ThinkPad T25 Special Edition: Spec Review

In commemoration of the ThinkPad’s 25th anniversary, Lenovo has released a special 25th anniversary ThinkPad model. How does it look?

As a follower of the ThinkPad Reddit and a frequent viewer of other ThinkPad sites, the topic of this special edition model has blown up.

Many fellow ThinkPad fanatics out there have looked at and purchased the special edition. Like any other special edition of anything – and as we previously learned by the important Szechuan Sauce accident from last week – there is only a limited amount of the so-called T25, which makes it a valuable item for collectors.

But when you’re paying $1800 for a modern laptop, it better be good. That’s what I’m analyzing. But first I’m going to let the famous Louis Rossmann voice his opinion on the ThinkPad “Retro” (T25).

My first thoughts when looking at this machine was “Wow! It looks a lot like my T420.” The keyboard is strikingly similar to the one on my T420 (the one I’m typing on right now), except that the ThinkVantage and many Function keys were removed. The keyboard on the T25 even has the famous (but sadly removed) blue Enter key that is found on my T420. (According to Lenovo’s product page, the T25’s keyboard is backlit, rather than being lit using the ThinkLight.

But then I started hearing the reactions of other fans, who were not happy with the poor value that the T25 offered. Many claimed that this was a poor way to pay homage to the ThinkPad heritage.

Let’s Look at Specs

I’ve heard the world “value” being mentioned a lot in the criticisms on the T25. The price for the base-model T25 is $1899. On many other ThinkPads, you can get quite a lot for $1900, but what about this special edition?

At the first glance, you get a lot for your money. Here’s the specs on the base-model:

ThinkPad T25 Specs
Processor Intel Core i7 @ 2.7GHz
Memory 16GB DDR4
Storage 512GB SSD
Standard Operating System Windows 10 Professional
Graphics (GPU) NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)
Display 14″ FHD anti-glare, multitouch
Weight 3.48 lbs/1.6 kg
Battery 48 WHr (rated up to 13.9 hrs of use)

Lenovo Product Page

The base model has some really good specs; the only two things that signals me is potentially the memory (although, compared to most standard-spec computers, 16GB is more than double) and the display. But how does the line stack up against other models with similar specs.

The T470 is also a nice model. Any ThinkPad fan – or really any computer person – knows that the T-series are usually the solid option for most people. The base T470 (not T470s) costs $881.10 and averages better in ratings than the T25.

The truth is that you can spec an ordinary T470 to have a better processor, same amount of memory and SSD storage, operating system, and a 14″ IPS touch display and be at $1889, although $1700 after “discounts.” While not as big of a gap as I was originally anticipating, the aforementioned “custom T470” has a processor that is over 1GHz faster than the one in the base price T25. The IPS display I spec’d the custom T470 to have would also be better for most ordinary users due to the crisper colors and the wider viewing angles.

Is the value good? Yes. Let’s see how Lenovo marketed this baby.

Marketing the T25

The T25 was highly hyped in the ThinkPad community. After all, it is a special edition model commemorating the line’s 25th anniversary.

The first thing you see when you see the T25 is the colorful ThinkPad logo. It has a combination of the modern ThinkPad logo and the old RGB logo that IBM featured on later ThinkPads right before Lenovo bought the PC line. It’s a nice homage to the old days before the PC division was sold to Lenovo, when the ThinkPad was much simpler and (many could – and would – argue) robust.

That, and a “25th Anniversary Edition” sticker that isn’t even silkscreened straight on some specimens, is about it. Take those off, along with the “new old-stock but modified” keyboard and you’d have an ordinary ThinkPad T470.

On the Lenovo website, the hype continues with a hero image predominately featured on the homepage advertising the T25 (forget the 25th anniversary of Lenovo’s flagship product), which takes you to the product page which is decorated with images of prior ThinkPads and what makes the T25 special, as well as some verbiage about how 1992 was “a very different time.” (Although you don’t have to tell most people about that.)

Beyond that, customers who purchased the machines weren’t happy to find issues with ordering. The reward perks program can’t be used on the T25, and there is also a backlog. Many are not expecting their machines to be shipped until later this month or November.

My Thoughts

I’m mixed, and can’t really speak much other than what I’ve heard from others and the specs. It seems like many die-hard fans are either super-elated to see the T25 (and are waiting for their machines to show up on their doorsteps) or they are angry about the T25.

While it’s nonetheless glad to see a special-edition machine made to pay homage to the long-lived ThinkPad line, I feel they could’ve done more. The ThinkPad line is known as one of the most rugged notebook lines in the world. It is (was?) known as the most innovative line, and it can also be named as the longest-living (continuously) notebook computer series. It was also the first notebook in space, the first portable to feature a CD-ROM directly from the factory, and many other firsts. You can read more about the long heritage of the ThinkPad here.

But you don’t (or at least I didn’t) see much info about the history of the ThinkPad line, except for the verbiage about how the world was different in 1992. Many manufacturers go into excruciating details about a product line’s heritage when a big anniversary is approached, like with Ford and the F-150 or even Apple with the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh.

Some manufacturers also add collectible items to their store during an important anniversary, such as trinkets like coffee mugs, posters, and anything in between.

The ThinkPad line is an important line for Lenovo, and there is still life in it. With the proper team and ideas, the ThinkPad will continue to prosper. While another story for another time, the ThinkPad line is slowly morphing into a MacBook clone. We don’t need (or want) an aluminum ThinkPad that mimics the look and feel of a MacBook. If we would’ve wanted a MacBook, we would’ve bought one. The ThinkPad matte-black design language is very iconic, just as iconic as the aluminum uni-body design language that Apple has used for over a decade now. However, with progress comes feelings hurt.

The ThinkPad has celebrated 25 years of changing the world. Here’s to another 25 years…