Lenovo’s most beloved business laptop, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, just got even better. Billed as the world’s lightest 14-inch business ultrabook, this ultrathin, ultralight, ultra tough, and nearly ultra expensive. Is this new 4th gen X1 worth the upgrade? We think so, if you have the dough.
Keyboard and Chassis
We’ll start with one of the best features of the X1 – the keyboard. Some such a thin laptop, they keyboard is actually a joy to use. The keys provide exceptional feedback, are large with plenty of travel, and it’s spill resistant. The red, embedded trackpoint is accentuated by three buttons located above the trackpad, the center of which conveniently providing a scroll function. Both of the pointing devices feel smooth, including during two-finger zooming.
This superb, backlit keyboard and trackpad system is wrapped in a durable frame that’s been certified for several of the MIL-STD 801G tests, including temperature, vibration, shock, high altitude, and even blowing sand. Lenovo further battle-hardened this thing against other hazards, including such things as being dropped and electric shock. Lenovo states, however, that their military specification aren’t intended to be a guarantee of performance under these environmental conditions. Suffice to say, however, it’s quite capable of being handled by your clumsy intern on an early Monday morning, or your two year old during an intense game of Angry Birds.
2K IPS Screen Optional
This latest generation X1 weighs in at just 2.6 lbs and packs a solid 2,560 x 1,440 (or 1,920 x 1,080) 14-inch IPS panel with a brightness of 300nits. It lacks a touchscreen or the 360 degree rotation of the Yoga, though that’s not what this laptop is designed for. Dimensions clock in at 13.11″ x 9.01″ x 0.65″ and, even so, the chassis packs a bunch of connectivity options. The screen is anti-smudge and opens to nearly 180 degrees.
Connections and Battery
You get three USB 3.0 ports (though no USB-C), a microSD, OneLink+, WiGig, DisplayPort, and an HDMI port. While all these things help you stay connected, Lenovo claims up to 10 hours of battery life, tested using MobileMark. Of course, this is all variable, depending on your screen brightness, usage, and other settings. Most owners on forums are reporting about 5 hours of battery life with typical usage. If you’re gaming , expect more like 4 hours. One drawback of this 4-cell, 52 WHr battery is that it’s sealed, so you can’t swap it out on the go, but then again battery life is great and being sealed is probably the tradeoff for durability, fungus resistance, and all that.
The WiGig dock, available on the upgraded 2k display, is compatible with Lenovo’s proprietary WiGig iteration. It’s is a neat little hub that includes LAN, video outputs, USB ports, and more, that’s great for uncluttering your desktop space by allowing you to have one cable connection from your laptop that runs to the box, and from there the box can handle all those connections.
Performance and Security
Lenovo’s high-end laptop is powered by a fairly bloat-free Windows 10 operating system, a 6th gen Intel® i7-6600U (or i5-6200U) with vPro, an ultrafast 256GB Samsung PCIe NVMe SSD, 8GB of soldered in RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) for storage. The vPro is useful for manageability features and provides enhanced security, whereas the NVMe SSD is about twice the speed of even the best consumer SATA SSD’s. The integrated speakers are also solid, with Dolby® audio. This premium machine is also Skype for Business-certified, with a 720p webcam flanked by dual array microphones just above the screen, so conference calls and video chats are going to be reliable and secure. For even more security, there’s an easier to use touch sensor fingerprint reader, and what Lenovo calls their Trusted Platform Module (TPM), an embedded chip that secures your hardware. For peace of mind, Lenovo covers the X1 Carbon with their standard three-year warranty.
Processor: Up to Intel® Core™ i7 vPro™ Processor
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro or Home, Windows 7 Professional
Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 520
Memory: Up to 16 GB DDR3
Storage: Up to 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Camera/Microphone: 720p/Digital Array Microphone
Battery: Up to 11 Hours (52 WHr)
Display: 14″ WQHD (2560 x 1440) or FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, 300 nits
Dimensions: 13.11″ x 9.01″ x 0.65″
Weight: Starting at 2.6lbs
Security and Manageability: TPM, Kensington® Lock, Touch Fingerprint Reader, Intel® vPro™ Technology
I/O (Input/Output) Ports: WiGig, OneLink+, Mini DisplayPort™, HDMI™, 3 x USB 3.0, microSD™
WiFi: Snowfield Peak 2 x 2 a/c + Bluetooth® 4.1 (vPro™)/Snowfield Peak 2 x 2 a/c + Bluetooth® 4.1 (Non-vPro™)/Douglas Peak (WiGig / WiFi / Bluetooth® 4.1 Combo) (coming soon)
Mobile Broadband: Integrated Mobile Broadband/Sierra Wireless EM7455 Qualcomm (coming soon)
Bluetooth®: Bluetooth® 4.1
This is a solid upgrade from last year’s X1, albeit more of an iteration rather than a redesign. While this isn’t intended to be a comparison review, another upgrade path for some users is the ThinkPad 450s. The X1 is slightly more expensive than the 450s, but it also has a better screen, is lighter, has longer battery life, and it has a longer warranty. The lack of a touch screen or embedded ethernet jack are about the only drawbacks but, like previously mentioned, users who want a touch screen or a 360 degree bendable panel have more suitable choices. This ThinkPad X1 Carbon is all business.