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ThinkPad L14 Gen 4: AMD Ryzen 7030 in cheaper laptops is annoying

ThinkPad L14 Gen 4: AMD Ryzen 7030 in cheaper laptops is annoying
ThinkPad L14 Gen 4: AMD Ryzen 7030 in cheaper laptops is annoying
The Lenovo ThinkPad L14 Gen 4 AMD is an example for many recent laptops with AMD CPUs that targets a cheaper price range: Instead of the newest CPUs, customers get served old technology with a new name. This technological stagnation is annoying us and confusing for customers.

Recycling is a good thing. Using old stuff to make something new is usually more sustainable than the alternative. We do not like it as much though when it is about laptop processors. Especially if two year old CPUs are being used in new hardware.

The renaming of old hardware, despite newer technology already being available, is nothing new. Nvidia has often relabeled old GPUs and Intel's problems with transitioning to the 10 nm technology, which led to multiple generations of Skylake refresh CPUs, are also well known.

AMD managed to drive this strategy to the max with their newest laptop CPUs. "Ryzen 7000" has become a meaningless name, as there are five different variations under this label: Mendocino (Zen 2/Ryzen 7020), Barcelo Refresh (Zen 3/Ryzen 7030), Rembrandt Refresh (Zen 3+/Ryzen 7035), Phoenix (Zen 4/Ryzen 7040) and Dragon Range (Zen 4/Ryzen 7045).

Only Phoenix and Dragon Range are new, all other CPUs are based on older chips. This is confusing for customers and potentially very disappointing for them. If you buy a Ryzen 7000 laptop, you may expect the newest and best technology from AMD.

An example for this is the Lenovo ThinkPad L14 Gen 4 AMD, which we have recently reviewed. This budget laptop contains Ryzen 7030U and thus basically the same CPUs as the predecessor ThinkPad L14 Gen 3 AMD (available from Amazon for $969), except for the new name. Worse, it is pretty much the same chip as the even older ThinkPad L14 Gen 2 AMD. This means that for this affordable laptop series, there has been a technological stagnation for the last few years. DDR5. USB4, PCIe 4.0, all of these technologies are not part of Ryzen 7030. It is obsolete hardware, but customers are told by the Ryzen 7000 name that it is new hardware.

It would have been much better if AMD only called Phoenix and Dragon Range "Ryzen 7000". And if AMD simply retired Ryzen 5000. Instead, AMD could have simply refreshed Ryzen 6000 only (keeping the Ryzen 6000 name). This way, the budget models would have at least moved on from the Ryzen 5000 technology.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 08 > ThinkPad L14 Gen 4: AMD Ryzen 7030 in cheaper laptops is annoying
Benjamin Herzig, 2023-08-13 (Update: 2023-08-13)