Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 review: late to the game

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The ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 connected a array outside.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2

MSRP $2,680.00

“The Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 has go little modern than it first appeared.”


  • Solid build quality
  • Good productivity performance
  • Relatively bladed and light
  • Good keyboard
  • Attractive aesthetic
  • Beautiful OLED display
  • Lots of ports


  • Slippery thenar rest
  • Quirky touchpad
  • Slow productivity performance
  • Below-average artillery life
  • Display is only 60Hz

Lenovo shook up nan ThinkPad lineup pinch nan ThinkPad Z16, a much modern return connected nan venerable classic. When nan first procreation arrived, I recovered it to beryllium a awesome caller summation to nan family, offering modern styling to spell pinch nan accustomed ThinkPad value and toughness.

The 2nd procreation is now here, and it updates nan CPU and GPU while keeping everything other nan same. IT departments will for illustration it, but it’s not rather arsenic overmuch of a standout laptop compared to nan wide scope of 16-inch competitors successful precocious 2023.

Specs and configurations

  Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2
Dimensions 13.95 x 9.35 x 0.62 inches
Weight 3.99 pounds
Processor AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 7640HS
AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 7840HS
AMD Ryzen 9 Pro  7940HS
Graphics AMD Radeon Graphics
AMD Radeon RX 6550M
Display 16.0-inch 16:10 WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) IPS, 60Hz
16.0-inch 16:10 WQUXGA (3,840 x 2,400) OLED, 60Hz
Storage 512GB
Touch No
Ports 2 x USB-C USB4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD paper reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
Webcam 1080p pinch infrared camera for Windows 11 facial recognition
Operating system Windows 11
Battery 72 watt-hours

As usual, Lenovo offers a slew of configuration options for nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2, and its value changes regularly. As this reappraisal is being written, nan entry-level instrumentality costs $1,588 for an AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 7640HS CPU, 16GB of RAM, astatine 512GB SSD, a 16.0-inch WUXGA IPS display, and integrated AMD Radeon graphics. The astir you’ll walk is $3,210 for a Ryzen 9 Pro 7940HS, 64GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, a 16.0-inch WUXGA OLED display, and an AMD Radeon RX 6550M GPU. My reappraisal portion is priced astatine $2,680 pinch nan aforesaid high-end components isolated from for a 1TB SSD.

That makes nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 a distinctly premium laptop and rather costly erstwhile afloat configured. The Dell XPS 15 is arsenic as expensive, though for astir $3,200, you get a faster CPU and GPU pinch Dell’s machine.

The aforesaid modern return connected nan ThinkPad design

The broadside floor plan of nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 connected a array outside.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 takes connected nan aforesaid creation arsenic its predecessor, which introduced a much modern look to nan ThinkPad lineup. It’s sleeker than nan Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon pinch its much old-school aesthetic, and alternatively opts for a little angular and much elegant look that’s reminiscent of nan Apple MacBook Pro. The lid is acheronian grey and nan chassis edges are chrome, while nan thenar remainder and keyboard clasp nan lineup’s iconic black-on-black colour scheme. It’s still recognizable arsenic a ThinkPad, but I find it rather a spot much attractive.

The show bezels are slim, giving nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 a modern appearance. Lenovo utilized its reverse notch to fresh successful nan 1080p webcam and infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition. I find that a much reasonable attack than Apple’s show notch, and there’s besides thing to grip erstwhile opening nan lid – which tin beryllium done pinch 1 manus acknowledgment to nan soft hinge that holds nan show firmly successful place.

The aluminum chassis and lid are rigid and subjected to military-grade tests for robustness. The MacBook Pro still feels much solid, but cipher tin kick astir nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2’s build quality. The ThinkPad is bladed astatine 0.62 inches and ray astatine 3.99 pounds, some fantabulous numbers for a 16-inch laptop.

The keyboard is very ThinkPad-like pinch its sculpted keycaps boasting important travel. I recovered nan switches lighter than connected immoderate ThinkPads, which I appreciated. I don’t for illustration stiff keyboards. The keycap size and spacing are some excellent, and dissimilar connected immoderate different ThinkPads, nan Ctrl and Fn keys aren’t reversed. That, too, makes amended consciousness to me.

The keyboard platform of nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The haptic touchpad was smaller than connected nan MacBook Pro 16, pinch much abstraction supra nan keyboard, and I recovered it somewhat little comfortable to use. The ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2’s touchpad would sometimes clasp onto virtual clicks excessively long, causing maine to inadvertently move nan rodent cursor, whereas Apple’s type is much precise. Perhaps that’s thing Lenovo tin hole pinch a firmware update. If you for illustration Lenovo’s TrackPoint nubbin, you’ll find it successful nan mediate of nan keyboard. It useful arsenic good arsenic always.

One title I had while utilizing nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 to type this reappraisal transcript was that nan thenar remainder was ridiculously smooth. My wrists slid each complete while I was typing, and I had to make a conscious effort to support my fingers positioned connected nan keys. It slowed maine down, and I can’t retrieve different laptop wherever I had nan aforesaid complaint.

Connectivity is good, pinch some modern and bequest ports. I would person preferred a full-size SD Card reader, and there’s nary Thunderbolt 4 because of nan AMD chipset. Wireless connectivity is up to date.

In summation to facial recognition, you tin usage nan fingerprint scholar connected nan keyboard to log successful without a password. Both options were accelerated and reliable. The ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 retains nan accustomed ThinkPad information features specified arsenic a match-on-chip sensor successful nan fingerprint scholar and a self-healing BIOS that tin retrieve nan instrumentality successful nan lawsuit of a malicious attack. The ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 offers an AMD Ryzen Pro processor that tin plug into endeavor information and guidance systems.

A small faster, a batch little long-lasting

The lid of nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 uses AMD Ryzen Pro 7040 CPUs, which are aimed astatine organizations that tin utilize their enhanced information and manageability features. In position of performance, they’re adjacent to their non-Pro siblings, and I reviewed nan ThinkPad pinch nan Ryzen 9 Pro 7940HS. That’s an 8-core/16-thread CPU moving astatine up to 5.2GHz and drafting betwixt 35 watts and 54 watts. It should compete astir straight pinch Intel’s 45-watt Core processors. My reappraisal portion besides included nan entry-level AMD Radeon RX 6550M discrete GPU.

In our suite of capacity tests, nan ThinkPad’s capacity was mixed. It scored very debased successful Geekbench 5, good beneath nan Ryzen 9 7940HS successful nan Acer Swift X 16 and nan Core i7-13700H and Core i9-13900H. It managed a stronger people successful our Handbrake trial that encodes a 420MB video arsenic H.265, arsenic good arsenic successful nan Cinebench R23 benchmark. Lenovo integrates its capacity guidance functionality into nan Windows capacity slider, and I saw minimal effect erstwhile switching to capacity mode. The fans did get a spot louder, but nan capacity was almost nan same. The chassis and keyboard ne'er sewage much than lukewarm during benchmarking.

The ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 wasn’t arsenic speedy arsenic nan comparison group successful nan PugetBench Premiere Pro benchmark, which runs successful a unrecorded type of Adobe’s Premiere Pro and uses discrete GPUs to velocity up various tasks. That’s apt down to nan Radeon RX 6550M GPU, which was slower than nan Nvidia GeForce RTX GPUs. According to nan 3DMark Time Spy test, nan RX 6550M falls successful nan mediate betwixt Intel integrated Iris Xe graphics and nan entry-level RTX 4050.

These results make nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 a accelerated capable instrumentality to grip demanding productivity tasks, but not accelerated capable for thing much than minimal productivity workflows. If you’re a creator, you’ll want to see a 16-inch laptop pinch a faster operation of CPU and GPU. Gamers who want to tally modern titles will besides request to look elsewhere.

Cinebench R23
Premiere Pro
Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2
(Ryzen 9 PRO 7940HS/RX 6550M)
Bal: 1,144 / 8,241
Perf: 1,362 / 8,064
Bal: 72
Perf: 75
Bal: 1,735 / 14,642
Perf: 1,762 / 15,446
Bal: 377
Perf: 389
Lenovo ThinkPad Z16
(Ryzen 7 PRO 6850H/RX 6500M)
Bal: 1,360 / 8,648
Perf: 1,365 / 8,679
Bal: 88
Perf: 67
Bal: 1,509 / 11,578
Perf: 1,806 / 13,313
Acer Swift X 16
(Ryzen 9 7940HS/RTX 4050)
Bal: 1,840 / 11,741
Perf: 1,893 / 11,681
Bal: 64
Perf: 64
Bal: 1,793 / 16,407
Perf: 1,799 / 16,760
Bal: 567
Perf: 568
HP Envy 16 (2023)
(Core i9-13900H/RTX 4060)
Bal: 1,997 / 12,742
Perf: 1,992 / 12,645
Bal: 73
Perf: 75
Bal: 1,944 / 15,596
Perf: 1,954 / 15,422
Bal: 544
Perf: 608
Dell XPS 15 (9530)
(Core i7-13700H/RTX 4070)
Bal: 1,787 / 11,978
Perf: 1,830 / 11,769
Bal: 79
Perf: 76
Bal: 1,865 / 13,386
Perf: 1,868 / 13,927
Apple MacBook Pro 14
(M3 Max)
N/A Bal: 53
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,881 / 22,028
Perf: 1,883 / 23,417
Bal: 889
Perf: N/A

I reviewed nan first-gen ThinkPad Z16 pinch nan previous-generation AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 6850H CPU and a low-power 1,920 x 1,200 IPS non-touch display, and it achieved fantabulous artillery life astatine 12 hours successful our web-browsing trial and 23 hours successful our video-looping test. I didn’t expect nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 pinch nan Ryzen 9 Pro 7940HS and a 4K+ OLED show to past arsenic long, but nan results were worse than I expected.

The ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 managed conscionable six hours successful nan web-browsing trial and 8 hours successful nan video-looping test. That’s astir half nan artillery life pinch nan aforesaid 72 watt-hour battery. Unlike nan erstwhile model, I wasn’t capable to get overmuch past luncheon utilizing nan laptop for my emblematic productivity work. Most users will request to transportation nan ample powerfulness ceramic astir pinch them, which negatively impacts nan laptop’s portability. The erstwhile exemplary was competitory pinch nan class-leader MacBook Pro that lasts 18 hours successful our benchmarks, but nan caller type is good beneath it.

An OLED show that’s down nan curve

The surface of nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

I reviewed nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 pinch its high-end show option, a 16.0-inch 16:10 4K+ (3,840 x 2,400) OLED show moving astatine 60Hz. Those are bully specs isolated from for 1 thing: galore OLED displays are moving astatine 90Hz aliases 120Hz, putting nan ThinkPad’s sheet a measurement behind. It was beautiful retired of nan box, pinch plentifulness of brightness, color, and inky blacks, but if you announcement differences successful refresh rates, past it won’t supply arsenic soft of an acquisition successful Windows 11.

According to my colorimeter, nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2’s show offers nan accustomed high-quality OLED image. Colors were wide astatine 100% of sRGB, 97% of AdobeRGB, and 100% of DCI-P3, and they were highly meticulous astatine a DeltaE of 0.72 (less than 1.0 is indistinguishable to nan quality eye). The brightness was very bully astatine 397, good supra our period of 300 nits, but not arsenic agleam arsenic Apple’s Mini-LED displays connected MacBook Pros. And of course, nan opposition was incredibly precocious pinch cleanable blacks.

All of that combines to make for a show that anyone will love, including media consumers and creators. The show provided fantabulous precocious move scope (HDR) via Dolby Vision, which is supported by streaming services for illustration Netflix and makes for a sublime viewing experience. As mentioned, nan only sound against nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2’s show is its mundane 60Hz refresh rate.

The audio is provided by 2 upward-firing speakers flanking nan keyboard, and it was conscionable OK. The measurement was large capable to capable my mini location office, but location was sizeable distortion astatine afloat volume. Mids and highs were clear, but location was amazingly small bass. I’ve travel to expect much connected larger laptops, pinch nan Dell XPS 15 and nan MacBook Pro providing overmuch amended audio quality.

A caller summation to nan ThinkPad lineup that doesn’t radiance rather arsenic bright

Maybe it was nan preamble of truthful galore different 16-inch laptops successful 2023, but I wasn’t arsenic impressed pinch nan ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 arsenic I was pinch nan original model. Its aesthetic, while very nice, didn’t impressment maine arsenic much, its slippery thenar remainder bugged me, and its artillery life wasn’t very good. Even its capacity was mediate of nan pack, particularly erstwhile spending this benignant of money.

That’s not to opportunity it’s not a coagulated action for anyone different than creators. In particular, larger companies that usage analyzable information and guidance systems will for illustration it a lot. This clip around, though, my proposal is only lukewarm alternatively than reddish basking arsenic it was nan first time.

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