Who doesn’t like an ultra-light ultraportable? Well, the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 is just that. It’s incredibly thin, feels incredibly solid and yet it also promises premium performance. We’ve seen some impressive, portable rivals lately, but few have seriously impressed us. Could this be the one?
Table of Contents
- Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 specs
- Handling and design
- Should I buy the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 specs
13.3-inch, glossy, 60Hz, 1,920 x 1,200, IPS, touchscreen display; 2.7-4.7GHz AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 6850U CPU; 16GB LPDDR5-6400 RAM; 512GB HDD; Integrated Radeon 680M graphics; 51.5Wh battery; 1.26KG. Dimensions (WxDxH): 294 x 200 x 14mm. SKU: 21D2000BAU. Full specs here.
Handling and design
We’re fans of the ‘Arctic Grey’ metallic styling of the ThinkPad Z13 and, as with most Lenovo laptops, we like the cool brand and range stamps that adorn the lid. In this instance the ‘i’ in ThinkPad is dotted with a red LED when it’s turned on, which is cool. The fact that it’s made from recycled aluminium is also a plus.
The aluminium also means that it’s incredibly strong and incredibly light. The lid barely flexes when a twisting force is applied and despite the elfin (1.26KG) weight, it feels very rigid and robust. There’s a raised area above the screen which accommodates a Full HD webcam with Windows Hello IR smarts for facial log-in. We don’t mind the raised bump as it both keeps the rest of the bezel surrounding the ThinkPad Z13’s screen thin and it acts as a lip to help with opening it up.
The Full HD webcam is really rather good and produces minimal grain in low light while offering a decent array of contrast. A dedicated app can fine-tune the lighting, too. Web conferencing is further enhanced by Dolby Voice AI-driven microphones. There’s also a fingerprint reader that’s impressively disguised as part of the keyboard (next to the arrow keys). It’s all supported by an internal TPM 2.0 module for security.
Beneath the ThinkPad Z13’s screen is a (very) low-travel, touch-type keyboard. It’s accurate, but it took us a little while to get to grips with the low pressure required to activate each key – if you hit them too hard it can get wearying on your fingers (as we’ve seen with previous Lenovo Yoga models). But, once we got used to it, we loved it. We didn’t particularly like the half-height up-and-down arrow keys, though – they’re too small for our fat fingers.
The trackpad is generally accurate but can be a bit overzealous and lurchy when multi-touch scrolling. We got used to it though. The ZenBook 13 also has a nipple mouse – the first we’ve seen in ages. Any oldies reading may look longingly at it, but we’ve not missed having one.
The (10-point) touch-screen is a low-power, low-blue-light glossy affair which gave us some concerns regarding reflectivity and performance but issues weren’t immediately evident. The touchscreen is responsive and very impressively fends-off both fingerprints and (to an impressive degree) reflections.
It gets impressively bright (400-nits) and the 1,920 x 1,200 resolution ensures everything is crisp and clear on a Windows Desktop. Despite the low-power, Eyesafe screen, colours on the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 were surprisingly vibrant. It displays 100 per cent of the basic, sRGB colour space (as most modern screens do) but its colour accuracy is not beyond doing some design work.
While dynamic range could be impressive in terms of bright and dark areas appearing on a screen at once, details regularly got lost in highlights and shadows, but not to a terrible degree. Colour gradients were a mixed bag: they could be impressively smooth in one scene but then exhibit minor banding a little later. It wasn’t too distracting though. Monochromatic gradients were somewhat more blocky. We’ve seen worse, but dark, shadowy content can be a bit messy. We’re being rather harsh here, though: it’s much better than other low-powered touchscreens and many other business-oriented ultraportables too.
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The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13’s slow, 60Hz screen isn’t great for gamers but then this laptop isn’t built for them. Still, it’s worth noting that pixel response time was also rather slow and objects could get a bit fuzzy in fast-moving areas.
We expected nothing from the twin, 2-Watt speakers in the 14mm-thick chassis but… well… we were blown away. There is no earthly reason that this laptop should sound so good. The speakers get loud, have impressive top-end, bass response and great all-round fidelity. Extraordinary.
Inside the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 is an octa-core, 16-thread, 2.7-4.7GHz AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 6850U processor which is beefy despite being a ‘low-power’ spec. It’s supported by 16GB of cutting-edge LPDDR5-6400 RAM plus a 512GB PCIe 4.0 hard drive. These combined to score 6,094 in the general PCMark 10 test which is incredibly fast for an ultraportable – it’s rubbing shoulders with premium creator laptops! This impressive performance was also replicated in the CineBench rendering tests where it scored 1760 and 9269 in the R15 and R23 tests respectively, it’s head and shoulders above ultraportable rivals for 2D performance.
3D performance comes via the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13’s integrated 12-core, Radeon 680M GPU. While most ultraportables won’t even try to run the difficult Port Royal ray-tracing test in 3DMark, this completed it with a score of 1,241 which is an average of 5.7fps. While that sounds quite low, it’s worth remembering that this is a test that 5x larger gaming laptops struggle with. In Fire Strike Extreme it scored 3,415 (16fps) and in Time Spy it scored 2,809 (16fps). But, while these scores show it can’t play the latest triple-A games (and it’s ridiculous we’re even countenancing that in an ultraportable review) it managed to score 25,119 in the easier Night Raid test which is an average of 166fps! So, the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 will easily play casual and competitive games. Just note that the sluggish pixel response time means fast-moving games won’t look great.
Also note that when, under heavy load, it can get rather hot. But under general use, the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 is generally cool.
While we’d like to see at least a USB-A port for legacy peripherals, there are USB-C dongle adapters available (from $10 to $35) for USB-A, HDMI and Ethernet. Inside there’s Wi-Fi6E and Bluetooth 5.2. So the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 has got bleeding-edge connectivity, but we’d still like to see more of it.
The robust, aluminium chassis is very solid despite its 14mm thickness and it only weighs 1.26KG. The 65W PSU and cables adds an extra 370g to the mix. That’s a little more than other ultraportables, but only a little. Either way, the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 is effortless to carry around and it will easily survive life on the road.
It ran the PCMark 10 Modern Office Battery Test for a very impressive 11 hours 43 minutes, while it’s not quite up to the 18-hour claims that still very impressive especially considering the relatively small three-cell, 51.5Wh battery.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 also supports rapid charging – up to 80 per cent in one hour. Ultimately, it’s very portable indeed.
The Lenovo ZenBook Z13 has a hefty sticker price of $4,139 but, at the time of writing, it’s available at a hefty discount for $3,189. Just note that there are some strange differences in part codes – some have identical specs but with different SKUs so double-check you’re getting exactly what you’re expecting when buying.
Despite the price, the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 is part of our best portable notebook list where it’s our new number two choice behind the amazingly-portable, gaming-oriented Zephyrus G14. Asus’ ExpertBook B5 Flip might be a cheaper business-designated option that has longer battery life, but the performance on offer here blows away all comers (that aren’t also gaming laptops).
Should I buy the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13’s combination of power, portability and features is unrivaled. We’re also impressed that the aluminium is recycled and all of the packaging is compostable. It’s obviously very expensive, but it’s good value for it. Ultimately, it’s out top choice for business-oriented ultraportable.
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 results
The combination of power, portability and features on offer is unrivaled. But, you’ll pay for it.