Big picture: With plans in full swing to return to the office across the country and around the world, individuals and companies are starting to think long term about their PCs and other client devices. The big question is, how will their existing laptops and desktops fit into the various types of hybrid work environments that are expected to become more prevalent? Even for those who plan to continue working from home, it makes sense to use this transition period to consider the types of features they will need in their next PCs.
To answer some of these questions, Lenovo’s new ThinkPad series of notebooks, as well as AMD’s suite of desktop processors, are timed to spring. On the mobile side, the two companies have been working together on the new exclusive Ryzen Pro 6000 processor. ThinkPad Z-series (delivery is expected in May this year). This latest round of announcements has a few more options for AMD-based ThinkPads at the mainstream price.
In all, Lenovo has announced six new additions to its third-generation ThinkPad lineup, all of which offer 12th-gen Intel Core processors, and five of which offer a Ryzen Pro processor as an option. Models range from the $1369 Intel-only ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 3 to the $799 ThinkPad L13 Gen 3 with Ryzen Pro 5000 processor (the Intel version is $859). In between are the AMD and Intel versions of the ThinkPad L14 and L15 Gen 3, ThinkPad L13 Yoga Gen 3, and ThinkPad X13 Gen 3.
All come with hardware and software features to improve collaboration, including Dolby Voice AI noise reduction, additional Full HD cameras, multiple microphones, and various connectivity improvements.
Lenovo continues to offer a wide range of cellular WWAN support, including 4G LTE for L Series Gen 3 and X13 Yoga Gen 3 models, and sub-6GHz 5G (non-mmWave) for X13 Gen 3 models. As As people start to return to regular business travel, the push for always-on built-in cellular connectivity will only get stronger, so it’s good to see Lenovo expanding that capability to a wider range of laptop price points.
For the record, the lack of mmWave 5G support in a laptop won’t be a problem for most, as the extremely high-frequency mmWave signals cannot pass through walls or windows and are usually only accessible from the outside.
Both the X13 and X13 Yoga Gen 3 support WiFi 6E (requires Windows 11 to run), and all other models also offer an optional upgrade to WiFi 6E.
In terms of security, all new ThinkPads have ThinkShield capabilities, including a built-in Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Intel-based devices also support vPro and Intel Hardware Shield, while AMD-based models support AMD Pro Security. For login and verification, the entire line optionally supports a fingerprint reader built into the power button.
For those who can focus more on continuing to work remotely for the long term, desktop PCs are becoming an increasingly popular option, especially with the growing range of ultra-large PC monitors currently available. In addition, many home-based employees have realized that today’s homemade desktop system can be turned into an occasional (or even more frequent!) gaming rig at night and on weekends.
To that end, AMD has unveiled a new line of low-cost Ryzen 4000 and 5000 series desktop processors, along with pricing and release date information for the gaming-focused Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor.
The 5800X3D is expected to go on sale April 20 for $449. This is the first CPU to use AMD’s patented 3D V-Cache chip stacking technology. Essentially, V-Cache allows the CPU cache to be packaged directly on top of the CPU cores, thus enabling faster cache connectivity and up to 15% better gaming application performance. This is a prime example of how chip manufacturers are starting to use new ways to package components to improve overall system performance.
AMD also launched three new Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000-series processors and three new Zen 2-based Ryzen 4000-series desktop chips, ranging from the $99 4-core Ryzen 3 4100 to the $299 8-core Ryzen 7 5700X. All but the 5700X come with a Wraith Stealth cooler/fan. To expand the range of systems that can use these and other Zen 3 Ryzen 5000 series processors, the company announced that a BIOS update will be available in April for existing motherboards based on AMD X370, B350 and A320 chipsets.
Desktop gaming has grown significantly during the pandemic, and even as people begin to adapt to new hybrid work models, there’s no doubt that enthusiasm for this category won’t fade anytime soon.
Bob O’Donnell – Founder and Principal Analyst Technalize Research LLC technology consulting firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and the financial professional community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.