Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: The pinnacle of business productivity
ThinkPad has a long, long history of being a trusted brand for business laptops, and X1 is the flagship. Now on its 10th generation, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon weighs in at under 2.5 pounds, and it doesn’t make any compromises to get there. It’s made out of the carbon fiber that it’s named after, and it has a full 1.6mm keyboard.
My biggest issues with it are somewhat trivial. For one thing, the buttons above the touchpad mean that you get less real estate for the touchpad itself, but this is part of ThinkPad design. The TrackPoint is a staple to every ThinkPad, and that has to come with buttons. Also, battery life was somewhat erratic, where sometimes it was great, and sometimes it just wasn’t.
Navigate this review:
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 price and availability
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 specs
- Design: It’s carbon fiber, and it’s black
- Display: There’s an OLED option again!
- Keyboard: ThinkPads still offer the Cadillac of keyboards
- Performance: A big bump in CPU performance
- Should you buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10?
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 price and availability
- As of right now, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 starts at $1,319, but that price fluctuates
Right now, the base model comes in at $1,319.45, but this all gets super confusing (even more than usual). First of all, that configuration includes a Core i5-1240P, 8GB LPDDR5, a 256GB SSD, a Full HD non-touch display, and Windows 11 Home. You can configure it with up to a Core i7-1280P, 16GB RAM, a 2TB SSD, and the OLED option for the screen has even made a return this year. You can also choose Windows 10 for the OS.
Here’s where it gets weird. Being a business PC, prices fluctuate. Lenovo almost never charges full price for ThinkPads on its own website, so the discounted price frequently varies. However, only two options on its website are currently discounted, one of which is the ‘build your own’ option. So yes, you can make a custom configuration that’s much less expensive than the pre-configured ones, as noted below in the specs section.
Unfortunately, not all of the pre-configured models are available as custom. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is available with Intel’s 12th-gen P-series and U-series processors, but the U-series chips – which are less powerful but better on battery life – are only available in pre-configured models. That means that at this time, it’s actually more expensive to get the 15W CPU than it is for the 28W CPU. Naturally, all of this is subject to change.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 specs
|CPU||12th generation Intel Core i7-1260P, 16 Threads, 4 P-cores, 8 E-cores, 18MB cache|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe graphics|
|Body||15.36mm x 315.6mm x 222.5mm (0.60″ x 12.43″ x 8.76″), 1.12kg (2.48lbs)|
|Display||14″ (16:10), WUXGA* (1920 x 1200) low power, touch IPS, 400 nits, Eyesafe certified low blue-light emissions, antiglare|
|Memory||16GB LPDDR5 5200Mhz (soldered dual channel)|
|Storage||512GB PCIe SSD Gen 4|
|Ports||2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 4
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
Headphone / mic combo
Optional: Nano SIM slot
|Battery||57 Wh, supports Rapid Charge|
|Connectivity||Intel AX211 WiFi 6E (2 x 2), Bluetooth 5.2|
|Camera||FHD RGB with webcam privacy shutter|
|Keyboard||Backlit keyboard with TrackPoint and 110 mm glass TrackPad, Spill-resistant, air-intake keys|
|Audio||Dolby Atmos Speaker System with Dolby Voice, 4x 360-degree Quad-Array Microphones|
|Security||Discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) 2.0, Smart Power On fingerprint reader integrated with power button (match-on-chip), Tile® ready, Webcam privacy shutter, Kensington lock slot, Secured-core|
|Material||Carbon Fiber (top), magnesium alloy (bottom)|
|OS||Windows 11 Pro|
Interestingly, there’s a pre-configured model that looks to be the same that costs over $3,000 on Lenovo.com, but here’s the thing. ThinkPads are almost never full-price on Lenovo.com, and even when they are, you can go through business channels to get them for less. At this time, the option to configure it yourself is actually much less expensive than the pre-configured one, just because of the way the discounts are set up right now.
Design: It’s carbon fiber, and it’s black
- As usual, the claim to fame is that it weighs under 2.5 pounds
- It comes in black, and it has a full range of ports
Gen over gen, the overall design has changed very little. There are modest changes to the chassis – a millimeter here or there – but it looks the same. As Henry ford would say, it comes in any color you want, as long as it’s black. There are, however, two variants of black, one of which is more of a carbon fiber weave. Lenovo sent me the standard black unit.
It weighs in at 2.48 pounds, which is really the ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s claim to fame. Made out of carbon fiber, it’s super light, and moreover, like all ThinkPads it passes a dozen MIL-STD-810G tests, so it’s tough too. While it’s not the lightest laptop on the market – even the ThinkPad X1 Nano is lighter – it’s one of the lightest that I’d call fully-featured. That means that it has a top-end Intel processor, it comes with a full array of ports, it’s not made out of a material that feels like plastic, and it has a proper keyboard. Once you start getting under 2.5 pounds, a lot of PCs will be made out of magnesium, which feels cheap if it’s not done right, and they’ll have shallow, uncomfortable keyboards.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any kind of compromise to meet a weight on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. On its 10th generation, this brand is tried and true. It’s one of the most trusted products on the market, and for good reason. ThinkPad stands for quality, and X1 stands for the best of that.
Along with the premium X1 brand comes a special ThinkPad logo that’s stamped in the lid. It’s black and it says X1, so all of the other customers at Starbucks can know that you have great taste in laptops.
The port selection has not changed since Gen 9. In fact, you probably couldn’t tell the difference between the two chassis just by looking at them. On the left side, you’ll find two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, and an HDMI 2.0b port, while on the right side, there’s a headphone jack and another USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port.
There’s not a whole lot to critique there. Dual Thunderbolt ports is that I’d expect, and of course, those two USB Type-C ports are the best you can get. The USB Type-A ports are 5Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports instead of newer 10Gbps or 20Gbps standards, but you probably won’t know the difference. It’s nice to have two USB Type-A ports at all, particularly in a business laptop.
Ultimately, the design of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is a classic. It hasn’t changed much, nor is it likely to. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga got a major change a few years ago when Lenovo shifted to an aluminum chassis, but that can’t really happen with the X1 Carbon, since the material is literally in the name.
Display: There’s an OLED option again!
- The 14-inch 16:10 display has more options than ever before
- It has the first OLED option since 2017
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is available with seven different types of displays with four different resolutions. Indeed, that is a lot of different configurations. Unfortunately, Lenovo did not send me any of the interesting ones. It sent me the regular old FHD+ touchscreen model.
Here’s the full list:
- 14” WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS LP AG (400nit, 100% sRGB, Eyesafe)
- 14” WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS LP AG Touch (400nit, 100% sRGB, Eyesafe)
- 14” WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS LP AG Touch with Privacy Guard (500nit, 100% sRGB, TUV ePrivacy Cert)
- 14” 2.2K 16:10 (2240×1400) IPS AG (300nit, 100% sRGB)
- 14” 2.8K 16:10 (2880×1800) OLED AGARAS (400nit, 100% DCI-P3, Eyesafe)
- 14” WQUXGA 16:10 (3840×2400) IPS LP Glare (500nit, 100% DCI-P3, HDR400, Dolby Vision, Eyesafe)
- 14” WQUXGA 16:10 (3840×2400) IPS LP AOFT Touch AGARAS (500nit, 100% DCIP3, HDR400, Dolby Vision, Eyesafe)
For this model, it supports 100% sRGB, 73% NTSC, 78% Adobe RGB, and 79% P3, which is pretty average. Most OLED panels get in the 90s in each category, but I don’t want to promise something I haven’t tested.
Brightness came in at 445.6 nits, exceeding the promised 400 nits, and contrast ratio is 1,380:1, which is pretty good. Again, OLED would likely be better.
Along with the new display options, the webcam is also new, as a FHD camera comes standard. An IR camera for facial recognition is option and was not included in the unit that Lenovo sent me, but still, that FHD camera coming standard is something that absolutely had to happen. This is a flagship product, and absolutely no one should be able to buy it with a lesser camera.
The camera quality is excellent, although is we’re comparing webcams, HP still takes the crown with its Elite Dragonfly, EliteBook 1000 series, Spectre x360, and several other models that actually come with 5MP webcams. A standard FHD webcam is 2.1MP, so at 5MP, it gives it more room to offer special features like following you if you move around.
Keyboard: ThinkPads still offer the Cadillac of keyboards
- The keys are still 1.6mm
- As always, Lenovo ThinkPads have premium keyboards
- There’s a TrackPoint in the middle of the keyboard and buttons above the touchpad
Lenovo ThinkPads are renowned for having some of the best keyboards around, and the one on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is no exception. It has 1.6mm keys, which is the same that we’ve been seeing for a while. Interestingly, some of the keys are designed differently.
As you can see, most of the keys have a curved edge underneath them, and prior to this generation, all of the keys had that. Now, a bunch of the keys are squared off. It’s weird, but it does feel a bit different to me. I’m not sure why Lenovo made the change.
Lenovo does have some solutions in mind. With the new ThinkPad Z-series, the company is using a haptic touchpad, where the top area of it can be used as buttons or as a touchpad. Of course, the ThinkPad team does move slowly, and it does so on purpose, so as not to rush into implementing changes. If this ever does make its way to the ThinkPad X1 series, it will be a little while.
Performance: A big bump in CPU performance
- Lenovo offers a choice between Intel P-series and U-series
- Battery life with the P-series is hit and miss
Obviously, a big change in this year’s model is that it’s offered with Intel’s 12th-gen processors. You actually get a choice between the 28W P-series and the 15W U-series, an the model that Lenovo sent me includes a Core i7-1260P, a chip I’ve seen in a few review units already.
In my experience, the P-series does get better performance, but it takes a toll on battery life. Intel 12th-gen comes with a new hybrid architecture, with performance cores and efficiency cores. I think that with the new efficiency cores, it was supposed to be easy on the battery to the point where the wattage of the chip could be jacked up a bit. Of course, you still get better battery life from the 15W U-series.
I’ve also had mixed results. As you’ll see in my benchmarking scores, the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 actually did better with its 15W processor than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon did with its 28W processor. I honestly think that for the productivity use case that this is made for, you might be better off with something like a Core i7-1255U or Core i7-1265U.
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9
|Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
|3DMark: Time Spy||1,761||1,489 / 5,280||1,507|
|Geekbench 5 single/multi||1,622 / 8,207||1,303 / 4,224||1,711 / 6,700|
|Cinebench R23 single/multi||1,309 / 7,115||1,724 / 6,797|
|CrossMark overall/productivity/creativity/responsiveness||1,547 / 1,436 / 1,771 / 1,292||1,428 / 1,450 / 1,464 / 1,265|
For battery life, the best I got was four hours and 49 minutes, which you can probably stretch to over five hours with the right settings. It was inconsistent though. There were many times when I’d be using it and the fan would just fire up for a second and shut off, or the screen brightness would adjust for a second as if it was getting a boost of power. In these intervals, I could get as little as three hours of battery life.
Should you buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10?
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a premium laptop from Lenovo’s flagship X1 range, but it is a full range, so let’s make sure you’re picking the right one.
Who should buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10?
- People who want a fully-featured business laptop that is also lightweight
- Anyone that wants the laptop that has a long history of reliability and quality
- People that do a lot of video calls
Who should not buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10?
- Customers that need a convertible
- Anyone that needs dedicated graphics
If you want something you can turn into a tablet, there’s the ThinkPad X1 Yoga to look at. But if you’re looking to go beyond productivity, there’s also the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. Lenovo has something for everyone.