The 9 Best Lenovo Laptops of 2021

Upgrade your laptop with these great options from Lenovo

The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
Introduction

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The best Lenovo laptops show off an excellent sampling of why the company is the top-selling computer manufacturer in the world. With one of the largest and most diverse lineups of products at a wide range of prices, there really is a Lenovo laptop for just about anyone.

The brand might be best known for its business offerings, with the ThinkPad line, in particular, a staple of workplaces large and small. But there’s plenty of value and quality to be found for other types of users, as well, from home-oriented IdeaPad laptops to flexible Yoga 2-in-1 convertibles to powerful Legion gaming machines.

Take a look at our list of the best Lenovo has to offer for portable productivity or play.

Best Overall: ThinkPad X1 Yoga

ThinkPad X1 Yoga
What We Like
  • Excellent for both performance and portability

  • 2-in-1 laptop-tablet with stylus housing

  • Strong security features

What We Don't Like
  • Middling webcam quality

  • Pricey for home consumer use

If you want an idea of Lenovo laptops’ biggest strengths, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga embodies a whole lot of them in one business-oriented machine. In its fifth generation, the 14-inch laptop sports modern technology and features, while retaining the beloved ThinkPad keyboard that’s tactile and comfortable for long typing sessions, with its iconic red TrackPoint “nub” right in the center. It offers all the performance you could need for at-home or in-office productivity; top-end configurations include a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and a speedy 1TB solid state drive (SSD). Workplaces also will appreciate its support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard and advanced security measures like a fingerprint reader, webcam shutter, and other built-in privacy features.

Crafted from lightweight aluminum, the slim ThinkPad X1 Yoga has portability to match its productivity. The most obvious bonus added by its premium design is the ability to convert it to tablet mode and use your fingers or a stylus. The included pen even comes with a dedicated storage slot so you don’t lose track of it, something not all 2-in-1s provide. Opting for the display in 4K (3840x2160-pixel) resolution gives you a stunningly crisp and vivid touchscreen experience, but the tradeoff is greater power use. If battery life is your priority, you might prefer the lower-power, longer-lasting Full HD (1080p) variation.

Simply having a very powerful, very portable laptop is amazing, but being able to turn it into a tablet at any time—with a stylus for drawing and scribbling—adds new worlds of versatility and potential.” — Anton Galang, Tech Writer

Best for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

What We Like
  • Impressively slim and lightweight

  • Superior ThinkPad keyboard

  • Nice display with 4K option

What We Don't Like
  • Straightforward aesthetic with thick bezels

  • Mediocre webcam

With ThinkPads already holding a reputation as some of the best business laptops on the market, it’s hard to beat Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon for pure productivity purposes. The all-business ultraportable doesn’t try to do anything flashy with its visual design, but it’s built to pass several military-grade durability standards, ensuring it stays safe against drops, spills, and extreme environments. Perhaps even more important for your day-to-day usage, though, is that this impressive machine somehow weighs only 2.4 pounds and measures only half an inch thick.

For everyone who’s come to appreciate the keyboard on ThinkPad notebooks as a top-tier tool for typing, the X1 Carbon still features those comfy, backlit keys with plenty of travel. The classic red navigation nub is still right in the middle too, whether you’re a fan or not. A good selection of ports on the side include two USB-C, two USB-A, and one HDMI (but no SD card slot). The 720p webcam above the screen, while not the sharpest, does have a sliding cover for privacy and IR facial recognition on some models.

You can opt for a touchscreen, as well as an Ultra HD 4K display for extra resolution and brightness, but even the basic 1080p version looks excellent (plus lets you work much longer on the battery). Add that to the eighth-generation model’s high-end hardware—up to an Intel Core i7-10610U with 16GB RAM—and you’ll be multitasking smoothly all day long, wherever you are.

Best Gaming: Lenovo Legion Y740

Lenovo Legion Y740
What We Like
  • Strong gaming performance and graphics

  • Attractive design with RGB lighting

  • Smooth 15- or 17-inch display

What We Don't Like
  • On the heavy side

  • Short battery life

Lenovo’s Legion line of gaming laptops may be relatively new to the scene, but they’re here to play and here to stay. The Legion Y740 is a solid all-around choice for just about any gamer, and it all starts with its blazing performance. Its ninth-generation Intel Core i7 CPU (overclockable to 4.5GHz) and advanced Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU can take on even the most demanding titles. It also can take the heat, thanks to Legion’s Coldfront thermal cooling system that keeps both temperature and fan noise to a minimum.

Lenovo takes the design of its gaming products in bolder directions than their business counterparts, even if it’s still a more understated look than other gaming brands. The Legion Y740 rocks sleek angles, thin bezels, and dynamic RGB lighting on the logo, vents, and keyboard. The keyboard, itself, keeps you playing at your best with a speedy 1ms response time and 100% anti-ghosting to ensure you don’t lose a single keypress.

The Legion Y740 lets you enjoy your games on either a 15.6-inch or a 17.3-inch display. Whatever size you choose, you get a 1080p anti-glare in-plane switching (IPS) panel that can hit up to a 144Hz refresh rate for smooth fast-action gameplay.

“All that power and display quality comes at a cost—poor battery life and a larger size that limits portability. Still, it’s an acceptable price to pay for great gaming away from your desktop or console.” — Anton Galang, Tech Writer

Best Budget Gaming: Lenovo Legion Y545 (15”) Gaming Laptop

Lenovo Legion Y545 Gaming Laptop

There’s no shortage of budget-friendly gaming laptops, but few are as capable as the Legion Y540 from Lenovo. The old black and red colorway is gone in favor of a more refined aesthetic. The sleek hardware looks (and feels) more expensive than it’s priced, and the unique hinge is slightly offset from the back of the laptop to allow for a slimmer profile. The body is about as heavy as expected for a gaming laptop, and the five hours of battery life are pretty standard, too.

Powering the Y540 is a highly customizable list of specs, starting with a ninth-generation Intel processor alongside a range of GPUs from Nvidia, from a GTX 1650 up to a 1660 Ti (an RTX 2060 is also available, if ray tracing is a priority). A 720p HD camera with integrated microphone makes it easy to play online and stream yourself while gaming, which is aided by an 802.11AC with 2x2 MIMO technology

Best for Portability: Lenovo ThinkPad 11e (5th Gen)

 

What We Like
  • Compact and durable build

  • Affordable price

What We Don't Like
  • Plain design

  • Performance isn’t extraordinary

As a no-frills, traditional laptop, the fifth-generation ThinkPad 11e is ideal for students or on-the-go professionals in need of a basic business computer. Its 11.6-inch 1366x768-pixel screen fits within a compact frame just under a foot wide and an inch thick. It’s a very totable 3 pounds in weight, and, like other ThinkPads, it’s military certified to survive being lugged around in all sorts of temperatures and conditions. At the same time, it’s a much smaller financial investment than an ultraportable tends to be, so you don’t have to worry about taking as big a hit if something happens and you have to replace it.

In terms of hardware, the budget-friendly configuration you’ll most often find includes an Intel Celeron N4100 processor, 4GB of memory, and an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 600 GPU, so its performance isn’t intended to blow off any doors. But it is more than capable of taking on the demands of a typical workday, with a listed 12-hour battery life makes it a handy laptop to pack up and take on the road.

Best 2-in-1: Lenovo Yoga C940

Lenovo Yoga C940
What We Like
  • Portable, flexible convertible design

  • Speedy all-around performance

  • Superb sound from hinge speakers

What We Don't Like
  • No SD card slot

Lenovo’s Yoga laptops deliver just what the name implies: flexibility. The flagship model of the series, the Yoga C940, is a 2-in-1 convertible that flips over on its hinge to switch at any time from laptop to tablet mode (or tent and stand modes in between). As an added innovation, the hinge on the latest version is one long soundbar, housing a strong set of speakers that pump crisp, high-quality audio in your direction no matter what mode you flip the computer to.

The Yoga C940’s display is a beautiful 14-inch 1080p touchscreen, with options to upgrade to an even more vivid 4K screen. Lenovo also more recently has added a 15.6-inch version that provides extra space to work with, but the size makes it a bit harder to handle as a tablet. One big benefit of tablet mode at any size is being able to write and draw on it with a stylus, and the C940 includes one conveniently tucked into a dedicated charging slot in the back.

Besides its hybrid format, the Yoga C940 draws a lot of versatility simply from blending so much performance and portability. Starting at roughly 3 pounds light and 0.6 inches thin, it can pack in up to a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 chip, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Even with integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics rather than a discrete GPU, it easily handles most of the video, media work, and games you can throw at it.

I’ve been using my Yoga 900-series for two years and appreciate its company every day. I love being able to take it anywhere, for everything from typing to doodling to Netflix to even a surprising amount of gaming.” — Anton Galang, Tech Writer

Best Ultrabook: Lenovo Yoga 920

Lenovo Yoga 710
What We Like
  • Thin, light 2-in-1 design

  • Strong performance for its size

  • Long battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Limited ports

If you’re looking for a slim and lightweight laptop with big-time performance, you’ll want to cast your gaze toward a premium ultrabook like the Lenovo Yoga 920. Its 13.9-inch 4K-resolution touchscreen display gives you lots of screen real estate to work with, all while fitting into a tiny 12.7x8.8-inch footprint and folding down to a razor-thin half an inch. Oh, and it also happens to be a 2-in-1 convertible—fold it the opposite direction and you can use it as a tablet that’s extremely versatile and easy to carry at just over 3 pounds. One downside is the speakers face downward in most configurations and the sound is slightly muffled (something Lenovo fixed in later models), but they still produce high-quality sound for a laptop.

Despite its diminutive frame, the Yoga 920 is equipped with hardware that can rival much larger competitors. A 1.8-GHz quad-core Intel i7-8550U chip with up to 16GB of RAM helps it power through essentially any productivity tasks, plenty of media work, and a fair share of games. It also gets great battery life considering how much you can do with it, making it a machine that actually makes sense to bring along when you need to get things done.

Best Battery: Lenovo ThinkPad T460

Lenovo ThinkPad T460
What We Like
  • All-day battery life

  • Hot-swappable high-capacity external battery

  • Business-oriented features and performance

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly bulky with extra battery

  • No USB-C port

Working remotely or on the road often means using your laptop for long stretches without a chance to plug it in. For the business-focused ThinkPad T460, that’s not a problem. Lenovo touts all-day battery life listed at 18 hours, and typical usage bears out pretty close to that mark. Part of this comes from a three-cell internal battery with a capacity of 23 watt-hours (Wh). But the T460 also includes a replaceable external battery, which you can (and should) upgrade to a six-cell, 72Wh unit. That means you have the option to buy a spare battery to swap in when the external one is running low. (Plus, you always can bring along a portable battery charger if you want to ensure you stay powered up at any time.)

As for the laptop itself, the T460 is as dependable for productivity as workplaces have come to expect from the ThinkPad line. It has a 14-inch Full HD screen and the always-excellent ThinkPad keyboard, complete with the red TrackPoint pointing stick. It’s designed not to win beauty contests, but to be tough and durable enough for any work hazards or conditions. It also takes a wide array of inputs, though the lack of a USB-C port is a bit of a modern inconvenience.

Best Chromebook: Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo Chromebook Duet
What We Like
  • Very portable 2-in-1 tablet

  • Acceptable productivity performance

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Small screen and keyboard

  • Not for heavy workloads

Chromebooks are meant to be simple, budget-friendly laptops, and the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is just that—with a few extra tricks up its sleeve. As a 2-in-1 device, its 10.1-inch touchscreen display is an ideal size and design for carrying around as a tablet. Then, when you want to use it as a laptop, you can prop up the screen on its kickstand and magnetically attach its full keyboard and touchpad. It takes cues from the Microsoft Surface products that set the standard for detachable 2-in-1s, but the Duet’s included keyboard/cover and lower specs make it much more affordable. Plus, it fully boots in 8 seconds on average, so it’s ready to roll whenever you are, with a battery that lets you keep rolling for 10 hours or more.

Running on Google’s quick and minimal Chrome OS, the Duet mostly works through the Chrome browser and Google web apps, with a universe of Android apps and games available to download from the Google Play Store. It also comes with a free 12-month Google One membership with 100GB of cloud storage for your whole family. It doesn’t have quite enough hardware for heavy multitasking or intensive gaming, but it’s a great fit for students or anyone looking for a portable, productive little device that won’t cost a fortune.

"The keys themselves just don’t feel good, and I found myself making error after error while typing on the Duet." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Andy Zahn / Lifewire

Final Verdict

Out of Lenovo’s large, wide-ranging lineup of laptops, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga stands out for its impressive performance, premium 2-in-1 design, and productivity-focused features. Business users who are fine with a traditional, non-convertible clamshell format might get better value from the X1 Carbon, which delivers similarly high levels of excellence for not as high a price.

About Our Trusted Experts

Anton Galang started working in tech journalism with PC Magazine more than a decade ago and now covers laptops and all sorts of other products for Lifewire. He wrote this article on a trusty Yoga C930 2-in-1 that he puts to good use for work and play.

What to Look For in a Lenovo Laptop

TrackPoint

This is the little red nub in the middle of the keyboard that IBM (and now Lenovo) laptops are famous for. It serves the same basic function as a trackpad or mouse, but you can use it without moving your hand off the keyboard. If you’re a fan of the TrackPoint, you’ll want to look for a Lenovo ThinkPad.

Model and Design

Lenovo makes many different types of laptops, including traditional models, touchscreen options, and 2-in-1 hybrids. Look for the Yoga brand if you’re interested in a convertible 2-in-1 that can be used like a laptop or a tablet, or a Duet if you prefer a detachable tablet in the same vein as the Microsoft Surface.

Gaming Performance

Gaming can be tough on laptops because most have weak onboard graphics. Most ThinkPad and Yoga models can take on some games, but aren’t really designed with gaming in mind. You’ll instead want to turn to Lenovo’s newer line of Legion gaming laptops, which have become strong contenders in the space.

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