to be a really good laptop computer.

ThinkPads have one of the crucial iconic aesthetic designs within the trade. They’re nearly universally jet-black all through, with just a few purple accents corresponding to a glowing LED dot over the “i” on the ThinkPad emblem on the lid, the purple TrackPoint nubbin nestled in the midst of the keyboard, and purple accents on the additional set of TrackPoint buttons. They share the identical industrial design with gradual angles alongside the perimeters and sq. corners, though you’ll discover barely extra elegant and fewer blocky designs within the ThinkPad X1 variants. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is a basic instance of the shape — check out it, and you’ve got a normal concept of what a ThinkPad appears to be like like.

Though some latest fashions just like the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 4 incorporate a carbon fiber weave within the lid of its 4K variations, there aren’t many prospers. There are additionally just a few exceptions to the general theme, such because the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga that includes titanium within the chassis, sports activities a silver shade scheme, and has extra aggressive angles alongside the rear edge.

IdeaPads are much less constant of their aesthetics. They will get pleasure from minimalist designs and easy silver shade schemes, or they are often extra angular and are available in quite a lot of totally different hues. The IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 is an instance of an understated IdeaPad design, with its darkish grey chassis and streamlined angles making for a easy however enticing design. As a result of the IdeaPad line contains gaming machines, you’ll discover barely extra unique designs in laptops just like the IdeaPad Gaming 3 15-inch laptop computer. However, typically talking, you’ll get extra selection out of the IdeaPad lineup. With the ThinkPad, you will get any design you need so long as it’s black — with only a few exceptions.


Opened Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 sitting on the ground.
Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Each traces include varied CPU choices, together with Tenth- and Eleventh-generation Intel Core processors and AMD 4000- and 5000-series processors. However, you’ll discover the ThinkPad line to supply the extra highly effective and business-friendly CPU choices. For instance, you will get Intel vPro and AMD Ryzen Professional processors in varied ThinkPad fashions that improve their manageability and safety. That is smart given the ThinkPad’s enterprise focus. And also you’ll discover essentially the most highly effective CPUs, as much as Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9, within the ThinkPad line, with the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 4 being a potent mainstream enterprise laptop computer.

The identical goes for GPUs, the place the IdeaPad line is especially restricted to entry-level Intel Iris Xe, AMD Radeon graphics, and Nvidia GeForce M-series discrete GPUs as much as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. The exception is the IdeaPad Gaming lineup that features quicker Nvidia discrete GPUs. Nevertheless, the ThinkPad line presents a lot quicker choices, such because the P-series workstations that supply Nvidia Quadro skilled graphics and the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 4 that may be configured with as much as an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080.

If efficiency is your purpose, you then’ll need to give attention to the ThinkPad line. Any IdeaPad is probably going to supply good productiveness efficiency, however inventive and scientific sorts might have extra.


Image of the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro's display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

IdeaPad shows vary from Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) as much as 4K UHD (4,840 x 2,160) resolutions, and most use IPS panels. So far as we will inform, there are not any OLED choices obtainable in an IdeaPad. ThinkPad shows additionally run from Full HD as much as UHD 4K, with a spread of resolutions in between, and you will get OLED shows on a number of fashions. On the whole, you’ll discover higher-quality shows within the ThinkPad line, not shocking given their worth premium, with options like Dolby Imaginative and prescient excessive dynamic vary (HDR) help on fairly just a few machines. In fact, to complicate issues, Lenovo has additionally been providing Dolby Imaginative and prescient on choose IdeaPads, such because the IdeaPad Slim 7i Professional, which means that the very best Netflix and Amazon Prime Video HDR help isn’t restricted to only the ThinkPad.

That is one space the place you possibly can’t simply have a look at the specs to know which line presents a show that may make you content. You’ll need to learn critiques that quantify show high quality to make sure that your chosen machine will reside as much as your requirements.

Keyboards and touchpads

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4's keyboard.
Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Virtually each ThinkPad enjoys the identical keyboard, and it’s a great one. It’s one other iconic aspect of the road, instantly recognizable for its sculpted keycaps, broad spacing, particular format (together with inverted left Ctrl and Fn keys), and copious quantities of journey. The switches are crisp and exact, and fairly a little bit of power is usually required to depress them.

IdeaPads additionally use an identical keyboard design throughout the road. In truth, it’s the identical keyboard you’ll discover on all of the traces talked about within the introduction besides the ThinkPad. The keycaps have their very own sculpted design, journey is usually shallower, and the switches range from snappy and exact to a bit mushy on some cheaper fashions. The layouts are often pretty normal (the left Ctrl and Fn keys are of their traditional positions), however there’s some variation in arrow and performance keys. Whereas IdeaPad keyboards are first rate throughout the board, they’re sometimes a step behind the ThinkPad keyboard and the keyboards on different premium laptops, just like the HP Spectre and Dell XPS traces.

You’ll discover quite a lot of touchpads on each traces, starting from giant and wonderful variations to tiny and less-than-excellent. The ThinkPad line stands out in that it additionally incorporates Lenovo’s TrackPoint nubbin that provides a very totally different strategy to management the cursor. The TrackPoint comes with its personal buttons, that are on the high of the touchpad and cut back its dimension considerably. Due to this fact, you’re likelier to search out an IdeaPad with an general bigger touchpad, however the distinction received’t be excessive. Each traces even have choices for each non-touch and touch-enabled shows.

Home windows 10 Howdy password-less login is offered by infrared facial recognition cameras and fingerprint readers on varied ThinkPad and IdeaPad fashions. The identical goes for pen help, which at the least comes on every line’s 2-in-1 machines.

Battery life

Along the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro's right-hand side you'll see a USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port and 3.5mm audio jack.
Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Battery life is one other space the place there’s a variety of overlap between the IdeaPad and ThinkPad traces. Whilst you’re more likely to get bigger batteries with ThinkPads, you usually get quicker parts and better decision shows that mitigate the battery dimension benefit. Some ThinkPads, such because the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 4, don’t get nice battery life, particularly once they’re configured with 4K OLED shows and superfast CPUs and GPUs. Others, such because the Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 9, get nice battery life. The identical could be mentioned for the IdeaPad line. You’ll need to slim down your decisions after which do your analysis to see which machines will final so long as you want.

In the event you’re a enterprise person, purchase a ThinkPad — everybody else, select rigorously

In the event you’re a enterprise person, you’ll need to purchase a ThinkPad. They’re filled with business-friendly options that make proudly owning a ThinkPad definitely worth the funding. In the event you’re searching for one thing extra informal, then the selection isn’t fairly as clear. Efficiency customers will need to have a look at ThinkPads, whereas budget-conscious consumers will need to gravitate towards the IdeaPad. Given the overlap, although, you’ll need to have a look at each traces earlier than making your alternative. We want the choice have been extra clear-cut than that, however Lenovo presents an in depth vary of fantastic laptops, and it makes selecting between them a difficult proposition at instances.

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