Len­ovo ThinkPad 720S

Thin, smart, and just pow­er­ful enough

Maximum PC - - IN THE LAB -

LAP­TOP EN­GI­NEER­ING is of­ten a dif­fi­cult thing to fathom. In this case, we’ve bent our brains try­ing to work out ex­actly how Len­ovo’s en­gi­neers have dis­torted space and time in or­der to crush ev­ery­thing they have into this tiny ma­chine. If we drop it on the wrong cor­ner, will we rip open a por­tal to an­other di­men­sion? Ex­is­ten­tial wor­ries aside, the list is mighty im­pres­sive. There’s a cool, hy­per-fast Kaby Lake i5 in the CPU slot, a proper SSD look­ing after stor­age, a wholly rea­son­able 8GB of DDR4 RAM fling­ing the quick bits about, and dis­crete graphics, too, in the form of a GeForce 940X mo­bile chipset. All this in a 0.8-inch thick shell. Plus, pre­sum­ably, those dan­ger­ous boffins have in­serted a mirac­u­lously minia­tur­ized por­ta­ble wind tun­nel in there—this thing makes a mighty whoosh through its large base-mounted ven­ti­la­tion port when it’s un­der load.

Just as im­pres­sive a feat is the gor­geous full HD IPS screen, a slim-bezel num­ber that trims the side and top edges to a min­i­mum, giv­ing more screen real es­tate in a smaller 13.3-inch shell. It’s no Dell In­fin­i­tyEdge, of course (that’s a whole other level of sci­en­tific en­gi­neer­ing), but Len­ovo has at least had the good sense to put the we­b­cam at the top of the panel, rather than Dell’s odd off-cen­ter screen-base po­si­tion. No­body re­ally wants to spend a Skype con­ver­sa­tion star­ing at your neck, after all.

We’d say the crushed key­board—which has stan­dard-sized back­lit keys, with reg­u­lar spac­ing, but squashes the ar­row keys and all other pe­riph­eral but­tons into an oddly com­pacted lay­out—is a com­pro­mise of the unit’s size, but Len­ovo has repli­cated that on larger lap­tops. It must be a Len­ovo “thing,” just like the ridicu­lous de­ci­sion to put the power key—a key­board key, like any other—right next to Delete and Backspace. Yes, it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to ac­ci­den­tally power off your ma­chine, but come on— that’s not great de­sign. POWER GAMES While Len­ovo has def­i­nitely filled the alu­minum shell of the 720s—and it’s a dense lit­tle thing, at 3.4lb—it hasn’t re­served a lot of that space for the bat­tery. Go calm and you can, as we did, tease out just over five hours from its cells (the com­pany claims 14, which is non­sense), but a de­cent load, and mak­ing the most of dis­crete graphics rather than the switch­able In­tel 620 chipset, drops this down to a shade above three hours. These aren’t gam­ing lap­top num­bers, but it doesn’t have gam­ing lap­top power to of­fer ei­ther. That GeForce 940X is a nice ex­tra to have, but it was out­classed upon re­lease, let alone now, over a year later. The 720s is ad­e­quate for older games at low to medium set­tings, but you’re com­pletely out of luck with to­day’s AAA ti­tles.

But, then, this re­ally isn’t sup­posed to be a gam­ing ma­chine. It’s about work­ing, and work­ing in rel­a­tive lux­ury—the 720s ab­so­lutely looks and feels like a premium ma­chine, one that de­fies its up­per-midrange price point. We could (and, in­deed, did) stare at that panel for days on end. We wouldn’t be ashamed to whip this out in public, and it’s com­pact enough for air­line ta­bles or your lap in the back of a cab. The rhythm sec­tion of the ma­chine is a great match; while a lit­tle ex­tra SSD space would have been ap­pre­ci­ated, 256GB is enough to get by on, and de­spite slightly slow read times, it’s quick enough. Com­bined with the dual-core i5-7200U and a per­fectly ad­e­quate RAM sup­ply, this ma­chine doesn’t let up on desk­top per­for­mance.

So, for­give it some sketchy bench­mark fig­ures, be­cause raw power isn’t ev­ery­thing. Put its lit­tle com­pro­mises and that ca­cophonous fan to the back of your mind. The 720s is a re­mark­able white-coat com­bi­na­tion that works for busi­ness or ev­ery­day plea­sure, with enough squeezed in­side that you can push it just a lit­tle fur­ther if you re­ally need to.

Len­ovo ThinkPad 720S

LEN­OVO! Beau­ti­ful, solid chas­sis; great low-bezel screen; strong desk­top per­for­mance.

LEN.. OH NO! Mid­dling-to-low power; silly key­board; noisy fan.

$949, www.len­ovo.com

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