Each year reviewing a new laptop can get a bit boring. Improvement in performance, new features, or a fresh design is what you’re looking for. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, however, doesn’t fall into this category. Unlike the new 8th Gen version, Lenovo kept all other aspects the same while updating the chips.
The new Thinkpad X1 Carbon has all of the features that made the first model the top business laptop; it has an unmatched keyboard, a sleek, durable chassis, and a wide array of ports.
It may not work as well as Lenovo believes if-it-ain’t-broke next time around, with rivals offering longer battery life in a similar portable design. As for now, though, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon remains one of the finest laptops available on the market today and the best laptop for enterprise users in general.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon design
A stylish, lightweight laptop, the X1 Carbon perfectly combines modern aesthetics with practical features.
Lenovo gave its flagship business notebook only a few minor tweaks to give it a consumer-friendly facelift, replacing the early 7th Gen models with a sleeker model. In addition to the “X1” stamp, there is a new logo on the lid. There is no need to worry, the “i” remains red.
Other than that, nothing has changed. Dual hinges flank two speaker grilles on the deck. On the right side of the touchpad, below a small fingerprint sensor, there is a diagonal ThinkPad logo and the trademark red color of the pointing stick (or TrackPoint).
Two models were sent to us by Lenovo for review: the standard version with a matte black finish, and the carbon edition with a weave of carbon fiber in the lid that highlights the materials inside. Under some lighting, both versions have a pearlescent sheen inside that is matte-black.
My wish list for future models includes improved resistance to fingerprints. As soon as you touch it, smudgy fingerprints appear.
There should be some trimming done to the bezels around the X1 Carbon’s display (especially the bottom one).
Despite these minor complaints, the X1 Carbon boasts one of the best designs I’ve seen, only rivaled by HP’s Elite Dragonfly in the business space. The X1 Carbon is beautiful and stealthy, but its blue rival is irresistible.
Even though it’s a 14-inch laptop, the X1 Carbon is remarkably lightweight. However, it is no longer unique. With the use of magnesium alloy, laptops are becoming lighter, with the lightweight Acer Swift 5 and LG Gram 14 coming in at under two pounds.
This carbon fiber model feels more sturdy than some of its counterparts. The X1 Carbon is reinforced with carbon fiber, which means the keyboard does not flex, creak or show scratches whenever it is lightly brushed.
A little smaller than the ExpertBook B9450 (0.6 inches, 2.2 pounds) and the Elite Dragonfly (11.9 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches, 2.5 pounds), the ThinkPad X1 Carbon weighs 2.4 pounds. The 13-inch MacBook Pro (12 x 8.4 x 0.6, 3.1 pounds) is much heavier than these laptops.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen) Specs
|Size||12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-10210U (vPro)|
|GPU||Intel UHD Graphics 620|
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon ports
Lenovo was criticized for removing the SD card slot from the previous X1 Carbon. Even if I was a little harsh, I’m still upset about it. Ports are generous for a laptop of this size.
A Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI 1.4 output and an Ethernet network extension are located on the left side.
A second Type-A USB 3.1 jack and a lock slot are on the right. My only criticism is that the two Thunderbolt 3 ports should be split so you can charge from either edge of the laptop.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon display
ThinkPad X1 Carbon models are available in 1080p and 4K. Let me start by saying that both 14-inch displays are great.
However, I would prefer the Full HD panel, which is a quality screen that uses less power than the UHD one (more later).
Watching shows and movies on your laptop requires you to be plugged in, so opt for the 4K screen or opt for the in-between option, a 1440p panel with 300 nits of brightness.
The 4K panel was much more colorful than the 1080p screen when compared to it. Watching a trailer for No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s eyes burst into radiant aquamarine color. Despite the blue hue not looking dull, the matte 1080p panel does not reflect the color as much.
The skin tones on his face appeared orange/pink on the UHD screen, as opposed to gray and peach on the FHD. The 4K display cast a warm glow on his face like he were in a dark room on the 1080p screen. Also, on the FHD panel, a security guard appeared to have more natural skin tones than he did on the 4K panel.
Upon showing my fiancee a side-by-side comparison, she preferred the 1080p display to the 4K one and appropriately compared it to photos taken by a Pixel or Galaxy smartphone, the former capturing truer colors and the latter presenting vivid, saturated colors. Although the 4K display is sharper (the scars on Rami Malek’s face look more detailed), the matte finish on the 1080p screen is so much better at dispersing reflections.
We found that our colorimeter measured 101% of sRGB while the 4K screen-captured 135%. Competitors of the X1 Carbon include the ExpertBook B9450 (117%), the Elite Dragonfly (117%), and the MacBook Pro (114%). In the premium laptop market, 122% is the average.
Direct light is not a problem for the two X1 Carbon screens. In contrast, the 4K panel is brighter at 498 nits compared to 364 nits in 1080p. The new X1 Carbon (336 nits for 1080p; 432 nits for 4K) compares well with the ExpertBook B9450 (302 nits). These marks were split between the Elite Dragonfly (373 nits) and the MacBook Pro (495 nits).
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon performance
A ThinkPad X1 Carbon with a Core i5-10310U and vPro CPU was tested, along with an 8GB RAM and a higher-end model with a Core i7-10610U with vPro CPU and 16GB of RAM.
In both cases, the Core i5 model had more delay than the Core i7 model. While opening two dozen websites in Google Chrome, streaming music from YouTube Music, and playing a pair of 1080p YouTube videos, there were some brief slowdowns on the less expensive option. Adding even more tabs didn’t impede the performance of the laptop much, and the occasional stutter wasn’t too bad. This heavy workload was handled with no sluggishness by the Core i7 model. For those who are power users, or who browse the web often with Chrome’s RAM-hungry browser, it is worth spending the extra money for 16GB of RAM.
Based on our synthetic benchmarks, both models did well. Geekbench 5.0 benchmarks the Core i5 processor at 3,597 points and the Core i7 at 3,939. Those scores topple the ExpertBook B9450 (2,960, Core i7-10510U), the Elite Dragonfly (3,101, Core i7-8665U) but they fall short of the MacBook Pro (4,399, Core i5) and the category average (4,294).
As of Geekbench 4.2, the new X1 Carbon (15,467 for Core i5; 16,958 for Core i7) had almost identical performance scores to its predecessor (15,649 for Core i5; 16,545 for Core i7).
We sent a 4K video clip to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon so it could be transcoded into 1080p in our Handbrake test. As compared to the Core i7 version (18:29), the Core i5 model clocked in at 19 minutes and 51 seconds. In terms of performance, both models fared better than the ExpertBook B9450 (28:24) and the Elite Dragonfly (22:23), but they fell short of the MacBook Pro (12:43). In terms of performance, the previous X1 Carbon (16:52 for Core i5; 17:40 for Core i7) was still competitive.
This model has much faster storage than its predecessors. This unit’s 256GB SSD produced a 783 megabyte per second transfer rate for a 5GB file in 6.5 seconds. SSD 512GB config with Core i7 processor was able to attain 997.9 MBps in just 5 seconds.
Each is faster than the ExpertBook B9450 (771 MBps, 1TB SSD), the Elite Dragonfly (424 MBps, 512GB SSD) and the old X1 Carbon (424 for 256GB SSD; 508 for 512GB SSD). On the other hand, the MacBook Pro is a speed demon (2,060.2 MBps, 512GB SSD), while the average premium laptop is 552.4 MBps.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon battery life
Its battery life of 10 hours and 45 minutes gives the ThinkPad X1 Carbon a full day of use on a charge. Despite not having the same endurance as the 1080p model, the 4K model performed decently on our battery life test (Wi-Fi surfing at 150 nits with web browsing over Wi-Fi), lasting 7 hours and 23 minutes.
Although these results are good, they are far from remarkable. There are now new competitors that last significantly longer on a charge than even the FHD ThinkPad X1 Carbon, including the ExpertBook B9450 (16:42) and the Elite Dragonfly (12:25). In terms of runtime (10:21), the MacBook Pro is on par with the Lenovo, both of which exceed the average (9:03). Even though I would have liked the X1 Carbon to go a couple more hours, these are still good results.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon webcam
In ideal lighting conditions, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon webcam produces decent photos and videos. In a dimly lit office, I could see individual strands of hair. Despite this, my face was covered in a blanket of visual noise, and my skin appeared pale and lifeless.
Changing to a brighter environment allowed the lens to capture the dirty-blonde hair on my head and even a small pink spot on my cheek left by an unsuccessful tanning effort. I’ve been using the Logitech HD Pro C920 I’ve had for a few years now for conference calls, but even then the camera was no match for one of the best external webcams.
We had an IR camera installed for Windows Hello log-in via facial recognition on our review unit. While I was wearing my UT Austin (Hook ’em!) cap, the feature worked flawlessly, quickly logging me into the laptop. To upgrade to an IR camera, you should spend an extra $36.
|Slim, lightweight design||Fingerprint magnet|
|Bright, vibrant 1080p and 4K display options||Weak graphics|
Despite its major update, the 8th Gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon remains a fantastic laptop. The new 10th Gen Intel vPro CPUs offer a very slight performance boost (especially mid-cycle refreshes with 10th Gen chips), but not significant enough to make me recommend upgrading.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the ideal computer if your business laptop is getting sluggish and it’s time for a replacement. An ultra-thin, durable chassis, great display options, a speedy keyboard, and fast performance make this the best. In addition to the X1 Carbon’s impressive battery life (on 1080p models), rivals like the Elite Dragonfly and ExpertBook B9450 enable users to work for longer periods between charges.
Though the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 8th Generation is essentially unchanged from its predecessor, it is still the best business laptop available today – at least for now.