Lenovo ThinkBook 15 Gen 2 First Impressions

Posted on May 13, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 9 Comments

Lenovo introduced its small business-focused ThinkBook two years ago and has expanded the product line to include 13-, 14-, and 15-inch form factors. I’ve looked at the ThinkBook 13s and ThinkBook 14s in the past, but this time around, I’ll be reviewing the new, second-generation ThinkBook 15.

And it’s no Ultrabook, that’s for sure. At 14.1 x 9.25 x .74 inches and 3.75 pounds, the ThinkBook 15 is big and heavy. And it will be more comfortable in work-from-home situations that it will be taking it on the road, though I hope to do just that sometime in the future.

But the size and weight tradeoffs will likely be worth it to many members of the audience. It starts at under $1000, provides an expansive 15.6-inch display, is powered by modern 11th-generation Intel Core processors and optional discrete NVIDIA graphics, and offers an impressive array of expansion ports.

The design is certainly attractive enough. I’ve always liked the austere look of the ThinkBook lineup. And in this case, the plain Mineral Gray color scheme is broken up by a subtle two-tone effect on the outside of the display lid. It’s a nice look.

Open up the display, and you’ll find a 15.6-inch IPS panel offering 220 to 300 nits of brightness and optional multitouch capabilities, depending on the configuration. But your only resolution choice is Full HD (1920 x 1080); I’d have preferred seeing at least a 1440p option on a display this size, but I like that the display can at least lay flat.

The scalloped, backlit, and spill-resistant keyboard and touchpad will be familiar to anyone who has used a premium Lenovo portable PC in recent years.

But thanks to the sheer size of this beast, there’s a numeric keypad on the right.

And there are some useful Unified Communications keys on the F9 through F11 keys in the top row. One that’s new to me is a dedicated support key that can quickly get you in touch with web-based help and Lenovo’s support staff.

Inside the ThinkBook, you’ll find 11th-generation Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 chipsets with Intel UHD or Iris Xe graphics, optional  NVIDIA GeForce MX450 discrete graphics, up to 40 GB of DDR4-3000 RAM (with 8 GB soldered onto the motherboard and up to 32 GB on a SO-DIMM card), and an M.2 SSD up to 1 TB with an optional 2.5-inch HDD up to another 2 TB.

Communications are modern, with Intel Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. There’s also a 720p webcam with a manual ThinkShutter privacy shutter, and a Windows Hello fingerprint reader built-in to the large round power button that provides one-step power-on and sign-in. (Speaking of which, you can also enable a new feature called Flip to Boot that will boot the system when you open the display lid.

Lenovo didn’t provide any battery life estimates, but the ThinkBook can be had with a 45 or 60 Wh battery. Both support Rapid Charge, with up to a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes, or up to 80 percent in one hour.

The port selection is impressive.

On the left, you’ll find a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, a USB 4/Thunderbolt 4 port, a full-sized HDMI 1.4 port, and a full-sized USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port that’s always on for powering phones and other peripherals, plus a headphone/mic combo jack and some indicator lights.

On the right, Lenovo provides some options we just don’t see that much anymore, including a 4-in-1 card reader, a second full-sized USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, and an RJ45 Ethernet port, plus a Kensington Lock slot.

Lenovo doesn’t bundle any crapware on the ThinkBook aside from McAfee LiveSafe. There are only three Lenovo-branded utilities preinstalled.

The review unit shipped with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD, and a non-multitouch display, so it’s most likely the base unit. I’ll find out more about pricing and configurations before the review.

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Lenovo ThinkBook 15 Gen 2 First Impressions”

  1. jimchamplin

    Ugh. USB NT 3.51 Advanced Edition R2.3 for Premium Workstations.

    … 95.

  2. hrlngrv

    As anything McAfee is sewerware, other crapware would be superfluous.

    No joystick (OK, Trackpoint) mouse and half-height up/down cursor keys. I'll stick with ThinkPads.

  3. phil_adcock

    Well with the size, and keyboard, I'm glad that Lenovo didn't decide they need to trade those out for ports. This actually looks like a laptop I may consider purchasing.

  4. max daru

    I bought the AMD version of this on sale for around $700 with 16GB of RAM and a 512 GB PCIe SSD with touch screen. It's not ThinkPad quality, but it's OK. The biggest downside is the mediocre keyboard.

  5. justadude

    "And it’s no Ultrabook, that’s for sure. At 14.1 x 9.25 x .74 inches and 3.75 pounds, the ThinkBook 15 is big and heavy. "

    Big and heavy? It seems pretty light to me. I can hold it with one hand comfortably. The screen to body ration doesn't have much room to go down further, and it's really thin considering the ports and configurability.

    The machine is pretty solid. I had a touchpad issue with mine that needed a replacement. Other than that, this is a solid laptop that is light, configurable, and a beast.

    I went with the AMD version and with normal usage saw about 40 degrees Celsius. I couldn't feel any heat and the no fan noise. Under load it went to about 70 celcius. A bit warmer but not uncomfortable. I am impressed by how well it cools and how cool it runs.

    I saw 5-7 hours of battery usually. Biggest factor I found is your screen brightness.

    At the end of the day, this is a stellar little laptop.

    • justadude

      I forgot to mention one cool feature, my version of the Thinkbook 15 Gen 2. It has a built-in blue light filter toggle.

    • Paul Thurrott

      It's a *big* laptop. :) But I agree it could be stellar.
      • justadude

        It seems we have a very different opinion on what big and heavy means when it comes to laptops.

        When I hear big and heavy, I'm thinking a gaming laptop. This Lenovo is very light compared to say the Alienware M15. So, from that aspect I am rather confused when your review says the laptop is big and heavy. What did you mean exactly?

  6. robinpersaud

    Why, in 2021, do companies insist on providing an HDMI *1.4* port?

    If they are going to provide a full-sized HDMI, give us an HDMI 2.0 or 2.1. I would love to hook this up to my 4K monitor, but need more than 30Hz output.

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