Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga Gen6Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Best Lenovo Laptops Windows Central 2021

The best Lenovo laptops have seen some exciting improvements over the last few years. There are quite a few to choose from, whether you need something for general use, for gaming, for heavy design and development work, or the corporate world. For most people, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) is likely the best bet thanks to its performance, design, and overall versatility. It's one of the best Windows laptop options out there, but there are plenty of other great Lenovo PCs rounded up here.

Best Overall: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6)

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga Gen6Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Lenovo's high-end X1 lineup of laptops includes the convertible ThinkPad X1 Yoga, now in its sixth generation. Best part? Lenovo finally brought 16:10 displays and 5G to the X1 Yoga, which makes an already-great laptop just so much better. You can stay in touch everywhere with the optional mobile connectivity, plus Wi-Fi 6 is standing by.

For performance hardware, get up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor (CPU), 16GB of LPDDR4x-4266MHz RAM, and a 1TB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD). Integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics come bundled and give a huge performance boost over even 10th Gen Intel integrated GPUs. Thanks to Intel Evo certification, expect boosted battery life and snappy response.

The X1 Yoga's touch displays have gained a "+" designation next to FHD and UHD thanks to the new 16:10 aspect ratio. The 1920x1200 resolution is available with and without Privacy Guard, while the 3840x2400 model is stacked with an anti-reflective finish, Dolby Vision, HDR400, 90% DCI-P3 color reproduction, and 500 nits brightness. A siloed active pen comes with all models for convenient inking.

A new addition to the X1 Yoga's security is Human Presence Detection. It joins an IR camera, webcam shutter, dTPM 2.0 chip, fingerprint reader, and Kensington lock slot. Ports are still plentiful despite the 0.59-inch (14.9mm) thinness; two Thunderbolt 4, two USB-A 3.2, HDMI 2.0, and 3.5mm audio make an appearance.

Pros

  • 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs and Intel Evo
  • 16:10 display aspect ratio
  • Optional 5G connectivity
  • Four speakers
  • Plenty of security features

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Business features overkill for casual use

Best Overall

Thinkpad X1 Yoga Gen 6

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6)

It does it all

Inking, 5G, tons of security, powerful performance, and one of the best keyboards around. What more do you need?

Also Great: Lenovo Yoga 9i 14

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14Source: Windows Central

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 takes over for the formidable Yoga C940, one of our previous top Lenovo laptop picks. Many of the changes belong on the inside. The 9i 14 now has up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU, faster LPDDR4x-4267 RAM, and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics that give a big boost to performance compared to 10th Gen Intel chips. This convertible laptop has a fetching aluminum design with Mica finish; it can also be had with a leather cover on the lid and edge-to-edge glass palm rest, touchpad, and fingerprint reader.

The keyboard has been updated with improvements from Lenovo's TrueStrike line (usually reserved for Legion gaming laptops), and you should have no issues typing all day. An active pen is siloed along the edge, meaning you can start taking notes or sketching diagrams with ease at any time. The 14-inch display comes in FHD and UHD flavors, both with accurate color. The FHD model includes Dolby Vision and 400 nits brightness, while the UHD version hits 500 nits and includes VESA HDR400.

The soundbar hinge we first saw in previous generations returns here, pumping out robust audio that remains unmuffled no matter how you're using the laptop. It turns the laptop into something that can easily handle productivity work and media consumption. If you're not keen on ThinkPad stylings, this should be near the top of your list.

Pros

  • Built-in active pen
  • 11th Gen Intel CPUs and Evo certification
  • Beautiful aluminum design
  • Excellent audio setup
  • 10+ hours battery life

Cons

  • Still using 16:9 display
  • No IR camera
  • Anti-glare display finish

Also Great

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14

Better for non-professionals

Premium convertible design and aluminum body, soundbar hinge, and 4K display are a potent combination for work and play.

Best Gaming: Lenovo Legion 7i 15

Lenovo Legion 7i 15Source: Windows Central

Whereas you're going to find mid-range performance from the Legion 5i 15, the Legion 7i 15 steps things up with more hardware options in an otherwise similar design. You can get up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H vPro CPU, 32GB of DDR4-2933 RAM, and 1TB PCIe SSD coupled with a 512GB PCIe SSD (RAM and SSD upgradeable), all backed up by an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU. If you're not looking to spend a ton of money, there are way more configurations available, starting with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti GPU.

The generous port selection is mostly contained to a rear hub for easy cable management, with a few along the sides, like USB-A and 3.5mm audio, for connecting common accessories. Wi-Fi 6 is included for fast and reliable wireless internet, plus there's an RJ45 Ethernet port if you'd rather go for wired internet. An 80Wh battery does its best, but don't expect more than an hour or two.

The TrueStrike keyboard brings decent travel, whether you're gaming or typing, and Corsair iCue RGB lighting lets you customize the look. The 15.6-inch display comes in a few options, though all are 1080p. The baseline option has a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and 100% sRGB color. The mid-range option has a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, 100% AdobeRGB color, and VESA DisplayHDR 400. And finally, the high-end option has a 240Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, 100% sRGB color, and VESA DisplayHDR 400.

Have a look at our Lenovo Legion 7i 15 review for more information.

Pros:

  • Tons of powerful hardware options
  • High-end FHD display options
  • Upgradeable SSD and RAM
  • Understated design with RGB lighting
  • Rear port hub layout

Cons:

  • Battery life not amazing
  • No 2K or 4K display options

Best Gaming

Lenovo Legion 7i 15

Lenovo Legion 7i 15

You're going to have a great time

With a ton of powerful hardware and high-end display, the Legion 7i 15 is the pick for serious gamers.

Best Performance: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3)

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 3Source: Lenovo

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme is now in its third generation, and it has been updated with 10th Gen Intel Core CPU options up to an i9-10885H vPro. This chip puts out some serious performance, and it only gets better with an NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q dedicated GPU with 4GB of VRAM. With up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM and a 4TB M.2 PCIe SSD, this is a laptop cut out for power users. Like all ThinkPads, it's been put through the wringer to ensure it will withstand a harsh life on the road.

The 15.6-inch display is available in standard FHD, FHD with Dolby Vision HDR, 4K with Dolby Vision HDR400, or stunning 4K OLED with HDR500 and anti-reflective finish. If you have the budget, OLED is likely going to be your first choice. Above the display is a webcam with a privacy shutter, as well as an optional IR camera for Windows Hello. Other security features include a Kensington lock slot, fingerprint reader, and FIDO authentication.

The chassis is just 0.72 inches (18.4mm) thin, and it weighs in at about 3.75 pounds (1.7kg), keeping it portable. Ports include two USB-A 3.2, two Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, an SD card reader, Ethernet expansion port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. A Wi-Fi 6 adapter is included for fast wireless speeds, and the 80Wh battery delivers solid battery life for non-UHD models.

Pros:

  • Ridiculous performance
  • Awesome 4K OLED display
  • High build quality
  • Excellent port selection
  • Wi-Fi 6 connectivity

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Overkill performance for many people

Best Performance

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 3)

Business laptop with dedicated GPU

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme is an ideal choice for anyone who wants the extra security of a business laptop and above-average performance.

Best Mobility: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9)

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 9thSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is now in its ninth generation, and it's still your best option for a 14-inch business partner if you don't need convertible hinges (X1 Yoga) or dedicated GPU (X1 Extreme). Like the new Yoga, the X1 Carbon gets 16:10 displays and optional 5G connectivity, along with Intel 11th Gen Intel Core (up to Core i7-1165G7) CPUs and Intel Evo certification. Along with Dolby Vision for the display and Dolby Atmos for the speakers, it also gets Dolby Voice for online meetings.

The new 16:10 aspect ratio is likely the biggest change to the X1 Carbon. Lenovo is so far listing just an FHD+ option with 400 nits brightness, but expect UHD+ models to come soon. The low-power display feature means longer battery life, which is already extended thanks to Intel Evo certification. Optional 5G connectivity can be added, and Wi-Fi 6 is standing by for when you're at home or the office.

Ports are plentiful and include two Thunderbolt 4, two USB-A 3.2, HDMI 2.0, and 3.5mm audio. Security features are also packed in, with optional Human Presence Detection and IR camera, fingerprint reader, webcam shutter, dTPM 2.0 chip, and Kensington lock slot.

Pros

  • 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs and Intel Evo
  • 16:10 display aspect ratio
  • Excellent port selection
  • Optional 5G connectivity
  • Excellent security features

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can get a smaller version in the X1 Nano

Best Mobility

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 9

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9)

Keep up with work wherever you are

With optional 5G connectivity, powerful performance, and brilliant 14-inch display, get a premium business laptop ideal for productivity no matter where you are.

Best Ultrabook: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Nano HeroSource: Lenovo

If you love the X1 Carbon but want something just a bit smaller, the new X1 Nano is likely going to be an attractive option. We even wrote a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano vs. ThinkPad X1 Carbon comparison to help decide.

Lenovo announced the ThinkPad X1 Nano in late 2020, positioning it as the lightest ThinkPad Lenovo has ever made. Non-touch models weigh in at just 1.99 pounds (907g) and the laptop is just 0.66 inches (16.7mm) thin at the thickest point of its wedge shape. This Ultrabook packs in up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1180G7 vPro CPU, 16GB of LPDDR4x-4267MHz RAM, 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD, and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics. Expect excellent battery life thanks to Intel Evo certification.

The 13-inch display is available only with a crisp 2K resolution (2160x1350), sized with a 16:10 aspect ratio. It comes in touch and non-touch versions, each with Dolby Vision, 100% sRGB color, and 450 nits brightness. Four speakers (two top and two bottom) pump out decent audio for a laptop this size, and you get the usual top-tier ThinkPad keyboard.

Security features include Human Presence Detection, IR camera, fingerprint reader, webcam shutter, and dTPM 2.0 chip. You can also add optional 5G connectivity to go along with Wi-Fi 6, plus there are two Thunderbolt 4 ports for modern connectivity.

Pros

  • 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs and Evo certification
  • 2K displays with 16:10 aspect ratio
  • Human Presence Detection and IR camera
  • Excellent battery life
  • Optional 5G connectivity

Cons

  • Might not want the ThinkPad look

Best Ultrabook

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Nano Reco

Lenovo X1 Nano Laptop

5G, super light, powerful

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Nano is a two-pound Ultrabook with up to an 11th Gen Core i7, 5G, a 2K 16:10 display, and some of the latest AI tech from Intel that makes this one smart laptop. The quoted 17 hours of battery life is not bad either.

Best Value: Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14

Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5 14Source: Windows Central

The IdeaPad Flex 5 14 got a big boost this year from AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs. Available with either Ryzen 5 4500U or Ryzen 7 4700U chips, you're going to get stellar performance at a price that can't be beaten by Intel. Battery life in the Ryzen 5 model hit more than eight hours in our testing, enough to get you through a workday without having to plug in.

Top-firing speakers along either side of the keyboard pump out decent audio, and the convertible design means you can rotate the laptop around for tent, stand, and tablet modes. You get a pen with a display for inking, though unfortunately, the screen is the laptop's weakest spot. Poor color reproduction and not a lot of brightness might make some people pass, especially if they're working with photos.

Otherwise, the keyboard is comfortable for long days of typing, the sizable Precision touchpad makes for easy pointing, and the overall design is slick and sturdy. It just so happens to be available at an unreal price, mostly thanks to AMD's hardware inside.

Pros:

  • Strong AMD performance
  • All-day battery life
  • Comfy keyboard
  • Sturdy convertible design
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • Underwhelming display
  • No Wi-Fi 6

Best Value

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14

Impressive performance and battery life

AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs are a great addition to the Flex 5 14, but its display still leaves a lot to be desired. For the price, though, it might be easy to ignore.

Truly Premium: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Titanium Yoga HeroSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Lenovo announced the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga at CES 2021, hoping to deliver a convertible PC that is more tablet than notebook. You can read a lot more about the process and see how Lenovo's radically thin ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga 5G came to be in Executive Editor Daniel Rubino's writeup.

This laptop has a titanium lid and a magnesium-carbon chassis, providing a ton of strength and durability without a lot of weight. This 13.5-inch laptop weighs just 2.54 pounds (1.15kg) and measures only 0.45 inches (11.5mm) thin. The keyboard deck is as thin as an iPhone 12 Mini, meaning you can flip the display around and use the device as a tablet with ease.

The 13.5-inch touch display uses a 3:2 aspect ratio with 2256x1504 resolution, and it tacks on Dolby Vision with 450 nits brightness. Yes, it can be used for inking with an active pen. Inside, get up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1180G7 vPro CPU, 16GB of LPDDR4x-4267MHz RAM, a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD, and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics. Intel Evo certification ensures snappy performance and long battery life.

The X1 Titanium Yoga doesn't skimp on security measures (it is a ThinkPad after all), bringing dTPM 2.0 chip, Human Presence Detection, IR camera, webcam shutter, fingerprint reader, and Kensington lock slot. It also uses a haptic touchpad that mimics clicks instead of having any moving parts.

Pros

  • High-end titanium construction
  • Powerful performance hardware
  • Thin and light
  • 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Plenty of security features

Cons

  • Very expensive

Truly Premium

Lenovo Thinkpad Titanium X1 Yoga Se Crop

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga

No compromises

This convertible laptop has optional 5G support, a thin-and-light metal body, and runs on 11th Gen Intel Core processors. It also has a unique haptic trackpad.

The bottom line

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) is our top pick for a Lenovo laptop, but it can also be considered one of the best Windows laptops and one of the best business laptops on the market today. Its convertible design makes it truly versatile. Need a tablet with inking? No problem. Need a productivity machine with extra display space (16:10 aspect ratio) and one of the best keyboards around? No sweat.

Its modern 11th Gen Intel Core CPU options can handle just about anything you throw its way, and thanks to Intel Evo certification you can bet on long battery life and excellent performance even when not plugged in. Toss in optional 5G connectivity and tons of security features, including Human Presence Detection, and you have one potent laptop.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

Cale Hunt Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, accessory coverage, and the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

Author:

Daniel Rubino is the executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.

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