Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook Review

Article Index

Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary:   Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon put up very respectable performance figures across a myriad of workloads.  With the exception of gaming, where this ThinkPad's lower memory bandwidth holds back performance, the X1 Carbon competes well with the latest crop of Intel 3rd generation Core series powered ultra-light notebooks. In our light duty gaming benchmarks the ThinkPad X1 Carbon offered performance somewhat below other machines we've tested in this class, although gaming is not what this machine was designed for. Are you going to miss a bit of gaming performance in a feather-weight notebook usage model?  Likely not, but it's worth noting, especially if you tend toward heavier multimedia usage.  Beyond that, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon's combination of Intel's Ivy Bridge-based Core i5-3427U processor and its nimble SSD, add up to responsive, power-efficient performance that will satisfy virtually anyone interested in a machine in this weight class.

We have to hand it to Lenovo for designing what is darn near close to the perfect Ultrabook, at least in terms of our personal wish list.  There are but two shortcomings that stand out beyond the machine's heftier-than-most price tag; and at this price range ($1399 - $1899 MSRP) there should be few compromises.  In our testing, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon pulled up behind most other similarly configured Ultrabooks in gaming tests, due to slightly lower available memory bandwidth offered by its DDR3-1333MHz memory, versus some Ultrabooks that are sporting 1600MHz memory under the hood. We should also point out that this memory is actually soldered to the system's motherboard.  So whatever configuration you get from the factory, be it 4GB or 8GB, that's what you've got for good, period.

The other smaller request would be at least one more USB 3.0 port tucked away on one edge of the machine somewhere or in place of the legacy USB 2.0 port.  With only two USB ports at your disposal, we could see scenarios where someone might run out of needed expansion or connectivity options.  These are small quibbles to be sure but again, at a premium price point like this, splitting hairs doesn't seem completely unreasonable.

Finally, while some folks might take issue with Lenovo's choice of display on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, we feel its high 1600x900 native resolution, good contrast ratio and matte finish offer a pleasing window on the world of computing.  Under heavy use, the display was almost as comfortable and easy on the eyes, as the X1 Carbon's keyboard areas is on your hands.  You'll love the keyboard on this machine, trust us.  Couple that backlit beauty with Lenovo's rigid, light-weight, sleek, and understated carbon fiber chassis and you get what amounts to Lenovo's classic ThinkPad heritage reincarnated in an Ultrabook experience, a place where form does not always follow function.  With the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, style and substance aren't mutually exclusive but rather complementary.  Good stuff, Lenovo.

  • Thin, light, strong and ThinkPad tough with Carbon Fiber shell
  • Most stylish ThinkPad yet
  • Favorite Ultrabook keyboard, period and it's backlit!
  • Nimble in SSD
  • High res display
  • Large glass touchpad
  • DDR3 1333MHz system memory versus 1600MHz on other machines.
  • Pricey

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