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Lenovo ThinkBook 13s review: A business notebook that you can use for play

By Kenny Yeo - 26 Oct 2019
Launch SRP: S$1599

Performance & conclusion

How does it perform?

The ThinkBook 13s is one of the few notebooks to feature AMD graphics.

Thanks to its capable mid-range Core i5-8265U processor and speedy PCIe SSD, the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s performed admirably in our benchmarking tests. Also, its discrete graphics chip meant it was significantly faster than notebooks which had to rely solely on Intel’s integrated graphics solution. That said, the Radeon 540X was clearly not a match for notebooks with NVIDIA graphics. The MSI Prestige and Razer Blade Stealth, which are both powered by the NVIDIA MX150 GPU, racked up significantly better scores on 3DMark and Tomb Raider. Still, the important takeaway is that the ThinkBook 13s should be able to run mainstream games fairly well even at Full-HD resolution as long as you turn the graphics settings down.

Also, it's worth mentioning that the discrete GPU wasn't activated when I first ran Tomb Raider. For some reason, the integrated GPU was used which resulted in scores that were much less than I anticipated. Fortunately, this can be easily fixed by installing the Radeon Software from AMD.

Test Notebooks Compared
  Lenovo ThinkBook 13s LG gram 14 (2018) MSI Prestige PS42 Razer Blade Stealth (Late 2018) ASUS ZenBook 14 UX433 Dell XPS 13 (2019) ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 UX580
  Lenovo ThinkBook 13s LG gram 14 (2018) MSI Prestige PS42 Razer Blade Stealth (Late 2018) ASUS ZenBook 14 UX433 Dell XPS 13 (2019) ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 UX580
Launch SRP
  • From S$1599
Processor and Chipset
  • Intel Core i5-8265U
  • Intel Core i7-8550U
  • Intel Core i7-8550U
  • Intel Core i7-8565U
  • Intel Core i7-8565U
  • Intel Core i7-8565U
  • Intel Core i9-8950HK
Operating System
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Home
System Memory
  • 8GB DDR4
  • 8GB DDR4 2400MHz
  • 16GB DDR2-2400
  • 16GB LPDDR3 memory
  • 16GB DDR3
  • 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz
  • 16GB 2400MHz DDR4
Video & Display
  • 13.3-inch Full-HD IPS display
  • AMD Radeon 540X 2GB GDDR5
  • 14-inch Full-HD IPS
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • 14-inch Full-HD IPS display
  • NVIDIA GeForce MX150
  • 13.3-inch FHD, matte, 100% sRGB
  • NVIDIA GeForce MX150 2GB DDR5
  • 13.3-inch InfinityEdge display
  • 4K, touchscreen
  • 15.6-inch 4K IPS display
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GDDR5
  • 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
  • 512GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
  • 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • 256GB PCIe SSD
  • 512GB PCIe SSD
  • 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
  • 1TB PCIe SSD
Optical Drive
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a/ 2x2
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a (2x2)
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Intel Wireless-AC9560 (2x2, 160MHz, up to 1.73Gbps)
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a
  • Killer 1435 802.11ac 2x2
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a
  • 2 x 2W Harman speakers
  • Dolby audio
  • 1.5W x 2 built-in speakers
  • Internal mic
  • 2 x 2W speakers
  • 4 x speakers + smart amp
  • 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo port
  • ASUS SonicMaster stereo audio system
  • 1W x 2 Waves MaxxAudio speakers
  • ASUS SonicMaster stereo audio system
I/O Ports
  • 1 x USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 2)
  • 2 x USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1)
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4b
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
  • 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • 1 x USB-C (USB 3.1)
  • 2 x USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1)
  • 2 x USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1)
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x headphone/microphone jack
  • 1 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3
  • 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2
  • 2 x USB-A USB 3.1
  • 1 x USB-C USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • 1 x USB-A USB 3.1
  • 1 x USB-A USB 2.0
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x microSD card reader
  • 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3
  • 1 x USB-C USB 3.1 with PD
  • 1 x microSD
  • 1 x headphone jack
  • 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3 (USB 3.1 Gen 2)
  • 2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 2
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x audio combo jack
  • 1 x microSD card slot
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Spill resistant keyboard
Battery Type
  • 45wH
  • 72Wh
  • 50Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 53.1 Wh lithium-ion
  • 50Wh
  • 52Wh
  • 71Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 307.6 x 216.4 x 15.9mm
  • 323 x 212 x 16.5mm
  • 322 x 222 x 15.9mm
  • 304.6 x 210 x 14.8mm
  • 319 x 199 x 15.9mm
  • 302 x 199 x 11.6mm
  • 36.5 x 24.1 x 1.89cm
  • 1.4kg
  • 995g
  • 1.19kg
  • 1.28kg
  • 1.09kg
  • 1.23kg
  • 1.88kg


How long can its battery last?

We used PCMark 10’s new built-in battery benchmark to evaluate the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s’ battery life. Since we only started using this benchmark recently, we are still building up results, hence the shorter list of comparison notebooks. We tested the notebooks on the Modern Office and Gaming workloads. The first simulates regular daily use with web browsing, word processing, and video conferencing workloads. The Gaming workload is self-explanatory and represents a worst-case scenario of how long the notebook will last if it was taxed to the maximum.

At any rate, the ThinkBook 13s’ battery life — at over 5 hours long in Modern Office and nearly 1.5 hours in Gaming — was decent bearing in mind that it has the smallest battery at just 45Wh. Even the Spectre x360’s battery capacity is over a third larger. Looking at the power consumption figures, we can see that it's slightly higher than its rivals ― possibly because of its discrete graphics chip. But overall, its power consumption wasn’t too high.

Moving to the Portability Index, which takes into account battery life, dimensions, and weight, we can see that ThinkBook 13s recorded the lowest scores. But then, we have to remember that it’s up against notebooks with far larger batteries. Furthermore, the ASUS VivoBook S14 and LG gram 14 are two notebooks that were designed with extreme portability and long battery lives in mind. If it's any consolation, the ThinkBook 13s has fast charging capabilities and can reach an 80% charge from zero in just an hour.


Final Thoughts

Despite the price, the ThinkBook 13s has an all-aluminium construction.

There is an increasing emphasis on business notebooks that straddles the line between work and play and the Lenovo ThinkBook series is one of the more affordable options. All things considered, it’s a decent attempt by Lenovo and one that actually offers quite a lot of value considering it has basic business security features and decent performance in both productivity and gaming benchmarks. Build quality is also high and there are no glaring faults to speak of save for its lacklustre display and lack of Thunderbolt 3 support, memory card reader, and USB-C charging.

The recommended retail price for the configuration tested is S$1,599 but it seems like Lenovo often runs promotions on its online store and you can easily get it for less. At the time of writing, there’s an e-coupon that you can apply that brings the price down to S$1,487.

If you require security features like the TPM, the ThinkBook 13s is well worth a closer look.

While it sounds enticing, there are cheaper alternatives. ASUS’ ZenBook 14 UX431 and Acer’s Swift 3 Premium have comparable configurations with discrete NVIDIA graphics and they are priced at S$1,398 and S$1,198 respectively. What they lack, insofar as specifications are concerned, are the security features of the ThinkBook 13s like the TPM chip and webcam privacy shutter. If these security features are important to you, then the choice is clear. The Lenovo ThinkBook 13s is a compelling option given its price, features, and specifications. For everyone else who just wants a notebook for general computing purposes and light gaming, know that there are other alternatives worth checking out.

  • Design 7.5
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 8.5
  • Mobility 7.5
The Good
Strong all-round performance
Discrete graphics
Features TPM 2.0
Built-in webcam privacy shutter
All-aluminium construction
Relatively affordable
The Bad
Uninspired display
No Thunderbolt 3 support
Cannot charge via USB-C
No memory card reader
Rather small battery