Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon First Impressions

Updated on 19 November 2012 by


Thanks to Lenovo I’ve got the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon here. It’s a high-end productivity and security-focused Ultrabook and the first Ultrabook I’ve tested with 3G capability. A 256GB SSD and a VPro-capable Core i5-3427U 1.8Ghz CPU along with 8GB of RAM make for an impressive set of specs. The setup being tested here comes with Win 7 Pro a fingerprint reader and has a list price of €2276 although it’s available for around 1800-1900 Euros on the ‘street.’

There’s no unboxing involved here as we’ve got generic packaging from Lenovo’s demo agent and it’s also a bit disappointing to have to drop back to Windows 7. A windows 8 unboxing would have been nice, but let’s move on.

My first 5, actually 30 minutes were a bit frustrating due to Lenovo’s overzealous attempts at customizations. There’s a ton of pre-installed software (some trial, some unnecessary like Adobe Air, SugarSync, Splashtop, ) and a lot of Lenovo utilities that I found very annoying. If you buy a house, you don’t expect someone to put their own furniture in it and then have to take it all out and put your own in.

113 processes were running after boot which is the most I’ve seen on any Ultrabook to date. Some of it may be useful in the long-run but extra taskbars, a ‘simple tap’ tiled overlay screen which just looks horrible having used Windows 8 and many more. It feels messy and unprofessional and on a system aimed at the best productivity possible, it gets in the way.

A Windows 8 version of the X1 Carbon is available now so I hope Lenovo have pulled out some of their menu systems.

Keeping me positive about the product during the first 30 minutes was the fantastic keyboard and mouse experience. (Update: see the end of this report.) It’s been about 7 years since I had a laptop with a mouse pointer / touchpoint and it took me all of 10 second to get back into the experience. I’m a fan! Palm resistance on the touchpad seems perfect and the keyboard is a dream. It’s backlit and provides good travel, good feedback and large, slightly convcave keytops. Only the Fn/Ctrl key positioning (swapped compared to what I’ve been used to) is catching me out.

The casing is solid and grippy with no creaks or cracking and the screen hinge drops all the way back. It’s a matt display too. Configuration weight: 1.35KG / 2.97lbs

Around the casing you’ve got a useful radio-off button (a manual airplane mode that’s not really needed in Win 8 which has its own software-switch for airplane mode.) There’s only two USB3.0 ports. A full-size SD card slot and a for external screens and mini Displayport. There’s no removable battery, docking port or slice battery connector.

In  a few battery life, noise and heat tests I was a bit disappointed to see basic Chrome-based browsing coming in at 10.5W average drain. That’s more than your average Ultrabook and leads to periods of very faint, mosquito-like fan noise.  A device of this calibre and aimed at productivity should definitely not be in this situation. Two other Ultrabooks I have here are totally silent under the same conditions. I’m sure this can be tweaked away but it could mean removing a lot of the software and processes that are installed or running on the X1 Carbon – a very unproductive process. Battery-stretch mode helps to reduce power consumption but this should not be necessary. Further testing needed here to confirm what I think might be a product bogged down by software.

The X1 Carbon I have here includes the SATA II Sandisk SD5SG2256G10 and it’s a performer. Max 414MB/s read speeds and 48MB/s 4K write speeds. That’s fast enough for any 2012/2013 Ultrabook!

But now it’s time for me to stop. The mouse pointer, pad and buttons have just stopped working for no good reason. Like the software issue, this is worrying., however good the keyboard is. Stay tuned for a video hands-on and full review over the next week.

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10 Comments For This Post

  1. MobileGuy says:

    Can a not so skinny man stand on it without damage? The main thing I care about when it comes to ThinkPads is how tough it is but still paying less than a Panasonic Toughbook. Otherwise I’d just go for whatever brand is on sale.

  2. Morris says:

    It would be nice if Chippy could ask Lenovo for some actual details on their MIL-STD-810G claim. Without any info on that, claiming that it passes doesn’t mean anything.

  3. Jeff says:

    Does yours have a loose clickpad? I see a lot of talk about it in Lenovo’s and Notebok Review’s forums.

  4. ThinkFan says:

    The clickpad doesn’t work at all it seems. You’d think a hand picked machine by Lenovo sent out for review would work properly.

    The main reasons to go with a ThinPad (for me at least) is the trackpoint, keyboard, easily upgradeable parts, extended batteries, dual batteries and ruggedness. Too bad the X1 Carbon only has a few of those. I’d rather just go for a cheaper ultrabook from another brand.

  5. Chippy says:

    What do you mean by ‘loose’ clickpad? I’ve got nothing here I would class as ‘loose’

  6. TMS says:


    Here’s one of the worse examples:

  7. Ghost says:

    What are the two other ultabooks you have that are totally silent under the same condition?

  8. Chippy says:

    I have a Toshiba Z830 and a no-brand Intel Ultrabook here but under these conditions I wouldn’t expect any ultrabook to have fan noise.

    To put it into perspective you can’t hear it in a normal office environment but if you work at home, in a private office you’ll probably hear it.

  9. Jorgen Smith says:

    I got my i7/8/256 two days ago here in Australia, and the first thing I did was to wipe it clean and put Win8 Pro on it. Having installed most of Lenovo’s drivers, including Rapid Start (which did require a bit of research) it’s now a speedy weapon. I absolutely love how responsive it is. :-) By comparison, the Win7 build was pretty sluggish TBH.

    I was browsing the MongoDB web site in Chrome last night in my bedroom – and there was absolutely no fan noise at all. Only when I loaded up Youtube videos from https://education.10gen.com would the fan start to come on ever so slightly. You would never hear it in an office though.

    Not sure what the wattage was as that part of the software hasn’t been released for Win8 yet.

    I find the X1C to be a very powerful Ultrabook, with a fantastic case, keyboard and trackpoint/pad.

    It’s pretty amazing the amount of power you can pack into such a small and tight unit, which has a surprisingly big and sharp screen (easy to forget about screen door effect notwithstanding) for its size. I loaded up a Ubuntu image that I had created on my i7/16GB desktop in Virtualbox and was developing against that in short order from the Win8 host, finding that it worked quite well. Very impressed by it.

  10. Food City 500 Live says:

    Generally I do not learn article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very great post.

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Ultrabook Coming Soon with Touch | Carrypad says:

    […] My first impressions of the X1 Carbon here. […]

  2. Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Ultrabook Coming Soon with Touch « Ultrabook News and the Ultrabook Database says:

    […] My first impressions of the X1 Carbon here. […]

  3. Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Review « Ultrabook News and the Ultrabook Database says:

    […] Our first impressions were published in a previous post. […]

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