Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review

Price when reviewed

Despite a rich heritage of ThinkPad-branded laptops, Lenovo’s 2011 vision of the ultimate boardroom Ultraportable, the ThinkPad X1, simply didn’t live up to expectations. Now, however, Lenovo has taken the X1 back to the drawing board, trimmed grams off its already slim figure, and attempted to right the ergonomic wrongs of its predecessor. Enter Lenovo’s business Ultrabook: the X1 Carbon.

As the name suggests, Lenovo has whittled down the weight of the X1 by employing lightweight, yet super-strong carbon-fibre in the construction process. A carbon-fibre skeleton keeps the chassis feeling solid and sturdy, while a fibre-clad lid does its bit to protect the LED-backlit panel from harm. In doing so, Lenovo has managed to shave off more than 400g from the original X1 to end up at only 1.36kg, and the chassis’ thickness has also come down from 22mm to 19mm. For a 14in Ultrabook, the X1 Carbon is exceedingly portable.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

It isn’t just the materials that have changed, however. The sharply contoured figure of the previous model is a distant memory, with Lenovo introducing a more curvaceous design where every edge softens into a smooth, gentle curve. The result is a chassis that feels every inch the classy, practical business Ultrabook.

Elsewhere, Lenovo has responded to every one of our criticisms of the X1. We couldn’t be more pleased to see the back of the original X1’s glossy, 1,366 x 768 panel. In its place, Lenovo has used a matte, 1,600 x 900 display, and image quality is drastically improved across the board. A maximum brightness of 343cd/m[SUP]2[/SUP] is matched by a contrast ratio of 647:1, and the colour accuracy is good, too, with an average Delta E of four.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Horizontal viewing angles are wide, although tilting the display back and forth to more extreme angles results in the usual contrast shift and colour inversion. There are other mild complaints – namely, the visible pixel structure and slightly bluish tone to images due to the high 7,204K colour temperature – but these are small annoyances.

The X1 Carbon’s touchpad has undergone a radical transformation. Lenovo has stuck with the buttonless design, but the larger touch area and the silky-smooth glass finish feel far more pleasant under the finger. The pad depresses with a solid, confident click, and we didn’t experience any issues with getting the pad to recognise right-clicks, whether by dabbing with two fingers or tapping in the pad’s bottom-right corner. Two-fingered scrolling and zooming gestures work reliably and, as ever, there’s a grippy, responsive trackpoint set into the centre of the keyboard.


Warranty3 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions331 x 226 x 19mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.9kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-3427U
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3

Screen and video

Resolution screen horizontal1,600
Resolution screen vertical900
Resolution1600 x 900
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Hard disk usable capacity238GB
Hard diskSanDisk
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speedN/A
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapteryes
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)1
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readeryes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use7hr 43min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 51min
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.67
Responsiveness score0.77
Media score0.70
Multitasking score0.54

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7

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