System Performance

The review unit that I received should be no slouch for performance, since it has the Intel Core i7-5600U processor. We have seen a few Broadwell powered notebooks already this year, including Core M and Core i5 models, but this is the first Core i7 that has come across my desk. The i7-5600U is a dual-core processor with Hyperthreading, and it has a base frequency of 2.6 GHz and turbo of 3.2 GHz. All of this processing occurs within a 15 watt TDP.

The memory is 8 GB of DDR3L-1600, and it is in dual-channel mode. Graphics are the Gen 8 Broadwell graphics with 24 Execution Units and the GPU is 300-950 MHz.

The final piece of the performance puzzle is storage, and this X1 Carbon has the fastest SSD available for a laptop in it. The Samsung SM951 drive is a 512 GB PCIe SSD, and despite the lack of NVMe in this particular model it is a potent offering. Kristian reviewed the SM951 in great detail so if you want all of the particulars, check that out.

Performance Graphs

For performance workloads, the X1 Carbon was run through our standard laptop workload. For comparison, I have chosen a sample of other Ultrabooks and other similar devices like the Surface Pro 3, and I have also included the 2013 X1 Carbon as well which had the i5-3427U processor, but if you would like to compare the X1 Carbon to any other device we have tested, please use our Laptop Bench. I have seen some questions about why some devices are not included in all of the results, and it boils down to our benchmark workloads are always evolving, so older devices would not have been run through some of the newer workloads. We do not get to keep all of these devices in order to go back and re-run older ones through the new workloads.


PCMark 8 - Home

PCMark 8 - Creative

PCMark 8 - Work

PCMark 8 - Storage

PCMark 7 (2013)

PCMark tries to replicate real world use scenarios with its various workloads. It will have sustained performance as well as burst performance requirements, and storage is also a factor in the scores. Overall, the X1 Carbon aces these tests with its combination of i7 processor and PCIe SSD. The PCMark storage score shows the X1 Carbon as the fastest device we have tested, but due to the nature of the benchmark the scores are all very close to each other. Make no mistake though. This is a drive that can read at 1500 MB/s. For a full breakdown on the drive, please check out Kristian’s review linked at the top of this page.


Cinebench R15 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R15 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench renders an image, and can leverage multiple cores. It loves IPC and frequency, both of which the i7 has in abundance, so the X1 Carbon sits at the top.


x264 HD 5.x

x264 HD 5.x

This test converts several videos, and much like Cinebench it loves more cores and higher speeds. The i7-5600U easily passes all over U class notebooks we have tested in this test. This test is all about sustained performance, since it can last an hour or more.

Web Tests

Mozilla Kraken 1.1

Google Octane 2.0


With a 3.2 GHz turbo frequency, the i7-5600U has no issues with javascript. As you can see in these results, it is by far the fastest Ultrabook tested in these kinds of short workloads.

System Performance Conclusion

With 8 GB of memory, a Core i7 processor, and the fastest consumer SSD available, day to day tasks on the X1 Carbon are done with ease. This is easily one of the fastest Ultrabooks around when configured as the review unit is. I don’t love that the base model comes with just 4 GB of memory, but the cost to move to 8 GB is not a lot and should be done by all prospective buyers. I’m not sure if we are at the point where 16 GB of system memory would be needed in an Ultrabook, but it likely will not be long before that does happen.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Design GPU Performance
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  • peterfares - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    Is the trackpad a Precision Trackpad?
  • nerd1 - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    $2100 for ultrabook?

    I recently got a clevo laptop with IPS screen, i7-4790K 4Ghz CPU, 16GB ram, 980m and XP941 SSD at around $2300. Yes I do own a thinkpad too but I think the price is a bit excessive. Do the carbon models also have magnesium roll cage other thinkpads have?
  • Harry_Wild - Monday, May 25, 2015 - link

    I been looking to update my IBM Thinkpad Z61T and this might be the one to get! I will wait for it to come down to my price before I look at it closer however. I usually, have not spend more then $700 on a Thinkpad since the 600X which was fully loaded and I paid full price $3,300! Never do that again! That was back in the 1980s?? and in real dollars; that like $10K? now! I did it because it was business expense and at the time you could use accelerate depreciation and do about 1/2 of it for taxes. But I would never buy it that way for personal use. Total waste of hard earned money!
  • WebDesignStudioPro - Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - link

    Thanks for sharing.
  • jeffmills2 - Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - link

    The new X1 looks nice, but I'm surprised that anyone is willing to trust this company again after they so irresponsibly compromised user security with Superfish.
  • deeps6x - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    Oh man, I was so looking forward to this. If it had come with a 1080P IPS, non-touch panel with a matte finish, I'd have been all over it. A larger battery would have helped sell these as the current one just does not last long enough. And not including 8GB or ram by default? Come on now. I can get all of this for $699 in an Asus zenbook today. Get in the game Lenovo. Love the X1 Carbon, but I just can't force myself to over pay by this much for it.
  • drwho9437 - Sunday, May 31, 2015 - link

    You can get it with a non-touch IPS panel.
  • aarya - Thursday, May 28, 2015 - link

  • ksheltarna - Thursday, May 28, 2015 - link

    using a laptop as a music production workstation i can`t help looking for an ExpressCard slot.
    it seems that only Lenovo and Dell` s Precision has one.
    Dell Precision doesn`t seem to have a M2 slot though..
    I bought a ThinkPad T540p last year with a 3k ips screen.
    it had problems with the power supply, the laptop wouldn` t recognise it every time.
    did some research, called lenovo, told them about the problem and that they should send me a power supply manufactured by Delta instead.
    I received it after a few days from Holland and no problems after that.

    It seems that either HP or Asus are building workstation versions.
  • MrSparc - Thursday, May 28, 2015 - link

    HP also have a mobile workstation line: HP Zbook 14/15/17
    HP Zbook 15 is a competitor for ThinkPad w540/541 (4cores) while HP Zbook 14 is for ThinkPad w550s (2 cores ULV 14vs15)

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