Lenovo ThinkPad P1 vs. MacBook Pro: Which should you buy?

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2)
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2) (Image credit: Windows Central)

Ultimately, while both of these laptops handle workstation tasks excellently and perform superbly, we think that the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 will be the better choice for most people since it's more affordable and has some nice features that the MacBook Pro lacks. However, you shouldn't overlook what Apple is offering, especially if your workload is on the more intensive side. This is because the MacBook Pro is overall more capable than the ThinkPad P1, even if you miss out on things like Wi-Fi 6 and facial recognition biometric security.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 vs. MacBook Pro: Comparison and specs

Both of these laptops are performance titans, and that's reflected in the spec sheet. The two devices are very similar: both feature workhorse CPUs, and both have up to 64GB of memory. Both also have beastly GPUs that are excellent for visual media productivity, although the MacBook Pro's Radeon Pro GPUs perform considerably better than the NVIDIA Quadro cards in the ThinkPad P1. The 8GB variant of the Radeon Pro 5500M, in particular, offers a huge VRAM advantage that will be felt during more intensive tasks, such as high-resolution video editing. Both devices also have gorgeous displays with excellent resolution, rich color accuracy, and brightness. Notably, the ThinkPad P1 offers an OLED display with touch as an option for folks who like using the feature, something that the MacBook Pro doesn't have. However, the MacBook Pro fires back with double the potential storage (8TB vs. 4TB), four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a more advanced audio setup, and almost double the battery life of the ThinkPad P1. Overall, the MacBook Pro outclasses the ThinkPad P1 in these areas, though it's important to note that you'll be paying a pretty penny to get those advantages.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Lenovo ThinkPad P1MacBook Pro (16-inch)
CPUIntel i7-10750HIntel i7-10850HIntel i9-10885HIntel Xeon W-10855MIntel 9th Gen 6-core i7Intel 9th Gen 8-core i9
GPUNVIDIA Quadro T1000 (4GB)NVIDIA Quadro T2000 (4GB)AMD Radeon Pro 5300M (4GB)AMD Radeon Pro 5500M (4GB)AMD Radeon Pro 5500M (8GB)
StorageUp to 4TB SSDUp to 8TB SSD
Display15.6" UHD OLED HDR with touch (400 nits)15.6" UHD IPS HDR anti-glare (600 nits)15.6" UHD IPS HDR anti-glare (500 nits)15.6" UHD IPS anti-glare (300 nits)16" 3072 x 1920 (500 nits)
SpeakersDual Dolby Atmos 2W speakersSix-speaker sound system with dual force-cancelling woofers
Ports2x Thunderbolt 32x USB-A3.5mm headphone jackmicroSD reader4x Thunderbolt 33.5mm headphone jack
BiometricsFingerprint reader, IR cameraFingerprint reader
ConnectivityWi-FI 6Bluetooth 5.0Wi-Fi 5Bluetooth 5.0
Battery Life6 hours11-12 hours

The ThinkPad P1 isn't without some of its own victories. On top of having touch has a display option, Lenovo's workstation also offers compatibility with Wi-Fi 6, which is a feature that people who want top-notch wireless internet speeds should consider. The ThinkPad also has a face-recognizing IR camera and a fingerprint reader for full Windows Hello biometric security compatibility. In contrast, the MacBook Pro only features a fingerprint reader for Touch ID. Finally, the ThinkPad includes some legacy USB-A ports, which is great since many peripherals still use a USB-A connection. The MacBook Pro's quad Thunderbolt 3 ports, while impressive, may force buyers to trade their existing USB-A peripherals for USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ones (or buy an adapter).

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 vs. MacBook Pro: Which should you buy?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

While both of these laptops are superb, we ultimately think that most people will find the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 to be the overall better choice. It may not be as powerful and capable as the MacBook Pro when it comes to very intensive visual workloads, storage, longevity, and high-speed peripheral connectivity. However, it's still very capable and is also more affordable, making it more attractive to the average user. Additionally, features like Wi-Fi 6 and facial recognition are a great bonus that most users will appreciate.

If you're looking for an elite device that delivers ultimate performance, you'd likely be better off with Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro instead. It costs a premium price, but it's worth it if you want extreme performance for intensive video editing and other taxing workloads. The quad Thunderbolt 3 ports are also excellent for hooking up peripherals, and up to 8TB of storage means that you'll never even have to worry about file space. The improved audio setup is great as well, and it's something that people who work a lot with audio will no doubt appreciate.

If neither of these laptops is ideal for your needs, don't miss our roundup of the best Windows laptops in 2021 for more options. If you're a die-hard Apple fan, you'll be better off checking the list of the best MacBooks in 2021 curated by our sister site, iMore.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.