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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: A fast-but-flawed version of an excellent laptop

carbon scoring

Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs lead to a mixed upgrade to 1 of the greatest laptops.

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10.

Enlarge / Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10.

Andrew Cunningham

Specs instantly: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
Display 14.0-inch 19201200 touchscreen (162 PPI)
OS Windows 11 Pro
CPU Intel Core i7-1260P (4 P-cores, 8 E-cores)
RAM 16GB LPDDR5 5200 (soldered)
GPU Intel Iris Xe (integrated)
Storage 1TB NVMe SSD
Networking Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3
Battery 57 Wh
Ports Two Thunderbolt 4, two 5Gbps USB-A, HDMI 2.0b, headphones
Size 8.7612.430.6 inches (222.5315.615.36 mm)
Weight 2.48 lbs (1.12 kg)
Warranty 1-year
Price as reviewed $1,891

Dell’s XPS 13 has been the pace car for the Windows side of the thin-and-light laptop race for a long time now, since it adopted the now-ubiquitous ultra-thin display bezel back 2015. Dell was also a step prior to the competition after some duration ago when it moved to a slightly taller screen with a 16: 10 aspect ratio, further improving the design’s usability without increasing its size.

But also for power users who is able to afford to invest a couple of hundred extra dollars, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon is definitely an attractive upsell. It is a little lighter than Dell’s ultraportable, nonetheless it nevertheless manages to squeeze in a more impressive screen and an improved port selection. Lenovo’s laptop keyboards and trackpads are almost always best in class. And the ThinkPad’s pedigree as a small business laptop implies that the Carbon’s design still makes nods to repairability and upgradability, even though a lot of its internal components have still been soldered right down to save space.

This year’s version of the X1 Carbonwe’re around Gen 10, if anyone’s countingdoesn’t change much externally. Nonetheless it includes new 12th-generation Intel Core processors, which,as we’ve observed in other laptops, could be a blessing and a curse. Performance in CPU-heavy tasks could be faster, sometimes dramatically so. Nonetheless it comes at the trouble of extra heat and less battery life, and that is a hardcore trade-off to recommend for a general-use ultraportable.

Appear and feel

The newest X1 Carbon has a characteristically excellent ThinkPad keyboard and trackpad.

Enlarge / The most recent X1 Carbon includes a characteristically excellent ThinkPad keyboard and trackpad.

Andrew Cunningham

Lenovo gave the X1 Carbon a gentle overhaul for the Gen 9 model this past year, swapping out the 16:9 screen for a 16: 10 version and ditching Lenovo’s semi-proprietary docking port and only a set of plain-old Thunderbolt ports. The Gen 10 model is nearly identicalthe only physical change I noticed was a slightly raised area above the webcam on the display’s bezel, presumably making more room for the upgraded 1080p webcam (the Gen 9 used a 720p model).

For anybody who are significantly less than intimately acquainted with the subtleties of the X1 Carbon’s design history, the crucial thing to learn is that it requires the classic black angular ThinkPad style and boils it down almost so far as it’ll go (I say “almost” because the X1 Nano is really a thing). It isn’t as boxy as a number of the cheaper L- and E-series ThinkPads, but it’s definitely utilizing the same design language that Lenovo and IBM have already been refining for 30 years. That’s both a blessing and a curseits sturdy frame and soft-touch finish are pleasant to carry and carry, but it is a hand oil and fingerprint magnet that’s hard to help keep completely clean.

The power button-mounted fingerprint sensor. The faintly visible mark from my finger is a testament to how easily the X1 Carbon's finish picks up smudges.

Enlarge / The energy button-mounted fingerprint sensor. The faintly visible mark from my finger is really a testament to how easily the X1 Carbon’s finish accumulates smudges.

Andrew Cunningham

The most crucial ingredient in virtually any ThinkPad is really a top-tier keyboard and trackpad, and the Gen 10 version of the X1 Carbon has both. A big, accurate precision touchpad and a red ThinkPad pointing nub are both included, and both work as intended. The chiclet-style keys are well-spaced and nicely backlit. The keys aren’t quite as firm as those in Dell’s current XPS models, and I’ve intermittently been annoyed that the Fn key would be to the left of the left Ctrl key rather than the other way around, though it is a longstanding ThinkPad peculiarity which can be corrected in software if you are bothered because of it. But more often than not it’s among the best keyboards you can obtain in a laptop at this time.

  • Ports on the proper: a headphone jack and USB-A port.

    Andrew Cunningham

  • Ports on the left: Two Thunderbolt 4, another USB-A, and full-size HDMI.

    Andrew Cunningham

Port selection remains among the best arguments for the X1 Carbon on the XPS 13 or perhaps a MacBook Air. The Carbon outdoes both in quantity and variety: a couple of Thunderbolt 4 ports, among that is used to charge the laptop, and something USB-A port on either side, a full-size HDMI port, and a headphone jack. The Carbon jettisoned its microSD card reader several generations ago, that is disappointing, and the XPS 13 puts Thunderbolt ports on both sides of the laptop so that you can charge it (or plug it right into a dock, or whatever) from either side. Laptops with only Thunderbolt/USB-C ports aren’t as inconvenient because they was previously, either. But getting the extra ports is convenient and ideal for anyone who regularly uses external displays or other accessories.

The basic 1920×1200 screen on the X1 Carbon Gen 10 isn't the brightest we've ever tested, but it's fine, and the matte finish helps with outdoor visibility.

Enlarge / The essential 19201200 screen on the X1 Carbon Gen 10 isn’t the brightest we’ve ever tested, but it’s fine, and the matte finish supports outdoor visibility.

Andrew Cunningham

The X1 Carbon could be configured with anybody of sevendifferent display panels, including 4K, OLED, privacy-screen, and touchscreen variants; the decision of some of them will subtly change the battery life and weight of the laptop. Our Lenovo-provided review unit uses the 19201200 IPS touchscreen, with a maximum brightness of 396 nits, an extraordinary contrast ratio of 1744:1, and 98 percent sRGB and 71.5 percent DCI-P3 gamut coverage (all as measured by our i1 Display Studio colorimeter). Even the essential screen is bright and colorful, and when you’re still utilizing a 16:9 display on a mature laptop, viewers 120 pixels’ worth of extra height makes a surprisingly huge difference for usability.

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