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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  • close - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    Samus, Lenovo used the IBM logo on T60 an T61 even though they weren't IBM anymore. Probably because the chassis was built in the same machines and according to the same plans and they had the shape cut out for the IBM logo. In 2007 the T61/p were being built also without the IBM logo and used a ThinkPad logo. But that was it. T61 had the last of the IBM logos in 2007.
  • Samus - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    I understand and agree with you. It's CasualUker that seems to think there are IBM "imprints" on the T430's. LOL.
  • close - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    CasualUker: the last one IBM made under their own name was the T43/T43p. T60 was already a Lenovo affair. Ok, they were probably riding on a lot of IBM knowhow, designs and everything but to be honest it was all downhill from there. I'm not saying they're the worst, they're still among the OK ones, just that the general level of quality and reliability has constantly dropped.
    I have a running T43. It's 2015 and it's still running. I had two R31 and R32 that ran until a few years ago. Also a running X200 (3 generations after lenovo took over). Had some issues but still running. After that I couldn't get a laptop to run fine for more than 3 years. And I work in a company that buys thousands of Lenovos X, T and W every year, generation after generation. Reliability is down. I have no expectations from a ThinkPad anymore.
  • sorten - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    I have to agree. Thinkpads were brilliant laptops when IBM owned the brand. I had a T20 for years. Our company started using the T440s about a year ago. I'm on my second laptop after the MB failed on the first one, and my touchscreen has stopped working. I'm going BYOD with a Surface Pro 4 as soon as it's available.
  • Daniel Egger - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    Totally agree, I've had IBM Thinkpads for many years before I move everything to Apple. A couple of years ago I made the horrible mistake to buy a Lenovo Thinkpad; unusable trackpad and trackpoint is often erratic, soft controlled radio functions sometimes can be activated and other times needed a reboot, locked down BIOS to only support Lenovo branded cards in the two mini-PCIe slots, screen easily cracks due to bogus frame and design and claims from Lenovo that a laptop is not made to be transported around -- service is horrible as well.

    Nowadays I see them for what they are: always the cheapest and as usual you get what you pay for...
  • tuxRoller - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    For the enterprise, their service has been pretty great.
    Very fast response times, and prompt deliveries (had to replace a keyboard and battery, but for two different lappys).
    I do wish they'd up their quality, though, b/c, as you say, aspects of their assembly leave room to be desired.
    For linux support, however, they are the only real option. Yeah, you can hack it onto a mac (lots of folks do), but you're at the mercy of mathew garrett to fix the issues at that point.
  • DukeN - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link


    Lenovo apologist here - we've bought over around a hundred or so Thinkpad units since late 2007, and have yet to retire one. There were only two that needed a repair (under warranty), and the only other issues we have had til date have been due to keys ravaged or physical damage.

    Also, LOL @ the guy citing some guy's IT business closing down because of poor Lenovo service
  • Samus - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    Do a quick google search into corporate fallout from Superfish before you "LOL" a lot of people irrationally overreacted costing a lot of IT departments their jobs for "putting companies in danger."

    It was utterly ridiculous, but not really surprising considering how unprofessional of an organization Lenovo is. They are a consumer company, not an enterprise company. Think Ideapad, not Thinkpad. Huge difference. The fact they created the unholy offspring Thinkpad E-series to replace the budget R-series (the E-series is Ideapad internals) then created the joke that is the X100 series that have literally no Thinkpad technologies (Thinklight, Trackpoint, TPM, magnesium...) just goes to show Lenovo is willing to sell anything at any price in any disguise.
  • carbonx1_is-the-worst - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    agree - worst customer service. tons of problems. tons of costs. i am switching to apple.
  • Mumrik - Saturday, May 23, 2015 - link

    My mother buys herself a new Thinkpad every year through her company. Through 4-6 years she has yet to have one last the whole year without the battery, keyboard or pointing device (last year of course) breaking down.

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