Lenovo ThinkPad T14s (AMD) review: A solid 14-inch business laptop with good battery life

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  • Editors' rating
    8.5 Excellent

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Excellent keyboard
  • AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 4750U processor
  • Good battery life
  • 4G mobile broadband option

Cons

  • PrivacyGuard screen viewing protection on touch-screen model only
  • AMD models lack Thunderbolt 3 and 4K screen option

Lenovo's laptop portfolio can appear daunting, not least because the designs are pretty consistent across the range. Still, support for AMD processors in the 14-inch ThinkPad T14s is relatively rare, so although Intel CPUs are also available, I opted for an AMD model to review. 

The AMD-based ThinkPad T14s can accommodate up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage, and there are touch-screen variants with Lenovo's PrivacyGuard, which limits screen viewability. Intel-based ThinkPad T14s models, by contrast, offer up to 2TB of SSD storage and Thunderbolt 3 support on their USB-C ports. There's also a 4K screen option, while the AMD T14s doesn't go above FHD.

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The ThinkPad T14s runs on AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U or Ryzen 7 Pro 4750U processors with integrated AMD Radeon Graphics (Intel-based models are also available). The FHD 14-inch screen is available at 250 nits (non-touch), 300 nits (touch), 400 nits (non-touch, low power) and 500 nits (touch, with PrivacyGuard).

Images: Lenovo

Design-wise, the ThinkPad T14s looks like a typical ThinkPad -- black chassis with silver ThinkPad logo in one corner, with a red light-up dot for the 'i' in 'ThinkPad'. 

The magnesium alloy chassis makes this a sturdy laptop, which has passed MIL-STD 810G testing. The ThinkPad T14s is also relatively lightweight for a 14-inch laptop, at 1.27kg. It's thin, too: 16.1mm for the non-touch version, or 16.7mm with a touch-screen.  

My review unit was a non-touch model and so lacked PrivacyGuard, which is only available on the 500-nits touch-screen variant. From past experience, PrivacyGuard (which can be toggled on and off using a Fn key), renders the screen unreadable to anyone who isn't looking at it head-on. Two other Lenovo privacy features are present in all T14s variants: a ThinkShutter sliding cover for the webcam and a fingerprint scanner to the right of the touchpad. 

The screen configurations also have a very slight effect on the desktop footprint: touch-screen units measure 226.15mm by 328.8mm, while non-touch models come in at 225.8mm by 329mm. 

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The 14-inch screen sits in what are by today's standards rather deep bezels. The bottom bezel is the deepest by some distance, while the upper bezel leaves more than enough room for the webcam. The overall look is workaday rather than sleek. 

All screen options share the same FHD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution and have a non-reflective finish, which is welcome. Brightness levels range from 250 nits to 500 nits for the touch-screen/PrivacyGuard option. The lower screen brightness won't suit everyone, so consider your choice carefully. 

Sound is output by a pair of 1W speakers with small grilles on the underside of the chassis. Audio is also pushed up through the keyboard , so there was no audio muffling when working with the ThinkPad T14s on my lap. There's plenty of volume, and while bass tones are a bit lacking there's no distortion at 100% loudness. 

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The LED backlit, spill-resistant keyboard is a highlight, delivering a firm and responsive action.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The keyboard is up to Lenovo's usual high standards. The large pot-bellied QWERTY keys are easy to hit at speed, the Enter key is double height and wider than the standard keys and the Fn row keys are larger than you might expect. The Fn row has two dedicated keys for making video calls as well as one for turning the microphone on and off, all of which will be handy as we rely so much on video calling rather than in-person meetings these days. As usual for Lenovo, there's a shortcut to the Windows snipping tool on the PrtSc key.  

The keys emit a slight click when used, but typing is a relatively quiet process. The action is springy and bouncy, with no flex in the keyboard, and touch-typing is no problem. There's a TrackPoint between the G, H and B keys, with three buttons above the touchpad for use with it. 

The AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 4750U processor powering my review sample did a fine job. It kept multiple browser windows open, allowed me to stream video without pause, and let me to do all of my usual web-based and other productivity tasks with no waiting or other issues. My review model came with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD and a 400-nit non-touch display. The cost of this configuration is £1,395 (ex. VAT; 1,674 inc. VAT) in the UK, or $1,588.80 in the US (with current discount applied). 

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Battery life is very good, too. Lenovo claims that the 57Wh battery will last for up to 17.4 hours and my usual three-hour workload test -- which involves writing into web apps, browsing, and streaming music and video -- drained a full battery by just 19%. That suggests a total battery life of just under 16 hours, which is impressive.  

Rapid charging with the 65W adapter will, Lenovo says, take the battery from 0% to 80% in an hour. I tested rapid recharging at a random point during a working day, when the battery was at 59%. After 15 minutes it had reached 73% (+14%), and after half an hour it had recharged to 85% (+26%). 

There are two USB-C ports, one of which will be occupied when the laptop is charging, and two USB 3.2 ports, plus a full-size HDMI port and a Lenovo docking connector that can also provide Ethernet connectivity via a proprietary cable. There's also a 3.5mm audio jack. A smartcard reader is an optional extra, as is 4G LTE mobile broadband.  

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Images: Lenovo

Conclusions

An excellent keyboard, solid build and good performance are real plus points for the AMD-based ThinkPad T14s, while PrivacyGuard screen viewing protection is nice if you're prepared to pay for the 500-nits touch-screen. Battery life is good too, and there are plenty of ports and connectors. But if you want a 4K screen, Thunderbolt 3 support or a 2TB SSD, you'll need to choose an Intel-based model.

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