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Lenovo ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 review: A lightweight and affordable 16-inch laptop for power users and creators

Although there are question marks against its display resolution and connectivity, the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 delivers strong performance at a competitive price.

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The ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 runs Windows 10 Pro on an 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX proccessor with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU graphics, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. It measures 19.5mm by 354.6mm by 252mm (0.78in. x 13.96in. x 9.92in.) and weighs 1.99kg.

Images: Lenovo

Lenovo's second-generation update to its ThinkBook 16p was announced at CES last January, although it's taken some time to go on sale in both the UK and US. In fact, following Black Friday, Lenovo's UK website reverted to listing the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 as 'coming soon' while it waits for new stock, although it's still available from a number of Lenovo's third-party distributors.  

It's certainly worth looking out for, as the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 is an attractive 16-inch laptop whose combination of AMD Ryzen 9 processor and discrete GeForce RTX graphics holds out the promise of workstation-class performance at a competitive price. 

Like

  • Strong CPU and GPU performance
  • Competitive price
  • 16:10 screen aspect ratio
  • MIL-STD-810H impact resistance
  • Decent battery life

Don't Like

  • Only 2.5K (2560 x 1600) screen resolution
  • Lacks Ethernet, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors
  • Few upgrade options

Design & features 

This is not the sleekest 16-inch laptop, measuring 19.9mm (0.78in.) thick along the rear edge. However, the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 only weighs 2kg (4.4lbs), which is pretty good for a laptop of this size -- especially as the smart, dark grey aluminium case meets the US military standard MIL-STD-810H for impact and shock resistance. Just bear in mind that the chunky power adapter adds another 0.7kg (1.5lbs) to the total weight when you're travelling. 

SEE: Chromebook sales weaken but MacBook sales hit new record

The ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 isn't convertible, but, like a number of Lenovo laptops, it does allow you to push the screen right back through 180 degrees to lie completely flat on your desk. However, I remain unconvinced that this is useful for anything other than resting the laptop on your knees while you're lying down. 

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The full-size backlit keyboard includes a separate number pad as well as several useful special Fn keys.

Image: Lenovo

The spill-resistant keyboard feels firm and comfortable when typing, and Lenovo pays good attention to detail too, with a number of special Function keys for muting the microphone during video calls, handling VoIP calls, or even contacting Lenovo's web-based technical support. Lenovo also includes an app called Vantage that provides a number of useful diagnostic and productivity features, such as the ability to adjust noise-cancellation settings for video calls, calibrate the screen, and also to balance performance, fan speed and battery life for different locations and applications. 

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Lenovo's Vantage app lets you select from different performance modes, as well as update drivers, run diagnostics and more.

Image: Cliff Joseph / ZDNet

The ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 does make some compromises in order to keep the price down, most notably with the 16-inch IPS display. To be fair, the image quality looks very good to the naked eye, with bold colours and a welcome anti-glare coating. Narrow bezels give the display a 93% screen-to-body ratio, while its 16:10 aspect ratio ensures that you have plenty of room to work with on-screen. However, the panel's 2.5K (2560 x 1600 pixels, 188.7ppi) resolution and 400 nits brightness are fairly modest for a laptop that boasts high-end graphics performance. The display only supports the sRGB and Rec.709 colour standards, which will be fine for web design and graphics, and simple video editing, but creative users who may also require support for the professional-level Adobe RGB and/or DCI-P3 standards. 

Many of those users will want to use an external display when working at home or in the office but, oddly, the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 includes neither HDMI nor DisplayPort connectors. It does have two USB-C ports that support DisplayPort for video output, but you'll need an adapter unless you have a new monitor that also uses USB-C.  

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Right side: 2x USB-C, Kensington lock slot. Left side: Headphone/mic jack, SD card slot. Rear: 2x USB-A, power in.

Images: Lenovo

Other connectivity options include two USB-A (3.2) ports (mounted on the laptop's rear edge), a 3.5mm audio in/out jack, and an SD card reader, as well as Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). However, there's no Ethernet for a wired network, while the 720p webcam is a little disappointing -- although it does have a sliding privacy shutter and IR support for Windows Hello face authentication.

Price & options 

Many of Lenovo's products offer a 'build your own' option that allows you to choose the exact specification and components that you require. Sadly, that's not the case with the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2, and although Lenovo's website states that there are three models available with Ryzen 5, 7 and 9 processors, there's just a single model currently available in both the UK and US.

Customers in the UK get the top-of-the-range Ryzen 9 model, which we review here. This costs £1,551.25 (ex. VAT; 1,861.49 inc. VAT) with an 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX running at 3.3GHz (up to 4.6GHz with Max Boost), along with 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB solid-state drive. That price includes a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU with 6GB of dedicated video memory, although the AMD processor also provides its own integrated Radeon graphics as a power-saving option when required.

That model isn't currently available in the US, though, where the only option on sale right now provides a 6-core AMD Ryzen 5 5600H running at 3.3GHz (up to 4.2GHz with Max Boost), along with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU. The standard price for that specification is $2,129, although it's currently on offer at $1,490.30.

The inclusion of GeForce RTX graphics in all three models is welcome, and certainly represents good value for money, but it's a shame that there's no option to upgrade to a higher-quality 4K display that would really allow creative users to make the most of the ThinkBook 16p's impressive graphics performance.

Performance & battery life 

The AMD Ryzen 9 processor doesn't break any records, but provides very solid performance, with Geekbench 5 CPU scores of 1,532 (single core) and 8,389 (multi-core), which nudge just ahead of rival mobile workstations such as Dell's 8-core Intel Core i9-10885H-based Precision 5750.  

But it's the GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU that really stands out, achieving scores of 89fps in the Unigine Valley graphics test, and 80fps in 3DMark Wild Life Extreme. Those scores make it one of the fastest 3D performers we've seen in recent months -- at least among Windows laptops. Apple's new 16-inch MacBook Pro hits 121fps in the Wild Life Extreme test, courtesy of Apple's new M1 Max SoC, which sports no less than 10 CPU cores and 32 GPU cores. However, the MacBook Pro is considerably more expensive than the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 at £2,749.17 (ex. VAT; £3,299 inc. VAT) or $3,499, so Lenovo's offering certainly provides impressive performance for a laptop in this price range.

Battery life is quite respectable too, thanks to the integrated Radeon Graphics, which lasted for eight hours and 10 minutes when streaming full-screen video from the web. You'll have no trouble getting a full day's work out of the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 when you're on the road, with the option of switching back to the discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics when you get back to the office.

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Image: Lenovo

Conclusions 

The ThinkBook 16p Gen2 has room for improvement, particularly with its relatively modest 2.5K IPS display, which won't pass muster for high-end graphics and video work. And even Apple now admits that professional laptops need HDMI connectivity for external displays. But if you're happy to use an external display in the office, then the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 can deliver workstation-class performance, along with an attractive, lightweight design and a competitive price.

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