LENOVO ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review


The ultimate business Ultrabook; Lenovo proves it knows what professionals want

LENOVO ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review
THE THINKPAD RANGE of laptops is the de facto standard for professionals. It’s been around in one form or another for over 20 years, but the uniform appearance and business-focused features haven’t exactly led to mass-market appeal. That could change with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook, however, which is arguably the best looking ThinkPad ever.

Built from a combination of soft-touch plastic and tough yet light carbon fibre, the X1 Carbon weighs a minuscule 1.3kg and is ideal for people who like to travel light. It’s only 19mm at its thickest point but it still feels incredibly sturdy, with only a little flex in the screen and keyboard tray.

PRESS TO IMPRESS
The keyboard was a source of discussion in the office. Some people thought it was one of the best laptop keyboards they’d ever used, but others thought the keys felt sticky at times. The consensus was that Lenovo had done an excellent job to create keys with so much travel in an ultra-thin laptop. It’s Chiclet-style keys are both firm and responsive, and the entire keyboard tray is backlit with bright white LEDs, so we had no trouble working in low light.

The Carbon's keyboard features a large touch pad, both speaker and microphone mute buttons, and a fingerprint reader.

We also liked the all-in-one touchpad, which worked incredibly well despite the absence of physical buttons. It’s a comfortable size, if a little too close to the edge of the chassis, and produces a satisfying click to let you know when your inputs have registered. It supports multitouch gestures, and its sensitivity was perfect. As this is a Lenovo laptop, it also gives you the option of using the integrated touch stick instead of the touchpad. This takes some getting used to if you haven’t used one before, but Lenovo veterans will appreciate its presence.

The display is a step above most of the competition, too. Lenovo has fitted a 14in, 1,600x900 display into a chassis roughly the same size as most 13in laptops, and it feels expansive. The extra resolution makes it easy to work on two documents side by side, and although the TN panel has only average viewing angles, the screen tilts completely flat, so finding a working position shouldn’t be a problem. The matt finish reduces reflections without spoiling colours, so images still look vibrant. It’s not quite as bright as Samsung’s Series 9 display or up to the high standard of Asus’s ZenBook Prime, but it’s still one of the better Ultrabook displays we’ve seen.

Understandably for such a thin laptop, even by Ultrabook standards, the X1 Carbon has a minimum of ports. Besides its two USB ports, 3.5mm combination audio jack and multiformat card reader, Lenovo has used a mini DisplayPort for video output instead of HDMI. It might be more common in a business setting, but you’ll need an adaptor to run the laptop through a TV. It would also have been nice if both USB ports supported the faster USB3 standard, but one of them is a slower USB variant. There’s an integrated 3G modem for wireless internet access, although you’ll need to pay extra to use it.

INSIDE INFO
The X1 Carbon’s Intel Core i5-3427U processor runs its two cores at 1.8GHz, but they can reach 2.8GHz using Turbo Boost. It’s paired with 8GB of (non-removable) RAM and a 256GB SSD, so it sped through our multimedia benchmarks with an overall score of 55. That’s not quite as fast as some Core i7-powered Ultrabooks, but is still more than quick enough for all your everyday applications. The extra memory will help with larger applications such as databases, too.

Clearly, the X1 Carbon wasn’t built as a gaming laptop, so it’s no surprise that it relies on the processor’s integrated graphics for video and 3D rendering. Intel’s HD 4000 is a step up from the previous generation, but it still struggles to run newer games. Our Dirt 3 test finished with a choppy average frame rate of 19.7fps. That’s a slight improvement over other Ultrabooks we’ve seen, but that’s due more to the fact that our review sample had a faster processor. If you opt for the less expensive X1 with a Core i5-3317U, you can expect gaming performance to be around 10 per cent slower depending on the title.

The main benefit of opting for integrated graphics is that the/re far less demanding of the battery. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon performed admirably in our light-use test, managing a little under eight hours away from the mains. You should be able to get a full working day out of a single charge if you stick to light tasks.

The X1 Carbon is hard to recommend for anyone who needs a laptop purely for home use. You’d be paying extra for features you wouldn’t need, such as the integrated 3G modem and vPro compatibility, and would perhaps be better off with the Samsung Series 9. For business users, though, there’s almost nothing to fault here. It’s a joy to use, it’s packed with useful features and software, and is powerful with a long battery life. If you need a new business workhorse, this is it.




LENOVO ThinkPad X1 Carbon Specifications
Product
Type
Ultrabook
Processor
Manufacturer
Intel
Optical
Drive Type
No
Solid
State Drive Capacity
256 GB
Cellular
Data Connectivity Technology
3G
Product
Family
ThinkPad
Processor
Model
i5-3427U
Operating
System
Genuine Windows 7 Professional
Brand
Name
Lenovo
Processor
Speed
1.80 GHz
Processor
Type
Core i5
Screen
Size
35.6 cm (14")
Standard
Memory
8 GB
Cache 3 MB
Processor
Core
Dual-core (2 Core)
64-bit
Processing
Yes
Display
Screen Type
Active Matrix TFT Colour LCD
WWAN
Supported
Yes
Manufacturer Lenovo Group Limited
Product
Name
ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook
Product
Line
ThinkPad
Manufacturer
Part Number
N3N2SUK
Manufacturer
Website Address
www.lenovo.com/uk/en/
Marketing
Information
 
DO
OUTSIDE THE BOX. WAY OUTSIDE.
You're never tethered with an X Series. With their
lightweight, slim design and long battery life, they travel easily - whether
to another meeting or another country - but with their legendary ThinkPad
performance, you sacrifice nothing in return.
Package
Contents
 
  ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook
  Standard Battery
  AC Adapter
   



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