Published Jun 3, 2022 4:00 PM
Lenovo laptops don’t always get the credit they deserve. While the name may not have the same kind of recognition as a Dell, HP, or Apple, Lenovo offers a truly massive catalog that rivals—and in some cases, exceeds—its competition. The Lenovo lineup offers a robust set of models from powerful creative machines to student-oriented productivity models. We have narrowed down those choices into some common categories to help make this decision simpler. These are the best Lenovo laptops for just about anyone right now.
How we selected the best Lenovo laptops
I’ve covered laptops and other PCs for dozens of publications, including Digital Trends, How-to-Geek, and, of course, Popular Science. To that end, I’ve relied on my computing experience and knowledge of hardware, as well as a wide range of perspectives of critics and users.
These categories and the recommendations were selected to connect all kinds of users with the best possible machines, from experts to novices that want a laptop that “just works.” Ultimately, the aim is to provide you with a good understanding of how to pick a laptop, and where each Lenovo’s best notebooks excel. We emphasize models that offer solid feature sets with current hardware that will stay relevant for several years rather than requiring an upgrade in the near future.
Things to consider before buying a laptop
Laptops demand compromise as manufacturers try to cram powerful components and long-lasting batteries into increasingly cramped spaces. These machines can only fit so much hardware inside of them, and that often means prioritizing power or portability. If you want a powerful CPU and GPU, that often means the laptop is going to be big and bulky and have below-average battery life. If you want something thin and light, that probably means you’ll have to give up on getting a discrete graphics card for gaming.
Moreover, the rising costs as you upgrade each component rapidly reach prices most can’t afford, so it’s crucial to keep track of where it makes sense to spend money and where it’s OK to save. Investing a bit more now (if possible) can save money in the long run by widening the space between purchases.
The central processing unit, or CPU, is your laptop’s brain. It is the engine for every process that your computer performs, and getting one that’s fast and versatile is essential.
Your computer’s maximum performance reflects many factors, but the CPU is … well … central to making it run fast. What you want to be looking for is a higher clock frequency, often denoted by “GHz” (such as 4.20GHz), Core count, thread count, and cache, although the cache is not always that important. Different applications rely on different parts of a CPU to work better, such as cores and threads for audio production.
There are two big brand names when it comes to CPUs: Intel and AMD. There’s not a large perceptible difference between their CPUs unless you’re going to the high-end bracket, but that’s not something you’ll likely have to worry about here.
All laptops have some amount of processing power dedicated to generating graphics–animating videos, running games, and otherwise visualizing things. Many productivity laptops, designed for work like word processing and crunching datasets, rely on “integrated graphics”—a chip built into the motherboard. If you want a laptop that makes new games look good, or can handle running Adobe Photoshop and Premiere, you’ll want a laptop with a discrete GPU, a second processor just for graphics.
As in all things, your GPU is a priority, but also a place where you will likely need to make compromises. Even with smaller specialized laptop GPUs, a bigger graphics card means a heavier, hotter, and more expensive laptop. If you’re buying a gaming laptop, the GPU is arguably your top priority, even over the CPU. If you prioritize portability, it’s likely better to focus on the processor. That said, plenty of machines find a happy medium between graphics power and heft.
Besides that, there are two brands of GPUs available on the market: Nvidia and AMD, that’s the same AMD as the CPUs; they do both. Your first question is probably, “do I need to pair an AMD CPU with an AMD GPU?” The answer is no; they are interchangeable and have zero issues working with other brands.
RAM & storage
Random Access Memory, or RAM, temporarily stores information for high-speed recovery. It helps your computer take shortcuts and process small tasks quickly. There’s a correlation between how much memory you have and how fast your computer runs, as well as specific programs like web browsers.
We recommend most people get a laptop with between 8GB to 16GB of RAM, but more is always better. Many laptops offer 32GB configurations, but it’s often overkill needed only for high-end gaming and video processing, and often comes at a steep premium.
Storage has been a difficult thing to really pin in the past few years since use-cases can vary widely. Even if you embrace storing all your files in the Cloud, apps and secure storage can fill up a 512GB hard drive before too long. If you play games or do any kind of production work with images or files, upgrading to 1TB or 2TB can help quite a bit.
Technically, you always augment your laptop’s core storage with an external hard drive, so more important than size is the type of drive. Solid-state drives, particularly Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVmE) drives, provide faster read and write speeds, allowing for quicker computing across the board.
The best Lenovo laptops: Reviews & Recommendations
With those terms and features out of the way, it’s time to dig into our specific recommendations for the best Lenovo laptops. While we’ve outlined specific categories for each of these machines, there is always overlap so we strongly recommend perusing the entire list before deciding on your preferred model. A gaming machine can also make a great creative work rig.
Best overall: Yoga 9i (15.6-inch)
Buy it used or refurbished: eBay
Why it made the cut: This powerful machine offers a solid value when you consider its specs.
- Display: 15.6″ 1080p touchscreen.
- HDR: HDR400
- CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
- RAM: 12GB
- Storage: 512GB-2TB
- Sturdy build
- Slim, portable, and good looking
- Excellent performance
- Great value
- Surprising lack of USB ports
- 720p webcam
Very few laptops have everything you want at a price you can afford, but the 15-inch Lenovo Yoga 9i is one of those rare machines that do it all for a wide range of users. Though its 10th-generation Intel i7-10750H CPU and an Nvidia 1650 Ti graphics aren’t the latest and greatest processors, they offer mid-to-high-level performance for productivity, creative production, and gaming. The 15.6-inch touchscreen display, available in 1080p or 4K, looks sharp and bright.
The Yoga line, beloved for its versatile 2-in-1 design, allows you to flip your monitor around to turn your clamshell into a giant tablet, which is always a nice option to have in your back pocket. Throw in 12GB of RAM, 512GB-2TB of SSD storage, and luxury features like Dolby Atmos support, and you have a goldilocks laptop for all kinds of PC owners.
It’s worth noting that Lenovo released an updated version of the 14-inch Lenovo 9i at the beginning of 2022, which features a newer Intel 12th-Gen processor, a much-needed 1080p webcam, a rotating Bowers & Wilkins soundbar, a 4K OLED screen options, and other upgrades. That said, it is much more productivity-focused, ditching its GPU for integrated graphics. We’re currently in the process of reviewing that model but we’ve decided to stick with the slightly older, but more well-rounded model for this round-up, as we think it will be more helpful for a wider range of people.
Best for gaming: Legion 7i with RTX 2080
Why it made the cut: Out of all the gaming laptops lineup of Lenovo, this one balances all the specs the best.
- Screen: 15.6″ FHD, 240Hz refresh with HDR 400 and 500 nits of peak brightness
- CPU: 10th Generation i9-10980HK
- GPU: Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q 8GB
- RAM: 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) of DDR4 at 2933MHz
- Storage: 1 TB PCIe SSD & 512 GB PCIe SSD
- Powerful GPU
- Lots of storage
- Generous amounts of RAM
- Three months of Xbox game pass included
Gaming laptop tech has made a few notable leaps in the past few years, and this offering from Lenovo is pleasantly adept at adding portability without sapping its power. Lenovo crammed a powerful RTX 2080 into a relatively thin laptop that’s rather nice to look at.
While some companies will often pair a powerful GPU with a terrible CPU and cause a lot of bottlenecks, Lenovo has thankfully given us a 10th Generation i9-10980HK, a top-five CPU by Intel, with little chance of a bottleneck. In fact, given the CPU is so good, you could do CPU-heavy functions such as play intense strategy and simulation games or do audio production, the latter of which is core and thread hungry.
This hardware configuration should allow you to play pretty much any game on very respectable graphical settings. In fact, the seemingly underpowered screen helps here, as the max resolution of 1920 x 1080 doesn’t push the GPU hard, so it’s much easier to run higher quality settings. We’ll also mention it’s an IPS panel, and, combined with the HDR 400, it provides some great color contrast, which is good if you want to do some creative work.
As for the rest of the specs, you get a very generous 32GB of RAM, so you’ll likely never have to worry about running Chrome again … probably. You also get both 1TB and 512GB SSDs, so there’s ample space compared to some other gaming laptops, although an external hard drive will help with larger games.
Before closing this out, we do want to mention that there’s a model of the Legion 7i with an RTX 2060, which is a good alternative if the RTX 2080 version is out of budget.
Best for video editing: ThinkPad P1 Gen 4 Intel
Why it made the cut: Ultimately, the decision between going with this version vs. the version with an RTX A4000 Max-Q is the value proposition, with the RTX A2000 version coming out slightly ahead.
- Screen: 16.0″ WQUXGA touchscreen with HDR 400 and 600 nits of peak brightness
- CPU: Intel Xeon W-11855M Processor with vPro
- GPU: NVIDIA RTX A2000 4GB
- RAM: 64 (2 x 32 GB) GB DDR4 3200MHz
- Storage: 1 TB PCIe SSD
- GPU designed specifically for graphics processing
- Generous amounts of RAM
- Has a touchscreen
- Thin and portable
- A little bit pricey
- Covers only 90% of DCI-P3
Nvidia’s RTX A-series GPUs are made specifically for photo and video editing, built using the same silicon manufacturing process as the RTX 3050 and RTX 3060. They can handle some gaming, too, just not as well as Nvidia’s gaming GPUs.
The GPU drives the screen and, in this case, you get a 16-inch WQUXGA beauty with HDR 400 and an IPS panel. It provides really excellent contrast that will help you in your editing work, although it only covers 90% of the DCI-P3 color space. Still, that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, and the fact that it’s a touchscreen means you’ll get a little bit of extra functionality out of it in return.
The CPU is also one that you may not be familiar with if you’ve only dealt with the consumer market, but simply put, the Intel Xeon CPUs are professional-grade processors, just like the RTX A-Series. As for the Intel Xeon W-11855M that’s specifically in this laptop, it’s a top-of-the-line CPU and is mostly beat out by the eight-core version.
As for the rest of the specs, the most eye-bulging part is the massive 64GB RAM, which is really more than enough for a desktop and probably more than you’ll likely use. When it comes to storage, you get a 1TB SSD, which is great for anything but heavy gaming.
If you’re willing to pay an extra $400-$500 or so, then grabbing this ThinkPad P1 Gen will give you access to 8GB of VRAM and the A4000 Max-Q, which will be a bit better for editing work. Just bear in mind you get less ram (32GB), no touchscreen, and a slightly less powerful CPU.
Best for students: IdeaPad Gaming 3 15″
Why it made the cut: Balancing cost vs. features and specs is never easy, especially for students, but the Gaming 3 does it quite well, surprisingly.
- Screen: 15.6″ FHD with 120Hz refresh and 250 nits of peak brightness
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H Processor
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti 4GB
- RAM: 8 GB DDR4 3200MHz
- Storage: 1 TB 5400 RPM HDD & 512 GB PCIe SSD
- Versatile laptop
- Great pricing
- Minimal to no CPU or GPU throttling
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Low peak brightness of 250nints
- Battery life of only 4-5 hours
The 15-inch model provides quite a bit of display real estate, which can come in handy when trying to run several tabs or productivity software at the same time. This is compared to other budget laptops that are targeted at students, which often don’t go above 14-inches. The screen is also FHD, so if you want to watch movies or play games, you’re still going to get a solid excellent experience.
Speaking of gaming, the Gaming 3 comes with a GTX 1650 Ti, a relatively powerful GPU even if it’s not in the RTX lineup. Granted, you’re not going to be playing any AAA games, but you’ll manage AA and below. More importantly, though, the GTX 1650 Ti allows you to do graphics and video editing work without having to spend thousands on a specific laptop for that.
Of course, you also get the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H, which is a CPU that leans toward the higher end of the middle bracket in terms of performance. That means that you can also get some audio editing work or streaming if the occasion calls for it.
As for the rest of the specs, the storage is surprisingly roomy, as you get a 1TB HDD and a 512GB SSD, which should be more than enough for most needs, even light gaming. The RAM is a little bit on the low side at 8GB, and we would have liked to have seen it at 16GB, but given that they’re trying to keep the costs down, it makes sense. Also, the Gaming 3 is pretty easy to open up and upgrade, so you could always add more at some point down the line.
When it comes to downsides, the real major one is battery life, as you won’t see more than four or five hours out of it, maybe six if you baby it. Whether that’s a dealbreaker depends on how easy it is for you to access power in your day-to-day usage. Also, the screen’s peak brightness isn’t blazing, so you’re going to have a lot of trouble using it in sunlight.
Best for business: ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (14″, Intel)
Why it made the cut: Its extreme portability while still packing some good specs at a good price makes it a clear winner for business use.
- Screen: 14.0″ WUXGA with 400 nits of brightness
- CPU: 11th Generation Intel i5-1135G7
- GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- RAM: 8 GB 4266MHz
- Storage: 256 GB PCIe SSD
- Slim and portable
- Great battery life
- Excellent keyboard
- Perfect screen for its usage
- Mediocre webcam
- Lack of SD card reader
While business needs may vary widely for a laptop, portability always plays a critical role. The Carbon Gen 9 does a pretty excellent job of that, measuring 12.4 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches and weighing 2.5 pounds, making this one of the lightest laptops around.
Even better, it packs an 11th gen Intel i5-1135G7, a pretty powerful CPU for business needs. That being said, there are only 8GB of RAM, and while it runs on a very high 4266MHz speed, it still might be a bit too little for power users. So, if you tend to open dozens of Chrome tabs and apps, you might struggle somewhat.
Storage is also slightly on the lower end with a 256GB SSD, although truthfully, most business cases will likely see you using some form of external storage, so ultimately it isn’t going to be an issue. Also, the integrated Iris Xe graphics should be more than enough for running presentations or movies in higher resolution.
The biggest positive here is the battery life, which can be anywhere between 15-17 hours at maximum, assuming you lower the brightness to 50%. That’s incredibly impressive for a laptop and easily beats out other competitors like the Dell XPS 13 and the Asus Expertbook. Of course, if you’re running 1080p at 100% brightness, it’s going to be a bit lower, maybe around 9-10 hours, but that’s still very impressive for a laptop.
We appreciate the inclusion of a fingerprint reader, an important feature that makes security easier. While you’ll likely need to pick up a hardware security key to do two-factor authentication, it’s one less hurdle to make your life difficult. That being said, the camera is only a 720p which isn’t the end of the world, but a nicer one would have been appreciated.
Finally, if you’re willing to pay the extra $500, the upgraded model is really good, with 32GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a nicer 11th Gen Intel i7-1185G7.
Best budget: IdeaPad Flex 3 (11”, AMD) 2 in 1 Laptop
Why it made the cut: While the specs aren’t anything amazing, they’re well balanced against the price tag.
- Screen: 11.6″ FHD touchscreen with 300 nits of peak brightness
- CPU: AMD Athlon Silver 3050e Processor
- GPU: Integrated AMD Radeon Graphics
- RAM: 4 GB 2400MHz
- Storage: 64 GB
- Great build quality
- Good battery life
- Keyboard is nice to use
- Dated design
- Lack of USB-C
Typical laptop tasks don’t require heavy-duty hardware. For users who just want to handle basic tasks, a budget model like this can save considerably by unnecessary features. Despite its low price, the Flex 3 offers a surprisingly solid keyboard, for those who need to type reports or articles. That’s in addition to its touchscreen. That means that when you aren’t using the keyboard, you can flip it over and use the screen like a tablet, which helps conserve space. It also makes it handy to carry around, a big plus if you have a complicated living situation that requires lots of moving around.
While the CPU and GPU aren’t particularly powerful, they can still manage to get the basics just fine. Productivity software like Microsoft Office 365 won’t have an issue running on it, or really most simple applications. Granted, you’re not going to get any gaming on it, but that’s low on the priority list for budget laptops, and truthfully it’s more than fine for streaming shows or films for some off-the-clock entertainment.
In terms of build quality, it’s made from plastic, which isn’t the sturdiest material, but it’s burly, which is another important factor when having to carry it around all the time. Storage is a bit lackluster at 64GB, but then you can always get a super-cheap USB to help supplement that, so it’s not a dealbreaker.
Finally, battery life is pretty excellent, and it should last eight or nine hours performing basic taste at 50% brightness.
Q: Is Lenovo a good make of laptop?
Yes, Lenovo has a great reputation that it has earned through the years. The company has hit a few bumps, but its current lineup is rock solid. It has also expanded its catalog a lot, so you’ll definitely find a laptop that fits your needs.
Q: How much does a Lenovo laptop cost?
Lenovo laptops can cost as low as $375 and as high as $5,000; it depends wholly on what you’re buying and what your needs are, but suffice to say, they have a laptop for pretty much every budget.
Q: Which is the best gaming laptop of Lenovo?
The best gaming laptop from Lenovo is the Legion 7i with RTX 2080. The RTX 2080 is a powerful GPU and it’s well-priced for the spec; going for a more expensive GPU gives diminishing returns compared to the price.
Q: What is the best Lenovo budget laptop?
The best Lenovo budget laptop is the IdeaPad Flex 3. It’s less than $400, has good battery life, is sturdy, and is great if you just need a device to do work and get online for work or study.
Final thoughts on the best Lenovo laptops
Lenovo’s catalog of laptops has expanded into a truly well-rounded offering. That can make folks who aren’t tech-savvy a bit worried about making a choice, but you shouldn’t worry too much about it.
Ultimately, the deciding factor for the best Lenovo laptop should always be your budget, followed by any specific needs that you have, such as battery life, screen size, or general use. We believe we’ve done a pretty good job of giving you the best laptop in a variety of categories, but there’s no reason why you can’t consider similar models with worse or better specs. In fact, Lenovo’s website has an excellent comparison feature that gives you an at-a-glance comparison of their computers, all you need to do is choose up to four different devices, and it’s as simple as that.