Introducing the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

It shouldn't be surprising to know that AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel (especially Intel) will seed hardware amongst the tech reviewing industry. Most often it goes along with a product launch, but periodically it will be kit that they feel paints their product in a particularly good light. I don't think it's a secret that Ultrabooks and touchscreens have had a little bit of trouble getting off the ground. You could argue that the whole Ultrabook branding scheme, particularly after Intel expanded the definition, was more a way of renaming and redefining the notebook than anything. That it happens to be trademarked by Intel and thus AMD cannot have an Ultrabook is, I'm sure, just a coincidence.

We've had a lot of good Ultrabooks come through, mostly at the 13.3"-and-below scale. The problem the majority suffer from is a a simple one: Intel's initial definition of the Ultrabook basically aped the MacBook Air, and so that design language essentially became the order of the day. Ironically it was really only Dell and HP that had the audacity to tinker with the specs and color around the edges, but with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Lenovo has produced something that is unique. It's a 14" Ultrabook, but it hopefully heralds more of the kinds of designs we can look forward to in the 14" and up Ultrabook bracket.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-3427U
(2x1.8GHz + HTT, Turbo to 2.8GHz, 22nm, 3MB L3, 17W)
Chipset Intel QS77
Memory 2x2GB integrated DDR3L-1333
Graphics Intel HD 4000 Graphics
(16 EUs, up to 1150MHz)
Display 14" LED Glossy 16:9 1600x900 Touchscreen
SHP5108
Hard Drive(s) 180GB Intel SATA 6Gbps SSD
Optical Drive -
Networking Intel Centrino Wireless-N 6205 802.11a/g/n 2x2
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Combination mic/headphone jack
Battery 4-Cell, 45Wh (integrated)
Front Side -
Right Side SD card reader
Mic/headphone combo jack
Mini-DisplayPort
USB 3.0
Kensington lock
Left Side AC adaptor
Vent
USB 2.0
Wi-Fi switch
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 8 Pro 64-bit
Dimensions 13.03" x 8.9" x 0.74"
331mm x 226mm x 20.85mm
Weight 3.4 lbs
1.55kg
Extras 720p Webcam
SSD
Bluetooth
Backlit keyboard
Intel vPro
10-finger touch
Fingerprint reader
Warranty 1-year depot/express warranty
Pricing Starts at $1,319
As configured: $1,556

I understand the enterprise sector often lags a little bit behind the consumer sector; new hotness typically needs to be proven reliable before it can get shipped to the more demanding business environment. For the most part the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is as modern as a notebook can be until Haswell arrives, but there are one or two oddballs.

The Intel Core i5-3427U is a respectable CPU and difficult to find fault with, sporting a healthy 1.8GHz nominal clock that typically bumps up to 2GHz under sustained load, yet Lenovo is stingy with the memory. If you want 8GB of memory, you have to buy their top end $1,759 model; it's not even an upgrade option on the lesser models, where you're stuck with 4GB of memory. 4GB of DDR3L-1333, not DDR3L-1600 like Lenovo's competitors are shipping. Thankfully, while Lenovo's site states the X1 Carbon is limited to one DIMM, the memory is operating in dual channel mode.

Given the X1 Carbon's enterprise aspirations, the SSD is Intel kit; the specific model number isn't readily available, but it supports SATA 6Gbps and features the odd 180GB capacity. Most of what's included with the X1 Carbon is as you expect, though the high resolution display is welcome. Note that while it's listed as being glossy, the glossy coating is actually a mild one; it's too glossy to really be called a true matte display, but it's not the nightmare of reflectivity that most glossy displays are.

Finally, thankfully, wireless connectivity includes 5GHz. It still baffles me how in 2013 anyone can ship a notebook without this.

In and Around the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
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  • Hrel - Thursday, May 16, 2013 - link

    At 1200 bucks I would expect AT LEAST:

    8GBx1 DDR3 1600 RAM. A 256GB/240GB SSD. Wireless a/c 5Ghz. Then if they could fit a larger battery in it, 54Wh for instance, that would help a lot too.

    For $1320 I expect better specs than these...

    Not a bad system, just not suited well in the market; especially with Haswell right around the corner.
    Reply
  • boe - Thursday, May 16, 2013 - link

    If this thing was about 1lb lighter and had a higher resolution screen, I'd be interested Reply
  • smilingcrow - Thursday, May 16, 2013 - link

    The Dell XPS 14 was mentioned but the screen is a washed out mess worthy of a laptop less than half its price. Its a poor TN panel with its one saving grace being the resolution of 1600x900.
    The XPS 12 and 13 in contrast have wonderful 1080P IPS panels. What were Dell thinking!
    Reply
  • relativityboy - Thursday, May 16, 2013 - link

    In your review you said "High resolution" that's HILARIOUS!

    WTH? Did someone pay you to say that?
    Reply
  • frakkel - Friday, May 17, 2013 - link

    I love the x series. But why did they go for 16:9 format. I dont buy a labtop for watching movies. Please go back to screens with a more square layout e.g. 4:3 or at least 16:10 Reply
  • Belard - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    Yep... I miss the 16:10 screens like my current 5+ year old ThinkPads. To give you an idea of the height loss. a 14" 16:10 has the same height as the 15" 16:9 - I noticed this during their transition from the two aspect ratios. So we went with the older 14" model which results in a smaller and lighter notebook.

    A major reason Lenovo went with 16:9 is that they still have to get their displays from a supplier. And because everything is 16:9, it costs LESS money. To go with the 16:10 could had $50~100 to the costs or more because of mass-production.

    At least they still make screens that are NOT gloddy.
    Reply
  • crispbp04 - Friday, May 17, 2013 - link

    The use of the term "kit" to refer to hardware is driving me, in the words of Gwen Stefani, B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Reply
  • coastwalker - Saturday, May 18, 2013 - link

    Hardware Enterprise vendors are in a difficult situation. Windows 8 is destroying their market. No business with any sense is going to buy the consumer mobile phone interface that Windows 8 is. This is great news because it probably means that we can switch back to Apple again like we did in the 80s. I cant wait! Reply
  • Shinobi_III - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    What's the point of 5Ghz wifi anyway? You point it out as absurd that it's not included.
    But it doesn't offer more performance, and the range is atrocious.

    I have a wifi router from Asus with both, and 5Ghz is 75% signal one room off, and doesn't even work down stairs. The 2.4G works out in the garage!
    Reply
  • RoslynWan12 - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - link

    Christian. I just agree... Dawn`s storry is exceptional... I just got Acura since I been bringin in $8000 this-last/five weeks and over $10k this past-munth. this is definitely the nicest work I've had. I began this 3 months ago and almost straight away startad making at least $82.. p/h. I follow the instructions here, Bow6.comTAKE A LOOK Reply

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