A Superb Ultraportable

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is an excellent laptop, and I wish Lenovo gave me more than two weeks with it. It's nearly the complete package, with excellent hardware and performance, fantastic battery life, a great design with a near-perfect array of ports, a solid keyboard and trackpad, plus a decent display.

My review unit came with just an Intel Core i5-7200U inside, but it surprisingly held its own against faster laptops with the i7-7500U, falling just 3 percent slower in system benchmarks. The Samsung 960 Evo SSD inside was extremely fast, and I love the array of hardware options available through Lenovo's website.

Great performance is backed up with excellent battery life. The X1 Carbon topped the charts in our Wi-Fi web browsing benchmark, and performed very well in our video playback test. Even during general use I felt as though the X1 Carbon had enough juice to last a full day of intensive work, and that's exactly what I expect from a business oriented laptop.

The design of the X1 Carbon is great from a number of perspectives. The use of soft touch plastic instead of metal allows the laptop to be lighter-than-average for its size. Despite the inclusion of a 14-inch display, slim bezels makes it not significantly larger than some 13-inch devices. The 180-degree hinge is flexible, and I like the inclusion of a fingerprint reader.

Even better is the array of ports on this laptop. Two Thunderbolt 3 ports plus two USB 3.0 ports allows you to use this laptop with a range of older and modern peripherals, and it's complemented by full-sized HDMI, a SIM card slot for LTE, and a dedicated port for an Ethernet adapter. You couldn't wish for much more in a business-oriented laptop.

Aside from dumb placement of the Fn key, the ThinkPad keyboard found here is excellent. Fantastic travel distance and a generally good layout provide a decent typing experience. The trackpad is also superb, plus you get the signature ThinkPad joystick as an alternate mouse option.

The display perhaps doesn't have the best color accuracy, though brightness and contrast are serviceable. At 14 inches, it does give you a bit of extra screen real estate compared to typical 13-inch panels you'll find in ultraportables. Plus its 1080p resolution is decent at this size, with a 1440p option coming in the next few months.

The main issue with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is its price. The entry level model - which includes a Core i5-7200U, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD - costs $1,329, which is quite expensive for the hardware you get. Competing consumer-oriented laptops include this sort of hardware for closer to $1,000. Configuring the ThinkPad X1 with more beefy hardware can quickly send the cost skyrocketing, with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD costing nearly $2,500.

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But if you have the cash to spend and want an excellent laptop that succeeds in nearly every area, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is what you'll want. It's a superb ultraportable.


Pros: Fantastic performance with class-leading battery life. Perfect selection of ports. Light and compact for a 14-inch laptop. Great keyboard and trackpad.

Cons: Expensive across entire hardware range.