This is our detailed review of the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 series, a premium full-size laptop built on AMD Ryzen hardware and designed as a multi-purpose work/play companion.
This Z16 doesn’t look like the other ThinkPads of the past years, and rather merges some ThinkPad features and design lines with the premium build quality and the specs/screens required in order to compete with other premium options such as the
Dell XPS 15/17, Asus ZenBook Pro or the Apple MacBook Pro 16 lineups. It’s also an alternative to the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme lineup, but entirely built on AMD hardware, which is the main antagonizing aspect of this series of laptops.
Our review unit is the top-specced configuration with the AMD Ryzen 9 Pro 6950H processor and Radeon RX 6500M dedicated graphics chip, plus 32 GB of RAM, 1 TB of fast SSD storage, and the 4K OLED touchscreen. We’ll also discuss the other options in this review, which covers the important details that you should consider when looking at one of these.
Specs as reviewed – Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 gen 1
Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 gen 1, 2022 model
Screen 16 inch, UHD+ 3840 x 3400 px, 16:10 aspect ratio, OLED, touch, glossy anti-reflection,
Lenovo ATNA60YV04-0 panel with 400-nits, 100% DCI-P3 color
FHD+ matte/touch panel option also available
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 Pro 6950H, 8C/16T
Video AMD Radeon 680M + Radeon RX 6500M 4GB
Memory 32 GB LPDDR5-6400 (soldered), up to 32 GB
Storage 1 TB M.2 NVMe SSD (Samsung PM9A1) – single M.2 2280 slot
Connectivity Wireless 6E (Qualcomm WCN685x) 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.1, optional LTE (Fibocom L860-GL-16 4G CAT16)
Ports 2x USB-C 4.0 (left side), 1x USB-C 3.2 with video/charging, mic/headphone, optional SIM tray, SD card reader, Lock
Battery 72 Wh, 135W USB-C charger
Size 355 mm or 13.95” (w) x 238 mm or 9.35” (d) x 15.9 mm or 0.63” (h)
Weight 4.12 lbs (1.87kg)+ 1.16 lbs (.53 kg) charger and cables, EU version
Extras backlit keyboard, glass haptic touchpad, 2MPx FHD webcam with IR and e-shutter, finger sensor, stereo up-firing 2x 2W speakers, Arctic Grey color, dual-fan vapor-chamber cooling
Lenovo offers the ThinkPad Z16 series in a multitude of variants, all based on AMD Ryzen Pro 6000 H hardware with Radeon graphics. The base model starts at a Ryzen 5 PRO 6650H with an FHD+ screen, while the top specs include a Ryzen 9 Pro 6950H processor with Radeon RX 6500M 4GB dedicated graphics, 32 GB of RAM, up to 2 TB of storage, and an
OLED 4K touch display. We’ll discuss all these in the article.
Design and first look
This laptop is built like a tank and matches the overall feel and quality of XPS, StudioArt, or MacBook lineups. It doesn’t flex or bend or squeak or creak in any way, and the choice of metals used for the chassis and construction put the regular ThinkPad plastic/carbon-fiber design to shame.
The lid is a solid piece of aluminum, while the edges are machine-milled crude aluminum pieces as well, elements this series shares in common with the
Legion 7i and 7i Slim models. The smaller ThinkPad Z13 is also available in a leather variant with bronze accents, but that not an option for this larger Z16 as well.
The interior is a black smooth metal piece and feels nice to the touch, but will smudge easily, so you’ll have to constantly wipe it clean. The front edge and corners were blunted on this model, and they’re not as sharp as on the smaller Z13, so more comfortable on the wrists. The edges around the display are still sharp and bitty, though.
The underside is matte black metal as well, with some large and grippy rubber feet. There’s a large intake grill over the cooling module, but no speaker grills, because the speakers fire upwards on this model, through the grills flanking the keyboard. That means the keyboard on this 16-inch model is identical to the keyboard on the 13-inch Z13, and that’s perhaps not what some of you were expecting. We’ll discuss the keyboard and touchpad in the next section of the article.
As far as the size goes this Z16 is a balanced daily driver, with a compact format, a fairly thin profile, and a weight of 1.87 kilos in this configuration (4.12 lbs). That’s about the same weight as an XPS 15, but lighter then the MacBook Pro 16 or the XPS 17.
For the screen, Lenovo opted for a 16:10 16-inch option, with compact bezels all around. There’s a lump at the top that some might not like, but it’s practical as it houses the cameras and microphones, and acts as a lever for you to easily grab and open up the display with a single hand.
This screen is also held in place by some solid hinges that make sure there’s no moving around or wobbling during use. On the other hand, the hinges only allow for the display to lean back to about 140 degrees, and not all the way flat as on other ThinkPads.
Other design aspects worth mentioning are the fact that there’s no annoying light in the line of sight, as the power button is placed on the right edge, as well as the fact that the thermal module is designed to blow the hot air into the display, which is not ideal on a performance laptop, as you’ll see in the Performance and Thermals sections.
And then there’s the IO. Lenovo only offer USB-C ports on this laptop, rather unusual for a full-size ThinkPad. There are USB-C ports on both sides and they all conveniently support data, video, and charging, but you’ll have to use adapters for certain peripherals. Compared to the Z13, this larger chassis positions the audio jack in a more ergonomic place towards the back of the laptop, adds in an SD card reader (an SD card goes in about 2/3 of the way, so not flush), and a Lock. If only they would have also squeezed in a USB-A slot on this thing.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard on this ThinkPad Z16 is identical to the one in the ThinkPad Z13, which means it’s a centered design with a standard layout with full-size keys and proper spacing.
However, the arrows are a little weird and will need some time to get used to, as the Left and Right arrows are narrow and the Up and Down are vertically half-sized. That’s mostly because Lenovo implemented a finger sensor on the left side of the arrows with this layout, unlike on other ThinkPads. This approach also means there are no dedicated keys for PgUp and PgDn, which are instead secondaries in the Up and Down arrows.
The typing experience is fine, on par with other ThinkPad ultrabook keyboards and on par with the competition, with good and firm feedback, but still limited key depth. The strokes are quiet, so won’t raise unwanted attention.
The keys are backlit, with white LEDs and two brightness levels to choose from (with Fn+Space). The illumination is uniform and only some light bleeds out from under some of the keys on the top row and from under the Down arrow – I haven’t noticed this on the Z13, so expect a degree o variations between units.
Furthermore, Lenovo implemented on the top row of keys dedicated indicators for CapsLock and for FnLock, audio mute, microphone, and camera. These are useful, even if they can get distracting when using the laptop at night (and you can press to deactivate the lights if so).
The touchpad is a large glass surface with haptic feedback, a unique design for ThinkPads. That means the surface is no longer physically clickable and there are no longer dedicated click buttons at the top, for TrackPoint use. Instead, there’s a custom clickable haptic zone at the top, and the entire surface is haptic and “clickable” with a firmer press.
This approach allows for a spacious touchpad surface and tends to work fine with everyday use and gestures. On the other hand, I struggled with click and drag tasks, and I found the clicks to be noisy.
I also noticed that the trackpad can perform erratically or even stop working at all when using the computer on the lap or on the couch, in case your clothes or anything else ends up touching the surface – it can happen often given how this clickpad ends up millimeters from the laptop’s front lip.
Finally, for biometrics, there’s a dedicated finger sensor masked between the Right Ctrl and Left arrow key, as well as IR functionality for face unlocking with Hello. Both worked fine on this unit.
There’s a 16:10 16-inch display on the ThinkPad Z16, with a choice of three different panels:
IPS FHD+ 1920 x 1200 px, matte, non-touch, with 400-nits and 100% sRGB colors;
IPS FHD+ 1920 x 1200 px, anti-glare and touch, with 400-nits and 100% sRGB colors
OLED 4K 3840 x 2400 px, anti-reflexive and touch, with 400-nits and 100% DCI-P3 colors.
Our review unit is the latter panel option, the 4K OLED. It’s sharp and rich and beautiful, well suited for daily use and creative work that requires accurate colors. It’s not very bright, though, so you’ll want to mostly keep this indoors.
Here’s what we got in our tests,
with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
Panel HardwareID: Lenovo LEN4146 (ATNA60YV04-0);
Coverage: 99.9% sRGB, 95.3% AdobeRGB, 99.2% DCI P3;
Measured gamma: 2.12;
Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 403.49 cd/m2 on power;
Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 11.48 cd/m2 on power;
Contrast at max brightness: 1:1;
White point: 6400 K;
Black on max brightness: 0.0 cd/m2;
PWM: Yes (to be discussed).
The panel came well calibrated out of the box and proved uniform in color and luminosity in our tests. Plus, being an OLED, light bleeding is not a concern here.
Lenovo also implement an anti-reflexive treatment that cuts off some of the glare that’s standard with regular OLED screens. I’ve added the Z16 next to the ZenBook Flip down below, both touch OLED panels of similar brightness, to showcase the anti-reflexive treatment of the ThinkPad. This is no matte panel, but it’s easier to use in bright light than the regular glossy options.
As a touch OLED panel, you also have to be aware of the graininess noticeable on white background, caused by the digitizer layer. This is standard for all OLED touch laptops, and somewhat distracting when reading/editing texts.
Finally, you should also consider the other advantages and cons of OLED panels on notebooks, such as the low blue-light emissions, the black crush, and the potential burn-in. Up to you to decide if an OLED is best for your needs.
Unfortunately, the IPS panels on this series are rather mediocre FHD resolution, 400-nits, and 100% sRGB colors, and there’s no good high-res IPS option here. That’s a pity, given how Lenovo offer QHD and 4K IPS options on other 16-inch laptops, such as the Legion 7i Slim or the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. Thus, if the OLED is not for you but still need/want a good screen, you’ll pretty much have to look elsewhere.
Hardware, performance, and upgrade options
Our test version is a top-specced configuration of the 2022 Lenovo Thinkpad Z16, with an AMD Ryzen 9 Pro 6950H processor + Radeon RX 6500M 4 GB dedicated graphics, 32 GB of LPDDR5-6400 memory, and a fast 1 TB SSD.
Disclaimer: This is a retail unit that was provided for review by Lenovo. I tested it with the software available as of late-October 2022 (BIOS 1.24, Vantage 126.96.36.199 app). This is a mature software package as the laptop has been available in stores for a few months now, but some aspects might still change with future updates.
Spec-wise, this is based on the 2022 AMD Rembrandt 6000 Ryzen Pro hardware platform, with the Ryzen 9 6950H 8Core/16Thread processor on this configuration. This is the Pro version of the
regular Ryzen 9 6900HX, with similar CPU and iGPU specs, but with a handful of extras useful in enterprise environments, such as chip-level AMD Memory Guard and Microsoft Pluton chip-to-cloud technology.
You should also consider the fact that the Z16 is a thin-and-light implementation and supplies the processor with ~50-55W of sustained power in demanding loads, thus it is not as powerful as full-size AMD designs with higher power settings. Thermals are the limiting factor here, as we’ll discuss in a bit.
Graphics are handled by the integrated Radeon 680M chip and the dedicated Radeon RX 6500M 4 GB. Configurations without a dGPU are also available, and you can find
what to expect from the Radeon 680M iGPU in this separate article.
Next, our configuration includes 32 GB of LPDDR5-6400 memory. The memory is onboard and non-upgradeable, and you can get up to 32 GB of RAM on this laptop.
For storage, Lenovo opted for a fast PCIe gen4 Samsung PM9A1 drive here, which performed very well in our tests. It’s an M.2 2280 format and there’s a single SSD slot on this laptop.
It is possible to open this up to get to the internals, and it’s a fairly simple process, requiring removing the back panel held in place by a handful of Philips screws. In this part of the world, there’s a hideous warranty sticker over one of the screws, which I consider totally unacceptable. Be careful when you pull out the back panel, you’ll have to start from the back. You also don’t have to remove the screws, they’re designed to remain attached to the d-panel once fully unscrewed.
Inside you’ll find the cooling module with the vapor chamber, the M.2 SSD slot, the LTE module, the battery, and the speakers. The battery and the speakers are fairly sized, even if the space around the battery is utilized for the array of LTE antennae.
As far as the software goes, everything can be controlled through the Lenovo Vantage app, which offers access to system updates, battery settings, etc. Lenovo no longer include power profiles in Vantage on these Thinkpads; instead, you can switch between the standard profiles in Windows 11 (Better Power Efficiency, Balanced, Best Performance) to juggle the power/fan settings. I don’t like this approach and preffer having the power profiles in Vantage, as on the Legion models and older ThinkPads.
Regardless, the laptop runs cooly and quietly with daily use. I’ve kept my unit on Balanced most of the time, and only switched to Best Performance for benchmarks and gaming. The fans keep idle with light use while on battery power, but they’re always active with the laptop plugged in unless you opt for the Best Efficiency profile – that’s a viable option for light daily use since the laptop doesn’t feel sluggish in any way even on this mode.
Here’s what to expect in terms of performance and internal temperatures with browsing, word processing, or video streaming.
Performance and benchmarks
On to more demanding loads, we start by testing the CPU’s performance in the Cinebench R15 loop test.
On Best Performance, the system applies peak power of ~75W for a very brief moment, but then the Ryzen 9 Pro 6950H processor gradually stabilizes at around 50W of power, with temperatures of ~100 degrees Celsius, fan levels of ~45 dBA and clock speeds of 3.5 GHz. This translates in Cinebench scores of ~2100 points.
The hardware is thermally limited in this designed and allowed to run at 100 degrees for indefinite amounts of time. I don’t like this approach and I would have preffer a power cap that would pin the sustained temperatures at lower levels in the 80-90s C.
Bumping up the back of the laptop in order to improve the airflow into the fans allows for a slightly higher sustained power around 55W, with the same 100 C temperatures.
Switching to the Balanced mode affects the fans, causing them to spin more quietly at only around 35 dBA. The hardware is still thermally limited at 100 C, and ends up running at lower power as a result of the quieter fans. The performance takes a 5-7% hit.
I also ran the same test on Best Performance with battery power, in which case the Z16 performs a bit erratically at between 40-50W is power and fan speeds around 40 dBA.
To put these in perspective, here’s how this Ryzen 9 6950H implementation fares against a few other modern ultrabook implementations, both Intel and AMD. It’s on par in this test with most competitors, but trails behind the designs that are able to run the CPU at higher power. For comparison, the same AMD 6000 platform can score 20% higher at 75+ W of sustained power in the
Zephyrus G14, while a modern i9-12900H can score 30+% higher in something like a Zephyrus M16.
We then went ahead and further verified our findings with the more taxing Cinebench R23 loop test and in Blender, which confirm our previous findings. The hardware is still pegged at 100 degrees Celsius in these loads.
We then ran the 3DMark CPU profile test.
Finally, we ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook, on the Best Performance profile. 3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time, and this unit passed the test, which means the combined performance is not impacted once the heat builds up.
Next, here are some benchmark results. We ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks on the Best Performance profile on this Ryzen 9 Pro 6950H configuration, with the screen set at the default resolution.
Here’s what we got.
3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 11700 (Graphics – 13543, Physics – 20787, Combined – 4372);
3DMark 13 – Night Raid: 25965 (Graphics – 31437, CPU – 13072);
3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 4624 (Graphics – 4304, CPU – 7991);
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 2530;
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 8492;
Handbrake 1.3.3 (4K to 1080p encode): 38.30 average fps;
PassMark 10: 4451 (CPU – 20957, 3D – 7883, Memory – 2148, Disk – 29162);
PCMark 10: 6391 (Essentials – 10316, Productivity – 8137, Digital Content Creation – 8440);
GeekBench 5.4.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 1403, Multi-core: 8210;
CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 2211 cb, CPU Single Core 222 cb;
CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 5130 cb, CPU Single Core 523 cb;
CineBench R23: CPU 11820 cb (best run), CPU 11618 (10 min loop test), CPU Single Core 1394 CB (best run);
x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 31.28 s.
And here are some extra work-related benchmarks:
Blender 3.01 – BMW scene – CPU Compute: 3m 30s;
Blender 3.01 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 7m 48s;
PugetBench – DaVinci Resolve: 590;
PugetBench – Adobe After Effects: 606;
PugetBench – Adobe Photoshop: 827;
SPECviewperf 2020 – 3DSMax: 20.05;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Catia: 12.24;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Creo: 35.21;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Energy: 1.7;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Maya: 58.64;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Medical: 8.31;
SPECviewperf 2020 – SNX: 53.53;
SPECviewperf 2020 – SW: 24.99;
V-Ray Benchmark: CPU – 8263 vsamples, GPU CUDA – 199 vpaths;
On the CPU side, this is a fair performer within the limitation of the AMD Ryzen 6000 platform and the cooling capabilities of this chassis. That means it’s about 10-20% slower than what a similar Ryzen 9 processor can deliver in better chassis, such as the
ROG Flow X16 or Zephyrus G14. At the same time, it’s slower in IPC or multi-threaded performance than other ultraportable 12th-gen Intel platforms such as the XPS 15 or the Prestige 15, and significantly slower than higher-power portable designs such as the ROG Zephyrus M16 or the Legion 7i Slim.
The Radeon RX 6500M is an entry-level dGPU and about the equivalent of an RTX 3050 40W, the kind available in the XPS 15. It’s slower than a 3050Ti in most benchmarks, and much slower in the work-related Puget and SPECViewperf tests.
As for how this fares against a mid-specced RTX 3060, the differences are night-and-day in favor of the 3060 units, even in ultraportable designs such as the XPS 17 or the older
2021 Zephyrus G14.
With this sort of graphics and a high-res 60 Hz screen, the ThinkPad Z16 is surely not made for gaming, but some of you might still run games on it time and again.
Hence, we ran a couple of DX11, DX12, and Vulkan titles on the Best Performance mode on this Ryzen 9 + RX 6500M configuration, at FHD+ resolution, with Ultra and Medium graphics settings with the laptop placed on the desk.
For starters, here’s what we got on Ultra settings.
ThinkPad Z16, on desk
R9-6950H + RX 6500M 35-40W
FHD+ on Best Performance
XPS 15 9520, on desk
i7-12700H + 3050Ti 35-40W
FHD+ on Ultra Performance
XPS 15 9510
i7-11800H + 3050Ti 35-40W
FHD+ on Ultra Performance
i7-1280P + 3050 35-40W
FHD+ on High Performance
(DX 11, Best Looking Preset) 98 fps (51 fps – 1% low)
101 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
106 fps (64 fps – 1% low)
Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA) 61 fps (47 fps – 1% low)
60 fps (49 fps – 1% low)
56 fps (49 fps – 1% low)
63 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA) 44 fps (33 fps – 1% low)
43 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
41 fps (31 fps – 1% low)
41 fps (37 fps – 1% low)
Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA) 47 fps (29 fps – 1% low)
53 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
49 fps (24 fps – 1% low)
52 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4) 53 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
62 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
58 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
56 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities;
Red Dead Redemption 2 Optimized profile based on
These results are about on par with the 3050Ti configuration of the XPS 15 and the 3050 configurations of the Prestige 15. Don’t expect to game at the native 4K resolution on these specs, though.
In fact, if you’re going to game on this laptop, I’d recommend trimming down the details. Here’s what we got on Medium settings at FHD+ resolution. I also added a couple of similarly specced portable alternatives tested recently, for comparison.
R9-6950H + RX 6500M 35-40W
XPS 15 9520
Core i7 + 3050Ti 35+W
XPS 15 9510
Core i7 + 3050 35+W
ZenBook Pro Duo
Core i7 + 3050Ti 35+W
ROG Flow X13
Ryzen 9 + 3050Ti 35+W
ROG Flow Z13
Core i9 + 3050Ti 35+W
(Vulkan, Medium Preset, no DLSS) 103 fps (78 fps – 1% low)
108 fps (78 fps – 1% low)
118 fps (79 fps – 1% low)
107 fps (82 fps – 1% low)
126 fps (89 fps – 1% low)
Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Normal Preset, TAA) 68 fps (57 fps – 1% low)
76 fps (56 fps – 1% low)
72 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
72 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
74 fps (57 fps – 1% low)
72 fps (48 fps – 1% low)
Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Balanced – first option) 58 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
52 fps (37 fps – 1% low)
50 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
47 fps (35 fps – 1% low)
48 fps (32 fps – 1% low)
46 fps (30 fps – 1% low)
Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Medium Preset, TAA) 59 fps (38 fps – 1% low)
59 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
52 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
68 fps (56 fps – 1% low)
69 fps (48 fps – 1% low)
68 fps (45 fps – 1% low)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Medium Preset, Hairworks Low) 91 fps (68 fps – 1% low)
108 fps (39 fps – 1% low)
92 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
105 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
102 fps (78 fps – 1% low)
98 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
Once more, this is a fair gamer and a similar performer to the other options.
With these out of the way, let’s go through some of the performance logs on each profile.
On the Best Performance mode, the system fluctuates between periods of running at high power (40W on the GPU, 45+ on the CPU) and periods of running at much lower power settings (15W GPU, 35W CPU). From what I can tell, that’s some sort of thermal protection based on how hot the internals get. This results in a noticeable variation of framerates between the times the laptop runs at higher power and the times it runs at lower power.
Hopefully, Lenovo can figure things out and update the power profiles on future BIOS iterations. I feel that they should limit the amount of power allocated to the CPU in order to prevent it from reaching the high temperatures that are leading to the power-limit. You don’t need to run the CPU at 45++ W in games anyway, and a lower power cap would allow sustained GPU power and a consistent experience.
With that in mind and observing how the cooling is designed on this laptop, I’ve placed it on a raiser stand in order to facilitate unrestrained airflow into the fans. That helps shed 3-5 degrees of the CPU and GPU and translates into consistent performance in Far Cry 5, but still with high CPU temperatures of 90++ Celsius. The power and framerates still fluctuate in Doom and Witcher 3, though.
Overall, opting for this sort of off-desk use is surely recommended when running demanding loads on this laptop, in order to minimize (as much as possible, at least) the overheating and throttling.
There’s also the Balanced mode that you can opt for, but you shouldn’t, as this greatly limits the GPU power and causes the CPU to run hot, since the fans spin much quieter on this profile (35 dBA, vs 45 dBA on Best Performance).
Finally, you can run games on battery mode on this laptop, and on the Best Performance profile the experience is consistent at 45W on the CPU and 25 W on the GPU in Witcher 3, with noise levels around 40 dBA. Not quite on par with plug-in performance, but close, and without the fluctuations noticed on wall power.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
Lenovo implemented an advanced thermal module on this laptop, with two fans, two radiators, and a vapor chamber in between, over the processor and graphics chip.
Despite that, though, the hardware runs at very high temperatures in most demanding loads, and the system even has to throttle the performance to cope with those temperatures.
Fresh air comes into the fans through the bottom of the laptop, through the open intake grill on top of the fans. This justifies placing the laptop over a raised stand in order to facilitate the airflow of fresh air into the fans when running demanding loads.
Hot air goes out through the radiators positioned between the hinges, under the display, and because of the high internal temperatures, the panel heats up as well and reaches temperatures in the high 40s around the exhausts. That’s especially the case when using the laptop on the desk, and not placing it on a stand.
As far as the fan noise goes, we measured 45 dBA at head-level on Best Performance and 35 dBA on Balanced, while running sustained loads.
*Gaming – Best Performance mode – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fan at ~45 dB
With daily use, the laptop runs silently. The fans idle with basic activities on battery mode, but stay active when the laptop is plugged in unless you opt for the Best Efficiency mode which allows them to shut off. I haven’t noticed coil whine or electronic noises on this unit.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Balanced Mode on battery, fan idle
For connectivity, there’s WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1 through a Qualcomm module on this laptop. It performed well with our setup and the signal and performance remained strong at 30 feet, with obstacles in between.
There’s also the option to equip the laptop with an LTE 4G module, which is available in our sample. That might come in handy if you’re traveling a lot and preffer having an always-on Internet connection without having to rely on creating a hotspot from your phone. There’s no option for a 5G module, though, which is a bit weird in this day and age.
Audio is handled by a set of stereo speakers that fire through grills placed at the sides of the keyboard. The audio quality is alright, but not impressive. The default settings are the Music profile in Vantage, and we measured volumes of up to 80 dBA at head level, but the sound still lacked a fair bit in the lows and even distorted over 80%. Overall, though, these are some alright speakers, but not quite up there with the competition (XPS, MacBook, ZenBook Pro).
The camera is positioned at the top of the screen and is an FHD 2 MPx shooter with a wide-angle lens. It’s the same camera as on the Z13 or the Legion 7 Slim, and overall better than the average laptop camera, but for some reason the Camera app refused to work on this Z16 due to some driver issues that I couldn’t figure out.
This camera also supports IR with Windows Hello, and comes with an e-shutter controlled by the F9 key.
There’s a 72 Wh battery inside the ThinkPad Z16, fair-sized for this sort of laptop, albeit still smaller than you’re getting with some other 15 and 16-inch options.
Here’s what we got in terms of battery life, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
9 W (~8 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
7.5 W (~9 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Best Power Efficiency Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
12.5 W (~6 h of use) – Netflix 4K fullscreen in Edge, Best Power Efficiency Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
12 W (~5-7 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON.
These are good runtimes considering the size of the battery and the fact that this configuration is a 4K OLED screen. The FHD display configurations should last longer with light use.
Lenovo pairs this with a compact 135W charger that plugs in via USB-C. It’s a dual-piece design with a mid-sized brick and long cables – a zip-tie is included to help organize them in your bag. A full recharge takes a little under 2 hours, with Rapid Charging for the first half.
Price and availability- Lenovo ThinkPad Z16
This 2022 version of Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 is available in stores in most regions of the world at the time of this article.
The Ryzen 9 6950H +RX 6500M, 32 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, 4K OLED model reviewed here goes for around $2500, but over 3K EUR/GBP over here in Europe. That’s pricey!
Lower specced models are also available from around $1500 (or 2000 EUR here) for the Ryzen 5 model with 16 GB of RAM and the FHD matte screen. That’s not a bad daily driver if you like the format, don’t need a lot of GPU power or a wide-gamut display.
Various other discounts might apply at the time you’re reading the article, so
follow this link for updated prices and configurations in your region.
Final thoughts- Lenovo ThinkPad Z16
This ThinkPad Z16 is a mixed bag.
On one hand, it impresses with its excellent build quality and premium feel, and offers a beautiful OLED display, some balanced mid-tier specs, and long battery life thanks to the efficiency of the implemented AMD platform.
On the other, it’s not as powerful in demanding loads as some of the other options in its niche, it doesn’t offer consistent performance, and it runs hot and even unstable in some activities. I recommend placing this on a raiser stand in order to keep thermals at bay and prevent throttling to some extent. Paired with the 45 dBA fans and the hot-feeling chassis, this laptop is not going to excel in sustained activities, and rather makes sense as a daily multitasker.
Thing is, even as a daily driver you’ll have to accept the lack of full-size ports, the limited screen angle, and the somewhat finicky haptic touchpad, as well as the lack of any good mid-range screen option, such as the brighter QHD panels offered on the Legion or ThinkPad X1 Extreme lineups. Sure, the OLED is a beautiful panel, but not everyone prefers an OLED on their laptops or is willing to pay the $400 premium for it (and even more given this OLED is only bundled with the top-tier configurations of the Z16 in most markets).
Thus, considering these aspects and the multitude of
excellent portable laptops in this space, the ThinkPad Z16 is having a hard time competing, especially at the current prices that Lenovo are asking for it here in Europe.
I can’t recommend it over a
ThinkPad X1 Extreme or any of the modern XPS models or a MacBook Pro for serious all-purpose use in a premium format, or over something like an LG Gram 16 or Acer Swift Edge for daily multitasking in a much lighter package and at a more affordable price. Perhaps if you must have an AMD product in this sort of format and prices drop a fair bit in the future… up to you…
This wraps up my time with the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16, and I’d appreciate your feedback and impressions in the comments section below.
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Andrei Girbea Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief
. I've a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering and I've been covering mobile technology since the 2000s. You'll mostly find reviews and thorough guides written by me here on the site, as well as some occasional first-impression articles.