Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review: Loose screw prompts worldwide recall

Some fifth generation ThinkPad X1 Carbons are at risk of internal damage and overheating

Display

Thankfully, that larger frame doesn't go to waste, as Lenovo has managed to squeeze in a 14in IPS anti-glare screen with some beautifully thin bezels, which will make you immediately think of the the InfinityEdge display on the Dell XPS. It is nice to see that Lenovo chose the perfectly acceptable 1920 x 1080p resolution, as anything higher is often of no benefit and needlessly bumps up the price.

In terms of performance, the screen is one of the weakest aspects of the X1 Carbon. Although it is marginally brighter than the Dell XPS 13, at 312cd/m2 it is still too dull to use reliably outside in direct sunlight, and is put to shame by the Macbook Pro's 500cd/m2 display. While colours are sharp and vibrant, 82% coverage of the sRGB colour spectrum is a disappointingly average score for a device of this price range, and is again outshone by the Macbook (99%) and the XPS 13 (92%).

Hardware & performance

As with any decent business grade ultrabook, the X1 Carbon comes with an impressive array of hardware and software configurations. There is a choice of various Core i5 and core i7 processors available depending on how much power you're after, as well as a range of storage options and either 8GB or 16GB of RAM. You're also able to add a host of preinstalled software suites, including Office 365 and Adobe products, and upgrade to Windows 10 Pro if you wish. You even have the choice to upgrade to a more powerful adapter for faster charging.

Our review model came with a Core i7-7500U processor at 2.7GHz, with 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. In our 4K benchmarks the X1 Carbon achieved an impressive overall score of 52, which was two points higher than the Dell XPS 13 running an almost identical spec. Importantly, the X1 Carbon managed 10 hours and 20 minutes in our battery tests, which is quite frankly excellent and almost 2 hours 40 minutes longer than both the XPS and Macbook Pro.

As is to be expected from Intel's 'U'-series processor range, the X1 Carbon delivers a pretty decent performance while maintaining an all-day battery life. It easily handled multi-tab browsing across two displays without breaking a sweat, and fired up applications almost instantly. There's even enough muscle here to power more demanding apps like the Adobe Creative suite, and that's before taking the optional 16GB of RAM into consideration.

A note on price

The exact specification of the model we reviewed is currently priced at 1,272 exc VAT, which includes an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. However prices range from 1,101 exc VAT, to 2,211, and that's before factoring in all the smaller hardware extras and software packages.

Verdict

The Lenovo X1 Carbon is a wonderfully stylish machine that offers understated luxury along with some superb extras that appeal directly to a business user. It is deceptively light given its overall size, offering excellent portability while still providing a superb selection of port options. It should also be able to handle most of what you can throw at it, with a battery life that will easily last a full working day.

The only down side is the fairly average display, which is somewhat disappointing for a device in this price range. However, for day-to-day business use, this shouldn't be a problem, and the 14in 1080p display with super slim bezels is otherwise great.

The X1 Carbon sits between the Dell XPS 13 and the Macbook Pro in terms of price and performance, yet its battery life eclipses both, which we feel ultimately matters most for business users. With a great selection of configuration options, which is to be expected from a Lenovo business grade ultrabook, The X1 Carbon is also a highly tailorable machine, so you're bound to find something that fits - so long as you're willing to pay.

Verdict

While not the thinnest ultrabook around, it is certainly one of the lightest, offering excellent portability and one of the most generous array of ports and optional extras we have seen on a device. It's built from the ground up to be a business companion, and it lives up to that beautifully. Only a mediocre screen keeps it back from true greatness.

CPUIntel Core i7-7500U 2.70GHz
RAM8GB
GPUIntel HD 620
Screen14in 1920x1080 IPS
Dimensions322 x 216 x 15mm / 1.1kg
Ports2x USB C, 2x USB 3.0, headphone port, HDMI, MicroSIM, MicroSD
Storage256GB
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