back to top

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2: Compact for Business Travelers

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 stands apart from its ThinkPad counterparts. Introduced two years ago, the Z13 ultraportable caught attention with its exclusive AMD offerings within a remarkably compact design. It featured unique elements like a distinct webcam module, a haptic touchpad, and the option for a synthetic leather lid. With the Gen 2 iteration, Lenovo maintains the recycled aluminum enclosure while upgrading to AMD Ryzen Pro 7000 processors. The previous leather-like lid is replaced with an optional woven flax fiber material covering. Although our review unit lacked the flax fiber lid, it boasted the top display option: a stunning 2.8K OLED touch panel.

The ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 impresses with its sturdy build and sleek dimensions, resembling a miniature tank of a laptop, poised to endure the rigors of business travel. While it delivers solid overall performance, its price can soar to nearly $2,000 with desired upgrades. This places it in intense competition within the premium business ultraportable market, including Lenovo’s lineup. For most business travelers, alternatives like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 and HP Dragonfly G4 offer larger 14-inch displays and slightly lighter weight, making them preferable choices.

PROS:

CONS:

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2: Compact for Business Travelers
Check Amazon

In this review, we delve into the performance, design, and features of the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses to help you make an informed decision.

Configuration:

  • Price as Reviewed: $1,874
  • Display: 13.3-inch 2880 x 1800 OLED touch display
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 7840U
  • Memory: 32GB DDR5 6,400MHz RAM
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon 780M
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Ports: USB-C 4.0 (x2), combo audio port
  • Networking: Wi-Fi 6E AX211 (2 x 2), Bluetooth 5.1
  • Operating System: Windows 11 Pro 23H2

The ThinkPad Z series, available in 13-inch and 16-inch sizes, is notable as the sole ThinkPad line exclusively featuring AMD CPUs. While other lines offer both Intel and AMD options, the Z series stands out as entirely AMD-based.

Starting at $1,241, the 13-inch ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 (with fluctuating Lenovo discounts) includes an AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 7540U CPU, 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 13.3-inch non-touch IPS display (1920×1200 resolution). Our $1,874 test model upgrades all components to a Ryzen 7 Pro 7840U chip, 32GB RAM, a 1TB SSD, and an OLED touch display (2880×1800 resolution). All models feature integrated Radeon graphics, with Radeon 740M for Ryzen 5 configurations and Radeon 780M for Ryzen 7.

In the UK, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 starts at £1,439, while in Australia, it’s priced at AU$1,799.

Strong AMD Performance:

The AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 7840U in our test unit boasts eight physical cores and 16 threads. Its Pro variant includes on-chip security and remote management features tailored for business, such as a Microsoft Pluton security chip offering protection against physical and firmware attacks, and receiving weekly patches and updates from Microsoft.

Testing revealed impressive performance on application benchmarks like Geekbench 6 and PCMark 10. Outperforming models with 13th-gen Intel Core U-series chips and even surpassing a system with a 13th-gen Core P-series processor. Notably, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 delivered superior graphics performance compared to laptops equipped with integrated Intel Arc and Iris Xe graphics.

Despite its robust performance, the Z13 Gen 2 managed only around 9 hours on our online streaming battery test. This result, while decent, is average for a portable device intended for extended usage away from power outlets, partly attributed to the high-res OLED display’s energy consumption.

A Unique Twist on Tradition: Introducing the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2

A Unique Twist on Tradition: Introducing the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2

Breaking away from the conventional ThinkPad design, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 introduces subtle yet distinctive features. Even without the optional flax fiber lid, our test model offers a refreshing departure from the typical ThinkPad aesthetic. Notably, the top panel and side edges adopt a silvery gray hue, adding contrast to the black keyboard deck and base. Unlike the tapered edges seen in most ThinkPads, the Z13 Gen 2 boasts squared-off side edges.

Further enhancing its unique appearance, the webcam module stands out in a brighter silver shade with a brushed finish. Positioned at the front edge, it also serves as a convenient handle for lifting the lid.

While the black surfaces maintain the matte finish characteristic of ThinkPads, they lack the usual soft-touch coating, contributing to a sleek, modern look that stays true to the ThinkPad heritage while infusing it with a contemporary touch.

Lenovo offers an intriguing flax fiber option, described as incorporating sustainable woven flax fibers for a distinctive twist on the typical ThinkPad cover. This variant also features bronze accents, emphasizing its eco-friendly design. However, even the standard aluminum lid boasts environmentally conscious properties, with the lid and keyboard deck crafted from 75% recycled aluminum, and the bottom cover utilizing 55% recycled aluminum.

With minimal screen bezels and squared-off edges, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 achieves remarkable compactness for a 13-inch laptop, measuring just 11.6 inches wide and 7.9 inches deep, with a slim profile of just over half an inch thick. While not the lightest option at 2.7 pounds, it offers a robust build that feels solid and durable, distinguishing itself from ultraportables prioritizing weight reduction over sturdiness.

Despite its slightly heavier weight compared to similar models, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2’s robust construction makes it an ideal companion for daily commutes and frequent travel, providing reassurance in durability without sacrificing portability.

Compact Brilliance: Exploring the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2's Features

Compact Brilliance: Exploring the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2’s Features

The ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2’s compact design makes it ideal for on-the-go productivity, fitting perfectly on tray tables during flights. However, the 13.3-inch display may feel cramped during extended work sessions, better suited for travelers who dock with an external monitor upon reaching the office. Compared to a 14-inch screen, the smaller display requires more careful management of window arrangements, limiting multitasking capabilities.

Despite potential space constraints, our test unit’s 2.8K OLED display offers exceptional quality, justifying the $225 upgrade charge. Text appears crisp and deeply black, with color accuracy covering 100% of the sRGB and P3 color spaces, although peak brightness slightly falls short of its 400-nit rating at 372 nits.

While the display may feel restrictive over time, the keyboard remains comfortable throughout extended use, adhering to the ThinkPad standard. With spill-resistant properties and two-level backlighting, it delivers both luxury and practicality.

In a departure from typical ThinkPad design, the Z13 Gen 2 features a touchpad without physical mouse buttons, utilizing a narrow top portion as mouse buttons for the TrackPoint pointing stick. This arrangement provides a spacious touchpad area, pleasing touchpad users while potentially disappointing TrackPoint enthusiasts. The haptic feedback mechanism enhances user experience, offering accurate and responsive clicks reminiscent of MacBook touchpads.

The integrated 1080p IR webcam produces clear, grain-free images, supported by an IR cam for facial recognition log-ins. While lacking a physical privacy shutter, an electronic kill switch accessible via the F9 key provides privacy assurance. Additionally, a fingerprint scanner next to the arrow keys offers an alternative secure login method.

Port selection on the Z13 Gen 2 is minimal, with USB-C 4 ports on each side and a headphone jack on the right. However, one USB-C port is dedicated to laptop charging, potentially limiting external connectivity options.

In conclusion, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 excels in craftsmanship and performance but caters specifically to frequent business travelers with access to external monitors in office settings. For a more versatile choice, professionals may prefer larger and lighter alternatives like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 and HP Dragonfly G4.

More like this