Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017) Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review

Lenovo’s sveltest ThinkPad is even slimmer, lighter, more powerful and more usable than before. The 2017 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon upgrades to a 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” processor whereas shedding some weight and thickness. With a colorful and bright 14-inch screen, dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and over 12 hours of battery life, and you’ve got one for the Best super thin business Ultrabook available on the market right now. However, these features don’t come cheap as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon begins at $1,529 ($2,122 as reviewed).

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review – Specifications

Processor                         Intel Core i7-7600U

RAM                                  16 GB

Storage                             512 GB SSD

Display                             14.0″ FHD (1920 x 1080)

Operating System           Windows 10 Pro

Graphics                          Intel HD 620 graphics

Dimensions                    12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches/ 2.49 pounds

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review – Design

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

The 2017 ThinkPad X1 Carbon, also referred to as the 5th Generation X1 Carbon, is a bit thinner than its predecessor, slimming down from 0.65 to 0.6 inches and from 2.6 to 2.49 pounds. In contrast to most prior ThinkPads, the X1 Carbon now comes in each silver and black, rather than just black.

However, we strongly suggest the black model, because only with that color do you get the laptop’s most spectacular design feature: a luxurious new soft-touch texture. The X1 Carbon’s slightly rubbery texture makes the palm relaxation feel like a comfortable gel pad, whereas its lid and bottom are a pleasure to touch and grip.

In contrast to some other super light laptops that don’t have space for USB 3 connectors, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon makes room for both dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and many of the legacy ports that users want. The right side of the laptop homes a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB 3.0 port and a Kensington lock slot. The left side holds another USB 3.0 port, two Thunderbolt 3 connectors, a full-size HDMI port, and a micro-Ethernet port.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Measuring 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches and weighing 2.49 pounds, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has a larger footprint than 13-inch rivals. The laptop is a bit lighter than the Apple’s MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar (measuring 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59 inches, weighing 2.8 pounds) and the Dell’s XPS 13 (measuring 11.98 x 7.88 x 0.6 inches, weighing 2.7 pounds). The impossibly light Asus’ ZenBook 3 continues to be slimmer and lighter, at 11.65 x 7.3 x 0.47 inches and weighing just 2 pounds.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review – Keyboard, TouchPad, and TrackPoint

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s backlit keyboard is a touch typist’s dream. The keys have 1.5 millimeters of the key journey, which is way deeper than those of its direct rivals, such as the MacBook Pro 13-inch, the ZenBook 3 and the XPS 13. Although other ThinkPads usually have closer to 2 mm of travel, the Carbon compensates with a very sturdy 65 grams of actuation force required to press the keys.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon just like its siblings also features both a TrackPoint pointing stick and a buttonless touchpad for navigation. I favor and strongly suggest the TrackPoint because it lets you carry out the most precise movements without ever lifting your palms off the home row.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

However, for those who don’t like the little red nub, you can use the 4 x 2.2-inch touchpad, which also offers a great experience. The laptop’s touchpad Handles common Windows 10 gestures, such as three-finger swipe to switch between tasks, four-finger tap to launch the notification center, and two fingers scrolling with ease.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review – Display

The 14-inch screen on our ThinkPad X1 Carbon evaluation model has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It produced vibrant colors and sharp pictures. However, it wasn’t quite as vibrant as we’d have preferred. Based on our colorimeter, the screen can reproduce a full 104 % of the sRGB color gamut, which is barely above the 99-percent ultraportable-laptops category average and far better than the Dell XPS 13 (94 %). The Asus ZenBook 3 (111 %) has a few more colors, whereas the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (120 %) is quite a bit more vibrant.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

On our tests, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon obtained an average 4.4 Delta-E color accuracy rating (0 is perfect). That’s a bit worse than the category average of 2.32. The Dell XPS 13 (1.3), Apple MacBook Pro (1.24) and Asus ZenBook 3 (1.08), all were better than the ThinkPad

Sadly, the ThinkPad’s display isn’t quite as bright as those on competing machines. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon registered just 275 nits on our light meter. The Dell XPS 13 (302 nits) and the Asus ZenBook 3 (309 nits), and way behind the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (452 nits). Colors stayed accurate when I looked at the display head-on, however, began to darken at viewing angles more than 45 degrees to the left or right.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review – Graphics and Audio

With its built-in Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is powerful enough to let you play movies or do some gentle video editing. However, we wouldn’t suggest gaming on it. The laptop scored a stable 68,062 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test that measures graphics prowess. That easily topped the typical (53,656) and the Core i5-enabled Dell XPS 13 and came close to the Asus ZenBook 3’s rating.

You can use the ThinkPad X1 Carbon to make multimedia presentations or watch movies, however, don’t bring it to a dance party. The laptop’s front-mounted audio system supplied mostly accurate sound that’s loud enough to fill a medium-size room, but high tones sounded tinny. The Dolby Audio software program, which is built into Lenovo’s Settings app, allows you to choose from Music, Movie and Voice profiles. Changing the profiles didn’t do a lot for the audio, however disabling Dolby altogether made the output sound hollow.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review – Hardware and Performance

With its speedy Intel’s latest 7th Generation Core i7-7600U CPU, 16GB RAM and 512GB PCIe SSD, our evaluation configuration of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon provides loads of pop. Whether I was working some tabs in Chrome, watching an offline video, writing a doc or using formulas in a spreadsheet, the laptop didn’t lag a bit.

The  ThinkPad X1 Carbon scored a sturdy 8,571 on Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance, easily beating the typical category average (7,158). It also beat the Core i5-7200U-powered Dell XPS 13, the 6th Gen Core i5-powered Apple MacBook Pro and the Core i7-7500U powered Asus Zenbook 3, all of which scored under 7,700.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon took just 3 minutes and 22 seconds to finish our spreadsheet macro test by matching 20,000 names to their addresses. That’s about half the category average (5:59) and well ahead of the Apple MacBook Pro. The Dell’s XPS 13 and the Asus’ ZenBook 3 were just a tad slower.

The laptop’s 512GB NVME PCIe SSD took 21 seconds to finish our file-transfer test, in which we copy 4.97GB of combined media files. That’s a rate of 242 MBps, which is comfortably ahead of the category average (184 MBps), however slower than its rivals. The XPS 13 was almost 100 MBps faster, and the MacBook Pro and ZenBook 3 were more than twice as fast.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon ReviewBattery Life and Heat

If you spend a day with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, you’ll be able to leave your power cable at home. The laptop lasted an excellent 12 hours and 21 minutes on our Battery Test, which includes steady internet browsing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of screen brightness. In this case, that meant setting the system’s brightness to 65 %. The Carbon’s time thrashes the category average (8:12), the Asus ZenBook 3 (7:05) and the Apple’s MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar (8:48). The Dell’s XPS 13 lasted an even longer 13 hours and 49 minutes.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon stayed principally cool during our testing. After we had streamed a video for 15 minutes, the touchpad measured a cool 84 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the center of the keyboard registered 93 degrees. The underside surface reached a hot 99 degrees.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review – Configuration Options

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is currently available at CDW. The $1,529 model comes with a Core i5-7200U CPU, Full-HD display, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. Carbon’s $1,899 model comes with a Core i7-7600U CPU, Full-HD display, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. Our $2,122 review configuration is almost identical to the $1,899 unit, however, doubles the RAM to 16 GB and storage to 512 GB.


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From its epic battery life and comfy keyboard to its luxurious, soft-touch chassis and robust performance, there are a lot of stuff to love about the 2017 version of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. For those who don’t want a business laptop and just want a nice lightweight notebook at a more affordable price, think about the Dell’s XPS 13, which lasts even longer on a single charge but weighs more and has a less-impressive keyboard. However, if you need the ultimate combination of business portability and usability, look no further than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

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