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Lenovo announces the first Arm-based ThinkPad

Lenovo announces the first Arm-based ThinkPad

 February 28, 2022 at 6:04 am   |     Author:   |     Technology  

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s
Enlarge / Lenovo ThinkPad X13s.

Scharon Harding

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X13s will be the first ThinkPad to use an Arm-based processor, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, Lenovo announced on Friday.

ThinkPads represent Lenovo’s most powerful laptop lineup, and they’re marketed to enterprises and power users. It’s interesting to see one of the machines foregoing the new Intel 12th-generation and AMD Ryzen 6000 laptop chips to put Windows 11 Pro on Arm. We briefly saw the ThinkPad X13s in person, and it had a lighter, cheaper plastic feel to it but also sported a textured matte finish.

The 8cx Gen 3 is the first 5 nm Windows PC SoC. It has four Arm Cortex-X1 cores at up to 3 GHz and four Cortex-A78 cores at 2.4 GHz. Qualcomm’s chip enables the ThinkPad X13s’ fanless design and longer claimed battery life. The upcoming ThinkPad is 0.53 inches thick and 2.35 pounds and comes with a 49.5 WHr battery that Lenovo claims can last up to 28 hours, based on local video playback.

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s keyboard.
Enlarge / Lenovo ThinkPad X13s keyboard.

Scharon Harding

A Lenovo spokesperson told Ars Technica that the company believes it’s time to put an Arm-based chip in a ThinkPad because the performance is now suitable for the power-focused lineup. The rep said expected performance should be in line with an Intel Core i5 CPU. Especially important for business customers, security hardware and software capabilities—including ThinkShield, memory encryption, and endpoint security—are the same as what is found on Intel and AMD-based ThinkPads.

Windows apps with native support include Microsoft 365, Zoom, and Sophos, while some x64 apps will require emulation for Windows 11 on Arm. Lenovo’s announcement also pointed to “improved x64 emulation in Windows 11,” claiming that it will boost the performance of legacy apps and let independent software vendors slowly make their apps run natively on the operating system through the ARM64EC application binary interface.

The laptop supports 5G mmWave.
Enlarge / The laptop supports 5G mmWave.

Scharon Harding

The ThinkPad X13s has a 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1200 screen that uses the taller 16:10 aspect ratio (as opposed to the more common 16:9). All of Lenovo’s ThinkPads this year will use 16:10 screens, which will be standard for ThinkPads moving forward, except for the L-series. Lenovo also announced its first 16:10 portable monitor today. A spokesperson told Ars Technica that its business customers are being more open to the aspect ratio.

The thinner laptop uses up to 32GB of LPDDR4x memory, while other ThinkPads announced today use desktop-grade DDR5 RAM. Lenovo’s upcoming clamshell also supports up to a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD.

Ports are limited to two USB-C Gen 2 slots, a 3.5 mm jack, and a SIM card slot for 5G.

Triple-array mics and a 5 MP infrared camera are housed in a bar on the top bezel.

Lenovo calls it a communications bar.
Enlarge / Lenovo calls it a communications bar.

Scharon Harding

Leveraging the 8cx Gen 3, the machine should provide better human presence detection, allowing the laptop to take security measures like turning off or dimming the laptop’s brightness when you’re not in front of the camera.

The ThinkPad 13s will start at $1,099 when it comes out in May.

New Intel and AMD-based 16-inch ThinkPads

In addition to the ThinkPad X13s, Lenovo announced numerous Intel- and AMD-based refreshes for the ThinkPad lineup at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, with the priciest being the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5.
Enlarge / Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5.


As the name suggests, this is the most powerful of the bunch; it will have up to a 12th-gen Core i9 H-series vPro chip. In order to support a 45 W chip, Lenovo rejiggered the laptop’s thermal design by introducing dual intake fans by the keyboard, liquid metal thermal paste, and a redesigned vapor chamber. Lenovo claims the laptop will have 10 percent better cooling than the previous generation.

The laptop will come with up to an RTX 3080 Ti (16GB) laptop graphics card, 64GB of DDR5 RAM, and two SSDs totaling 8TB. It has a bigger screen than the prior version at 16 inches (versus 15.6 inches) and up to a 3840 x 2400 resolution.

Port selection is more extensive than in the Arm-based ThinkPad; the Intel machine has HDMI 2.1, two USB Type-A 3.1 ports, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SD card reader, a 3.5 mm jack, and an optional SIM card slot. It’s heavier and thicker than the fanless X13s at 4.14 pounds and 0.78 inches.

Lenovo’s extreme ThinkPad will start at $2,049 in June.

Lenovo is also introducing a 16-inch option to the ThinkPad T-series. The ThinkPad T16 will come with up to a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 P-series or U-series vPro or AMD Ryzen 6000 Pro-series chip at 20 W. Specs differ between the Intel and AMD versions, with the Intel laptop offering more RAM (32GB of LPDDR5-6400 versus 48GB DDR4-3200) and the option of an Nvidia GeForce MX550 or RTX 2050 graphics card. The AMD laptop’s screen goes up to a 3840 x 2400 resolution, while the Intel is limited to 2560 x 1600.

The laptops will be available in June and start at $1,299 for an AMD-equipped model.

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