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

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen Review Summary

Performance Summary: Lenovo's 2018 ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen laptop handled our battery of benchmark testing with ease and often ranked in the top quadrant of our various tests, from productivity, to content creation and even some light duty gaming. Its 8th Gen Kaby Lake R platform upgrade delivers significant performance gains over the previous generation X1 Carbon. However, given its high-end processor configuration with its top-end Core i7-8650U processor, we expected a bit more and the machine did seem held back somewhat thermally in its out-of-box configuration, though this can alleviated by turning up its power and fan profile. That said, overall, performance with the 6th generation X1 Carbon is still very robust, especially with respect to its storage subsystem and the brand of NVMe Solid State Drives Lenovo chose to configure with the machine - with the ability to hit well above 2GB/sec in both read and write throughput. Finally, battery life-wise, the new X1 Carbon offers very respectable up-time that should satisfy mainstream users in a myriad of use cases.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon back lid left angle
ThinkPad X1 Carbon Black
In all candor, Lenovo's 6th generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon really grew on us the more we worked with the machine. If you've been spoiled by an OLED display-powered laptop previously, like Lenovo's own ThinkPad X1 Yoga, the visual impact might not be as apparent. However, when you put the X1 Carbon side-by-side with a standard LCD noteboook, you immediately see the brightness, sharp contrast and pop the X1 Carbon's HDR display delivers. And once we put it next to the OLED panel in the 2017 X1 Yoga, we were especially impressed. We frankly didn't expect it to compete, but compete it did with OLED, and when you fire up HDR content, it begins to distance itself. HDR content availability may be limited right now, but it's building momentum, and this panel is extremely bright and accurate, supporting the full AdobeRGB gamut, not just the NTSC color space. In short, it's a fantastic, high-res 14-inch panel that isn't a battery hog either. We love it.

All told, the culmination of last year's chassis refinements, a great Intel Kaby Lake R platform upgrade, a few thoughtful tweaks like its web cam shutter, good battery life and a killer HDR display, makes the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen laptop easily one of our favorite business-class laptops on the market currently. The X1 Carbon family is pricey, and we'd suggest our absolute top-shelf config at $2500 is overkill for many, but this is one excellent laptop family that's worth the investment, in our humble opinion. It's also a HotHardware.com Editor's Choice.
hothardware editors choice
  • Understated, Premium Good Looks
  • Excellent Performance
  • Class-Leading 14-inch HDR Display
  • Solid Battery Life
  • Best Laptop Keyboard Going
  • Quiet Demeanor
  • 1440p HDR Only Available Non-Touch
  • Moderate Throttling Under Extended Load With Default Power Profile
  • Pricey

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