Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Review: A Petite Premium Powerhouse

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano: Impressive Specs In A Beautiful, Lightweight Intel Evo-Certified Laptop

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Lenovo's flagship ThinkPad X1 lineup has historically been one of our favorite business-class laptop product lines. Lenovo made a quick transition recently, and upgraded this popular laptop series with Intel's 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors that roared onto the scene with a nice performance lift and useful platform updates late last year. Besides the platform upgrade though, Lenovo also pulled a proverbial rabbit out of its hat when it dropped Tiger Lake into the thin and light 1.99lb ThinkPad X1 Nano. The performance-per-pound ratio of this machine should prove impressive and make for a solid, highly portable combination for business professionals or casual mainstream laptop users alike.

Though what Lenovo did with Tiger Lake may not be exactly magical, it is certainly not smoke and mirrors either, with the specs and unique industrial design on offer here. As you'll see on the pages ahead, the performance displayed during our gamut of benchmarks is nothing short of fantastic, considering how petite this machine is. However, there is more to this laptop than specs and size alone, so first let's take a look under the hood and then we'll take a detailed walk around this little business-class beast…

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano
Specifications & Features
Processor Intel Core i7-1160G7 (4 Cores, 8 Threads, 2.1GHz base, 4.4GHz max Turbo, 12MB Cache)
Display 13.0" 2K (2160 x 1350) 16:10 IPS, anti-glare with Dolby Vision™, 450 nits
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Graphics (96 execution units, 1.1 GHz max dynamic frequency)
Storage 512GB NVMe SSD PCIe SSD
Memory 16 GB LPDDR4X (soldered)
Audio 2x front-facing & 2x downward-firing Dolby Atmos speaker system ; Four array microphones, 360° far-field
Camera IR & 720p HD w/ Privacy Shutter
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201, 802.11ax 2x2 Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 5.1
Ports: Left 2x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4)
Ports: Right N/A
Keyboard Backlit, multimedia Fn keys
Touchpad UltraNav™ pointing device
Battery 48Wh
Weight 1.99 lb (907g)
Dimensions 11.53 x 8.18 x .055-.066 inches (292.8 x 207.7 x 13.87-16.7 milllimeters)
Warranty 1-year
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Price As Reviewed $1,877.40

Lenovo sent us one of its mid-range Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano devices with a 4-core / 8-thread Intel Core i7-1160G7 inside, which can boost up to 4.4GHz. Lenovo also equipped our device with a snappy -- but soldered down -- 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM, clocking in at 4267MHz. The machine also features a 512GB NVMe SSD, which, combined with that fast memory and Tiger Lake CPU, should provide for a very responsive experience.

Besides featuring Intel's latest processing platform, we also have the latest connectivity on board with Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 and Bluetooth 5.1. There's no wired Ethernet port here, but that's a feature not often found in this class of ultralight machines. It can be forgiven on such a thin and light device, and of course you could always utilize one of the two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports of the ThinkPad X1 Nano with a quality USB-C network adapter if needed. And actually, though it didn't come in our box for some reason, Lenovo's documentation (PDF) notes that it provides both a bundled USB-C to Ethernet adapter and a USB-C Port Replicator in some configs of the machine. 

When all is said and done, these great specifications afford this laptop Intel Evo Platform status, meaning users should have a great experience, as Intel intended for its 11th Gen Tiger Lake platform.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano's Features & Design

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Lenovo designed the ThinkPad X1 Nano with professional users in mind, as it comes in a sleek and smooth matte-black finish, devoid of gaudy bells and whistles. If you get a touchscreen edition of the X1 Nano, though, you can opt for a carbon-fiber weave on the top cover for a bit of extra flair. The smooth shell on the ThinkPad X1 Nano is made of a "durable magnesium-aluminum" alloy, which we have seen on other ThinkPad devices. This design choice provides both a premium feel, and allowed the ultra-lightweight laptop to come in at around 2lbs. This weight makes it incredibly easy to carry around and get things done wherever you may be. Moreover, the small size helps as well, with a footprint of only 11.53 " X 8.18", which is not much larger than a standard sheet of paper, for reference.

lenovo thinkpad x1 nano review display
ThinkPad X1 Nano 2K 16:10 13-Inch IPS Display

As you may have guessed by its overall physical dimensions, the ThinkPad X1 Nano comes with a 13" display that is impressive, to say the least. All configurations come with a 2160x1350 16:10 High-DPI IPS display boasting 450 nits of brightness, 100% sRGB coverage, and Dolby Vision support. The display itself has a matte finish with an anti-glare coating as well, which is great for working in brightly-lit or mixed lighting areas. Ultimately, both indoors and out, this display seemed to get the job done no matter what we threw at it and it's relatively bright overall versus similar machines in the X1 Nano's class.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano's Peripherals

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Taking a tour around the device, you'll find there is not much going on. On the left side of the ThinkPad X1 Nano, there are two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports and a 3.5mm headphone/mic combo jack. On the right, there is a row of vent holes and a simple backlit power button that is fairly easy to find once you get used to its position.

With only a pair of USB-C ports, you might find yourself looking for more expansion options, though at least the full bandwidth of Thunderbolt 4 is enabled here. There's also no microSD card reader on board, unfortunately, and it would have been nice to have one of those USB-C data/charge ports on the other side of the machine, for more flexible left or right-sided charging and potentially easier cable routing as a result. Dell's XPS 13 line-up does it this way and it's a simple thoughtful design choice that we prefer.

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Opening up the laptop, you'll notice four small holes at the top the display, which are for the quad, integrated 360-degree far-field microphones. These are just above the camera bar, which features a 720p webcam and IR camera (for Windows Hello capability) alongside Lenovo's Privacy Shutter. There is also an optional human presence detection sensor that will automatically lock the computer if you step away. Though adequate, it would have been nice to see a 1080p webcam considering the work-from-home trend and the desire for increased video capture quality, but this webcam and microphone array gets the job done.

lenovo thinkpad x1 nano review thinkpad logo

Dropping down to the typing deck, we find a backlit six-row keyboard with multimedia function keys. As always with Lenovo, this keyboard provides a satisfying and comfortable typing experience once you get used to the layout. There is also a centrally located TrackPoint nub of course, which will work for a quick movement across the screen, though it's not as accurate as using the trackpad. Speaking of which, the multi-touch enabled trackpad has a glass surface, with three buttons for left, right, and middle mouse clicks. It feels incredibly smooth to the touch, and it's very accurate and responsive for scrolling long pages, intricate movements and multi-touch gestures.

Alongside that trackpad is a fingerprint reader that allows users to sign with the tap of a finger. If you do not want to store your fingerprint, though, you can use the Windows Hello functionality or type in a pin or password as usual. Either way you go, you will be back to work quickly, as the login times with this machine (a required Intel EVO experience metric) are quick as a bunny. 

Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano looks and feels good, but does it perform well for its size? It is time to see if this Tiger Lake laptop purrs in our set of benchmarks...

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