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Reviewed: Lenovo ThinkBook 13S

If you’re in the market for a laptop, you’re in for a treat. There are so many available to the consumer right now, so you’re totally spoiled for choice. One of the most aggressive in the laptop space is Lenovo, and they recently sent us the ThinkBook 13S to try out. Is it worth your time and hard-earned money? We find out.

Design: 3.5/5

The ThinkBook 13S is a quietly understated laptop that presents itself as a work laptop which isn’t a plain, unremarkable black. It’s got a slick mineral gray color to it, which goes great with the rest of the metallic finish that’s smooth, but not slippery, and pleasingly resistant to fingerprints. The combination of aluminum and magnesium in the body and frame make for a solid laptop, without excessive weight. Being a Lenovo laptop, they of course built in a 180-degree hinge to make sharing the screen across the table much easier. Some might find the overall design a little vanilla, but it at least will fit nicely into any environment.

Hardware: 4/5

Narrow bezels on the 13.3-inch, FHD IPS display make for a screen that appears a little bit larger than it is, and the anti-glare coating makes it stand up well against bright indoor lights. There’s also a bit of oomph to this laptop. While our review unit came with 8GB of RAM, you can have it configured with up to 16 GB. Pair this with the Core i5-8265U (or up to a Core i7 running at 1.6GHz) and you have a light but very capable laptop. You can also have it configured with up to 512 GB of SSD storage. The cherry on top is discrete AMD graphics care of the Radeon 540x and 2 GB of VRAM. It’s not super hardcore, but you’ll be able to fire up a lot of games on medium settings when nobody is watching. Nice little touches such as a backlit keyboard, fingerprint scanner in the power button, and the aforementioned 180-degree hinge round off the spec sheet nicely.

User Experience: 4.5/5

Because of the nature of our work, I find myself on the road a lot. This would normally not be a problem, until you consider that my personal laptop is made for gaming, and it (along with the power brick) weighs more than I care to lug around on a daily basis. As such, I will always appreciate small, thin laptops. The ThinkBook 13S is the perfect example of a laptop in this segment. It has the smallest practical laptop screen size, tips the scales at a mere 1.39 Kg, and has a wonderfully tiny charging brick.

The keyboard, with which I am quite particular, is pleasant to use. It’s a little on the shallow side, but offers positive keypresses—you’re not going to have any trouble banging out a novel on this thing. Backlighting on the keys also works great, and is a feature you won’t know you needed until you switch back to a plain keyboard.

Screen angles are pleasantly wide, which works with the smaller screen and keeps people from having to crowd too tightly around when you’re attempting to show off a spreadsheet or cat video.

Performance is more than anyone will need for basic office tasks such as text documents, spreadsheets, or browsing the Internet. It does have more hardware than all these office tasks will need, even concurrently, so that’s no real surprise. What I did find pleasant though, was that it ran lighter or older games without too much complaining. When struck with writer’s block as we journalists often get, I was able to fire up Overwatch, and play a few rounds. There are a few compromises that have to be made with graphics quality, but for the size, and particularly, weight of the laptop, I have literally zero complaints about that.

Battery life is acceptable, offering about 8 hours of non-gaming power over the course of a workday. The charger, as we mentioned earlier, is reasonably sized, so it’s not too much of a pain to take it with you anyway.

Value: 4/5

At a shade under PHP 60,000, this isn’t a bad laptop for what it is able to do. It has a solid, if basic set of features made for work use, and a little extra thanks to discrete graphics. There’s room for expandability, and Lenovo’s solid reputation and software suite give it that little extra something that sets it apart.

Specifications:

  • Display: 13.3-inch (1920×1080) IPS anti-glare (non-touch)
  • Processor: Intel 1.6GHz Core i5-8265U (Whiskey Lake) (as tested); 1.8GHz Core i7-8565U
  • Graphics: Intel UHD 620, Radeon 540X 2 GB VRAM
  • Memory: 8 GB DDR4 2400MHz, up to 16 GB
  • Storage: Up to 512 SSD Storage
  • Ports: 2 USB Type A (USB 3.1 Gen 1) 1 USB-C (Gen 2, DisplayPort), HDMI 1.4b, 3.5mm jack
  • Wireless: 802.11ac (2×2); Bluetooth 5.0
  • Dimensions: 12.11 x 8.52 x 0.63 inches (15.9mm)
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs

What’s Hot:

  • Great portability
  • Discrete graphics
  • Solid build quality

What’s Not:

  • Plain-ish styling

Bottomline:

This is going to be a no-frills, no nonsense performer that’ll get the job done with Lenovo reliability.

Also published in December 2019-January 2020 Issue
Reviewed by Ren Alcantara