A few months ago, I got to review the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon, which is one of Lenovo’s lightest laptops available and arguably the lightest 14” notebook that’s worth buying. Overall I liked it a lot – great portability without compromising the build quality or performance. The high spec model was a tad expensive for my taste, but that’s typical for Thinkpads to be brutally honest.
But what if you don’t want a Thinkpad? It is a business laptop after all, and while it certainly checks so many boxes for almost any user, it’s missing a few frills that the mainstream customer may want.
This is the gap that the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon fills, as it takes the lightweight materials of the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, but the design, screen, and IO are more tailored for the minimalist user, and the selling price is significantly more affordable.
Having used the Slim 7 Carbon for the last few weeks, I’m pretty sure I like this laptop – I’m just not sure if I like it better than the X1 Carbon. While it has a better screen and better speakers, I for one find that I Iike the IO and keyboard on the Thinkpad better. But the details are far too wordy for a simple introduction – check them out in the sections below.
Specs sheet as reviewed– Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon 14ACN6
||Lenovo Ideapad Slim 7 Carbon 14ACN6
||14.0 inch, 2880 x 1800 px, OLED, 90 Hz, glossy, touchscreen, 100% DCI-P3
||AMD Ryzen 7 5800U, 1.9Ghz core, 4.4Ghz max
||AMD Radeon Graphics
||16 GB LPDDR4x-4266Mhz
||512GB M.2 PCIe
||Realtek RTL8852AE Wifi 6 with Bluetooth 5.1
||2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2(PD 3.0, DP 1.4), 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1
||61 Wh, 65W charger
||313 mm or 12.32” (w) x 214.5 mm or 8.44” (d) x 14.9 mm or .59” (h)
||1.1 kg (2.43 lbs)
||backlit keyboard, headphone/mic combo, HD Webcam (with IR), quad speakers
Design and construction
As soon as I took this laptop out of the box, I was impressed. This thing felt light – maybe even lighter than the Thinkpad X1 Carbon. And after checking the specs, it is a tad lighter. Just a tad.
Having “Carbon” in the name means that the lid is made of carbon-reinforced magnesium, for durability and lightweight. The rest of the chassis is made of a magnesium-aluminum alloy. The color is a light grey and looks uniform between materials.
The color is actually perfect for these materials, as it barely shows any fingerprints. After nearly a month of use, I didn’t have to wipe it down once. In fact, the pictures shown were taken as is, after that month.
The laptop is very light, weighing just 2.43lbs. It’s thin and very easy to carry around. The texture is good enough to grip, but I would note that a soft-touch coating on the lid would have been nice to improve that. Even so, I find it difficult to drop considering how light it is.
Shifting to the looks. Starting from the top, the lid is about as plain as can be. The only logo is a small Lenovo badge in the upper corner. This could be my favorite lid design ever, as I tire of seeing manufacturers overdo it with too many logos, lights, and unnecessary design flair.
Lifting the lid is doable with one finger. The hinge is also pretty sturdy. This is important because the screen is touch-enabled. The lid folds back 180 degrees to where it can lay flat on a table.
Up top, you have a beautiful 14” 16:10 3K panel. More on that later. The bezels really blend in well as they are small on all 4 sides. I truly love the way 16:10 screens look on these newer models, and this is no exception. Above the screen is a webcam, light sensor, and microphone array. There’s no privacy shutter, but there is a kill switch for the webcam on the side of the laptop.
Down below is a standard keyboard with 6 rows. Flanking both sides of the keyboard are some upward-facing stereo speakers, and centered below is a glass trackpad. We’ll cover the keyboard and trackpad in more detail in the next section.
Finally, there is a little subtle branding for Lenovo and Dolby going on. It’s not that bad, though. There are also a lot of stickers, but these can easily be peeled off.
On the bottom of the laptop, there are some low-profile footpads. Normally I would criticize this because of the potential to block airflow, but if you look closely, there are no intake vents on the underbelly. That’s because both the intake and exhaust are located in the hinge for this model. I haven’t seen that in a long time, so it kind of caught me off guard.
Probably one of the few weaknesses of this model is the IO. On the left side, there are two USB-C 3.2 ports, which both support DisplayPort and Power Delivery 3.0. There’s also a headphone jack. On the right, there is a single USB-C that only supports data. There’s also a power button and the webcam kill switch I mentioned earlier. That’s it.
Now if you’re a minimalist, you’ll probably like this. But I consider the lack of IO to be a missed opportunity, especially since they could have an USB-A. If it were me, I would have put a power delivery enabled USB-C on each side and turned the third one to USB-A. There is an included dongle, though, which supports a single USB-A port, VGA and HDMI.
While I can mostly praise this design, there’s also a minor quirk to the hinge that I noticed, and depending on how picky you are, it may really bother you. After about my second week of using this machine, I noticed a rubbing noise that occurred when adjusting the screen.
Turns out that the tolerances between the screen hinge and the palm rest are so tight that they come in contact to make the sound. This is only a nuisance when moving the screen, but it’s a design flaw nonetheless. And it seems to get worst at higher temperatures. Perhaps some uneven expansion of metals is the conflict.
Lack of IO and the hinge quirk aside, This SLim 7 Carbon is a pretty solid design. I could certainly use it as my daily driver if I had to and I’m convinced it would last me a number of years and still look good.
Keyboard and trackpad
Now call me a little biased, but I found the keyboard very easy to get used to. It’s super easy to type on and the keyboard layout is just about as normal as it gets. The key feedback could be a little firmer, but the travel is good enough to make the keystrokes feel satisfying. I could see some people criticizing this, though.
Full disclosure– not only am I an owner of multiple Lenovo laptops, I’ve also reviewed over a dozen of their brand over the past year. Suffice to say, I’m very used to these keyboards and know exactly what to expect.
If I had to compare it with the other models, this is close to the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, but I really liked typing on that keyboard better as the feedback on the keys was perfect for me.
The keyboard is backlit with white lighting. It’s fine for the most part, but I would have appreciated the design a little more if the keys were darker instead of the same color as the palm rest. The white backlighting on silver keys is difficult to see when the screen is very bright. Minor problem, as the screen illuminates the keys enough for the most part anyway.
That said, the backlighting has two brightness levels and off as the settings. There’s also an auto setting that uses the light detector to determine whether or not the backlighting is needed. I used this setting exclusively and it was fine. It kept the backlight off during daylight hours. If you don’t like this option, Fn+Spacebar is all you need to manually adjust the settings.
The trackpad is just plain excellent on this model. It’s glass, so it tracks very well and is smooth to the touch. It felt very accurate during my usage and I had no troubles with any of the multi-touch gestures.
It is a clickpad style, so the left and right click buttons are integrated into the lower corners. The click response was good and it didn’t feel too stiff or too loose. I usually use single and double taps though, which also worked fine.
This model also includes a touchscreen, so we might as well talk about that here. I don’t really use touch on Windows laptops much, but I can certainly see how some people could make use of it. I did make an effort to try it for a couple of days, even though I didn’t really need to.
In general, it’s fine. The most I used it for was moving windows around and swiping from the right and left to see notifications and the Cortana feed. The taskbar is probably the only thing I found most useful to be able to poke at. I think long term if I were to keep this laptop, I would never use it, though.
The main draw to this laptop is arguably the screen. The 14” 2880×1800 px OLED panel is a real treat to use on a daily basis. Not only does it have unlimited contrast ratio, due to the true blacks of OLED, it also doesn’t suffer from backlight bleed or IPS glow. Being an IPS user, these make it worthwhile for the most part.
On top of that, the screen refresh rate is 90Hz, which is certainly worth having just for productivity use. I don’t think it’s useful for gaming, especially since this laptop lacks a dedicated GPU. But you have the option nonetheless.
Here are the specifications I measured on my X-rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: Lenovo LEN8A98 (Model LEN140WQ+)
- Coverage: 172.8% sRGB, 119.1% AdobeRGB, 122.4% DCI-P3;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 370 cd/m2 on power;
- Gamma: 2.2
- Contrast at max brightness: 1,000,000:1
- Native white point: 6380 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0 cd/m2.
As you can see, excellent results. But there are some side effects to OLED that should be noted before you decide to buy. For starters, the extreme viewing angles just aren’t as stellar as they are with the top IPS panels. I noticed some rainbow colors when you get to the 60-degree angle mark. Text is still legible at least, but it’s just not as good-looking.
Also, “black crush” can be an issue on this laptop. When watching shows on Netflix, dark scenes typically look pixelated. On IPS, these are kind of washed out by the backlight where the blacks look more grey at high brightness levels. But on OLED, the blacks are really black and the pixelation is WAY more obvious – even distracting at some points. The only solution is to lower the brightness so the contrast of the pixelation isn’t so bad.
Finally, there’s the potential burn-in. I obviously haven’t had this laptop long, so there isn’t anything I can report. But I do worry with PCs how certain things (like the taskbar) could burn-in over time. These 3k panels are too new to make that kind of a conclusion yet, though.
On the other hand, flickering at low brightness levels doesn’t seem to be an issue here, and somehow Lenovo were able to figure out a touch OLED without the graininess effect on white backgrounds that we noticed on the touch OLED ZenBooks previous tested.
Overall, I enjoyed this panel. The combination of color space, resolution, and contrast ratio really make the images pop. For entertainment purposes, this has been a treat to use for the past month. I’m finding I prefer this over my iPad, actually.
The only minor complaint I have is the glare from the glossy panel. Particularly at night when the key backlighting reflected off the screen, when it was at certain angles. It’s easy to correct though, either by adjusting screen brightness or turning the backlighting off. Or just adjust the screen angle.
But I can’t help but wonder how much more I would have liked it if it were matte. But then again, I also don’t use touchscreens all that often, so perhaps I’m a little biased.
Hardware and performance
The Ideapad Slim 7 Carbon only has two configurations that I’m aware of. Mine includes a Ryzen 7 5800U processor and is paired with 16GB of RAM. There is another version with the same specs, plus a Geforce MX450 GPU on board. One’s ideal for the average consumer and the other for those that play casual games.
Everything I’ve thrown at this laptop has been working great. Minus some annoyances with Windows 11 (which isn’t Lenovo’s fault), I had a great time using it for my day-to-day internet usage and entertainment. The programs I used launched quickly and there were no hiccups or abnormal hanging whatsoever.
I did take the cover off to get a look at the internals. Let me warn you now though – this isn’t as easy as most other laptops. As you can see, there are only 5 screws holding on the back cover. That’s definitely not secure enough, so they had to use lots of clips to keep the cover in place.
So that means using a plastic removal tool, like a guitar pick, to unclip the edges and get it off. It took me a good 15 minutes for this one. Ouch. But it eventually came off and I got a good look at the inside.
And there it is – not much to upgrade. The RAM is soldered and there’s only the single M.2 slot. So unless you want more SSD space or want to change the Wifi module for some reason, there’s little reason to open this one up.
Let’s dig into the performance. I took some synthetic benchmarks to get an idea of how well the CPU performs. Here’s what I got in Performance mode, which allows the CPU to run at 25W sustained:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 3818 (Graphics – 4153, Physics – 19952);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1495 (Graphics – 1315, CPU – 6723);
- 3DMark 13 – CPU Profile: Max-4918, 16T-4925, 8T-4068, 4T-2758, 2T-1617, 1T-847
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 2556
- GeekBench 5: Single-Core: 1409, Multi-core: 6938;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 83.93 fps, CPU 1518 cb, CPU Single Core 226 cb;
- CineBench R23: CPU 9059 pts, CPU Single Core 1404 pts;
And now lets see how it performs in “Intelligent Cooling” mode. In this mode the TDP drops to 20W:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 3656 (Graphics – 3981, Physics – 18051);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1340 (Graphics – 1176, CPU – 6409);
- 3DMark 13 – CPU Profile: Max-4175, 16T-4176, 8T-3724, 4T-2524, 2T-1526, 1T-861
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 2394
- GeekBench 5: Single-Core: 1418, Multi-core: 6191;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 78.94 fps, CPU 1389 cb, CPU Single Core 227 cb;
- CineBench R23: CPU 8329 pts, CPU Single Core 1417 pts;
Finally, these are the results in “Battery saving mode”. Kind of a strange name for a mode while plugged in, but whatever… In this mode the CPU is limited to 10W:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 2433 (Graphics – 2675, Physics – 12126);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 986 (Graphics – 871, CPU – 3930);
- 3DMark 13 – CPU Profile: Max-2461, 16T-2458, 8T-2180, 4T-1716, 2T-1138, 1T-696
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 1594
- GeekBench 5: Single-Core: 960, Multi-core: 4022;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 60.23 fps, CPU 858 cb, CPU Single Core 192 cb;
- CineBench R23: CPU 5111 pts, CPU Single Core 1208 pts;
And here’s how the laptop performs in the CPU Cinebench Loop test on the three power profiles:
And here’s how it compares against other powerful ultraportables. This Slim 7 Carbon is not as powerful as other options in demanding loads, but it’s nonetheless a very competitive all-purpose option, especially when also factoring in its size and weight.
Finally, the log below shows the sustained 25W CPU power in the multiple Cinebench loops, as well as the excellent CPU temperatures for an ultraportable implementation. These are surprising, considering the fans only ramp up to about 40 dB at head level on the Performance profile.
Overall, all these results are pretty good for a modern ultraportable. I was actually kind of surprised how well the CPU performed, considering the lack of ventilation on this machine. But it seems to hold its own and perform well. Of course, this is still a previous gen Cezanne platform, so not as competitive in sustained loads as the 2022 hardware from either AMD or Intel; it’s more than adequate for everyday multitasking and occasional workloads, though.
I don’t think I’d ever use the maximum Performance mode. The Intelligent Cooling mode seems to be the best balance between performance and heat generation/fan noise. Not that the fans were loud in any of the modes, but I appreciate as little fan noise as possible.
I also took some benchmarks with a few games, varying in age. See below for my results:
|Doom Eternal (Low settings)
||40 fps avg, 30 fps low
|Skyrim (Ultra, FHD+)
||44 fps avg, 35 fps low
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (FHD+, low Preset, Hairworks Off)
||28 fps avg, 24 fps low
I was actually pretty surprised how the Vega integrated graphics handled Doom Eternal. Skyrim too was very playable even with Ultra settings. Witcher 3 however was barely playable, even on Low settings. This is totally understandable though, since that game demands a pretty powerful GPU.
The log below shows how the CPU package constantly runs at 25W and excellent temperatures of sub-70 degrees Celsius with games, and the Vega GPU runs close to its maximum frequencies and potential. The performance is very similar between using the laptop plugged in and on battery mode, which is not common for ultraportables.
Point being, this laptop isn’t really meant for gaming. But it does a pretty decent job with older titles. I was also quite impressed with the speakers with Dolby Spatial Audio enabled. It really enhanced the experience. More on that later.
If you’re planning on running games more often on this, you could consider the configuration with the Nvidia dGPU. I’d look into how that variant is able to cool everything off in this chassis, as I expect the temperatures to be a fair bit higher than on this tested model.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity, and speakers
The cooling system on this model is fairly advanced for an ultraportable, with two fans, two radiators, and two heatpipes individually connected to each radiator.
As mentioned before, there are no open intakes over the radiators on this design, and all the fresh air goes inside through the narrow cuts on the laterals of the chassis. We’ve seen this approach on MacBooks and I’m normally not a fan of it, but the entire thermal module does an excellent job at keeping the hardware at bay on this notebook.
I monitored temps under normal usage, which was watching Netflix while typing this review for 30 minutes. The average CPU temp was only 55C and the fans didn’t even kick on.
Heavier internet demands resulted in the fans turning on low. I measured only 32dB(A) of noise coming from the fans. But temps still hung out around 58C on average, which is great.
Even with my gaming sessions, the temperature averaged in the mid 60s C and incidentally peaked in the low 90s C. And fan noise under heavy loads like this was also reasonable , sitting at 40dB(A).
Surface temps were also very good, in my opinion. The hotspots are localized behind the CPU and the overall temps aren’t so hot that you want to use a cooling pad. I primarily used this laptop on my lap, like a laptop is meant to.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Intelligent Mode, fans at 0-32 dB
*Gaming – Performance mode – playing Witcher 3 for 30 minutes, fans at <40 dB
The Realtek Wifi 6 module in this unit is ok. I’ve had Wifi problems with this chip in the past but I didn’t experience any problems with this one. I took a speed test at 30 ft from my router and reached 600Mbps, which is great. I also didn’t experience any abnormal drops during my usage.
But the Bluetooth was hit or miss for me. I tried to connect my Airpods when I got the laptop and they connected fine and worked for a couple of days. But since then, I’ve really struggled to keep them connected. It could be Windows 11 – I hardly have any experience with it to compare. But it was a fault, nonetheless.
I was able to connect my Xbox controller for a short session, so that helps at least. So my suggestion is if you give this laptop a shot, be sure to test all your Bluetooth devices while you’re in your return window, just to be sure.
The speakers on this model are great. But it took me a little bit to figure them out. There are 4 speakers, which are all 2W as far as I can tell. None are subwoofers, so you’re still limited to about 80Hz of audible bass.
I only measured a maximum amplitude of 70dB(A) in my first test, which is kind of below average. I looked around for some EQ settings in order to boost the volume. The only setting that helped was buried in Lenovo Vantage where I could set Dolby to “Dynamic”. Doing this gave me 75dB(A), which is a little better.
But the music definitely sounded better in the “music” setting. I also noticed a huge difference in sound quality when ticking the “enhance audio” in Windows settings for the speakers. Tweaked, I found the speakers to be very balanced in their output of mids and highs. The bass is lacking, but it’s still decent for such small speakers.
What really stands out though is the Dolby spatial audio setting. With this on, you get the perception of depth with the sound from your favorite shows. It blows stereo sound away. Not as advanced as the spatial audio on my Airpods Pro, but it’s still way better than any other laptop I’ve tested recently.
The webcam isn’t my favorite. In well-lit rooms, it’s good enough. But as soon as the lighting gets dim, you lose a ton of image quality and color reproduction. There is no image enhancement at all, as far as I can tell.
On top of that, there’s no Windows Hello feature on this webcam either. Disappointing too, because there’s certainly enough space for it. I guess it came down to cost. Turns out the camera is Windows Hello enabled. As someone pointed out in the comments, the base model does come with an IR camera. I checked mine on the last day and it turns out that function was disabled somehow. I was able to turn it on and test it for a short time. Worked like a charm for the moments I had with it.
I do still think that the lack of quality is a miss though. Especially since everyone is still in pandemic mode. Calls via webcam are exponentially more popular than they were just 2 years ago and I would rate this webcam to be worse than most cameras I reviewed even back then. With such a nice screen and decent pictures, this would have been a nice machine to share a Zoom call on.
The only big plus to this webcam is you can electrically shut it off. The kill switch located on the right edge will completely disconnect the webcam from the system, including the audio. For privacy concerns, this is a huge feature that I very much appreciate.
The Lenovo Ideapad Slim 7 Carbon has a 61 Whr battery. It’s a decent size considering the laptop is so thin and light. I took a series of battery life tests with the brightness at 50%, which is about 85 nits. Here were my results:
- 4.1 W (~14 h 53 min of use)– idle, Battery saving, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi ON, backlighting off;
- 8.3 W (7 h 21 min of use)– text editing in Word with light internet use, Intelligent Cooling, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 7.9 W (~7 h 43 min of use)– 1080p 60Hz Youtube fullscreen in Chrome, Battery Saving Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 6 W (~10h 10 min of use)– 1080p Netflix fullscreen video in Chrome, Battery Saving Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 15.2 W (~4 h 1 min of use)– heavy browsing in Chrome, Better Performance Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 30.2 W (~2 h 1 min of use)– Gaming – Doom Eternal, Extreme Performance Mode, 60fps cap, screen at 100%, Wi-Fi ON.
Good results for the most part. The key to obtaining good battery life like this is to switch the screen to a 60Hz refresh rate while on battery. Unfortunately, this isn’t automatic, but it’s easy to do by hitting Fn-R. It also helps to switch to Battery Saving more, by cycling Fn-Q.
Of course, you don’t have to go all out just to get decent battery life. While typing this review, I typically left the screen at 50% brightness, kept the screen at 90Hz, and left the power mode in Performance mode. I still averaged roughly 10W of consumption per hour, so it’s easy to get 6 hours of battery life this way. Perfectly fine to me, but I always keep a charger on hand just in case.
The power brick is 65W and is pretty small. I’ve seen this charger before on another Thinkpad model and it’s pretty much as good as you can expect. The laptop only charges through one of the USB-C ports on the left-hand side, as the other two don’t support charging.
Price and availability- IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon
The model I reviewed is available at Amazon for $1189, at the time of this review. This is a fantastic price if you ask me, and quite a relief. Follow this link for more details at the time you’re reading the article.
I’m constantly comparing this to the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, due to the specs and how lightweight it is, and I was really worried that the price might be as high. This model is about $1000 cheaper though, which is a huge deal for the average consumer.
The only other model available contains a Geforce MX450. This isn’t on Amazon yet, but it is available on Lenovo’s website for about $1500. A fair price, but I’m really not sure how worth it the GPU is for actual gaming.
Final thoughts- Lenovo Slim 7 Carbon
Considering the price is right, I think I’d have an easy time recommending this laptop to just about anyone. The display is just excellent, and as long as it doesn’t burn in over time (time will tell), I think it’ll still be a competitive display to own for the next 4+ years.
Of course, the main feature of this laptop is the size and construction. The 14” 16:10 form factor is the perfect replacement for the old 13” laptops we used to like and these newer models are lighter than ever before – this being one of the lightest I’ve ever seen.
It helps that they didn’t slouch on the construction either. Minus the annoying rubbing noise I experienced, the build construction is top-notch. I feel like this laptop would last a long time if you don’t drop it or anything.
It’s not all perfect though. I’m pretty critical of this webcam. It should have been better than this
, and some biometrics certainly would have been nice. I also experienced problems with my Airpods and Bluetooth, so look out for that too.
I’m also not a fan of having 3x USB-C and zero USB-A. I use a mouse a lot, so having to have that dongle attached is not ideal. A Bluetooth mouse would probably be fine, provided it works properly. If you’re OK with a larger chassis, the Yoga Slim 7 Pro might be an option to consider, with more powerful hardware and a better selection of ports. The Asus ZenBook 14X would also be a worthy alternative, especially when upgraded to Alder Lake hardware.
Those issues aside though, I think there’s still enough value here to recommend purchasing this Slim 7 Carbon laptop. Adding in the fact that speakers are fine, the keyboard is easy to get used to and the trackpad is smooth and accurate. Plus you get decent battery life.
Point being, this laptop checks a ton of boxes off in my book. And for the price, I could argue that this should be at the top of many people’s lists this year. Especially if you’re looking for OLED – there are just not that many options out there at this price. Would I use it? Yes! Sure there’s better out there, but I certainly enjoyed having this for the past month.
Unfortunately, I have to send this unit back now. But I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about this 2022 Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon. Please leave me a comment below.
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