Lenovo ThinkPad E16 review: A dependable, low-cost laptop to supercharge small business productivity

The E16 is a decidedly unglamorous laptop but its solid keyboard and long battery life make it a great work machine

The Lenovo ThinkPad E16 on the ITPro background
(Image: © Future)

IT Pro Verdict


  • +

    Good value

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    Excellent keyboard

  • +

    Space for a second SSD

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    Outstanding battery life


  • -

    Drab FullHD display

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    Low-rent speakers

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    Pedestrian SSD speeds

Given its name, it should come as no shock that the Lenovo ThinkPad E16 is essentially an enlarged version of the entry-level ThinkPad E14. Like the E14, the E16 is a basic business laptop powered by either Intel or AMD processors and is designed for essential productivity tasks at an affordable price.

While the ThinkPad E14 is now in its fifth generation, the E16 is the first of its type. On reflection, it's surprising it has taken Lenovo this long to decide there is a market for a larger version of its entry-level laptop. Unusually for an entry-level device, the E16 uses a tall 16-inch 16:10 aspect ratio display rather than a more traditional 16:9 panel.

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1: Design

The E16 is unapologetically ThinkPad in design. An all-black, all-aluminum affair (except for the base plate, which is plastic), the E16's design is either classically elegant or overly traditional, depending on your aesthetic predilections. We like our ThinkPads to look like ThinkPads, so the E16 gets a thumbs up. 

Although the E16 may be cheap, it feels as solid as its more expensive brethren. It meets the U.S. Department of Defense's MIL-STD 810H standards for resistance to shock, particle ingress, and general durability. The lid is impressively stiff, rotates back through 180 degrees, and has the traditional ThinkPad lip so you can flip it up with one finger – or rather, you could if the hinge wasn't so tight.

Given that the E16 weighs 1.77Kg and measures up at 356 x 248 x 20mm, it's not going to steal sales from the MacBook Air, but it's not unduly big or heavy for a 16-inch notebook. Our one gripe with the design is that the anodized black finish shows up greasy fingerprints badly. 

The Lenovo ThinkPad E16 on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

The selection of ports should satisfy most users. On the left are two Type-C ports, one 10Gbps and one 5Gbps, supporting PD charging and DP Alt Video, a 5Gbps USB-A port, HDMI 1.4 video output, and a 3.5mm audio jack. On the right is a Gigabit LAN RJ-45 jack, a second 5Gbps  USB-A port, and a Kensington nano security slot.

There's no dedicated charging port, so the petite 65W charger that Lenovo bundles is a Type-C affair. This means you will lose one of those Type-C ports to charging duties. Wireless comms are handled by a MediaTek MT7921 card, which supports 5Ghz Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. Not the latest spec in either case, but the absence of 6Ghz Wi-Fi was not entirely unexpected at this price point.

Removing the base plate from the E16 isn't the easiest operation. Because the chassis is made of stiff aluminum, you need to be brutal to get the initial clips to release. Once inside, you'll find two SSD slots: one free M.2 2280 bay and a populated M.2 2242 slot. 8GB of RAM is soldered to the motherboard, but a free SODIMM slot can take up to another 32GB.

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1: Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

Are ThinkPad keyboards as good as they used to be? We'd say yes, at least in all the important ways. The typing action on the E16 did feel just a little shallow to us despite the 1.5mm travel, but it's snappy, positive, and quiet to the point of silence. The keyboard deck isn't entirely rigid, with a small amount of give discernible in the middle under strong pressure, but it's more solid than any other laptop in this price range we've encountered.

The Lenovo ThinkPad E16's classic ThinkPad keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

Lenovo's hallmark TrackPoint mini-joystick cursor controller is still located between the G, H, and B keys and three large mouse buttons still lurk below the space bar. A smooth 115 x 68mm trackpad sits below them. The trackpad has a well-damped and comfortable click action.

The keyboard has a two-stage white backlight and follows the traditional ThinkPad layout, with dedicated Home and End keys on the top row and Page Up and Page Down keys by the cursor cluster. The cursor buttons are not full-sized, but they are near square, which gets a thumbs-up from me. A full-size numeric keypad sits to the right of the main keyboard. 

As is usual for ThinkPad laptops, the Function and Control keys are in each other's place at the bottom left, but you can swap the actions around in the Lenovo Vantage control panel and user-define the action of the F12 key. There are also dedicated pick-up/hang-up buttons that work with Teams.


The 1080p webcam above the display supports Windows Hello IR facial recognition and has a sliding privacy shutter. It captures colorful images with minimal noise or static, even in lower-light environments. If you prefer a fingerprint scanner for security, Lenovo has you covered with one built into the large circular power button that sits handily out of harm's way above the keyboard deck.

Without Microsoft's Studio Effects, you'll need to use the Lenovo Smart Appearance app to acquire options to blur or replace your background, frame your face, or improve your looks. That last feature can improve your complexion, drop weight, and simultaneously alter the size of your eyes, face, and forehead. The app can also blur the screen if someone comes up behind you, dim it if you look away, or lock the system if you nip off for a coffee or to the toilet.

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1: Display

Our review machine's 16-inch, 16:10 1,920 x 1,200 IPS panel was rather basic. Its maximum brightness was a decent 337cd/m2, which, allied with a matte finish, makes it usable outdoors. The contrast ratio is good, too, at 1375:1, thanks to a usefully low maximum black luminescence of just 0.25cd/m2. After that, things start to go downhill.

The screen lacks color, with gamut volumes of just 56.4% sRGB, 38.9% AdobeRGB, and 40% DCI-P3. With such narrow gamuts, the panel would never prove overly accurate, so it proved, registering a Delta E color variance of 3.75 vs the sRGB profile. That makes the screen look wan and colorless. This is not an issue if you use your E16 predominantly for basic productivity tasks like e-mail or word processing. Still, when it comes to looking at images or video, it's just a bit miserable. As you would expect, there is no support for HDR.

The Lenovo ThinkPad E16 on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

Customers in the USA can choose between the standard FullHD display, FullHD with 100% sRGB, FullHD touch, and 2,560 x 1,600 100% sRGB. It's a shame that none of those options appear available in the UK.

The 2 x 2W speakers are rather thin gruel, too. Not only are they not overly loud, peaking at a low 71.7dB(A) measured against a pink noise source at a 1m distance, but they lack bass and are rather raucous at maximum volume. For video calls, they do just fine, but beyond that, they struggle.

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1: Specs and Performance

Neither the Intel nor AMD E16s use the latest generation silicon, so you will have to forgo the AI-friendly neutral processors that come with the latest Intel Meteor Lake or AMD Hawk Point CPUs and make do with either the Intel Core i5-1335U or AMD Ryzen 5 7530U processor which power most of the ThinkPad E16s on sale in the UK.

My review machine came with the AMD chip, an efficient but still potent 6-core, 12-thread affair using Zen 3 cores with a maximum clock speed of 4.5Ghz. It is supported by AMD's integrated AMD Radeon RX Vega 7 iGPU and 8GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200MHz RAM.

In the ITPro 4K multi-media benchmark, the E16 scored 154 points, while in the PCMark 10 test, it managed 5,642. Those scores underline that the E16 can cruise through day-to-day office tasks without pause or hesitation. No matter how big a spreadsheet you navigate or how many browser tabs you have open, the E16 never hesitates.

Inside the Lenovo ThinkPad E16

(Image credit: Future)

Graphics performance is less impressive, with the Radeon iGPU scoring 11,820 in the GeekBench 6 OpenCL test and just 37fps in the GFXBench Car Chase 1080p Offscreen test. That's slightly lower than the score I'd expect from an Intel Iris Xe G7 iGPU and well behind the new Intel Arc iGPUs and AMD's potent Radeon 780M iGPU.

Even after a full hour under stress with both the CPU and GPU running at 100%, there were no thermal issues or performance drop-offs and the single fan never generated more than a low whisper.

Our review machine performed poorly in the SSD speed tests, recording average sequential read and write speeds of 2,040MB/s and 1,062MB/s, respectively. That may be an issue with our particular unit, as retail units should have a 2280 SSD fitted as standard and a free 2242 slot rather than the other way around, as was the case with my test machine.

Regarding battery life, the E16 hits the ball clean out of the park with a run-down time of just over 14 hours in our standard video loop test using VLC. That's MacBook territory and an exceptional performance for an x86 laptop with a 57Wh battery.

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1: Is it worth it?

Make no mistake; the E16 range is priced very much at the entry level. The AMD machines start at just $756 (£685.99 inc VAT). Given the low asking price the new ThinkPad E16 is a very high-quality piece of kit that looks and feels every bit like a ThinkPad, which is quite an achievement. Thanks to its excellent battery life, quality keyboard, spacious 16:10 display, comprehensive selection of I/O ports, and solid performance, the E16 is hard to beat for general on-the-go office work. The low-rent display and speakers do knock some of the shine off, but given the E16's intended use, they are good enough for the job at hand. 

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 Specification

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Display16-inch 1,920 x 1,200 IPS, 60Hz refresh rate
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 5 7530U
RAM8 GB DDR4-3200MHz
PortsUSB-C 3.2 Gen 2 x 1, USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 x 1, USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 x 2, HDMI 1.4 x 1, RJ-45 Gigabit LAN
3.5mm audio jackYes
Camera1080p webcam with Windows Hello IR facial recognition
Storage512GB SSD
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth v5.2
Dimensions356 x 248 x 20mm
Battery Capacity57Wh
Operating SystemWindows 11 Pro