- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U 6-core
- Graphics card: Integrated AMD Radeon
- Memory: 16 GB
- Battery life according to tests: 8.3 h
- Storage: 256 GB or 512 GB SSD
- Screen: IPS 1080p
- Weight: 1.3 kg
Lenovo does not allow AMD Ryzen processors to be installed on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. However, these offer general performance and in particular graphics superior to those of equivalent tenth generation Intel Core processors. The closest to that is the AMD version of the Lenovo ThinkPad T14s. It weighs 1.3 kg, 200 g more than the X1 Carbon, and its battery lasted just over 8 hours (compared to 12). But the T14s takes advantage of the same great keyboard and overall design of the X1 Carbon, is priced similarly, and AMD processors are currently more suitable if you need the extra power or want to play a bit. Make sure you’re buying a 16GB version: Like other ThinkPad T series this year, the T14s doesn’t have a RAM slot.
Lenovo ThinkPad T490
- Processor: Intel Core i5-10210U 4-core
- Graphics card: Intel HD 620
- Memory: 8 GB
- Battery life according to tests: 8.75 h
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- Screen: IPS 1080p
- Weight: 1.5 kg
Our previous favorite, the Lenovo ThinkPad T490, is still available as of this writing. Heavier than the X1 Carbon by almost 500 grams, it features a Micro-SD card reader, a standard Ethernet port, Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a RAM slot that the user can occupy for updates (the 8 or 16 GB of the base are soldered to the motherboard). The lightweight of the X1 Carbon makes it overall more pleasant to carry and use, but the T490 is still a great choice if you want a product that is a bit lighter than the L14 without giving up the ability to add memory.
Those we are waiting for
HP announced its EliteBook 845 G7 in May 2020, but we haven’t been able to test it yet. Like the ProBook 445 G7, it is based on an AMD Ryzen configuration, it allows you to add RAM and it meets all of our other criteria for a good business laptop. With a weight of around 1.4 kg (for the version without a touchscreen) and theoretically superior performance, it could establish itself as an alternative to the Lenovo ThinkPad L14 and Dell Latitude 5410, depending on its price and its endurance. We will test it as soon as possible.
For our last round of testing, we avoided laptops with older processors, such as the eighth-gen Intel Cores and AMD Ryzen 3000 series. The discarded Intel processors work fine, but they are old and these models could be out of stock quickly. The Ryzen 3000s we tested turned out to be less capable and less durable than the Ryzen 4000 series and eighth or tenth gen Cores. Better to avoid them.
The MacBook Pro 13 and 15 inch Apple is designed for professionals; after all, “pro” is written on it! We have a MacBook buyer’s guide if you prefer macOS over Windows, but none of these models meet our criteria for scalability and maintenance. Apple laptops are difficult to repair and often impossible to upgrade. They only have a handful of connection ports, all of them identical, requiring you to purchase a series of adapters. MacBook Pros are light, they have fantastic screens, nice keyboards, and trackpads, and Apple’s customer service is generally responsive and helpful, but these computers just don’t meet the requirements of this guide.
We have not tested the Lenovo ThinkPad T14 series, nor the Intel version of the ThinkPad T14s. For years, the T-series has brought together our favorite models for this guide: they were more scalable and cheaper than the X1 Carbon, while still retaining high-end benefits like Thunderbolt 3 ports. But the T14 and T14s have memory. lively welded, impossible to update, they are significantly heavier than the X1 Carbon and are not much more affordable when equipped with the same configuration. They both have a Micro-SD reader and the T14 has an Ethernet port (without the need for an adapter), two advantages over the X1 Carbon, but this one is still more convincing overall.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7, our previous high-end pick, is still on the market. Screen, performance, ports, and endurance are all similar to the Gen 8 version; it lacks Wi-Fi 6 and some models still come with eighth-generation Intel processors, but they are otherwise very similar. If you find it for a much lower price than the Gen 8 version, buy it; but the price is generally close to identical configuration.
The Lenovo ThinkPad E14 is an entry-level model, with two RAM slots for well under $ 1,000. With just over seven hours of endurance, the battery is comparable to that of the HP ProBook 445 G7; but the ThinkPad E14 weighs around 100g more, it’s not much cheaper and HP’s AMD Ryzen processors outperform the Intel equivalents that power this Lenovo.
The Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 AMD was not yet available in our testing, but the ProBook 445 G7 is overall better. The ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 AMD uses the same AMD Ryzen processors, it also weighs 1.6 kg and it meets our criteria. It also has the advantage of the ThinkPad keyboard and trackpad. But the 445 G7 has an additional USB-A port and SD card reader, plus two RAM slots instead of one, for a probably more affordable price.
We did not test the HP ProBook 440 G7, which is essentially identical to the 445 G7 (dimensions, weight, and connections), but uses 10th generation Intel processors instead of AMD Ryzen: the 445 G7 performs better. and cheaper.
We also didn’t test the HP 340S G7, the brand’s professional entry-level model. Without being noticeably cheaper than the 445 G7, the 340S G7 has fewer ports, a smaller battery, and a less rugged plastic shell than we’d expect from a work tool. So prefer the 445 G7.
We skipped several models in the Dell Vostro line, including the Vostro 14 3490, Vostro 14 5401, and Vostro 14 5490. These entry-level are no less expensive than the ProBook 445 G7, but they have less efficient Intel processors and their screens are a priori of lower quality.
We were unable to test the Dell Latitude 3410, which is comparable to the ThinkPad L14 in size, weight, and features, and which meets our criteria for a business laptop. Historically, we’ve always preferred ThinkPad keyboards, and Dell’s configuration system makes the backlight and fingerprint reader harder to find and more expensive than Lenovo’s. But if you usually prefer Latitude over ThinkPads, consider this model over the L14.
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