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Lenovo Thinkpad vs Ideapad: Which is better? | Comparison 2021

Lenovo Thinkpad vs Ideapad: Which is better? | Comparison 2021

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When it comes to choosing a Lenovo Thinkpad vs Ideapad, there are a few differences amongst the technical specs that will determine the best choice for users. These differences include overall speed, design, affordability, display keyboard, and processor.

The Thinkpad has more advanced laptops parts that allow for faster speeds, more intuitive keyboard & design, more immersive audio as well as an improved FHD IPS display. t

The Ideapad on the other hand was built for casual laptop users and not business or commercial level performance. It makes for a great affordable, cheap laptop and even has a distinct gaming model that performs quite well for most moderately graphic heavy games.

Related: Lenovo Flex Vs Yoga: Which is better? (Comparison)

Related: 7 Best Stylus Pens for Lenovo Yoga, ThinkPad, and IdeaPad

It’s clear Lenovo had cut back on certain upgrades when creating the Lenovo Ideapad, especially when compared to the Thinkpad. The Thinkpad has significantly improved upgrades that are important for those who use their laptops more than just 1-2 hours per day.

Lenovo Thinkpad vs Ideapad: What is the Difference between the two?

Lenovo Thinkpad vs Ideapad: Which is better? | Comparison 2021 1

The main difference between the Lenovo Thinkpad and Ideapad is the improved technology of the Thinkpad; stronger processor, RAM, keyboard, and audio. Compared to the IdeaPad, the Thinkpad has a higher price point, but is able to handle more CPU-intensive tasks that are required in business & work environments.

The Thinkpad was created as a premium business laptop while the Ideapad is marketed by Lenovo to be used more for personal and casual use. Each model of the Thinkpad is aimed for different tiers of business users and each has their pros and cons. These benefits and advantages are significant and range in portability, speed, graphics, and affordability.

If I were to get a ThinkPad model for my small business I would choose between the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon or the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 740 or 940 and above models as these combine reliability with high performance and are very popular.

If I wanted the most lightweight, portable laptop amongst Lenovo models, then I’d go with the Lenovo X1 Nano over the Ideapad models even though it’s priced higher. The benefits outweigh its costs in my opinion.

The ThinkPad is good for….

The Lenovo Thinkpad models is best suited for a business professional or heavy laptop user that needs to simultaneously run multiple browser tabs, advanced software, and video conferencing for multiple hours each day.

Affordability of the Thinkpad will vary based on what model and advanced technical specs you require and will be more costly than the IdeaPad series.

The Ideapad on the other hand focuses on more casual laptop usage and has various models that allow Lenovo to downgrade tech specs. The ideaPad sacrifices quality in return for affordability. These models are useful for those who don’t need all the extras of a high-end business laptop. 

  • If you’re a student who only plans on using your laptop for low cpu-intensive tasks such as web browsing, google docs and a few powerpoints, then the Lenovo Ideapad is a more affordable option than the Thinkpad and will meet your needs.

Going with The Lenovo Flex 5 or the ideapad gaming models are great choices as well for those who are leaning towards the IdeaPad models, yet still want something fast.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

If I wanted a powerful, lightweight laptop to last me for 5+ years to come, then I’d choose the Lenovo ThinkPad X series or ThinkPad Yoga shown above. If I was in search of a strong enough laptop to replace my desktop I’d go for the ThinkPad T-models due to their improved processor, RAM and design features.

Which is better? Lenovo Ideapad vs Thinkpad

Lenovo ideapad vs Thinkpad what model laptop is better

The Lenovo Thinkpad has technical specifications that are more advanced and improved than the Lenovo Ideapad. The Ideapad on the other hand is more affordable since Lenovo is able to downgrade certain Laptop parts such as the processor, memory, display, audio, and battery life. 

The Ideapad can’t compete with the Thinkpad in terms of speed and functionality since it’s main functions are primarily built for casual use. While both of these touchscreen laptops are good for tasks like browsing the web and using google docs… the IdeaPad won’t handle animation software or engineering student applications as easily as the ThinkPad will.

The Lenovo IdeaPad is more affordable… however it has lower quality components when compared to the Thinkpad; which sacrifices performance in its keyboard, trackpad, display, processor and audio. 

Between the two, If you are looking for a highly-capable laptop to last you longer, then the Thinkpad has objectively more advanced specs than the IdeaPad and is a better fit for work professionals and students.

Lenovo ModelFeaturesBenefitsDisadvantages
ThinkPad Yoga2-in-1 touchscreen, strong processorVersatile, reliable, popularMinimal
ThinkPad X-series18.5 hr battery life, slim designPowerful, Portable, lightweightModerately expensive
ThinkPad T-seriesStrong processor, can replace desktopExtremely well built, business modelMinimal
ThinkPad P-seriesStrong graphics card, high RAMBuilt for speed, heavyweight performanceModerately expensive
ThinkPad E-seriesCasual, sleek designVery affordable, can handle basic tasksmoderate performance
ThinkPad L-seriesModerate performance partsFor both casual & professional usemoderate performance
ThinhinkAdvanced technology, high RAMFast, powerful laptop for business ownersmoderately expensive
IdeaPad 3, 5 (& higher)Super-slim, fast speedsReliable, good specsAffordability over performance
IdeaPad Flexgood battery, budget pickaffordable, perfect for casual useAffordability over performance
IdeaPad Slimextremely lightweightvery affordable, lightweight, portableAffordability over performance
IdeaPad GamingGood RAM, strong partsIdeal for gaming on a budgetMinimal

Thinkpad & Ideapad model & series comparison

Ideapad and Thinkpad lenovo model and series comparison with charts

The Thinkpad models have more higher-end, premium options and range from the Carbon, P series, T series (ex. T490), E-series (Extreme) and even the Thinkbook. These all have different uses tailored to different individuals. 

Here are all the following Lenovo Thinkpad models:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga series: A unique model since it’s considered a 2-in-1 touchscreen and doubles as both a tablet and laptop. The Yoga is extremely versatile and is one of Lenovo’s most purchased models.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X-series: Extremely lightweight laptop model that is built for portability and battery life at the expense of a lower-end graphics card. X-series even has the Thinkpad X1 Fold, which is a folding 2-in-1 laptop with a screen with its own unique touchscreen digital pen.
    • The Thinkpad X1 Carbon models are ideal for high performance and reliability if affordability isn’t a core concern.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T-series: Strong enough to be a desktop replacement; powerful & highly portable. This is one of Lenovo’s more popular models for this reason.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad P-series: Premium, High-end spec laptop. Built for heavy, CPU-intensive tasks and has large storage and RAM capabilities in addition to high-end graphics cards. The P-series excels as a workstation for engineers, graphic artists and editing video and photos and outperforms nearly every Ideapad I’ve tested.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E-series: Extremely affordable, but can handle the needs of someone who does tasks such as book keeping or organizing documents. A step up compared to the ideapad, especially for solopreneurs or business owners who aren’t running advanced applications.
  • ThinkPad L & Thinkbook models: These are simply more affordable and look different. These combine the best features of a laptop aimed at both casual and professional uses. 

Related: ThinkBook vs ThinkPad: What are the differences? (comparison)

Here are all the following Lenovo Ideapad models :

  • IdeaPad 3, 5 & higher: Ideal for both students and professionals who can sacrifice a super slim laptop for affordability. A mid-priced model that is good for most who want a fast, reliable laptop with honest specs. For example,IdeaPad 5 has a fast processor, anti-glare display technology and is extremely popular due to it’s design.
  • Ideapad Flex: A highly affordable series consisting of budget laptops with a glossy touchscreen. A versatile laptop with screen sizes as large as 15.6”. Long lasting battery and is ideal for those on a budget, but need a good laptop.
  • IdeaPad Slim: A Ideapad with a powerful processor in comparison to its dimensions and weight. The closest Thinkpad alternative to this slim model is the X-series, which is bit more expensive.
  • IdeaPad Gaming: Higher end, faster processor, screen, graphics card and RAM. However, this is still for those on a budget as Lenovo cuts many corners to make this affordable, yet still powerful enough for mid-tier gaming. Has an IPS display.

Build quality: Keyboard/Trackpad

The Thinkpad models have the better, premium keyboard, particularly when compared to the Ideapad. This is the one feature that you may notice lacks in performance between the two models.

After testing the two models I found that the Lenovo X1 and Yoga series keyboard (and trackpad) were significantly more intuitive than the IdeaPad models. 

When it comes to the keyboard & trackpad the IdeaPad provides less quality than the Thinkpad regarding design and overall premium vs cheap feel. For those who use their laptop a lot, the difference in the ThinkPad vs IdeaPad keyboards are certainly significant and favor the ThinkPad.

Some previous IdeaPad models from Lenovo are anecdotally known to develop minor keyboard issues such as keys not working. The ThinkPad model keyboards felt more intuitive overall and were the clear winner between the two lenovo laptops, particularly in regard to keyboard design and functionality.

Processor & RAM

Since the Ideapad is built intentionally to be more affordable for the consumer, it is expected to have a slower processor and RAM. This is true, but only in comparison to the ThinkPad as the processors in the Ideapad are overall most ideal for casual users who don’t intend to multiple tasks too often or use large, memory consuming softwares such as Adobe Animator or Maya. 

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For those who use their laptop for strictly work, gaming, or longer than a few hours a day the Thinkpad T-series, X-series and Yoga are reliable and more affordable than many competitors. (especially Apple Macbook laptops).

Battery

If you’re choosing the longest lasting battery amongst the models and price is not an issue, then the ThinkPad X1 Carbon would be a fair choice as it has 18 hours of max battery life. 

Lenovo shines in battery life amongst both IdeaPad and ThinkPad models. Cheaper Ideapad models with strong processor and RAM specs will likely have a lower battery life (Lenovo has to design them to be more affordable by taking out certain functionalities).

For those seeking a strong battery life, affordability, and fast speeds in a Lenovo laptop, then you might need to sacrifice the high-end graphics card the ThinkPad P-series boasts. In this case, the IdeaPad Flex or Lenovo X or E series will meet most consumers requirements who need a good battery but don’t want to sacrifice speed or affordability.

Display 

The screen and overall sound quality of the two laptops will vary. The ThinkPad has the advantage, but the display on the Ideapad was able to compete with the Thinkpad since they’re both FHD, IPS. The IdeaPad Flex series and fold series both have touch screens that work with the Lenovo Active Pen.

Unless you are 4k video editing, then most of the ThinkPad models and their displays will be sufficient for your business needs. If you plan on doing 4k video editing and want to go Lenovo, then the Lenovo P-model is strong enough.

Audio

You will notice a significant difference between the audio of the Lenovo Thinkpad vs IdeaPad. The better choice is the ThinkPad because of it’s Dolby Atmos speaker system. For casual users the Ideapad’s sound is quite impressive, but the ThinkPad provides quality that could compete with theaters.

The IdeaPad simply has a dolby and not Dolby atmos. This means that the sound quality performs well, but its not as immersive or crystal clear as the ThinkPad. The Ideapad does not allow for individual sounds to pop as if they’re moving around you (ex. Helicopter sounds). The ThinkPad however, does have this immersive, ‘individual sound’, feature built in.

Stylus & Lenovo pens

The Lenovo Thinkpad and IdeaPad Models use a very versatile, pressure sensitive stylus Digital pen. The most common pen amongst the two laptop models is called the Lenovo Active Pen 2. They provide pressure sensitivity similar to that of a Wacom tablet and can provide graphic artists a great tool as well as business professionals an accurate pen to write on their digital whiteboards with.

To learn more about these Leno stylus options and which is the best see our posts: Lenovo Active Pen 2 vs 1 (Review & Compatibility Guide) and the 7 Best stylus pens for Lenovo Yoga & Lenovo Ideapad. These are about stylus pens that Lenovo is compatible with, how they work and which work the best based on the Lenovo device you picked.

Thinkpad vs Ideapad: Which is better for Gaming?

best lenovo gaming model ideapad vs thinkpad

The Ideapad actually has its own gaming lineup series called the Ideapad 3i (15”). However, the ThinkPad is objectively better for gaming compared to all the other ideapad models.

This is because the Thinkpad generally will have a stronger processor, RAM and display.. Not to mention it’s improved keyboard and overall more intuitive design. The IdeaPad, exclusive of the gaming models, are not intended for gaming anything with a moderate intensive graphics demand. 

The ThinkPad however has a 1TB or higher SSD storage, which is quite important for gamers amongst all the other tech specs, still I’d rather go for the IdeaPad gaming model above or the Lenovo Legion models.

Which is better for running Linux, Ideapad or Thinkpad?

Can you run linux on lenovo ideapad or thinkpad

The ThinkPad is better for running linux, especially vs the Ideapad. The reason for this is because Lenovo has aimed its intentions to certify its ThinkPad model series to be comptable and used with Linux (the operating system). 

Having Linux compatibility on the Thinkpad & Ideapad is very important for engineers and anyone on the tech side considering a Lenovo device. 

Many experts and engineers have anecdotally claimed the Ideapad to not be fit for Linux and Lenovo has specifically created ThinkPad to be compatible with Linux (not the Ideapad), which tells us something about their intentions with Linux…

Many recent models have issues with GNOME 3 not unlocking until you type in a password (very minor issue). The Lenovo ThinkPad model series generally works well  with linux if you’re buying their latest models. 

Lenovo Thinkpad vs Ideapad vs Yoga: The differences

Lenovo yoga vs ideapads breakdown details graph chart

The Lenovo Yoga is actually technically part of the Thinkpad models and is different from the IdeaPad laptops. The Thinkpad models have a premium design as well as improved hardware… and since the yoga is part of the Thinkpad series it’s considered to be a more powerful laptop than most of the Ideapad models.

The Lenovo Yoga C740 and above have over 13 hours of battery and Dolby atmos speakers. It’s super slim, lightweight and has a touchscreen display with very strong processing speed )10th gen Intel core or AMD Ryzen on select models. The Lenovo Yoga was built to be ultra portable and very quick and rivals the macbook pro in terms of many functionalities.

The screen resolution of the Yoga, vs the other Thinkpad and Ideapad laptops is fairly noticeable and its sound can reach very high levels of needed. 

The Yoga’s battery life really shines vs the ideapad models, especially considering the strong processor and thin design, making it a very impressive laptop with objectively better specs than most of the ideapad laptops, including the flex. It also has a touchscreen and is very useful for those who plan to draw, sketch or use a whiteboard on zoom.

What is Lenovo ThinkPad

Lenovo ThinkPads are the most popular model from Lenovo that date back into the 1990’s. It’s rumored to be initially sold by IBM and have been continually improved upon since. The ThinkPad is Lenovo’s most reliable laptop as it provides a quality design, laptops partsand is geared towards business users.

What makes Lenovo Thinkpads unique compared to others (Thinkpad vs Ideapad vs Yoga)

The ThinkPad is built and designed by Lenovo with the business user in mind. Meaning these laptops are upgraded to provide more powerful processing speed and durability. They’re also known to provide good privacy and security options, which is important for a startup or existing business (particularly those who aren’t in search of a macbook). 

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For example, the ThinkPad X1 Nano is extremely powerful, yet thin… while the X1 Carbon is larger, but extremely durable and powerful overall and can even replace some desktops.

What is Lenovo Yoga

Lenovo Yoga is a 2-in-1 touchscreen ThinkPad model that is highly popular amongst those choosing a Lenovo laptop. The reason why the Lenovo yoga is good for most users is that it’s design, hardware, display and performance are very well balanced and is more affordable than many competing laptops. Performance and hardware is most important when it comes to speed in a laptop like Lenovo (source)

The Yoga series from Lenovo excels for both casual and business users and is truly a well rounded laptop device. It is compatible with the Lenovo active pen, making it great for artists who want to use windows and not mac to create graphic design, animation and use the adobe suite of products.

Related: 7 Best Stylus for Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator

What is Lenovo IdeaPad

Lenovo Ideapads are essentially the same as Thinkpad, but with less expensive parts… making it an ideal laptop of choice for those who are on a budget. It’s keyboard is where it appears to lack the most. If you are someone that is okay with Lenovo cutting corners to create a low-cost laptop to use for basically browsing and general usage, then the IdeaPad is a solid choice. However, don’t expect top tier performance like you would with the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, Nano, or Yoga models. 

The stronger amongst the IdeaPad is the Flex 5 model and the IdeaPad gaming models; these have slightly higher specs than many other ideapad models in the past; and while it can’t compete with the ThinkPad in terms of raw power it’s functionality is worth its value when you’re looking for a device that can last a few years while keeping performance and battery life up to par with needs.

FAQ

AMD Ryzen Chip vs intel on Lenovo laptops: does it make a difference?

Even though Intel chips are being phased out by apple, the intel chips used in the Lenovo thinkpad and ideapad models (including Yoga and gaming models) are very strong. These chips have nearly equal performance when it comes down to everyday use. 

There is no reason to rule out intel chips (vs AMD) as they are not known to be particularly defective and the choice between the two will only matter for those utilizing high performance tasks that engineers, or studio level 3d animators may require.

Which Lenovo laptop is the best?

If you are not on a strict budget, then the best Lenovo Laptops are the ThinkPad models because they objectively outperform the Lenovo IdeaPad models when it comes to hardware & processing power benchmarks. The ThinkPad model uses stronger laptop parts whereas the Ideapad cuts corners on certain pieces of hardware to make it less expensive.

The laptop of choice for casual users is between both the Ideapad and Thinkpad since they compete with many similarities outside of raw processing power and speed. Casual laptop users will have a number of different choices that could lean either way based on how often you plan on using the laptop

Conclusion

Overall, when comparing the Lenovo ThinkPad laptop vs the Ideapad it’s crucial to understand that the Lenovo Ideapad is aimed to be an affordable, budget version of the ThinkPad models. 

The IdeaPad models are utilized best by casual users who use their laptop for low performance tasks such as emails or google docs and only use their device for less than a few hours per day. The Lenovo Thinkpad models are best suited for anyone who uses their laptop for more than 3 hours a day and plans to multi-task or use their computer for more than just browsing the web. 

The Thinkpad models are very strong and will outlast nearly every ideapad series based on pure tech specs & hardware. The processor, audio, graphics card and RAM are all slightly improved on the Thinkpad models when compared to the IdeaPad.

The Thinkpad vs Ideapad battery can be determined by max battery life and the Thinkpad model has the highest battery life possible amongst the Lenovo series. Lenovo was able to cut corners on the Ideapad to the point where it is still utilized with ease and speed by those who are students, or just desire a cheap portable laptop for simply browsing the web and watching Netflix.

You can tell the difference between the audio as the Thinkpad uses dolby atmos on most models, while the Ideapad uses simply just dolby standard. The two are very popular amongst the Lenovo lineup, but indeed have their performance differences.

This article will go over all the differences and benefits between the Lenovo Thinkpad and IdeaPad models in detail and will objectively compare the two laptop models with research, tables and charts to help you make the best decision possible.