Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 review

Lenovo’s ThinkPad Z13 is my favorite of the company’s business laptops. The second-generation model is very similar to the first, with only a new finish and Ryzen 7040 processors as its key upgrades.




It’s a modern take on ThinkPad, a product line that’s notorious for being tied to its legacy design and components. The ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 has a haptic touchpad, a shallower keyboard that’s more comfortable to type on, and it even has a unique use for the TrackPoint.


Unfortunately, the new Ryzen 7040 chips have the same downside as the Ryzen 6000 processors that were in the first-gen Z13, which is that you sacrifice performance when you’re not connected to power. That’s the main drawback here, since AMD’s processors take a much bigger hit when powered by only the battery than Intel’s do.


But again, that doesn’t stop it from being my favorite ThinkPad. The design is stylsh, the OLED display is pretty, and it’s just an all-around great laptop.


Lenovo sent us the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 for review. It did not have any input on the contents of this article.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2

$1365 $2099 Save $734

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 is unlike many other laptops in the ThinkPad lineup.

Pros

  • Stylish and unique design
  • OLED display
  • 1.35mm keyboard
  • The TrackPoint is actually useful
Cons

  • Performance drops when not connected to power
  • 1080p webcam isn’t competitive
  • Display is still 60Hz

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 pricing and availability

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 is available now, and according to Lenovo’s own product page, it technically starts at $2,069. Of course, ThinkPads never actually sell for the price they’re listed as on Lenovo.com; they’re perpetually discounted.


As of the time of writing, the starting price for this product is $1,241.40, and that’ll get you a Ryzen 5 PRO 7540U, 16GB LPDDR5X-6400MHz, a 256GB SSD, and a 1920×1200 display.


The model that Lenovo sent me actually sells for $1,873.80, and it comes with a Ryzen 7 PRO 7840U, 32GB LPDDR5X memory, a 1TB SSD, and a 2880×1800 OLED display.

Specifications

CPU
AMD Ryzen 7000 PRO series

GPU
AMD Radeon graphics (Integrated)

Storage
Up to 2TB SSD

Battery
51.5Whr

Display (Size, Resolution)
13.3-inch, 16:10 aspect ratio, up to 2880×1800 (2.8K) OLED display with Dolby Vision

Camera
Up to 1080p FHD RGB and IR discrete camera

Speakers
Dolby Atmos speaker system, Dolby Atmos headphone, 2x mics with Dolby Atmos Voice

Colors
Arctic Grey and Bronze

Memory
Up to 64GB

Ports
2x USB-C, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack

Network
Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1 (or higher), 4G LTE support

Dimensions
11.59 x 7.85 x 0.55 inches (294.4 x 199.6 x 13.99mm)

Weight
2.62 pounds (1.19 kg)

Adaptor and Battery
65W adapter, supports Rapid Charge

Finish
Aluminum and flax material

Operating System
Windows 11 Pro

Price
$2,069 (MSRP)

Design

The Z13 is the prettiest ThinkPad

The only thing that’s changed about the design since the Z13 Gen 1 is that there’s a new flax fiber finish, replacing the black vegan leather option. Lenovo sent me the silver one though, which is the same as it was last year, and the only color offered on the ThinkPad Z16.

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The ThinkPad Z13 is made out of aluminum, coming in a slightly darker silver color. The sides are flat with more of a brushed aluminum, all giving the Z13 a more stylish and unique look from the rest of the ThinkPad lineup. Remember, ThinkPads are known for being black, boring, and frankly ugly (I’m not making a judgment here; take a deep breath ThinkPad stans). They tend to be so popular not because of their looks, but just because they’re so good.

The ThinkPad Z13 is a breath of fresh air for business laptops.



In fact, business laptops tend to have dull and uninspiring designs just because of the market that they’re aimed at. HP has aimed at making a prettier business laptop with its Dragonfly series, while Dell hasn’t done much with its Latitude laptops.

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Like its predecessor, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 has only two ports, both of which are USB Type-C. Thanks to USB4, there’s no longer as much of a sacrifice when you’re getting an AMD-powered laptop, since you typically need an Intel laptop (for the most part) to get Thunderbolt.

Display

That sweet OLED

Once again, the ThinkPad Z13 comes with an option of a 1920×1200 LCD or a 2880×1800 OLED screen, of which Lenovo sent me the latter. The good news is that it’s OLED, and I almost always recommend that. The bad news is that it’s 60Hz when so many laptops, including those from Lenovo, have 2880×1800 90Hz OLED panels.



It’s definitely a nice OLED screen for a work laptop. I do wish we’d see the smoothness of a 90Hz panel, like we get with the Yoga 9i. In fact, the Yoga 9i shipped with only a 60Hz option, and 90Hz came later via an update, so who knows? Maybe there’s hope.

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Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 display test


The screen supports 100% sRGB, 94% NTSC, 96% Adobe RGB, and 100% P3, according to my testing. It’s what you’d expect from an OLED display, and the numbers are undoubtedly significantly lower on the FHD+ configuration.


Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 display test 2


The display maxed out at 388.5 nits, which is a bit lower than the promised 400 nits. The black level stayed at 0.03 no matter the brightness. Obviously, you want that number to be as close to zero as possible, but it’s good that it didn’t increase.


Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2-11


The webcam above the display is 1080p, or 2.1MP, which is fine but still lagging competitors like HP. HP has been using 5MP sensors for a while now, going all the way down to its mid-range Pavilion laptops. On some newer premium laptops like the Spectre x360 14, it’s using a 9MP sensor.


Like I said, 1080p is fine for the most part. Unless you’re recording 4K video, which you probably wouldn’t use a laptop webcam for anyway, 1080p will make you look great on all of your calls. The problem is that this laptop does offer Windows Studio Effects, and if you turn on automatic framing, it’s going to crop the field of view. The more you move around, the more it’s cropping, and that means quality goes down. With a higher resolution, you can crop the field of view and still have plenty of pixels left over.

Keyboard

It’s the best ThinkPad keyboard, and that says a lot

ThinkPads are renowned for having some of the best keyboards around, even if HP has caught up over the last few years. So you might ask, how deep is the key-press on a Lenovo ThinkPad? The answer is that it absolutely varies. Some are 1.6mm, some are over 2mm. The Z13 has 1.35mm keys, the shallowest of any ThinkPad.


Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2-8


This keyboard debuted with the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga a few years ago, a laptop that I still think is the greatest of all time, and I actually interviewed some folks at Lenovo and discussed how that keyboard was developed. The company is really conservative about changes to ThinkPad, so it put a lot of thought into changing how much force it took to press the keys to compensate for the shallower distance you’d need to press it.

The keyboard is so good, all ThinkPads should adopt it.


The result is the best ThinkPad keyboard there is, and Lenovo needs to use it in its entire portfolio.


Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2-9


One feature that is being adopted in a broader range of products is the haptic touchpad that debuted in the Gen 1 model. Yes, this modern ThinkPad does still include the TrackPoint, that red nub that’s really a relic from the days when Windows touchpads were pretty poorly made. But you no longer have to be forced to live with physical buttons above the touchpad.


Thanks to the haptic touchpad, you can simply use the top of it as buttons as you would have in the old days, or not.


Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2-15


One thing that’s pretty neat is that Lenovo actually took the TrackPoint and did something useful with it. You can now double-tap on it and get access to some quick settings.


Screenshot (5)


It’s a neat little shortcut. I don’t know how necessary it is, but at least it makes the TrackPoint useful to people that might not use it. If you don’t like it, you can also easily disable it by hitting Fn + G.

Performance

Performance is great, except for when it’s not

I feel like I tell the same story about AMD-powered laptops every year. Performance is great, particularly multithreaded performance, and it drops off when not connected to power. With every generation, AMD claims to have solved it, and every time, it’s still not where it needs to be.


It hasn’t changed with the company’s Zen 4 Ryzen 7040 chips (I have to say 7040 instead of 7000, because that first digit doesn’t mean anything anymore). If anything, it’s gotten a little bit better, but not enough. I remember with the last-gen model being on a Google Meet call with someone, and he told me how terrible my internet connection was. All I had to do was plug in the laptop. It wasn’t my connection; the CPU wasn’t getting enough power.


Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 placed on a marble table


Performance is pretty great though. For a chip that came out last year, multi-core performance was ahead of its x86-based competition, meaning Intel. AMD typically lags behind in single-core performance, and that hasn’t changed either, despite Intel scaling back on single-core performance with Core Ultra.


For photo editing and even some light video editing, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 can handle it, although you should be connected to power.

It’s one of the first business laptops to support AI features in Windows.


The Z13 Gen 2 even supports Windows Studio Effects. That means it can do on-device AI tasks like blurring your background, adjusting your gaze so it looks like you’re looking at the webcam, and it can reframe the field of view as you move around.

ThinkPad Z13 Ryzen PRO 7840U

HP Spectre x360 14 Core Ultra 7 155H

Lenovo Yoga 9i (2023) Core i7-1360P

PCMark 10 (AC / battery)

6,728 / 5,870

6,844 / 5,792

6,115 / 5,847

Geekbench 6 (single / multi)

2,376 / 11,768

2,417 / 12,852

2,464 / 10,859

Cinebench 2024 (single / multi)

96 / 661

100 / 745

Cinebench R23

1,696 / 12,340

1,760 / 12,737

1,810 / 7,869

3DMark: Time Spy

2,636

3,727

1,748


Benchmarks pretty much highlight what I said above. Multi-core performance is ahead of its competition at the time, which was Intel’s 13th-gen, and single-core lags behind both.


The unfortunate part of performance dropping off when not connecting to power is that it doesn’t make up for it in battery life. In my testing, the ThinkPad Z13 maxed out at 251 minutes, and that was the only run that lasted over four hours. The average was 220 minutes.


Note that my normal testing methodology is to work as I normally would, with the power slider set to balanced. However, with AMD-powered machines like this one, the power slider is set to best performance because that’s the only way it’s usable.

Should you buy the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2?

You should buy the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 if:


  • You want a ThinkPad, but you want it to be stylish
  • You want something that looks unique
  • You type a lot, and build quality matters to you


You should NOT buy the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 if:


  • You’re not connected to power the majority of the time
  • You need consistent power for things like video editing or even gaming


The biggest limitation of the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 is the same as it was for the Gen 1 model, and in fact, it’s the same as it is for all AMD-powered laptops. Performance drops off dramatically when it’s not connected to power. If you’re on battery life most of the time, you should get something with an Intel chip like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.


All of my other complaints are pretty minor, such as the lack of a 90Hz refresh rate and the webcam being “only” 1080p. This is a great laptop, and it’s a stunner. I love laptops that don’t look like they came out of the same mold, and frankly, ThinkPads have looked like they’ve come out of the same mold for a while.


If you’re looking for a great all-around business laptop in a stylish package, this is it.

Angled rear view of the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 in Flax Fiber Bronze

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2

$1365 $2099 Save $734

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 is unlike many other laptops in the ThinkPad lineup.

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