Lenovo ThinkPad X13 (AMD): A Solid Contender
PC Magazine|November 2020
The celebrated ThinkPad X1 Carbon isn’t the only compelling ultraportable in Lenovo’s business lineup. If that 14-inch premium laptop is a bit too rich for your blood, consider the ThinkPad X13, a 13.3-inch model available with either Intel or AMD CPU silicon under the hood. The AMD Ryzen-based system we tested starts at just $683 and is $1,004 in our specific test configuration—much more affordable than the Carbon, which is compensation for the X13 weighing more (2.8 versus 2.4 pounds) despite its slightly smaller screen. The X13’s six-core Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U processor gives it impressive performance, though we could wish for a couple more hours of battery life. And the X13’s keyboard and construction quality are up to ThinkPad standards—faultless. If your budget doesn’t stretch to the Carbon or a Dell XPS 13, this is a first-class option.
ERIC GREVSTAD

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)

PROS

Immaculate design and construction. Splendid keyboard. Speedy six-core AMD Ryzen 5 Pro CPU.

CONS

No 4K screen option. Base model’s 1,366-by-768 display should be avoided. No Thunderbolt 3 port. Merely good battery life.

BOTTOM LINE

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.

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