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

Lenovo has a number of laptop computer traces aimed toward varied buyer varieties. There’s the IdeaPad for finances 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 certain, however Lenovo has executed a good job of making a plethora of laptops that may meet nearly any want. And so they’re glorious machines, displaying up on a wide range 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 probably run throughout probably the most as you’re doing all your analysis. Though high-end IdeaPad laptops share some options with ThinkPad machines, there are sufficient variations to select between them fairly clear.


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

You will get ThinkPads and IdeaPads in a wide range of sizes and shapes. 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 building, the ThinkPad line is extra uniform, usually utilizing a mixture of aluminum, magnesium, and carbon fiber relying on the mannequin. Once in a while, 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 may be made out of varied supplies, together with aluminum, magnesium, aluminum-magnesium alloys, and plastic. They don’t are typically as strong as ThinkPads, with extra lid bending and flexing within the keyboard deck and chassis. That’s notably true with probably the most budget-oriented IdeaPads, which may begin at below $500, the place your typical ThinkPad will value 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 iconic aesthetic designs within the trade. They’re nearly universally jet-black all through, with a couple of crimson accents resembling a glowing LED dot over the “i” on the ThinkPad brand on the lid, the crimson TrackPoint nubbin nestled in the course of the keyboard, and crimson 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 traditional instance of the shape — check out it, and you’ve got a common concept of what a ThinkPad seems 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 a couple of exceptions to the general theme, such because the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga that comes with 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’ll take pleasure in minimalist designs and easy silver shade schemes, or they are often extra angular and are available in a wide range 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 engaging 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, usually 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 just some exceptions.


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

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 sensible given the ThinkPad’s enterprise focus. And also you’ll discover probably 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 affords a lot quicker choices, such because the P-series workstations that provide 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 aim, then you definitely’ll wish to give attention to the ThinkPad line. Any IdeaPad is probably going to supply good productiveness efficiency, however artistic and scientific varieties might have extra.


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

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 variety of resolutions in between, and you will get OLED shows on a number of fashions. Normally, you’ll discover higher-quality shows within the ThinkPad line, not stunning given their worth premium, with options like Dolby Imaginative and prescient excessive dynamic vary (HDR) help on fairly a couple of 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, that means that the very best Netflix and Amazon Prime Video HDR help isn’t restricted to simply the ThinkPad.

That is one space the place you may’t simply take a look at the specs to know which line affords a show that can make you cheerful. You’ll wish to learn opinions 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 Tendencies

Virtually each ThinkPad enjoys the identical keyboard, and it’s a great one. It’s one other iconic factor of the road, instantly recognizable for its sculpted keycaps, extensive 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 pressure is usually required to depress them.

IdeaPads additionally use an analogous keyboard design throughout the road. In actual fact, 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 mostly shallower, and the switches fluctuate from snappy and exact to a bit mushy on some cheaper fashions. The layouts are normally pretty commonplace (the left Ctrl and Fn keys are of their standard 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 a wide range of touchpads on each traces, starting from massive and glorious variations to tiny and less-than-excellent. The ThinkPad line stands out in that it additionally incorporates Lenovo’s TrackPoint nubbin that provides a totally totally different strategy to management the cursor. The TrackPoint comes with its personal buttons, that are on the prime of the touchpad and cut back its measurement considerably. Subsequently, 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 Good day password-less login is supplied 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 Tendencies

Battery life is one other space the place there’s loads of overlap between the IdeaPad and ThinkPad traces. Whilst you’re prone to get bigger batteries with ThinkPads, you typically get quicker parts and better decision shows that mitigate the battery measurement 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 may be mentioned for the IdeaPad line. You’ll wish to slim down your selections after which do your analysis to see which machines will final so long as you want.

In case you’re a enterprise person, purchase a ThinkPad — everybody else, select fastidiously

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

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