What is the ThinkPad?

Consider Lenovo’s ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 as the professional laptop for the base.

While Suite C could get away with something more elegant, like the €1,850 ThinkPad X1 Nano, the E14 is closer to the €1,000 range and does not seek to hide its economy class attributes, compared to the more sophisticated ThinkPad. Weighing 3.5 pounds and 0.7 inches thick, it is one of Lenovo’s heaviest business laptops, and features, which include an Ethernet plug and anti-glare display, are resolutely useful.

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Aside from the style points, the ThinkPad would be a solid laptop without its substandard trackpad and lower than average battery life. In the current state of things, it is a laptop that workers can tolerate, as opposed to a computer they will really love.

ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 Technical Specifications

Our ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 sells 1,048€ on TigerDirect and has the following features:

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  • Processor: Intel Core i5-1135G7 with Iris Xe Graphics
  • Display: 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 IPS matte
  • Memory: 16 GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD
  • Biometrics: Fingerprint Reader
  • Webcam: 720p with privacy shutter and Windows Hello facial recognition
  • Left side: Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port, USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 (always on), HDMI 1.4, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Right Side: USB-A 2.0 Gen 1, Gigabit Ethernet, Kensington Lock
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Professional
  • Weight: 3.51 lbs (4.19 lbs with power supply)
  • Dimensions: 0.70 x 12.75 x 8.66 inches

Jared Newman/IDG Here is, a rare Ethernet socket observation.

Lenovo sells many other variants, including those with Core i3, Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 5 processors, although the company’s website makes pricing difficult to evaluate. (The Core-i3 base model, for example, has a list price of $1,249, which is $200 more than TigerDirect charges for our exam unit, but it went down to €600 in a Memorial Day sale.) Expect to spend in the €1,000 neighborhood on anything but the most basic setup.

In any case, the lack of discrete H-series GPU and CPU options places the ThinkPad E14 in the field of desktop productivity laptops, a point that is underlined by the rare observation of an Ethernet port on its right side. Lenovo says it offers an option for Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics, but at present it is not available on the the company.

Design and Display

Aesthetically speaking, the E14 is about the ultimate ThinkPad, up to the trackpoint node, the trackpad trio of buttons, the black chassis and red accents. Its heavy plastic housing has no discernible bending, and it meets a range of robustness requirements according to the MIL-STD 810H standard.

Jared Newman/IDG It’s not Lenovo’s thinnest or lightest ThinkPad, but it’s rugged.

The non-touch screen folds at an angle of 180 degrees. While its 300-bit brightness level is rather low for a high-end laptop, the matte finish helps counter glare if you work outdoors. At maximum brightness, the screen was perfectly readable even with the sun in my back.

Touchpad and Keyboard

Because it is a ThinkPad, you can expect Bulky keys with many touch returns. And my hint with the ThinkPad E14 is that the thickness of the laptop allows the backlit keyboard to be even bigger.

These are compliments. While some people might prefer a lighter feel, I love traveling on ThinkPad keyboards, and the E14 offers more than some other models. The aforementioned X1 Nano, for example, has less depth and its keys fall with a snap, compared to a soft touch bump on the E14.

Jared Newman/IDG The keyboard is beautiful, but the trackpad is a bit cramped.

If only the trackpad could follow. For a 14-inch laptop, the E14 trackpad is small, especially with its dedicated mouse button row on top. The biggest problem has to do with friction. The E14 trackpad is simply not as smooth as the most other laptops in the price range of €1,000 and above, so your finger can get stuck when it slides on the screen.

Webcam, Security, Audio and Extras

The Meat and Potato approach to the ThinkPad E14 extends to its webcam and speakers. The first is a 720p resolution camera similar to that of most other Windows laptops, while the second produces a fairly loud but lacking high-end sharpness sound. With a pair of 2 watt speakers mounted on the laptop chassis, their Harman Kardon brand and custom Dolby setting can’t do much.

However, Lenovo has covered its security bases. A fingerprint reader is built into the power button along the right side of the ThinkPad E14, and the camera supports Windows Hello so you can connect with your face only. Like other premium Lenovo laptops, the E14 also features a physical camera privacy shutter that displays a red dot when it covers the lens.

Jared Newman/IDG Touch the privacy shutter covers the camera (and disables facial recognition).

Note also: Lenovo’s Vantage software has useful customization features. You can swap the function keys and Ctrl without going through the BIOS, change the brightness and contrast levels of the camera, and set a maximum charge threshold (to avoid battery wear if plugged in most of the time). Lenovo even lets you customize the F12 key to launch specific applications, websites, or keyboard commands.

Performance

As a professional laptop Featuring an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, the Lenovo ThinkPad E14 delivers just about what you expect in terms of performance, thanks to its battery life and graphics.

Let’s start with PCMark 10, but keep in mind that the chart below is slightly misleading. We don’t often get Core i5 laptops from vendors, so some of the laptops in our comparison use Core i7 chips instead. We expected these more powerful chips to do better in PCMark, but the ThinkPad E14 wasn’t too late with a score of 4,578. Compared to HP Envy 14 Core i5 chips and Microsoft Surface Pro 7 , Lenovo’s laptop is somewhere in between.

Jared Newman/IDG The ThinkPad E14 arrived right behind laptops with better processors.

More Perhaps surprising, the ThinkPad E14 has moved closer to the top of our HandBrake test, which consists of encoding a large video file. Because this test puts laptops to heavy and heavy loads, it is a good measure of endurance. The E14’s large enclosure probably gives it more space to dissipate heat compared to some smoother, thinner laptops powered by Core i7.

Jared Newman/IDG The ThinkPad E14 encoded our video file in 44 minutes, not bad for a desktop laptop.

The ThinkPad E14 also achieved solid performance in Cinebench, which is the opposite of HandBrake, a rapid test of mono and multi-threaded performance.

Jared Newman/IDG With scores of 954 (multi-threaded) and 204 (single-threaded), the ThinkPad E14 had no problem with short burst performance.

Unfortunately, this was not the case during our battery exhaustion test, where the ThinkPad E14 lasted 10 hours and 48 minutes of looping video playback. Although the ThinkPad E14 does not have any obvious battery discharge characteristics, the battery itself is rather small, with a full charging capacity of 45,730 Wh. We frequently see laptops in the range of 50,000 to 60,000 Wh, and they predictably have much better battery life. The E14 may miss a full day of work. The good news is that it can recharge at 80% of its capacity in about an hour.

Jared Newman/IDG 10 hours and 48 minutes aren’t terrible for our video reduction test, but other thin and lightweight modern laptops have lasted much longer.

The ThinkPad E14 is not a great option for gaming, no surprise. Even if you could Convincing your IT manager to let you install Steam on this laptop, its Time Spy score of 1,082 is much lower than other laptops with Iris Xe graphics.

Jared Newman/IDG In case you couldn’t tell when looking at it, the ThinkPad E14 is not a gaming laptop.

A laptop without surprises

With the ThinkPad E14 Gen 2, you know exactly what you’re going to get. It’s a basic business laptop with a solid selection of ports, decent productivity performance and a basic anti-glare screen. Its most exemplary feature is its keyboard, but this is offset by a disappointing trackpad and average battery life. The base could do worse, but it could probably also do a little better.

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