Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review – unprofessionally redefined


  1. Brian Larson

    May 24, 2014 at 2:22 am

    One thing to note… batterybar is a terribly inaccurate app. the math right there on your picture doesn’t add up. 44,120mWh in the battery discharging at a rate of -5,218mW does NOT equate to a 3:27 runtime, not even close. The math doesn’t add up. I have this exact laptop and get 5-6 real work hours out of it away from the wall. This is doing real work including multiple browsers, code editors, a SQL Server database engine, Visual Studio, Lync and Outlook all churning at the same time. Not bad runtime to be honest.

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 24, 2014 at 8:27 am

      yes, battery bar is inaccurate at runtime estimates. But it’s fairly accurate at discharging rates, so I’m only using it for that. As I said in the text, I also got around 6 hours of real-life worktime, but to be frank, I wasn’t running as many things as you do. Maybe you keep dim the screen more?

  2. Orama

    July 6, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Thanks for the review! I’m a long time thinkpad user, currently own T61P with dedicated visual memory and 4gb of ram and is still working fine but I’d like to have something more mobile. I don’t do gaming, but mostly need the machine for autocad, revit, rhino (with some rendering), photoshop, illustrator, lightroom and so on. So I’m wondering if you could tell me if the x1c with following configuration would be up for the task:

    4th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-4600U (3.30GHz 1600MHz 4MB)
    14.0″ WQHD (2560×1440), 300nit, IPS1
    Intel® HD Graphics 4400
    8GB DDR3L SDRAM 1600 MHz
    256GB SSD M.2 eDrive Capable

    The alternative to i7 is i5-4300u which would save me $170, but I’m not sure if reducing the processor would worth the saving. Also, there’s no option in the US to get the model with iris graphic, and I wonder if the difference of graphic performance is noticeable with the application I’m using. Now that the Asus Zenbook 303LN is on the horizon and seem to be less expensive, though your review of that model is towards gaming performance more than anything, I wonder if instead of getting x1c I should just wait for the 303LN….

    Please shed some light. Thank you!

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      CPU power, the amount of RAM and storage speed matter more with those Adobe software than the actual graphics, at least for now, and that includes Premiere as well. This however might change with the next releases, Adobe are working hard on taking advantage of the graphics for various processing tasks. Not sure about Rhino or Autocad though. So I don’t think getting these CPUS with the Intel HD 4400 chip would make a noticeable difference over getting CPUs with Iris, especially since Iris configurations are scarce.

      The config mentioned should do fine for your requirements and I’d stick with the i7 processor if your budget allows. The UX303LN is another nice option, for sure cheaper than the X1C and easier to upgrade. You could buy a more basic model and than add RAM and an SSD yourself, if you want to. I personally think the 13 inch FHD panel on the Zenbook offers a more appropriate pixel density than the 2560 x 1440 px 14 inch display on the Lenovo, given the scaling issues in Windows 8.1 . This could be a problem since you’re planning to use a lot of third party software that might not scale perfectly. The ThinkPad has the superior customer support on its side and in theory, superior Warranty services. Not sure how things are where you’re living, but over here I got 36 months included warranty with Next-Day service option for my ThinkPad, something Asus does not offer.

      Besides that, you might also want to consider something with a Core i7 HQ processor. Unfortunately this kind of CPUs are mostly bundled in larger computers and come alongside dedicated graphics, which makes the end products really expensive. The Razer Blade 14 could be something worth looking at if you’re planning on working on really complex projects, but again, it is pricey and you’d be paying for something you won’t use much, the graphics.

  3. Rishab

    August 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Thanks for the review. Is this machine good enough for gaming? like playing fifa, cod, gta 5 or other big games with graphics details set to high?

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 24, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      No, the HD 5000 graphics chip cannot handle such tasks

      • TS

        October 6, 2014 at 4:12 am

        Hence the distinction between work-centered tasks vs entertainment toys. HD 4400 has full D#D 11 support, along w. OpenGL 4.0. Yes, this cannot be a primary system which comprises dual i7 Zeons, 32GB DDR5 and a Quadro K6000.

        But it still steps up to the plate when you’re mobile, server offline, as I continue to use it at home, on work DWG/SKP files.

  4. Andrew

    August 24, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Great review. I totally agree that Lenovo has lost it ways with this Thinkpad Laptop. They need to seriously go back to what made the Thinkpad Brand have a huge following.

    Thinkpads use to target professionals / business users. Now it seems like they are turning this laptop into a macbook pro wannabee. Which all you do is watch youtube and go on facebook. Yeah, we’re gonna spend 2k to watch youtube and browse facebook.

    Get rid of the adaptive keyboard, bring back the SD card slot, bring back the trackpads and find a new LCD suppliier (Samsung), because the one Lenovo uses on it’s X1 Carbon is PURE GARBAGE.

  5. TS

    October 6, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Got the X1-C in Sep ’13, my third Thinkpad, from a Z60t (first laptop w. integrated cellular broadband, and interestingly, the only Thinkpad with a titanium cover). I’ve been constantly amazing both Clients & colleagues alike.

    With 25 yrs in architecture, I started 3D modelling in ’95, in the reigning era of SGI & Intergraph, and hand-building my own dual CPU machines with “workstation-level” OpenGL solutions. Oftimes, the 3DLabs card cost more than the box and everything else in it. Needless to say I was exceedingly skeptical of the on-die integrated GPU, without dedicated high bandwidth memory, rather having to share system RAM with the CPU/FPU.

    Simply put, the 1st Gen 2013 X1-C blew me away. Being able to manipulate shaded, hidden line 3D models off of an integrated on-die GPU was unbelievable. Placing my design’s sketchup model in google earth, piping display via MDP to the conf room projector sold the design, secured the commission, which was expanded by another 65%, impressed as Ownership was. The fact that all this was done on a sub-3 lb X1-C, i5 1.8GHz 4GB DDR3 12800 (yes you read that right). So barely after a year, I’m wondering how much more I could do w/ an i7-HD 5000 combo backed by 8GB of RAM.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you – for an honest review. Almost more critical to task execution speed is the interface. And from what I’ve read, the hardware performance gains are far outstripped by the enormously deficient keyboard/F-key adaptive strip, and most baffling the absence of an SD slot.

    So yeah, I’ma stick with my current X1-C c. 2013. Gladly so.



  6. Chris

    October 23, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Very nice review. I am in the market looking for an ultrabook which combines all the new technology and be reliable (windows pref.) and i am between x1 carbon – Asus zenboook 301LA. The both have about the same specs (display,ram, ssd ports) although i believe the x1 has much better quality design-build and a bigger screen plus lighter, the downside as i read in comments is the screen cz is somehow dim. I am an MA student and i need it mainly for lots of typing, reading pdf, presentations, browsing the web in fast speeds and occasionally for watching movies and of course with a battery life that goes over 5 hours for classes. Which one would u suggest me cz i cant decide? Thank you very much!

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 24, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      They’re both good devices. I’d personally lean towards the Lenovo, but the keyboard layout is a deal breaker for me. ON the other hand, the UX301 gets that glass case which shows smudges and fingerprints like crazy. SO yeah, a tough call. Think about what would bother you most: the dimmer screen and lack of F keys on the X1, or the glass case of the Zenbook

      • Chris

        October 24, 2014 at 1:31 pm

        Thanks very much for your reply. The f keys is not a big problem for me although i believe i have to get used to the new “capslock key” and i also believe the thinkpad gives you better palm rest when u r typing. Is there any way to make the screen brighter?? I havent had the chance to check the QHD version but the lower resolution edition that i checked seems to me so dim! This is the deal breaker for me and is the only reason i am still thinking about it. And a last question what about zenbook keaboard how does it feel? I have read that it s not consider “one of the best in the market”. Thanks a lot Andrei.

      • Andrei Girbea

        October 27, 2014 at 8:22 pm

        THinkPads offer better keyboard than any of the Zenbooks. But that doesn’t mean Asus’s keyboards are bad. They’re OK once you get used to the feedback, just a bit shallow and spongy. Can’t say how bright the screen is< i didn't have the tools to test it at the time of my review. Try to find the reviews on notebookcheck.net . Everything above 300 nits is more than enough for indoor use. If you plan to use it in very bright conditions (daylight, outdoors), I'd say aim for 350 nits or higher.

      • Chris

        October 28, 2014 at 11:15 am

        Thanks Andrei. Although i love the keyboard of the lenovo the screes is just 260 nits bright as the retailer informed me, instead the zenbook i think has above 350 nits plus the difference in money is BIG so i would choose Asus… Thank you very much!

      • Andrei Girbea

        October 28, 2014 at 2:12 pm

        Glad I could help. Let me know what you think about the Asus when you’ll get it.

  7. Tim Rose

    July 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I purchased an x1 carbon, opting for the previous model just as the Haswell’s were being released to save some on cost. It net my needs well for about 6 months of typical usage (50% travel), but then the screen went blank. Turns out the unit I rec’d was a factory repaired unit where they had reflowed the solder, making it functional but brittle. The result was not a surprise once I saw what had been done.
    Lenovo did nothing for me though I tried to get service through their authorized dealers (they were the ones that found the reflow). My only option was to pay myself to have a new motherboard installed – cheaper to buy a new laptop, which I did. This experience with Lenovo was a huge disappointment; I will never spend another dime on a Lenovo product.

  8. Hitham hamdan

    November 16, 2015 at 8:36 am

    I tried to find the BIOS battery for X1 Carbon 2nd gen with no use , Is there anybody know

  9. Jim Thomson

    March 2, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    To what extent has Lenovo fixed the keyboard/input problems on the 2014 X1 Carbon in the later (2016 and now 2017) versions of this model?

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 3, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      The later models have a proper row of F keys, so I'd say to a great extent

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