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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  • Valantar - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    An IBM design? In... 2012, if Google serves me right? After Lenovo bought IBMs whole PC division in 2005? I'd like to see some kind of corroboration, please.

    While it's true that my experience is limited, my X201 is doing fine after long years of hard usage - the only issue I ever had was an SD reader with slightly subpar performance, which Lenovo promptly replaced as soon as I reported it. Great end-user customer service. The battery even has around 80% of its capacity after all that time.

    Compared with the HP ProBook I bought for my mother around the same time, that had constant firmware/driver issues, and failed after about three years of very light usage (display failure). I've heard similar experiences from colleagues using ProBooks and EliteBooks too.

    I see a lot of 'ThinkPads suck ever since Lenovo' going around, but I can't help seeing that as a combination of bad luck (getting your first faulty unit after the ownership change) and just plain resistance to change. YMMV.
  • Samus - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    Everyone in my IT circle avoid Lenovo equipment like the plague among all their clients. The one guy who did use Lenovo, exclusively, is in the process of closing his business and dissolving his corporation because of super fish fallout and generally unhappy customers due to poor Lenovo support. Reliability is indeed s YMMV but with hp elitebook a they come the next day to your door and rebuild the thing in front of you for 3 years.
  • sandy105 - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    funny guy ..
  • T2k - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    Oh PLEAHHSE. I literally don't know ANYONE with an HP laptop in my immediate circles but every AWS, Rackspace, SIGGRAPH etc conference I still see a LOT OF Thinkpads, even regular Lenovo laptops, stop spreading BS, please.
  • Samus - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    You obviously do not realize that HP Corporate is twice as large as Lenovo's Corporate presence. HP commands around 70% of the world server market where as about 15 other companies make up the remaining 30%. Proliants literally run the world.

    As far as laptops, the US military has used Elitebooks exclusively for years...and very few healthcare sectors use Lenovo for the same reason: they're a Chinese company.

    But there is no real debating that Elitebooks are better than Thinkpads dollar for dollar. Stop thinking of Best Buy when you think of HP equipment. Best Buy sells to suckers, not enterprise. I I can't find the article right now and I'm pretty sure it was Forbes or WSJ but I read nearly half of fortune 500 companies are exclusively HP houses. It also helps HP is in the printer business so companies can keep their accounts in one place.

    Does any of this make HP better than Lenovo? No. But if you've ever actually disected an Elitebook next to a modern day Thinkpad you'd quickly realize, if you have any concept of quality, that the Elitebook was designed by brighter minds with less cut corners.

    The only reason Lenovo has overtaken HP in sales over the past two years comes down to economies of scale: Lenovo can mass produce more crap than HP can, so they are cheaper. In this economy people are buying based on price, not quality. Look how many KIA's and Chrysler's are on the road.
  • CoolRunnings - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    Actually the army uses Dell Latitudes last I saw... I've got hundreds of Thinkpad T420 and T430 laptops in my customers hands and have had the fewest number of issues with those of any series of laptop I've used. They're not perfect by any stretch but all those griping about Lenovo having ruined the Thinkpad brand since 2006 must have forgotten the terrors of the T40-T42 series and their GPU from hell problems or the brittle plastic on the T20 series. I've worked on Thinkpads since the T20 came out and the T420-T430 series have by far been the best built in my experience. The keyboard in the T60's was better in some ways though. Now when you start talking of the T440+, yep, agreed, they tend to suck in comparison...
  • T2k - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    Same thing here, my ~5 years old X201 is still working (sans a loose power connector and the Thinklight that usually refuses to turn on.) I would never trade it for any HP, sorry. Heck, I'd rather get a VAIO with their hybrid graphics any day than an overpriced, bloatware-ridden HP, that's for sure.
  • Samus - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    Casualuker, you are an idiot. The last ibm design were the T40 and X40 series. Lenovo was allowed to use the IBM logo on the abysmal T60 series under license but the 60 series were Lenovo design and had chronic reliability problems ranging from failing cathod inverters to warped cooling fans.

    The T43 and X41 were the last good thinkpads. I still see them in use on occasion...15 years later. Some X40 series machines even have 60gb ssd's.
  • CasualUker - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    @Samus, if you say so. The truly last bit of IBM imprints where the Tx30 series. If you don't believe me that's fine.
  • Samus - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    I don't need to believe you, because you are wrong.

    Lenovo hasn't had license to use the IBM logo since 2005. You are confusing the IBM logo with a Thinkpad logo or something...because there are NO IBM LOGO'S on the last decade of Lenovo Thinkpad, ThinkCentre, ThinkServer, and so on...

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