Introducing the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

It shouldn't be surprising to know that AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel (especially Intel) will seed hardware amongst the tech reviewing industry. Most often it goes along with a product launch, but periodically it will be kit that they feel paints their product in a particularly good light. I don't think it's a secret that Ultrabooks and touchscreens have had a little bit of trouble getting off the ground. You could argue that the whole Ultrabook branding scheme, particularly after Intel expanded the definition, was more a way of renaming and redefining the notebook than anything. That it happens to be trademarked by Intel and thus AMD cannot have an Ultrabook is, I'm sure, just a coincidence.

We've had a lot of good Ultrabooks come through, mostly at the 13.3"-and-below scale. The problem the majority suffer from is a a simple one: Intel's initial definition of the Ultrabook basically aped the MacBook Air, and so that design language essentially became the order of the day. Ironically it was really only Dell and HP that had the audacity to tinker with the specs and color around the edges, but with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Lenovo has produced something that is unique. It's a 14" Ultrabook, but it hopefully heralds more of the kinds of designs we can look forward to in the 14" and up Ultrabook bracket.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-3427U
(2x1.8GHz + HTT, Turbo to 2.8GHz, 22nm, 3MB L3, 17W)
Chipset Intel QS77
Memory 2x2GB integrated DDR3L-1333
Graphics Intel HD 4000 Graphics
(16 EUs, up to 1150MHz)
Display 14" LED Glossy 16:9 1600x900 Touchscreen
Hard Drive(s) 180GB Intel SATA 6Gbps SSD
Optical Drive -
Networking Intel Centrino Wireless-N 6205 802.11a/g/n 2x2
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Combination mic/headphone jack
Battery 4-Cell, 45Wh (integrated)
Front Side -
Right Side SD card reader
Mic/headphone combo jack
USB 3.0
Kensington lock
Left Side AC adaptor
USB 2.0
Wi-Fi switch
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 8 Pro 64-bit
Dimensions 13.03" x 8.9" x 0.74"
331mm x 226mm x 20.85mm
Weight 3.4 lbs
Extras 720p Webcam
Backlit keyboard
Intel vPro
10-finger touch
Fingerprint reader
Warranty 1-year depot/express warranty
Pricing Starts at $1,319
As configured: $1,556

I understand the enterprise sector often lags a little bit behind the consumer sector; new hotness typically needs to be proven reliable before it can get shipped to the more demanding business environment. For the most part the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is as modern as a notebook can be until Haswell arrives, but there are one or two oddballs.

The Intel Core i5-3427U is a respectable CPU and difficult to find fault with, sporting a healthy 1.8GHz nominal clock that typically bumps up to 2GHz under sustained load, yet Lenovo is stingy with the memory. If you want 8GB of memory, you have to buy their top end $1,759 model; it's not even an upgrade option on the lesser models, where you're stuck with 4GB of memory. 4GB of DDR3L-1333, not DDR3L-1600 like Lenovo's competitors are shipping. Thankfully, while Lenovo's site states the X1 Carbon is limited to one DIMM, the memory is operating in dual channel mode.

Given the X1 Carbon's enterprise aspirations, the SSD is Intel kit; the specific model number isn't readily available, but it supports SATA 6Gbps and features the odd 180GB capacity. Most of what's included with the X1 Carbon is as you expect, though the high resolution display is welcome. Note that while it's listed as being glossy, the glossy coating is actually a mild one; it's too glossy to really be called a true matte display, but it's not the nightmare of reflectivity that most glossy displays are.

Finally, thankfully, wireless connectivity includes 5GHz. It still baffles me how in 2013 anyone can ship a notebook without this.

In and Around the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon


View All Comments

  • Belard - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Yep... as a long-term and current ThinkPad owner, considering the areas that Lenovo is "modernizing" the ThinkPad line... it would be great if THEY would correct the fn/Ctrl keys! In BIOS you can change it... and I guess with a tiny tool, you can simply pop the keys off.

    Its still a great keyboard... I doubt as good as the CLASSIC keys from last year and beyond, but they have the added advantage of LIGHTING UP.
  • bji - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Should have posted about this here instead of in my post above, anyway, you can't swap the physical key caps on the Lenovo since the Fn and Ctrl keys are different size. Reply
  • Flunk - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    That's interesting, I always have the opposite problem with my Alienware m14x R2, to me the FN key should be on the far left. Reply
  • noeldillabough - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    I agree, I must have gotten used to laptops having the fn key to the far left because it seems "right" (lenovos for more years than I care to admit)

    I'd never buy a carbon though, ultrabook don't cut it for me, I want an x240 with a higher res screen and haswell cpu.
  • KarateBob - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    The redeeming factor of this review coming out 3 weeks before Haswell, is if there's a slick deal inventory liquidation or Lenovo outlet deal on these, we'll know it's a solid buy. Reply
  • noblemo - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Thank you for the review. How badly does the glossy touchscreen collect fingerprints? Also, how stable is the laptop when pressing against the touchscreen; does the whole computer rock back if you don't put a hand behind the display? Reply
  • Gadgety - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Great review, and well argued. "It's a fantastic Ultrabook, but it's not enterprise." It iwould be interesting to know, which qualify for enterprise? Other parts of the ThinkPad lineup, HP, who? Thank you. Reply
  • ShieTar - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Other parts of the ThinkPad lineup, yes. Also HP Elitebook, Fujitsu Celsius, Dell Precision and the maybe the MSI GT line. Then there are a few enterprise boutiques, e.g. Schenker and Wortmann in Germany.

    Then again, I'm not sure anybody has an Ultrabook that qualifies as an Enterprise device as such.
  • Dug - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Usually things like - compatibility with docking stations, self encrypting drives, BIOS locks, asset tagging, specific deployment packages, etc. Reply
  • noeldillabough - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Although I have a dock for each of my laptops (except macbooks) I am looking forward to the "universal dock connector" that is surely coming. Thunderbolt/Mag connector or whatever. I want to plug ONE thing in max. Reply

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