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

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

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

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

WebXPRT

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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  • digiguy - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    These are ULV CPUs, they will never close the cap with desktops CPUs, even from a couple of generations ago (provided we are speaking of the same line, that is i7). My 3rd gen quad core laptop CPU is much more powerful than this and even my 2nd gen dual core i7 ultrabook is almost on par with this thanks to a higher (35W) TDP. Having said that a comparison with quad core mobile CPUs would be interesting to see the difference with the best ULVs. Reply
  • nerd1 - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    If you don't utilize more than 3 cores (few application does) they are actually comparable. Reply
  • Valantar - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    Great review! It's good to see how this ultra high end ultrabook is evolving alongside others, even if it still has some of the same issues as before.

    Now, could you, beg, borrow or steal a similarly specced X250 from Lenovo for comparison? It's an interesting parallell between the two, with the X1 Carbon having a larger screen, m.2 storage and slimmer build, while the X250 is more upgradeable (SODIMM RAM! up to 16GB!), has an intriguing battery solution (both an internal 23.2WHr and a replaceable 23.2-72WHr one, for a total 46-95WHr(!) capacity) and is of course slightly cheaper. I'd love to see an Anandtech review of the follow-up to my beloved X201.
    Reply
  • vision33r - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    Imo, Lenovo killed Thinkpads today because of shoddy quality and poor software. To allow even malware to their factory software and driver builds tells you they are not thinking about quality.

    Dells and HP corporate level hardware is better today than Lenovo. Because the BIOS and software provided by HP and Dell are simpler and more stable. There are too many issues with Lenovo firmware and BIOS today. Out of 150 that we received, probably 7-8 will have stability problem using a Windows 8.1 Gold image that we deploy tells you something.
    Reply
  • Hulk - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    I bought a Lenovo t450s a few months ago and have been very happy with it.

    And yes it was loaded with tons of crap. I just wiped it and started over. Now it's nice and clean.
    Reply
  • BMNify - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    Lenovo thinkpad desktop and laptops and other enterprise machines were never loaded with adware, it was a consumer line problem which was rectified. The fact that you have to resort to blatant 100% lies completely invalidates your rant against Lenovo. Reply
  • chizow - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    We've had a few X1 Carbons come through, and while it is a solid piece of hardware, just be ready for UEFI and various other issues due to the lack of built-in network adapter if you are using/deploying it in an enterprise environment. Had to work through a few issues with our PXE server and UEFI boot as well, but nothing too bad.

    Overall Lenovo have been solid for us, lots of X230/X240 in our environment, the only major complaint I have is the amount of overlay/proprietary bloat Lenovo has to use basic functions like WiFi, BT, projectors.

    Personally, I vastly prefer Dell Latitude series, especially the latest E7250 and E7250. Amazing keyboards, I've always preferred Dell's keyboards even compared to MacBook chiclets, but now you get the same Dell feel with full chiclet keys.
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    ? All X1s have both wired and wireless network adapters. Reply
  • wintermute000 - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    I hate it how my T440 has a bloody ultrabook CPU (and still hasn't got anywhere near macbook type battery life). VMs grind it to a halt.

    I would trade a bit of weight for more battery / a real CPU any time, the company offered an X1 or a T440 and I picked the latter thinking I'd get a real CPU but nope, same ultrabook form over function rubbish
    Reply
  • mdvision - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    I am both an HP and Lenovo authorized business partner. I have to agree with some other posters that the HP Elitebook line has been superior in build, design and warranty response. My personal device of choice for the last couple of years has been the HP Folio 9480m ultrabook. Battery time is decent....not spectacular but more importantly is user replaceable and there is an optional secondary slice battery option that while adding a bit of thickness and weight provides REAL all day run time. RAM is conventional SODIMM's and serviceable / upgradable as well.

    My current model has an I7 4600U ULV CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 1600x1200 matte display. The display resolution is fine on a 14" display and scales well using Win8.1 Pro. Performance does not lack (gaming excepted of course). I change my demo unit out every quarter or so and keep replacing with the same unit. This is a great device. Warranty response on HP Elitebook products have been nothing but exemplary on the very few units I've had to do warranty claims. RMA turn around times are very fast as in days not weeks. Technical support personnel have been knowledgeable and professional.

    Field serviceable batteries, RAM, HD's are important enough that any minimal weight savings are more than offset rather than having the thinnest / lightest device that requires factory servicing for routine maintenance / repair.

    I also have these deployed with the optional docking station which have performed flawlessly using external displays, peripherals and charging. Smart Buy configurations are competitively priced and offer good value. Highly recommended.

    I've previously considered the X1 Carbon but the above design features always sway me back to the HP.
    Reply

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