October 19, 2021

Review of Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (2018): power in miniature


This line of notebooks Lenovo is positioned as a lighter and more compact alternative to the flagship T-series. The format turned out to be very successful and in demand on the market, and this year the sixth generation of these gadgets has already appeared. With what tasks will the new X1 Carbon handle, and will not have to compromise for the sake of small dimensions – we will tell in the review.

Specifications Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (2018):

  • Screen: TFT IPS, 14 “, 1920×1080, touchscreen
  • Processor: Quad-Core Intel Core i7-8550U, up to 2 GHz
  • Graphics Accelerator: Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro
  • Memory: 16 GB, LPDDR3, 2133 MHz
  • Built-in Memory: 512 GB, PCIe SSD
  • Support for memory cards: microSDXC
  • Wireless interfaces: Wi-Fi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE (optional)
  • Webcam: 720p, IR
  • Sensors: Fingerprint
  • Battery: 57 Wh, non-removable
  • Dimensions: 323.5×271.1×15.95 mm
  • Weight: 1130 grams

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First impressions

Looks like a novelty package is rich: a box of solid cardboard in branded red and black colors has two leaves opening in the manner of the book cover – the laptop thus rises closer to its new owner with the help of a crafty cardboard mechanism. It looks impressive, but the impression spoils the impossibility of simply taking the device in hand – it will either need to be tampered with, or turn the box in a barbaric way.
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he only accessory that comes bundled with an ultrabook besides charging is an adapter to an Ethernet connector (8P8C).

If you do not know what kind of gadget is before you, you will not immediately understand why you paid money. The device does not look expensive or attracting attention, which is not typical for devices of the same price category. But Thinkpad X1 Carbon – not a laptop for surfing, while you sip your smoothie in a trendy cafe, and a miniature machine for serious tasks.

Despite the above, people familiar with the Thinkpad line learn the brand identity of the novelty from a distance – and this will be enough to form the first impression of the device.

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Design and materials

The case of the laptop justifies the name of the model – it is made of carbon fiber. It is very pleasant to the touch rough material, which is resistant to small scratches and rubs, but, unfortunately, very quickly covered with fingerprints. Thinkpad owners with experience know that it’s easier not to pay attention to it, than to constantly worry about the appearance of the device.
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The novelty design is ascetic, but at the same time we recognize: the Thinkpad logo with a red LED at an angle on the cover of the laptop instead of a dot above the letter i has long become a business card of the series.

At the bottom of the case there are four non-slip feet, two speakers and a square grid, under which the cooler is hidden.
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The webcam located above the screen in the tested model was unusual: it has not only two lenses, but also two infrared sensors – all this is necessary for the function of Windows Hello, which allows you to log in after recognition of the face. There are other versions of the X1 Carbon – with a standard webcam, which is additionally equipped with a mechanical shutter to ensure privacy. Also above the display there was a place for two microphones and a LED indicator of the webcam.
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The display itself is slightly recessed into the case, but, as practice shows, this does not save from the traces of the keys on the matrix that appear when carrying a closed device.

The round power button is located above the keyboard and is pressed with a perceptible effort – it’s simply impossible to turn off the gadget by accident.
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To the right of the touchpad is a fingerprint scanner with its own work indicator. It became slightly smaller, but it did not affect the usability of the device.

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Keyboard and Touchpad

Keyboard Thinkpad X1 Carbon deserves individual praises. The keys have a relatively large stroke for low-key keyboards and a clear tactile response. At the same time, the buttons are pressed gently – the keyboard of the novelty does not go in any comparison with the raspyarnym mechanism butterfly. Those who have to type a lot of text will definitely appreciate it.

Of the features worth noting is the traditional Thinkpad arrangement of the Fn and Ctrl buttons, and if it seems inconvenient, the keys can be reassigned in the UEFI settings.
A certain inconvenience can cause the location of the button Print Screen: even in the year of ownership of Thinkpad with a similar keyboard, the author could not get rid of the random press of this key when trying to find the right Alt or Ctrl.

But all the navigation buttons on the text are available: Page Up, Page Down, Home, End and Insert – no Fn is needed to press them.

The backlight is turned on by the combination Fn + Space, it is white and has two levels of brightness.

The TrackPoint is traditionally located between the G, H and B keys. To describe the feeling of using this method of control is impossible – you need to try yourself, although this requires a certain skill. Owners of the Thinkpad, and what kind of finger do you do?

The touchpad in the X1 Carbon does not differ in size or in quality from the T-series: multi-touch support and three physical mouse buttons are available. It’s a pity that Lenovo still does not make touchpads pushing anywhere: it can only be pushed in the bottom half.

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Ports and connectors

On the back panel there is only a stub that is opened by the clip, under which there are slots of the SIM-card of the format nano and microSD memory cards. For such a solution, the laptop has a fat minus: not only can you not insert an ordinary SD card into the device, it is also necessary to close the lid and somewhere to get an “opener” for access to the slot. The presence of a SIM card slot is generally confusing: despite its presence in all versions of the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, the presence of the modem itself is optional – it does not exist in all models. In our, for example, it was not.
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All ports are concentrated on the side faces of the hull. On the left are the Thunderbolt 3 connector, the combo port, USB 3.1 Type-A and HDMI. On the right there is another USB 3.1 Type-A port, Kensington lock and grille for air blowing.
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The above mentioned combined port has three connectors in its functionality. The first is Thunderbolt 3, which can also be used for charging, and for connecting Thunderbolt or USB peripherals. The second is a proprietary connector for connecting an Ethernet adapter. The docking stations sold as accessories use both connectors for connection. So with the simultaneous charging of the laptop and the translation of the screen to the VGA projector through the adapter there will be no problems. But to connect the Ethernet adapter and Thunderbolt / USB peripherals to the neighboring port simultaneously does not work: the connectors are too close.

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Thinkpad X1 Carbon is offered in the top ten modification, including with different screens. To us for testing came the model with a 14-inch touch screen and a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. Among other options – non-touch Full HD, WQHD and WQHD with support for Dolby Vision and increased brightness of 500 nits (against 300 nits for the rest). The choice is not easy, but the tested version seems to be perfect: the Full HD resolution is more than enough for such a diagonal, and the ability to control touch is not superfluous. It is also important that the display in the X1 Carbon is matte: of course, the finger on it slides is not as pleasant as on the glass, but fingerprints are almost invisible. When used outdoors or indoors with bright light, this will also be a plus: you will see the desktop, not your reflection. The maximum opening angle of the lid is 180 degrees, so you can not use the laptop as a tablet.
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When you first include music on the X1 Carbon, you feel that Lenovo has managed to do the impossible – to give such a compact device such a high-quality sound. Yes, there’s no need to expect bass, but the sound itself is clean and deep: most of this is enough for listening to music and watching movies. The speakers are not too loud by themselves, but thanks to their successful location on the sloping bottom of the case, when you put the laptop on the table, the sound becomes louder. To listen to the same musical compositions, when the gadget is on the table and when it is on its knees – completely different sensations.

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The device is in operation

About the software component, let’s say briefly: on the laptop is installed Windows 10 Pro, and, unlike the older line, this is not a Signature Edition – you’ll have to do a couple of mouse clicks to remove the pre-installed “tiled” applications.
Also right after the purchase, we recommend downloading from the Windows Store a utility called Lenovo Vantage, which will download and install the latest drivers.

“Filling” Thinkpad X1 Carbon left mixed impressions. The laptop received an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, which, unlike its dual-core predecessor, has four physical cores and eight logical cores. However, its clock speed is limited to 2 GHz for the sake of compactness: it is simply impossible to make an efficient cooling system in such a thin case. Also, all modifications of the novelty (except for the younger version with a 128 GB SATA SSD) are equipped with fast SSDs connected via the PCIe interface. Our modification is equipped with a 512 GB drive, of which after the first inclusion you will be available almost 450 GB.
Depending on the model, the amount of RAM in the ultrabook is 8 GB, or, as in our case, 16 GB. However, in both cases it will be LPDDR3 memory – the latest version of RAM can be seen only in the older line.

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Considering all this, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon has become quite a powerful notebook, and in its, literally weight category, it does not have any worthy competitors at the moment. But with the fact that the hardware of the device is not at the forefront of technology, alas, we will have to accept it. Someone for certain will say that we are picking on, but to expensive business laptops and requirements should be high.

In the benchmark PCMark laptop shows a good result in 3693 points.
Old good “Heroes of sword and magic V” on the laptop fly – at the maximum resolution and graphics level, the level of fps did not fall below 100 frames in games.

World of Tanks with HD-textures perfectly go at low graphics settings with an average fps level of 85 frames, but the average level is noticeably sagging speed – up to 20 fps. It is clear that the great gaming capabilities of the ultrabook expect stupid, but with simple games the gadget does quite well.
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In everyday tasks, the laptop is very fast, it’s not even about surfing or using simple programs – it’s by itself. For example, a project load of 200 MB in Visual Studio takes no more than eight seconds, and its complete assembly – only four. This is about three times faster than the Thinkpad T470s, the flagship of the previous generation. A noticeable role is played by the updated processor, which can work in eight threads.

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The fashion for biometric authentication is gradually captured and laptops, so the Thinkpad X1 Carbon did not stay away and offers two ways to choose from. The first is a fingerprint sensor that has already stepped from fantasy into everyday life: it has attached a finger, and in half a second the laptop is unlocked. The second method is based on face recognition and does not require any action from the user: opened the lid and immediately saw the desktop. This method works as fast as the fingerprint scanner, both equally well at daytime and at night – all thanks to built-in infrared sensors. The problem can be unless strong backlight. Interestingly, when using face recognition, manually locking a session through the Start menu or the combination of Win + L does not lead to an instant unlock – otherwise the use of the function would be meaningless. Both authentication methods are controlled by the Windows Hello function and can work simultaneously.

Autonomous work

According to the manufacturer, a Thinkpad X1 Carbon with a capacity of 57 Wh is capable of providing an ultrabook for up to 15 hours of battery life. This figure is quite achievable, but only with the most sparing use of the gadget. But in normal everyday work, with an average brightness of the display, Wi-Fi on and a screen brightness of 50%, the laptop can work for about eight hours. Playing Full HD video at medium brightness discharged the device in seven hours – the result is not a record, but it’s quite decent.

The complete power supply has a power of 65 watts, and the laptop supports fast charging. To charge the battery from 0% to 80% it takes only one hour.

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Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon was quite a highly specialized laptop. The gadget is positioned as an extremely light notebook with the highest possible performance, which leads to a number of compromises. Among them – the lack of SD-cardreader and RAM type LPDDR3. On the other hand, it is really a very powerful device for daily work, including in professional programs and even on the road. Yes, and entertain the owner of games for an hour or two, as shown by testing, the novelty may well. Is the ultrabook worth its money? It all depends on your requirements. If you carry a laptop with you every day and compactness comes to the fore, then it is definitely worth it. Well, otherwise you can pay attention to the model Thinkpad T480s, a little heavier and more powerful at a comparable price.


  • small size and weight;
  • high productivity and autonomy;
  • comfortable keyboard;
  • built-in modem.


  • no SD card reader and uncomfortable access to the microSD slot;
  • limited processor speed;
  • not the newest RAM.
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