Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review

To celebrate 25 years of ThinkPad greatness, Lenovo has created an anniversary edition that borrows a lot from the modern ThinkPad T470, which we favorably reviewed. As a throwback, the ThinkPad 25 has a retro keyboard, classic TrackPoint nub, and a few other design cues that are a blast from the past.

Let's take a look at this laptop to see whether or not placing modern hardware into a chassis with retro stylings works, or if you're better off going with a modern (and cheaper) ThinkPad T470.

About this review

Lenovo supplied Windows Central with a review unit of the commemorative ThinkPad 25. It has a seventh-generation Core i7 processor (CPU), 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD). This exact configurations costs about $1,900 from Lenovo.

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As reviewed

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 hardware and specs

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review

Category XX
Processor Dual-core
Intel Core i7-7500U (up to 3.5GHz)
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD
RAM 16GB DDR4-2133MHz
Display 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
IPS, matte, touch
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
NVIDIA GeForce 940MX with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM
Ports Three USB-A 3.0
USB-C Thunderbolt 3
HDMI 1.4
RJ45 Ethernet
3.5mm jack
4-in-1 card reader
Mechanical ThinkPad dock port
Speakers Dual stereo speakers
Dolby Audio Premium
Wireless Intel dual-band wireless AC 8265
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.1
Camera Front-facing 720p
IR camera
Touchpad Precision
Biometrics Fingerprint reader
IR camera
Battery Three-cell 24WHr (inner)
Three-cell 24WHr (hot-swappable)
Weight 3.48 pounds (1.6kg)
Dimensions 13.25 inches x 9.15 inches x 0.79 inches
336.6mm x 232.5mm x 19.95mm
Color ThinkPad black
Price Starting at about $1,900

Retro styling

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 design

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review

It would be folly to build a classic ThinkPad without the standard black color, which is what we have here. There is some sparkle in the paint, and the soft-touch finish, which extends to the inside of the laptop, does a decent job of hiding fingerprints and smudges. In a corner of the lid is a multi-colored ThinkPad logo with a red LED over the "i," and inside, on the right palm rest, is another logo, albeit without the LED.

The same thin hinges found on many modern T-series ThinkPads are used, and they offer a smooth, sturdy action. You can't open the laptop with one hand, but you also won't see the display move around if you're trying to get some work done in a moving vehicle. This is a clamshell laptop, so you can only open the lid opens far enough for the laptop to lay flat, despite there being a touch display.

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review

The ThinkPad 25 weighs in the same as the T470 at about 3.48 pounds (1.6kg), meaning it isn't the most portable device out there. It is well under an inch thick, and most of the weight no doubt comes from the durable construction that passed multiple MIL-SPEC tests. This thing can take a beating without missing a step.

A backlit power button is located in the middle of the laptop above the keyboard, and next to it are physical audio/volume buttons. The fingerprint reader, compatible with Windows Hello for fast logins, is tucked into the right of the keyboard, well out of the way of your palm when you're typing. Above the display is also an IR camera for Windows Hello. In testing biometric hardware, both worked without flaw and allowed me to log in with ease.

Some of you might be expecting some legacy ports — like DVI, VGA, and even an optical drive — when you hear about a commemorative ThinkPad, but Lenovo has decided to stick with modern ports. On the right side are two USB-A 3.0, HDMI 1.4, a 3.5mm jack, and RJ45 Ethernet. The left side houses another USB-A 3.0, a USB-C Thunderbolt 3, and Lenovo's proprietary charging port. There is plenty of room between ports, and you shouldn't see any crowding when using multiple peripherals. One thing that's missing is LTE capability, which the T470 has in the form of an optional Qualcomm Snapdragon X7.

There are two down-firing speakers in each front corner of the laptop, which are easily muffled when you have the device sitting in your lap. Even in the best conditions — with nothing blocking the speakers — sound is overall hollow and listening at high volume isn't something you'll want to do often.

Brighter than usual?

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 display

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review

Whereas a lot of ThinkPad screens seem to suffer from a dim display, the one in the ThinkPad 25 seems to sport a brighter backlight. Working in sunlight you'll no doubt have it maxed out, but for the rest of the time, it seems to look best around half brightness.

The 14-inch touch display has a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, an IPS panel with 178-degree viewing angles, and a matte finish that significantly cuts down on glare. It's interesting that Lenovo decided on only offering a configuration with a touch display, especially on a non-convertible laptop. The touch function raises the price, and it's often difficult to find an occasion to use it when you have a perfectly fine touchpad and TrackPoint system in front of you.

Unfortunately, decent brightness doesn't help with color accuracy. In testing, we saw 63 percent sRGB and 48 percent AdobeRGB, both results that are quite low. The display still looks fine in everyday use, but it can't reproduce the same color as many other laptops.

Olde style

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 keyboard and touchpad

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review

The biggest throwback on the ThinkPad 25 is the keyboard, which has reverted to a compressed style that was the norm for quite awhile. There are seven rows of keys here, giving you more shortcuts to help up productivity. The secondary functions are printed in blue to help stand out, and the Enter key is a solid blue to match.

After using chiclet ThinkPad keyboards for some time now, it took some time to get used to the keyboard. Everything seemed very cramped at first, but now my fingers seem to glide around the keyboard. Each key has a bit of a curve to it, and bottoming out of the deck is soft. The only thing I'd prefer is a bit more key travel.

At first, it seemed like there was no backlight for the keyboard and I was wondering where the ThinkLight was hiding, but the Fn backlight shortcut was located on the PgUp key. The glow between the tightly spaced keys is satisfying, and you have three levels of brightness to choose from.

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review

Longtime ThinkPad users should appreciate the TrackPoint nub, which has gone back to the fabric-y makeup. It seems to grip the finger much better, and overall movement seems much easier than with the modern plastic nub found on new ThinkPads. Included with the laptop are three replacement nubs of different sizes and material.

If you'd rather not use the TrackPoint nub and physical buttons, the Precision touchpad is no slouch. The mylar finish is smooth and tracks well, with sensitivity pretty much perfect out of the box. The only issue is how it picks up a lot of oil and smudges from your fingers; you'll be wiping it down a lot if you want to keep it clean.

A real workhorse

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 performance

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review

To offer a bit more graphics power, Lenovo has included a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM. It's not the most powerful piece of hardware out there, but it offers the flexibility to enjoy some light to medium gaming or perform some multimedia editing. Even with the GPU inside, the ThinkPad 25's fan rarely kicks on, and when it does it's whisper quiet.

As for battery life, Lenovo's Bridge battery system provides a 24WHr hot-swappable battery at the back of the device, as well as an internal, 24WHr battery. With both batteries fully charged, expect to realistically get about eight hours of life when performing standard tasks. If you're in a situation where outlets aren't readily available for long stretches of time, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up an extra battery that can be exchanged without powering down your laptop.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)

Device CPU Single core Multi core
Lenovo ThinkPad 25 i7-7500U 4,211 7,919
Lenovo Flex 5 15 i7-7500U 3,976 7,730
Lenovo Yoga 720 15 i7-7700HQ 3,784 10,255
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2nd Gen) i5-7200U 3,911 7,549
Surface Laptop i5-7200U 3,725 7,523
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 i5-7300U vPro 4,394 8,580
Dell Latitude 5285 i7-7600U 4,635 9,289
Lenovo ThinkPad X270 i7-7600U 4,512 8,566
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s i5-7300U vPro 3,919 6,077
Lenovo Yoga 720 13 i5-7200U 3,881 7,509
Lenovo X1 Carbon i5-7300U 4,139 8,311
HP EliteBook x360 G2 i7-7600U 4,496 8,435
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext i7-7500U 4,316 8,320
Dell Latitude 7280 i7-7600U 4,381 7,935
Dell XPS 13 (9360) i7-6560U 4,120 7,829
HP Spectre 13 i7-7500U 4,100 7,469
Surface Book i7-6600U 3,948 7,415

Nothing fancy here; this is a standard Core i7 Ultrabook CPU with two cores. Testing with Geekbench gave us a score right where it should be, and we can see that it competes with other laptops of the same class.

GPU

Geekbench 4.0 Graphics OpenCL (Higher is better)

Device Score
Lenovo ThinkPad 25 17,789
Lenovo Flex 5 15 16,912
Lenovo Yoga 720 15 13,727
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2nd Gen) 19,738
Surface Pro 2017 30,678
Surface Laptop 19,256
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 21,276
Dell Latitude 5285 21,921
Lenovo ThinkPad X270 17,376
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s 16,635
Lenovo Yoga 720 13 18,185
Lenovo X1 Carbon 20,932
Dell Latitude 5480 21,616
Dell XPS 13 (9360) 19,410
Surface Book 18,197
Dell Latitude 7280 17,827

When the GeForce 940MX GPU isn't needed, integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 will handle most light jobs. Its Geekbench score shows that it can keep up with most of your tasks, and the 940MX — which scored 32,356 on the same test — is more than willing to help out.

PCMark

PCMark Home Conventional 3.0

Device Score Comparison
Lenovo ThinkPad 25 2,884 Better than 51 percent of all results
Lenovo Flex 5 15 2,634 Better than 46 percent of all results
Lenovo Yoga 720 15 2,993 Better than 57 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2nd Gen) 2,773 Better than 46 percent of all results
Surface Pro 2017 3,055 Better than 57 percent of all results
Surface Laptop 2,494 Better than 40 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 3,103 Better than 62 percent of all results
Dell Latitude 5285 3,079 Better than 57 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad X270 3,009 Better than 57 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s 2,576 Better than 40 percent of all results
Lenovo Yoga 720 13 2,717 Better than 46 percent of all results
Lenovo X1 Carbon Core i5 2,965 Better than 57 percent of all results
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext 2,998 Better than 57 percent of all results
Dell XPS 15 (9560) 3,534 Better than 71 percent of all results
Dell Latitude 7280 2,829 Better than 52 percent of all results
HP Spectre x360 15 2,472 Better than 41 percent of all results

The PCMark Home Conventional test takes a bunch of your hardware and determines how well it works together while performing a number of everyday tasks. The ThinkPad 25 scored well but didn't beat out a regular T470.

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

Device Read Write
Lenovo ThinkPad 25 1,368 MB/s 858.4 MB/s
Lenovo Flex 5 15 2,146 MB/s 1,186 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga 720 15 1,839 MB/s 1,238 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2nd Gen) 1,253 MB/s 763.6 MB/s
Surface Laptop 423 MB/s 237 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 1,079 MB/s 716.1 MB/s
Dell Latitude 5285 1,300 MB/s 1,113 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X270 PCIe 1,049 MB/s 636.9 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s 1,557 MB/s 1,333 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga 720 1,904 MB/s 1,169 MB/s
Lenovo X1 Carbon 1,518 MB/s 1,188 MB/s
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext 1,365 MB/s 1,213 MB/s
Razer Blade Pro 2,571 MB/s 2,467 MB/s
Dell XPS 15 (9560) 2,207 MB/s 1,628 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 (9360) 1,287 MB/s 794 MB/s
HP Spectre x360 15 1,128 MB/s 862 MB/s

Lenovo's SSD isn't the fastest out there, offering read speeds just over 1,000 MB/s and write speeds just under. Compared to Samsung SSDs, this can't compete, but it's still much faster than a hard-disk drive (HDD).

TL;DR

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review: Conclusion

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 review

Lenovo wanted to honor the legacy of the ThinkPad with this anniversary edition, and in that respect, I'd say it succeeded. The laptop might not have all the old stuff that longtime users are nostalgic for, but what is here works well. The keyboard is fantastic, I find myself using the TrackPoint system more often than not (can't get enough of the old nub), and its overall retro look is a kick.

Add in a dedicated GeForce 940MX GPU, an IR camera and fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, and otherwise decent hardware when it comes to performance, and this laptop is an overall strong contender.

If you aren't a ThinkPad lover, however, you'll no doubt soon pick out some issues. There is only one configuration available, and it comes with a touch display with poor color reproduction. The price is also set high; the single configuration costs about $1,900, whereas you can pick up a brand new T470 with similar specs (albeit without a dedicated GPU) for about $1,580. If you forego a touch display, you can save another $50.

So, it comes down to this: if you're nostalgic for ThinkPad days gone by, you're probably going to love this laptop. If you're just looking for a strong business partner, you can do better elsewhere. This is what Lenovo no doubt intended, and in that sense, it's hit the mark.

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Pros

  • Seven-row keyboard.
  • Dedicated GPU.
  • Bridge battery system.
  • Durable.
  • Appeals to longtime ThinkPad fans.

Cons:

  • Touch display is your only option.
  • Can buy a T470 for less.
  • Speakers don't offer much.
  • Poor display color reproduction.

4 out of 5