ThinkPad E14 G2 Review (Ryzen 5): A Worthy Refresh

Extra notes made after the video. The video is our focus. We do add some extra notes below afterwards, just in case that you find it useful.

The ThinkPad E14 G2 is a recent refresh (coming alongside the E15 G2), featuring AMD’s popular Ryzen 4000 series processor. The new design refresh brings the budget focused E series into a much more modern chassis (thinner bezel, clear cut design, plus the similar trusty keypad & trackpad experience).
This model is considered the entry range ThinkPad. Sits below the L series, which sits below the T & the X series. This refresh has arguably lifted the E series upwards marginally - the feature / experience gap has thankfully been reduced.
Compared with the ProBook EliteBook G7 range - the E14 G2 is similar in the positioning to the ProBook (G7); whereas the more premium T14 / T14s is expected to match up with HP’s EliteBook lineup.

Build Quality

Design (more modern, new bezel) - refreshingly compact a chassis. The weight still feels more substantial, when directly compared to the lighter ThinkPad T series (e.g. T14s). The outside case has a reassuring finish (a few finishes available - depending on the material). The fingerprint smudges noticeably stays on the machine - having a microfibre cloth nearby, will be useful.
The inside casing immediately shows a compact design, thinner screen bezel, and a familiar ThinkPad layout. During the testing, the lid appeared to be reasonably firm & the chassis overall appeared to be reasonably robust
In use:
The keypad has a reasonable amount of travel, and has better feedback than some laptops.

E14 G2’s keypad is not easily customer swappable (as it requires a near complete disassembly; just in case you were hoping to change the language layout). The trackpad, whilst smaller by the 2020 standard, is very precise in the feedback. An external mouse might be a useful upgrade, to boost productivity.
The (optional) fingerprint reader is built into the power button (personally, I would switch the function of the power button in Windows - from “switch off” to “sleep”, to minimise the risk of switching the unit off accidentally.
Cooling & thermals:
The Ryzen 5 model which we have used for the review featured a Ryzen 5 U series low powered parts, it’s typically expected for these 15W part, to fare decently in performance to thermal trade-offs. The exhaust vent for the hot air is positioned away from your hands, just in case you plan to use an external mouse.
The surface of the laptop was not excessively hot during the testing (it was quite warm under the peak workload, nonetheless). Thermals is perhaps an area where the laptop could improve upon (heat could indeed be felt on the keypad & the base, on a heavier workload).

Config & Performance:
A popularly shipped E14 G2 spec model might be the standard/base Ryzen 5 config, with 8 RAM. If you could upgrade, then 16GB RAM plus the IPS display would be the next logical step-up. The 2nd SSD slot means that storage upgrade will be reasonably simple, provided that you're willing top open up the laptop. The newer E14 G2 appears to focus on being more versatile (stylish, more compact design), and might be more seriously considered by the consumers who appreciate quality (not just for work/business users).
The laptop has either 4 or 8GB RAM onboard, with 1x user accessible RAM slot. Lenovo notes 8GB+16GB as the maximum RAM support. Naturally, matched RAM (with matched frequency), is the best option for Ryzen (e.g. 8+8GB). As seen in the video, we were able to confirm that the bigger 1x 32GB RAM module is supported. This means that in reality, the E14 G2 should support 40GB RAM. The laptop has a second M.2 slot, for an easier storage upgrade (that said, 1x slot is for the smaller M.2 format).
There will be a starter spec 1366x768 TN panel (220nits). Our unit has had the 250 nits FHD IPS display. If a brighter display is needed, you’re able to either use the external screen, or consider the ThinkPad T/X series.
Generally speaking, for the indoor uses - the 250 nits will remain passable / workable. As it's a IPS panel, the viewing angle will be appreciated by many users. The struggle, perhaps would be apparent, if you go outside or into very bright environment. In these scenarios, either a bright portable external screen, or a different model - would be perhaps worth your consideration.
If you were thinking of upgrading the screen yourself (e.g. a brighter panel), then just a heads-up that ThinkPad E14 G2's screen is much harder to service. Simply take a look at Lenovo's hardware service manual (page 52, 82, 88 - 89). It seems that one (might) need to remove the whole screen assembly before removing the bezel + LCD. After that, it's similar to the P52 disassembly. This is not considered a customer serviceable parts, and will impact your warranty if you do it yourself.
As for the warranty, this varies depending on the vendor and the region (in many EU regions, the coverage could be upgraded from the standard depot, to onsite, to the Premiere level support). Just like the L series - Lenovo's new entry E series which we've tested, came with a standard 12-month depot warranty. On-site & longer warranty are usually upgradeable options whilst there is still active warranty cover. However, this comes at a cost and pushes the price up closer to the T / X series.
Ports / charging:
Similar to the ThinkPad L14 G1 (Ryzen), the E14 G2 also has a 45Wh battery. It’s smaller than the battery in the ThinkPad T series - nonetheless the charging with a 65W charger, is speedy. Because there is just 1 USB-C port, you’ll need a dongle, to be able to charge & use the USB-C port (e.g. for accessories / devices) at the same time. There is no Thunderbolt 3 support on this model, similar to most Ryzen laptops at this stage.
USB-C Hub / 3rd Party accessories:
Lenovo's 40AS0090UK ThinkPad USB-C Dock Gen 2 naturally is expected to work with the E14 G2. They usually come with a 90W AC charger included. Of course, there will be 3rd party USB-C accessories which are more affordable. As we've seen in the review video, it's possible to use relatively inexpensive 3rd party USB-C accessories (e.g. small hub), to charge the laptop & have ports expanded through the 1x USB-C.
The one we've tested, was under £20 in the UK (technically it was just a bit underpowered, but it was what we had in the office for the review; the performance tests were performed on the original charger direct). We've simply searched "USB-C Hub" on Amazon, just takes a bit of trial and error to find one that works. The supplied charger is 65W, so it helps to get something that could cope. This setup will probably remind you of the recent MacBooks, where this is done out of necessity - though after a while, this might still emerge as a simple way to compute (especially if you plan to move/unplug frequently; having multiple of these hubs, one at each work space, might actually result in some time saving over time).
What CPU?
We have previously focused on the range topping Ryzen 7 models in the reviews previously, when looking downwards at the entry/ mid level Ryzen products - on paper, they appear to also offer the performance edge over the previous gen (Intel products). Multi-thread is the area of strength, single core similar across the Ryzen & Intel products are sometimes faster (real world usage should show a minimal difference).
  • For the most part of the last decade, you have to pay significantly for the performance. Ryzen has a transformative effect of enabling more compute power on the same budget. Even the Ryzen 5 is a very reasonable option. Ryzen 7's main benefit, would be a faster integrated graphics (though arguably a consumer laptop, with a dedicated graphics - might be more cost effective should gaming be a focus; unless you prefer a reliable and robust business laptop, that is).
  • We were able to get between 5-6 hours of battery life during the medium workloads battery test (5 browser tabs refreshing every 20 seconds, YouTube 1080p and Spotify both playing, better battery mode, no keypad backlighting). In comparison to the Ryzen 5 powered HP EliteBook 855 G7 - the Lenovo E14 G2 appears to have a higher idling power usage (marginally less power efficiency - despite the HP having a faster CPU & bigger screen).


What’s great on the ThinkPad E14 G2:
  • Value value value (this is the new starter Ryzen powered ThinkPad)
  • Good price to performance ratio (on the base model)
  • Almost X1 carbon sized (has noticeably more height, still impressive
  • Speakers are reasonable (could do with more bass)
What could be better on the E14 G2:
  • Limited ports:
    • USB-C can’t be used at the same time as charger (without accessories)
    • No card reader & 1x USB 2 in 2020?
  • Keypad is not customer serviceable
  • Brighter display options would have been much appreciated

Refresh gives laptops manufacturers the means to reposition their products. From briefly looking, it has really worked well for the E14 G2. laptop offers more power than before, at the E series price range. There are fewer trade-offs - which mainly being: the limited ports, fewer display options, shorter standard warranty.

  • Ask: do you actually need a business laptop? Consumer laptops are usually built for 1-2 years; business laptops 3-5 years. There is sometimes a premium for the business laptops. Sometimes a consumer laptop might have a better fit at the budget price range. Just be conscious that the L/T/ X series have more in common in the business features. Consider perhaps side loading the T/L series makes sense; or even a H series laptop
  • What do I need it for? We’ve brought this point on the L14 review. There is the advantage to keep base models close to the base (except for the RAM). The more you upgrade: the more it will lift the price up closer to the L or the T series.
  • In your area, Ryzen laptops are short in supply - some customers will be open to using it for this round, this isn’t as much money to drop as a T14s, on something that’s quite quaffable.

If you accept that you’ve got to get into this with a managed expectation - then you’ll probably like the machine. This isn’t the fastest, lightest, ThinkPad, but it’s the new starter ThinkPad. It should get better from here on.

Want to buy one?

Note from CruiseTech: the content here is aimed to be facts focused, for information only. We're a small UK based laptop refurb company & are keen for there to be better information (on the more recent products) & hope to compile more of these. If you do decide to buy it new from Lenovo website, we would really appreciate it, if you might consider using our affiliate links.

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