A superior business-class Ultrabook with quality in all the right places.
The X1 Carbon has been one of our favourite ultraportables since it was introduced back in 2012, and in many ways this fifth generation changes little. It’s slim, unapologetically black, packs supremely quick components and has a price to match its high-end ambitions. We could have said the same five years ago.
But Lenovo has delivered improvements to its flagship portable even compared to last year’s model, shaving a few grams from its weight and slimming it down yet further to 16mm thin. You now have a choice of 7th-generation Intel Core processors, along with two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports. Lenovo also finds room for two regular USB 3 ports, one full-sized HDMI output, a dual-purpose microSD/micro-SIM slot and a 3.5mm headphone socket. Ethernet is via the supplied adapter.
You can configure the X1 Carbon on Lenovo’s website. Prices start at $1,679 for the Intel Core i5, 128GB SSD model with 8GB of RAM, while if you want the top-end spec, complete with an Intel Core i7-7500U, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a WQHD display and Windows 10 Home, you’ll be paying just shy of $2,600.
As you’d expect for that money, build quality is phenomenal. Built with a carbon-fibre frame, the X1 Carbon is clad in a soft-touch, all-black, rubberised coating. Only the subtle ThinkPad logo adorns the right corner of the lid.
Lenovo’s chiclet-style keyboard is similarly outstanding. Each individual key is chunky with a scooped-out top and has a good amount of travel. It’s sensibly laid out, with the one caveat being that the cursor keys are a little small; you may accidentally press the PgUp or PgDn keys that sit next to them.
The red trackpoint sits proud in the centre of the keyboard, with a touchpad underneath. The latter is reliable and accurate, while the provision of actual physical buttons is a godsend. It isn’t the largest touchpad in the world, though, and I found that my fingers crashed into the sides when carrying out Windows 10’s multitouch gestures.
It’s good to see a fingerprint reader built into the wrist rest, just to the left of the touchpad. This comes as standard no matter which SKU you opt for and is Microsoft-certified, so all Windows Hello features work without a hitch.
Our review sample was a Full HD panel, complete with anti-glare coating that does a great job of softening reflections. Note that it isn’t a touchscreen. In terms of quality, it impresses without excelling. Top brightness is a more-than-adequate 312cd/m2, while sRGB colour gamut coverage hits 82%. Despite this modest score, colours are punchy and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s display will do the job for 99% of office users.
Our review sample came with a dual-core Intel Core i7-7500U processor clocked at 2.7GHz, complete with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD. The performance speaks for itself. In our demanding benchmarks, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon reached an overall score of 52. That’s a great result for such a slim laptop.
Nor does the ThinkPad X1 Carbon buckle under the pressure when it comes to longevity. It lasted 10hrs 20mins in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to our standard brightness of 170cd/m2, which is almost three hours longer than both the Dell XPS 13 and the most recent MacBook Pro.
Intended as a business machine, Lenovo offer a wide set of warranty options. The base warranty is one-year carry-in, but on-site warranties for anything up to five years are available. A three-year warranty costs $353, while the full five is $880. Remember – this is on site.
The display might not boast the best numbers around, but otherwise this is the perfect business ultrabook: there are plenty of configurations to choose from, performance is ahead of its competitors, it has fantastic battery life and ergonomically it’s practically perfect.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
“The display might not boast the best numbers around, but otherwise this is the perfect business ultrabook…”
Dual-core 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U processor • Intel HD Graphics 620 • 16GB RAM • 14in IPS display, 1,920 x 1,280 resolution • 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD • 720p webcam • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.1 • 2 x USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 • 2 x USB 3 • HDMI 2 • microSD card slot • Windows 10 Pro • 57Wh battery • 357 x 225 x 17mm (WDH) • 2kg