Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017) Review: Optimized Mobility

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Battery Life, Thermals And Acoustics

In the following benchmarks, we employ two very different battery life tests -- Battery Eater Pro and a custom 1080p HD video loop test -- to prove out battery life with our test group of machines. In all tests, Windows 10 Quiet Hours have been enabled and displays are calibrated with lux meters on pure white screens to as close to 115 lux as possible. For the average notebook this is somewhere between a 45 - 60% brightness setting. Since notebook displays significantly affect power consumption and battery life, it's important to ensure a level playing field with respect to brightness of the display for battery testing. However, since many notebook displays vary in brightness at each respective brightness setting in Windows, this calibration with the meter is also critical to ensure all displays are set to as near identical brightness as possible before testing.

Battery Life
Heavy and Light Loads

 Battery Eater Pro wears systems down quickly with a heavy load on all subsystems, including processor, graphics, memory and even storage. This is a worst-case test that will give you a sense of how a machine will hold up under heavy strain, when gaming or under heavy-duty continuous content creation workloads, for example.

X1 Carbon Battery Eater Test

The new ThinkPad X1 Carbon with its 57 Whr battery and 1080p display puts up a command performance here again, just missing the top spot against the ever-efficient Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 that's powered by a lower power Kaby Lake-Y 4.5 Watt chip, versus a full-fledged Core i5 in the X1 Carbon.  

Moving on to the next test, our custom HotHardware video loop takes a 1080p HD video with a 16Kbps bit rate and loops it repeatedly, with 1 minute break intervals in between. A timer log file increments minutes of up-time and a final tally is recorded before system shutdown, which then is stored in the log. This is a lighter duty test that is still a bit more strenuous than many office productivity tasks, but it's not nearly the strain that Battery Eater puts on a system.

X1 Carbon Video Loop Battery Test

We thought Dell's XPS 13 2-in-1 was a battery life behemoth, that is until we met the new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The machine offer 534 minutes or almost 9 hours of up-time, when looping our 1080p HD video file. This is largely due to the combination of its new Kaby Lake processor, slightly larger battery and its 1080p non-touch display. If you're looking to get through a trans-Atlantic or Pacific flight while movie binging, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is your huckleberry. 

Acoustics And Thermals
X1 Carbon Heat Gun

The 2017 ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a diminutive machine, both in physical stature and in terms of its acoustic signature. During the heavy stresses of benchmarking, or battery testing, we occasionally heard its fans spin up to audible levels but the system remained relatively quiet in general. In addition, the new X1 Carbon offered tame and tepid thermals, with apparently very good heat dissipation and no apparent glaring hot spots. Its warmest spots are near the rear of the keyboard area, just under the display, on both the top and bottom of the machine. Neither the top or bottom side of the machine was particularly warm (around 90 - 92F at its warmest area), even after repeated Cinebench loops. In short, this laptop is neither noisy or hot by any measure and that's refreshing, considering its best-of-breed performance. 

Related content