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

  • Bob-o - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    The 15" Series 9 has upgradable RAM, but I think the 13" is soldered on. Both have upgradable drives though (mSATA on 13", not sure about 15" off the top of my head). Reply
  • zsero - Thursday, May 16, 2013 - link

    The 13 inch has a free RAM slot as well! Reply
  • Gunbuster - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    "In and Around the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon"

    Can you please not call it in and around if you are not going to show any of the "in"
  • Hulk - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    This computer is close to what I want. It has the right form factor and other features but it needs two things in my opinion.
    1. IPS screen
    2. Quad core - I'm hoping that Haswell will bring quad that will be suitable for these larger ultrabooks. I don't care if it throttles down to 1GHz as long as with proper air space/cooling/power it can throttle up. I'm hoping to see 25W quads with Haswell and 17W quads with Broadwell. Until then I think I'll just stick with my 2006 Dell 640m T7200.
  • landerf - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    I thought this was a mouse pad or something going by the picture. Reply
  • darwinosx - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    If the Lenovo is the Widows equivalent of a Mac that's pretty bad. Lenovo makes cheap junk and supports it the same way. They do not deserve the Thinkpad name for those of us who owned real Thinkpad's in the past. Apple's laptops just destroy this one not least because they use a modern OS and have premium build quality, screen's service and support. Reply
  • dave_the_nerd - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    This ultrabook is making my pants fit funny. Reply
  • underpass - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Something often overlooked (especially when the Mac fans get in on the fun) is that you could use this laptop as a Frisbee in the park on your lunch break and still use it for your afternoon hacking marathon. Most (if not all) of the ThinkPad line passes MIL-SPEC 810F certification for ruggedness. Also customer service for the ThinkPad line is excellent, as are the extra warranties they offer (multi-year accidental damage). Typical turn-around time for a repair is ~2-3 days. These features are huge pluses for the corporate or professional environment, which is why you still see a lot of ThinkPads in these places. Including the international space station and (former) space shuttle missions. As for the X1 Carbon specifically (I have a non-touch version with an i7), the ONLY complaint I have about it is that damned chicklet keyboard. It may be the best chicklet keyboard around, but it will never reach the 'Legendary' status of the classic ThinkPad keyboard. Reply
  • underpass - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    PS. The battery life isn't great, but it charges insanely fast. I think Anandtech should have a 'charge-off' between the popular ultrabooks. Reply
  • peterfares - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Thank you for finally starting to call out the pathetic 4GB RAM manufactures are using in expensive machines! When a $800 laptop in 2009 had 4GB RAM there is no reason anything above $500 should come with just 4GB RAM.

    Whenever I mention this I always get a bunch of deranged replies stating that there's no reason to have more than 4GB RAM.

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