Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen) Review

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Last Updated on January 1, 2024 by Daniel Osakwe

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a lightweight laptop aimed at business users and those who are on the move. It’s lightning-fast, sleek as can be, and withstands a good amount of torture (dropped it on various surfaces, spilled water, etc.) without breaking a sweat.

Quick Review

We get bored reviewing new laptops each year. A fresh design, new features, or better performance are what you need. Despite this, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon does not fall under this category. In contrast to the new 8th generation version, Lenovo kept all other aspects the same and just updated the chips.

As with the first model, the new Thinkpad X1 Carbon has an unmatched keyboard, a sleek, durable chassis, and an array of ports that make it the top business laptop.

Lenovo may not have the same success next time, with rivals offering stronger batteries in a similar portable device design. However, for now, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon remains one of the finest laptops currently on the market and the best laptop in general for enterprise users.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Design

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen) Review

Style and practicality combine perfectly with the X1 Carbon, a stylish, lightweight laptop.

It also replaced early 7th Gen models with a sleeker model to restyle its flagship business notebook for consumers. On the lid of the box, there is also a new logo that is in addition to the “X1” stamp. As long as the “i” remains red, there is no cause for concern.

Nothing else has changed since then. On the deck are dual speaker grilles flanked by hinges. The pointing stick’s red color (or TrackPoint) is the trademark color of the ThinkPad logo on the right side of the touchpad below a small fingerprint sensor.

For this review, Lenovo sent us two models: the standard version with a matte black finish, and the carbon edition with a weave of carbon fiber in the lid that highlights the materials inside. There is an internal matte-black pearlescent sheen to both versions under some lighting.

I would like future models to be more resistant to fingerprints. Touching it leaves smudgy fingerprints.

X1 Carbon’s display’s bezels should be trimmed a bit (especially the bottom one).

Even with these minor complaints, I think the newly introduced X1 Carbon has a design that is only rivaled by HP’s Elite Dragonfly in the business segment. Beautiful and stealthy, the X1 Carbon is equally irresistible to its blue rival.

The X1 Carbon laptop is surprisingly light for a 14-inch model. Nevertheless, it isn’t unique anymore. Acer Swift 5 and LG Gram 14 weigh under two pounds thanks to magnesium alloy, allowing laptops to become lighter.

Compared to some of its competitors, this carbon fiber model feels much stronger. Carbon fiber is used in advancing the X1 Carbon’s durability, so when lightly brushed, the keyboard will not creak or flex.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon weighs 2.4 pounds, a little less than the ExpertBook B9450 (0.6 inches, 2.2 pounds) and the Elite Dragonfly (11.9 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches, 2.5 pounds). There is a physical difference in weight between the 13-inch MacBook Pro (12 x 8.4 x 0.6, 3.1 pounds) and these laptops.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen) Specs

Size 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
Display 14-inch, 1080p
CPU Intel Core i5-10210U (vPro)
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620
Weight 2.4 pounds
Storage 256GB SSD
RAM 8GB

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Ports

lenovo thinkpad

On the previous X1 Carbon, Lenovo omitted an SD card slot. However harsh I may have been, I am still upset about it. This laptop has a generous amount of ports. An Ethernet network extension and two USB 3.1 ports are on the left.

Right next to the Type-A USB 3.1 jack is a lock slot. My only complaint is that the Thunderbolt 3 ports need to be split so you can charge from either side of the laptop.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Display

Both 1080p and 4K models are available for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. I would like to start by saying that both 14-inch displays are wonderful.

I would prefer the Full HD panel since it is a high-quality screen that uses less energy than the UHD one (more later).

When watching shows or movies on your laptop, make sure it is plugged in and go for the 4K screen, or for the in-between option, the 1440p screen with 300 nits of brightness.

Comparing it with the 1080p screen, the 4K panel was much more colorful. I was enchanted by Daniel Craig’s eyes while watching a trailer for No Time to Die. The matte panel on the 1080p screen doesn’t reflect the color as well despite its blue hue not looking dull.

On the UHD screen, his skin tone appeared orange/pink, as opposed to gray and peach on the FHD screen. On the 1080p screen, he appeared to be in a dark room with a warm glow on the 4K display. On the FHD screen, the security guard’s skin tone appeared more natural than it did on the 4K screen.

My fiancee preferred the 1080p display to the 4K one based on a side-by-side comparison, unlike iPhone photos that show vivid shades of colors whereas the Pixel displays true colors. It’s true that 4K displays are sharper (the scars on Rami Malek’s face are more detailed), but a 1080p screen with a matte finish is so much better at dispersing reflections.

Using our colorimeter, we found that our 4K screen recorded 135% of sRGB. ExpertBook B9450 (117%), Elite Dragonfly (117%), and MacBook Pro (114%) are all competitors to the X1 Carbon. On average, 122% of premium laptops are sold.

These screens do not have a problem with direct light. Compared to a 1080p panel that had 364 nits of brightness, the 4K panel has 498 nits. Compared to the ExpertBook B9450 (302 nits), the new X1 Carbon has higher brightness (336 nits for 1080p; 432 nits for 4K). In these tests, the Elite Dragonfly (373 nits) and MacBook Pro (495 nits) each achieved high marks.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Performance

This ThinkPad X1 Carbon features a Core i5-10310U with vPro CPU and 8GB of RAM and a higher-end model with a Core i7-10610U with vPro CPU and 16GB of RAM.

Both Core i5 and Core i7 models were slower. Using the less expensive option, I experienced some brief slowdowns while opening more than a dozen websites, playing music, and watching HD videos. The performance of the laptop was not adversely affected by adding many tabs, and occasional stutters were not too bad. With the Core i7, this heavy workload was handled smoothly. Those who wish to use Chrome frequently or whose browser eats up RAM should consider spending the extra money on 16GB of RAM.

The two models performed well in our synthetic benchmarks. Core i5 processors score 3,597 points, while Core i7 processors score 3,939. Those scores beat the ExpertBook B9450 (2960, Core i7-10510U) and the Elite Dragonfly (3101, Core i8-665U), but they fall short of the MacBook Pro (4399, Core i5) and the category average (4294).

X1 Carbon (15,467 for Core i5; 16,958 for Core i7) scored almost indistinguishable from its predecessor (15,649 for Core i5; 16,545 for Core i7) on Geekbench 4.2.

As part of our Handbrake test, we transcoded a 4K video clip into 1080p using the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. By comparison, the Core i5 version took 19 minutes and 51 seconds, compared to the Core i7 version (18:29). These two models gave good performance compared to the ExpertBook B9450 (28:24) and Elite Dragonfly (22:23), but they were not as fast as the MacBook Pro (12:43). As far as performance is concerned, the X1 Carbon (16:52 for a Core i5 or 17:40 for a Core i7) was still competitive.

In comparison to its predecessor, this model has faster storage. For a 5GB file taking 6.5 seconds to transfer using this unit’s 256GB SSD, it produced a transfer rate of 783 megabytes per second. In just 5 seconds, SSD configuration with 512GB and Core i7 reached 997.9 MBps..

There are differences between the ExpertBook B9450 (771 MBps, 1TB SSD), the Elite Dragonfly (424 MBps, 512GB SSD), and the old X1 Carbon (424 for 256GB SSD; 508 for 512GB SSD). Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro has an insanely fast disk (2.060 MB/s, 512 GB SSD), whereas the average premium laptop has 552.4 MB/s.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Battery life

Using the ThinkPad X1 Carbon for ten hours and forty-five minutes gives you a full day of work. Our battery life test (Wi-Fi surfing at 150 nits and web browsing over Wi-Fi) showed that the 4K model performed decently, lasting 7 hours and 23 minutes, despite not having the same endurance as the 1080p model.

Despite the good results, these are not extraordinary. New competitors, like the ExpertBook B9450 (16:42) and Elite Dragonfly (12:25), now last significantly longer on a single charge than the FHD ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Its runtime (10:21) is comparable to that of Lenovo, both of which are faster than the average (9:03). However, despite the shorter run times, I would still consider them good results.

Webcam

Photos and videos taken with the ThinkPad Carbon webcam are decent under ideal lighting conditions. My eyes could make out individual strands of hair in the dim office light. My skin appeared pale and lifeless, despite all of this visual noise covering my face.

As the scene changed in light, my dirty-blonde hair and even a pink stain on my cheek from an unsuccessful tanning attempt were captured by the lens. My Logitech HD Pro C920 has been my conference calling camera for a few years now, but it wasn’t as good as the best external webcams.

An IR camera was installed on our review unit for Windows Hello login using facial recognition. Despite wearing my UT Austin cap (Hook ’em!), the feature worked flawlessly, allowing me to log into my laptop in seconds.

Pros Cons
Lightweight and slim design Fingerprint magnet
Bright, vibrant 1080p and 4K display options Graphics are poor
Class-leading keyboard  
Effortless performance  

Conclusion

The 8th Gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon remains a fantastic laptop despite its major upgrade. In my opinion, the new 10th Gen Intel vPro CPUs offer a very slight performance boost (especially mid-cycle refreshes with 10th Gen chips), but not enough to recommend upgrading.

If your business laptop is becoming sluggish and it’s time for a replacement, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the perfect solution. Fast performance, ultra-thin, durable chassis, and great display options make this a great choice. Furthermore, the Elite Dragonfly and ExpertBook B9450 also provide longer battery life than the X1 Carbon (on 1080p models).

It continues to be the best business laptop available today, at least for now, even though it is essentially unchanged from its predecessor.