The Lenovo X395 Thinkpad Is Your New Workhorse

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People these days love to throw around the phrase “It is what it is.” In some circles, this phrase signifies a weary defeatism, as if to say nothing could be done about a certain situation. In other instances, it adds a sense of complacency that cannot be overcome, as if saying, “I know the service here is terrible, but it is what it is.” It’s an updated colloquialism of “You get what you paid for” and “It could be worse.” But in the case of the Lenovo 13.3" ThinkPad X395 laptop, it has a more positive connotation—you get exactly what you expect.

Lenovo 13.3" ThinkPad X395 Laptop
Lenovo 13.3" ThinkPad X395 Laptop

That’s assuming you expected a sturdy, reliable, and efficient ultraportable laptop to handle all of your business needs. If that’s the case, then this laptop “is what it is,” and a little more.

It’s hard to differentiate a laptop in such a crowded field with which to contend. There are literally thousands of choices, in hundreds of price ranges and, undoubtedly, some of those contenders are better value for the money, while others aren’t even close. Lenovo, a respected PC manufacturer that has been playing in this field for generations, knows what to offer. But to differentiate itself from the pack, Lenovo is offering a tableau of different options that may appeal to some shoppers.

One element in this tableau is a non-Intel®-based processor. In the version we reviewed, the laptop comes equipped with a 2.3 GHz AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 3700U quad core CPU. If you’re looking for the equivalent, it competes with the Intel® Core™ i7-8565u Whiskey Lake™ processor and features four Zen+ cores (8 threads) clocked at 2.3 – 4 GHz with Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics with 10 CUs (640 Shaders) clocked at up to 1400 MHz. It was built for thin mid-range laptops and boosts speed up to 8% more than the previous 2700U processors in the same family. It’s also worth noting that you want the PRO level processors, which add security features like full memory encryption over the non-PRO chipset.

The differences in architecture of this chip also allow for higher clock rates at lower power consumption, resulting in a boost in battery life, among other things. Now, whether or not you prefer AMD chipsets over Intel® Core™ chipsets is largely a matter of preference, and although not as fundamentally different as whether you are a Mac or a PC user, the speed and efficiency of AMD processors have greatly improved recently. And you pay a little less of a premium for AMD—right about the industry average for a lower-end Intel® ultraportable. The equivalent Dell XPS 13.3 9380 has a similar configuration with a 1.8 GHz Intel®™ Core i7-8565 Quad-Core processor (but a better screen, which we’ll get to in a minute) for noticeably more.

Another plus of this extremely efficient laptop is its 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Opal2 SSD. Two things about this storage drive you should know: 1) Because it is a PCIe NVMe drive, it’s fast, and 2) It’s OPAL compliant, which means you can benefit from hardware-level encryption, which is much more reliable and faster than software encryption, placing this laptop squarely in the field of the business professional.

The laptop also sports an AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 GPU which, in comparison, sits between the GeForce 940MX / Radeon Pro 450 and GeForce MX150 / Radeon Pro 555. This is not a gaming computer, but it can handle titles like Overwatch (on low settings) and League of Legends (on medium settings). For the largely business-oriented crowd that picks this up, high-end graphics shouldn’t be much of a consideration.

That is good, because the screen resolution is disappointing. I’m surprised that these days a 1080p screen seems substandard but, in the crowded field of business laptops, there are many other options from other manufacturers with screen resolutions that start at much higher than 1920 x 1080. It is a multitouch screen, which does offset some of that disappointment, and the brightness and luminosity of the screen (300 cd/m2) is definitely capable of premier-level visuals. But I can only imagine what a 3840 x 2160 screen would have done (like the aforementioned Dell XPS 13).

Aesthetically, this laptop is a business professional’s dream. With dimensions (when closed) of 12.28 x 8.55 x 0.67" and a weight of just 2.91 lb (FHD Touch), it is light on the shoulders and super slim. The shell is a matte black, which immediately turns it into a fingerprint magnet, and I found myself slightly perturbed by this, but careful handling and attention to the cover with a dry cloth took care of that. The hinge was solid with little to no flex (although I only had this for a week), and one-handed carrying was a breeze.

It comes with a standard array of ports, including one USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Always On), one USB 3.1 Gen 2, two USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 with support for DisplayPort and Power Delivery, along with HDMI 2.0, and a microSD card slot (oddly enough, located on the back end of the laptop, and not on the sides with the rest of the ports). The HDMI 2.0 is also a plus, since the laptop can be hooked to a large exterior display and transmit true 4K at 60 fps (older HDMI 1.4 ports could only do 4K at 30 fps), again placing this laptop squarely in the business professional camp.

Battery life was decent on the model we tested. Lenovo claims 14.5 hours of battery life but, as you know, battery life is dependent on a large number of factors. Running a video stream test, we got within half an hour of the claim, with the Lenovo x395 powering down after 13 hours of constant viewing. When surfing the Web or working in Microsoft Office, we were surprised that we saw close to 14 hours of juice in the battery. The X395 is also configured with a fast-charge option, called Rapid Charge, which gives you back 80% of the power with just an hour of being plugged in, perfect for small layovers at the airport.

The conclusion quickly becomes apparent. It is what it is. The X395 wants to be your laptop replacement and doesn’t try to over-impress you with a lot of bells and whistles. It has increased security, a small form factor, and a good screen on its side. Can AMD match the power of Intel® processors? Maybe, maybe not, but at the lower price, the temptation to replace your fleet of laptops is definitely a factor to consider.

What do you think? Have you taken this ultra-light portable out for a spin? Do you have a preference between AMD or Intel® processors? Would you be able to make small sacrifices to power up your workforce? Let us know in the Comments section below, and for even more suggestions for laptops, check out our dedicated laptop page at B&H.com.

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