As the first 16-inch laptop in the T-series, the ThinkPad T16 delivers 12th Gen Intel Core U- and P-series processors, larger batteries, and expansive 16:10 display panels.
I’ve really enjoyed the industry’s move to 16-inch displays over the past year, and I’m happy to see Lenovo embracing this form factor with the new ThinkPad T16. 16-inch laptops are ideal for those who prefer working on laptops but need a larger display panel than the 13.3- and 14-inch models that dominate the market. In the past, this need was served by a relatively small number of 15.6-inch laptops, but with the related push to taller 16:10 display panels, there are now more and better choices.
Aside from its size, the ThinkPad T16 will be immediately familiar to any ThinkPad fan, thanks to its iconic good looks, Mil-Spec durability, scalloped keyboard, and dual pointing system. But Lenovo worked some magic to keep the thickness and weight of this behemoth down as much as possible: in Storm Gray, the T16 features an aluminum display lid, while display lids in the more standard Thunder Black versions sport a polycarbonate, carbon fiber, and glass fiber blend. But both utilize the same polyphenylene sulfide bottom cover, and each achieves the same 0.81-inch thinness and 3.9-pound weight.
What I experienced was absolutely no flex at all on the display lid and just a bit of give right at the center of the keyboard. So it felt solid overall.
The review unit is in Thunder Black, a matter color I really like, and there are no surprises in the design, which includes the angled ThinkPad logo on both the display lid (which features a light in the dot on the “i”) and the right wrist rest.
The keyboard keys are a deeper, shinier black than the body and they stand out nicely whether the backlighting is on or not. The deep red of the TrackPoint nubbin and an accent line on the touchpad buttons (and the dot on the “i” of the ThinkPad logo) offers some subtle accents.
The T16 doesn’t transform in any way, it’s a standard laptop, but the display panel can lie flat, which I like for those cramped movie viewing opportunities in coach.
The ThinkPad T16 can be had with a variety of 16-inch IPS anti-glare display panels, all in an ideal 16:10 aspect ratio. Available choices in include WUXGA (1920 x 1200) at 300 nits of brightness, WUXGA/300 nits with multi-touch, a low-power WUXGA at 400 nits with Eyesafe capabilities and 100 percent coverage of the sRGB color spectrum, WUXGA at 500 nits with multi-touch, 100 percent sRGB, and a ThinkPad Privacy Guard, and WQXGA (2560 x 1600) at 400 nits with 100 percent sRGB and Eyesafe.
The ThinkPad Privacy Guard option will keep the nosey at bay and it can be toggled using a handy Fn + D keyboard shortcut if you configure that option. And the Eyesafe displays reduce blue light output in hardware, meaning it’s more effective than the more typical software-based solutions.
The review unit has a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) display sans multitouch capabilities and Eyesafe, so I’m guessing it’s the base panel. It’s bright enough inside, but it would be a tough sell in outside usage scenarios. And at this physical size, a WQXGA or 4K+ panel would be a better option. I’m curious that the latter isn’t available, nor is an OLED option. And Dolby Vision isn’t available on the non-WQXGA panels, but this is a productivity machine and I prefer the lack of glare.
The screen bezels aren’t noticeably big, but they’re not exactly best in class either.
The T16 can be configured with a Core i5-1235U, i5-1245U (vPro), i7-1260P, or i7-1270P (vPro) processors, 8, 16, 32, or 48 GB of DDR4 RAM at 3200 MHz (8 or 16 GB of which is soldered onboard with the rest added via DIMM cards), and 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB of M.2 PCIe Opal SSD storage. If you opt for a Core i7 processor, you can upgrade from internal graphics to discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX550 graphics with 2 GB of GDDR6 RAM.
The review unit provides a Core i7-1270P (vPro) processor, NVIDIA graphics, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage. I’d opt for the Core i7-1260P processor if I was spending my own money—I don’t need vPro management capabilities—but this configuration is otherwise ideal to me. As expected, it plowed through my standard productivity tasks without issue, plus I was pleasantly surprised to see it do so without any noise or undue heat. I suspect some of the credit for this goes to the T16 pulling in air between the keyboard keys—a strategy employed by other recent ThinkPads—to increase the airflow. The massive air vent on the right side got warm but not hot during use.
The ThinkPad T16 includes future-proof Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity. And it can be configured with 4G/LTE cellular capabilities if you need always-on connectivity. (The review unit does not include that latter feature, but the SIM slot is located in the back if you get it.) I had no issues with connectivity and the T16 was able to take full advantage of my gigabit connection.
The ThinkPad T16 provides a reasonable collection of modern and legacy ports, though most can be found on the left side of the PC. There, you will find a full-sized Ethernet port (which is unusual these days), two Thunderbolt 4/USB-4/Type-C ports, a full-sized HDMI video-out port, a full-sized USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port with always-on capabilities, and a combination headphone/microphone jack.
On the right, there is a lone full-sized USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, plus a large air vent.
The ThinkPad T16 features two upward-firing 2-watt stereo speakers mounted at the far top of the keyboard deck. They’re augmented by Dolby Audio and provide a powerful, loud, and clean soundstage for movies and music, but aren’t particularly immersive.
There are dual far-field microphones with Dolby Voice noise reduction and key-based muting, and depending on how you configure the system, a 720p, 1080p, or 1080p/IR webcam with a manual privacy slider. I prefer to see a key-based control for that, especially in a premium product like this.
Overall, this system performed well for both entertainment and productivity. The review unit included the better webcam with IR capabilities, enabling Windows Hello support.
ThinkPads are well respected for their superior typing experience, and I have to say I was impressed by the snappy performance of this scalloped, island-style, and backlit keyboard.
But the inclusion of a smallish number pad with shrunken number keys, which pushes the touchpad to the left and leads to typing errors, especially around rightmost keys like Delete, Backspace, and Right Arrow, is a major downside for me. As is the ThinkPad’s awkward switching of the Fn and Ctrl key placements. (Which you can “fix” in software using the Lenovo Commercial Vantage app.)
ThinkPads are likewise well-respected for their continued use of a dual-pointing system and here I have no complaints: the mylar touchpad is excellent and error-free, a rarity these days, and it’s not stupidly large as on some laptops. And the TrackPoint nubbin is paired with dedicated buttons that all work well.
Like other ThinkPads, the T16 ships with Lenovo’s self-healing firmware (BIOS), which the firm claims will recover automatically if maliciously attacked without bricking. It can also be configured with a match-on-chip fingerprint reader integrated into the power button, which is located above the keyboard, and with facial recognition capabilities. The review unit includes both, which is my desired configuration.
The ThinkPad T16 features 97 percent post-consumer content (PCC) recycled plastic in its speaker enclosures, 97 percent PCC recycled plastic in its battery, 95 percent PCC recycled plastic in its power adapter, and approximately 90 percent PCC and/or sustainably forested packaging. It features a mix of soldered and upgradeable RAM, and you can replace the SSD storage.
Depending on the configuration, the T16 ships with a 65- or 135-watt USB-C power adapter, both of which support rapid charging to 80 percent in one hour (untested), and a 52.5- or 86-watt-hour battery. And Lenovo’s battery life estimates differ by configuration: the 52.5-wh battery is rated at 11 hours of battery life (16.2 hours of local video playback), with the larger unit rated at 24.4 hours/29.7 hours.
The review unit included the larger and more powerful power adapter and battery but I didn’t get anywhere near Lenovo’s estimates. I average about 7 hours per charge in normal, real-world usage over a period of just a few weeks.
From a size and weight perspective, the ThinkPad T16 is very close to the HP EliteBook 865 G9: its dimensions are 0.81 x 14.3 x 10.1 inches, and it weighs 3.9 pounds. It fits into my HP Renew backpack, but just barely.
The ThinkPad T16 is delightfully free of software bloat and outright crapware outside of that included with Windows 11. It includes just three Lenovo utilities, four Intel utilities, Dolby Access, Glance by Mirametrix, Pre-boot Manager (for the fingerprint reader), and Realtek Audio Console. Nice.
The ThinkPad T16 is fully configurable, but I can’t fathom why 8 GB of RAM is even an option in 2023. My advice is to stick to the P-series processors and 16 GB or more of RAM, and to consider the WQXGA (2560 x 1600) display option. This sort of system will set you back about $1500, which is a bit on the expensive side. A fully decked-out system with 48 GB of RAM, 1 TB of storage, discrete graphics, 4G/LTE, and the bigger battery will land north of $2200.
If you’re looking for a big-screen productivity-focused ThinkPad and can find it on sale—not hard on Lenovo.com—the ThinkPad T16 will meet your needs. It offers excellent performance, nice configuration customizations, a good mix and modern and legacy expansion ports, a mostly-terrific keyboard, and ThinkPad’s vaunted dual-pointing system. Battery life is OK, and the lack of 4K and OLED display options may be problematic, but my biggest issue is that number pad: I’d love to see a configuration without that.