Thinkpad Laptops Have Quite The Number Of Series, What Are Each Series For? And What The Model Numbers Mean?
ThinkPad laptops have quite many series, and with many models under each series. These model numbers aren’t random. More often than not, each letter or number represents something about the laptop itself. This is one of the nice things about ThinkPad laptops. They tell you a good amount of information, like the screen size & sometimes the CPU manufacturer, that makes it a bit easier to shop for them, since it filters out the models you don’t want to buy, and makes it a bit less necessary to check the specifications. After all, Thinkpads are practical laptops made for practical people.
In this post, I will explain what the ThinkPad model numbers mean, so that you could browse through the models knowing what you will get, without even checking the specifications. I focused on the ThinkPad models of the last 10 years or so, including discontinued series like Thinkpad Edge & the W series, so if you own an older ThinkPad, or plan on buying one, this article will help you. I won’t cover the much older series like the 630, 240 & 570. However, I can write a separate article for those in the future. I also made sure to cover the newer & simpler ThinkPad numbers scheme of 2020 & beyond. After that, I will explain what each series is intended for, as well as the suffix letter you find after the model number (like s, t, p, etc). I included affiliate buying links under each series from multiple sources to make it easier to begin searching for the model you want, or to check out the available models in the series.
Unfortunately, not all ThinkPad laptops abide by these model numbers rules, but the majority of them do. I listed some of the exceptions whenever I could.
If you’re new to ThinkPad, you may want to check my article on what makes ThinkPad them stand out.
Quickly go to:-
- Thinkpad Model Numbers With A Letter Followed By 3 Digits
- Thinkpad Model Numbers With A Letter Followed By 2 Digits
- Thinkpad Laptops With A Letter & One Number
- Explaining The Thinkpad Series (T, X, W, P, L, E, A, Yoga, Edge Series)
- Thinkpad T Series
- Thinkpad X Series
- Thinkpad Yoga Series
- Thinkpad Helix Series (2013-2014)
- Thinkpad P Series & W Series
- Thinkpad L Series
- Thinkpad Edge Series & E Series
- Thinkpad A Series
- So, What The Suffix Letters That Come After Some Model Number Mean?
- Which Thinkpad Series To Buy
- And Finally
- Sources & Useful Links
- See Also:-
Some ThinkPad laptops have a model number with a letter & 3 digits. It’s the best numbering scheme in my opinion because it gives you the most information. The letter on the left stands for the series, which we will talk about in details below. After that, each of the 3 digits tells you one thing about the laptop.
The first digit to the left represents the screen size, if the number is 5, then the screen size is about 15-inch. If it’s 2, then the screen is about 12 inch.
The second digit represents the generation of the laptop in its line. If the number is 9, for example, then the laptop is from the 9th generation. If it’s 3, then it’s a 3rd generation. That generation number starts with 0.
The last number represents the processor. If it’s 0, then it’s an Intel processor. If it’s 5, then it’s AMD processor. If you’re into AMD processors, that makes it easier to search for the ThinkPad models you actually want.
Sometimes, there’s a small suffix letter after the 3 digits, like in X230s. Thinkpad models with such letters are a variation of the model. I will talk about this in more details later on.
Let’s take the ThinkPad X260 as an example:-
- X:- It belongs to the X series.
- 2:- The screen size is 12.5 inch.
- 6:- It’s from the 6th generation in its line.
- 0:- Has Intel processor inside it.
The model number with 2 digits instead of 3 come in two different groups. We will take a look at each group separately.
The first group, which represents older Thinkpad laptops, works in a similar fashion as the 3 digits. The main difference is that there’s no digit that tells you the CPU manufacturer.
As usual, the letter on the left tells you the series number. The left digit tells you the screen size, while the one on the right tells you the generation of the model.
To clarify things, let’s take an example using the ThinkPad P50:-
- P:- It belongs to the P series.
- 5:- The screen size is about 15 inch.
- 0:- It’s the first generation of its kind, and consequently, the P51 is the second generation, and so on.
The same goes for the P71, which has a 17 inch display, and is an update to the P70.
Just like the models with the 3 digits. There’s sometimes a suffix letter to the right of the model number. That letter shows that the laptop is a variation of the model. Like in Thinkpad P53s, which is the slim variation of the Thinkpad P53.
The second group represents ThinkPad laptops of 2020 and beyond, where Lenovo adopted a new scheme for their laptop numbers. The number simply represents the screen size. For example, the ThinkPad T14, which is a 2020 model, has a 14-inch display.
These models come in generations, the first generation of the T14 came in 2020. The model for 2021 will also be T14, and it will be called T14 second generation. The same goes for the ThinkPad L13 and ThinkPad laptops from other series. There can be a suffix letter for the variated models, like the T14s.
The model numbers themselves don’t tell us anything about the CPU manufacturer at all, but that’s often mentioned alongside it, like that:-
- T14s (AMD).
- T14s (Intel).
Since there are two numbering schemes that has 2 digits. One would wonder how one could distinguish between the two. There’s a small trick that makes this much easier.
I mentioned earlier that the two digits in the newer model refer to the display size, and that ThinkPad T14 has a 14-inch display. Using that, we could easily know the ThinkPad P70 is using the older scheme, since there’s no way a laptop would have a 70-inches display. That makes it much easier to know if the ThinkPad model is using the older or newer numbering scheme.
There’s a special case in many series where there’s only one digit besides the series letter, usually 1. In this situation. the 1 doesn’t represent anything as far as I know. Each generation of the laptop share the exact same model number. For example, there’s X1 Carbon 1st generation, followed by X1 Carbon second generation, and so on. The same goes for the P1 laptops & many others.
Now we know what the digits beside the series letter mean, let’s take a look at the series themselves. Fundamentally, the series letter represents what the series tries to provide for the end user, be it absolute power, portability, 2-in-1 or even affordability. If you’re looking for a portable ThinkPad, then you can easily skip the W or P series, for example.
Sometimes these series overlap, which leaves you with the detailed specifications to decide on which laptop to buy.
The T series usually comes with 14-15 inches displays. It’s meant to be the premium line of ThinkPad, or at least one of the best. It’s a great series to get if you can afford it. It tend to be good in all areas, be it power, portability & ruggedness.
I tend to think of the T as it stands for Top, but it actually refers to something along the line of Thinness.
The X series is another very notable ThinkPad series. It usually comes equipped with 12-13 inches displays, but there are exceptions to that. Like in case of the X1 Carbon line. It’s aimed to be the portable line of laptops. The X means something along the lines of Extra thin, extra light.
Yoga is a line 2-in-1 line of laptops that started back in 2013. And are meant to be lean & versatile.
Many of the Yoga laptops are part of the X, L or P series, but giving their tablet design. They are often considered a series on their own. They are good tablets for anyone who wants a 2-in-1 tablet with a trackpoint. Some Yoga laptops are Chromebooks, and not real laptops. Like the Yoga Chromebook C630.
Yoga laptops don’t follow the same numbering scheme found on other ThinkPad laptops. However, some of them, like the X1 Yoga, come in generations (X1 Yoga first generation, X1 Yoga second generation, and so on).
ThinkPad Helix series was only available for a short while, and only two generations were made under that name. They are 2-in-1 tablets Similar to the Yoga series. They often had detachable keyboard, as well.
ThinkPad laptops from the W series was meant to be mobile workstations, thus the letter W. It was discontinued & replaced by the P series. You could think of the P as Portable workstation or just powerful.
The P series & W series laptops are more powerful than your average laptops, and often are packed with Xeon CPUs. The graphics cards tend to be the higher-end Quadro, or something of that level. Their screens range from 15 to 17 inch.
The L series are meant to be the green series, where recycled material are used for packaging. They are considered on a level between the T series and the E series. One can say that the L stands for Low cost. Although it’s the E series that’s considered the economical series.
It’s worth noting that the L series replaced the old R series.
The Edge & E series are the budget line of ThinkPad, so they tend to be much cheaper than the other series listed here. The Edge series came first, then it was discontinued & replaced by E series. One could think of the E as Economical.
The E series are sometimes very good laptops, and sometimes bad. They can be a good choice if you want an affordable laptop with a trackpoint, but you better do a thorough research before buying one (and be wary of positive reviews). Some ThinkPad enthusiastics don’t think of the E series as real ThinkPad.
The A series is the ThinkPad series that featured AMD processors. It was discontinued and is no longer produced today. However, ThinkPad laptops still come with AMD CPUs, but not under a specific series.
S refers to slim variations of the ThinkPad model, like how the T14s is a thinner variation of the T14, and slightly lighter, as well. Sometimes the slimmer version is less powerful. The T14 supports max ram of 48, with one slot free for upgrade, while the T14s supports up to 32GB, and the ram is soldered to the laptop’s motherboard.
In case the ThinkPad model comes with a full-sized keyboard with a numpad, the s variation may comes with a more compact keyboard, one without the numpad. The ThinkPad T580 & the ThinkPad T580s are like that. You can see their keyboards side-by-side like that here:-
The p suffix is for the more powerful variations of the ThinkPad model, or the portable workstation version of it. It’s like having a bit of what makes p series stands out, but in a laptop from another series.
For example, the T15 supports up to 48GB DDR4 of ram, while the T15p supports up to 64 GB, and comes with a full keyboard with numpad, and supports 2 m.2 drives.
The i suffix is added to the models with lower specification. Think of it as the opposite of the p suffix. They tend to come with a i3 processor, instead of the i5 in the other models.
The e suffix is added to laptops with even lower specifications than the i suffix. They also tend to be equipped with i3 processors.
I don’t have a source for this, but I think some of laptops with that suffix are designed for the education market. At least that’s how Lenovo markets their ThinkPad 11e laptop, and describes it as “Engineered for education”.
u refers to the Ultrabook variation of the same model. It’s similar to the s suffix.
The T430 weights about 2.17 kg, and comes with one ultrabay, while the T430u weights 1.85 kg, and doesn’t come with any ultrabays.
The t suffix refers to convertible laptops. The type of computer tablets that came before 2-in-1 and the tablets we know today. You could think of the t suffix as tablet. For that reason, I see this suffix used more with the older ThinkPad models. The ones from before the days Chromebooks and 2-in-1 laptops became prevalent.
The ThinkPad X230t is the convertible version of the X230, which you can swivel its screen and use it like a tablet:-
To determine which ThinkPad laptop series to buy, I have an easy method that may help you with that.
First, ask yourself, would you like to buy old or new ThinkPad? Not only that will eliminated some of the series that are no longer available as new, but it can help you determine what you’re looking for in the laptop.
If you want an excellent budget laptop, one to use for stuff like development or general uses like web browsing, or if you want to try the excellent keyboard some of the older models got, then getting a used ThinkPad can be a good choice. Specially giving how easy they are to repair compared to other laptop brands. I plan on writing another post on buying a used ThinkPad to cover that in details. ☇
If you want more power, don’t mind the newer keyboard (which are still very good keyboards), care more about battery life & thinness. then getting a new ThinkPad is the way to go.
After that, as long you got a laptop among the best series you can afford, you will be fine. Aim for what gives you the combinations of what you wanted. Be it portability or power. X & T series are generally great, and you won’t go wrong with them.
ThinkPad has quite the number of series, so I won’t be surprised if one got a bit confused about them at first. If you liked this post, you may be interested in my other post, why ThinkPad laptops are popular?, in which I explain their advantages & why they are popular.
I hope my post helped you understand the differences between the ThinkPad models & series numbers, and see you again in another post.
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