Lenovo ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition Review: The Best ThinkPad ever, and ready for the Fall Creators Update
From the very first ThinkPad 700C to the much more modern ThinkPad Yoga X1, ThinkPad devices have always been at the pinnacle of design, performance, and function. To celebrate all these years of ThinkPad heritage, Lenovo recently unveiled the ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition. We’ve previously unboxed the unit and delivered our first impressions, but now we’ve had more hands-on time with the very special laptop. Although much of the device is based on the ThinkPad T470, we’ve found that the Lenovo ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition is the best ThinkPad ever, and here is why.
The ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition is one well-speced machine. It’s definitely not as much of a monster of a laptop like the Legion Y920, but for a business and consumer-oriented device, the laptop packs some surprising specs which make it one of the best ThinkPads yet.
Powered by the 7th generation Intel Core i7-7500U CPU at 2.7GHZ, with 16 GB of RAM, the ThinkPad 25 is able to handle multi-tasking and powerful computing tasks with ease. Using the ThinkPad 25 for the last three weeks, I was easily able to work here at OnMSFT with 15+ tabs open in Microsoft Edge without any slowdown or crashes. I was even able to edit my unboxing video on the ThinkPad 25 without bogging down the system.
This is where the hard drive size also comes into the picture, as the speedy fast Samsung 512 GB SSD definitely provides a lot of space to save files and documents. This especially made me happy, since it is becoming less and less common in a day where companies such as Google and Microsoft are embracing cloud storage services.
The ThinkPad 25 also comes with Geoforce 940MX graphics, meaning there is less pressure on the i7 processor to handle computing tasks. I was able to do some light gaming and play Forza 7, but the game was a bit rough and it was not a console level experience. Geekbench 4 scoring, though, places the laptop sort of close to a gaming laptop like the Y920.
Specifically, the ThinkPad25 picks up a 4026 Single-Score Score, and a 6828 Multi-Core Score. On the OpenCL Score, it picks up a 32561, mainly due to the GeForce 940MX. Higher is better, and these are still great Single-Core and Multi-Score results, roughly half those of the Y920 gaming laptop which came in with a 5093 single core and 16417 multi-score. It’s also close to the ThinkPad T470S, which picked up 3997 Single Core Score, and 6372 Multi-Core Score.
At the end of the day, it’s a little bit disappointing to see that Lenovo did not go with the 8th generation Intel chips on this device, especially given the time frame of release. But coming in “Signature Edition” with no extra pre-installed software, the specs are still up to standard and well up there for a device in the $1000+ price range.
Fluently beautiful with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update:
Thanks to a bright 14-inch FHD display, the ThinkPad 25 brings out the full beauty and performance enhancements with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. We’ll be talking more about the display later, but on the ThinkPad 25 with the Fall Creators Update, Windows 10 never looked more beautiful.
This is especially thanks to the display eliminating glare. The small touches of Fluent Design throughout the Edge browser pop right out and the Start menu and the Action Center are as lively as ever. A total of 16 GB of RAM also makes the ThinkPad 25 the perfect laptop for those new to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Installing the Fall Creators Update takes less than 45 minutes, and once it is done system-wide performance is great.
A familiar perfect design and build:
Ever since acquiring IBM’s computing division, Lenovo has been keeping to IBM’s design tradition of making tough and durable laptops. Based off the chassis of the T470 (which we already were very happy with,) the Lenovo 25 Anniversary Edition features a familiar design and build, but with a small extra touch that makes it a unique buy.
Unlike MacBooks and Surface devices, the Lenovo 25 Anniversary Edition boasts a familiar sturdy and durable glass fiber-reinforced and plastic case. This time though, Lenovo kicked things up a notch by including a rubberized texture on the case and throughout the laptop. The rubber makes for a nice feeling when handling the laptop, and Lenovo says the laptop goes through over 200 durability tests in the factory. However, over time the rubberized finish does tend to pick up fingerprints. I did not really mind, though, since this meant my hands were gripping to the laptop during intense typing sessions.
Coming in at 13.25 inches by 9.15 inches by 0.79 inches and weighing at 3.7 pounds, the ThinkPad 25 is also reliably light and compact. There is no flexing, It’s square and looks great on a desk, especially given the retro colored ThinkPad logo housed on both inside and outside the device. Best of all, the ThinkPad 25 is MIL-STD 810G-certified, meaning it can take quite a beating before it stops functioning. I can verify this, as I had an unfortunate accident where the laptop fell off my desk when charging, but I picked it up off the floor without any damage.
Ports for everyone:
Just has been the theme on the other laptops we have reviewed, the ThinkPad 25 features a ton of modern ports for connectivity, with USB C being the icing on the cake. Although missing classics like a VGA port, the ThinkPad 25 takes ports from modern Lenovo laptops, another reason why this is the best ThinkPad yet. As a hidden bonus, the ThinkPad 25 also keeps with tradition by including a micro-SIM tray slot in the battery compartment for LTE connectivity.
On the left side is a DC-in port, a USB 3.0 Type A port, a USB C port, and an optional Smart Card Reader. Great to see that Lenovo is still including USB 3.0, ports, as more and more laptops these days require USB C, which means shelling out more money for dongles. The USB C port, though, is also a plus since it’s faster and is becoming more common on modern monitors and other devices and accessories. It also can be used for charging and is protected with Anti-Fry technology, great for those times when the DC power adapter can get a bit bulky.
On the right side, things are the same. There is a headphone and Mic combo, a USB 3.0 Type A port, HDMI port, USB 3.0 Type A Always-On, an Ethernet Port, and an SD Card Reader. Again, the dedicated Ethernet port and the HDMI port are again pluses, since you won’t need to worry about buying extra adapters to get accessories working right. An SD card slot is great as well, especially for me since it removed the need to use a dongle with my camera when traveling on the road.
Decent Touchscreen display:
Featuring a 14-inch FHD display at 1920 (x)1080, the display on the ThinkPad 25 is up to class with other laptops in the same lineup. What makes it unique, though, is support for 10 finger multi-touch. When I originally reviewed the ThinkPad T470, I was disappointed with the lack of a touchscreen. So, being the special laptop this is, I was happy to see a touch option included by default. Despite not being detachable, it’s a really nice to have, especially for navigating through Windows 10 and using the touch-friendly features like the live tiles on the Start Menu.
Anyway, the display on the ThinkPad 25 is great and is not as dim like the displays on some other ThinkPad laptops. Used at medium brightness in a bright room, there is no real reflection or glare, making it great for productivity. Brightness levels are very similar to what was seen on the Lenovo T470, and the viewing angle is very wide, especially in the darkness or in a fairly well-lit room. The physical display can also be moved down to 180 degrees, which is useful for when you want to hold the laptop straight up and show someone something on your screen.
At the end of the day the display on the ThinkPad 25 is not nearly as fancy as something like the Yoga 920, but it does get the job done right. Due to the FHD option colors won’t be exactly vivid and bright or lifelike for movie watching or photo editing, but it’s still good enough for standard home and office use and for standard web browsing.
A great retro-inspired keyboard:
As we highlighted in our hands-on post, the ThinkPad 25 features a special retro-inspired keyboard. With this laptop, gone is the island-style keyboard and returning instead is the classic seven-row ThinkPad keyboard. Not only is it cool looking, but It’s very comfortable, making for one of the best keyboards you can find on a laptop in this class.
Seen in the photo below, (similar to my ThinkPad X200) the ThinkPad 25 features a blue Enter key, as well as dedicated buttons for audio controls, and embedded media controls in the navigation arrows, plus sculpted cutouts for the navigation arrows. Due to these retro-inspired changes, the power button also gets moved to the middle of the laptop, away from the right side like on older ThinkPad units.
There’s also a cool retro-colored multi color ThinkPad Logo and a special 25th-anniversary lettering above the keyboard. While these features are great to see, I think it would have been better if Lenovo would have also included status indicators for the HDD and Bluetooth or Wifi, but I guess these features are not as practical on modern laptops.
Anyway, the keyboard itself makes soft clicking noises and it’s especially satisfying and comfortable. Feedback is very strong, and the physical keys press softly down into the chassis. There is also a nice slippery feel on the keys, meaning fingers can easily slide between keys as words are typed out. I was particularly happy with the formatting of the keys, since the ESC key and Delete Key are enlarged, similar to some full-sized keyboards. It’s still a bit sad to see that the keyboard is backlit with two levels of brightness instead of the old style ThinkLight, which would have fit right in with the retro-inspired laptop.
Top of the line trackpad and TrackPoint:
A ThinkPad laptop is not a ThinkPad laptop without two things: The ThinkPad TrackPoint, and a great Trackpad. On the ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition, both of these are as good as ever, pleasing both ThinkPad veterans and newbies alike. There’s a choice of 4 ThinkPad TrackPoints, once which is included already installed and three which are included in the box. They can easily be removed, as they’re housed above the B key and between the G &H keys. I preferred the default TrackPoint, as it was tiny enough for me to use the TrackPoint to handle precision clicking.
Anyway, for those times when the TrackPoint gets boring, there is an awesome trackpad on board the ThinkPad 25. The trackpad feels much sturdier and thicker compared to the ones on other Lenovo laptops, and it even has a soft slightly rubber surface, which is comfortable to touch. Of course, it is also Microsoft Precision certified, which means you can use it for the gestures in Windows 10. Other than the fact that it can get dirty quickly, it’s hard to say something bad about this trackpad.
As secure as ever:
Much to my liking, the ThinkPad 25 is one of the most secure ThinkPads ever. The device comes with both Windows Hello Facial Recognition and support for Fingerprint sign in. The Windows Hello IR cameras are off center on the top of the device, and the positioning is a bit odd. Most times, it took the device a while to find my face, and I had to move slightly to the left, possibly due to the way the camera is located. This was not a big issue for me though, as the FingerPrint reader was a great option to fall back on whenever Windows Hello IR cameras didn’t recognize me. Still, with double the Windows Hello, there’s double the security, especially important on a device which is up in the $1000 range.
The speakers on the ThinkPad 25 are not as impressive as everything else on the laptop. Two 2 watt speakers are sitting on the bottom left and right sides of the unit, similar to how it is situated on the ThinkPad T470. They can get the job done since nothing will block them when in use, but sometimes the sound seemed a bit washed out, especially at higher volume levels.
Great battery life:
Just like with other ThinkPad laptops, battery life is king on the ThinkPad 25. Unique to the ThinkPad series, there are two batteries in the ThinkPad 25, a 24-watt-hour non-removable internal battery, and a 24-watt-hour removable external battery. The external battery is hot-swappable, meaning it can be pulled out while the laptop is on. There is no need to switch batteries when power is low, and the ThinkPad 25 will automatically take power from the second battery when it sees fit. Since both batteries are also charged at once, and considered one power source, I was able to use the ThinkPad 25 for work here at OnMSFT for 7 hours straight in one sitting without touching recharging.
At the end of the day, the ThinkPad 25 is one of the best ThinkPads ever. Though a bit pricey, it lives up to the hype and is a great option for those who want a nostalgic looking device. It also packs surprising specs, a familiar design and build, a mass selection of ports, and has a decent touchscreen display. There’s the added plus of throwback features like a classic keyboard, and also modern touches like Windows Hello and a Precision TouchPad. Battery life is great, and the laptop will last a user all day long. Originally on sale for $1899, supplies of the ThinkPad 25 are very limited, but you can sign up at Lenovo to learn when it is available by clicking here.
Further reading: Lenovo, ThinkPad, ThinkPad 25, Windows 10 Devices