Notebookcheck

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 (Core i3-7100U, Full HD) Laptop Review

Entry-level update. Intel's Kaby Lake platform has been appearing on more and more notebooks, and now Lenovo has updated the ThinkPad 13 with the 7th Generation processors. Does the new platform bring enough of a performance increase to warrant an upgrade?

Introduced last year, Lenovo's ThinkPad 13 brought features commonly found in the venerable ThinkPad line without the typically restrictive ThinkPad pricing. While the notebook makes some compromises (like the lack of a keyboard backlight), it offers an excellent package at an affordable price. Just like its other lines, Lenovo has brought the latest and greatest from Intel to the ThinkPad 13. The 7th generation Kaby Lake CPUs are available in several flavors, although choice is limited to the low-voltage "U" class reserved for ultrabooks.

Our review model is a base-level model. It sports an Intel Core i3-7100U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 4 GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 128 GB M.2 SATA SSD. Aside from the internal components, nothing has changed from last year's model. The excellent keyboard (still sans backlighting), ample port selection, and lightweight MIL-STD-810G rated chassis remain the same. As such, we will forego detailed looks at the case, maintenance, and input devices. Further detail on these parts of the notebook experience can be found in our 2016 ThinkPad 13 (Core i5-6200U) review.

This review will be primarily concerned with the performance changes brought by Kaby Lake. We will compare the previous ThinkPad 13 model (though it sports a more powerful Core i5-6200U CPU) as well as two business notebooks equipped with the last generation's Skylake Core i3-6100U, the Lenovo ThinkPad E560 and Dell Latitude 14 3470.

Despite its entry-level configuration, our ThinkPad 13 is still relatively pricey at USD $1069. Both the E560 and Dell are available with similar specs for almost half the cost (~$600 and ~$550, respectively). The older ThinkPad 13 can be found at retailers for a lower price as well. Also, keep in mind that Lenovo frequently has sales on their site; the newest ThinkPad 13 models could be purchased at a discount if timed correctly.

Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS (ThinkPad 13 Series)
Processor
Intel Core i3-7100U, Dual-core, hyperthreaded
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 620 - 1024 MB, Core: 400 MHz, Memory: 665 MHz, Integrated, Intel HD Graphics 620 Driver 21.20.16.4541
Memory
4096 MB 
, DDR4-2400
Display
13.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel 166 PPI, Yes, Lenovo LEN4094, IPS, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Kaby Lake-U Premium PCH
Soundcard
Intel Kaby Lake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
4 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Combo in/out, Card Reader: Card Reader: 4-in-1 (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 (a/b/g/n/ac)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 19.8 x 322.4 x 222.8 ( = 0.78 x 12.69 x 8.77 in)
Battery
42 Wh Lithium-Polymer, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 14.6 h
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, 2x2 Watt, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: no
Weight
1.43 kg ( = 50.44 oz / 3.15 pounds), Power Supply: 293 g ( = 10.34 oz / 0.65 pounds)
Price
1069 USD

 

SD Card Reader

The SD Card Reader is slightly improved from last year's model, hitting 11% transfer speeds using out Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II reference card. Speeds are still disappointing, reaching only 28 MB/s in our JPG copy test and ~33 MB/s in our AS SSD read test. These speeds are sufficient for small file transfers but will present an annoying bottleneck when transferring large sets of photos or documents via SD card. Users should opt for the USB ports when transferring files instead.

SDCardreader Transfer Speed
average JPG Copy Test (av. of 3 runs)
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
47.4 MB/s ∼100% +69%
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
28.1 MB/s ∼59%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
25.3 MB/s ∼53% -10%
Dell Latitude 14 3470
23.5 MB/s ∼50% -16%
maximum AS SSD Seq Read Test (1GB)
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
32.7 MB/s ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
29.6 MB/s ∼91% -9%
Dell Latitude 14 3470
27.6 MB/s ∼84% -16%

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Communication

WiFi speeds are impressive thanks to the updated Intel 8265 Dual-Band WiFi module. This module appeared in an earlier review of the Thinkpad 13 with the Core i7-7500U, and we see similar speeds in our Core i3 model. Transmit speeds of 517 Mb/s and receiving speeds of 658 Mb/s are more than enough for casual and business use. These speeds are nice to see, as the lack of a dedicated LAN port may be restrictive in some business settings. Connections to our home router were solid with no interruptions. 

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
658 MBit/s ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20J2S00G00
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
645 MBit/s ∼98% -2%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
517 MBit/s ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20J2S00G00
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
297 MBit/s ∼57% -43%

Security (business devices)

Our updated Thinkpad 13 retains the security features from last year's model (TPM, self-encrypting SSD). The inclusion of a fingerprint sensor is a nice addition. While it uses the dated "swipe" design, it is fast and accurate. The reader registers our fingerprint every time and ties in with Windows Hello for easy logins.

The USB Type-C port on our device is also equipped with Lenovo's "Anti-Fry Protection" technology. While the USB-C port is listed as able to charge the device, electrical damage could be possible if a poorly made USB Type-C cable is used. Anti-Fry Protection is engineered to prevent incorrect voltages from being sent through the port. No word on if this protects against the many iterations of "USB Killer" devices that have recently surfaced online. We did not get the opportunity to test the Anti-Fry technology during our review time.

Input Devices

Keyboard, Touchpad, and Trackpoint

The keyboard, touchpad, and TrackPoint unchanged. While the keyboard has that venerable ThinkPad quality, the lack of backlighting persists and hurts the overall experience. Lenovo does offer a blacklight option for an additional $40 through their online store.

For further details on these input devices, be sure to check our 2016 ThinkPad 13 (Core i5-6200U, Full HD) review here.

Touchscreen

With the update to modern internals comes a modern interface: the ThinkPad 13 now features a touchscreen on the Full HD models. Touch input is accurate and quick, and the matte finish on the display keeps fingerprints at bay. While the addition of third pointer input alongside the excellent touchpad and TrackPoint may be overkill, but the touchscreen doesn't detract from the overall experience. It's nice to have the option of touch input, but users may or may not find it useful.

Display

Like last year, the Thinkpad 13 can be purchased with either a 1366x768 TN or 1920x1080 IPS display panel. Both have a matte finish and are rated at 250 nits of brightness. That rating is fairly accurate; our FHD model hit an average of 249.6 cd/m2 across the display. This is a bit brighter than the previous ThinkPad 13 (~227 cd/m2). PWM is not present when the screen's brightness is lowered, and the display gets dim enough for comfortable use in dark environments. 

The panel is largely unchanged from last year's. The updated display is slightly brighter and has marginal improvements in color accuracy and color space, but for the most part, the viewing experience is similar. Compared to the cheaper and lower-resolution TN panels in the competing ThinkPad E560 and Latitude 14 3470, the ThinkPad 13 panel offers much greater color accuracy, better viewing angles, and a significantly higher contrast ratio. The Dell and Lenovo rivals also offer slower response times, which is odd. The main benefit of a TN display is its quicker response times, but the E560 and Dell 3470 have notably slower Grey 50% / Grey 80% response times. Black / White response is much quicker in the less expensive models, however.

240.8
cd/m²
245.7
cd/m²
253.9
cd/m²
253.4
cd/m²
266.4
cd/m²
238.4
cd/m²
249
cd/m²
264.5
cd/m²
234.5
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 266.4 cd/m² Average: 249.6 cd/m² Minimum: 2.81 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 266.4 cd/m²
Contrast: 859:1 (Black: 0.31 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.3 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 3.3 | - Ø
60% sRGB (Argyll) 38% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.36
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Lenovo LEN4094, IPS, 13.3, 1920x1080
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
LP133WF2-SPL1, , 13.3, 1920x1080
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Lenovo N156B6-L07, TN LED, 15.6, 1366x768
Dell Latitude 14 3470
Innolux N140BGE, TN LED, 14, 1366x768
Response Times
-5%
-10%
-10%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
32.8 (18, 14.8)
43.2 (19.6, 23.6)
-32%
50 (20, 30)
-52%
47 (25, 22)
-43%
Response Time Black / White *
34.4 (21.2, 13.2)
26.8 (9.6, 17.2)
22%
23 (7, 16)
33%
26 (18, 8)
24%
PWM Frequency
Screen
1%
-69%
-61%
Brightness
250
227
-9%
226
-10%
193
-23%
Brightness Distribution
88
86
-2%
89
1%
87
-1%
Black Level *
0.31
0.22
29%
0.48
-55%
0.48
-55%
Contrast
859
1059
23%
502
-42%
429
-50%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5.3
5.41
-2%
12.43
-135%
11
-108%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.3
4.15
-26%
13.24
-301%
11.51
-249%
Gamma
2.36 102%
2.45 98%
2.61 92%
2.23 108%
CCT
6843 95%
6773 96%
15733 41%
13671 48%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
38
36.52
-4%
36
-5%
38.46
1%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
60
57.16
-5%
57
-5%
60.61
1%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-2% / -1%
-40% / -57%
-36% / -50%

* ... smaller is better

While the color gamut has widened in our updated ThinkPad 13, it's still not terribly impressive. 60% sRGB and 38% AdobeRGB coverage are usable for office and home use, but professionals that work with color should definitely look at other notebooks with better color options. Colors are fairly accurate; the Colorchecker delta and Greyscale delta are 5.3 and 3.3, respectively. Anything under 3 is generally considered accurate enough for professional use, so our ThinkPad 13 is again not suitable for professional use. Calibration brings these deltas down to 5 and 2.2, which is an improvement (though not enough to move the display into professional territory).

Calman ColorChecker
Calman ColorChecker
Calman ColorChecker (calibrated
Calman ColorChecker (calibrated
Grayscale
Grayscale
Grayscale (calibrated)
Grayscale (calibrated)
Saturation Sweeps
Saturation Sweeps
Saturation Sweeps (calibrated)
Saturation Sweeps (calibrated)
vs. AdobeRGB: 38%
vs. AdobeRGB: 38%
vs. sRGB: 60%
vs. sRGB: 60%

The matte finish on the display greatly reduces glare, and the updated panel is bright enough for outdoor use. Direct sunlight still presents a problem, so shade should be sought. Viewing angles are indiscernible from last year's model; the IPS panel can be easily viewed when off-center. For photos of viewing angles, check out the display section of our 2016 ThinkPad 13 review here.

In sum, the display experience is very similar to that of the previous ThinkPad 13. We recommend the Full HD IPS model to prospective buyers; though it is $120 more at checkout, the cost is well worth the improved brightness and viewing angles. 

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
34.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 21.2 ms rise
↘ 13.2 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 88 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (26.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
32.8 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 18 ms rise
↘ 14.8 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 19 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (42.4 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 54 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8499 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Performance

We now arrive at the meat of this review. The ThinkPad 13 has followed suit with its Lenovo brethren and is now available with the latest Intel Kaby Lake processors. SKUs are available with Intel Core i3-7100U, Core i5-7200U, and Core i5-7300U processors. A lower-priced and lower-powered Intel Celeron 3865U CPU is also available.

The three Core processors are low-voltage (ULV) dual-core CPUs with hyperthreading. The main difference is the presence of Intel's Turbo Boost in the Core i5 models. As such, the 7200U and 7300U can achieve much higher clocks on a single core under demanding loads. Otherwise, Kaby Lake brings marginal improvements over the previous generation Skylake processors, focusing instead on power and battery efficiency. In benchmarks and real world use, the Intel Core i5-6200U present in our 2016 ThinkPad 13 is very similar to the updated Core i5-7200U model. The 2016 ThinkPad 13 will give us a good idea of the performance differences between our  2017 Core i3 ThinkPad and the more powerful (and expensive) SKUs available. 

Processor

The Core i3-7100U (2.4 GHz, 3 MB Cache) is the latest low-tiered ULV processor from Intel based on the 14 nm Kaby Lake platform. Powered by two hyperthreaded cores, the 15 W processor is a capable CPU for business and home use. The low power draw of the CPU belies its potential; most casual users will find the 7100U to be more than adequate for office work, web browsing, and even moderately demanding computing tasks.

The Core i3-7100U doesn't offer any significant advantage over last year's Skylake Core i3-6100U; our Lenovo ThinkPad 13 kept pace with its rivals in Cinebench R15 and R11.5. Interestingly, while the Core i5-6200U in last year's ThinkPad 13 was 35% faster than our Core i3 model in single core performance, the gap closed to only 13% in the i5's favor in the multithreaded test. The single core disparity is likely due to the Core i5's inclusion of Turbo Boost, which can temporarily push clock speeds higher. The Core i3-7100U's lack of Turbo Boost may help with battery life and heat management, but the inability to push instructions out faster can hurt in heavy workloads. Those interested in upgrading to the i5-7200U model can see that similar notebooks, the Dell Latitude 5280 and Lenovo ThinkPad L470, bested our ThinkPad 13 by 30% in single core performance and 25-30% in multicore performance. The i5 may be a worthwhile option for power users.

On battery, the Lenovo ThinkPad operates at a similar capacity. There is no noticeable downgrade in processing power when the device is unplugged.

Cinebench R10
Cinebench R10
Cinebench R11.5
Cinebench R11.5
Cinebench R15
Cinebench R15
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Dell Latitude 5280 N014L528012QG45
Intel Core i5-7200U
128 Points ∼64% +49%
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
Intel Core i5-7200U
126 Points ∼63% +47%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
Intel Core i5-6200U
116 Points ∼58% +35%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Intel Core i3-6100U
98 Points ∼49% +14%
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Core i3-7100U
86 Points ∼43%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Dell Latitude 5280 N014L528012QG45
Intel Core i5-7200U
329 Points ∼15% +29%
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
Intel Core i5-7200U
320 Points ∼15% +25%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
Intel Core i5-6200U
290 Points ∼14% +13%
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Core i3-7100U
256 Points ∼12%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Intel Core i3-6100U
251 Points ∼12% -2%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Intel Core i3-6100U
1.11 Points ∼49% +8%
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Core i3-7100U
1.03 Points ∼45%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Core i3-7100U
2.85 Points ∼1%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Intel Core i3-6100U
2.78 Points ∼1% -2%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single 32Bit
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Core i3-7100U
3871 Points ∼44%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Intel Core i3-6100U
3710 Points ∼42% -4%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Core i3-7100U
8718 Points ∼18%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Intel Core i3-6100U
8437 Points ∼17% -3%
wPrime 2.0x - 1024m
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Core i3-7100U
644.6 s * ∼8%
Dell Latitude 5280 N014L528012QG45
Intel Core i5-7200U
494.21 s * ∼6% +23%
Super Pi Mod 1.5 XS 32M - ---
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel Core i3-7100U
817.6 Seconds * ∼4%
Dell Latitude 5280 N014L528012QG45
Intel Core i5-7200U
619.832 Seconds * ∼3% +24%

* ... smaller is better

Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6042
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
8718
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3871
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
25.56 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.85 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.03 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.7 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
33.81 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
256 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
86 Points
Help

Our new Cinebench R15 loop benchmark gives an idea of how consistent the Core i3-7100U in this model is. Even after running Cinebench 50 times in a succession, the ThinkPad 13 hit a score between 250 and 260 cb every time. Based on these findings, users can expect rock solid performance from the CPU over long workloads.

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Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64 Bit

System Performance

Overall system performance gives us a better picture of everyday task management. The improved power efficiency of Kaby Lake coupled with an improved integrated GPU place our ThinkPad on top of the competition, including the Core i5-equipped 2016 ThinkPad 13. However, this victory should be taken with a grain of salt as the differences are marginal at best. What is notable is that our Core i3 ThinkPad 13 is a very capable machine for business and home use. It can even keep up with the ThinkPad L470, despite the latter's more powerful Core i5-7200U. Overall system performance should be a bit better on the Core i5 ThinkPad 13, but most users won't notice much difference. In everyday use, system performance is snappy and responsive. Apps open fairly quickly thanks to the m.2 SSD, and most casual tasks run without a hitch. 

PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
HD Graphics 620, 7100U
4139 Points ∼64%
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, SanDisk X400 256GB, SATA (SD8SB8U-256G)
4111 Points ∼63% -1%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
4041 Points ∼62% -2%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
HD Graphics 520, 6100U, Western Digital WD Black Mobile 500GB (WD5000LPLX)
3926 Points ∼60% -5%
Creative Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, SanDisk X400 256GB, SATA (SD8SB8U-256G)
4172 Points ∼45% +7%
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
HD Graphics 620, 7100U
3886 Points ∼42%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
3651 Points ∼39% -6%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
HD Graphics 520, 6100U, Western Digital WD Black Mobile 500GB (WD5000LPLX)
3113 Points ∼33% -20%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, SanDisk X400 256GB, SATA (SD8SB8U-256G)
3294 Points ∼55% +4%
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
HD Graphics 620, 7100U
3163 Points ∼53%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
3024 Points ∼51% -4%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
HD Graphics 520, 6100U, Western Digital WD Black Mobile 500GB (WD5000LPLX)
2965 Points ∼50% -6%
PCMark 7 Score
3294 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3163 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
3886 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4139 points
Help

Storage Devices

The SSD in our 2017 ThinkPad 13 is very similar to last year's Samsung model. While nothing spectacular, the M.2 SSD opens applications and moves files quickly. Our base model is equipped with a paltry 128 GB, but the ThinkPad 13 can be configured with up to 256 GB of storage through Lenovo's U.S. online store. Other markets fare better in this regard, as Lenovo offers higher capacity PCIe NVMe SSDs outside of the States.

Speeds are adequate. CrystalDiskMark measures the SSD at 447.3 MB/s when reading files and 331.3 MB/s when writing. This is comparable to last year's model and much faster than the mechanical HDDs found in the competition. Business professionals will appreciate the faster load times brought by an SSD, but enthusiasts may crave something faster. Daring users can open the chassis to change out the SATA SSD with a speedy NVMe drive, as the M.2 slot supports the faster protocol.

CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark
AS SSD
AS SSD
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Western Digital WD Black Mobile 500GB (WD5000LPLX)
Dell Latitude 14 3470
Toshiba MQ01ACF050
HP ProBook 440 G4 Z2Y47ES
Samsung CM871a MZNTY256HDHP
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
16%
-87%
-90%
25%
Write 4k QD32
162.2
276.2
70%
1.285
-99%
0.901
-99%
216.2
33%
Read 4k QD32
235.3
360.9
53%
0.976
-100%
0.721
-100%
379.4
61%
Write 4k
76.12
68.46
-10%
1.29
-98%
0.946
-99%
80.18
5%
Read 4k
34.46
31.85
-8%
0.373
-99%
0.362
-99%
33.08
-4%
Write 512
247.2
298.4
21%
66.77
-73%
292.5
18%
Read 512
315.7
351.6
11%
34.31
-89%
404
28%
Write Seq
331.3
297.8
-10%
123.1
-63%
103.2
-69%
466.9
41%
Read Seq
447.3
461.7
3%
120.4
-73%
108.9
-76%
523.9
17%
Sequential Read: 447.3 MB/s
Sequential Write: 331.3 MB/s
512K Read: 315.7 MB/s
512K Write: 247.2 MB/s
4K Read: 34.46 MB/s
4K Write: 76.12 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 235.3 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 162.2 MB/s

GPU Performance

The Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU offers very similar performance to last year's Intel HD Graphics 520. Current Intel integrated GPUs aren't meant for demanding 3D tasks, and HD Graphics 620 is no exception to this. While it can power through light graphical loads (such as 3D Mark's Ice Storm benchmark), heavier modeling work brings the chip to its knees. The amount of RAM makes a huge difference, as integrated graphics are highly dependent on system memory. While the ThinkPad L470 and Latitude 5280 do have more powerful Core i5-7200U processor's, the integrated graphics are boosted more by the higher amounts of RAM. The L470's 8 GB of RAM and the 5280's 16 GB help the Intel HD Graphics 620 chips post huge improvements in Cloud Gate (22% and 56%, respectively). 

The good news for business users is that the Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU, coupled with the Core i3-7100U, can support an external 4K display at 60 Hz (according to Intel's Ark page). Using the proper adapters, the laptop should be able to connect and output to a total of 3 displays, though not at 4K.

3DMark
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Dell Latitude 5280 N014L528012QG45
Intel HD Graphics 620, 7200U
9158 Points ∼6% +56%
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
Intel HD Graphics 620, 7200U
7153 Points ∼4% +22%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
Intel HD Graphics 520, 6200U
5898 Points ∼4% +1%
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel HD Graphics 620, 7100U
5854 Points ∼4%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Intel HD Graphics 520, 6100U
5776 Points ∼4% -1%
Dell Latitude 14 3470
Intel HD Graphics 520, 6100U
5238 Points ∼3% -11%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics
Dell Latitude 5280 N014L528012QG45
Intel HD Graphics 620, 7200U
52311 Points ∼7% +84%
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
Intel HD Graphics 620, 7200U
37217 Points ∼5% +31%
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
Intel HD Graphics 620, 7100U
28425 Points ∼4%
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
34539 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
4409 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The Intel HD Graphics 620 chipset is certainly not meant for gaming. Gaming isn't off the table entirely, so long as expectations are adjusted accordingly. Older, well-optimized titles like Bioshock Infinite can be played at low resolutions and the lowest settings. Lighter titles, such as Minecraft, Stardew Valley, or other non-demanding games run well and are enjoyable. However, as shown by Ashes of the Singularity (a title that is fairly GPU and CPU intensive), AAA gaming is still out of reach.

Our testing shows that the Intel HD Graphics 620 bring almost imperceptible improvements over the older Intel Graphics HD 520. The new integrated graphics card should not be considered in upgrade decisions. However, users that want to enjoy better gaming performance should consider upgrading to the Core i5-7200U and adding more RAM. The ThinkPad L470 with 8 GB of RAM was able to outperform the ThinkPad 13 in Bioshock Infinite by 18% and 5% at Low and Medium presets, respectively. The Latitude 5280, which has 16 GB RAM in a dual-channel configuration, handily beat the ThinkPad 13 at these settings (68% at Low and 41% at Medium). Note that Lenovo currently does not offer a model shipped with 16 GB of RAM, so this will require an upgrade on the user's part.

BioShock Infinite
1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF) (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
HD Graphics 620, 7100U
11 fps ∼5%
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, SanDisk X400 256GB, SATA (SD8SB8U-256G)
6.5 fps ∼3% -41%
1366x768 Medium Preset (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
HD Graphics 620, 7100U
22 fps ∼7%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
20.31 fps ∼6% -8%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
HD Graphics 520, 6100U, Western Digital WD Black Mobile 500GB (WD5000LPLX)
19.7 fps ∼6% -10%
Dell Latitude 5280 N014L528012QG45
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HMJP
31.1 fps ∼10% +41%
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, SanDisk X400 256GB, SATA (SD8SB8U-256G)
23.1 fps ∼7% +5%
1280x720 Very Low Preset (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
HD Graphics 620, 7100U
35 fps ∼10%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
35.28 fps ∼10% +1%
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
HD Graphics 520, 6100U, Western Digital WD Black Mobile 500GB (WD5000LPLX)
33.5 fps ∼9% -4%
Dell Latitude 5280 N014L528012QG45
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HMJP
58.9 fps ∼16% +68%
Lenovo ThinkPad L470-20J5S00C00
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, SanDisk X400 256GB, SATA (SD8SB8U-256G)
41.4 fps ∼12% +18%
Ashes of the Singularity - 1280x768 low (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
HD Graphics 620, 7100U
8.9 fps ∼10%
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 352211fps
Ashes of the Singularity (2016) 8.9fps

Stress Test

The Core i3-7100U may not be able to boost under stress, but it can definitely keep its cool. Using Prime95 to tax the CPU to its utmost, we see the chip stay at its maximum clock of 2.4 GHz while only reaching 67º C at its hottest. The Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU tells much the same story; when stressed by FurMark for an hour, the graphics chip stayed at its maximum clock speed of 1000 MHz while only reaching 76º C. Running both Prime95 and FurMark still couldn't stop the package. Both the CPU and GPU operated at their maximum speeds for about 100 minutes, but only reached 78° C. As we will discuss later, fan noise remains unobtrusive despite this intense load.

Prime95
Prime95
FurMark
FurMark
Prime95 and FurMark
Prime95 and FurMark

Stress Test

CPU Clock (GHz) GPU Clock (MHz) Average CPU Temperature (°C) Average GPU Temperature (°C)
Prime95 Stress 2.4 - 63 63
FurMark Stress 2.4 994 73 73
Prime95 + FurMark Stress 2.4 992 76 76

Emissions

System Noise

The benefit of a low-powered CPU is seen (or perhaps heard) in system emissions. Fan noise is among the quietest in its class and is barely audible above environmental noise. Fan noise is about 10% quieter than the competitors and about the same as the older ThinkPad 13. Despite its low volume, the fan is high-pitched and creates an annoying whine when under load. This only happens under extreme workloads like the stress test we discussed in the previous section.

Coil whine is also present, but falls underneath ambient sounds. In quiet settings, however, a slight high-pitched hum can be heard from the back left corner of the device. Coil whine isn't jarring and won't be noticed in everyday use. All said, system noise is excellent.

Noise Level

Idle
28.7 / 28.7 / 28.7 dB(A)
Load
31.2 / 35.9 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   BK Precision 732A (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 28.7 dB(A)
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
HD Graphics 620, 7100U
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
HD Graphics 520, 6100U, Western Digital WD Black Mobile 500GB (WD5000LPLX)
Dell Latitude 14 3470
HD Graphics 520, 6100U, Toshiba MQ01ACF050
HP ProBook 440 G4 Z2Y47ES
HD Graphics 620, 7100U, Samsung CM871a MZNTY256HDHP
Acer Spin 5 SP513-51
HD Graphics 520, 6100U, Hynix HFS128G39TND
Noise
0%
-12%
-7%
-10%
-5%
off / environment *
28.7
29.1
-1%
31.2
-9%
29.2
-2%
30.9
-8%
30.5
-6%
Idle Minimum *
28.7
29.1
-1%
32.3
-13%
32.3
-13%
30
-5%
30.5
-6%
Idle Average *
28.7
29.1
-1%
32.3
-13%
32.3
-13%
31.8
-11%
30.5
-6%
Idle Maximum *
28.7
29.1
-1%
32.5
-13%
32.3
-13%
33.5
-17%
30.6
-7%
Load Average *
31.2
31.5
-1%
36
-15%
33.3
-7%
35.7
-14%
31
1%
Load Maximum *
35.9
33.5
7%
38.8
-8%
33.4
7%
38.5
-7%
36.8
-3%

* ... smaller is better

Temperature

One of the common consequences of low fan speeds and noise is often a higher chassis temperature. This is certainly the case with the updated ThinkPad 13. The thin chassis gets very warm under load, specifically on the underside next to the CPU and heat exhaust vent. The bottom center hits about 55° C, which in turn make the notebook uncomfortable to use in the lap. It should be noted that these high temperatures only occur under extreme synthetic load; in real world use, the notebook should stay substantially cooler. The wrist rests also remain cool, even under maximum load.

At idle, the chassis stays cool at about 26-27° C. Under light loads (like those typically found in office work), the device remains cool to the touch.

Thermal map, keyboard
Thermal map, keyboard
Thermal map, bottom panel
Thermal map, bottom panel
Max. Load
 35 °C39.4 °C31 °C 
 42.4 °C44.4 °C26 °C 
 24 °C26.2 °C24.8 °C 
Maximum: 44.4 °C
Average: 32.6 °C
31.2 °C48.2 °C35.6 °C
27.6 °C53.4 °C55.4 °C
25.8 °C27.2 °C23.4 °C
Maximum: 55.4 °C
Average: 36.4 °C
Power Supply (max.)  41 °C | Room Temperature 21 °C | Fluke 62 Mini

Speakers

Sound profile of speakers
Sound profile of speakers

The speakers are decidedly "laptop quality." Bass is almost absent, but mids and highs are decent. Music and media sound empty and hollow. On the plus, vocals are clear, and the speakers do well with voice calling and podcasts. As this machine is meant for business use, vocal clarity was likely a top concern. In this regard, the speakers are acceptable.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs203737.6253535.1313433.44032.532.15033.432.16330.832.28031.431.910030.430.312529.731.416027.545.620026.745.325026.556.831526.162.840025.563.650024.961.963023.759.480023.165.1100022.767.2125022.563.2160022.464.2200022.362.3250022.158.2315021.857400021.965500021.959.7630021.960.8800021.7621000021.964.21250022.268.6160002259.9SPL34.875.1N2.337.2median 22.5Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUSmedian 61.9Delta2.15.235.135.634.334.335.133.83535.735.733.834.534.836.436.434.534.33435.535.534.33534.935.135.13533.334.434.234.233.333.133.933.933.933.136.53838.338.336.539.338.636.936.939.343.73730.830.843.754.547.130.230.254.561.454.430.230.261.465.358.629.129.165.364.957.728.528.564.965.75827.227.265.763.255.8262663.263.154.925.425.463.169.360.524.424.469.367.158.623.723.767.167.358.723.923.967.367.258.823.523.567.263.355.123.223.263.359.251.423.523.559.256.649.123.723.756.657.648.523.823.857.654.845.523.723.754.856.152.223.223.256.155.650.6242455.655.146.524.124.155.15141.224.324.351median 59.2Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100median 52.2median 24.3median 24.3median 59.25.35.53.23.25.3hearing rangehide median Pink Noise
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (75.1 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 16.8% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (14.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.1% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (6.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.5% away from median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (8.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (15.9% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 20% of all tested devices in this class were better, 6% similar, 74% worse
» The best had a delta of 11%, average was 21%, worst was 48%
Compared to all devices tested
» 20% of all tested devices were better, 4% similar, 76% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100 audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (78.4 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.8% lower than median
(-) | bass is not linear (15.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 6.8% higher than median
(+) | mids are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.7% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (6.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (19.6% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 49% of all tested devices in this class were better, 6% similar, 45% worse
» The best had a delta of 11%, average was 21%, worst was 48%
Compared to all devices tested
» 40% of all tested devices were better, 5% similar, 55% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Frequency Comparison (Checkbox selectable!)
Graph 1: Pink Noise 100% Vol.; Graph 2: Audio off

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Due primarily to the ultra-low voltage CPU and SSD, our ThinkPad 13 sips power from the wall. Even under load, we never see more than 28.5 Watts pulled from the outlet, which is a result of the improved power efficiency of the Kaby Lake platform. The 2017 ThinkPad pulls about 12% less power than the Core i3-6100U powered Dell Latitude 14 3470 under extreme load. At idle, our ThinkPad also uses about 20-25% less power than the competition on average. This might be due to a combination of the less efficient Skylake chips and mechanical HDDs found in the rivals.

The 45 W power supply can easily supply power to the 2017 ThinkPad with more than enough headroom.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.44 / 0.51 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 3.5 / 5.7 / 6.2 Watt
Load midlight 24.1 / 28.5 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
7100U, HD Graphics 620, , IPS, 1920x1080, 13.3
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
6200U, HD Graphics 520, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP, , 1920x1080, 13.3
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
6100U, HD Graphics 520, Western Digital WD Black Mobile 500GB (WD5000LPLX), TN LED, 1366x768, 15.6
Dell Latitude 14 3470
6100U, HD Graphics 520, Toshiba MQ01ACF050, TN LED, 1366x768, 14
HP ProBook 440 G4 Z2Y47ES
7100U, HD Graphics 620, Samsung CM871a MZNTY256HDHP, TN, 1920x1080, 14
Acer Spin 5 SP513-51
6100U, HD Graphics 520, Hynix HFS128G39TND, IPS LED, 1920x1080, 13.3
Power Consumption
-1%
-19%
-25%
-20%
-8%
Idle Minimum *
3.5
3.1
11%
5.2
-49%
5
-43%
5.7
-63%
4.1
-17%
Idle Average *
5.7
5.5
4%
7.25
-27%
6.8
-19%
6.8
-19%
6.8
-19%
Idle Maximum *
6.2
6
3%
7.9
-27%
8.9
-44%
7.8
-26%
7.9
-27%
Load Average *
24.1
25.8
-7%
25.1
-4%
26.2
-9%
20.2
16%
20.4
15%
Load Maximum *
28.5
33.6
-18%
25.1
12%
31.8
-12%
30.6
-7%
26.8
6%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Again, the lower powered specs in our ThinkPad 13 have some benefits. Battery life is nothing short of spectacular, hitting over 9 and a half hours in our WiFi battery test (Balanced setting, 150 nit brightness, loading a new web page every 30 seconds). This machine can comfortably get business professionals through a full work day with some charge to spare for the train ride home. Under the best power settings (Airplane mode, minimum brightness), the notebook could easily last a transoceanic flight and while still getting some simple work done.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
16h 29min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
9h 40min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 53min
Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS
7100U, HD Graphics 620, 42 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
6200U, HD Graphics 520, 42 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
6100U, HD Graphics 520, 48 Wh
Dell Latitude 14 3470
6100U, HD Graphics 520, 41 Wh
HP ProBook 440 G4 Z2Y47ES
7100U, HD Graphics 620, 48 Wh
Acer Spin 5 SP513-51
6100U, HD Graphics 520, 45 Wh
Battery Runtime
-9%
9%
-20%
22%
-9%
Reader / Idle
989
944
-5%
885
-11%
668
-32%
1210
22%
749
-24%
WiFi v1.3
580
372
-36%
566
-2%
278
-52%
463
-20%
Load
113
129
14%
157
39%
140
24%
133
18%
WiFi
603

Pros

+ excellent input devices
+ ample port selection
+ long battery life
+ quiet operation
+ quick and accurate fingerprint reader

Cons

- no Thunderbolt
- expensive for the specs
- keyboard not backlit

Verdict

In review: Lenovo ThinkPad 13. Review unit courtesy of Lenovo.
In review: Lenovo ThinkPad 13. Review unit courtesy of Lenovo.

The ThinkPad 13 sits in a good spot. The feature set retains many outstanding points of its more mature ThinkPad brothers, the T and X series. The keyboard is among the best available, the battery life is good enough for a full work day, and performance is adequate, if not a bit underwhelming. However, there are some definite corners that were cut to keep the price down. The keyboard lacks backlighting, hurting an otherwise excellent typing experience, and the lack of Thunderbolt 3 severely limits connectivity options.

Perhaps the biggest downside here is the price. For a system that costs over $1000, our ThinkPad 13 offers some fairly lackluster specs. Even the base model of the ThinkPad 13 equipped with an Intel Celeron 3865U (1.8 GHz, 2 MB Cache) and a 1366x768 TN display starts at $700 at the time of this review. Several devices with better internals are widely available at much lower prices. Though we did not include them in our comparisons, both the Asus Zenbook UX305UA and Dell XPS 13 (2016) can be configured with double the RAM and storage as well as a Core i5 ULV CPU for about the same price as our review model (and sometimes lower).

Overall, the ThinkPad 13 is a compelling package for business users who need something in between Lenovo's 12.5-inch X series and 14-inch T series. The long battery life and stellar input devices offset some of the compromises that were made. However, the upgrade to Kaby Lake currently isn't worth the steep price of admission. As such, we suggest users either wait for Lenovo to offer the device on sale or find a cheaper 2016 ThinkPad 13 with a last generation Skylake processor.

Lenovo Thinkpad 13-20J1001BUS - 04/28/2017 v6
Sam Medley

Chassis
80 / 98 → 82%
Keyboard
90%
Pointing Device
87%
Connectivity
59 / 80 → 74%
Weight
70 / 67 → 100%
Battery
92%
Display
85%
Games Performance
55 / 68 → 81%
Application Performance
73 / 92 → 79%
Temperature
89%
Noise
85%
Audio
69%
Camera
47 / 85 → 56%
Average
76%
85%
Office - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo ThinkPad 13 (Core i3-7100U, Full HD) Laptop Review
Sam Medley, 2017-04-25 (Update: 2017-04-29)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.