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This review is part of our best laptops roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them. According to Lenovo, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon is constructed of four layers of carbon fiber, together with a magnesium alloy roll-cage. In our day-to-day handling, that meant that it felt solid: both light and totally sturdy, with nary the slightest wiggle in the chassis.
The carbon construction also pays dividends in terms of weight. One of the theoretical advantages of a Windows tablet like the sturdy HP Spectre x2 is its mobility, at 2. We generally test with a brightness between and nits as a comfortable level for daily work, and measure battery life accordingly. All of the lower-cost panels feature anti-glare coating, which works as advertised. But, like Windows, you do have the ability to make adjustments via a slider bar.
In terms of ports, the X1 Carbon offers a smorgasbord of options. The righthand side of the chassis includes the second USB-A connector, a Kensington lock, large fan vents, and the 3. Two other key features were also designed with security in mind. Lenovo also offers an upgrade to an IR depth camera that should allow Windows Hello to be used via the front-facing camera, too, though our review unit lacked that capability.
I found the ThinkShutter to be really pretty stiff when I first started sliding it back and forth using the integrated divot, though it loosened up over time. When shut, a red ring surrounds the small lens, notifying you that the camera is obscured. You can use your fingernail or a coin to slide the ThinkShutter over. Granted, this is a business PC first and foremost. Other notebooks such as the Huawei Matebook X Pro compress some of the control keys and use the extra space to increase the size of the main, lettered keys.
There are two levels of backlighting. Again, the extra bit of resilience may weary some fingers a bit—it did for me, although I accustomed myself to it in a day or two. Some keyboards allow your fingers to glide over them, gently depressing each key.
Another way to look at it would be to say that the X1 Carbon more approximates a desktop keyboard than other notebooks do. Depth cameras are great, but this fingerprint sensor on the X1 Carbon 6th Gen reliably does the job. The small ridge to the top is an LED, which lights white while you log in, or red to indicate that the login failed.
The process takes less than a second. As you might expect, the X1 Carbon also includes the the iconic red Trackpoint nub, as well as the physical left, right and center buttons above the trackpad. The X1 Carbon is known for being extremely lightweight and yet still feels premium. The entire laptop has a very consistent feel to it: soft and sturdy. The lid itself is made of carbon fiber composite, while the rest of the laptop is made of a magnesium allow, just like on the slightly larger ThinkPad X1 Extreme series.
All have a soft-touch coating on them, which makes the laptop feel more like plastic, but in a nice way. The laptop is very light, weighing just under 2. The overall design is balanced so you can pick it up from pretty much any corner, with very little effort or worry. Starting at the top, the lid is smooth with the typical Lenovo tag in the lower corner and a larger Thinkpad X1 logo in the upper corner. But other than that, the rest of the lid is pretty clean. Lifting the lid is thankfully a one-finger effort.
Above the screen is an HD webcam that has a privacy shutter. Down below is what looks to be the same keyboard and trackpad as on the previous models. More on those shortly. Also, on the palm rest are the cutouts for upward-facing speaker arrays on both sides of the keyboard. This button doubles as a fingerprint reader, which worked very well throughout my use.
When powering the machine on, it registers your fingerprint to be used when you hit the Windows logon prompt. For IO, we have a decent selection on this model. On the left, there are two USB-C ports. Both support Thunderbolt 4, but only one supports charging. Both also support DP 1. Right next to it is an HDMI 2. The underside is pretty plain, but there are a lot of stickers on it. The exhaust goes into the hinge area, by the way.
There are also two more speaker cutouts down here, bringing the total number of speakers to four. Overall, an excellent design for a portable business laptop. Lenovo kept what I originally liked about the Carbon X1 series and improved it with a bigger trackpad and a better coating on the lid. As far as laptop keyboards go, this one is probably amongst the best in this class of thin and lightweight devices.
It took no effort on my part to get used to typing on it. The key feedback is perfect for such a shallow keystroke and the keys are perfectly spaced apart. On top of that, the keycaps have a slight concavity that makes them easy to strike. The key layout is pretty normal for the most part. The only oddity is the Fn key which is to the left of the Ctrl key. This is normal for ThinkPads, but not for me. I accidentally hit it instead of Ctrl often, but I eventually got used to it.
One thing I appreciate about the layout is the dedicated page up and down keys as well as a full arrow keys layout. The keyboard is also backlit. It only has two brightness levels and they are both white. You can control the brightness by pressing Fn-Spacebar. The backlighting on this model is not enabled by default. You have to hit Fn-Space every time you boot the device if you want to have backlighting.
The trackpad on this model works very well. The trackpad itself is glass and my fingers glided smoothly. But you also have those right, left and middle click buttons above it, if needed. Those buttons are more for the Trackpoint though, which is smack in the middle of the keyboard.
It works fine, but I hardly am an expert on these things because I always ignore them. I can see using it for things like clicking and dragging or highlighting multiple items though. As noted earlier, this trackpad is wider than the previous versions.
They live up to the ThinkPad vision and meet every expectation I had for them. The screen is pretty decent on my model. Lenovo offers a couple of other panel options as well, though, both matte or touch. The nice thing is the bezels are pretty small on all 4 sides. Viewing angles on the panel are perfect and I detected no backlight bleed. More good news is the maximum brightness on this panel is quite high. I measured up to nits, which is OK even for offices with a lot of lighting and glare from the windows.
The last thing to mention is that this FHD panel has low power consumption. This configuration of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon X1 9 th generation comes with an Intel Core iG7, which is a quad-core processor that boosts up to 4. Paired with 16GB of RAM, this is fast enough to complete the tasks of most programs used in a typical office environment.
The Intel Iris Xe graphics is good enough for minor graphicly intensive programs, so even things like CAD will still run decently. Considering the size, this laptop does very well doing what I needed it to do. Being a Thinkpad, the cover comes right off when you take the screws out.
The only thing you can swap out is the SSD. The Wifi module and RAM are soldered. Another mystery is what looks like a card reader on the motherboard. If you look closely on the left side of my teardown picture, you can see the slot just below the USB port. The laptop runs quietly and efficiently on Better Battery life, and for our later benchmarks, we used the Max Performance mode. As far as taxing CPU chores go, this laptop runs at a high power of around W for a few loops in the Cinebench R15 loop test, on the Max Performance profile, with temperatures in the highs Celsius.
After a few run, the system stabilizes at around W of power, with temperatures in the mids. The multi-core performance is only one side of the coin, though. I then took some synthetic benchmarks to get an idea of how well the CPU performs in other tests.
These are pretty respectable results, helped by the high-power allocation in shorter duration loads. If you want to, you can play a casual game every now and then on this laptop, but expect to lower the graphics settings and resolution on the latest titles. This laptop has a simple cooling system, with a dual-fan module attached to a single large heatpipe. The intake is through the bottom of the laptop and the exhaust is out through the holes in the hinge.
This overall design is different from what Lenovo used on their previous ThinkPads and does allow for higher sustained power and performance in demanding loads.
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