The new ThinkPad X1 Carbon offers mighty Intel processors in a highly portable yet extremely practical form.
The ThinkPad series of laptops has to be one of the most influential laptop brands in the world. Conceptualised by IBM years ago, the brand stands for the most robust business laptops with all the conveniences considered thoroughly. Under Lenovo’s ownership, the ThinkPad series has branched out to convertibles and tablets, thus offering more options for the businessmen around the world. Lenovo gave the lineup a much-needed update for 2018 with the latest Intel Core processors and a host of refinements to please its clientele. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the only model in the new lineup that gets closer to the series’ philosophy of a no-nonsense robust laptop meant for serious work. Configure it decently with the right mix of silicon, like the unit we had on our desk, and you have a highly dependable notebook with all the essentials for a price of around Rs 1,52,000.
However, with rival brands such as Dell, ASUS, HP and Apple offering equally capable options at similar prices, what does the ThinkPad X1 Carbon possess to lure buyers towards itself, is what we found out when we ourselves hit that power button.
Design and Aesthetics:
Unlike offerings from Dell and rivals, Lenovo has opted for a form factor that’s subtly stylish yet highly understated at the same time. It was easy to mistake it for just another laptop at first glance. The simple lines and flat matte surface with curved edges may not lend the X1 Carbon a second look — this is something ThinkPads are always meant to achieve – maintain an understated, yet classy composure without crying for attention — a pure business laptop. The matte finish doesn't hold on well with time — it wears out easily when exposed to rough situations, which is why it is advisable to keep a soft cleaning cloth handy as well as keep it in the bag to save the texture. And make sure you don't apply pressure when cleaning it.
The 15.9mm thickness puts it in the ultrabook category, despite sporting a heat vent. The plastic chassis translates into a 1.13kg lightweight laptop, which combined with the 13-inch form factor, makes it highly portable — we almost forgot most of the time about its presence in our backpack while on the move. Lenovo’s clever construction also ensures that the weight of the laptop is evenly spread out, making for a comfortable lap companion for longer sessions.
Despite being an all-plastic construction, the lid is pretty firm while you are using it whilst on your lap — thanks to the robust hinges. Very few ultrabooks in this range exhibit such firm lids. As stated, the X1 Carbon is a 13-inch laptop, but it houses a massive 14-inch display – slim bezels all around. The bezels aren’t on par with what you get on a DELL XPS, but they do help the ThinkPad X1 Carbon utilise valuable estate better than before. Our unit was equipped with the IR sensor-based facial recognition system instead of the ThinkShutter webcam. Additionally, there’s a fingerprint sensor as well to help with identity verification.
The base houses the familiar ThinkPad-style keyboard with widely spaced-out keys and the trackpad flanked by three mouse buttons on top. There’s also the traditional 360-degree pointer nub situated right in the middle for precision navigational requirements — the ThinkPad trademark.
The sides feature a comprehensive collection of connectors – 2 x USB-C ports, 2 x USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an Ethernet dongle port. Lenovo also bundles in a VGA-to-USB-C dongle as well. There's also a SIM card slot for accessing LTE network.
Overall, the ThinkPad X1 comes across as a really well-built laptop that has got the ergonomics spot-on while giving portability top priority.
The X1 Carbon comes with a narrow-bezel 14-inch IPS LCD panel, where users can choose between a full HD/Touch panel and a 2K standard/Dolby Vision HDR-enabled panel. Our unit was a full HD touch panel, which impressed us highly indeed. The screen renders vibrant colours and contrasts, with adequate brightness levels of up to 300nits.
Scrolling through spreadsheets and dense web pages is reasonably comfortable — thanks to crisp image quality. Viewing angles are decent, with the screen losing colour accuracy only on extreme angles. We also found the touch response to be very accurate and highly responsive. The matte surface of the screen helps reduce reflection, but is highly prone to smudges.
ThinkPads are always meant to be serious laptops for those who demand unadulterated performance while crunching on piles of data and numbers. The X1 Carbon makes sure it never lags behind in this respect with its latest arsenal of 8th generation Intel Core processors – users can choose from Core i5 processors and go up to Core i7 vPro chips (vPro branded chips aid for easier and secure remote access to the system). Our unit was equipped with the Core i7 8650u vPro processor, which accompanied with 16GB of LPDDR3 2133MHz RAM and 512GB OPAL2 PCIe TLC SSD ensures that computing is lightning quick here. Sadly, there’s no dedicated GPU available as an option on the series – business ultrabooks are not supposed to deal with massive graphical capabilities, which is why Intel’s HD 620 integrated GPU is considered good enough to handle the errands that this ThinkPad could ever see in its life. Lenovo preloads the laptop with Windows 10 Pro, which comes installed with the latest Creators Update.
Out-of-the-box, the X1 Carbon is blisteringly fast. The presence of a Core i7 processor and a faster SSD storage translates to quick reflexes. Productivity applications such as Excel, Word, Powerpoint and all the others that a ThinkPad user considers core to his life, open fast. Multitasking between several folders as well as apps doesn’t exhibit stutters or lags. We put the X1 Carbon through its paces with PCMark 10 and it returned an impressive score of 4041, just above most business notebooks, but below entry-level gaming laptops. Heat management is impressive too, with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon managing to stay cool for extended sessions.
However, most of its infinite computing capabilities are overshadowed by its everyday practicality. The combination of a highly precise trackpad aided by tactile mouse buttons on top and a well-planned out keyboard makes working on the ThinkPad a joy. The keyboard is, in fact, one of the best we have seen in the business. The chiclet keys have higher travel, which aids in a satisfying typing experience. The adequately-sized and designed keys make sure that key ghosting is kept to a minimal level. The clever layout also makes sure that even the keys on extreme corners can be accessed without lifting the palms. The classic pointer nub is a helpful addition for finer adjustments of the cursor on the screen.
When it comes to security, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon flaunts a duo of robust biometric verification systems. You get the highly responsive and accurate capacitive fingerprint scanner, which teams up with Windows Hello biometric security to enhance data protection. However, the IR sensor-based facial recognition system works as fast as the infrared-based systems can in the present. In fact, with the facial recognition system switched on, we literally managed to achieve a boot-up time of 5 seconds – thanks to the superfast response of the IR sensors and the faster SSD speeds.
Sadly, the audio department is one place where it's an ususal affair with all laptops. The X1 Carbon features two standard 5W speakers and their output can be at best described as average. Even with Dolby Atmos Audio enhancements, it's advisable to plug in your headphones or connect to a Bluetooth speaker in order to have an enjoyable multimedia experience on the X1 Carbon.
This is one area where we wished Lenovo could have put in more efforts. While Lenovo claims that up to 15 hours can be extracted from its power reservoir, we found the X1 Carbon to manage up to half of the claimed stamina under moderate usage. We put the X1 carbon through all the processes that an average ThinkPad owner will go through on a single day – typing lengthy documents, keeping up to 8-9 tabs opened simultaneously on Google Chrome and Firefox, as well as occasional video streaming – this returned an average life of 5-6 hours, after which we went socket-hunting. The figures drop further if you are using an always-on LTE connection. Thankfully, Lenovo bundles a 65W fast charger that tops-up the tank from nothing under an hour and a half. We suggest you switch to power-saving modes whilst mobile to get the most out of a single refill.
To sum it all up, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen comes across as a great all-rounder business notebook. Lenovo successfully takes the practical fundamentals of the ThinkPad series and beautifully fuses it with the modern-day conveniences of an ultra-portable notebook. It’s got all the connectivity options that are essential to a businessman. The convenience of a touch-enabled display also adds brownie points to the X1 Carbon's productivity as well. It’s got enough firepower to back up its premium price tag. However, we wished Lenovo could have worked towards a higher stamina for the Carbon X1, considering the presence of the latest power efficient internals.
If you have been reading this piece, then chances are high that you must be a person from the IT department looking for the most capable and efficient work-focussed laptop with enhanced security built-in. You can be assured that the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen will keep your firm’s data secure while giving your employees a pleasant laptop to work upon. It’s one of the most practical business notebooks we have ever seen, with an increased emphasis on typing comfort. If you are personally looking for a no-nonsense reliable laptop, then the 6th Gen X1 Carbon is a great alternative to the likes of DELL XPS 13 and Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro, with its slim design and practical ergonomics. We recommend the ThinkPad X1 Carbon for those seeking a highly capable and efficient business notebook.