ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2018) Review: 6th Gen Workhorse, HDR Brilliance

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Lenovo's 6th Gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Compact And Built To Get Things Done

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon line has been widely regarded as the company's flagship business-class laptop over the past few years. The previous model, which we pored over in deep-dive detail here, brought a new, more compact chassis design with it, along with thinner display bezels and a refresh of Intel's Kaby Lake mobile processor platform. There was a notable caveat or two with the previous-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and it could have been a showstopper, depending on your perspective and use case. Last year's model was only available with a  non-touch, standard IPS display, which could be a shortcoming for some folks looking for accessibility and ultimate image fidelity. Fortunately, however, Lenovo decided to change things up with its new ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Generation machine, which we previewed for you at CES 2018 earlier this year.

box and kit Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen
Lenovo's 6th Gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2018)

The new ThinkPad X1 Carbon ups its display game dramatically versus last year's model. It now sports a 2560x1440p WQHD+ display option that supports 100% of the AdobeRGB color gamut and drives 500 nits of brightness, along with Dolby Vision HDR (High Dynamic Range) capability. So where the X1 Carbon may have left some pixel peepers flat last year, this year's model should have eyes a-poppin'. Couple its promised display brilliance, along with some nice internal upgrades like Intel's 8th Gen Kaby Lake R quad-core CPUs and some new fast NVMe SSD technology on board, and we may have some strong, ultralight mobile workhorse mojo going on here.

Let's take a HotHardware look at the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen for 2018, first in our guided video tour here and then the deep dive on the pages that follow... Oh, and dig the new X1 branding and logo... 

ThinkPad X1 Carbon back lid right angle

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Generation (2018)
Specifications & Features As Tested
Processor Options 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U (8MB Cache, up to 4.2GHz)
Display
14" WQHD+ (2560 x 1440) LTPS, 500 nits, HDR w/ Dolby Vision, 100% AdobeRGB Gamut
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
Memory
16GB LPDDR3 1867MHz (On board)
Storage
1TB PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
WiFi
Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 8265 + Bluetooth 4.2
Interface (Left)
1 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C), 1 x ThinkPad Slide-Dock, USB 3.0
Interface (Right)
Audio Jack, USB 3.0, Kensington Lock Port
Interface (Back) Micro-SD Card Reader + Micro-SIM Card Slot
Webcam
HD 720p, ThinkShutter camera privacy Fixed Focus
Operating System
Windows 10 Pro
Battery 4-cell Lithium Ion (57 WHr)
Dimensions 12.74” x 8.55” x 0.63” (323.5 mm x 217.1 mm x 15.95 mm)
Weight
2.49 pounds (1.13 kg)
Warranty
1 Year Limited Hardware Warranty
Pricing Starting At $1519, $2499 As Tested

Configuration-wise, we have the most top-shelf configuration Lenovo offers for the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon on tap here today. Its storage subsystem alone, a 1TB Samsung NVMe SSD, is a $500 item, and the premium config goes on from there with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U quad-core processor that tops out at a snappy 4.2GHz clock speed. This ThinkPad employs Intel integrated UHD 620 graphics, with no option for a discrete mobile GPU, but we do have the aforementioned high-end display option with a WQHD+ panel at a 2560x1400 native res and 500 nits of brightness, along with HDR Dolby Vision support. However, Lenovo does make note that Dolby Vision capability will not be enabled until next quarter sometime.

HDR Dolby What? 

So what is Dolby Vision exactly you ask? Dolby Vision is a step up over the industry standard (and open) HDR10 High Dynamic Range color format. Dolby Vision specifically requires licensing of the technology to implement it in a product/display, as well as mastering of content in Dolby Vision format. Since Dolby Vision is based on the same core HDR10 format, it’s relatively easy for content producers to create in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR simultaneously. The advantage of Dolby Vision HDR, versus HDR10, is the addition of dynamic metadata to support the HDR image data. This metadata delivers specific instructions to a Dolby Vision capable display, on a per-scene basis, such that the content is rendered with better overall accuracy and in concert with the display's capabilities. Only static metadata is delivered in a standard HDR10 signal and that contains that same set of metadata for an entire film or other piece of video content. Dolby Vision is also backwards compatible over legacy HDMI 1.4b connections, whereas HDR10 requires an HDMI 2.0a connection. So there you have it, and its going to enabled on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon in the first half of this year.

bento box Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves with the technical talk. In terms of presentation and experientially, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon for 2018 is an all-premium affair, and with our top-tier system config weighing in at $2,499, it should be. The new X1 Carbon comes nestled in Lenovo's new Bento Box style packaging, along with a basic lit pack and warranty info (1 Year Depot Base Warranty: Protects internal hardware only and requires mail-in repair) and a petite 65 Watt USB-C AC adapter brick. 

Let's dig into the 2018 ThinkPad X1 Carbon's design, aesthetics and features, next...

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