ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review: Lenovo's 7th Gen Flagship Impresses

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ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen: Graphics And Gaming Tests

UL’s well-known 3DMark benchmark suite features tests that target different types of computing devices. We selected Cloud Gate, Sky Diver, and Night Raid tests since they are light-duty 3D graphics and gaming benchmarks aimed at PCs that weren't built specifically for gaming. We also have plenty of comparison data for Cloud Gate and Sky Diver, which is the more strenuous of the two tests. Night Raid is UL's newest addition, which measures DirectX 12 performance in mainstream PCs.

3DMark Benchmarks
3D Performance
chart ul 3dmark cloudgate

All of the systems with Intel's HD Graphics kind of cluster together near the bottom of the chart. Out of that cluster, however, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th generation stands tall, just four percent behind the only system with Intel UHD 620 graphics that posted a better score: Dell's XPS 13. Everything else either has faster AMD Vega integrated graphics or a discrete GPU with much higher performance. Considering the size, weight, and thermal headroom of the system, the X1 Carbon acquits itself nicely in this first test. 

chart ul 3dmark skydiver

Among Intel systems with integrated graphics, the latest X1 Carbon takes the cake. Again, those systems are all clustered up near the bottom, however, and discrete graphics once again win the day. These results are perfectly aligned with what you would expect from a slight speed bump and the same graphics processor as last year's model. Let's see how the Night Raid test goes.

chart ul 3dmark nightraid

Here's a little bit of a surprise. The ThinkPad's Core i7-8665U CPU comes in handy when compared to the other systems with integrated graphics. Lenovo gets a 16% win over the next-closest system, Acer's Swift 3. Still, even the weak, low-power MX150 doubles the ThinkPad's performance in this DirectX 12-focused test. If there's enough thermal headroom, even the weakest discrete mobile GPU today makes this no contest. 

GRID Autosport
Gaming Performance

GRID Autosport is a cross-platform racing simulation developed by Codemasters. The developer wanted to make up for GRID 2, which released to mediocre reviews from critics and gamerse alike. Codemasters set out to improve GRID Autosport's handling and environment rendering to make it a true racing simulator. The third GRID game is built on Codemasters' EGO engine that boasts more realistic physics and damage systems to add a bit of danger and some extra realism to the racing. Codemasters also tuned its graphics engine to perform well over a wide variety of mainstream systems, which makes it a great test for systems with integrated graphics. Codemasters also promotes that GRID Autosport is "optimized for integrated Intel HD Graphics", which is certainly something. We tested at 1080p with the High image quality preset. 

chart grid auto sport

Again, those Intel UHD 620-equipped systems clump up at the rear of the pack. Almost all of them are separated by a frame per second on average and also have similar low framerates. Subjectively the game is free from stuttering or really obvious hitches, but 20 fps isn't much fun any way you slice it. If you turn the graphics down to Medium, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon almost doubles its GRID Autosport performance, coming up to 46.45 frames per second, and the game still looks pretty decent in motion. 

ThinkPad X1 Carbon carbon fiber top

Other older games run pretty well on the ThinkPad, too. StarCraft II at 1080p and Medium settings preset was mostly playable, but in big fights the framerate drops at inopportune times. We found we could play just fine at 1366x768 on the same Medium. The same was true of Diablo III, too. 1080p was a big lift for the tiny UHD 620 graphics processor, but 768p and some judicious graphical tuning turned in a good performance. For road warriors who like to game a little in their downtime, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon does well enough that you're more likely to have a problem with hotel Wi-Fi than you are graphics for Blizzard's always-online titles. 

Next up we'll take a look at battery life, cooling performance, and noise levels.

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