When a laptop has a ThinkPad logo, it’s clear from the start that it’s a prestigious piece of hardware. Once you add the X prefix, you can expect great portability paired with powerful hardware. After a very successful X3xx series, Lenovo presented a successor last year, X1 model, which we believe achieved the same commercial success. We’ve received for testing its more powerful brother, X1 Carbon
Clear as day
Right off the bat, it’s clear that this is a high-quality laptop and that Lenovo paid attention to every detail. It’s extremely thin, but made from quality materials which guarantee sturdiness and ensure a long-term use. Carbon fibers were used in making of the casing, which ensure both pliability and sturdiness, along with reduced weight – a great combination, when it comes to laptops. Lenovo states that it achieved the same sturdiness as with aluminium casing, but with 5 times less weight. Aside from the screen and keyboard edges, everything else was made in recognizable black matte finish which deals great with dust, but not as great with fingerprints. The keyboard is so-called chiclet with space between the keys, but staying true to Lenovo/IBM legacy, it’s extremely comfortable for use, with strongly defined key push, which is very silent. In line with the trends, the keyboard has three levels of backlighting which can be changed with Fn + Space. Above it, there’s a line of separated keys, for volume control, microphone mute and for Lenovo Solution center. Right next to them, there’s hidden signal keys, such as Wi-Fi or data transfer, which are invisible when inactive. On the usual spot, between letters G, H and B there’s a TrackPoint with accompanying keys under the keyboard. There’s also the classic touchpad of large dimensions, with a matte surface made out of tempered glass, very precise and supports gestures. Few times we’ve had to press double-click a bit harder, and sometimes just barely, which we attribute to the software, which needs additional upgrades. The same software detects whether you pressed the touch pad accidentally with the palm of your hand and if it determines that you do, ignores it – smart, useful and works most of the times. As was to be expected, next to the touchpad there’s a biometric fingerprint reader, as an optional security measure.
The screen is great, it has high resolution, tiny pixels and has accurate display, as well as excellent viewing angles, and it can bend backwards up to 180 degrees. Its surface is matte, so it doesn’t have any glare during use, and its very slender side edges enable the screen to make up for most of the surface. Average speakers are positioned on the bottom side, but don’t expect pronounced basses out of them. Even with sound-enhancing Dolby technology turned on, the best we can say is that they’re ok, but given the intended use for this laptop, that was expected. On the bottom side, there are also cooler openings, a few stickers, and rubber feet. They’re not the famous “cat feet” anymore, but there’s no need for them anyways – there are no removable parts like the hard drive or optical device, which could be damaged due to frequent placement on the hard surface. The battery isn’t removable unfortunately, due to increased compactness, consumption and sturdier design, we would still have preferred to be able to change it if need arises, without having to service it.
On the very thing left side, there’s a flat power connector, cooler opening, mechanical power button for Wi-Fi and USB 2.0 port. On the right side there’s a couple more connectors, so there’s a Kensington security slot, USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort (there’s a VGA adapter in the package, but not a full-sized DisplayPort), headphones out and an SD card reader. On the upper lid, there’s not much to see – there are ThinkPad and Lenovo logos and a few signal lights for sleep mode and charging.
The beating heart
As the time goes by, Ultrabook configurations such as this one become more and more powerful, all the while retaining their slender look and low power consumption. ThinkPad Carbon X1 isn’t an exception, so it has a strong processor, a lot of memory and a very fast SSD. That enabled him to perform really well on tests, which was to be expected, and to achieve above-average results in autonomy tests. When you add to that Rapid Charge II function which enables an empty battery to reach 80% of capacity in just 35 minutes, it’s clear that this laptop is primarily intended for users who are constantly on the move. We especially liked the fact that there wasn’t any overheating even during demanding use – you can comfortably hold it in your lap, and cooler fan was constantly silent. Judging by the results, integrated graphics card isn’t intended for gaming, although it will be enough for some simple games.
|Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-3427U @ 1.80GHz|
|Chipset||Intel Ivy Bridge Chipset|
|Memory||4 GB DDR3L|
|SSD||Intel SSD 180 GB|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Display||13.3'', 1600x900 pix, anti glare|
|Interfaces||USB 2.0, USB 3.0, mini DP, Audio Out, SD card reader, SIM|
|Additional||Carbon fiber body, 3G compatibility|
|Dimensions and weight||331x226x18.9 mm; 1.36kg|
|OS||Windows 7 Pro|
|Battery||4 cells, 45.8 Whr|
|3DMark 11 Performance Score/Graphic/Physics/Combined||P604 / 523 / 3.176 / 582|
|PCMark 7 Score||5303|
|7-Zip 9.20 x64 compression/decompression [KB/s]||6618 / 81739|
|Cinebench R11.5 x64 OpenGL [fps]/CPU/CPU (Single Core) [pts]||13.67 / 2.59 / 1.1|
|HD Tune Pro 5.0 average read [MB/s]||278.1|
|Powermark Balanced / Productivity / Entertainment||3h 48' / 6h 34' / 1h 49'|
|1600x900 0xAA 0xAF|
|Heaven benchmark 3.0 tess off, shaders med [fps]||10.5|
|Resident Evil 5 DX10 med [fps]||12.6|
|Lost Planet 2 DX11 Test B med [fps]||6.9|
|Street Fighter IV high [fps]||31.19|
A bit of softness
Considering the whole platform is based on Intel, pre-installed Windows OS wasn’t a surprise, because instead of the more common Windows 8, their choice was Windows 7. Due to the fact that the screen isn’t touchscreen, this choice was more logical, and for business purposes, we prefer it – everything was tight and working really well. During the first system boot, it was necessary to install all of OS updates, and there were quite a few of time – it took us a few hours. Additional software is plentiful – for example, instead of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome is the default browser. The unavoidable Norton can be helpful if you don’t have any other antivirus program, but we’ve turned it off right away. There’s also Simple Tap, Lenovo’s version of user interface that should speed the most frequently used programs, but it’s intended for touchscreens, so it doesn’t work as well on this model. On the other hand, Solution Center is something that ThinkPad has for quite a while now and it’s intended for regular system maintenance, setting up backup rules, drive checkups, updating drivers and system software, etc. We were surprised that it came with only the trial version of Microsoft Office, and on a computer such as this one, we expected to find a licensed version. You can find additional software adapted for Ultrabook models on Intel’s app store named Intel AppUp.
For road warriors
Like we’ve already mentioned, ThinkPad X1 Carbon is intended for users who are often on the move. It’s rather sturdy, made out of somewhat better materials and during the production process, the manufacturer paid attention to every detail. An excellent screen without any glare, a keyboard with backlighting, everything is as it should be. We would have liked to see some software updates, like removing the unnecessary programs and the addition of Microsoft Office. Its strengths are excellent battery life and its fast recharge time, lightning-quick startup from sleep mode, as well as the 3G internet access. Along with the aforementioned build quality praise, only confirms that X1 Carbon is a must have for users who are constantly on the move.