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Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 hands-on — meet the sleekest laptop at CES 2022

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 on a table
(Image credit: Future)

Lenovo has unveiled the ThinkPad Z13 and ThinkPad Z16 during CES 2022, and with redesigned chassis with vegan leather, sustainable packaging, the latest Ryzen Pro CPUs and optional OLED displays, these ThinkPads are the hippest the company has ever made.

These are the inaugural entries in Lenovo's new Z line of ThinkPads, a successor to its popular X series. These new Windows 11 laptops have big shoes to fill given that at least one of the ThinkPad X-series laptops, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano, holds a top spot in our list of the best business laptops on the market right now.

The ThinkPad Z13 and Z16 look different than their predecessors, as Lenovo has thinned the bezels around the display, expanded the touchpad beneath the keyboard, and added some new functionality to the trademark red TrackPoint nub. Lenovo also added a (vegan) leather trim option to the Z13 and embedded a striking new Communications Bar atop the display of both models that houses an improved webcam, two design changes that will likely inspire some strong reactions among laptop fans.

Here's what we know so far about Lenovo's new ThinkPad Z13 and ThinkPad Z16 laptops, as well as our initial hands-on impressions. 

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Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 price and release date

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 is a new 13-inch ThinkPad that ships with Windows 11 in May 2022 for a starting price of $1,549. 

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 closed and held in hand

(Image credit: Future)

It will be available in Black or Arctic Grey color schemes, as well as an eye-catching Bronze model with recycled vegan black leather trim.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 design

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 sports a slick redesign with nice slim bezels around the screen (Lenovo claims it has a screen-to-body ratio of 91.6%), though there's a new Communications Bar embedded in the center of the top bezel that extends out beyond the top edge of the laptop. 

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 close-up of the Communications Bar

(Image credit: Future)

Housed within that embedded bubble are dual-array mics, an infrared FHD webcam with support for Windows Hello (which means you can log in with your face) and an electronic eShutter you can engage to block the webcam for privacy.

During our hands-on time with the ThinkPad Z13, we were impressed by how easily we could lift the lid with one hand, and the narrow bezels around the display. But the standout model is the Bronze model; it's black vegan leather feels soft to the touch and it has a nice texture to it without being too showy. 

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 display

The display itself is pretty exciting, as by default the ThinkPad Z13 ships with a 13.3-inch WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio) IPS panel that can (optionally) be configured as a touchscreen. 

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 on a table

(Image credit: Future)

If you're willing to pay extra, you can also get a Z13 with a WQXGA (2,560 × 1,600 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio) OLED touchscreen display that supports Dolby Vision. OLEDs usually deliver better picture quality than IPS displays, with inkier blacks and better contrasts, so its exciting to see Lenovo ship the Z13 with an OLED option.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 sustainability

The ThinkPad Z Series is made of sustainable materials like recycled aluminum and recycled black vegan leather, but that extends to the packaging. Its made from 100% recyclable bamboo and sugarcane, and the AC power adapter uses 90% post-consumer content (PCC). Even the box handle is made of recycled cardboard instead of plastic. 

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 performance

Lenovo plans to offer the laptop with the latest AMD Ryzen 7 PRO U-Series CPUs. AMD's Ryzen PRO CPUs are basically business-grade versions of its Ryzen CPUs with roughly similar performance but improved encryption and security options, including a built-in Microsoft Pluton security processor. 

You won't be playing a lot of cutting-edge games on the Z13, as you can't get it with a discrete graphics card — so you're limited to what will play well with the integrated Radeon graphics chipset. However, the larger 16-inch Z16 will be sold with an option to configure it with a discrete Radeon graphics card, though Lenovo still hasn't said which card(s) will be available. 

Memory-wise, you'll be able to configure the ThinkPad Z13 with up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to a 1 TB SSD for storage.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 ports

As far as ports go, you won't have a lot of options: just a pair of USB-C ports (one on either side) and an audio jack for headphones. It's enough for business use, but hardly generous.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16: A bigger, beefier Z13

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 is effectively a larger version of the Z13 with bigger, beefier component options and less color variety. It goes on sale in May 2022 for a starting price of $2,099, and it comes in one color: Arctic Grey.

In most respects the Z16 is identical to its smaller sibling, but there are some key differences. Most notably, it ships with a larger 16-inch 16:10 display that has an even better screen-to-body ratio (92.3%) than the smaller Z13. The Z16's display is also an IPS screen by default, with an option to configure it as a touchscreen as well as a pricier option to upgrade to an OLED display with Dolby Vision support.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 on a pastel background

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Lenovo's ThinkPad Z16 ships with the latest AMD Ryzen PRO H-series CPUs, which are more powerful than the U-series CPUs inside the smaller Z13. It will also be configurable with an optional (and yet unannounced) discrete AMD GPU, whereas the Z13 is only available with the significantly less powerful integrated AMD Radeon graphics.

The ThinkPad Z16 is also configurable with up to 32GB of RAM, but you can get it with up to a 2TB SSD, twice the amount of maximum storage available in the Z13. It also has a few more ports than the Z13, as it sports 3 USB-C ports, an SD card reader and an audio jack.

Outlook

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 and its bigger, beefier sibling the Z16 offer an exciting look at the future of ThinkPad design. 

While they still sport that bright red little nub in the center of the keyboard, these new ThinkPads have more eye-catching designs than their predecessors, and the addition of a leather trim option on the Z13 makes this a real love-it-or-hate-it laptop. The option to trick it out with an OLED touchscreen and the latest Radeon chips helps complete the Z13's image as the premium business laptop for 2022. 

Of course, we'll have to get one in for testing ourselves before we can say for sure how well it performs, how long it lasts, or whether that leather trim was a good idea. Stay tuned!

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. He currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.