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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  • Shan Barns - Monday, October 19, 2015 - link

    Beware the so-called extended warranty
    (tl;dr -- warranted computer, gone for over 6 weeks so far, dismissive and poor service, want replacement if they can't repair)

    I own an X1 carbon (2 years old) which over the last year has started to spike in temperature. The fan software no longer works, so I've installed TPFancontrol and Speedfan (one the first time I reformatted and reinstalled Widows, the other the second time) to manually control the fans. I updated BIOS and drivers, reinstalled Windows, etc. I did the normal blowing out of the vent and so on, but the computer would go up to 90+ degrees Celsius and crash. The wireless stopped working as well--intermittently and irrespective of location/modem/time of day.

    I sent the computer in for repair, under my 3 year warranty. The first "repair" did nothing. Within 15 minutes, the computer reached 92 degrees Celsius and crashed 3 times. I sent it back for further repair. (By the way, they didn't return it with all parts of the power cord, even though they insisted I send it, and I marked all the parts on the shipping form). Obviously there is no quality control on their so-called repairs.

    I have now been without a functioning computer for over 6 weeks. Lenovo doesn't have the correct parts and cannot find them. Parts for a popular computer that is only 2 years old. Now, as a doctoral student, it's pretty hard to write a dissertation without a computer, but as a consultant, I am losing money, since I cannot consult until I have a computer. Moreover my doctoral program is only funded for so long--every month of waiting equals a month in which I will have to pay out of pocket to be a student. Being without a computer for over 6 weeks has already cost me at least $4000.

    But when I contact Lenovo to demand they deal with this issue , they reluctantly promise to add 2 months to my warranty--that's it! An acknowledgement that I've lost 2 months of computer use, and a further tacit acknowledgement that they think it will break again. This is after the problem "escalated." Mind you, they don't actually contact you after you "escalate" even though they insist they will.

    Other computer companies will replace a defective computer under warranty if they cannot fix it. This happened with my old Asus, and with my kids' HP also. What is wrong with Lenovo's warranty? I feel that if they cannot fix a 2 year old computer, then this warranty is a fraudulent service they are selling.

    And I also feel that anyone considering buying a Lenovo should be aware of how poor their customer service is. They do not call back, though they say they will. They issue "part hold final" emails insinuating that this is the last time they will await a part, but then re-start the part ordering process. They do not know who your case has gone to when it is "escalated" and are entirely confused by their own computer system when you ask about your repair status. The "escalation" people are dismissive and condescending when you do finally get a hold of a person. They do not stand by their product.
  • chris_of_sd - Friday, October 30, 2015 - link

    I bought this laptop last May after a thorough search. I've been using T410 at work for years, thus the bias. Also I was aware with the quality reduction when Lenovo took over.

    I chose this laptop for a few reasons
    1. Keyboard layout - meaning Enter button and navigation arrows are at the edge; and the trackpad is aligned with the space button.
    2. High resolution display available
    3. Style/ weight

    My experience with it has been quite bad actually.

    The WiFi adapter is the worst I've seen. Well, I haven't seen that many, except my old t410 and the usual mix of apple idevices. Eventually I was able to figure out some obscure setting that was disabling the wifi adapter to save power. Still is very slow to connect. With some old router the wifi was not able to identify the encryption method ( in contrast to all other devices ).

    As build there are highs and lows. My laptop has a loose screw on the bottom ...

    The display is quite annoying. I chose to have touch screen and the look I got is sort of the look that you get when you have a privacy screen on top. Not nice.

    The sound from this laptop is absolutely terrible. And this is not about the speakers, is about the sound that comes from the headphones. It makes is pretty much impossible to watch youtube.

    There are a few issues with cooling too.
    The laptop gets quite hot to hold on lap; let's say that this is expected. However, a second problem is that the air vent is on the right hand side, meaning if I place a mouse there or if I use my right hand for the touch screen I can feel the hot air. My old laptop had it on the left which was much better.
  • mistera1 - Friday, February 12, 2016 - link

    I got a new X1 this week and was disappointed to find the Trackpoint and Keyboard Backlight not working. I called support and upgraded everything, still no go. Lenovo wanted me to send back for repair but I told them I wanted a full refund, and they said OK to that with no fuss. I have an X200 and looking for something faster and with a better display. At this point I will probably buy a used X220.

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