ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”) Review: A Desktop Replacement Mobile Enough to Put Your Desktop Anywhere

ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”) Review: A Desktop Replacement Mobile Enough to Put Your Desktop Anywhere

ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”)

Design
Features
Value

Summary

The ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”) offers good value as a desktop replacement, especially at discounted prices. The large display, excellent keyboard, array of ports, and support for productivity make it an excellent work companion. The AMD chipset also gives the 16p enough horsepower for some horseplay. This ThinkBook, as configured for review runs $2,129 though it is regularly discounted.

4.2

For those like me who prefer our business computers diminutive, light, and ready to travel at a moment’s notice, the Lenovo ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD appears as a weight that would serve only to slow us down rather than enhance our productivity.  This device requires a new perspective. Rather than thinking about it as a mobile companion, think about it as a desktop replacement that can place a desktop anywhere.

ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”) with graphics app.

What we like

The ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 is a fast, powerful, and capable device with a large display and a wide, roomy keyboard. Its solid build will serve on the road, but this computer excels when it is properly planted with some elbow room to work or play. This is not the computer I want in coach on a long-haul flight, but it is the computer I want for a days-long hoteling at a client site or shared workspace.

The 16p Gen 2 doesn’t support touch. It doesn’t need it. This is not a computer you will flip into a tablet to take notes on. This is a computer that is going to power video or photo editing, massive presentations, and just about anything else you like. If you need a pen, get a tablet like the One by Wacom to complement the excellent keyboard and trackpad.

As noted in previous PC reviews, Serious Insights won’t be contributing yet another set of lengthy benchmarks that don’t really mean anything anymore in the fast-paced CPU market. If the computer will do what needs doing, it is powerful enough. Our advice has always been to buy the most computer you can afford: most RAM, faster CPU, the more storage the better—that is the only way to buy a computer that will last through at least a few cycles.

If you are looking for a desktop replacement that can also be mobile when needed, consider the Maxed-out version of the 16p Gen 2 and a 34-inch USB-C compatible monitor. That’s a combination that will keep owners productive for a few years to come.

I also like that this is as open a computer as I have seen, with several slotted components and the ability to user upgrade memory.

Design

A big, roomy design built around a mostly aluminum, two-tone case. Solid with little flex. Vents on the sides along with dual fans keep the air flowing over the processors and components. 

Looks like the definition of a professional laptop.

The display

The 16-inch 16:10, WQXGA, 2560 x 1600 pixel, 189 PPI display with 400 nits of brightness does a brilliant job at maximizing real estate in the bounds of its very tight bezels.  Bright enough for using outdoors out of direct sunlight. 

This display includes X-Rite Pantone color calibration, which makes it ideal for those working with color-sensitive graphics for branding and illustration. The display also supports Dolby Vision for HDR content. The matt display keeps reflections to a minimum.

The keyboard

The ThinkBook 16p Gen 2’s cousin, the X1 Carbon has a better keyboard, but not by much—and this keyboard gets kudos for abandoning the pointing stick, thus simplifying the navigation experience. Very good backlighting, along with a full 10-key pad makes this an ideal companion for number crunchers. Touch typists will need to get used to the 10-key pad especially when reaching for keys with the right hand.

In a nod to our modern world, the function keys include video conferencing pick-up and hang-up keys, along with dedicated help. An airplane mode key sits at the ready for flights.

The power button above the keyboard integrates finder print recognition for one-touch sign-in, though the Hello camera will likely get to your first as the laptop powers up on lid open.

The glass touchpad sits off to the side because of the 10-key pad. The trackpad is responsive and good-sized, though I still migrate to a mouse as quickly as I can.

The processors

The AMD Ryzen 7 5800H delivers enough power for general business use, with plenty left over for a bit of gaming. Game sites list plenty of compatible offers that will render well on the AMD chip and accompanying NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX™ 3060 with Max-Q 6GB. 

The 16p will take up to 32GB of RAM. The review unit included 16GB which was adequate for general office work and light gaming. Heavier gaming users, video editors, or graphics designers may want to pop of the back and install another bank of DDR4 3200MHz RAM.

The ports

The ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 sports 2 USB-C Gen 2 with DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Deliver 3.0, and 2 USB-A Gen 2 (1 always one for charging), 3.5mm Combo Jack, and a full-sized SD reader. Along the back of the unit in line with the USB-A ports is a proprietary charging port. No Ethernet. No HDMI. 

As monitors increasingly support direct USB-C, the lack of HDMI now verges on legacy concerns, not a real issue in day-to-day use. I don’t see my fellow reviewers bemoaning the elimination of VGA support. Ethernet is an easy fix via a variety of single or multi-purpose dongles, many of which also include HDMI support. Every laptop owner should own a small, multi-purpose USB-C hub of some sort.

ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 Ports

1 Headphone and microphone 3.5mm combo
2 SD card reader
3 2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
4 Kensington lock slot
5 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
6 Power-in

Serious Insights Reviewed USB-C Hubs

OWC Thunderbolt Hub Review: The Answer to Thunderbolt 4 Connectivity on Macs, PCs, and Tablets

Satechi Aluminum Stand and Hub Review: The Perfect Desktop and Mobile iPad Pro Companion

Kingston Nucleum USB-C Hub Review: 7 Ports That Elegantly Transform Port-Starved Devices

Connectivity

There are no explicit connection ports on the ThinkBook 16p for connectivity. USB-C and A serve as the interface to hubs or dongles. Wireless support is modern and flawless with 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.2. I had no issue connecting to Wi-Fi or to Bluetooth headphones.

Webcam

The Microsoft Hello compatible webcam focuses in at 720p HD. It’s not the best camera, but it’s probably better than most people on your next call unless they invested in an external camera. A built-in slider blocks the lens for privacy.

Security

The Hello webcam and the fingerprint sensor are joined by a TPM 2.0 module and a Kensington security slot.

Sound

Sound arrives via a dual downward-firing speaker configuration from Harman which delivers solid, immersive sound streaming when sitting in from of the monitor. For shared viewing, the speakers will fill a small room, but not with the same experience as sitting before the display, which is where the sound focuses best. 

Dual microphones pick up sound for calls and recording.

Battery

The 71Wh battery runs the 16P all day. The one argument for the huge power supply is rapid charging, with 50% power achieved in about 30 minutes.

Accessories

There isn’t a lot in the box beyond the PC and the power supply, which is a good thing.

Environmental

Lenovo does a decent job with its mostly cardboard packaging, though replacing the internal box foam shipping supports for cardboard, as it has done with other models, would be a plus.

What could be improved

Many reviewers chide manufacturers for abandoning legacy ports, and when they do include them, they are told they choose the wrong ones or didn’t include enough. I think reviewers need to get over the port discussion, even though such feedback recently pushed Apple back into legacy ports on its MacBook Pro line. USB-C multiport hubs and adapters are plentiful and cheap, and new hardware is moving toward USB-C for everything, including video, even if they also support older connections. We went through the same issues with VGA and DisplayPort.

ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”) video conferencing.

The biggest issue with the 16p Gen 2 functionality isn’t the ports, it’s the AMD CPU, and not as a CPU, but as a standard-bearer: AMD doesn’t support Thunderbolt so additional ports can’t leverage Thunderbolt’s enhanced speed and connectivity. A minor issue, but for those moving to this device from a device that does support Thunderbolt. Some owners may some of their peripherals that won’t work as well.

The biggest weight on this computer is quite literarily a weight: its massive 230W power supply. Now, with gaming in mind, this is the same power supply that accompanies Lenovo’s Legion line. Part of the heft is also the large battery under the hood. But the size of the 16p, along with the massive power supply, reinforces its propensity to stay in place that to be quickly shuffled off in a bag, though I am sure there are those who do this. 

The power supply also forces a proprietary slot on the read of the device to support fast charging. Tradeoffs.

On the good side, if you have a smaller USB-C charger, the 16p will charge on one of those as well, just not as fast.

Finally, a device of this size, build, price and purpose should include a 1080p camera module to appeal to the reality of days filled with video conferences. 

ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”): The Bottom Line

The ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 isn’t perfect, but for many, it may be the right fit between buying a desktop that can’t be easily moved, and a notebook computer that runs all day. This is a serious computer made for serious work, and it isn’t a poor gaming companion when the need arises (though it is very much not a gamer’s machine). The few compromises that Lenovo makes aren’t deal-breakers. At the sometimes highly discounted prices this regularly $2,129 computer is almost a bargain.


Lenovo provided the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”) for review. Images courtesy of Lenovo.

Serious Insights is not a Lenovo affiliate and no payment was made for this review and no payment will be made for any clicks to the Lenovo site. Serious Insights is an Amazon Affiliate and may be paid for clicks to Amazon.

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Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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