Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook Review

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Ultrabooks continue to be the hot trend in the Windows notebook arena. With the recent introduction of Intel's new, low power 3rd generation Ivy Bridge Core series processors, designs are becoming thinner with every iteration, while paradoxically it seems, performance continues to scale higher.  We've seen Ultrabook machines from virtually all the majors here at HotHardware and many of them are targeted at consumers on the go where thin is in, and not so much the business user, where practical usability, durability and performance are critical.  Lenovo however, is stepping outside the box with the latest addition to their ThinkPad lineup for road warriors and cubical commandos alike.

The venerable Lenovo ThinkPad, with its little red TrackPoint nub has gone the way of the Ultrabook.  If there's one small dig ThinkPads have taken with regularity over the years, it's that though there's a ton of quality and substance built into these machines, style was not a hallmark of the brand.  The all new ThinkPad X1 Carbon could very well change the utilitarian stereotype of the Lenovo's business-backed line-up, however.  It's very well-made like a ThinkPad should be but it's thin, sleek and dare we say sexy?  Go-on little ThinkPad, back that a... oh never mind.  Let's run down the specs and stick with the program.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon Edge

Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 Ultrabook
Specifications & Features
Let's start by covering some detail that you can't glean from the above spec list. The SSD on board the ThinkPad X1 Carbon that we tested is a 128GB SandDisk mSATA model that has a fair bit of punch, especially on the read side of things.  Other notables are the machine's 14-inch panel with a native resolution of 1600X900.  It might not be the brightest LCD in the lab at 300 nits but it's bright enough and its native resolution seems like a perfect fit for 14 inches of real estate.  More on this later. For its on-board power source, we've got a 45Whr battery strapped in for good (it's not user serviceable, which is common for Ultrabooks these days), capable of providing over 6 hours of uptime backed up by Lenovo's RapidCharge technology that'll re-juice the machine up to 80% (5+Hrs) in only 35 minutes.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Ahh but here's where the rubber meets the proverbial road.  The above table was provided by the folks in Lenovo Product Marketing.  As you can see, they're quick to point out that the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is one of the thinnest, lightest machines on the market currently and it weighs in at a mere 3 pounds soaking wet. For a 14-inch machine that's almost ridiculously light.  What isn't so light, however, is the X1 Carbon's price point. Starting at $1399 ($1499 as tested), though this ThinkPad excels beyond Intel's Ultrabook spec in many areas, it falls short of Intel's $799 - $999 Ultrabook pricing goal in exchange for higher-end components and build quality.  Regardless, let's journey on for a closer look around this sliver of technological wonderment.

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nicoletoledo 2 years ago

Think pad, tablet, pads... just usr your smart phone and just save up for a gaming rig

CDeeter 2 years ago

Lol, sorry but I'm not going to try working with spread sheets on my phone. Need a much bigger screen for that. :-)

GLugo 2 years ago

This is a great laptop except it was just released so if you're buying it now, it makes you an "early adopter" and pioneer to help Lenovo discover issues.

The Lenovo forums and web is abuzz of owners complaining about unexpected power off's, overheating, LCD flicker and everything else except for solid build that you'd expect from a ThinkPad.

The angry owners are receiving unofficial help from a wide base of loyal / longtime, repeat ThinkPad owners who are enjoying troubleshooting this first release just as much as they enjoyed discovering the last first release but legendary ThinkPad quality is often unofficially tested by the loyal user community.

It may be worthwhile waiting for the next revision in a few months before rushing out to buy the current X1's since the bugs are still being worked out.

P.S., I suggest check for low price of this laptop at: laptopdeals2k12.blogspot.com/p/lenovo-thinkpad-x1.html

Hope this review is helpful.

Jaybk26 2 years ago

I can't be the only one that hates Lenovo.

Dave_HH 2 years ago

Actually, you might be. :)

mernerion 2 years ago

I would much rather dell XD


AKnudson 2 years ago

Lenovo is a fantastic company that has always been a consistent competitor in computing power. they have kept a mantra of consistency and performance that has kept them solvent and given them a competitive edge. Their dedication to meet the needs of everyday users and bringing technology to students and teachers borders on revolutionary.

The Lenovo idea pad tablet series struggled but their computers have always been high quality and top of the line.

Jaybk26 your the only one that hates good companies.

mernerion 2 years ago

yes, a good company indeed however, im not sure i would need a computer that went completely flat...

Jaybk26 2 years ago

I have had nothing but horrible experiences with Lenovo and the last Lenovo tablet I used was abysmal.  I'm not that big of a fan of Android's OS and the hardware was just pathetic.  But clearly I'm on the losing side of a battle:D

LKnudson 2 years ago

Tablets and computers are computers are completely different playing fields so you're anger might be misdirected, However "If you ever find yourself agreeing with the majority, Stop and reflect" Mark Twain :)

Dave_HH 2 years ago

Hey to each his/her own, that's for sure. I was just being a wise-a$$ ;-)

Jaybk26 2 years ago

Lol, that's fair LKnudson, but I've had bad experiences with both:D I wasn't agreeing, I was just quieting down. "Agree with thine adversary whilst thou art in the way with them.":p @Dave, I totally understand:D

LKnudson 2 years ago

I have to agree with Jaybk I have never liked any of lenovas devices just because they don't perform as well as say a dell or and Hp.

mhenriday 2 years ago

Thanks for this review Dave ! And in particular for noting that an ethernet connexion via the USB-dongle (2.0 ? 3.0 ?) while «not quite as robust» as a direct physical layer standard Ethernet connexion, is «significantly faster» than a standard 802.11n WiFi connexion. It would have been nice with some figures, however, to help those of us who lack sufficient imagination interpret terms like «robust» and «significantly faster»....

In any event, this Lenovo certainly does look like an excellent «business» (i e, paid for with pre-tax income) machine for those who need something both ultraportable and on which serious work can be done. Kudos to the designers - and not least to those working in the factories where the machines are assembled !...


Dave_HH 2 years ago

Heya Henri, Thanks for the feedback. I agree and I thought about pulling numbers together for that but ran out of time getting this review done. Unfortunately, these days it's like a race against everyone and they're brother to get a timely review up. I may go back and look at it specifically though and when I do, I'll comment here with the numbers or update the article.

mhenriday 2 years ago

And thanks for your reply, Dave ! The numbers are always, in my opinion, good to have, but I understand the time constraints under which you reviewers operate. Still, quality - of which, I submit, numeracy constitutes a not insignificant part - is perhaps as least as important as being first out. That being said, I think you reviewers at HH generally do an excellent job....

I neglected to take this up in my earlier posting, but LGentry's thoughtful posting in which he notes that he's «too cheap to by a new computer if [he] can get a model two years old for a quarter of the cost» (welcome to the club !) gave me a push forward. I'm rather dissatisfied with the direction Lenovo - and it would seem, other so-called «Ultrabook» makers are going - personally, I blame Apple for the bad example and am surprised they've not attemtpted to register a patent. I'm referring here to the fact tha tboth RAM and battery have been installed in the computer in such a manner as to render replacement, if not impossible, at least quite difficult for the ordinary user - and I presume the same is true for the storage module as well. As someone who has helped a lot of retired people upgrade their older computers - both desktops and laptops - over the years, I abhor this trend, which in this case would seem to render this beautiful machine useless after a couple of years or so when the battery has died. OK, the type of businesses that purchases this kind of kit is unlikely to be particularly interested in replacing old parts if, as we piously hope, engineers and manufacturers continue to provide us with the performance gains we've hitherto seen in every successive computer generation, but there should still be a market in which they - or the individual users whose personal property these devices will have probably become in the meantime - can sell them for upgrade at , as noted «a quarter of the cost» to people like LGentry or myself. This sort of planned obsolescence makes me unhappy....  Sad


Erakith 2 years ago

As i commented on the article mentioning this previously, the throwback design cues like the mouse "nub" between the g/h/v/b keys need to be done away with, in my opinon. There can't be enough people still utilizing that feature when we have the trackpad and of course portable mice to replace it. The red cues tarnish the whole appearance imo.

Everything else looks stellar, though, and the performance speaks for itself.

JDiaz 2 years ago

Actually, fans of the Thinkpads usually demand the track point (nub). It's a classic feature of the Thinkpad design and the reason is it's convenient for typists.

Basically, if you're doing a lot of typing then it's more convenient to use the track point to move the cursor than to take your hands away from the keyboard and use either the touch pad or mouse. Since you don't have to move your hands from the keyboard to use the track point and you usually don't need more than basic mouse control while typing.

While they still provide you a multi-touch touch pad for when you don't need to type a lot.

It's not for everyone but not every feature of any device necessarily has to appeal to everyone but something that helps set a product apart from others also gets a little leeway on how useful it needs to be to stay included.

LGentry 2 years ago

@Erakith - Actually, the "nub" is one of my main reason that I've had three different Thinkpads. I absolutely despise that touchpad/trackpad whatever you want to call it on most laptops. It always messes up my typing and moves my mouse and causes me to type into the middle of whatever paragraph I've been working on. Overall, I'd put this computer firmly in the "Awesome" category, knowing full well that I'll probably never own one because I'm too cheap to by a new computer if I can get a model two years old for a quarter of the cost. I don't need bleeding edge, but I require the nub :-)

cjc1103 2 years ago

10/100 Ethernet? Really? Lenovo, wake up and smell the coffee. This is a "premium" machine, I would expect GbE in this price range. Actually I would expect GbE in all computers these days, silicon is cheap.

JDiaz 2 years ago

Ethernet with a USB adapter, probably rated for USB 2.0, tends to be limited...

akcent14 2 years ago

I have seen the same laptop. but that was Ace ultra book but lenovo think pad is really good and looking awesome.

1cetrap 2 years ago

DERPA DERP lets benchmark a business machine for gaming! LMFAO Far Cry 2 on a ThinkPad?!?!? Who did this review??

I work at IBM...Lenovo makes the highest quality laptops available, hands down. Go buy an overpriced Dell if you want to game, these machines mean BUSINESS.

JPrakash 2 years ago

So you are saying business men and employees shouldn't game? Any law like that? What if its a take-home laptop?

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