The Lenovo ThinkPad T15p surprises us with a plastic case
Laptops with metal cases are now ubiquitous and clearly represent the majority in the premium segment. Aluminum is probably the most common, but magnesium is sometimes used to keep the weight particularly low. Plastic has almost completely disappeared in the budget segment. Even in the mid-range, cases are usually at least partly made of a metallic alloy.
Lenovo's ThinkPad series is probably the most prominent laptop brand that defies this trend. Only the ThinkPad X1 Yoga convertible is completely made of metal. Otherwise, Lenovo typically combines magnesium with a high-performance plastic. In Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon, there's carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the lid - true to the name - and the base unit is made of a magnesium-aluminum alloy. The whole thing is painted matte black.
The less expensive T-series, on the other hand, relies on a different plastic mix: Fiberglass reinforced plastic (GRP). The entire outer shell of the ThinkPad T14 and ThinkPad T15 is made of this material. The case is then reinforced with an internal magnesium frame in the base unit's area. This combination isn't quite as light and premium as the material mix of the X1 Carbon, but it's still sturdier and lighter than a case made of ordinary PC/ABS plastic. This is traditionally used in the ThinkPad L budget series.
Accordingly, we were surprised when the Lenovo ThinkPad T15p arrived for our in-depth review. The ThinkPad laptop is completely made of PC/ABS plastic, like the much cheaper ThinkPad L series. The ThinkPad T15p Gen 1 isn't cheap otherwise: The hexa-core CPU and the GeForce GTX GPU are joined by a very bright 4K UHD display.
At least there's also the internal magnesium frame, so that stability is still provided. Unfortunately, however, the feel suffers under the simple plastic - especially on the underside, which is made of roughened plastic. Naturally, one can argue: More than this is unnecessary for a device that primarily sits on a desk. But we're used to seeing higher quality materials in Lenovo's ThinkPad T series.