Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 review

Lenovo is clearly embracing the idea of a 16-inch form factor inside of its very tight business ThinkPad family. We are too since it proved to be quite well received by the public. Thanks to the shrinking of screen bezels, the 16-inch display casually sneaks inside a 15.6-inch shell.

But the ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 is not only coming with a panel of this size but also has a 16:10 aspect ratio, which puts it in the front foot of productivity notebooks. Yep, developers and traders will be happier than ever.

In addition, you can explore the huge improvements brought by Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake processor family. You get a choice of the U and P-series, both of which offer pretty efficient CPUs, but at different base TDPs – 15W and 28W, respectively. A dedicated GPU is also available.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and retain some of the surprises for the actual review, which you’re about to read.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/lenovo-thinkpad-t16-gen-1-intel/

Contents


Specs Sheet

Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 review - Specs

  • BOE NE160QDM-N63
  • Color accuracy  1.5  0.9
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 2000GB SSD
  • M.2 Slot
  • 1x 2280 M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4  See photo
  • RAM
  • up to 48GB
  • OS
  • Windows 10 Pro, Windows 11 Pro, Windows 11 Home
  • Battery
  • 86Wh, 52.5Wh
  • Body material
  • Plastic / Polycarbonate, Aluminum, Carbon, Glass Fiber
  • Dimensions
  • 361.9 x 255.5 x 20.5 - 21.1 mm (14.25" x 10.06" x 0.81")
  • Weight
  • 1.65 kg (3.6 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), Sleep and Charge
  • 2x USB Type-C
  • 4.0, Thunderbolt 4, Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • 2.0
  • Ethernet LAN
  • 10, 100, 1000 Mbit/s
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.2
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5mm Combo Jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera
  • HD / FHD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone
  • Dual Array Microphone, far-field, Dolby Voice
  • Speakers
  • 2x 2W Stereo Speakers, Dolby Audio
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot
  • Kensington Nano Lock

All Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 (Intel) configurations

#CommissionsEarned

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, we found a 135W charging adapter and some paper manuals.


Design and construction

See, even though the laptop is expected to be a bit heavier due to its screen size, this is totally not the case. Lenovo managed to make it stop the scales at 1.65 kg (1.68 kg of the dGPU model). Its thickness is also in check at 20.5mm for the integrated graphics model, and 21.1mm for the one with a dedicated GPU.

In addition to that, the laptop sports a very strong body and lid, which is pretty resistant to flex. There is some sort of a soft-to-the-touch treatment on the lid, while the base is a bit rougher. Interestingly, Lenovo’s official documentation states that the “Storm grey” laptop comes with an aluminum top and plastic bottom panel, while the “Thunder black” features Glass fiber and carbon fiber composite for the top, and again plastic for the bottom. This is totally opposite to the “Magnesium” print on the bottom of the device we have.

Nevertheless, It’s good to know that you can open the lid with a single hand. The bezels around the matte IPS panel are pretty thin, with the top one featuring a 720p (or an optional 1080p) Web camera with a privacy shutter, and an optional IR face recognition scanner.

Moving to the base, let’s start with the front-firing stereo speaker setup. It is followed by the power button, which features a fingerprint reader as an option. Then, there is the fantastic backlit, spill-resistant keyboard. It has long key travel, clicky feedback, and a full-size NumPad section.

What is more impressive this year, is that the laptop now comes with a very good touchpad. Its Mylar surface is now even more similar to glass, while the physical buttons above it work well with the TrackPoint.

On the bottom panel, you will be able to see only the ventilation grills. The heat exhaust, on the other hand, is placed on the right side of the laptop.


Ports

On the left side of the machine, there is a LAN port, two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, followed by an HDMI connector, a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, and an Audio jack. Switch sides, and you’ll see a Kensington security slot, another USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, and a Smart Card reader. Lastly, the backside houses the SIM card tray.


Disassembly, upgrade options, and maintenance

To access this laptop’s internals, you need to undo 8 captive Phillips-head screws. Then, pry the bottom panel with a plastic tool, and lift it away from the chassis.

Inside, we find an 86Wh battery pack. It lasts for more than 14 hours of Web browsing, or more than 9 hours of video playback on a single charge. To take it out, undo all 6 Phillips-head screws keeping it attached to the chassis.

Memory-wise, you get either 8 or 16GB of DDR4 memory soldered to the motherboard. You can further expand it by up to 32GB of RAM via the single SODIMM slot. As for the storage, there is one M.2 PCIe x4 slot, which fits Gen 4 drives.

The cooling here comprises one thin and one thick heat pipe. They are both shared by the CPU and the GPU. Interestingly, the fan and the heat sink are placed at some distance from the side vent probably to save on some precious copper.


Display quality

Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 is equipped with a WQXGA IPS panel, model number BOE NE160QDM-N63 (LEN41BB). It comes with a 60Hz refresh rate. Its diagonal is 16.0″ (40.6 cm), and the resolution – 2560 x 1600p. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:10, the pixel density – 189 ppi, their pitch – 0.13 x 0.13 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 46 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Viewing angles are good. We offer images at different angles to evaluate the quality.

Also, a video with locked focus and exposure.

The maximum measured brightness is 413 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 390 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 9%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6650K (average) – almost matching the 6500K optimum for sRGB.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 63% Brightness (White level = 138 cd/m2, Black level = 0.09 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is very good – 1560:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 99% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.


Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 19 ms.

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.


Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1’s display doesn’t flicker at any brightness level. This makes the screen comfortable for long periods of use.


Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Gloss level measurement

Glossy-coated displays are sometimes inconvenient in high ambient light conditions. We show the level of reflection on the screen for the respective laptop when the display is turned off and the measurement angle is 60° (in this case, the result is 48.9 GU).


Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 configurations with 16.0″ BOE NE160QDM-N63 (LEN41BB) (WQXGA 2560 x 1600) IPS.

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount


Sound

Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1’s Dolby Audio speakers produce a loud sound of decent quality. Its low, mid, and high tones are clear of deviations.


Drivers

All drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/products/laptops-and-netbooks/thinkpad-t-series-laptops/thinkpad-t16-gen-1-type-21bv-21bw/downloads/driver-list

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with the Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. This device’s 86Wh battery pack lasts for 14 hours and 30 minutes of Web browsing, or 9 hours and 30 minutes of video playback.


CPU options

You can either get this laptop with Alder Lake-U processors (Core i5-1235U, Core i5-1245U, Core i7-1255U, Core i7-1265U), or Alder Lake-P ones (Core i5-1240P, Core i5-1250P, Core i7-1260P, Core i7-1270P, Core i7-1280P).


GPU options

On the other hand, the GPU choices are quite narrower. You can choose between the integrated graphics card, or the NVIDIA GeForce MX550, which comes with 2GB of GDDR6 VRAM.


Gaming tests

cs-go-benchmarks

CS:GO HD 1080p, Low (Check settings) HD 1080p, Medium (Check settings) HD 1080p, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS 208 fps 176 fps 135 fps

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average P-core frequency; Average E-core frequency; CPU temp.; Package Power

Intel Core i7-1260P (28W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 2.66 GHz @ 2.29 GHz @ 72°C @ 47W 1.21 GHz @ 1.53 GHz @ 63°C @ 20W 1.26 GHz @ 1.54 GHz @ 64°C @ 20W

We don’t really know what happens here but the ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 is unimpressive, to say the least. Could it be because of the presence of a dedicated GPU, or it is just Lenovo being conservative?

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce MX550 GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (Max fan)
Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 1245 MHz @ 73°C @ 30W 1277 MHz @ 77°C @ 30W
Dell Latitude 15 5531 1517 MHz @ 74°C @ 35W 1529 MHz @ 75°C @ 35W

What is even more worrying is that the MX550 runs at a 300MHz lower clock speed than that of the Latitude 15 5531.

Comfort during combined load

On the other hand, the fan doesn’t seem like it gets too bothered, as the noise coming from it is fairly quiet. The external temperatures also remain in check. The reason behind this entire behavior might be that Lenovo wants to ensure you get a comfortable experience, rather than giving you the maximum your device is capable of.


Verdict

Even though it limits the performance of its hardware, the ThinkPad T16 Gen 1 is still a very powerful notebook. Considering its business nature, we have to say, that there is very little competition as of right now. Of course, there are laptops with 12th Gen CPUs coming, and the Dell Latitude 15 5531 absolutely obliterated the Lenovo in terms of graphics performance.

On the other hand, Lenovo ThinkPad T16 Gen 1’s IPS panel has a WQXGA resolution, comfortable viewing angles, and a good contrast ratio. It covers 99% of the sRGB color gamut, while its color accuracy is great even with default settings. This makes it usable for color-related work like content creation.

This is absolutely fantastic. And take a look at that security front – you get the device with a fingerprint reader, an optional IR face recognition sensor and a privacy shutter. Moreover, it features a discrete TPM 2.0.

However, this laptop is not entirely about virtual safety – it is about durability too. What Lenovo was able to do for you, is to make the excellent keyboard even better – by making it spill-resistant.

Now, we are pretty happy with the I/O. Although it lacks an SD card reader, it comes with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI connector, a LAN port, and more. There is also an optional 4G WWAN card, but unfortunately, there’s no 5G support as of the moment of writing this review.

The internal port selection seems okay – there is one SODIMM slot (with 8GB or 16GB soldered to the motherboard), and one M.2 PCIe x4 slot for storage. Yes, Gen 4 drives are supported.

So, if you are into a notebook that is pretty light, has a fantastic display with high resolution and accurate color representation, and features powerful hardware – the Thinkpad T16 Gen 1 must be on your list. However, if you want something that will make full use of the aforementioned powerful hardware, then, we would advise you to take a look at the Dell Latitude 15 5531.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/lenovo-thinkpad-t16-gen-1-intel/

Pros

  • 2x Thunderbolt 4 ports + LAN port
  • M.2 PCIe x4 Gen 4 support
  • Fingerprint reader embedded in the power button + optional IR face recognition
  • Comfortable spill-resistant keyboard with a backlight
  • Good battery life
  • Wi-Fi 6E + 4G support (optional)
  • Covers 99% of the sRGB color gamut and has accurate color representation (BOE NE160QDM-N63 (LEN41BB))
  • No PWM (BOE NE160QDM-N63 (LEN41BB))


Cons

  • Unimpressive thermal management
  • No SD card slot
  • The competition features better upgradeability

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