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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: A fast but flawed version of a great laptop

Enlarge / Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10.

Andrew Cunningham

Specifications at a glance: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
screen 14.0-inch 1920 × 1200 (162 PPI) touch screen
operating system 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
networks WiFi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3
batteries 57Wh
ports Two Thunderbolt 4, two USB-A 5 Gbps, HDMI 2.0b, headphones
Size 8.76 × 12.43 × 0.6 in (222.5 × 315.6 × 15.36 mm)
weight 2.48lbs (1.12kg)
Warranty 1 year
revised price $1,891

Dell’s XPS 13 has been the go-to car for the Windows side of the thin-and-light laptop race for years, ever since it embraced the now-ubiquitous ultra-thin display bezel in 2015. Dell was also one step ahead of the competition a couple of years 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 for power users who can afford to spend a few hundred dollars extra, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon has always been an attractive upsell. It’s a bit lighter than Dell’s ultraportable, but still manages to fit in a larger screen and a better selection of ports. Lenovo laptop keyboards and trackpads are almost always best in class. And the ThinkPad’s pedigree as a business laptop means the Carbon’s design still has nodes of repairability and upgradeability, even if many of its internal components have still been soldered down to save space.

This years version of the X1 Carbon— we’re down to Gen 10, if anyone’s counting — not much changes on the outside. But it includes new 12th generation Intel Core processors which, as we’ve seen in other laptops, can be a blessing or a curse. Performance on CPU-intensive tasks can be faster, sometimes dramatically. But it comes at the expense of additional heat and less battery life, and that’s a tough trade-off to recommend for a general-purpose ultraportable.

look and feel

The newer X1 Carbon has a characteristically excellent ThinkPad keyboard and trackpad.
Enlarge / The newer X1 Carbon has a characteristically excellent ThinkPad keyboard and trackpad.

Andrew Cunningham

Lenovo gave the X1 Carbon a mild overhaul for the Gen 9 model last year, swapping the 16:9 display for a 16:10 version and ditching Lenovo’s semi-proprietary docking port in favor of a pair of simple Thunderbolt ports. . The Gen 10 model is nearly identical – the only physical change I noticed was a slightly raised area above the webcam on the display bezel, presumably leaving more room for the improved 1080p webcam (the Gen 9 used a 720p model ).

For those of you less familiar with the subtleties of the X1 Carbon’s design history, the most important thing to know is that it takes the classic black angular ThinkPad styling and strips it down to almost the maximum (I say “almost” because the nano X1 is one thing). It’s not as boxy as some of the cheaper L-series and E-series ThinkPads, but it definitely uses the same design language that Lenovo and IBM have been perfecting for 30 years. That’s both a blessing and a curse: Its sturdy frame and soft-touch finish are nice to hold and carry, but it’s a fingerprint-and-hand-oil magnet that’s hard to keep completely clean.

The fingerprint sensor mounted on the power button.  The barely visible mark from my finger is a testament to how easily the X1 Carbon's finish picks up stains.
Enlarge / The fingerprint sensor mounted on the power button. The barely visible mark from my finger is a testament to how easily the X1 Carbon’s finish picks up stains.

Andrew Cunningham

The most important ingredient in any ThinkPad is a top-tier keyboard and trackpad, and the Gen 10 version of the X1 Carbon has both. A large, precise Precision Touchpad and a red ThinkPad pointing tip are included, and both work as expected. The chiclet-style keys are well spaced and well lit. The keys are not as firm as on current Dell XPS models, and I have been intermittently told that the Fn key is on the left of the left Ctrl key instead of the other way around, though this is a long-standing ThinkPad quirk that can be fixed in software if it bothers you. But overall, it’s one of the best keyboards you can get on a laptop right now.

Port selection remains one of the X1 Carbon’s strongest arguments over the XPS 13 or even a MacBook Air. The Carbon tops in both quantity and variety: a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports, one of which is used to charge the laptop, plus one USB-A port on each side, a full-size HDMI port, and a headphone jack. . The Carbon ditched its microSD card reader several generations ago, which is disappointing, and the XPS 13 puts Thunderbolt ports on both sides of the laptop so you can charge it (or dock it, or whatever) from either side. . Laptops with nothing but Thunderbolt/USB-C ports aren’t as inconvenient as they used to be, either. But having the extra ports is convenient and useful for anyone who regularly uses external displays or other accessories.

The base 1920×1200 display on the X1 Carbon Gen 10 isn't the brightest we've tested, but it's fine, and the matte finish helps with outdoor visibility.
Enlarge / The base 1920×1200 display on the X1 Carbon Gen 10 isn’t the brightest we’ve tested, but it’s fine, and the matte finish helps with outdoor visibility.

Andrew Cunningham

The X1 Carbon can be configured with any of Seven different display panels, including 4K, OLED, privacy screen, and touchscreen variants; choosing either one will subtly change the battery life and weight of the laptop. Our Lenovo-provided review unit uses the 1920×1200 IPS touchscreen, with a peak brightness of 396 nits, an impressive 1744:1 contrast ratio, and 98 percent sRGB and 71 DCI-P3 gamut coverage. .5 percent (all as measured by our i1 Display Studio Colorimeter). Even the basic display is bright and colourful, and if you’re still using a 16:9 screen on an older laptop, you’ll find that the extra 120 pixels of height makes a surprisingly big difference to usability.

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