Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 review – aimed at students and professionals

Ladies and gentlemen, today we have another business device. It’s the ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 and looks like a typical ThinkPad – robust, industrial, and stable. Some people might get pretty annoyed by the similarity between most devices of this series, but at the end of the day it comes down to brand recognition.

Interestingly, there is a “CO2 Compensated” sticker on the palm rest area of the device. This reveals Lenovo’s intentions and efforts in decreasing its carbon footprint by running different projects. Ultimately, they offer business consumers the chance to participate and therefore compensate for their carbon footprint.

Back to the laptop, it comes equipped with the entire Tiger Lake lineup. Ultimately, this means that your ThinkPad won’t be a slouch. Well, just on paper. On the other hand, it is a bit unfortunate to see that the manufacturer is still offering a business laptop in 2021 with a 768p TN panel as a base option. Respectively, you can choose a 1080p IPS panel, with or without touch sensitivity.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/lenovo-thinkpad-l13-gen-2-intel/

Contents

Specs Sheet

Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 (Intel) – Specs

M.2 Slot

1x M.2 NVMe slot

OS

Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home

Battery

46Wh, 46Wh, 4-cell

Dimensions

311.5 x 219 x 17.6 mm (12.26″ x 8.62″ x 0.69″)

Body material

Plastic / Polycarbonate, Aluminum, Glass Fiber

Ports and connectivity

  • 2x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort
  • 1x USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4, Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort
  • HDMI 2.0
  • Card reader MicroSD
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac/ax
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Audio jack 3.5mm Combo Jack

Features

  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone Dual Array Microphone
  • Speakers 2x 2W, Dolby Audio
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot
  • Side Docking Connector

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, you will find the mandatory paperwork, as well as a 65W USB Type-C power brick.

Design and construction

Although this laptop doesn’t resemble the latest design features in the world. However, where it lacks visually, it makes up with premium materials. The lid is made out of aluminum, while the base is a glass fiber plastic composite. This makes the device resilient and light with the scales showing 1.39 kg. Its profile is a bit thick for a 13-incher this year, but still, 17.6mm is not too bad either.

Unfortunately, the lid can’t be opened with a single hand. Otherwise, the laptop looks okay for this year, although its top and bottom bezels are pretty thick. Above the matte display, you can see an IR face recognition system alongside an HD camera with a privacy shutter.

It is when you look at the keyboard, where you will realize how good the traditional ThinkPad design actually is. It has a backlight and a spill-resistant layer. But the icing on the cake is definitely the experience it provides. This is thanks to the long key travel and clicky feedback.

In its middle, you will notice the Red Nipple (dully called the TrackPoint by Lenovo). It is paired with a trio of buttons, placed above the touchpad. Respectively, the latter has a clicking mechanism built right into it, which works just fine. Additionally, the Mylar surface offers a decent gliding experience. By the way, right next to the touchpad, you will see the fingerprint reader.

Turn the laptop upside down to see the speaker cutouts and the surprisingly big ventilation grills. Heat exhaust happens through some vents on the back of the device.

Ports

On the left side of the notebook, there is a USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, followed by a Thunderbolt 4 connector, Ethernet extension connector, a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, and an audio jack. Switch sides, and you will find the Kensington security slot, an HDMI 2.0 connector, a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, a MicroSD card slot, and the power button.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

To take this laptop apart, you need to undo 9 captive Phillips-head screws. Then, the procedure is as easy as prying the bottom panel with a plastic tool.

The battery inside has a 46Wh capacity.

What we don’t like seeing on business notebooks is soldered memory. Unfortunately, this is the situation here, as the manufacturer provides versions of the device with 4, 8, and 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. Respectively, the storage is comprised of one M.2 PCIe x4 slot.

As for the cooling, there is one heat pipe, connected to a medium-sized heat sink.

Display quality

Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 is equipped with a Full HD IPS panel, Chi Mei N133HCE-EAA (LEN4094). Its diagonal is 13.3-inch (33.78 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1080p. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 166 ppi, their pitch – 0.153 х 0.153 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 53 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Viewing angles are comfortable. We offer images at different angles to evaluate the quality.

The maximum measured brightness is 258 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 247 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 8%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 7100K – colder than the 6500K temperature for sRGB.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 73% Brightness (White level = 143 cd/m2, Black level = 0.11 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is good – 1280:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 54% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 19 ms.

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.

Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2’s display uses PWM for up to 67 nits and with a very high frequency. This makes it comfortable for long periods of use.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 configurations with 13.3″ Chi Mei N133HCE-EAA (LEN4094) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS panel.

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia’s products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work - screen profile

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming - screen profile

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard - screen profile

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

All

Sound

Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2’s sound quality is decent. However, there are deviations across the entire frequency spectrum.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be downloaded from here: https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/products/laptops-and-netbooks/thinkpad-l-series-laptops/thinkpad-l13-gen-2-type-20vh-20vj/downloads/driver-list

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. This device’s 46Wh battery lasts for 8 hours and 33 minutes of Web browsing, and 6 hours and 50 minutes of video playback.

CPU options

There are a ton of choices you get with this device. Starting with the Celeron 6305, Core i3-1115G4, then Core i5-1135G7, Core i5-1145G7, and finishing with the Core i7-1165G7 and Core i7-1185G7.

GPU options

There is no dedicated graphics here. This leaves you with the UHD Graphics, Iris Xe Graphics G4, and the Iris Xe Graphics G7 with 80EUs and 96EUs.

Gaming tests

cs-go-benchmarks

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i3-1115G4 (15W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 3.61 GHz (B+20%) @ 90°C @ 26W 3.37 GHz (B+12%) @ 90°C @ 22W 2.97 GHz @ 80°C @ 15W
MSI Modern 14 (B11) 3.89 GHz (B+29%) @ 90°C @ 35W 3.69 GHz (B+23%) @ 92°C @ 32W 3.57 GHz (B+19%) @ 93°C @ 29W
Dell Inspiron 14 5406 2-in-1 3.49 GHz (B+16%) @ 99°C @ 27W 2.79 GHz @ 89°C @ 17W 2.61 GHz @ 86°C @ 15W
Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 3.99 GHz (B+33%) @ 77°C @ 31W 3.99 GHz (B+33%) @ 92°C @ 31W 3.58 GHz (B+19%) @ 87°C @ 26W

Adjusted to the temperature, the ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 performed pretty well. However, it is trailing behind the MSI Modern 14 (B11), and its cousin – the ThinkPad E14 Gen 2.

Comfort during full load

Unfortunately, the Extreme performance profile has the drawback of high temperatures and pretty high noise levels for a 13-inch business machine.

Verdict

Lenovo says that this laptop is aimed at students, and people who work either at home or at the office. As such, it should provide a hassle-free experience and decent connectivity, combined with wide I/O. And a wide I/O it has. Among the numerous ports, you will find a Thunderbolt 4 connector, an Ethernet extension jack, and a MicroSD card slot.

Moreover, the performance of our unit wasn’t bad, considering we had it with the Core i3-1115G4. Indeed, if your work comprises more intensive apps, you should pick a higher-tier CPU.

Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2’s IPS panel (Chi Mei N133HCE-EAA) has a Full HD resolution, comfortable viewing angles, and a good contrast ratio. Its backlight doesn’t flicker after 67 nits, and before that, it uses high-frequency pulsations, which are not particularly harmful. On the other hand, it covers only 54% of the sRGB color gamut.

Keep in mind that this laptop has one of the best keyboards for this size. Also, the device provides two levels of biometrics – fingerprint reader, and IR face recognition. Not on the last place – you get a privacy shutter, so no unwanted peeks through your camera.

Unfortunately, we were really disappointed to see that the memory is soldered to the motherboard. However, the use of full-blown DDR4-3200 RAM is good, as it means you get the full bandwidth, compared to the LPDDR4x memory.

So, if you happen to need a laptop that has decent security features, offers a bit of performance, and is built of high-quality materials, the ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 won’t disappoint you. Yes, it won’t be really visually appealing, but it does what it’s made for.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/lenovo-thinkpad-l13-gen-2-intel/

Pros

  • Doesn’t use aggressive PWM for brightness adjustment (Chi Mei N133HCE-EAA)
  • Decent battery life
  • Premium build quality
  • Great keyboard
  • IR face recognition + fingerprint reader
  • Thunderbolt 4 connector, MicroSD card reader

Cons

  • Soldered RAM
  • Covers 54% of sRGB (Chi Mei N133HCE-EAA)
  • Dated looks

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