Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 Gen 1 Review
LENOVO THINKPAD Z16 GEN 1: REVIEW
The first important thing to say about the Z16 Gen 1 is that this review took longer than usual for a laptop because we ran into some problems.
A number of BIOS updates and software fixes have been made to this hardware to fix problems with it getting too hot, but it doesn’t look like these problems have been fixed until now.
This ThinkPad is one of the few laptops with a screen size between those with a 15-inch screen and those with a 17-inch screen.
Built with AMD Ryzen 5 series processors, the Z16’s performance and size are less limited than those of smaller systems, and it still has enough battery power to last a full working day.
Compared to the Z13 Gen 1, this option costs more and might be a little less portable. But more people will like the size of the screen and how much room there is for the keyboard, especially those who usually work on a desktop computer.
Lenovo says that the Z16 chassis is made entirely of milled aluminium, which makes it strong but light and brings the total weight down to just 1.95kg.
Compared to the 13-inch Ultrabook, this isn’t a light weight, but it’s less than the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro, which looks fatter and fatter when compared to other brands that have competitive options.
The thing that Apple’s product has going for it is that it is easy to use, while the Z16 Gen 1 is a little less consistent.
The keyboard is great and can be used for long periods of time, but the glass-coated touchpad takes some getting used to. It doesn’t have any built-in buttons, so users will have to learn a whole new set of gestures to do things like right-clicking and dragging.
The layout of the ports is also not ideal. The right side has two USB-C ports (one of which is needed for charging) and an SD card slot, while the left side has another USB-C port, a Kensington security slot, an audio jack, a power button, and a SIM card slot.
It doesn’t come with any USB-A ports or an adapter. Funny enough, Lenovo wants another $5 for this. We would strongly suggest that the cost of the system include a USB-C docking station from the start.
Depending on the SKU, this system starts at around $1,430 and goes up to nearly $5,000 for the ones that come with a 4K display, discrete GPU, and 32GB of RAM already installed. As with many recent Lenovo designs, the memory can’t be upgraded. If you want 32GB, you have to order it along with the computer.
The capabilities of the entry-level SKUs and those with higher specifications are very different, which makes it hard to choose the right specification.
Even with the most recent BIOS update, this machine isn’t perfect, and you might want to wait for Z16 Gen 2 to fix the strange way this system handles heat.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The variety and scope of the Z16 models available in different parts of the world is striking, and this has a huge effect on the prices of the lower-end models and the higher-end options.
On the US Lenovo website, a system with an AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 6650H, 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, and a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution display starts at just $1,423.95. The most expensive model costs a whopping $4,919 and comes with an AMD Ryzen 9 PRO 6950H Processor, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, a WQUXGA (3840 x 2400) OLED Touch screen, and a separate AMD Radeon RX 6500M GPU.
In the UK, there are fewer options, and the AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 6650H Processor, AMD Radeon RX 6500M GPU, 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and the WUXGA display will cost you a minimum of £2,012.81.
But the best system in the UK costs only £2,820.30 and has a Ryzen 9 CPU, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and a WQUXGA (3840 x 2400) display.
But at the moment, none of the standard UK models come with Wireless WAN LTE. You can add it as a customer option, though.
In the UK, the machine described here costs about £2,200.
When you first pick up the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 Gen 1, the cool feeling of the mostly metal body makes a strong impression. But the bottom and most of the sides around the keyboard and touchpad are made of plastic.
The lid and sides of the chassis are made from milled aluminium, which gives the impression that this machine could take some hits and won’t bend easily.
The protection along the top of the screen makes it easy to open the laptop and gives you a place to put the face-time camera without making a big gap above the screen.
The hinge keeps the laptop from folding all the way flat; it stops around 45 degrees from vertical.
Lenovo gave this design a large keyboard with room on either side for speakers, but it doesn’t have a numeric pad, which is a shame. In the short review, it was said that the touchpad didn’t seem well thought out because it assumes you can use a new gesture technique to get by without any physical buttons.
This didn’t work for your reviewer, but it might be fine for other people.
Another problem is that the power button, which is usually near the keyboard, is on the right side. When you try to use it blindfolded, it feels the same as the SIM card slot.
Why they put it there, right next to where the SIM tray ends, is a simple mistake.
But that’s not the biggest problem with this machine. The biggest problem is thermodynamics.
When we got this system for the first time, it already had a few BIOS updates from the first version. We noticed right away that it would restart on its own, and a quick look through the Lenovo Z16 forum posts showed that our machine wasn’t the only one with this problem.
When a BIOS fix came out, the laptop did not restart by itself anymore. Instead, the fans no longer ran at full speed. This caused the temperature to reach 100C or higher, which slowed down the processor and hurt its performance.
Just before we finished this review, a new BIOS update came out that was supposed to fix the fan problems. It mostly seems to have done that, but the computer did lock up while it was idle.
Only the engineers at Lenovo who made the Z16 know exactly what the problems are, but it looks like it’s hard to get the power in this laptop and its chassis to work together in the best way.
One thing that could be a problem is that all the hot air comes out of the laptop through a perforated panel on the bottom, which is very close to the surface it sits on. Putting it on a raised platform with airflow and cooling might help, but we didn’t have a space like that to test this idea.
At least with the latest BIOS, the Z16 can be fully benchmarked, but we don’t think this is the last version of this design.
Like many of the newest ThinkPad designs, the Z16 has a wide range of features that depend on the SKU and extra options that this design can have.
Our review hardware had a mobile SIM slot, which gives it access to LTE mobile data in some parts of the world. However, not all Z16 SKUs have this feature.
On the other hand, the Ryzen 7 processor and 4K resolution panels on higher-end models beat out the Ryzen 5 processor and 1920 x 1200 resolution panels.
All models have an excellent 135W USB-C power supply, USB-4.0 ports, an AMD Radeon RX 6500M GPU, an FHD infrared camera, a backlit keyboard, and a metal chassis.
Even our review machine’s Ryzen 7 processor is a processing monster, so we can only guess what the Ryzen 9 are like. This is a lot more power than most laptops or even desktop computers can handle, which makes it perfect for creative processors who need the extra power.
In order to make the latest Lenovo ThinkPads as thin as possible, RAM module slots have been taken out. This is a major flaw. So, if you want 32GB of RAM, you have to instal it from the start, since you can’t add more memory later.
If you are willing to ignore the security stickers on the bottom, you can get inside and upgrade the M.2 NVMe drive. However, since it only has one slot, you would need extra hardware to copy this drive to a new drive.
The great thing about the Z16 is the size of the screen, which is a big step up for people who used a 13-inch machine before. Even though it might not look that much bigger, it allows the machine to use less scaling on the display almost no matter what the panel resolution is.
The 1920 x 1200 resolution of the Z16 is high enough that it would be hard to use at 100% scaling on a 13-inch laptop, but it can be used on this 16-inch display, though 125% is better.
The extra screen space is also helpful when giving a presentation, but the Z16 doesn’t have a screen hinge that can be turned around, which would be best in that case.
With such a big and bright screen, it’s easy to assume that this will have a big effect on battery life unless the brightness is turned down a lot. Surprisingly, this is not the case, and the Z16 has enough battery power to run the 1920 x 1200 resolution display at a bright enough level for many hours.
Most of the other laptops we review here can’t even come close to the benchmark scores that the Z16 can get. Especially those that use Intel mobile processors.
The Lenovo X1 Carbon (2022), which is made by the same company as the Z16 and has the latest Intel chip, the Intel Core i7-1260P, might be a good machine to compare it to.
How does the Intel Core i7-1260P with its 12 cores and Iris Xe GPU compare to the Ryzen 7 Pro 6850H with its Radeon Graphics GPU and 8 cores? In short, the Ryzen 7 Pro 6850H destroys it.
On 3DMark Wild Life, Fire Strike, and Time Spy, it has more than double the score. And on CineBench23, the single-core performance of the Intel chip is just a little bit better, but the multi-core performance of the Ryzen 7, which has four less cores, is 54% better.
The only thing the Intel i7-1260P has going for it is that it works well for single-thread tasks. When an application needs more than one thread, however, the Ryzen 7 Pro 6850H is better.
This laptop is also one of the few that has a PCIe Gen 4 NVMe slot and a real drive that meets that standard. Both reading and writing speeds are very fast.
And with all this power, the big 72Whr battery lets the PCMark 10 Office test run for more than 10 hours straight.
Overall, the ThinkPad Z16 Gen 1 doesn’t let you down, and the results show that Lenovo made the right choice by going with AMD for this product.
|Value||Powerful machine with a high asking price||3 / 5|
|Design||A few ergonomic mistakes sully what might have been a classic design.||4 / 5|
|Features||Needs a docking station to add ports Lenovo left off it||4 / 5|
|Performance||A very powerful platform that can do most things easily||5 / 5|
|Total||BIOS issues aside, this is an excellent laptop||4 / 5|