Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 review: departing from the formula

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16

MSRP $2,250.00

“The Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 is fast and long-lasting, with a singular leather look.”


  • Solid and attractive construct
  • Excellent performance
  • Long battery life
  • Outstanding keyboard and touchpad
  • ThinkPad-level security


  • Expensive
  • Limited port selection

Lenovo enjoys owning some of the iconic laptop brands within the ThinkPad line of business-oriented machines. Holdovers from IBM, ThinkPads are typically recognizable from across the room because of a black-on-black aesthetic with rigorously placed red accents. There have been exceptions, reminiscent of the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga which sports a silver chassis, but otherwise, Lenovo has maintained the ThinkPad as a definite brand.

The brand new ThinkPad Z laptops represent a more significant departure. The ThinkPad Z16, which I’m reviewing here, looks rather a lot more like a Dell XPS 15 with the lid closed than it does the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. Open it and also you’ll find more of a ThinkPad-like keyboard deck, but what stands out most concerning the machine isn’t visible — it’s Lenovo’s give attention to using sustainable materials. The ThinkPad Z16 finds a strategy to remain a ThinkPad within the things that matter most without feeling stuck previously.


  Lenovo ThinkPad Z16
Dimensions 13.95 inches x 9.35 inches x 0.63 inches
Weight 3.99 kilos
Processor AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 6650H
AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 6850H
AMD Ryzen 9 Pro 6950H
Graphics AMD Radeon Graphics
AMD Radeon RX6500M
Display 16-inch 16:10 WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) IPS non-touch
16-inch 16:10 WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) IPS low power touch
16-inch 16:10 WQUXGA (3,840 x 2,400) OLED
Storage 512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD
Touch Optional
Ports 2 x USB-C 4.0
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1 x full-size SD card reader
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 1080p with infrared camera for facial recognition
Operating system Windows 11
Battery 72 watt-hours
Price $1,975+

The ThinkPad Z16 is a premium laptop, with a number of configurations listed on the Lenovo website running from $1,975 as much as $2,800. The least expensive machine sports an AMD Ryzen 5 6650H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a 16-inch WUXGA IPS display, and an AMD Radeon RX 6500M GPU.

On the high end, you’ll get an AMD Ryzen 7 6850H, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, a WQUXGA OLED display, and a discrete GPU. There’ll likely be other configurations available, but for now, those are the essential selections.

Sustainable materials in a quasi-ThinkPad design

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Lenovo has made a concerted effort to construct the ThinkPad Z16 from sustainable materials. That features 75% post-consumer recycled aluminum within the chassis, 97% recycled plastic within the speaker enclosure and battery, and 90% recycled and/or sustainable materials within the packaging.

That places the device among the many leaders within the laptop market, nevertheless it doesn’t detract from the machine’s design. The ThinkPad Z16 is just as solid as the remaining of the ThinkPad line and as well-built as the most effective, including the Dell XPS 15 and the Apple MacBook Pro 16.

Despite its all-aluminum chassis, the ThinkPad Z16 is surprisingly light at 3.99 kilos. That’s lower than most 15-inch or 16-inch laptops and it’s achieved without feeling low cost. The laptop’s also thin at just 0.62 inches, which beats the XPS 15 by a substantial margin. It’s a fairly sized chassis that’s surprisingly comfortable to hold around given the massive 16-inch 16:10 display.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 front view showing webcam.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

As mentioned above, the ThinkPad Z16 doesn’t look rather a lot like a ThinkPad, especially with the lid closed. On the surface, it’s a dark silver color with lines which can be harking back to Dell’s lineup. The normal ThinkPad logo adorns the lid with an LED light behind the dot on the “i,” but otherwise the aesthetic is more in keeping with the everyday laptop.

Open the lid and also you’ll discover a black palm rest with a red TrackPoint nubbin in the middle of the keyboard, together with a subdued ThinkPad logo within the corner. But even the same old TrackPoint buttons are missing, with the highest layer of the haptic touchpad, or “ForcePad,” dedicated to the input device.

That’s not a knock against the laptop. It’s a sexy machine, needless to say, and even the inverted notch at the highest of the display gives it some panache. That notch, dubbed the Communications Bar, houses a high-quality 1080p webcam with infrared and dual-array microphones, and together with small bezels contributes to the best screen-to-body ratio in a ThinkPad at 92.3%.

Once more there’s an XPS 15 vibe when viewed from straight on, although the bezels are lined with plastic that detracts from the fashionable look. The notch also provides something to grab onto when opening the lid, which the hinge lets you do with one hand.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

To my eye, the ThinkPad Z16’s keyboard is a combination between the heavily sculpted ThinkPad version and the one you’ll find on other Lenovo brands. It’s a big keyboard with nicely sized keys, and its switch mechanism looks like the one on other ThinkPads with a lighter touch and a quick feel. It’s a superb keyboard that ranks up there with the most effective you discover on Windows laptops.

The big ForcePad haptic touchpad is smooth and provides a practical click across its entire surface. As mentioned above, the highest layer mimics the TrackPoint nubbin’s three buttons, and the TrackPoint itself works in addition to all the time for those ThinkPad fans preferring it.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 left side view showing ports.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 right side view showing ports.

Connectivity is a bit light for a big laptop. There are two USB-C 4.0 ports, a single USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader.

I’m used to seeing HDMI and USB-A ports on a 16-inch machine, so those are missing, after which that is an AMD chipset and so there’s no Thunderbolt 4 support. Wireless connectivity is up up to now, though, with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.

AMD inside means solid performance and superior longevity

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 rear view showing lid and logo.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

AMD isn’t latest to Lenovo’s lineup, nevertheless it’s not as common in a ThinkPad. The ThinkPad Z16 uses AMD’s Ryzen Pro chip, which adds additional security measures in keeping with the road’s business focus. Speaking of that, you’ll find the same old self-healing BIOS, Match-On-Chip fingerprint reader (positioned as a keyboard button), and webcam shutter (an electronic version). I reviewed the AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 6850H configuration, which is an eight-core/16-thread CPU running at 45 watts and as much as 4.75GHz. Mine was limited to integrated AMD Radeon Graphics, but there’s an option for the faster discrete AMD Radeon RX 6500 GPU.

The ThinkPad Z16 was a solid performer in our benchmark suite, maintaining with the Dell XPS 15 running Intel’s Core i7-12700H CPU and the Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X with an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS. The Radeon Graphics limits performance in creative apps that may utilize a discrete GPS, however the laptop can handle demanding productivity workflows and moderate creativity tasks.

It did well within the 3DMark Time Spy test and hit 30 frames per second (fps) in Fortnite at 1200p and epic graphics, faster than Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics and competitive with some machines running Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050. That makes it a passable entry-level gaming laptop.

(single / multi)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Lenovo ThinkPad Z16
(Ryzen 7 Pro 6850H)
Bal: 1,360 / 8,648
Perf: 1,365 / 8,679
Bal: 88
Perf: 87
Bal: 1,376 / 10,938
Perf: 1,374 / 11,553
Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,470 / 9,952
Perf: 1,714 / 11,053
Bal: 100
Perf: 77
Bal: 1,509 / 11,578
Perf: 1,806 / 13,313
Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X
(Ryzen 9 6900HS)
Bal: 1,493 / 8,914
Perf: 1,493 / 9,288
Bal: 99
Perf: 86
Bal: 1,552 / 12,139
Perf: 1,548 / 13,164
Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,829 / 10,819
Perf: N/A
Bal: 94
Perf: 82
Bal: 1,793 / 12,046
Perf: N/A
LG Gram 16 2-in-1
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,682 / 9,035
Perf: 1,686 / 9,479
Bal: 137
Perf: 113
Bal: 1,524 / 6,314
Perf: 1,663 / 8,396
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
Bal: 1,417 / 6,854
Perf: 1,404 / 7,223
Bal: 112
Perf: 111
Bal: 1,402 / 8,682
Perf: 1,409 / 8,860

AMD’s Ryzen chips are inclined to be more efficient than their Intel equivalents, and that’s on display with the ThinkPad Z16. Despite just 72 watt-hours of battery capability, which is light for a 16-inch laptop, and with a big 16-inch display, the ThinkPad still managed an above-average lead to our web browsing test and a spectacular rating in our video test.

It’s stronger than the XPS 15 and the remaining of our comparison group, and virtually guarantees a full day of battery life with typical productivity tasks. Like several AMD machines I’ve reviewed, the ThinkPad Z16 wouldn’t complete the PCMark 10 Applications battery test.

Web browsing Video
Lenovo ThinkPad Z16
(Ryzen 7 Pro 6850H)
12 hours, 4 minutes 23 hours, 2 minutes
Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
9 hours, 38 minutes 12 hours, 40 minutes
Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X
Ryzen 9 6900HS)
7 hours, 49 minutes 11 hours, half-hour
Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo
(Core i7-12700H)
3 hours, 10 minutes 5 hours, 18 minutes
LG Gram 16 2-in-1
(Core i7-1260P)
11 hours, 31 minutes 17 hours, 58 minutes

Speaking of battery life, my ThinkPad Z16 review machine equipped a low-power 1,920 x 1,200 IPS non-touch display, which likely contributed to the laptop’s longevity. The display offered average colours and accuracy for a premium display, with a superb 485 nits of brightness and high contrast for an IPS display at 1,520:1. In case you’re a creator who craves excellent colours and even deeper contrast, you’ll need to go for the three,840 x 2,400 OLED panel.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 front view showing display.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Dual speakers provide passable sound that’s nowhere near the standard of the XPS 15’s quad speakers. The quantity gets quite loud and mids and highs are superb, but there’s not a ton of bass.

A ThinkPad that’s not a ThinkPad, and that’s okay

The Thinkpad Z16 breaks out of the everyday ThinkPad mode and introduces a latest, more contemporary machine to the road. It proves that Lenovo is willing to take some risks, and it was value it. The ThinkPad Z16 is a well-built, attractive, fast, and long-lasting laptop with a superb keyboard and haptic touchpad.

The largest problem with the machine is that it’s expensive. I wish the identical principles that Lenovo applied to the smaller ThinkPad Z13 could apply here. But even then, it’s in keeping with laptops just like the Dell XPS 15 and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, and it costs lower than more powerful laptops just like the MSI Creator Z16P and the MacBook Pro 16. The ThinkPad Z16 is value a glance in the event you’re available in the market for a bigger machine.

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