Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review

Price when reviewed

Keyboard, touchpad and screen

Ergonomically speaking, it gets off to a strong start. The keyboard adopts the raised, concave keys found on the likes of Lenovo’s ThinkPad Edge and X100e laptops, and that’s no bad thing. The feel is excellent, the layout spacious, and it’s a pleasure to type on. The trackpoint and its accompanying buttons are also excellent.

However, Lenovo’s decision to abandon dedicated touchpad buttons is questionable. Like the glass touchpads of Apple’s Macbooks, pressing anywhere on the touchpad sees it depress with a muffled click. Right-clicks require you to press in the bottom-right corner, or to depress the pad with two fingers.

The problem is that neither work 100% of the time. Right-clicks occasionally fail to register, and other times a finger resting on the bottom edge, poised to click, is enough to arrest the cursor mid-movement. It’s usable enough, after a period of acclimatisation to break old habits, but given the space available we’d rather have a slimmer touchpad and dedicated buttons.

We’d also question the decision to put a glossy display on a laptop aimed at the business market. It’s highly reflective, and proved especially so under the strip lighting in PC Pro’s offices. The bright LED backlight does help somewhat – we measured the panel’s maximum brightness at 343cd/m2 – but we’re surprised Lenovo decided against providing a matte anti-glare finish as an option.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 - rear

The second disappointment is the panel’s 1,366 x 768 resolution. With such a huge amount of multi-tasking power at the X1’s disposal, having to constantly Alt-Tab between applications is tiresome. Image quality is also poor. Despite the high brightness, greyish blacks result in a dreadful contrast ratio of 154:1, and the panel’s limited palette of colours and obvious pixel structure leaves images lacking their usual lustre.

The final blow is battery life. Due to the power draw of the Core i5 processor, the X1’s non-removable battery ran dry after just 4hrs 38mins in our light use test. At full tilt that figure dwindled to just 39 minutes.

That’s disappointing, granted, but the X1 isn’t a totally lost cause. Lenovo’s Rapid Charge technology is capable of fully-charging the battery in less than 45 minutes, and an optional battery slice promises to double its stamina. If you’re the kind of user who flits from a desk mains socket to that of a train or aeroplane, those few hours of runtime combined with the RapidCharge technology may just be enough to keep you running all day.

Yet, for a laptop that promises so much, it’s impossible not to walk away from this laptop disappointed – with strong build tempered by poor design decisions, the ThinkPad X1 is a long way from perfection. Those with a soft spot for ThinkPad brand may find room for forgiveness (and the three-year warranty is generous), but with the likes of the Sony VAIO S Series putting in a better all-round performance for much less cash, the ThinkPad X1 is a seriously tough sell.


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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