Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 Review: All Business

If you say the word ThinkPad to a person of a certain age, they will likely have two things in mind. One is a black slab of a notebook and the other is the red TrackPoint used for your cursor.

While it was aesthetically divisive, there are few pieces of consumer electronics that are as iconic as the ThinkPad.

In recent years, however, things have changed for the ThinkPad name, as Lenovo has taken over the brand from IBM. With that switch has come a number of newer iterations that nod to the past icon, but introduce new elements for an ever-changing enterprise space.

This brings us to the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16, a notebook designed for the C-Suite, but also capable of doing far more than deliver boring PowerPoint presentations. The Z16 is also powered by AMD, which too is an interesting change given both Lenovo and IBM’s affinity for Intel silicon.

Having spent the past few weeks with the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16, we’re weighing in to see if this notebook is indeed worthy of the iconic ThinkPad brand and whether it can distinguish itself in an increasingly saturated market of enterprise-focused notebooks.

Here’s what we’ve discovered.

On the inside

Starting off as we always do, with design, and when the Z16 is closed, it looks like many of the larger aluminium unibody options out there. There is of course the ThinkPad badge on one of the top corners, but the only real aspect that hints at something slightly different is the metal bar at the top of the lid.

This element houses the front facing camera, which we will talk about later, but it’s a nice touch in an otherwise understated yet premium looking notebook. It ain’t light either, tipping the scales at 1.95kg. As such, there is good heft to it, meaning you don’t get the cumbersome wobbling around as you open the lid, that you sometime get on other lighter notebooks.

The Z16 is portable, but it is clear that this device is built for those who will be setting up camp in an office space for a number of hours of work.

Open up the Z16 and then those nods to the ThinkPad series we mentioned earlier start to come to the fore. Before you ask, yes there is a TrackPoint, and it works nicely enough, but in the modern age and given how we work these days, the trackpad is just a bit better for all-purpose use. As such, it serves as a nice nostalgic touch.

Another piece of nostalgia is the all black chiclet keyboard design, giving the Z16 the unmistakable feel of a ThinkPad. Added to this is the feel of keys themselves, which have that distinct mushiness that ThinkPad notebooks use to have.

It is unclear whether this is inspired by the older IBM models, but that is the experience they deliver. As such, it may not be to everyone’s liking. It wasn’t for us, for example, as our preference leans towards snappier keys with deeper travel akin to a mechanical keyboard setup.

That may also be down to the fact that while working, it is often with a notebook attached to a monitor and external keyboard, which we have grown accustom too in the hybrid work era.

There is nothing bad per se about the typing on the Z16, it’s just not what we prefer, so it is definitely a matter of personal style.

The trackpad, however, is good. Generously sized to allow for good cursor travel and responsive enough to keep up with your clicks while multitasking, it is a solid experience that did not yield any notes of concern.

Combined with the chiclet keys, it should offer up a good overall touch and type experience across the board.

Built for work

Let’s shift to some of the other elements, starting with the 16″ display. This particular review model is specced to the FullHD (1920×1080) option, which is the middle tier that Lenovo makes available on this Z16, with it going up to 4K (3840×2400) OLED. Still the results are solid.

Content is bright and crisp as expected, so while it may not be designed as an entertainment-focused notebook, it has the screen quality to make it great for watching videos or movies. The bezels are also quite thin, upping the viewing experience just a little bit more.

As for the webcam, it’s a FullHD 1080p affair, which is becoming the go-to for most premium notebooks now that video calls are more commonplace. It is also one of the better ones we have used, with it not looking as grainy, nor struggling with low light conditions, as many older webcams do.

It has a few other videoconferencing-focused features too, like a dual mic and speaker array, as well as a suite of Dolby software to enhance the audio/video experience. Regarding the latter we still find plugging in earphones or headphones the better choice, as there is nothing at work here to help block out environmental noise on calls.

Now for the AMD portions of the device and here the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 is running an AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 6850H Processor. Like the display, this sits in the middle of the pack in terms of the pack in terms of what Lenovo makes available on this model. The top option is a Ryzen 9 PRO 6950H for those wondering.

The 7 PRO is paired with integrated AMD Radeon 600M Series graphics and in our benchmarking, the Z16 did well in both single and multi-core CPU testing. On the single-core in particular, it achieved an average of 1 475 in Cinebench.

These are not necessarily numbers that blow the competition out of the water, but are certainly above average when compared to more creator-focused options at a similar price point.

Speaking of price, we get to the ThinkPad Z16’s Achilles’ heel – the price tag. Pricing for this model, depending on how you get it specced will see it start from R46 000, according to Lenovo.

That quickly simply is a big ask, especially when we are talking about a notebook designed with the enterprise space in mind. That is not to say the notebook feels cheap or inferior in any way, as it is quite the contrary, but in this day and age, you may feel like you can get away with a bit less performance and power for far less money.

It is therefore the only aspect holding us back from wholeheartedly recommending the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16.


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