The ThinkPad is rightly one of the absolute design classics among Windows notebooks. All models in the popular series have been stable, of high quality, and used professionally. With the new AMD Ryzen 4000 processors, the latest technology is now moving into the interior of the ThinkPad L14. We took a close look at the Lenovo ThinkPad L14 Review 2021.
You can find the exact technical data of my test device in the following table. Technical data Lenovo ThinkPad L14 AMD
|Display||35 cm (14 “) matt IPS display with LED backlight in 16: 9 format, 250 nits maximum brightness|
|resolution||1920x1080px (Full-HD), pixel density of approx. 157 PPI, or pixels per inch|
|processor||AMD Ryzen ™ 5 (4000 series) 4500U processor with six cores á 2.30 GHz|
Turbo Boost up to 4.0 GHz
8 MB cache
|graphic||AMD Radeon RX Vega 6 (integrated)|
|random access memory||16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz (1 of 2 slots occupied)|
(maximum expandable to 64GB)
|hard disk||512 GB NVMe SSD (PCIe 3.0)|
Wireless LAN 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac / ax
4G-LTE (via NanoSIM slot), Gigabit LAN
|connections||1x USB-C 3.2 Gen2|
1x USB-C 3.2 Gen1
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen1
1x HDMI 1.4b
1x combo audio / mic
smart card reader
|battery pack||Li-Ion battery with 45 Wh, Rapid Charge (80% in one hour)|
|Input devices||backlit keyboard|
touchpad with three mouse buttons
Trackpoint (UltraNav ™)
|Sound||Stereo speakers, Dolby Audio ™, dual array microphone|
|camera||720p infrared webcam with physical shutter|
|security||Device for Kensington lock|
|operating system||Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)|
|Dimensions||331 x 235 x 20.4 mm (WxDxH)|
Table of Contents
- 1 Scope of delivery
- 2 Design and input devices – Proven design with very good workmanship
- 3 Connections – There is (almost) nothing missing here
- 4 Display – good viewing angles and illumination meet poor color space coverage
- 5 Software – No bloatware
- 6 Lots of CPU performance and a damn fast SSD
- 7 Battery: Persistent through everyday business life
- 8 Emissions – Quiet and mostly cool
- 9 Upgrade – Almost everything works
- 10 Sound – above average
- 11 Conclusion – Lenovo ThinkPad L14 Review 2021
Scope of delivery
The scope of delivery of the Lenovo ThinkPad L14 does not contain any surprises and is kept minimalist: In addition to the business notebook, you will only find the USB-C charger and paperwork in the packaging.
For my taste, the charger could be a corner smaller or – as with Apple MacBooks or Huawei MateBooks – integrated into the plug. But you can also use any 65W power supply from third-party manufacturers. USB-C makes it possible.
In contrast to other models, Lenovo seems to use a little more plastic packaging for the ThinkPad. Both the laptop holder and a protective film ensure that the buyer is well received, but they do not represent a good environmental balance. Not a big deal, but Lenovo had solved this even better with the cheaper IdeaPad Flex 5.
You can also Read: MacBook Air M1 Review 2021
Design and input devices – Proven design with very good workmanship
The design of the ThinkPad can now – without exaggeration – be described as iconic. The simple, black, and gray boxes have been used on office floors and home offices for almost three decades. The design language has become a bit more wedge-shaped, but by and large, Lenovo has based itself on the ancient ancestor from 1992. Solid, precisely fitting quality and the unmistakable red TrackPoint in the middle of the keyboard laid the foundation for the iconic exterior and have resulted in few requests for change to this day.
The legendary rubber TrackPoint – now fashionably called UltraNav – also runs through the rest of the design: the literal “i” icing on the ThinkPad logo lights up on the case lid, permanently or flashing, depending on the operating status. Solid steel hinges hold the lid securely in position.
In terms of material, aluminum is not used very much, but that is completely ok with the ThinkPad. After all, the built-in plastic with its matt surface feels very good to the touch. The torsional stiffness is also right. The ThinkPad should – normally – even withstand a fall from table height.
The only other aluminum accent is the Lenovo logo on the back of the lid. “IBM” used to be emblazoned here.
An absolute highlight of the ThinkPad L14 series is their input devices: Both the touchpad and keyboard can compete with pretty much any other laptop. The keyboard, in particular, stands out with its atypical hub and tactile feedback. When typing, you quickly get the impression that you are sitting at an excellent desktop keyboard.
The keys all sit perfectly in the housing, and nothing wobbles – which is anything but natural with a long key journey in the mobile form factor. Instead, it is written very precisely, the key spacing is correct, and the keyboard hardly flexes even with heavy pressure. Understandably, Lenovo is now even bringing out desktop versions of the excellent ThinkPad keyboards.
In comparison, the touchpad hardly falls off: It reacts precisely to your inputs and ensures a good human-machine connection. The upper mouse buttons of the L14, which are unusually positioned at the upper end, are part of the Thinkpad tradition: the Lenovo notebook has two mice onboard.
The upper mouse buttons serve as input devices for the red TrackPoint. I tried this for a while for reasons of nostalgia, but I have to admit that the touchpad version has elicited more precise inputs from me. For ThinkPad fans from the very beginning and UltraNav acrobats, it is still a nice bonus. Practically, the touchpad also has integrated mouse buttons that have a good pressure point and are pleasant to use. It’s just a bit too small for my taste – but that’s criticism on a high level.
A fixed fingerprint reader and a 720p infrared webcam are also available for secure login without entering a password. The latter is sufficient for zoom meetings and has a practical physical lock that can be easily operated with one hand.
Overall, the input devices of the ThinkPad L14 hardly leave anything to be desired. Only the track point and the special position of its mouse buttons require some getting used to. But a “normal” mouse with touchpad operation is also available for this.
Connections – There is (almost) nothing missing here
The big unique selling point of the ThinkPad L14 is its 4G capability. Thanks to a NanoSIM slot, you can insert your SIM card and start surfing on the move. An essential feature, especially for business travelers – but also pretty nice for everyone else. Otherwise, you can hang everything on the ThinkPad L14 that the market currently has. The latest generation of USB ports is available as USB-C and -Aversions.
Thanks to an unusual SmartCard reader, you can even scan your credit or bank card in the L14. The slot can also be used to use an encrypted company VPN. How often a normal consumer still has to scan their bank card is an open question. Still, it’s nice that professionals even get this opportunity.
Only Thunderbolt 3 and a full SD card reader are prominently missing. The AMD CPU use can explain the lack of Intel technology, but the built-in microSD card reader is not enough for me personally. Sure, the small SD form factor is easily sufficient as a smartphone user, but if you want to get pictures or videos from a full-fledged camera to the ThinkPad more often, an adapter is required.
Also, HDMI 1.4b is installed. This allows you to play content up to 4K30Hz via the connection. For devices with a higher resolution or frame rate, a DisplayPort function is available via the USB-C connection.
A network connection should, of course, not be missing in a business notebook. The built-in one delivers high transfer rates and brings you quickly into the company or home network thanks to the Gigabit LAN. The ThinkPad L14 thus offers a comprehensive variety of connections that leaves most office notebooks behind.
Display – good viewing angles and illumination meet poor color space coverage
Colors appear vivid and natural on the IPS display of the ThinkPad L14, without exaggerating. As with all test devices, we wanted to know more precisely – and measured and calibrated it with the Spyder X Elite. During the initial color space measurement, disillusionment spread: Because neither the sRGB nor the extended color spaces can be covered even initially. The calibration does not change anything with an average increase of one percent.UncalibratedCalibrated
The ThinkPad L14’s screen is, therefore, not really suitable for professional image editing. There is too great a chance that color nuances will not be displayed correctly and that your pictures will look different than intended after editing. But you can at least operate a suitable monitor on one of the ThinkPad’s video outputs.
The display can still be described as very good for ordinary consumers: The viewing angles are very stable and allow you to share media with friends on a laptop. Only the illumination drops slightly at the lower edge of the screen, which is only noticeable in practice in the darkest surroundings.
With an average of 244.16 nits, the offered brightness is only slightly below Lenovo’s manufacturer’s specification. Thanks to the matt display coating, it is usually sufficient in bright surroundings. Just with the blazing sun behind you, a work trip to the park could be difficult.UncalibratedCalibrated
The contrast of the screen is on a good level with a value of 1100: 1. Also, the color homogeneity is completely convincing. This means that colors are displayed evenly over the entire screen area.Color homogeneity 100% brightness color homogeneity 50% brightness
The factory-set color accuracy can also be a positive surprise: the ThinkPad L14 reproduces standard colors precisely. Uncalibrated, the ThinkPad’s screen already has a Delta-E of less than 2. In the calibrated state, this even improves to an excellent value of around 1.3.UncalibratedCalibrated
Larger outliers only occur in shades of blue. Since photos are seldom composed only with standard colors, the good color fidelity is particularly interesting when surfing the Internet or using graphic design. The standard grayscale compensation is also perfectly on the target of 2.2.
This means that pretty much all normal users can use the screen of the ThinkPad L14. The standard colors are displayed well and evenly. The contrast and viewing angles are also compelling. Advanced image and video editing should be done on a different display due to the low color space coverage.
Software – No bloatware
Windows notebooks often come with all sorts of useless software. The ThinkPad L14 is a positive exception. Because in the delivery state, McAfee AntiVirus does not want to sell you various annual subscriptions. You will also look in vain for other common suspects, such as Candy Crush or DropBox.
Lenovo Vantage is on board for this. The software sometimes shows you advertisements when you start it, but otherwise, it is beneficial: It automatically scans BIOS or other driver updates for your ThinkPad. You can also calibrate power and energy profiles with it a little more sensitively than with Windows’s own energy options.
Compared to many competitors, the ThinkPad L14 is refreshingly clean, up-to-date, and doesn’t annoy you with constant advertisements.
Lots of CPU performance and a damn fast SSD
In the timeless design of the ThinkPad L14, Lenovo has installed what is currently probably the most modern processor technology: The AMD Ryzen 5 4500U has six cores and is based on modern 7nm production. The 4500U does not offer multi-threading and thus only six threads, but it still leaves comparable Intel Core i7 processors with eight threads behind. Both the single-core and the multi-core performance are clearly above the values of the competition.
In Cinebench R15 and R20, the AMD six-core can even hold its own against former top-of-the-range desktop models.
As expected, apps and programs start smoothly and quickly. Switching between intensive applications always goes smoothly. That should also have something to do with the fast 16 GB RAM with a 3200 MHz clock rate. The Ryzen processor particularly benefits from this, as the fixed RAM ensures a better connection between the 7nm processor and the 12nm IO chip – both of which are located on the CPU die. However, a dual-channel connection would have resulted in even more processor performance. But you can fix that relatively easily.
Due to its modern manufacturing technology, the AMD chip is very efficient despite the performance it offers. He also has a solid graphics unit with the Radeon Vega 6. This is not enough for current triple-A titles, but if you like to play classics like Half-Life 2, Skyrim, or current (rather undemanding) titles like Fortnite, that is definitely possible. However, the low video memory of only 512 MB should often be a limitation.
I was particularly surprised by the ThinkPad’s SSD. It lives up to the professional standards of the laptop. A Western Digital SN730 is installed – a branded product. It is already working at the PCIe 3.0 interface limit and offers damn fast write and read speeds. Even in the complex AS SSD copy benchmark, the built-in WD-SSD achieves very high transfer rates. In the delivery state, there is still a good 435GB of free storage available.
Overall, you can expect a high enough everyday life performance to carry out the simple image and video editing. CAD programs or programming applications should also run smoothly. The good input devices do the rest.
Battery: Persistent through everyday business life
The efficient AMD processor brings you comfortably through the working day. In the test, I chose the “balanced” energy profile. The brightness was set to 70% – which is sufficient in most environments thanks to the matte display.
This allowed me to work productively on the ThinkPad L14 for about six to ten hours. The large variance of four hours arises from the respective application. For example, if you use complex programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Premiere, you only end up with six hours. That’s still pretty good, though. I usually got by for more than eight hours without visiting an electrical outlet in the average mix of multitasking in the browser, YouTube videos, Microsoft Office, and Adobe Photoshop.
You can considerably reduce the battery life of the Lenovo with very intensive tasks such as rendering or gaming, especially when you activate the “Best Performance” profile. Nevertheless, most users should get along with “balanced” and therefore look forward to very good runtimes.
Emissions – Quiet and mostly cool
The fan of the Lenovo laptop is rarely heard in everyday life. If you use the ThinkPad L14 for more complex applications, it jumps and rustles slightly in the background. However, it never becomes uncomfortably high-frequency. You can hear the fan under full load after a while, but even then, it sounds astonishingly far away. Only when you hold your ear next to the keyboard of the ThinkPad L14 do you notice that the soft background noise is emanating from the notebook?
The temperatures of the Lenovo ThinkPad are also consistently perfect. In idle, they are constantly at a good 35 to 41 degrees. The clock rates are also right: all six cores boost up to 4 GHz under load. The clock rate throttled to around 3.2 GHz in an all-core boost during long periods of continuous use. Unfortunately, our AIDA stress test was a little too much for the ThinkPad’s cooling system, which led to slight slow-downs. However, this is also an absolute extreme scenario since all components are loaded to the maximum.
The highest possible CPU temperatures were almost 83 degrees on one core, which is absolutely fine for a Ryzen notebook. A positive side effect of a plastic housing is the heat development of the surface. Many laptops with full aluminum housings can get so hot that you can hardly use them on your lap. In contrast, the ThinkPad L14 only stays lukewarm. Your own flexibility only hinders intensive work in the cramped train compartment.
Upgrade – Almost everything works
Traditionally, the ThinkPad series can be upgraded very easily. The L14 is no exception here either. Even opening the housing is very easy. In contrast to many competitors, mini-Torx screws are not used; a normal Phillips screwdriver is sufficient. I would only recommend a guitar lick or a spudger to be able to loosen the underside well.
Lenovo is already counting on resourceful hobbyists and ensures that the bottom can be removed easily. Above all, the screws used are very cool and well thought out: They remain connected to the housing and therefore do not fly around unnecessarily. When you open the ThinkPad L14 for the first time, it can still be irritating that the Phillips screws cannot be removed.
In the interior, the L14 offers you the agony – or rather: the pleasure – of choice. Because the main memory can be easily expanded, pay attention to the same clock rates and timings as with the built-in Samsung model. A thin aluminum foil covers the two RAM slots. This means that your main memory’s waste heat is transferred to the housing and thus better dissipated.
Only the Western Digital M.2 SSD placement deserves a high level of criticism: Lenovo placed it in the dedicated 2.5-inch slot. If you had got it on the mainboard of the Thinkpad L14, you could also install an additional SATA SSD.
Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad L14 can be upgraded very well and offers almost every expansion option that modern laptops can currently bring.
Sound – above average
Let’s be honest: notebooks often don’t sound good. Nevertheless, manufacturers stick them with audio labels like “Dolby” or “Harman and Kardon.” The ThinkPad L14 also advertises “Dolby Audio,” but does without a business-like sticker.
Accordingly, I was very skeptical when I turned on CSNY’s classic “Almost Cut my Hair” on the ThinkPad L14. But far from it: the volume is okay to fill a medium-sized room with around 20 square meters. It doesn’t sound really room-filling and great, but the sound is really not bad for a notebook. The speakers are located on the bottom left and right and even provide a minimal stereo image. Also, the sound only becomes distorted from a volume of over 80%.
Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” It even comes with a light bass foundation. The instruments are also neatly separated from one another. No comparison to the cheapest headphones or entry-level speakers – but perfect for a notebook.
Series and films also benefit from the clear, tidy sound of the Lenovo. Voices are easy to understand, and nothing overflows well. The jack connection of the ThinkPad L14 is absolutely suitable for 99% of all headphones. Understandably, he only has problems with high-resistance models. An external headphone amplifier is required for them.
Overall, the audio quality of the ThinkPad L14 is well above the level of most office contenders.
Conclusion – Lenovo ThinkPad L14 Review 2021
The Lenovo ThinkPad L14 has become another worthy chapter in the classic notebook range. It is based on its traditional virtues both haptically and visually, making it an ideal work tool. There are minimal modernizations in terms of shape, but these fit well into the overall picture. In particular, the input devices are among the best of their kind and can satisfy both old and new ThinkPad fans. The built-in LTE modem brings you to the Internet quickly, even when you are on the move. Also, there is a variety of connections that is second to none. Only using a microSD card reader (instead of the larger counterpart) can be criticized here.
The display already offers good color fidelity to the standard colors in the factory state. Still, it should not be used for advanced image processing due to its low color space coverage. The viewing angle, contrast, and gamma value are convincing and make the ThinkPad’s screen a pleasant everyday companion.
Thanks to the built-in AMD Ryzen 4500U, you are also very fast in all situations. Even more computationally intensive programs are rarely a problem for the six-core. Simple gaming – especially classic games – is possible thanks to the integrated Vega graphics unit. The fast SSD from Western Digital and the ample RAM from Samsung also contribute to the pleasant overall impression.
Speaking of RAM: Just like the SSD and network cards, you can swap it out. Access to the interior is very uncomplicated, thanks to Lenovo’s use of Phillips screws. The fans and emissions can also be cleaned easily. The ThinkPad L14 also stays mostly quiet and always cool during operation. Due to its plastic housing, the heat is not passed on too much to the housing and makes knee operation an option even on hot days. The long-lasting battery allows complete working days without visiting the socket.
I’m really impressed with the ThinkPad L14. It does not have any serious weaknesses and should remain the ultimate work notebook for many due to its form factor and features. If you are currently looking for a new notebook for the office, then definitely take a closer look at the ThinkPad L14 with AMD Ryzen CPU.