Lenovo ThinkPad E14 review | Laptop Mag

Today’s best Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 deals

Don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Focus on doing one thing really well.

Not only is that a lesson my Dad taught me from a young age, it’s something Lenovo has taken to heart with its ThinkPad laptops and that’s especially true of the second-generation ThinkPad E14. The ThinkPad E-series is not pandering to consumer need for pomp and circumstance. It consists of business laptops with rugged designs, stronger security than the local bouncer, and enough power for peak productivity. 

This mid-tier lineage may not be setting any best laptops lists alight, and that’s OK. They are here to get stuff done, and the ThinkPad E14 takes another step forward with 11th Gen Intel processors to become a seriously capable work laptop with value for money at its core.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 at BHPhoto for $696.73

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Price and compatibility

Lenovo is marketing the ThinkPad E Series as “affordable productivity.” Given the pricing structure, that’s true to a point, but you’ve got to look between the lines.

In the U.S., MSRP pricing starts at an eye-watering $1,379. That’s crazy given an M1 MacBook Air can be picked up for $500 less than that, but again, read between the lines. Lenovo does regular sales and thanks to an eCoupon, you can snag one for $896.35 at the time of publication.

For that price, you can pick up the vase model with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD.

Over in the U.K., however, pricing starts at £759.99, which is far more reasonable for what you get in the US when you compare the MSRP.

The version I tested features an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor with integrated graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD, which comes in at $1,058.85. 

Customisation options in the U.S. are limited, so the highest spec model sets you back $1,429.35 — featuring an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. But over in the U.K., you can max it out with the same i7 processor, 32GB RAM, and both a 512GB and 1TB PCIe SSDs for £1,239.99.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Design

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

If you have seen one ThinkPad, you’ve seen them all. That trend continues with the new ThinkPad E14, which shares a practically identical design to the previous iteration. 

At 12.8 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches with a starting weight of 3.5 pounds, this is heavier and bigger than the Asus ExpertBook B9450 (12.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches and 2.2 pounds) and HP EliteBook 845 G7 (12.7 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches, 3 pounds). But the dimensions still make this easily portable.  

The top and bottom anodized aluminum covers give off some premium first impressions. But when you open the laptop up to reveal black plastic surfaces inside, which achieve the impossible of being both a matte finish but also a fingerprint magnet.

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It is business as usual around the rest of the hardware design flourishes, from the red LED dotting the “i” in ThinkPad and the mirrored logo signature inside, to the slightly recessed fingerprint reader/power button surrounded by an illuminated ring and that classic red TrackPoint giving the easily legible keyboard a pop of colour. Everything just screams “business user.”

Looking for style? This ain’t it chief. But do you need something utilitarian? The E14 ticks those boxes.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Security and durability

What is especially important for business users is security, and the ThinkPad E14 handles this well with a comprehensive suite of features.

From a hardware standpoint, you’ve got an IR camera for Windows Hello facial recognition and an optional fingerprint sensor in the power button for biometric security, alongside a Kensington Lock to prevent easy theft.

Looking inside, the discrete TPM 2.0 chip encrypts your data and the included ThinkShield software offers a vast array of security features. While no PC is 100% secure, this ThinkPad is quite a fortress.

That mindset also extends to the MIL-STD 810G certified chassis, which can withstand drops, shocks and extreme temperatures for a system that holds its own regardless of whatever tough circumstances you throw at it.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Ports

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In terms of I/O, you’ve got a pretty generic selection of ports, which does a good job of covering both legacy and modern connections.

On the left edge, you have a Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB 3.0 Type-A input, HDMI 1.4 and a headphone/mic combo jack. Over on the right, you’ll find an RJ-45 ethernet port and USB 2.0 Type-A port.

I would have liked an SD card slot and a second USB-C port to really make the most of the best USB Type-C hubs out there and have one free for charging, but this array is fine for productivity.

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Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Display

The ThinkPad E14’s 14-inch, 1080p display is bright and sharp enough for the essential workload and casual binge watching. The bezels are pretty thin on the sides, but it does sport a pretty big forehead and chin that make the widescreen feel a little squashed. I would have preferred a 3:2 aspect ratio, or even 16:10 for just a little more height, to see more of my work.

Watching the Mortal Kombat trailer demonstrated the impressive detail and definition of this IPS panel. It makes up for the slightly shallow contrast with deep color production on the explosions of gore and the display brightness adding to the luminosity of the special moves in the dark.

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Colors were vivid enough to make videos pop and help with some casual photo editing work. Out colorimeter shows this screen stands head and shoulders above the premium laptop category average (84%) when it comes to covering the DCI-P3 color gamut, with a superior 85.4% that is better than the Asus ExpertBook (82.6%) and the HP EliteBook (77.8%).

Brightness is solid at 355 nits, compared to the category average of 390 nits. It’s fine for most working conditions — and outshone the competition in the Asus ExpertBook B9450 (302 nits) but slotted in behind the HP EliteBook 845 G7 (399 nits).

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Keyboard, touchpad and trackpoint

Given Lenovo’s history, it comes as absolutely no surprise that the ThinkPad E14, just like most ThinkPads, has an excellent keyboard.

The typing experience falls right in that sweet spot between a tactile mechanical keyboard and a low-travel Chiclet option. These generously large keys have that same ergonomic dish-shaped design you know and love, with just the right amount of spacing between them and enough travel to avoid fatigue after a long typing session. 

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I hit 80 words per minute with a 95% accuracy on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is a little above my average of 78-wpm though it took me between 10 and 15 minutes to hit after getting acclimated to working around the recessed TrackPoint located between the G, B and H keys.

The touchpad, however, is a bit on the small side — seemingly cramped by the generous size of the keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, it has a nice tactile feel; Windows 10 gestures are supported and the TrackPoint purists will applaud the inclusion of this small, red eraser. But at 3.9 x 2.1 inches, I would have preferred a bigger surface to work with.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Audio

As the top surface of the ThinkPad E14 is dominated by the keyboard, stereo speakers are placed on the underside of the left and right edges. 

They do get impressively loud for any group listening requirements, but the sound does distort at higher volumes and the bass is completely non-existent. 

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This can be felt especially when listening to double bass pedal-heavy songs like Enter Shikari’s “OK, Time For Plan B,” as the breakdowns that should sound thunderous pass by with a whimper and the screaming vocals start to crackle quickly. 

It’s evidence of a speaker set that really can’t handle a varied soundstage, which became clear listening  Chance The Rapper’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses” as it failed to provide the definition to the soaring organs when the deep bass kicks in.

Headphones are absolutely a requirement to get more than the tinny experience on offer here.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Performance

A big selling point of this latest iteration of the ThinkPad E14 is the jump to 11th Gen Intel processors. The review unit came with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU and 16GB of RAM, which is a great pairing for most multitasking needs.

My average workday consists of usually over 40 Google Chrome tabs (please don’t judge me), further compounded by using Photoshop to edit headline images, on top of watching YouTube videos and Twitch streams when eating my lunch.

When doing all of this, there were a couple of slow downs, but largely the system held its own against this punishment.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

In the Geekbench 5.4 overall performance testing, the E14 achieved good results with a 4,417 multi-core score. That dominates the 10th Gen Intel power of the Asus ExpertBook B9450 (2,960), but falls slightly behind the premium laptop average of 4,429.

This performance continues across our Handbrake video transcoding test, in which the ThinkPad E14 successfully converted a 4K video clip to 1080p in 11:52 — much quicker than the 15:58 industry average and completely destroying the ExpertBook’s 28:24.

The AMD Ryzen 7 in the HP EliteBook 845 G7 outshone its rivals with a 6,490 Geekbench score and 8:24 Handbrake time, but for an Intel machine selling for hundreds of dollars less, the E14 holds its own.

This is let down slightly by storage speed, as in our file transfer test, the E14 hit an average speed of 288 MBps — lagging behind the category average of 622.45 MBps.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Graphics

The Lenovo ThinkPad E14 is available with either Intel UHD or Iris Xe graphics, which understandably struggled in our 3DMark Fire Strike synthetic graphics benchmark testing. 

With a result of 2,340, this laptop fares better than some of the competition, like the Asus ExpertBook B9450 (734). However, it’s far below the premium laptop average of 4,774 — as demonstrated by an average frame rate of 19 fps in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm at 1080p.

We saw better results when testing the integrated graphics, when the ThinkPad E14 scored 11,169 on the 3DMark Night Raid benchmark, which beats the average of 10,868. Of course, you’re not buying a ThinkPad to play games. If that’s what you want, one of the best gaming laptops is the obvious choice.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Battery life

How did the ThinkPad E14 do in our Laptop Mag Battery Test? The answer is very much a reflection of this system as a whole: not amazing, but pretty decent.

At 10 hours and 38 minutes, it performs just above the premium laptop average of 10:15. But with the HP EliteBook at just over 13 hours and the ExpertBook marching on to well over 16 hours, it’s not winning any awards.

That being said, you can squeeze a day’s work out of this for sure.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Webcam

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You would have thought the large top bezel would give Lenovo enough room to stuff a good webcam in here, especially at a time where businesses are operating mostly on Zoom.

Turns out, you would be wrong, as the words “shot on a potato” accurately describe the mushy image you get from this 720p camera. Even in good lighting, the results are poor.

As you can see, there is plenty of artifacting in this image which loses a lot of the detail, especially in my hair. It also doesn’t handle light well, as you can see the overcast day outside my window is completely blown out.

Trust me, if you are doing plenty of video conferencing and need a quality picture, you will want to invest in an external camera like the Logitech C920.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Heat

With the smaller chassis and 11th Gen Intel power within it, things can get warm when you start to run more CPU-intensive tasks. There is plenty of ventilation on the bottom and around the hinge, which help keep the surfaces you’re in contact with below our 95 degrees Fahrenheit comfort threshold.

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Under pressure, the touchpad heats up to 75 degrees, the centre of the keyboard gets up to 84 degrees, and the underside hits 89 degrees, showing the heat dissipation methods in use here are working.

One of those methods, however, is a pretty loud fan. It’s nothing that a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones can’t eliminate, but it does spin up regularly enough to get your attention.

Lenovo ThinkPad E14: Software and warranty

The ThinkPad E14 ships with Windows 10 Home or Pro, kept free of any overly offensive bloatware, including unnecessary games like Candy Crush. All you get is the standard Windows software array, from the more convenient additions like Your Phone and Skype, to the not-so useful like the Xbox Game Bar. 

Lenovo’s Vantage software is the main system management tool here, which offers a nicely laid-out health dashboard and keeps on top of any BIOS and Lenovo specific updates. This is where you will also find security features, such as the option to scan the Wi-Fi network you’re connected to for any real-time threats. 

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One seemingly frustrating feature is the smart performance optimisation tool, which scans your system performance for potential problems and hides the fix behind a $29.99-a-year service upgrade. The solutions are nothing you could do on your own with free software, so don’t feel forced to sign up.

The ThinkPad E14 comes with one year limited, complete with customer service and support. There is a choice to upgrade your service, which Lenovo will keep reminding you about in Vantage, but it’s entirely optional. Want to see what Lenovo fares on the support front? Check out our Tech support showdown and Best and worst brands special reports. 

Bottom line

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The ThinkPad E14 aims to do one thing well: be a great productivity machine, and it achieved that goal. This is a good day-to-day business machine with plenty of power to get the essentials done quickly.

It is small and lightweight enough for working on the go, the hardware is as durable as you’d expect from a ThinkPad, the keyboard is a joy to type on and you’ve got a diverse set of security features.

There are some places where the E14 falters. Sticking rigidly to the old chassis means it misses some easy wins, such as giving you a 16:10 aspect ratio that many (including myself) feel is better for work. The fans also kick up a loud fuss under pressure, the I/O is somewhat limited, the speakers are tinny, and the webcam is naff.

But judging this on what it’s designed for, this is a good laptop — a capable budget-level option that benefits from the ThinkPad’s business hardware and software lineage, boiled down to give you a productivity system I’m happy to recommend.



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