The ThinkPad X1 Yoga from Lenovo proves that ThinkPads do not need carbon fiber to compete. The chassis of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is made of CNC aluminum and is now thinner, lighter, and yet just as durable as ever. Combine that sleek frame with a beautiful 1080p screen, a top-class keyboard, and all-day battery life, and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is without a doubt one of the best business laptops out there. And today, we are here with our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Review.
That said, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga has no SD card slot, and it is considerably more substantial than its clamshell counterpart, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. You may also want to wait until Lenovo updates the 4th Gen model with 10th Gen CPUs. Despite these issues, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is one of the best laptops – for business users or someone else.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Review – Design
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga, now clad in aluminum instead of the traditional carbon fiber, stands out among its ThinkPad colleagues as an athlete wearing the wrong uniform. At least it’s a pretty uniform. Don’t get me wrong, my preference is for the thin, soft carbon fiber material that can be found on the model (and every other ThinkPad) last year, but this metal version is a beautiful, so unnecessary, change of pace.
Apart from the aluminum and magnesium materials, the most significant difference between the ThinkPad X1 Yoga and other ThinkPads is that this model comes in iron gray, not the usual matte black. Color swap aside, you can still see that the ThinkPad X1 Yoga belongs to the line-up of business laptops from Lenovo. The first giveaways are the red-lit letter “i” and ThinkPad branding on the lid. Opening the lid, you’ll find another ThinkPad logo on the deck along with three discrete buttons, and a rubber pointer stick highlighted in red.
The attention to detail in the chassis of the X1 Yoga is fantastic. The cover extends beyond the deck for easy lifting, and a stylus slot is built into the side of the laptop. It is these kinds of conveniences that you cannot live without once you have used them. I appreciate that Lenovo is going full steam ahead with the new aluminum design, but I still wish that a black carbon fiber model was available for ThinkPad purists.
The X1 Yoga also has relatively thick upper and lower edges and is therefore not the most compact or lightweight 14-inch laptop. As a convertible 2-in-1, the X1 Yoga can be converted to a tablet or placed in a tent mode for watching videos. The two hinges of the laptop are stiff and rotate smoothly, but the 14-inch X1 Yoga makes for one clumsy tablet, and the keyboard keys do not retract as with earlier models.
Keyboard, TouchPad, and Stylus
Lenovo can tinker with the ThinkPad design, as long as it doesn’t put the finger on the keyboard. The stellar keyboard of the X1 Yoga is another reminder of how much better ThinkPad keyboards are than on other ultra-portable laptops. Why am I so in love with the keyboard of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga? The curved keys adjust to your fingers, and there is a decent amount of key travel, and just the perfect amount of resistance rewards you with a hard click when you press it. The keys are at the correct distance, and there is an Fn lock for quickly switching the hotkeys on/off.
Although the ThinkPad X1 Yoga comes close, no keyboard is perfect. Lenovo places the Ctrl key to the left of the Fn key, a layout that nobody in our team likes. We’ve been telling Lenovo this for centuries, but the company prefers the opposite for whatever reason. The arrow keys of the Thinkpad X1 Yoga are also a bit below par. The Precision touchpad of the X1 Yoga kept track of my swipes and taps while navigating web pages and performing Windows 10 gestures, such as pinch to zoom and two-finger scrolling. That said, the 3.9 x 2.2-inch surface is a bit tight, and the left and right-click buttons are mushy.
The small but vocal group that prefers a rubber nub instead of a touchpad to control the cursor will be pleased to see a red pointing stick in the center of the X1 Yoga keyboard. I don’t use it myself, but I understand the appeal of operating the cursor (with separate left and right-click buttons) without taking your fingers off the start driving keys. It helps that the pointer on the X1 Yoga is as good as any other. A Thinkpad Pen Pro stylus is securely located in a slot on the right side of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga.
The stylus has 2,048 pressure levels, so it was no problem to keep track of my occasional smudges when I scribbled a few words in Paint 3D. I enjoyed using the fountain pen option to get line variation, although I wish the Pen Pro had a smaller tip. When you have finished using the stylus, you can slide it back into the pen garage of the X1 Yoga, where it will be charged. Lenovo says that only 15 seconds of charging results in 1 hour and 40 minutes of use.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Review – Display
The 14-inch, 1080p touchscreen of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is extremely clear and vibrant. The iconic red sweater that Tom Hanks wears in his depiction of Fred Rogers in a trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was more saturated and lifelike than what television cameras could capture when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was broadcast. The scene has also done its best to bring out the aqua tones in Rhys Matthew’s pale blue eyes.
You do not need the optional 4K panel to see fine details in the videos you watch; The 1080p panel of the X1 Yoga was so sharp that in the movie trailer, I could read distant advertisements on the roof of a train carriage in New York City. According to our colorimeter, the screen of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga covers 106% of the sRGB color range, making it quite lively but not as colorful as the displays on the X1 Carbon (109%), the L390 Yoga (116%) and the category average (125%).
Those colors pop thanks to the excellent 402 nits of peak brightness of the X1 Yoga. The panels on the L390 Yoga (261 nits), the X1 Carbon (336 nits), and the category average (361 nits) are dimmer.
The four speakers – double top-firing tweeners and double down-firing woofers – on the X1 Yoga sound excellent and are loud enough to fill a medium-sized room. Beat drums with a solid thud in Foxing’s “Slapstick,” and Conor Murphy’s vocals sounded reasonably clear. However, treble created by clashing cymbals was stark. Phoebe Bridger’s “Motion Sickness” sounded as clear but lacked depth. Though, you can use the Dolby Atmos app to choose between three sound profiles: detailed, well-balanced warm. I preferred the balanced option over the other two options, although the sharp highs were not softened.
The integrated Intel UHD 620 GPU of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is not meant for gaming, but it can run apps and load web pages with many images. The convertible laptop scored 80,170 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphical benchmark and landed between the L390 Yoga (72,006, UHD 620) and the X1 Carbon (81,350, UHD 620). None of these laptops met the category average (93,725).
Dirt 3 played at 31 fps on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. This corresponds to the result of the X1 Carbon and firmly exceeds our 30-fps playability threshold. You better play the racing game on the ThinkPad L390 Yoga (49 fps) or the average premium laptop (59 fps).
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Review – Performance
Equipped with an Intel’s Core i5-8265U CPU and 8 GB of RAM, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga had no problems loading 15 Google Chrome web pages. I checked the weather forecast, saw Twitch streamers playing Fortnite and reading ESPN without encountering any issues. There was a short delay before the pages were fully loaded when I switched to it, but that didn’t bother me much because four 1080p YouTube videos had played in the background.
If you are considering buying the X1 Yoga, you may want to wait. The Lenovo website shows newer models with Intel’s 10th generation Comet Lake processors as “coming soon.” We have contacted our Lenovo contact to see exactly when they go on sale, and we will update this review when we hear it. Although these models with 10th-generation CPUs cost slightly more, they must offer a significant performance improvement over 8th-generation CPU versions.
Despite the packaging of an older 8th-generation CPU, our assessment unit performed well on benchmark tests. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga scored 15,002 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, which surpasses the L390 Yoga (12,404, Core i5-8265U) and the category average (14,285), but just behind the X1 Carbon (15,649, Core i5) – 8265U).
The 256 GB M.2 NVMe PCIe Opal SSD in the ThinkPad X1 Yoga took 12 seconds to duplicate 4.97 GB of multimedia files, which corresponds to a transfer rate of 424.1 megabytes per second. That is not surprisingly the pace of the 256 GB SSD of the X1 Carbon, but it cannot keep up with the 256 GB SSD of the L390 Yoga (509 Mbps) or the category average (528 MBps).
Heat and Battery Life
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga barely broke a sweat from our heat test. After playing a 15-minute 1080p YouTube video, the bottom of the laptop reached our 95-degree Fahrenheit comfort threshold. Other parts of the laptop, including the center of the keyboard (90 degrees) and the touchpad (80 degrees), remained well below that mark.
The 1080p ThinkPad X1 Yoga has a serious endurance. With a battery life of 10 hours and 18 minutes on our battery test (requiring continuous internet access via WiFi at 150 nits), the X1 Yoga is better than the X1 Carbon (9:30), the L390 Yoga (8:14) and the category average (8:19).
Price and Configuration Options
The basic ThinkPad X1 Yoga model that we reviewed costs $1,367 and comes with a 1080p screen, a Core i5-8265U CPU, 8 GB RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. If you desire more power, you can spend around $1,565 to upgrade to a Core i7-8565U CPU. Lenovo offers several display options on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. For $1,733, you can get a model with a WQHD screen (2560 x 1440 resolution, 280 nits), a Core i5-8265U CPU, 16 GB RAM, and 512 GB. Content makers who need the sharpest screen should consider the 4K model, which costs $2,285 when configured with an Intel Core i7-8665U, 16 GB RAM, and a 1 TB SSD.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Review – Conclusion
I would like to own the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. It has everything I want in a laptop. The new aluminum chassis of the laptop is streamlined and durable, the 1080p screen is beautiful, the performance is excellent, and the battery lasts charged all day. Besides, the X1 Yoga offers conveniences that are not provided by competitors, including a fingerprint sensor, a webcam cover, a stylus holder, and an optional IR camera.
And yet there are a few things that I cannot heartily recommend the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga. If you can wait, Lenovo will update this 4th-generation model with the new 10th-generation chips from Intel. If you don’t need 2-in-1, the X1 Carbon is essentially a clamshell version of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, and with a lighter chassis (but slightly worse battery life). If you want a convertible but don’t need a business laptop, Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 last longer than X1 Yoga and benefits from the new 10th generation (Ice Lake) chips.
We wouldn’t blame you for ignoring these comments because the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is, without a doubt, one of the best business laptops out there.
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga from Lenovo is a brilliant business laptop with a slim, flexible chassis, a beautiful 1080p screen, and a long battery life.
- Bright, vivid 1080p display
- Slim, durable aluminum chassis
- Best-in-class keyboard
- Long battery life
- Stylus slot and a webcam cover
- Not available in carbon fiber
- No SD card reader
- Last-gen CPU