The ThinkPad series of laptops in the Lenovo lineup address the business users. ThinkPad X1 Carbon series was introduced in 2012 and is updated yearly. The X1 Carbon takes the ThinkPad design philosophy and adds a bit of finesse to it. So you get a thinner, lighter laptop which offers ThinkPad basics such as spill resistant keyboard, track point, powerful internals and so on. This time around the X1 Carbon is in its fourth generation, so let us see how it fares.
Build and Design: 8 / 10
There are few names in the Windows laptops ecosystem that command as much respect in the build quality and design segment as the ThinkPad series. Meant purely for business users, the ThinkPad series has over the years evolved in terms of it design language making itself attractive to non-business users as well. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon uses carbon fibre and magnesium in its construction, which gives it that sturdy feel, while at the same time ensuring that the weight is kept manageable. At just 1.17kg and just 16.5mm thick, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is quite light and portable 14-inch laptop.
The all black body still has some ThinkPad design elements. The top flap is clean except for the ThinkPad logo with an LED backlit dot over the i. There is a blink and you miss it Lenovo branding along the top left hand corner. On opening the flap, you get the familiar chiclet keyboard which we will talk about in detail below. The palm rest area is sufficient and just above the ThinkPad branding on the right hand side palm rest area, you have the finger-print scanner for added security.
Hinge mechanism is quite sturdy and can take the display 180 degrees flat. The bezel around the matte display is somewhat thick and has a slightly coarse finish as compared to the rest of the body. The 720p webcam is located in the centre on the top. The power button is located on the top right hand corner with a green LED present in the centre indicating that the laptop is powered on.
Coming to the ports, on the left hand side you have the power port, Lenovo OneLink+ docking port, a mini DisplayPort, USB 3.0 port. On the right hand side from the top, you have an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports and an audio jack. On the rear side you have a flap which hides the SIM card slot and microSD card slot. A full size ethernet port and an SD card slot are conspicuous by their absence. The base has two round rubber feet towards the base and rectangular rubber feet up top thereby giving just enough space for the air intake from the base.
Keyboard and Trackpad: 8/10
ThinkPad has always been at the forefront of setting the standards for Windows laptops and the story is no different for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The 6-row chiclet keyboard has scalloped keys with a good amount of travel on them. It does lack a full-size number pad though, and the top row of Function keys are shared with quick action keys. The keyboard is backlit and also offers the spill resistance that is a norm with ThinkPad keyboards.
Also present is the red-coloured track point between the BGH keys with accompanying left,right and centre click buttons just below the space bar. The trackpad is also wonderfully responsive and has a nice feedback to it. Once you are use to the trackpoint, you will barely go for the trackpad, although new users will take some time getting used to it. But once mastered, it is the most convenient way to interact with the laptop, as the mouse click buttons are placed quite ergonomically.
Features: 7.5 / 10
Considering this is a business oriented ultrabook, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with an Intel Core i5 6300U with vPro features and Intel HD520 graphics. It clocked at 2.4GHz and is paired with 8GB of RAM. It also supports security features that are important in an IT setup, such as the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) encryption. It comes with 192GB Samsung M.2 SSD storage.
Windows 10 Pro is the operating system which runs on the X1 Carbon with minimal bloatware. The Lenovo Companion app is the most prominent one letting you check system health, check for updates, run hardware scans and so on.
There are multiple ways in which you can configure your ThinkPad X1 Carbon based on your needs. Cost will vary accordingly. In terms of connectivity, you get Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 3x USB 3.0 port, 1x HDMI port, 1x miniDP, a microSIM card and more. You get a trial version of the McAfee security suite. It houses an integrated 8-cell battery.
Display: 7.5 / 10
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with a 14-inch display with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixel. Thanks to the matte display, the test looks sharp and the viewing angles are impressive as well. There are some Windows applications that aren’t optimised for the high resolution display, so some of the text on these apps looks dithered.
But the black and white levels on the display are quite impressive. In the Lagom.nl test for instance, in the white level, all the chequered boxes are visible which is impressive. Colours appear natural and thanks to the wonderful contrast on the display, it is a pleasure to watch high resolution videos on it. During review period, this was the default display on which I was watching Netflix in my free time.
Performance: 7.5 / 10
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is not an absolute beast when it comes to performance. It still has the Core i5 processor. The benchmark numbers are slightly lower than the ones obtained on the Core i7 sporting Acer Aspire S13. But in real life scenarios, the X1 Carbon proves its mettle in all the tasks. I did not notice any lag, slowdown, random shutdown or any of those issues.
Cinebench R15 gave a score of 254 which is lower than the 295 obtained on Aspire S13. PC Mark 8 gives around 2765 which is lower than Aspire S13 but higher than the Lenovo Yoga 900. Thanks to the SSD, you get decent read speeds of 422MB/s. Games such as GRID Autosport give playable frame rates at 35FPS for the High preset, so yes you can play light games on the X1 Carbon. Although I doubt that will really be a priority for business users.
The finger print scanner worked without any issues for the Windows Hello login and was relatively quick.
The heat management on the X1 Carbon was exceptional with the temperatures around the palm rest region barely crossing 30 degrees. The CPU load temperatures touch around 74 degrees on load but that dosen’t raise the base temperature much. Under the base though the load temperatures were shown to be 38 degrees on the Fluke thermometer, it was only around the top left corner.
Battery Life: 8 / 10
The battery life on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is impressive. We got close to 5 hours on the PC Mark 8 battery life test, and in regular usage scenario we could easily use the X1 Carbon through an entire work day. The other good thing about the X1 Carbon is that it has very good standby. So say if you log off on a Friday with around 75 percent battery remaining, and re-login on Monday, you will still have around 72-73 percent charge intact. Also I was quite impressed with the minimal battery consumption while streaming video. For instance, during the entire Apple iPhone 7 launch event, there was only a 6-7 percent drop in battery life. Also charging is relatively quick, with an hour's charging filling up over 80 percent battery.
Verdict and Price in India
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon series is not for everyone. There are affordable ThinkPad’s in the Lenovo lineup, but the X-series represents the premium segment. The premium can be attributed to the presence of the vPro processor. It offers better security features for instance over a regular Intel Core processor since the vPro processor based devices are used within an enterprise setup.
The price point of Rs 1,06,000 is definitely on the higher side and it only makes sense for those who are looking to upgrade from an over 3-4 year trusty ThinkPad. The things working in the X1 Carbon’s favour are definitely its light form factor, fast performance, great battery life and wonderful display.
If you are a business user with limited budget, then you can check out the T-series and E-series of ThinkPad laptops. If you are not a business user, then it just makes sense to go for a powerful and affordable laptop from the Lenovo stable itself or from other brands. The Acer Aspire S13 comes highly recommended if you are a Windows user.
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