ThinkPad Shopping for Information: Find out how to Select Your Subsequent Enterprise Laptop computer

Matt Smith / Digital Trends

For professional laptop users, the ThinkPad has been known as one of the best and most reliable brands for decades. Since Lenovo's takeover of IBM's personal computing division in 2005, the ThinkPad product range has evolved in a new and fascinating way. Be it the X series, the T series or the E series, there are many exciting laptops to choose from. But that can make it difficult to find the best Thinkpad or you.

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To help you choose the right ThinkPad for your needs, here's a guide to the different options available and why they may be a good choice for your next laptop upgrade.

X1 series

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme testRich Shibley / Digital Trends

At the top of the ThinkPad series is the X1 series. These are the best of the lightweight ThinkPad laptops that offer long battery life, robust security features, and classic ThinkPad TrackPoint knobs on the keyboard. They're also ruggedly designed, and Lenovo proudly claims that these Thinkpads have been (and survived decisively) all over the world, including the peaks of Mount Everest, the bottom of the ocean, and even space on the International and Mir space stations.

If you like the sound of these premium X1 models, we recommend starting with the X1 Carbon to see how far Lenovo can really push its laptops and whether it is right for you. However, they are quite expensive. Therefore, check the prices for your preferred mode.

X1 carbon:

Yoga series

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 YogaMatt Smith / Digital Trends

Lenovo also offers Yoga versions of X-series devices, including the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. Yoga versions of the ThinkPads of the X series have a touchscreen and are fully convertible thanks to a 360-degree hinge. That means it can be switched to four usage modes – laptop, stand, tablet or tent mode.

Some versions of Yoga also have built-in pens, such as the X1 Yoga, which allows you to digitally apply ink to the screen and mark your PDFs and other documents. The latest versions also offer plenty of performance for those looking for a versatile 2-in-1 system that can do many office tasks.

X1 Yoga:

X1 series

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme testRich Shibley / Digital Trends

The X1 laptops are great, but these high-end models may be too expensive for the type of laptop you want. In this case, we recommend testing some of the X-series – slightly older models that are far cheaper but still offer some of the best features.

If you like the X Series sound, the best option is that ThinkPad X390. All ThinkPad X-Series laptops are equipped with Intel processors, fast solid-state drives and options for 4 to 32 GB RAM.


T series

Lenovo Thinkpad T480s fully open at the frontMark Coppock / Digital Trends

The T series is located directly below the X series. These are traditional clamshell-style ThinkPad laptops aimed more at professionals or companies. Some may see these devices as alternatives to MacBooks. Current models of the T series include the ThinkPad 14-inch T490, ThinkPad T480, and the 15-inch ThinkPad T580. 15-inch versions come with a number pad next to the main keyboard. Some 14-inch T-series laptops also offer long battery life. Lenovo promises that the T490s can last 20 hours on a single charge.

The T-series ThinkPads also offer touchscreen options and a variety of connectivity options, including USB-C and USB-A ports. This makes them a great choice if you are always on the go or unwilling to adopt the dongle lifestyle.

If you want a T series ThinkPad, we recommend a T480. When we tested it, we liked the versatile connectivity options, battery life, touchpad and keyboard at a great price.

ThinkPad 14-inch T490:

ThinkPad T480:

ThinkPad T580:

E series

Lenovo Thinkpad T480s model logoMark Coppock / Digital Trends

You don't have to spend the earth to get a great ThinkPad. There are also some affordable entry-level options, namely the E series. Prices start at around $ 580 and most offer great hardware and the usual ThinkPad build quality, but sacrifice weight and portability. The models E14 and E15 are equipped with full HD displays, memory from 500 GB and 4 GB memory. The latest versions are also equipped with 10th generation Intel Core processors.

The E series is also highly scalable. You can adjust to focus on a specific function that is important to you, or equip much higher specifications for a more powerful machine (however, this leads to sharp price increases). Note that the E-Series has neither touchscreen options nor UHD display picks.

ThinkPad E14 and E15:

General tips for buying a ThinkPad

  • As with all laptops, think a few years ahead and make sure you get a ThinkPad that's ready for that future, rather than right now. This includes school, jobs, entertainment, family and more.
  • The general feeling in the ThinkPad community is that a few years older models have a more durable design, while current models are a little easier to break. This isn't always the case, but if you want to save and need a sturdy laptop, you can go back a few years and see which ThinkPads are available. You won't lose too much performance as long as you stay in a few generations.
  • If you're having trouble comparing the ThinkPad series, start with the screen size. It's an easy-to-understand specification and a great way to narrow your options based on the type of ad you really want.
  • Don't over-emphasize most of the specifications. For most laptop tasks, you only need about 6 GB of RAM. Pushing higher is mainly for designers and gamers. A small hard drive can be moved with an external SSD if you run out of space. There is often a workaround for many functions. However, you stay with the display quality and battery life. So make sure they are in your desired area.
  • Don't forget to pay attention to the ports. Only the newer versions of the ThinkPad series have expanded ports such as USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, which are important when buying new devices and accessories.

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