Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review

Price when reviewed

The ThinkPad X1 has landed. Aiming to bring a slice of thin and light loveliness to a boardroom near you, Lenovo’s latest laptop isn’t just a ThinkPad-branded Macbook Air-wannabe; it’s a no-compromise business ultraportable.

It looks every inch the archetypal ThinkPad. The classic design remains in full effect: a sea of soft-touch matte black plastic stretches inside and out, the red trackpoint set afloat in the middle of a backlit keyboard. Lenovo has brought it subtly up to date, though, with every last spare gram of plastic shaved off, and its chamfered edges lend it a subtly sporty edge.

A tough nut

Surprisingly, it isn’t quite as light as Lenovo’s previous 13.3in ultraportable, the X301, but the 1.71kg X1 is still highly portable. Crucially, the build quality is top-notch too. Grappling with the X1 reveals precious little flex for such a slimline figure, and a closer look reveals a laptop designed to survive tougher environments than the average office.

Keyboard drain holes allow the X1 to shrug off liquid spills, while the sheet of Gorilla Glass across the 13.3in display promises to resist more violent assaults. We can certainly see why Lenovo’s marketing materials describe it as “MILSPEC-level rugged”.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 - front

Yet, sat next to the razor-thin likes of Samsung’s 9003XA or Apple’s Macbook Air, the X1 begins to look a bit thick around the middle. It’s all a question of priorities: while those ultraportables sacrifice power for attention-seeking slenderness, the X1 houses a speedy Core i5 CPU. This, the pricier of the two available models, partners a 2.5Ghz Core i5-2520M with 8GB of RAM and a 160GB SSD. That combination makes for a seriously quick laptop: the ThinkPad X1 scored 0.7 overall in our benchmarks – blindingly fast for a sub-2kg ultraportable.

As you’d rightfully hope, this power goes hand-in-hand with business-friendly features. On the software side, Lenovo’s suite of ThinkVantage applications prove genuinely useful. The decision to push most of the connectivity to the rear makes for neat cabling on a desk, and while we’re pleased to see eSATA, USB 3 and mini-DisplayPort, among others, the only disappointment is the absence of a docking connector – a silly oversight.

Still, Intel’s vPro platform promises to make the IT department’s job a little easier, and in tandem with a fingerprint reader should help keep passwords and the like under lock and key. There’s no shortage of network connectivity, either, and dual-band 802.11n, an unlocked Ericsson 3G modem and Gigabit Ethernet cover all the bases.


Warranty3yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions337 x 231 x 22mm (WDH)

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-2520M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM67 Express
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 3000
Graphics card RAMN/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical drivenone


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
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)2
FireWire ports0
eSATA ports1
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 readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad, trackpoint
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.0mp
Fingerprint readeryes
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use4hr 38min
Battery life, heavy use39min
3D performance (crysis) low settingsN/A
3D performance settingN/A
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.79
Responsiveness score0.72
Media score0.56
Multitasking score0.69

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedLenovo ThinkVantage suite

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