What Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon configurations should I choose?

What Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon configurations should I choose?

If you’ve looked around for the best laptops out there, you’ve no doubt noticed that the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is brought up often. It’s a lightweight and premium device with high-end specs and a 16:10 display that’s great for productivity. It also carries the legacy of the ThinkPad brand. It features the classic black look with red accents and the nub you can use as a mouse. But even a PC as great as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon offers different configuration options, and you have to choose the right one for you.

It’s important to choose a configuration that works well for your needs, because even a premium computer can be configured in a way that ends up not meeting your expectations. Lenovo offers a lot of options you can change in the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, so you can balance out how much you’re paying with what you get. In this guide, we’ll go through the main configuration options to help you choose what’s best for you.


Processor configurations on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Choosing a processor is mostly up to the performance you want. There are a few big factors that affect a processor’s performance — the number of cores, the clock speed, and the integrated graphics. Thankfully, Lenovo makes it hard to make a bad choice here. All the processors you can get with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon are quad-core, eight-thread units.

The options available are:

  • Intel Core i5-1135G7
  • Intel Core i5-1145G7 vPro
  • Intel Core i7-1165G7
  • Intel Core i7-1185G7 vPro

What the differences come down to are clock speeds and graphics, plus the vPro security features designed for business users. A higher clock speed means the processor can perform more tasks in a cycle, and essentially, that means it’s faster. Both the base clock speeds and the boost clock speeds are higher as you move to processors whose names are a higher number. That means the Intel Core i7-1185G7 vPro is the fastest of the options, but it’s also the most expensive.

What you have to consider here is whether you need that additional performance. If you’re mostly browsing the web and writing up documents in Microsoft Word, you might not need the Intel Core i7 processors. But if you’re working with very large Excel spreadsheets, or if you’re using your laptop for something like image or video editing, you definitely do want that additional performance.

That’s especially true because you also have to consider the graphics power of the integrated GPU. Lenovo only offers processors with Intel Iris Xe Graphics (denoted by the G7 in the name), but they’re not all the same. The integrated GPU in the Intel Core i5 has 80 execution units, while the Core i7 has 96. For those image and video-related workloads, or if you want to do some light gaming on your PC, the Intel Core i7 options are more appealing.

RAM configurations on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon

RAM is the next big factor that influences the performance of your PC. It’s a very fast type of memory that your computer uses to store information it needs to access quickly. More RAM will usually help the most with multitasking, though some workloads like managing large databases, spreadsheets, coding projects, or gaming can also benefit from it.

The base ThinkPad X1 Carbon configuration offers 8GB of RAM, and these days many people consider that the minimum to have a decent experience overall. If you want the computer to truly feel fast, though, you’ll want at least 16GB.

Thinkpad x1 carbon

If you opt for an Intel Core i7 processor, you can get up to 32GB of RAM, and that’s a lot. Most likely, if your kind of work requires that much RAM, you probably already know you need it. Again, it will be most important if you work with very large databases and files that need to be loaded onto the RAM. For most day-to-day usage, 16GB of RAM should be just fine.

Solid State Drive (storage)

Storage is probably the most basic configuration aspect, and it’s all up to how many files you want to store on your PC. If you use cloud storage a lot, you might not need a lot of storage on the PC itself. Plus, if you mostly work with text-based documents, it may take a while to fill up even a 256GB SSD. However, if you’re downloading videos and movies, lots of music or images, or you primarily use local storage for everything, you’ll want to upgrade.

A 512GB SSD is already a solid option, but you can spring for a 1TB model if you know you need that much storage. You always have the option to expand with external storage if you need some extra.

Display configurations on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo offers a few different display options, and there’s a bit you need to consider. The base model includes a Full HD+ 14-inch display, which comes in at a 1920 x 1200 resolution. Full HD is already fairly sharp for a laptop display, and it should look good enough in most situations. The first upgrade you can get is a touchscreen. This is mostly a matter of personal preference, and if you don’t think you’d use a touchscreen, there’s no reason to get it.

The next step up adds Privacy Guard, and that’s Lenovo’s technology to prevent other people from seeing your screen. Privacy Guard makes it so that only the person staring directly at the computer – which is you – can properly see what’s being displayed. It’s ideal for hiding sensitive information from prying eyes around you in public. This upgrade also makes the display brighter, and it also adds an IR camera – more on that in a bit.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon next to HP Elite Dragonfly with privacy display on

Finally, you can opt for a UHD+ display, with a resolution of 3840 x 2400. This makes it an incredibly sharp display, and another benefit of it is you can actually fit more on the screen. As there are many more pixels, Windows can render certain elements at smaller sizes and still have them look sharp.

That can be a big boon for productivity since you can see more elements on the screen at once. It’s also better if you’re trying to watch movies or shows in 4K resolution. However, this option does sacrifice the touch input and Privacy Guard, plus it uses more power, so you have to weigh the pros and cons.

Camera and Human Presence Detection

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is configured with a 720p webcam, and you can’t really change that. However, you can add an IR camera, and that enables facial recognition for Windows Hello. It’s up to you if you need this, but facial recognition is the quickest and simplest way to sign into a Windows PC. You can just open a laptop or press the power button, and as soon as it sees your face, it logs you into Windows and you’re ready to go. As we’ve mentioned, some of the display options add the IR camera by default.

If you do get the IR camera, Lenovo also gives you the option to also enable human presence detection. This means not only can your PC recognize your face when it sees you, it can also detect when someone is in front of it, even if the computer is sleeping. So say you get up from your desk to get a coffee — your PC can detect that you left and go to sleep, and then wake back up as soon as you get back, without you having to do anything. It’s purely a matter of convenience, and it’s entirely up to you if you need it.

4G/5G Mobile Broadband

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon can also be configured with a cellular network, and it’s one of the best 4G laptops out there. We already have a guide explaining whether you should get 4G or 5G in your ThinkPad X1 Carbon configuration, so we won’t go too deep into it right now. Simply put, these options let you stay connected to the internet wherever you go, so you don’t always need Wi-Fi.

4G is cheaper, and 4G networks are more broadly available and reliable right now. Meanwhile, 5G is newer and more future-proof, but it costs more and doesn’t work perfectly just yet. Whether you need a mobile connection depends on how much you need internet on the go, and the choice between 4G or 5G is mostly up to how long you want to keep the PC. If you’re going to use it for many years to come, 5G will be most useful in the long term.

Windows 10 edition and other software

Outside of hardware configurations for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Lenovo also lets you choose which edition of Windows 10 you want. Windows 10 Home and Pro are similar in many ways, but there are some notable differences.

Windows 10 Pro comes with extra features like support for Microsoft Remote Desktop and Hyper-V virtualization, which can be useful for business users. You also get BitLocker encryption to help keep your files safe from attackers, plus Windows 10 Pro users can more easily set up a PC with a local account instead of a Microsoft account. Aside from that, there aren’t a lot of major differences. Both editions will be upgradeable to the respective editions of Windows 11 when that’s released to the general public.

windows 10 on a lenovo thinkpad carbon

As for other software, this is all completely optional and up to each user, but you can get things like a Microsoft 365 subscription, or a perpetual Microsoft Office license. You can also get some third-party software, like antivirus or Adobe software. This is all completely optional and you might not need any of it. Windows offers built-in malware protection, and if you want dedicated software, there may be more effective options than McAfee or Norton, which are the only ones Lenovo offers.

That covers all you need to know about choosing the right ThinkPad X1 Carbon configurations for you. In the end, it’s all about choosing the things that fit your needs the best. Lenovo makes it hard to choose a configuration that’s bad, so no matter what, you’ll be getting a good laptop. However, choosing the right configurations is important so you can have something you’re happy with for years to come. One of the upgrades we’d recommend the most is probably the 16GB of RAM. That will greatly help if you’re doing any kind of multitasking, which many of us do. Even opening multiple tabs in your browser will benefit greatly from this.

Aside from that, it’s mostly up to your usage patterns. Of course, higher values are generally better, but you have to decide whether the price you pay for those upgrades is worth the use you’ll get out of them. That’s the case with any device. You can get started configuring your ThinkPad X1 Carbon using the link below.

    The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a premium business laptops packing modern features in a classic design. It offers top-tier performance, optional cellular connectivity, and a handful of customization options to make it just right for you.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.

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