Rating: 7/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $915.85
Lenovo ThinkPad laptop on desk
Marcus Mears III

The E class of Lenovo’s ThinkPad series is designed for enterprise, and that’s exactly what the ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 means: business. Premium hardware, user-friendly features, and a hefty price tag mixed with a few disappointing design choices make for a capable work machine best bought on sale.

Here's What We Like

  • Satisfyingly sturdy keyboard
  • Crisp camera and microphone
  • Powerful hardware
  • Rapid charging
  • Sleek, resilient exterior

And What We Don't

  • Dark screen
  • Meager trackpad
  • Fingerprint Reader Power button

If you’re a writer, tech support agent, student, or hold another occupation that depends on an efficient computer for less hardware-intensive online work, keep this laptop in consideration and look for a discount. But if you’re planning on video editing or running machine learning algorithms with any sort of speed, you’re going to need an upgrade.

Performance: Excellent, With Room for Top-Tier Improvements

ThinkPad Intel Core sticker
Marcus Mears III

  • 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7, 2.40 GHz, 4-Core, 8 Threads
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM, 3200 MHz, Single Channel
  • Intel(R) Iris(R) Xe Graphics
  • Windows 11 Pro
  • 256GB SSD

When it comes to business laptops, it’s all eyes on the CPU?(Central Processing Unit) and RAM (Random Access Memory).

Note: This review unit contained Intel internals, but you also have the option to select ThinkPads with AMD Ryzen integrated graphics and CPUs. Similarly, the review unit showcases Windows 11 Pro, but you can choose Windows 10 variants as well.

The CPU and SSD (Solid State Drive) combo handle things with speed and precision. Opening File Explorer to check your Documents or Downloads is swift, and sifting through data with the search function takes next to no time at all—something you definitely won’t see with an HDD (Hard Disk Drive). An admirable point of the ThinkPad series is its hardware customization options; if you want something stronger than an Intel Core i5 and 256GB of storage, get it. But be warned, price follows performance.

RELATED: How to Upgrade Your Existing Hard Drive in Under an Hour

While 8GB of RAM is sufficient for light work, I’d opt for 16GB or more for the best performance. The RAM utilization hovered around?66 to 75% with just 4 to 5 Chrome tabs and Task Manager open—not exactly an extensive workload.

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And it probably goes without saying, but with integrated graphics, you’re not going to be doing too much high-profile gaming on this machine. 4K Elden Ring is out of the picture, but if you want to play something easier to run like?Rocket League?or FTL: Faster Than Light?at 60+ FPS on the work computer from time to time, the ThinkPad can handle it (albeit on low to medium video settings).

Design and Display: Ups and Downs

Lenovo ThinkPad laptop on desk
Marcus Mears III

  • 14-inch FHD Display, 1920×1080
  • 250 Nits Max Brightness
  • 3.5 lbs, 17.99mm Thin
  • Anodized Aluminum Covers

When your eyes take in the ThinkPad E14 Gen 2, they think “light,” but when your hands lift it up, they think “oh, kind of heavy.” Weighing in at 3.5 pounds, it’s lightweight but not the single most transportable laptop on the market. Compare it to the MacBook Air’s 2.8 pounds, and it’s clear which you’d rather carry around in a bag all day.

That said, the anodized aluminum covers that come in Black or Mineral Metallic contribute to a significant portion of that weight, and I wouldn’t trade them for a pound. They give off a sturdy, sleek feel that runs the length of the laptop. They do, however, attract fingerprints and smudges like moths to a flame.

The first thing that struck me about the display when I powered on the Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 was how dim the screen was. I thought it was set to the lowest brightness out of the box, but to my dismay, it was up over the halfway mark. For this price range, I expect to see a wider range of brightness options. At 250 nits max brightness, this laptop has a display four times darker than that of an iPhone 13 Pro.

Lenovo ThinkPad laptop on desk
Marcus Mears III

I used the maximum brightness setting nearly 100% of the time. It’s bright enough to pass at the highest setting, but the battery certainly doesn’t appreciate it. You won’t want to make this your main movie-watching device; it just isn’t sharp or vibrant enough. That’s okay, though; it’s not designed for media enjoyment. It’s designed for business, and it’s bright enough for business. But a 250 nits bump would go a long way.

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This ThinkPad model also retains the signature 180-degree screen tilt potential, which is…neat. The reasons for these extreme angles of tilt are far and few between, with the only real benefit being protection from bending your screen back until it breaks.

The bottom of the ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 features cooling grates that allow heat to escape and rubber feet that prevent your laptop from running around the table while you type on it.

Lenovo’s ThinkPads all have extremely similar form factors, and for good reason; it found a recipe that works and keeps baking quality computers with it. There are absolutely a host of features to appreciate, but a few weak points hold me back from going complete Team Lenovo.

Peripherals: Keyboard, Trackpad, and Trackpoint

ThinkPad keyboard
Marcus Mears III

The keys have a spring in their step; that is to say, they’ll pop back up as quickly as you push them down. This produces snappy haptic feedback that, when combined with the near non-existent deck flex thanks to anodized aluminum covers, creates a laptop keyboard worth working on.

The laptop features a standard QWERTY keyboard layout, though you’re missing some media keys like Play/Pause and Skip Forward/Backward (but you still have volume control, brightness, and call handling keys). I also appreciate the addition of a screenshot key that, while not necessary since screenshots are just a shortcut away, is nice to have on deck now and again.

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The backlighting controls are a little odd; at first, I thought there may not actually be any backlighting on this keyboard, because it isn’t controlled with the function keys. After a minute or two, I realized you actually have to use the function key (Fn) and the Space Bar to toggle through the three lighting variations: Low, High, and Off. The Low setting is nice for navigating the keyboard in the dark when you’re trying not to blind your significant other as you work away, and the High setting is just a little bit brighter. Similar to the screen, I’d like to see a brightness bump here.

In short, this ThinkPad’s keyboard is a home run with exceedingly little to gripe about.

Right next to the keyboard is the fingerprint ID power button—I’m not a fan. It feels squishy and downright flimsy compared to the keyboard. And while the fingerprint reader is a neat novelty to have when paired with one-touch power on, I would rather see the money and focus invested in other pain points of this budget model to make it truly excel in its weight class.

Now, onto the trackpad that I think falls a bit short. Coming from a 15-inch MacBook Pro?daily driver, the ThinkPad E14 Gen 2’s small tracking area doesn’t give you much room to work with. You’re also barred from highlighting text and scrolling at the same time by design—something easily fixed with a cheap wireless mouse, but I don’t typically have space for a mouse in areas where I work on my laptop (like on a couch).

There definitely seems to be enough space to extend the trackpad horizontally, and even an inch or so vertically—something I think the user experience of this laptop would benefit greatly from.

ThinkPad trackpad
Marcus Mears III

One notable plus is the range of clicking options you have. I’m a fan of tapping the trackpad, but you can also use the buttons above or below it at any time. The tapping method is responsive, and each set of buttons has a uniquely comfortable feel to them with the loud and proud top set producing a satisfyingly audible “click” and the concealed bottom set offering a low profile experience on the decibel scale.

The trackpoint is there, too. I couldn’t find a particular use for it as you’ll still have to click the trackpad or buttons anyways to select something, but it’s responsive enough and certainly isn’t a mark against the laptop since it has no impact on the keyboard layout or feel.

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In short, the peripherals are excellent with the exception of the lacking trackpad. Not too shabby for a work computer.

Webcam, Microphone, and Speakers

  • 720p HD Webcam, 30 FPS
  • Dual 2W Stereo Speakers

With the professional environment rapidly trending towards remote work, the camera and microphone on this business laptop better be good. And the verdict: they are!

The 720p HD camera does have the usual noise and muddled colors you’ve come to expect from laptop webcams, but it works pretty well in low-light areas and has such smooth tracking that I thought it may be recording in 60 FPS—a quick webcam FPS test revealed it’s locked to a constant 30 FPS, though.

The microphone is surprisingly clear and free of the “you’re in a fishbowl” ambiance that’s all too common with internal laptop mics. With better background noise blocking than your average Apple headphones, you may actually want to use the internal microphone over other available options. Lenovo needed to ace this portion for the laptop to contend with other business notebooks, and it absolutely did.

The speakers actually get pretty loud, but they have a somewhat muted quality to them. Rich crescendos and heavy bass drops won’t billow out from the ThinkPad the way they would from a JBL Charge 5, but the speakers are satisfactory for the work environment.

Battery Life: Long Lasting, High-Speed Charging

  • 45Wh Battery
  • 65W AC Rapid Charging

The ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 has a battery life that, while more than sufficient for light work on the go, may need a charger nearby if burning the midnight oil is on your agenda. Light work and some Chrome browsing saw about eight and a half hours of battery life, whereas more intense work and light gaming fetched closer to seven.

Thankfully, the 65W AC Thunderbolt 4 charging is fast—get up to grab a cup of coffee and the battery life has jumped 20% fast. It took one hour and 41 minutes to charge from zero to 100 percent using the included charger (with very light usage during the charge time).

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This is a huge plus when traveling since you’ll often have 15 minutes waiting here and another 30 minutes there before getting where you need to go. These little chunks of time mean you can work away and be certain that you’ll still have a charged battery if you can find an outlet (better yet, carry your own portable charger with you).

Connectivity and Compatibility: Everything You Need

  • Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • 2 USB Ports, 1 HDMI 1.4 Port, 1 Thunderbolt 4 Port
  • RJ45 Ethernet Port

When it comes to Wi-Fi and ethernet connectivity, you’re covered. Crucial ports? You’re covered. What about Bluetooth for taking important hands-free calls? You guessed it: covered.

The ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 scored highly in Wi-Fi speed tests, and more importantly, it did so consistently. While my iPhone XR routinely racked up about 250 Mbps in download speed, the ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 scored higher than 450 Mbps every time.

Lenovo checks all the boxes in the compatibility department, except for a DisplayPort (DP). If it’s critical you connect a DP cable to your laptop, you can pick up an HDMI to DP adapter (and while you’re at it, you may want to look into an HDMI splitter).

The Bluetooth connection worked like a charm, promptly pairing with my JBL Pulse speaker and filling my apartment with the groovy sounds of the Bee Gees’ “Night Fever.” No connection drops or trouble with setup, just a simple “connect and play” experience.

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Lining the left side of this Lenovo laptop, you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack for a headphone and microphone combo (or just headphones), a single HDMI 1.4 port, USB Type-A 3.2 port, a Novo button (for easy BIOS and recovery access), and the ultra-fast Thunderbolt 4 charging port.

Flipping to the right side, there’s a USB Type-A 2.0 port, an RJ45 ethernet port for high-speed work from home connections, and a Kensington lock slot for an extra layer of security.

Most of your connection needs ought to be taken care of with this selection, but if you notice something is missing, you can most likely find an adapter for it nowadays.

Maintenance and Expansion: RAM and Storage Upgrades

With the removal of seven Philips head screws and a pop of the bottom cover, you’re under the hood of the ThinkPad E14 Gen 2. Here, you’ll find a single SODIMM RAM slot rated for up to 32GB of memory and two M.2 SSD slots for storage expansion. If you haven’t experienced the near-instantaneous Windows startup times with an M.2 SSD, you’re seriously missing out.

You don’t have the most luxurious upgrade opportunities, but with a business laptop like this, you probably shouldn’t expect to—with RAM and storage covered, you have just about everything you need.

The ThinkPad’s strong exterior, proficient cooling, and premium parts mean you won’t have to worry much about maintenance; give the internals a good dusting every once in a while to make sure dust and debris don’t gum up the works and you should be good to go.

The Best Internal SSDs of 2022

Best Internal SSD Overall
Samsung 870 EVO
Best Budget Internal SSD
WD Blue SN550 NVMe Internal SSD
Best Internal SSD for Gaming
WD_BLACK 1TB SN850 NVMe
Best Internal NVMe SSD
Samsung 980 PRO SSD with Heatsink
Best Internal M.2 SSD
XPG SX8200 Pro
Best internal PCIe SSD
Samsung 970 EVO Plus

Should You Purchase the ThinkPad E14 Gen 2?

The ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 from Lenovo is a budget business laptop best suited for people who want a no-frills machine that does what they need it to with efficiency. If you’re aiming for a laptop with a top-of-the-line display, you’d do best to find another model.

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But if you want high-end hardware for work, consider the ThinkPad at full price and watch closely for any deals that may come your way.

Rating: 7/10
Price: $915.85

Here’s What We Like

  • Satisfyingly sturdy keyboard
  • Crisp camera and microphone
  • Powerful hardware
  • Rapid charging
  • Sleek, resilient exterior

And What We Don't

  • Dark screen
  • Meager trackpad
  • Fingerprint Reader Power button

Profile Photo for Marcus Mears III Marcus Mears III
Marcus Mears III is the Reviews Editor for How-To Geek and Review Geek. He’s a lifelong technology enthusiast with over three years of experience developing prose that keeps readers in the know. With hundreds of articles across a number of tech publications like MakeUseOf and iGeeksBlog, Mears’ work helps readers around the globe learn to make the most of their devices and software.
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