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Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 (AMD) Review: A Sleek Ultra-Portable Laptop

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The Lenovo Z13 Gen 2 open.

Key Takeaways

  • The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 is a premium, lightweight laptop with a 13.3-inch OLED screen and impressive specs.
  • The laptop offers a long-lasting battery life and vibrant graphics on its OLED display.
  • While the performance is solid, there are moments of slower processing, limited port options, and a so-so-speaker system.


I was excited to get my hands on the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2, the smaller one of the ThinkPad Z laptops, after reviewing the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2. Its premium look and feel aren’t where its beauty stops—the Z13 is a fantastically portable device packed with respectable features, such as up to 64GB of RAM, an OLED display, and an AMD CPU and GPU.

I received the Z13 Gen 2 model 21JV000GUS, which comes with 32GB of RAM, an AMD Ryzen 7 Pro processor, a 2.8K OLED display, and 1TB of storage. You can upgrade (or downgrade) your build according to your preferences. In my time spent with the Z13 Gen 2, I wasn’t blown out of the water by its overall performance but instead found it a solid laptop that’s a fantastic choice for people who want something extremely light and portable that can still handle a lot of processing-heavy work tasks, plus some enjoyable media consumption and casual gaming. And yeah, you might just want to buy it for the 2.8K OLED screen, which makes streaming feel immersive, despite the small 13-inch screen.


Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 laptop is a premium portable option that suits students, working professionals, and anyone who wants something lightweight but powerful.

Operating System
Windows 11 Pro

CPU
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 7840U (3.3GHz to 5.1GHz)

GPU
AMD Radeon 780M

RAM
32GB (soldered); upgradable to 64GB

Storage
1TB (M.2 2242 SSD)

Display (Size, Resolution)
13.3-inch OLED screen with 2.8K (2,880 x 1,800)

Camera
1080P FHD IR+RGB with Electronic Privacy Shutter

Speakers
2 x 2W Dolby Atmos Speakers

Colors
Arctic Grey, Flax fiber bronze

Ports
2 x USB4 (USB-C) 40Gbps ports (support for data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0, and DisplayPort 1.4a), 1 x 3.5mm Headphone / microphone combo jack

Dimensions
11.59 x 7.86 x 0.55in (294.4 x 199.6 x 13.99mm)

Weight
Starting at 2.74lbs (1.24kg)

Brand
Lenovo

Model
21V000GUS

Adaptor and Battery
65W USB-C (2-pin) AC adapter, Integrated Li-Polymer 51.5Wh battery, supports Rapid Charge (up to 80% in 1hr)

Keyboard
10keyless chiclet keyboard

Audio
High Definition (HD) Audio, Realtek ALC3306

Connectivity
MediaTek Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Box contents
1 x Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 AMD laptop, 1 x 65W AC adapter, 1 x user manial

Starting Price
$1,241.40

Pros

  • Vibrant 2.8K OLED Display
  • Lightweight and portable at only 13.3 inches
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Gorgeous graphics and nice GPU
Cons

  • Has moments of slower processing
  • Only two USB4 ports
  • Speaker system is so-so

Design: A Tiny but Mighty ThinkPad

Rear angled view of the open Lenovo Z13 Gen 2.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

Made of sturdy recycled aluminum, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 laptop’s build looks and feels premium. Although the top lid is slim, it doesn’t feel too flimsy. The bottom is weighty enough to feel great while typing or holding the laptop without being too heavy. Those familiar with the Z13 Gen 1 will notice that the Gen 2 bypassed the vegan leather look and instead offers, if you so choose, a “flax fiber with bronze aluminum” design. Mine was the standard “Arctic Grey” version.

The top cover features the Lenovo logo and the ThinkPad logo with its red indicator light that stays on in perpetuity while the laptop is in use or blinks red when it is shut and on sleep. The Z13 also has an excellent brushed metal cover on the bezel. When it’s open, you’ll see the dual microphones on the top edge of the bezel, and at the top of the bezel, built into the screen, is the IR camera.


The laptop’s base houses the large 10keyless chiclet keyboard, which also includes a customizable TrackPoint button. The keyboard takes up about 60% of the surface area, and right below it is a 2.79 by 4.72-inch glass-surface touchpad.

Ports: Two Good Ones… and Nothing Else

By way of ports, this Z13 doesn’t offer much to write home about. However, the two ports included are USB4 with a 40Gbps speed. (In case you’re unaware of what USB4 is, it’s basically an upgraded version of a standard USB-C port, comparable to Thunderbolt 4, though in some arguments, USB-4 isn’t quite as good as this counterpart due to specific limitations).

I digress. The Z13 has two USB4 ports (one on each side of the laptop) and a headphone/microphone combo jack on the right side.


The USB4 ports served me well for my purposes, but I was sorely missing a USB-A port, as many of my cables are USB-A. Yep, it’s one of the most common problems people face with a USB-C-only laptop. I had to use a USB-A to USB-C dongle to plug in devices like my Phillips digital recorder and, when I needed a posture change, my Bluetooth keyboard. If I were to buy the Z13 for myself, I would invest in a USB-C hub, which I should probably do anyway since this problem will never go away unless I switch out all my cables.

I also had one tiny gripe worth mentioning—the power button below the USB4 port on the right side is tiny and relatively hard to push and hold down if you want to manually turn off the laptop.


Inputs: The Keyboard, Touchpad, and Touchscreen

The TrackPoint of the Lenovo Z13 Gen 2.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

Like other ThinkPads I’ve reviewed, such as the ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 or the ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3, the inputs of the Z13 all have the comfortable and premium feel that the ThinkPad line is known for. Despite the Z13’s small build, the keyboard is full-size and has a pleasantly springy type feel. I also appreciated, as I usually do, the inclusion of the Trackpoint, which helped me make precise mouse movements without moving my right hand from the keyboard area.

The precision touchpad delivered accuracy anytime I used it, whether I was scrolling, clicking, or tapping. Unlike other touchpads, which sometimes miss light taps, the Z13’s never failed to recognize a tap.

The touchscreen was also sensitive enough to provide accurate typing and tapping, whether using the touch keyboard or simply hitting the “save” button in my word processor.


Display and Graphics: A Bright OLED Beauty

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The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen2 laptop playing a nature video of a puffin.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

BBC Earth

When I watched nature videos on YouTube, such as options from BBC Earth, to streaming “Sleepless in Seattle” and Bravo reality shows on Peacock, the ThinkPad Z13 Gen2 consistently provided vibrant graphics with a pleasant contrast and depth of color. The crispness of color and image came through especially while I was watching a BBC Earth video of people feeding whale sharks and puffins protecting their young (vibrant greens, hues of orange, and the clarity of ocean water were all gorgeous to look at). Even while watching movies with a darker tone, the contrast remained above-average, rather than murky as I’ve noticed sometimes occurs on non-OLED screens.


While the 2.8K OLED display provided binge-worthy imagery, in bright rooms mid-afternoon, I wished that the brightness was slightly higher. I kept the screen at about 350 to 400 nits most of the time but I would have felt better watching videos, TV, and more in my bright living room if its max brightness was 500 rather than 400 nits.

Meanwhile, the gaming graphics were also engrossing. Scenes during different games popped with vibrant colors and really shone on the OLED display, especially when the gaming had more shadows and blacker blacks.


Performance: Solid and Trustworthy, but Not Lightning Speed

AMD Ryzen Pro 7 processor sticker on the Lenovo Z13 Gen 2.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

My model came with the AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 7840U processor, which handled many tasks with ease alongside the 32GB of RAM, but I found that the CPU commonly lacked the speeds I was hoping to find. Starting up the Z13 took longer than other similar ThinkPads and several product downloads took longer than I anticipated. This isn’t to say the Z13 was slow by any means, but it wasn’t as fast as other Lenovos I’ve worked with that also had 32GB of memory. For instance, the Z13 began to lag in speed when I had about 20 browser tabs open (with one playing a movie on Peacock), as well as a few office programs, the Xbox app, and the Microsoft store. I should note that you can upgrade the Z13’s memory to 64GB, which would make the speed faster for multitasking purposes.


Gaming Performance: Only Good for a Small Amount of Casual Gaming

Gaming with the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 wasn’t enjoyable unless I was playing a game with low to medium resource requirements. While playing “Atomic Heart,” for example, I had to adjust the graphics settings down to “low” or “medium” to make it playable, and even after doing that, the latency during some of the gameplay made playing it anything but smooth. Other games, such as “Planet of Lana,” performed well enough to make any casual gamer happy. But I consistently ran into issues with games such as “The Last Case of Benjamin Fox” or “Bramble: The Mountain King.” As expected, the specs couldn’t handle “A Plague Tale: Requiem,” even when I adjusted the graphics quality way down.

Moderate to heavy gamers might want to look elsewhere, but if you only play an occasional game here and there, the quality should be usable. On a 3DMark “Time Spy” benchmark test, the Z13 failed to pass, earning a grade of 96.9% frame rate stability (just below passing at 97%).


Sights and Sounds: Pleasant as Any Premium

The closed Lenovo Z13 Gen 2 laptop.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

I enjoyed listening to music as I worked via the two AI-powered 2W Dolby Atmos speakers, but I had to turn the volume up to about 80 to 100% for it to be a good volume. That said, I didn’t notice much distortion, even when listening to crunchy guitar-laden music like the blues or hard rock. But I found the speakers sounded the best when recordings were more simplistic, focusing on one to three instruments and vocals more than a complex, noisy blend, such as some vocal-heavy jazz tracks from Chet Baker and Etta James. The speakers do have a sort of condensed quality to them, but this is nothing I wouldn’t expect from most laptop speaker systems, which are still sorely behind in audio quality compared to external speakers and even some smartphone speakers. Of course, you can always improve the sound of the laptop’s speakers by investing in some desktop speaker systems or using good-quality wired headphones.


The camera on the Z13 Gen 2 gave me a pleasant video stream, no matter what video conferencing platform I was using. In bright lighting, the camera provides a clear stream with a tinge of gauzy softness. It isn’t the crispest webcam I’ve seen, but it provides an above-average image that works well for professional and personal calls, and it also performs fairly well in low lighting, though when video chatting a family member to stream a movie together from states away, I did notice that in little-to-no lighting, it’s as grainy as one would expect.

The dual microphone system captures the human voice well, and it has noise-canceling features that work well to cut out background noise. In a noisy environment, I was still audible to the people on the other end of the call, and the recordings also came through crystal clear. It does cut out noises at higher volumes, which I discovered in singing tests.


Battery and Charging: Long-Lasting Battery Life

The Lenovo Z13 Gen 2 with its charger.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek


The battery life for the Z13 Gen 2 is sitting somewhere between average and above average, and it charges relatively fast, too, so if you’re on the go, it’s not a laptop that will drain so quickly you’ll be plugging in every hour, but you will need to charge up at least once per day if you use it longer than three hours at a time. On average, the battery drained 0.38% every minute, or about 22.8% per hour (about 100% drain in two hours and 36 minutes. It charged up quickly, averaging 1.04% battery gain per minute, which equals a 62.4% charge in one hour.

My experience with the battery makes the up to 16.5-hour MobileMark score seem a bit high, but I kept it consistently at 300 to 400 nits, while the benchmark measured performance at 250 nits.

Should You Buy the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 (AMD) Laptop?

The closed Lenovo Z13 Gen 2 laptop.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 is a premium offering that’s a good choice for anyone who travels a lot or wants a portable laptop with decent processing power. However, it has some weaknesses in terms of its speaker system, an occasional lag when heavily multitasking, and a lack of port options that might make this a poor choice for you. If you’re looking for something different, the ThinkPad Z16 Gen 2 performed better in some of these categories, as did the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10.


If you’re ready to call the compact Z13 your own, you can buy the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 starting at $1,241.40 today.

The Lenovo Z13 Gen 2 open.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 laptop is a premium portable option that suits students, working professionals, and anyone who wants something lightweight but powerful.

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