Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 (Intel) Review

The Lenovo ThinkPad T14 & T15 Gen 2 are among the earlier batch of ThinkPads to ship with the 10nm Intel 11th Gen processor. The T series firmly remains Lenovo’s popular business lineup.
  • The ThinkPad T14/T15 Gen 2 have the more powerful built-in Xe graphics, along with the Thunderbolt 4 ports & a new optional grey chassis finish.
  • The general chassis design (and keypad) remain largely the same as the previous ThinkPad T14 Gen 1 (this might be a sign of relief for the customers who have found the X1 Nano & X1 Carbon 9’s keypad to be too different).
  • Some other subtle changes include the marginally more powerful optional entry-range dedicated graphics card (MX450 2GB GDDR6) & the improved display out options (T14 Gen 2 now has HDMI 2.0). We’re mostly focused on the Intel side of the offering here because of the earlier availability; whereas the AMD powered T14/T15 Gen 2 is due later this year.
Lenovo is known to cycle through designs once every 2-3 years. It’s likely that they have chosen to play it safe, in the context of global supply side shortage, partly due to the work from home trend (reusing a tried & tested design, also helps a product to be more easily understood by the customers). Still - all these small improvements will make the system more usable - so it would be uncharitable to regard the ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 as merely a processor refresh.


In addition to the usual black outside casing finish - the ThinkPad T14 & T15 Gen 2 will be offered in a new "Storm Grey" design - though only the screen lid is made out of aluminum. This aluminium model mentioned is a marginal 30g lighter. In all likeness - it will be probably very rarer to see. There is some dependency between the lid, 4G, and the screen options.


  • The 10nm Tigerlake is finally here with the T14 Gen 2. Lenovo previously has skipped the Ice Lake 10nm from Intel - as result, the 10th Gen processor found inside the T14 Gen 1 was still the 14nm Comet Lake based chip (derived from the Skylake architecture).
  • The 11th Gen is expected to be a reasonable upgrade in the CPU side (coming up from the 14nm tech). The 11th Gen U-Series processor now also brings the core count back to 4 (the 6 cores i7-10810U option was always rare on the T14 Gen 1). If we ignore the other ecosystems (e.g. Apple M1 and AMD Ryzen - then it’s really good to see Intel making some progress on their processor).
The ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 with the Core i7 model tends to house a slightly more powerful XE Graphics with 16 more execution units (vs 80 on the i5 models). Review of the 11th Gen processor (Tiger Lake based) will be widely available online. In any sense, it’s really refreshing to see Lenovo ThinkPad gradually moving on from the 14nm based Skylake architecture.


To sum-up the display spec (in comparison to the T14 Gen 1):
  • The entry range TN panel option is gone ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 (phew!).
  • Standard non-touch FHD IPS now starts at 300-nits (up from 250nits on the T14 Gen 1)
  • 4K DolbyVision screen is no longer glossy; factory calibration offered (assuming the Lenovo spec sheet is correct).
Generally speaking - targeting for a better colour accuracy on an external display, will be easier to achieve. For most users - the base 300-nits FHD IPS panel will be sufficiently decent; the 400-nits FHD IPS low power screen is very much a bonus.
The 4K “DolbyVision” screen tends to be very stunning (it has a wider colour gamut with 100% AdobeRGB support). It is expected to affect the battery life, though for the more graphics design focused users, it may be worth considering.

 Improved Display Out

Lenovo has noted an improved display out capability on the ThinkPad Gen 2:
T14 Gen 2: Supports up to 4 independent displays via native display and 3 external monitors; supports external monitors via Thunderbolt™ (5K@60Hz) or HDMI® (up to 4K@60Hz) Notes: 1. Refresh rates >60hz also supported, however max resolution will be limited

T14 Gen 1: Supports up to 3 independent displays via native display and 2 external monitors; supports external monitors via HDMI® (up to 4096x2160@24Hz), USB-C (up to 4096x2304@60Hz) or Thunderbolt™ (up to 4096x2304@60Hz)


The keypad is great - it has the 1.8mm travel (this has reduced to 1.5mm on the thinner 2021 ThinkPad T14s model). If you're not familiar with the ThinkPads, you will have the option to swap the FN with the left Ctrl button.
The keypad, general chassis design remain largely the same as the previous ThinkPad T14; this might be a sign of relief for the customers who have found the X1 Nano & X1 Carbon 9’s keypad travel to be too different.


In our tests, the speakers have a marginally louder maximum volume at approx 75db in comparison to the T14 Gen 1 (approx 72 db).
The amount of bass could be improved (relative to the decent standard set by the X1 Carbon level of quality, it’s less superlative).
That said, this is a business focused laptop - so an external pair of noise cancelling headphones, or speakers would be useful additions.


It’s perhaps best to describe the internal webcam as "functional".
We hope to see more laptops having a better webcam in the future, an external quality webcam (e.g. Logitech C920/C922) is arguably a useful kit for a mobile professional who might sometimes work from home.
There is a slight audio lag which is more noticeable when you move and the internal microphone sounds slightly tinny in an open plan office setting (your milage may vary).

Noise & Thermals

We’ve looked at the temperature of the T14 Gen 2 under load.
  • The processor does get hot in the CPU + GPU workload, this is expected - the heat exhausts onto the right hand side, and the base cover does get noticeably warm.
  • The T14 Gen 2 has an aggressive turboboost curve in the first few minutes, resulting in a boost in the performance (and also temperature).
  • We’re still reasonably early in the T14 Gen 2’s lifecycle, Lenovo is known to optimise the power management and thermals of the machines over time, so the video review we’ve uploaded, is a “point in time” indication of the performance.


Here are the rating from Lenovo:
T14 Gen 2: MobileMark® 2018: 10.7 hr JEITA 2.0: 14.5 hr
T14 Gen 1: MobileMark 2018: 11.45 hr JEITA 2.0: 17.05 hr
Battery life in the medium workload:
In our tests, we’ve found that Lenovo’s T14 Gen 2 is more power hungry in similar workload (and across the board). Using the same sized 50Wh battery - nets you less battery runtime. We’ve seen the reduction from about 5.5 hours to 4.5 hours in our web browser test (YouTube 1080P playback + 5 tabs refreshing at 30s interval).
Battery life in heavy CPU workload:
At the first glance, when we ran the 10mins cycle of the CineBench R23 benchmark, it was clear that the T14 Gen 2 used more power than the T14 Gen 1 (to sustain a higher performance) - 14% vs 6% drain within 10mins respectively (Gen 2 vs Gen 1).
However, this has reversed when we’ve extended the CineBench R23 runtime to 30mins: now showing 34% vs 42% drain respectively (Gen 2 vs Gen 1). It’s clear - that after the burst period, the Gen 2 seems to settle on a more managed down power usage pace (under 20W CPU TDP sustained).

Exploring the power use with a heavier CPU + Graphics workload (FurMark)

Looking at our CPU power usage graph (bottom left chart), it’s clear that the T14 Gen 2’s (green line on the graphs) burst power is only sustainable within the first 5-6 mins (indirectly, some benchmarks complete in this duration & may look better as result).
By contrast, the T14 G 1 (red line on the graphs) has a much flatter power usage, going quickly from 50W to 25W. Interestingly, the ThinkPad T14 Gen 2’s sustained power usage is lower than the Gen 1 at around 20W (this is likely because the platform has a more power hungry Xe Graphics).
The 10nm CPU aggressively goes to around 64W (see bottom left), which manages down quickly (see top right). At the peak - this is a rather powerful animal. During the benchmark, as you can see, the frequent T14 Gen 1 (red) frequency was between 19.47W and 28.35W. Whereas the Gen 2 (green) has used a lower 19.47W power, as you can see in the second image.
However, it’s not without drawbacks: during this time, the CPU thermal throttles at points within the first 3 mins of the benchmark (see top right) & the temperature reaches close to 100°C here - it’s arguable that this burst performance is very much temporary. Similarly, the total system power usage (bottom right) exceeds the 65W charger rating momentarily at points, in the first 2 mins, but then moves back within the 65W range.
At the peak power usage - we’ve recorded base cover peak temperature of approximately 65°C on the T14 Gen 2 (it was slightly warmer than the T14 Gen 1); however, for the longer workload, the temperature has reduced marginally back to around 60°C
Overall, the T14 Gen 2 (in green) has a very high PL1 & PL2 rating at 64W at the beginning of a burst workload (on the high performance mode vs approx 51W on the T14 Gen 1). This is higher than the T14 Gen 1. This is quickly managed down as the system temperature increases.


The RAM & SSD upgrades are considered user serviceable. The Wifi is soldered onboard. The screen is not considered "user serviceable" and may impact the warranty if self serviced.
Upto 48GB RAM support (DDR4-3200 RAM)
For the general workload and Windows everyday, the 8GB onboard + extra RAM should be sufficient. RAM frequency has typically made less difference on the Intel side (thought the more powerful Xe graphics is a new factor here, and could benefit from the bandwidth boost from a dual-channel 3200Mhz setup, especially in the 3D workloads).
The onboard RAM capacity is available in either 8 or 16GB - leaving you with 1x RAM slot. This means that you can upgrade to either 40GB or 48GB RAM (using 1x 32GB SODIMM stick). This requires for the base cover to be removed.
  • T14 Gen 2: 3200Mhz RAM now fully enabled
  • T14 Gen 1: some models have shipped with 3200Mhz RAM, but they were hardware limited to 2666 Mhz.

Upgradeable SSD Storage:

There is 1x full size M.2 slot (in total) enabling you to upgrade, if needed. The CrystalDiskMark in the review video has shown a decent 512GB speed (Lenovo multi-sources SSDs, so the unit level disk performance may vary, you’ll no doubt get decent options most of the time).
T14 Gen 2: Supports PCIe NVMe, PCIe 4.0 x4
T14 Gen 1: Supports PCIe NVMe, PCIe 3.0 x4
  • Noticeably, Lenovo mentions that "the SSD with PCI 4.0 performance is downgraded to closer to PCIe 3.0x4 performance" - so there won't be a noticeable difference to go for the more costly PCI 4 SSD. This isn’t a surprise to see on the laptop side, because the PCIe 4 is known to have a higher power requirement.
  • Octane is no longer offered as an option (not that it really was significantly helpful when the last gen T14 mostly came with SSDs).
  • Lenovo offers a “keep your disk” service in terms of warranty, in case your organisation has to retain the disk for security purposes.
  • Whilst Lenovo is keen on there being 1x boot SSD - it’s interesting to see some range e.g. ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 having more storage slots.
Performance TLDR:
We’ve examined the performance in our video.
  • The Intel 10nm Tiger Lake offers a decent performance boost generally, and noticeably especially in some use-cases over the ThinkPad T14 Gen 1 (e.g. performance on the battery model has increased noticeably in some workloads). The more powerful CPU core, has also increases the performance of the eGPU in some CPU bottlenecked scenarios (see our Adobe Premiere export test in the video). In general windows workload: the standard single channel RAM (in our test system) gives a good level of performance boost on the ThinkPad T14 Gen 1.
  • The Xe Graphics is indeed more powerful than before. It appears that dual-channel RAM may help to lift the performance further (as seen on the HeavenBench result in our review video).

What about the AMD model?

Looking at the ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 (Intel), you might inevitably draw a comparison with the equivalent AMD powered ThinkPad machines. The ThinkPad T14/T15 Gen 2 (AMD)’s availability is expected to be later this year (2-3 month following the Intel model at the earliest).
  • If you're buying for personal use - then the T14 Gen 2 (Intel) should be thought of as a decently fast ThinkPad & reasonably comparable to the ThinkPad T14 (AMD) Gen 2 in the everyday work (single-threaded workloads). The AMD model, will be likely to hold an edge in the multi-tasking workloads. The AMD Vega vs Intel Xe graphics seems to house similar performance. The battery life is expected to be close (varies depending on the usage pattern). However, the Intel based models may retain the overall crown in terms of the system level features (inc eGPU support, via the Thunderbolt 4 port, however niche it might be).
  • There will be companies who are watching the AMD Ryzen laptop models with interest, but have not deployed at scale. Arguably there is an increased cost to deploy the non-Intel machines initially, partly because the I.T depts may have to troubleshoot more remotely, partly because of the increased turnaround speed due to COVID - now that a higher % of the colleagues may be working from home (asking the user to bring the machine to the I.T dept onsite might be sometimes less feasible).
  • It may well be that companies' decision are based on the the ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 (Intel) vs the older ThinkPad T14 Gen 1 / P14s Gen 1 (AMD) - whilst AMD improves their availability. This is likely to be an ongoing factor on the the buying decision (even after the AMD model comes to the market): if you have to wait longer (e.g. a few extra weeks for the AMD) vs immediate availability on the Intel - then the Intel may look like the sensible option (deploy something vs delay deployment). The ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 (Intel) model is already on the market with what seems to be a reasonable stock level in the EMEA markets, at the time of writing in May 2021).
  • Furthermore: whilst to the I.T focused people may regard the AMD Ryzen Pro will be seen as a reasonable platform, there will still be some short term expectation management to navigate with the customers/users (e.g. in relation to the I.T Customer Satisfaction Survey). When deploying the non-Core i7 option, you might still come across the odd few “What is this AMD laptop / has my machine been downgraded / do I mean less to the employer / why can’t I have the Core i7” queries (to which many I.T colleagues may simply reply - “it’s a comparable machine to what you’ve had previously performance wise, and is from a popular product line-up from a reputable vendor”; it’s a change to navigate nonetheless).

Consider buying "Like-new" & "Refurb" models:

Refurb ThinkPad T14 / P14s Gen 1 (AMD) may be useful to take a look at in terms of value (if you don’t need ThunderBolt 3 / eGPU support), as an alternative. You often can get a very reasonable condition laptop, at a more accessible price in the refurb market.

Our previous reviews on the YouTube channel, has covered these AMD powered gen 1 models.


We've covered the benchmarks in some detail in our review video - here are a few screenshots:


If you’re using a ThinkPad T470 or older machine still - then this will definitely be worth an upgrade performance wise. If you’re using a T480 or newer, you might benefit from an enhanced performance level (especially the performance whilst using the battery). The Xe graphics is also a nice bonus over before. Overall, additionally the laptop will feel like a modern treat (e.g. 4K screen, etc).
Many companies operate a 3-4 year I.T refresh cycle, so at work, it may be that many ThinkPad T490 or T14 Gen 1 users will not be in the upgrade cycle yet (unless it’s their personal machines). Keep in mind that of course, the COVID situation has affected how people use the laptops & how companies look at the lifecycle of their equipment (e.g. Investing in higher quality laptops to improve employee retention? Shortening the upgrade cycle where it’s feasible?)

What's Great about the ThinkPad T14 Gen 2:

Thunderbolt 4 & eGPU support
T14 Gen 2 (AMD) model lacks this support - could make a difference in rendering, etc.
The display out capability also has improved (HDMI 2, etc), more outputs.
A reasonable CPU uplift
The CPU seems to retain its performance better on the battery mode.
Better graphics capability:
A good uplift in the Xe Graphics + optional NVIDIA option.
Improved base screen option
TN option gone & has a brighter base FHD IPS at 300 nits
A understood design that appears to be reasonably durable.
It retains many classic attractive ThinkPad attributes (relative to the other new line-up):
Great 1.8mm keyboard travel
Same full-sized M.2 Support - convenient for upgrading (few new ThinkPads have moved to the smaller M.2 2242 - more expensive & are only available in small sizes)

What could be improved on the ThinkPad T14 Gen 2:

Same design cues as before, to be picky:
  • The cooling vent directs air onto your right hand side; the sharp front palmrest edge takes some getting used to (external keypad & mouse solves both);
  • The lid does not appear to support a convincing one-handed opening.
  • The base cover could get toasty under heavier CPU + GPU workload.
  • T14 Gen 2’s base cover remains somewhat less easy to open.
Many laptops have moved to 4:3 or 16:10 aspect ratio.
Would be good to see the dual heatpipe heat-sink on all the T14 Gen 2 models (for improved cooling, especially considering that the Xe graphics is more powerful).
Webcam is functional: although better speakers & webcam next generation would be appreciated.
The PCIe 4 speed on the SSD is downgraded on the T14 Gen 2, materialising in a similar SSD performance to the T14 Gen 1 (this is to be expected, as ultrabooks are optimised for battery & PCIe 4 uses more power)
The battery should be larger: the same 50Wh battery inside delivers slightly less runtime, but at least you can get external portable batteries (USB-C).
Where can I buy the ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 (Intel i7)?
You can find Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 here (affiliate link):

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