Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Review

Updated on 28 November 2012 by

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Performance Tests

All performed under ‘balanced’ battery power mode unless stated. SB= Sandy Bridge 2ng generation Intel Core CPU with HD 3000 graphics.

3DMark06

  • Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (1280×800) = 5224

Previous results:

  • Samsung Series 9 2012 15” (Core i5 3317U, balanced battery mode) = 5112
  • Lenovo U300S (Core i7 SB 1.7Ghz) high performance battery power: 3520, mains power: 3611
  • Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 SB 1.6Ghz) Battery power – high performance mode: 3416
  • Toshiba Z830 (Core i5 SB 1.7Ghz) Battery power – high-performance mode: 3508 3D Marks (2nd-run:3518)
  • Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5 SB 1.6Ghz): 2784 3DMarks
  • Samsung 900X1B (Core i3 SB 1.3Ghz): 2373 3DMarks
  • ASUS UX21 (Core i7 SB 1.7Ghz): 3182 3DMarks

PCMark7

  • Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon = 4832

Previous Results

  • Samsung Series 9 2012 15” (Core i5 3317U, balanced battery mode) = 3129
  • Lenovo U300s (Core i7 SB, 1.8Ghz) PCMark 3280
  • Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 SB, 1.6Ghz) PCMark: 1894 (high performance, battery power.)
  • Toshiba Z830 (Core i5 SB, 1.6Ghz) PCMark7: 2885 (battery power, high-performance mode.)
  • Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5 SB) PCMark7:1967
  • Samsung 900X1B (Core i3 SB) PCMark7: 2508
  • Asus UX21 (Core i7 SB) PCMark7: 3358

Cinebench 11.5 CPU Test (2 Core)

  • Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon = 2.55

Previous results

  • Samsung Series 9 2012 15” (Core i5 3317U, balanced battery mode) = 1.68
  • Lenovo U300S (Core i7 SB): 2.12 points
  • Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 SB) 1.6Ghz Battery power, high performance mode): 1.55 points
  • Toshiba Z830 (Core i5 SB 1.6Ghz): 1.89 (battery power, high-performance)
  • Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5 SB): 1.63
  • Samsung 900X1B (Core i3 SB): 1.25
  • ASUS UX21 (Core i7 SB): 2.11

Cinebench 11.5 OpenGL

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (battery balanced) = 13.73

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (mains, max performance) = 15.03

Previous results

  • Samsung Series 9 2012 15” (Core i5 3317U, balanced mains mode) = 15.63
  • Lenovo U300s (Core i7 SB 1.7Ghz) high performance mode : 8.68
  • Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 SB 1.6Ghz): 8.03 (Battery power, high performance mode) (8.11 in second test)
  • Toshiba Z830 (Core i5 SB 1.7Ghz) 8.36 fps (battery power, high performance)
  • Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5 SB 1.6Ghz): 7.51 fps

Performance summary.

The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon returned the best Cinebench, 3DMark and PCMark 7 results we’ve seen so far and with the Cinebench OpenGL results the Thinkpad came second. This is impressive for a Core i5 CPU and shows a potential advantage of the higher clocked VPro-enabled Core i5 Ivy Bridge CPU. There’s something to say about Turbo tuning too as we saw high levels of sustained 2.6Ghz Turbo through the whole of the Cinebench CPU test. Lenovo appear to have done a great job on the thermal design and Turbo tuning, even under battery power.

Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 (14)Security

Intel VPro – the security and remote management subsystem, TPM – the secure keypass module, Anti-Theft, Identify Protection Technology, a fingerprint reader (TouchChip), GPS, 3G and Kensington lock provide almost every possible security feature possible on a laptop today. Some software that uses these technologies are pre-installed on the system but configuring and monitoring these features is a job for a skilled security expert familiar with the hardware, software and network services that use them. We have not had time to perform a suite of security and management tests on the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon.

Battery Life

Before checking the battery life figures, please read the following note. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon was delivered with Windows 7 and what we consider to be heavy package of additional software. Some of the software is necessary, some is useful, some is trialware/demoware. In our initial out-of-the box test we measured an average drain of 10.5W with casual web browsing in no more than 5 tabs. The Samsung Series 9, with Windows 7, can do that in 8.3W which is a huge difference. For the following tests we removed some of the pre-installed software (only unused freeware) and re-tested.

Scenario 1: Idle, no Wi-Fi, sound off, battery ‘stretch’ mode.

  • Screen off idle –  5W  = 9hrs
  • Screen low (level 0) idle – 5.5W = 8.3hrs
  • Screen 50% (level 8) idle – 6.3W = 7.3hrs
  • Screen max idle – 9.5W = 4.8hrs

Scenario 2: Local MP3 playback using Windows Media Player. Medium volume, lowest screen brightness.

Screen Low (level 0)  – 6.9W = 6.6hrs

Scenario 3: Streaming MP3 playback (Wi-Fi On, 3 walls from hotspot)

With WiFi enabled and Groove Salad streaming through Windows Media Player the figures were as follows:

Screen Low (level 0) – 7.2W – 6.4hrs

Scenario 4: Web working

With the screen set to 50% brightness and in battery saving power mode we ran, and used, the following browser tabs for a total of about 5 minutes: Chrome: Tweetdeck, Facebook, Google Plus, YouTube, Gmail

Average: 10.2W = 4.5hrs

Note: The fan came on in this scenario which is unexpected.

Scenario 5: Office working

In the office working scenario we started Live Writer and Microsoft Word, played some audio and left the browser running with the tabs from scenario 4. In Livewriter we wrote some test and edited a few images. In this test we turned off battery-stretch

Average 10.2W = 4.5hrs

Scenario 6: HD Video playback

With a continuously looping 1080p video playing full-screen in Windows Media player we saw an average of 12.8W for 3.6hrs of playback. The fan was active during this period.

Using YouTube to play a 1080p video we saw an average of 13.1W drain. (3.5hrs, Battery power, balanced mode) The fan was on an audible during this test.

Heat was negligible in all the above modes.

Under gaming tests we saw a 28W max drain and average of 25W indicating under 2hrs of gaming usage. Heat build was significant in the center-rear of the base on the Ultrabook.

 

Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 (2)

Other features

Smart Connect technology is also available for configuring wake-poll-sleep cycles.

WiDi (Wireless Display V3.1) is supported by the Lenovo X1 Carbon.

Specifications, links to other reviews, pricing, videos and gallery are available in our Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Tracking Page.

Heat and Noise

The fan exhaust exists on the left-hand side and during our load tests the unit didn’t get too warm. The working fascia of the X1 Carbon remained cool with the only warmth detected on the rear-underside of the chassis. The fan is infinitely variable in speed and can be heard with relatively low speed levels under normal online web-browsing conditions. The fan noise is easily drowned-out by normal office noise but those working in complete silence will be able to hear its relatively high-pitched motor noise and normal airflow noise.

Issues and Notes

  • One mouse pointer and touchpad lock-up during testing
  • Power ‘brick’ is heavy but…
  • Rapid Charge is possible, and we noticed it.
  • Webcam not tested.

Target Customer

Clearly the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon is for those needing a high quality ultra mobile laptop. The ruggedness and keyboard inspire confidence. There are other audiences too though as the performance is up there with the best of Ultrabooks. The high-speed SSD and well-tuned Turbo Boost system combine well although this is not a gaming rig by any means. For those needing all-day battery power, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon may not be for you as the trade-off made for the light weight means the battery inside is relatively small.

Security must be mentioned here. For anyone requiring a large set of security features, and some that have never been combined together on a laptops before, the X1 Carbon must be near the top of your list. The only thing that is missing here is a self-encrypting SSD and maybe a security card swipe/slot.

Summary

This is by far the highest quality Ultrabook we’ve tested here. High quality components appear to have been used all round and every part of the package has been well-tuned although hands-up if you’re looking for an IPS screen option? We’re testing a >1700 Euro package here and there are more expensive models too so you would expect some class-leading quality. We love the keyboard/mouse quality and options, the well-tuned Turbo Boost and wireless systems and the 1600×900 screen but minus points go to the relatively small battery and the huge amounts of pre-installed software which combine to give mediocre battery life, especially in near-idle scenarios. Fortunately there are solutions to this problem. Clean installs and, we hear from one reader, Windows 8 which improves the situation somewhat. Given that, we can thoroughly recommend the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Ultrabook.

Evaluation

WRT to the Ultrabook category as a whole….

Battery Life

Connectivity

Screen Quality

Portability

Touch UI

Sensors

Productivity

A/V experience

Gaming

6

8

8

9

N/A

3

10

8

8

Specifications, links to other reviews, pricing, videos and gallery are available in our Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Tracking Page.

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. jesse says:

    The x1 carbon is known for its screendoor effect, were you bothered by it?

  2. Chippy says:

    No. I hadn’t actually seen it until 30 seconds ago, after reading your comment!
    (After one week using the X1 Carbon)
    Chippy

  3. Mark says:

    Are you able to get any detailed information about Lenovo’s MIL-STD-810G claims? Any actual test results?

  4. curaga says:

    I also like more info on this. A solid feel does not equate to a solid and durable notebook. Sometimes a cheap plasticy feeling device and withstand more abuse than a solid feeling one.

  5. hocus says:

    The MIL-STD-810G standard specifies environmental considerations and testing methods with no specific measured thresholds for pass/fail results. Therefore, manufacturers have significant room to interpret what is considered passing for ruggedness. Manufacturers should provide detailed results of all tests that were conducted.

    With that said, it has been a long time since there were any easily obtainable information about a ThinkPad’s MIL-STD-810G claim. You can interpret that however you want but there are probably reasons why ThinkPads aren’t $2,000 – $4,000 USD (actual sale price and not the MSRP) anymore.

    If ruggedness is important for you in an ultrabook then you should go for a brand that provides detailed information of their testing so you can determine if it’s rugged enough. For example, Dell provides information for the 6430u here: http://www.dell.com/downloads/global/products/latit/en/latitude-6430u-ultrabook-environmental-testing.pdf

  6. RacerX says:

    I tested the X1 Carbon for two weeks. I really loved the look and feel, performance, great keyboard! But I was so annoyed by the crappy screen, to be more precise: the screendoor effect, which was very obvious for me. There are so many ultrabooks with IPS screens out there and for the premium price tag of the X1C you d expect something better. Anyhow, I am now sitting in front of a Samsung 900x3C with a superb screen. The keyboard isnt as great as the X1 but the screen is far more important. I can only recommend you go to store and try both.

  7. Senthil says:

    I am a Thinkpad fan for many years. I am thinking of buying my next thinkpad. I have shortlisted following modls X1 Carbon/ X230 or T430U or U410 Can I change harddisc to 1TB SSD( i store large data). Secondly can i change RAM to 16GB. Appreciate if some one gudie quickly.

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