CHECK THAT COUPON
The base model of the ThinkPad X13 has a quad-core Ryzen 3 Pro CPU, a too-small 128GB solid-state drive, and a deal-breaking 1,366-by-768-pixel screen resolution that would be acceptable only on an 11-inch Chromebook priced at $149. Stepping up to my $1,004 review unit brings the Ryzen 5 Pro chip, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB NVMe SSD, and a 300-nit full HD (1,920-by1,080-pixel) touch screen, along with niceties such as fingerprint and SmartCard readers, Windows 10 Pro, and a backlit keyboard.
Speed demons can opt for an eight-core Ryzen 7 Pro 4750U, while buyers who traffic in sensitive business data can pick a 500-nit PrivacyGuard display that blocks the view of airline seatmate snoops. There is no 4K screen choice, so if you want more than 1080p, you’re out of luck. The memory and storage ceilings are 32GB and 1TB, respectively.
Intel-based configurations of the X13 start at $857 with a dual-core Core i3 and a Thunderbolt 3 port (a technology exclusive to Intel). The prices quoted here reflect one of Lenovo.com’s sometimes changing discount coupons; the coupon was missing one weekend during my review, which sent my machine’s price soaring to a considerably less attractive $1,674.
Clad in classic ThinkPad matte-black, the X13 measures 0.69 by 12.3 by 8.6 inches, which is no burden in a briefcase but slightly larger than the same-weight Asus ZenBook 13 (0.7 by 11.9 by 7.5 inches) and XPS 13 (0.58 by 11.6 by 7.8 inches). Like all ThinkPads, it has passed MIL-STD 810G torture tests against shock, vibration, and environmental extremes, though it’s not as tough as more costly semi-rugged and rugged notebooks.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 (AMD)
Immaculate design and construction. Splendid keyboard. Speedy six-core AMD Ryzen 5 Pro CPU.
No 4K screen option. Base model’s 1,366-by-768 display should be avoided. No Thunderbolt 3 port. Merely good battery life.
You should shun its base models that lack full HD screen resolution, but the Lenovo Ryzen Pro-based ThinkPad X13 is an otherwise well-built, perky alternative to the company’s ultra-deluxe X1 Carbon.
On the laptop’s left side are two USB 3.2 Type-C ports (either suitable for the AC adapter), a port for a $35 Ethernet adapter, a USB 3.2 Type-A port, an HDMI video output, and an audio jack. The right edge offers another USB-A port, a SmartCard reader, and a Kensington-style security lock slot.
Some fiddling with a bent paper clip removes a tiny tray at the rear that holds a microSD flashcard. It’s easy to miss unless you’re looking for it.
PREDICTABLY HIGH QUALITY
A sliding ThinkShutter privacy panel lets you block the 720p webcam, which captures reasonably well-lit and colorful (though somewhat soft-focus) images. It’s not an IR-equipped face-recognition camera, but Windows Hello fans can bypass passwords thanks to the fingerprint reader in the palm rest.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Boston Dynamics' Spot Robodog Finds Work on a BP Oil Rig
Boston Dynamics’ four-legged canine-inspired Spot is by no means an old dog, but that doesn’t mean it can’t learn new tricks. The 55-pound robot, unveiled in 2016, has boarded BP’s Mad Dog oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, where it will master tasks including reading gauges, finding corrosion, mapping the facility, and sniffing out methane, according to Reuters.
CAN THIS AI HELP SMOKERS QUIT?
While COVID-19 remains an occupying force in our world, and a viable vaccine is still out of reach, dealing with the pandemic comes down to mitigating health risks while coping with stress. If you’re a smoker, that’s going to be tough on both accounts. This isn’t the Mad Men era; everyone knows the risks of tobacco use, but cessation of addictive substances isn’t easy.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla (for PC): Another Winner
The Assassin’s Creed series has taken us to numerous historical settings since its 2007 debut, including Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, and Revolutionary War-era America. The newest installment, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, details the Viking invasion of 9th Century England from the perspective of history’s most notorious raiders. Though Valhalla doesn’t introduce anything wholly new to the series, it’s an excellent PC game that follows in the footsteps of its equally exceptional predecessors, Origins and Odyssey.
Microsoft Xbox Series X: An Impressive Console
The newest Xboxes are here, packing plenty of power into boxier frames than ever. Microsoft’s entries into the latest console generation are the Xbox Series X, reviewed here, and the Xbox Series S ($299).
2020's Most Common Passwords Are Laughably Insecure
Chances are that if a password is easy for you to remember, a hacker can easily crack it. And despite years (and years) of tech companies warning consumers to use hard-to-crack passwords, plus two-factor authentication, people are still using laughably insecure codes.
THE BEST PRODUCTS OF 2020
It’s been a weird year.
Virtual Movie Night: How to Watch Netflix With Friends Using Teleparty
Many of us are facing a long winter indoors, thanks to the ongoing pandemic. And though we have video streaming to distract us, watching shows and movies is more fun with friends. You could get everyone on Zoom and press play at the same time, but there’s an easier way: Teleparty (formerly known as Netflix Party).
Apple Mac mini (M1, Late 2020): Most Polished, Potent Tiny Desktop
The Mac mini doesn’t get upgraded often, but when it does, it makes an impact well out of proportion to its trim dimensions. The 2018 Mac mini was a PCMag Editors’ Choice pick for its pep, connectivity, build quality, and limited upgradability. A slight variation on the same sheet music, played with little fanfare earlier this year, pumped up the two base models’ SSD capacity. The real update of this iconic little desktop is this one, and it’s a big-band extravaganza. Apple’s own highly integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC), the M1 brings the Mac mini to new performance highs, and while a few fundamentals have changed, the peppy performance, the reasonable mix of connectivity, and a new lower $699 starting price combine to make it one of the best values in compact computers, period. It easily earns our Editors’ Choice nod.
Optoma HD39HDR: Bright, Low-Lag Projector
Designed for gaming and for watching movies and TV, the Optoma HD39HDR is one of a growing number of 1080p home projectors that can accept a 4K UHD (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) HDR signal and downconvert the resolution to 1080p. Some projectors in this category accept the input without really offering any of the benefits that high dynamic range promises for a wider color gamut or range of brightness levels. Others, including the Optoma, make good use of HDR. In my tests, the HD39HDR delivered more-vibrant color and far better shadow detail when I played the 4K HDR versions of movies on my Blu-ray player than when playing the 1080p SDR versions of the same titles.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Review: Perfect Balance of Power and Price
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is everything you need and nothing else. Samsung pared down its flagship S20 series to a more palatable price, and the result is a value-minded standard-bearer to properly face up against the forthcoming iPhone 12 line. With fast performance, solid cameras, and often substantial discounts at major wireless providers, the S20 FE 5G becomes our default Android phone recommendation for 2020 as well as our Editors’ Choice.
What to look for in a gaming monitor: The specs that matter
Gaming monitors are awesome, but which one is right for you? Let us guide you through the specs you should care about.
Tested: 5 things you need to know about AMD's Radeon RX 6900 XT
Don’t have time to sift through benchmarking charts? Read this instead.
How DirectX 12 Ultimate supercharges graphics on Windows PCs and Xbox
DirectX 12 Ultimate serves as a force multiplier for the entire gaming ecosystem.
8 ways to make Cyberpunk 2077 run faster
Put the pedal to the metal, choom.
XBOX: TAKING YOUR PLAY TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH SERIES X
XBOX: TAKING YOUR PLAY TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH SERIES X
CONSOLE BATTLE: PS5 AND XBOX SERIES X FIGHTING TO BE CHRISTMAS #1
With the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launching this month, it’s never been a more exciting time to be a gamer. In today’s COVID climate, these next-gen consoles open up new worlds and experiences that take players on immersive adventures away from reality. But deciding whether to pledge your allegiance to Sony or Microsoft is their first challenge…
Buy Once, Cry Once
Buy once, cry once. You might be familiar with that old adage, which is used to describe the purchase of a high-cost item that entails upfront financial “pain,” but with no need to buy again in the future due to the superior craftsmanship and build quality. It’s often associated with tools and watches but works quite well for A/V gear.
How To Apply Thermal Paste
NON CONDUCTIVE THERMAL PASTE Recommended, Noctua NT-H1.
Big Navi Lands
AMD’S BIG NAVI, the RDNA 2 architecture, is finally here, and for the fist time in about a decade AMD is gunning to be the fastest card. There are three initial models: The RX 6800, 6800 XT, and 6900 XT. All carry 16GB of GDDR6 RAM, and 128MB of Infinity Cache.
Baldur's Gate III
Remembering the Forgotten Realms