The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review (2015)by Brett Howse on May 21, 2015 8:00 AM EST
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In January of this year, I walked into the Lenovo booth at CES and almost immediately to the right there was a large display case set up, and inside was Eve. Eve looked great in the case all dressed in black, and was well attended to by her hosts. Eve is the one hundred millionth ThinkPad to be created, and I remarked at the time that it was likely not an accident that Eve is a ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
Eve, the 100,000,000th ThinkPad
The X1 Carbon has been Lenovo’s flagship ThinkPad since it was launched, and it brings the world of the ThinkPad business class notebook down into a much thinner and lighter form factor. Today we have the third generation of the X1 Carbon, and although the competition for the best Ultrabook keeps increasing, Lenovo brings a lot to the table with the X1 Carbon.
Lenovo keeps the ThinkPad lineup outfitted with features that the average consumer does not need, and the price is higher accordingly. But if you are someone who travels a lot, and needs a full featured notebook with all of the goodies, you can find it in this X1 Carbon. While the Ultrabook initiative started out with smaller devices, it gradually worked its way up to include larger notebooks as well, and the X1 Carbon certainly fits the bill for an Ultrabook despite the larger than average 14 inch display.
Despite the somewhat larger chassis, the X1 Carbon keeps the weight in check partially through the use of its namesake – carbon fiber. The display cover is created with carbon fiber reinforced plastic, and glass fiber reinforced plastic. This lets the display be lighter, thinner, and stronger than one made of aluminum or plastic alone. And it is strong. You can certainly flex the display, but it never feels like you are going to bend it by accident. The bottom of the X1 Carbon is made of aluminum and magnesium, so it is plenty strong as well. Lenovo even points out that the X1 Carbon has passed eight MilSpecs with fifteen individual tests, including shock, vibration, temperature, humidity, and silica dust exposure.
For many devices, 2015 is the year of the spec bump to Broadwell based processors, and Lenovo is not immune to this. Luckily that is a good thing though, and the new X1 Carbon is now powered by the latest Broadwell-U based processors from Intel. Buyers get a choice of the i5-5200U, i5-5300U, or the i7-5600U processor. None of these are slow, but luckily Lenovo has sent us the i7 model so we can get a feel for how it competes against some of the other Broadwell devices we have seen this year. Let’s take a look at the full specifications below.
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015)|
|As Tested, Core i7-5600U, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, 2560x1440 IPS display with Touch|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-5200U (2C/4T, 2.2-2.7GHz, 3MB L3, 14nm, 15w)
Intel Core i5-5300U (2C/4T, 2.3-2.9GHz, 3MB L3, 14nm, 15w)
Intel Core i7-5600U (2C/4T, 2.6-3.2GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 15w)
|Memory||4GB or 8GB DDR3L-1600Mhz|
|Graphics||Intel HD 5500 (24 EU, 300-900 MHz on i5, 300-950 Mhz on i7)|
|Display||14.0" 1920x1080 TN
Optional 2560x1440 IPS
|Storage||128GB SATA SSD
180GB or 256GB SATA SSD with Opal 2 Support
512GB PCIe SSD Samsung SM951
|Networking||Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 (802.11ac, 2x2:2, 866Mpbs Max, 2.4 and 5GHz)|
|Audio||HD Audio, Realtek ALC3232 codec
Stereo Speakers (downfiring) 1 watt x 2
dual array microphone
|Battery||50 Wh Battery
45 Watt charger
|Right Side||USB 3.0
|Left Side||USB 3.0 Ports
Power and OneLink Connector
|Dimensions||331 x 227 x 18.5mm (13.03 x 8.94 x 0.73 inches)|
|Weight||1.27-1.45 kg (2.8-3.2 lbs)|
Backlit Spill-Resistant Keyboard
|Pricing||$1088-$2300 USD (As Tested: $2100)|
Since this device falls into the ThinkPad line, you get a lot of customization options when purchasing that Lenovo does not do for their consumer models, and that is very welcome because on a lot of devices if you want feature X you have to also buy features Y and Z, which can really bump up the costs. However a few things need to be called out on the X1 Carbon. This is a premium Ultrabook, so it is a bit sad that in 2015 the base model is still offered with just 4 GB of memory, and because this is soldered on (like all of these very thin devices) it would be money well spent to just add the extra $75 Lenovo charges for the 8 GB model. Luckily even though Lenovo calls it 1x8 GB in the guide, it is in fact dual-channel memory. The other big complaint is the 1080p model is offered with a TN panel. That is not really acceptable in a $1000+ device in 2015 any longer. Moving to the QHD version of the panel for $150 would be money well spent since that will bring you an IPS panel.
There are also a lot of options for storage, and the base model comes with just a scant 128 GB of SSD space available, but for not too much more you can bump that up to 180 or 256 GB. For those that need even more storage space and speed, Lenovo offers the SM951 equipped 512 GB PCIe based Samsung SSD. When the X1 first launched, it was a hefty $700 upgrade, but now it is a mere $425 over the base 128 GB offering.
The X1 Carbon is even offered with optional LTE connectivity, via the Sierra EM7345, for those that need mobile data connectivity without tethering.
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Valantar - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - linkAn 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 - linkEveryone 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 - linkfunny guy ..
T2k - Friday, May 22, 2015 - linkOh 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 - linkYou 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 - linkActually 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 - linkSame 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 - linkCasualuker, 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 - linkI 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...