This is my detailed review of the 2022 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 2.
Last year, Lenovo unveiled the ThinkPad X1 Nano lineup of ultra-light laptops, and
we’ve reviewed the gen1 X1 Nano in this article. I appreciated the sub-1-kilo weight and the ThinkPad ergonomics, but I complained about the minimalist IO, the modest performance in sustained loads, and the rather limited battery life.
This updated generation of the X1 Nano is mostly a hardware bump of the previous model, with a 12th-gen Intel Core P hardware platform inside and a few other minor refinements. Updating to the 12th-gen Core P hardware is a significant change from the low-power 11th-gen UP4 platform used in the past, but as you’ll find out in this review, sticking faster hardware in this chassis in not enough to fully showcase the hardware’s potential, and negatively impacts the battery life of this generation.
Down below we’ll get in-depth on all the important aspects that you should know before buying one of these Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano gen2 ultrabooks.
Specs as reviewed – Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano gen 2
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 2
Screen 13 inch, 16:10 format, 2K 2160 x 1350 px, IPS, matte, non-touch
touch version also available
Processor Intel 12th-gen Alder Lake Core i7-1270P, 4C+8c/16T
Video Intel Iris Xe, 96 EUs
Memory 16 GB LPDDR5-5200 (soldered) – up to 32 GB
Storage 1 TB gen4 SSD (SSSTC CL4) – M.2 2242 slot
Connectivity Wireless 6 (Intel AX211), Bluetooth 5.1, optional 4G/LTE or 5G
Ports 2x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, audio jack, optional SIM slot
Battery 49.6 Wh, 65W USB-C charger
Size 293 mm or 11.5” (w) x 208 mm or 8.19” (d) x 14.5 mm or 0.57” (h)
Weight 2.2 lbs (1 kg) + .42 lbs (.19 kg) charger and cables, EU version
Extras white backlit keyboard, FHD 2MPx IR camera with privacy shutter, finger-sensor, quad speakers and quad mics
Update: In the meantime, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano gen3 was announced and it’s coming towards the middle of 2023, with 13th-gen Intel hardware and hopefully an increase in sustained performance and efficiency. There are also new-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga models available. Here’s our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano gen3.
Design and construction
This gen2 ThinkPad X1 Nano is identical in design and construction to the previous version that we’ve discussed here, so head on to the previous reviews for my in-depth thoughts, as I’m not going over everything in detail again.
In just a few words, though, this looks and feels like a ThinkPad, but it’s more compact and lightweight than most other options. This portable format and the solid build quality make it an excellent travel/office laptop.
The ergonomics of this design are excellent, with grippy rubber feet, smooth hinges that allow the screen to open flat to 180 degrees, with friendly edges and corners, and with the hot-air exhaust placed on the right edge, and not under the screen. However, you must be aware that these black plastic soft surfaces smudge very easily, and they’re more difficult to rub clean than an aluminum finish.
These aside, there are two potential deal-breakers here, though. One is the slightly miniaturized keyboard, compared to other ThinkPads, and the other is the minimalistic IO. There are only USB-C ports on this laptop, and they’re both on the left edge. They support Thunderbolt 4 with full functionality, but you’ll require adapters or a docking station to get certain things done, and that can be inconvenient on a ThinkPad – up to you if it’s important or not. Oh, there’s also an audio jack on that left edge.
Overall, this ThinkPad X1 Nano is one of my favorite ultrabook designs, even if I’m not entirely sure I could live with that minimalistic IO. That’s just the trend in this space, though.
Keyboard and trackpad
Many people swear by the keyboards on the recent ThinkPads, but I kind of struggled with the various ones that I’ve used. This one on the X1 Nano is quite a shallow typer, but somehow I got along with it just fine.
The limited stroke depth (only 1.35 mm) is not for everyone, but I appreciated the swift feedback and precise key response. Some people have been complaining that this keyboard on the gen2 feels different than on the gen1, but I don’t have the two side by side for a proper comparison, so I can’t tell if Lenovo changed things or not.
All I can say is that this is different than the regular ThinkPad keyboards from a T14 or an X1 Carbon, and caters towards those already used to shallower implementations, such as those coming for an XPS laptop or an older-gen MacBook.
The keyboard layout is mostly standard for a ThinkPad. However, all the keys are a little smaller than on a standard ThinkPad, which can be an issue for those of you with larger hands. Compared to the X1 Carbon, the main keys here are 15×15 mm (vs. 16×16 mm on the Carbon), while the keys on the top row are 8×13 mm (vs. 10×13 mm on the Carbon). The stroke is also shallower here than on the X1 Carbon (1.5 mm on the 2021/2022 models, and 1.8 mm in the past).
The keys are backlit with white LEDs and two levels of brightness intensity to choose from, and there are dedicated LED indicators for Caps Lock, FnLock, audio, and camera. The LEDs are kind of dim, though, and there’s no way to set a time-off for the backlight, you have to manually switch it off when needed, by hitting Fn + Space.
The clickpad is rather small, but maximizes the limited space on the armrest, and is a glass surface that feels excellent the touch. It worked well with taps, gestures, swipes, you name it, and integrates some excellent physical clicks.
On top of that, the Trackpoint red nipple is not missing from this ThinkPad, nor are the associated click buttons at the top of the clickpad. I preffer this classic approach over the haptic clickpads on the
newer ThinkPad Z13, even if it leads to a smaller touch surface.
Finally, for biometrics, there are both an IR camera (optional, though) and a finger sensor on this laptop.
Lenovo put a 13-inch 16:10 panel on this X1 Nano series, available in either a matte non-touch variant or a touch alternative with an anti-glare coating. Both use the same IPS panel. We got the matte non-touch option on our unit, as the touch variant is an upgrade only available in some regions.
This Lenovo-branded panel here is alright for everyday use, by today’s standards, with 450+ nits of brightness, good blacks, and excellent contrast. However, this panel is only standard-gamut at 100% SRGB coverage, so the colors aren’t as rich as on some of the other options available today, especially the OLED laptops.
Regardless, this is a good panel for what you’ll most likely end up doing on this Nano.
Here’s what we got in our tests,
with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
Panel HardwareID: Lenovo – (P1-1ZFZ-BH2);
Coverage:97.2% sRGB, 69.1% AdobeRGB, 71.1% DCI-P3;
Measured gamma: 2.02;
Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 463.8 cd/m2 on power;
Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 8.33 cd/m2 on power;
Contrast at max brightness: 1502:1;
White point: 6800 K;
Black on max brightness: 0.30 cd/m2;
The panel could use some further calibration in order to fix the Gamma and White Point, but it ended up uniform once calibrated. I also haven’t noticed any light bleeding on dark backgrounds.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a mid-specced configuration of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano, with an Intel Core i7-1270P processor, 16 GB of LPDDR5-5200 RAM, 1 TB of middling SSD storage, and basic graphics provided by the Iris Xe iGPU.
Disclaimer: Our review unit is a retail model provided by Lenovo for this review, running on the software available as of early December 2022 (BIOS N3IET37W, Lenovo Vantage 184.108.40.206). This is a mature product with mature software, so little can change with future software updates.
Spec-wise, this is based on the 2022 Intel 12th-gen Alder Lake Core P hardware platform. The Core i7-1270P is a hybrid design with 4 Performance and 8 Efficiency Cores, as well as 16 combined threads. It’s the vPro capable version of the more widespread i7-1260P available in a multitude of other designs. It’s not allowed to run at full blast here, due to the limited power and thermal design. We’ll get in-depth further down.
Graphics are handled by the Iris Xe chip integrated with the Intel processor. This doesn’t run at full capabilities either in this design.
Our configuration also comes with 16 GB of LPDDR5-5200 memory. The RAM is soldered on the motherboard and non-upgradeable, and 16/32 GB configurations are offered, so make sure to choose the one that best fits your needs.
For storage, Lenovo opted for a lower-tier PCIe gen4 SSSC CL4 drive here. It’s fine for daily use, but not as fast as other gen4 drives. It can be upgraded, although that’s somewhat limiting due to the fact that there’s an uncommon M.2 2242 slot inside this laptop.
It is possible to open up this device to get to the internals, and it’s a basic task, as the back panel is held in place by a few Philips screws, all easily accessible. However, there’s a warranty sticker over one of the screws, something I wish Lenovo would stop doing on their ThinkPads in this part of the world. Really, stop this!
Inside you’ll find the SSD slot hidden behind a protective shield, and the optional 5G module, with everything else being soldered.
As far as the software goes, most things can be controlled through the Lenovo Vantage app, which offers access to system updates, battery settings, etc. For some reason, though, Lenovo are no longer including power profiles in Vantage on their ThinkPads, unlike on all their other lineups. Instead, you can switch between the standard profiles in Windows 11 (Better Power Efficiency, Balanced, Best Performance) to change the power and fan settings. Having these settings in Vantage would make a lot more sense to me.
Nonetheless, this laptop runs cooly and quietly on any of the profiles. I’ve kept my unit on Balanced for everyday use and only switched to Best Performance for benchmarks and gaming. The fan inside keeps idle with light use, but kicks in with multitasking, so you can still hear it in a silent room. You won’t hear it in a normal environment, though.
Here’s what to expect in terms of performance and internal temperatures with browsing, word processing, or video streaming.
Performance and benchmarks
On to more demanding loads, we start by testing the CPU’s performance in the Cinebench R15 loop test.
On Best Performance, the i7-1270P in our unit kicks in strongly at 50+W of power, but then quickly drops and eventually stabilizes at only 13W of power, with temperatures of around 70 degrees Celsius and very quiet fans, at only 32 dBA at head-level.
Lenovo applies these very restrictive power and fan settings on this laptop, which greatly limit the capabilities of the 12th gen Core P hardware.
Switching over to Balanced mode doesn’t impact the TDP and performance in any way.
On battery power, the CPU performs similarly, dropping towards 13W over time.
Just like with the previous X1 Nano gen1, other reviews mention that this gen2 laptop stabilizes at around 20W of power in the Cinebench loop test, with higher sustained scores. That’s not the case with this X1 Nano gen2 unit that I have here, and it wasn’t the case with my gen1 either, so I guess we’re testing these laptops more thoroughly, or we ended up with flawed units in both cases. I don’t know…
Anyway, to put our findings in perspective, here’s how this Intel Core i7-1270P implementation fares against a few other modern ultrabooks, both Intel and AMD.
This is faster than the previous-gen X1 Nano or the Dell XPS 13 by a fair amount, but it’s not made for sustained loads, as the power drops over time. You can see how the
similarly-specced Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon diverges away in the later loops, thanks to its superior thermal settings.
Furthermore, the logs below showcase that you can get much better performance in other compact 13-inch ultrabooks, with only a slight increase in size and weight. So if you need a powerful ultrabook, you’re better off with one of those instead.
We then went ahead and further verified our findings with the more taxing Cinebench R23 loop test and in Blender.
We then ran the 3DMark CPU profile test.
Finally, we ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook, on the Best Performance profile. 3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time. This unit did not pass the test, which means the performance decreases noticeably once the heat builds up and the system drops in power. We’ll further explain this down below.
Next, here are some benchmark results. We ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks on the Best Performance profile on this Intel Core i7-1270P configuration, with the screen set at 1920 x 1200 px resolution, for consistency with past tests.
Here’s what we got.
3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 3932 (Graphics – 4437, Physics – 12484, Combined – 1365);
3DMark 13 – Night Raid: 11767 (Graphics – 15398, CPU – 5037);
3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1473 (Graphics – 1323, CPU – 4121);
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 820;
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 2821;
Handbrake 1.3.3 (4K to 1080p encode): 31.68 average fps;
PassMark 10: 3319 (CPU – 12158, 3D – 2741, Memory – 2730, Disk – 22372);
PCMark 10: 5195 (Essentials – 10471, Productivity – 6905, Digital Content Creation – 5262);
GeekBench 5.4.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 1741, Multi-core: 8699;
CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1726 cb, CPU Single Core 237 cb;
CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2979 cb, CPU Single Core 617 cb;
CineBench R23: CPU 8394 cb (best run), CPU 5176 (10 min loop test), CPU Single Core 1620 CB (best run);
x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 46.22 s.
And here are some extra work-related benchmarks:
Blender 3.01 – BMW scene – CPU Compute: 4m 38s;
Blender 3.01 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 15m 09s;
PugetBench – DaVinci Resolve: 273;
PugetBench – Adobe Photoshop: 879;
PugetBench – Premiere: 174;
SPECviewperf 2020 – 3DSMax: 13.00;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Catia: 11.39;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Creo: 20.50;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Energy: 3.33;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Maya: 52.65;
SPECviewperf 2020 – Medical: 6.36;
SPECviewperf 2020 – SNX: 5.53;
SPECviewperf 2020 – SW: -;
V-Ray Benchmark: CPU – 5551 vsamples, GPU CUDA – 159 vpaths;
These are some mixed results.
For short-duration tests, this X1 Nano is a fair implementation, and gets within 10-25% of the performance of other Intel Core P models that we’ve tested, such as the
XPS 13 Plus, the ZenBook S 13 Flip, or the Slim 7i Carbon.
However, this laptop can only sustain high-power settings for brief intervals, and the power degrades significantly over time with longer loads. Hence, for Blender or Adobe programs or anything that’s challenging, you’re only getting here about 70-80% of what the Core P hardware can deliver in other portable designs. Furthermore, AMD ultraportable models such as the
ThinkPad Z13 or the ZenBook S 13 are even faster, due to the AMD platform’s advantages in both CPU and GPU capabilities in such limited power designs.
At the same time, this gen2 ThinkPad X1 Nano is up to 50% faster than the previous generation in CPU loads, and 5-15% faster on the GPU side.
Overall, this is a fine performer for daily activities and light multitasking, and runs quieter than all the alternatives with such loads. But don’t get it for anything demanding. In fact, I’d especially look into the Core i5 + 16 GB version of this laptop, as the i7 isn’t really worth paying extra for in this sort of design.
Here’s what to expect in games on this ThinkPad X1 Nano. I threw in a few other platforms for comparison.
ThinkPad X1 Nano –
i7-1270p, Iris Xe,
13+W, FHD+ 1200p
ThinkPad T14s –
i7-1260p, Iris Xe,
20+W, FHD+ 1200p
ThinkPad Z13 –
R7-6850U, Radeon 680M,
15+W, FHD+ 1200p
ZenBook 14 2022 –
i7-1260p, Iris Xe,
30+W, FHD+ 1200p
ZenBook S 13 2022 –
R7-6800U, Radeon 680M,
15+W, FHD 1200p
ThinkPad X1 Nano –
i7-1160G7, Iris Xe,
13+W, FHD+ 1200p
(DX 11, Low Preset) 59 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
77 fps (46 fps – 1% low)
102 fps (65 fps – 1% low)
70 fps (48 fps – 1% low)
102 fps (63 fps – 1% low)
55 fps (28 fps – 1% low)
(Vulkan, Medium Preset) 21 fps (12 fps – 1% low)
28 fps (14 fps – 1% low)
29 fps (15 fps – 1% low)
45 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
(DX 11, Best Looking Preset) 44 fps (28 fps – 1% low)
73 fps (50 fps – 1% low)
56 fps (33 fps – 1% low)
76 fps (52 fps – 1% low)
74 fps (46 fps – 1% low)
44 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
Far Cry 5
(DX11, Low Preset) 20 fps (16 fps – 1% low)
27 fps (22 fps – 1% low)
31 fps (24 fps – 1% low)
31 fps (22 fps – 1% low)
39 fps (31 fps – 1% low)
16 fps (9 fps – 1% low)
Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX12, Lowest Preset, no AA) 21 fps (13 fps – 1% low)
30 fps (18 fps – 1% low)
41 fps (32 fps – 1% low)
36 fps (23 fps – 1% low)
47 fps (35 fps – 1% low)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Low Preset, Hairworks Off) 24 fps (12 fps – 1% low)
36 fps (202 fps – 1% low)
36 fps (24 fps – 1% low)
38 fps (20 fps – 1% low)
41 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
Doom, Dota 2, Witcher 3 – recorded with MSI Afterburner in game mode;
Bioshock, Far Cry, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities;
This is no match even for other
ultracompact laptops, due to the package power stabilizing at only 13W here, which significantly limits both the CPU and GPU frequencies. And keep in mind we’re testing at FHD+ resolution, not at the screen’s native 2K specs.
On the Best Performance mode, the GPU only ends up running at around .75 GHz, which is a little over half of what the Iris Xe 96EUs chip can run at in a full-power design (1.4 GHz) and 70% of what the same iGPU can do in the Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon, which is a similar 13-incher built on Core P hardware.
At the same time, the CPU only runs at around 65-70 degrees Celsius on this laptop, and the fan spins quietly at only 32 dBA.
The graph below better showcases how the system powers down with gaming sessions, stabilizing at 13W after 10-15 minutes or so. I’d reckon Lenovo does this in order to keep the CPU temperatures down and prevent the exterior chassis from heating up. You’ll see what I meant about it in the next section.
Surprisingly, though, the system provides this laptop with more energy while running on battery power, allowing the GPU to stabilize at around 1.15 GHz. The fans spin just as slowly in this mode, but the CPU runs at 80+ degrees Celsius, with higher external temperatures. It’s so weird that this laptop performs better on battery power than when plugged in, though.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
Lenovo went with a simple thermal design here, with a single fan, a single heatpipe, and a single radiator mounted on the side. This design is standard for a modern portable laptop, although a bit peculiar with that long heatpipe that goes underneath the fan. We’ve seen something similar in other 13-inch ultrabooks that implement a side radiator, though, such as the ZenBook S 13 models.
Now, this thermal module is adequate for this power-limited implementation, as the CPU runs at sub-50 degrees C with daily use and at around 65-75 degrees C with demanding loads once the power stabilizes.
The fan also keeps very quiet, at under 32 dB at head-level on the noisiest profile, and keeps idle with light chores. I did notice some electronic noises when I put my head over the laptop and carefully listened for anything odd, but they’re rarely audible at head level, so they didn’t bother me in actual use.
As far as external temperatures go, the laptop runs a little warm around the CPU area with daily use, due to the mostly passive fan behavior.
It also warms up with demanding loads, with the hottest chassis spot going over 45 degrees Celsius both on the keyboard level and on the underside. That’s acceptable, but perhaps this is the culprit that forced Lenovo to stick with the low power settings with this design, as otherwise higher CPU internal temperatures would translate in that chassis going into high-40s and maybe low-50s, which would have made that left side of the laptop uncomfortable to the touch.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Better Battery Mode, fans at 0-32 dB
*Gaming – Best Performance mode – playing Witcher 3 for 30 minutes, fans at 32 dB
For connectivity, there’s the latest-gen WiFi 6E 2×2 and Bluetooth 5.1 through an Intel AX211 module on this laptop, as well as optional LTE/5G connectivity. Our sample performed well on WiFi with our setup, but the performance dropped noticeably at 30 feet away from the router, with obstacles in between.
Audio is handled by a set of quad speakers, two of them firing through the grills placed above the keyboard, and two more placed on the bottom-front lip. ThinkPad speakers have been notoriously bad over the years, but these ones on the X1 Nano are punchy, at ~85 dB at head-level, and alright quality for ultrathin laptop speakers. Don’t expect much in terms of bass, but the mids and highs are OK, and the overall sound quality is fine for watching a movie or listening to casual music on this thing.
There’s a 2MPX FHD camera on this gen2 Nano, which is supposed to be significantly better than the HD camera on the gen1. It is sharper and looks nicer, but is still not much compared to a smartphone front camera. I do like the IR functionality and the physical privacy shutter. Lenovo also implemented a quad-mic array on this laptop, to supplement that updated camera in your calls, which I expect you’ll run a whole lot of on this sort of laptop.
There’s a 49.6 Wh battery inside the ThinkPad X1 Nano, which is smaller than you’ll find on most other ultrabooks these days. Throw in the limited efficiency of the Intel Core P hardware, and this won’t last for very long on a charge.
Here’s what we got on our review unit, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
7 W (~7 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Best Power Efficiency Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
7.5 W (~6 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Best Power Efficiency Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
8.5 W (~5-6 h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Best Power Efficiency Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
13 W (~3-5 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON.
The previous-gen X1 Nano with the i7-1160G7 specs ran for longer with basic tasks and video streaming.
Our model came with a tiny 65W charger that plugs in via USB-C. It’s a single-piece design with a compact brick and a long-enough cable, and a full battery charge takes about 2 hours. However, 80% of the battery fills up in about one hour and 50% in less than 40 minutes.
Price and availability- ThinkPad X1 Nano
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano gen2 is widely available in stores at the time of this review.
The base-level configuration with the Intel Core i5-1250P processor, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB SSD, and the matte screen goes for around 1600 USD in the US, and 1700 EUR in Germany. That’s pricey, but Lenovo runs occasional coupons and discounts quite often, so you should take advantage of those if you’re interested in this series.
There’s also a more affordable model that goes for under $1500 if you opt for the non-vPro Core i5-1240P processor, which I would if I’d be paying for this laptop with my own money.
Adding in the touch-display available in some regions, the LTE module, higher tier CPU options, more RAM, or extra storage all come as extras, easily pushing the X1 Nano past 2++K. However, given the limited power settings and cooling capabilities of this design, I don’t see the point of configuring this with an i7, that’s just wasted money.
Follow this link for updated prices and configurations in your region.
Final thoughts- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review
Despite the fact that this ThinkPad X1 Nano is one of my favorite ultrabook formats in the ultra-light ultra-compact space, I’m having a hard time recommending it to most buyers.
Sure, if you’re sold on the ThinkPad looks, ergonomics, and particularities, you’re fine with the minimalist IO and the peculiar keyboard layout, and only plan on running light tasks on your computer, then this could be right for you. It’s pricey, though, so you’ll have to consider that in our decision as well. I wouldn’t spec it past the i5 + 16 GB configuration.
On the other hand, there are quite a few other lightweight 13-inch laptops out there that perform better in sustained loads, and even offer better inputs and IO, while being more affordable. The
Asus ZenBook S 13, the HP Pavilion 13 Aero, the Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon, and the ThinkPad Z13 come to mine as worthy alternatives, so make sure to properly check out your options before drawing the line on this X1 Nano. Or perhaps wait-up for an X1 Nano gen3 that hopefully improves the cooling module and the sustained performance, with the 2023 ThinkPads being just around the corner now.
This wraps up my time with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano gen2, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, so get in touch down below.
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