Review Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE Ultrabook

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by A Kammel), 02/20/2014

Experiment.. The 2013 edition of the X1 Carbon came pretty close to a rating of "very good". Still, Lenovo has not stopped improving its premium ultrabook series, adding a WQHD IPS panel to the 13-inch device while also improving its battery life and implementing new input devices / ports. Is this enough to eradicate the few remaining issues?

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2014): Does it retain its position as one of the best business subnotebooks?
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2014): Does it retain its position as one of the best business subnotebooks?

For the original German review, see here.

So how does one recognize a great business laptop? In 2013 one of our readers tended to prefer Lenovo's X1 Carbon, even though it may have very well been unaffordable for most as even the base configuration cost 1300 Euros (~$1782). Still, the Carbon was a brilliant manager's device when it came to aspects such as its input devices, its weight, its battery life and its performance. All of its weaknesses - the high amount of heat emissions under full load, the lack of a docking port (a huge connectivity issue for a business device) and the TN panel with its subpar viewing angles - have been tackled with the 2014 version. Whether successfully or not, our review will show.

Who are the main competitors? Actually, quite a few, all of them within the premium price segment. We will focus on those three competitors with the highest ratings (as marked in bold).

91%Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch Late 201313.3"2560x1600i5-4258U
91%Lenovo ThinkPad T440s14"1920x1080i7-4600U
89%Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus 940X3G13.3"3200x1800i5-4200U
85%HP EliteBook Folio 9470m (HD+ optional)14"1366x768i5-3437U
84%Dell Latitude E744014"1920x1080i5-4300U
81%Fujitsu Lifebook U90414"3200x1800i7-4600U
-HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1 - to be reviewed soon14"1600x900Haswell

Case

The 2013 version offered a weight of just 1513 grams (non-touch version: 1347 grams; ~3.3 and 3.0 pounds respectively) while retaining great sturdiness. The high-quality materials cannot be experienced haptically by the user as the base unit, the area around the input devices and the lid feel like matte-painted plastics (and not metal-cold such as aluminum surfaces do). Still, it is far harder and more torsion-resistant than plastics would permit, despite a weight that has been reduced to a mere 1411 grams (~3.1 pounds).

Thanks to the matte, slightly rubberized surfaces (in all areas), the 14-inch device has a non-slip feel to it. Unfortunately, the torsion resistance of the lid and the base unit are not quite as good as with (noticeably heavier) aluminum unibodies (Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13ATIV Book 9 Plus). Lifting the opened laptop at one edge leads to a slight distortion of the base unit. The same holds true for the lid: While the rear side is indeed highly pressure-resistant (even when applying pressure on a single point in the center), it can be distorted a bit to the sides.

To put this slight disadvantage into context: Those who rely on a perfectly torsion-resistant device will have to go with the higher weight of an aluminum unibody. Those who are blessed with the absence of kids who want to test out the lever rule, will be every bit as happy with magnesium, carbon fiber or a partial aluminum chassis (LifeBook, EliteBook FolioThinkPad T440s, Latitude E7440). Luckily, the X1 Carbon is far better than the rather un-sturdy carbon fiber laptop Vaio Pro 13 made by Sony - its 1066 grams (~2.4 pounds) may have been a bit too little.

Next to the optical changes concerning the chassis (touch bar above the keyboard, different ports), some details have been changed such as the position of the fingerprint sensor, the fan vents, the feet and the speakers. One major difference is the way of accessing the laptop's innards: Loosening a number of screws removes the new bottom panel (pictures of the innards on the right hand side) - this takes the place of having to take off the upper shell.

Weight reduction: Instead of 1516 grams (2013 Touch), the 2014 version weighs just 1411 grams. The carbon chassis remains both impressively thin and suitably sturdy.
Weight reduction: Instead of 1516 grams (2013 Touch), the 2014 version weighs just 1411 grams. The carbon chassis remains both impressively thin and suitably sturdy.

Connectivity

We have criticized the predecessor for its few ports: No docking port for an office-friendly docking station, no VGA, no HDMI and no Ethernet RJ45. The 2014 version now comes with the much-missed OneLink dock connector for the well-known docking station, which works with all new S- and E-series ThinkPads and even the budget office device B5400. Moreover, while the port replicator may not include any additional ports, it does at least make it more comfortable to unplug the device. The airplane mode switch is gone, but it has been replaced by a small port for the Ethernet dongle (included!) and an HDMI port. Unfortunately, no SD card reader has been included.

Left: Power connector with OneLink Port (for the docking solution), HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, USB 3.0 with Sleep & Charge, combined Line In/Out (3.5mm)
Left: Power connector with OneLink Port (for the docking solution), HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, USB 3.0 with Sleep & Charge, combined Line In/Out (3.5mm)
Right: USB 3.0, port for the Ethernet dongle, Kensington lock
Right: USB 3.0, port for the Ethernet dongle, Kensington lock
Rear: Sim card slot
Rear: Sim card slot

Communication

Instead of a Centrino Advanced-N 6205s, the new Carbon X1 comes with an Intel Wireless-AC 7260 Wi-Fi modem including Bluetooth 4.0. During our (unscientific) range check, the device quickly lost half of its signal strength (down to 2-3 bars) at a distance of approximately 15 meters (~49 feet), completely losing the connection to our router (Fritz!Box 7270 @100%). On the other hand, the ProBook 640 G1 (Broadcom BCM943228HM4L 2x2 WiFi) for example, retains the connection even at a distance of 45 meters (~148 feet; browsing still possible). The limited range of AC Wi-Fi modems when compared to older models had already been noted during our reviews of the Asus Transformer Book Trio TX201LA, the Medion Akoya P2211T Test Medion Akoya P2211T MD98602 Convertible (both Wireless-AC 3160) and the Dell XPS 12 as well as the Sony Vaio Pro 13 (both Wireless-AC 7260). The integrated HSPA+ ThinkPad Ericsson N5321 Mobile Broadband modem uses an M.2 slot just as the Wi-Fi module, yielding cellular connections.

Security

A professional work environment demands a lot more in terms of security features and the ThinkPad X1 delivers: An integrated TPM module, a fingerprint sensor (now in a better location than right beneath the arrow keys), hard drive encryption, Intel's Anti-Theft/Computrace solution, a USB / BIOS connection lock and a number of BIOS settings concerning hardware functions and security (as can be seen in the following screenshots) are included, as is a password manager software.

Maintenance

Accessibility has been improved noticeably: Lifting the bottom panel (which is fastened with a number of screws), as shown on the right hand side, allows access to the innards. While the onboard RAM module can neither be replaced nor augmented (it is soldered to the mainboard, as is the CPU), at least the fan can easily be cleaned. All communication modules are plug-in M.2 cards (Wi-Fi, HSPA+, SSD). The battery comes with a capacity of 45 Wh. It is also fastened with a number of screws and can thus be replaced.

Software

QuickCast, Skitch Touch, Solution Center, QuickControl, User Guide and MS Office 365 Trial come preinstalled. In addition, more than 70 entries can be found in the program list under the system control center, including a number of driver packages and hardware-specific tools (e.g. Intel Smart Connect, Intel Management and Security).

Accessories

Gigabit dongle (Intel I218-LM) is included, yielding wire-based Ethernet network connections via a proprietary Lenovo port.

Warranty

All models of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2014 20A7005RGE) listed in German online shops come with three years of on-site service, with optional warranty extensions to up to five years being available (ThinkPlus service, 169 Euros (~$232) extra). Even accidental damage insurances (shocks, falls, liquids etc.) are available.

Reference camera: Canon EOS 1100D
Reference camera: Canon EOS 1100D
HD webcam (1280x720 pixels)
HD webcam (1280x720 pixels)
Decent focus, weak sharpness, lots of noise
Decent focus, weak sharpness, lots of noise

BIOS pages / sub pages

Input Devices

Keyboard

The conventional section of the keys has seen a number of improvements, but this time in terms of the layout (the superb mechanical properties of the 2013 edition - from key travel to pressure point, bulges and conical shape - remain the same) which may very well be considered "too experimental" by some traditionalists. The function and F keys have been removed completely; no extra keys above the keyboard itself remain. Thus, Esc, Pos1, End, Ins and Del had to be moved as well. Pos1 and End replace the old Caps Lock key at the left (which is gone without replacement, a decision some typists may even cherish). Insert has been omitted as well, Delete takes up part of the old Backspace key - this is actually the biggest issue when it comes to involuntary typos.

Touchpad

The touchpad has seen some changes as well. It is now 70 x 100 mm large (~2.8 x 3.9 inches), with the two touchpad buttons having been removed, at least physically. Still, the click zones have remained the same as before. The touchpad offers a generous 2 mm of travel, with even responsiveness throughout (while many consumer touchpads offer no travel at all in their upper third). Lenovo calls this a glass surface, but while the matte surface feels hard and premium due to its non-glossy coating, it does not feel cool. It works flawlessly, allowing for quick and responsive reactions of the device. Many professional users will prefer the red TrackPoint, but some of them are going to miss the real, physical buttons, as they felt a bit faster and more responsive than the touchpad of the 2014 edition.

Touch Panel

Our X1 Carbon comes with a 10-finger multi-touch screen. This is not the standard as there is also a non-touch variant 20A7005MGE (Core i5, 180 GB SSD). Both screens are matte, an effect that is achieved in the case of our device with a film on top of the glass. While this is not quite enough to remove all fingerprints, it does reduce reflections by a highly significant amount. The grid of the capacitive touch layer is visible even to the naked eye. The screen remains sensitive right up to its edges. Everything works reliably and flawlessly, with quick response times thanks to the high performance of the SSD and i7-powered device.

Conical keyboard with a firm pressure point
Conical keyboard with a firm pressure point
Backlighting (step 2/2)
Backlighting (step 2/2)
Program-dependent options on the touch bar
Program-dependent options on the touch bar
ClickPad, now without real pointer keys
ClickPad, now without real pointer keys
Agile ClickPad with a lot of travel ...
Agile ClickPad with a lot of travel ...
...and little resistance
...and little resistance
Camera gestures
Camera gestures
e.g. in Power Point
e.g. in Power Point

Gesture Control

Lenovo seems to be quite proud of its webcam-based gesture system called Gesture Control where simple movements of the hand are translated into simple commands such as going to the next slide, adjusting music volume and stopping or starting music playback. All of this works rather well when the hand is 0.5 to 2 meters (~1.6 to 6.6 feet) away from the webcam, and with a number of common programs which support this feature, such as Windows Media Player, Adobe PDF Reader or Power Point. Our verdict after our tests: A nice idea, but users should practice before they rely too much on it during a presentation.

Fn shortcut overview
Fn shortcut overview
Adaptive keyboard
Adaptive keyboard
Mode settings
Mode settings

Touch Bar

Lenovo calls its replacement for the F keys an "Adaptive Keyboard". It is a touch-sensitive bar with backlighting capable of displaying five different modes. One of these comes close to the original function mode with the F keys; another one is called a "web conference mode". This includes volume and microphone controls as well as shortcuts for adjusting brightness as well as turning the webcam, the gesture control system and the voice control on (or off). More details about the keys of all five modes can be found below in our screenshots. The order of the modes can be adjusted, as can be the allocation of a certain mode to a certain application ("dynamic mode"). New symbols cannot be added, as this is no LCD, just a number of backlit keys with the same symbol always appearing at the same location.

In order to appease users of shortcuts, some (unlabeled) Fn key combinations do work by pressing the Fn touch symbol and a certain letter (or number) at the same time, as can be seen below. Fn+4, for example, activates the standby mode of the X1.

Standard mode: Volume, brightness, search, Alt+Tab, all apps, snipping tool, SkyDrive (or different Cloud storage), voice control, gesture control
Standard mode: Volume, brightness, search, Alt+Tab, all apps, snipping tool, SkyDrive (or different Cloud storage), voice control, gesture control
Function mode: F1 to F12, airplane mode, projections (external displays), keyboard backlighting, adaptive keys settings
Function mode: F1 to F12, airplane mode, projections (external displays), keyboard backlighting, adaptive keys settings
Horizontal mode (TFT opening angle of 180 degrees): Volume, brightness, image rotation, voice control, gesture control
Horizontal mode (TFT opening angle of 180 degrees): Volume, brightness, image rotation, voice control, gesture control
Browser mode: Volume, brightness, back, reload, new tab, snipping tool, voice control, gesture control
Browser mode: Volume, brightness, back, reload, new tab, snipping tool, voice control, gesture control
Conference mode: Volume, brightness, microphone volume, mute button (for participants), webcam on/off, camera modes, voice control, gesture control
Conference mode: Volume, brightness, microphone volume, mute button (for participants), webcam on/off, camera modes, voice control, gesture control

Display

The rasterization of the touch layer is easily visible.
The rasterization of the touch layer is easily visible.

Lenovo improves upon the major disadvantage of the old X1 Carbon, equipping the 2014 version with a 14-inch WQHD screen with 2560x1440 pixels instead of the HD+ screen with its 1600x900 pixels, boosting the pixel density from 131 ppi to 210 ppi. Whether this is worth the extra money (not all variants of the 2014 edition come with this screen) has to be decided by the user. Even more importantly, though, Lenovo has finally replaced the TN panel with an IPS screen so that the new WQHD IPS is definitely a major improvement in terms of contrast ratio and viewing angle stability.

The Carbon is not the only laptop with such a high resolution. The Dell Latitude E7440 can be had with 1920x1080 pixels. Samsung's ATIV Book 9 Plus even manages to pack 3200x1800 pixels into just 13.3 inches. The Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 offers 2560x1440 pixels, not too far behind the Fujitsu LifeBook U904 with its 3200x1800 pixels. Even Lenovo's ThinkPad T440s now comes with 1920x1080 pixels.

233
cd/m²
236
cd/m²
257
cd/m²
245
cd/m²
251
cd/m²
260
cd/m²
259
cd/m²
267
cd/m²
261
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 267 cd/m²
Average: 252.1 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 87 %
Center on Battery: 253 cd/m²
Black: 0.175 cd/m²
Contrast: 1434:1
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSCKHF240A4
Lenovo Thinkpad T440s 20AQ0069GE
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD2560/0L9
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Samsung MZNTD128HAGM
Dell Latitude E7440 FHD SSD256
Intel Core i5-4300U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Toshiba HG5d THNSNH256GCST
Illumination
-11%
-13%
7%
8%
Brightness Center251310
24%
301
20%
318
27%
317
26%
Black *0.1750.38
-117%
0.39
-123%
0.24
-37%
0.25
-43%
Contrast1434816
-43%
772
-46%
1325
-8%
1268
-12%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *5.814.56
22%
4
31%
4.29
26%
4.17
28%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *6.235.12
18%
4.4
29%
4.68
25%
4.87
22%
Gamma *2.222.662.432.692.45
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)5064
28%
54.8
10%
64.5
29%

* ... smaller is better

A contrast ratio of 1434:1 is much more than that of most of its competitors, with only the Latitude E7440 (Full HD version) and the LifeBook U904 exceeding a factor of 1000:1 as well. The brightness, on the other hand, is just average at 252 cd/m², but it does at least remain constant while running on battery. As is the case with its competitors, color space coverage is mediocre, with just 50% of the Adobe color space and 74% of sRGB. The only exception is the U904, which reaches 64% of the Adobe color space.

Color space QVGA vs. sRGB (t)
Color space QVGA vs. sRGB (t)
Color space QVGA vs. AdobeRGB (t)
Color space QVGA vs. AdobeRGB (t)
Color space QVGA vs. X1 2013 HD+ (t)
Color space QVGA vs. X1 2013 HD+ (t)

The exact color reproduction can be tested before and after calibration with a color spectrometer (the values in the charts are prior to calibration). The X1 does not manage to reach the target value of DeltaE smaller than 3, but neither does its competitors (neither for the grayscale rendition nor for the colors themselves). A calibration does not do much: The grayscale DeltaE value decreases to 4, that of the colors to 4.3. The warmish appearance of the bright grays can even be noted with the naked eye. The saturation sweeps show that the largest deviations occur for greens and reds, and calibration does little to correct it.

CalMAN grayscale
CalMAN grayscale
Grayscale calibrated
Grayscale calibrated
CalMAN saturation
CalMAN saturation
Saturation calibrated
Saturation calibrated
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
ColorChecker calibrated
ColorChecker calibrated

Thanks to its matte film and the non-diminished brightness while running on battery, the laptop can be used easily outdoors. The anti-glare film helps in reducing (but not eliminating) reflections, yielding the ideal compromise between touch support and outdoor usability. While it does not come close to matte, non-touch office laptops, it works almost flawlessly under cloudy skies.

Outdoor: Easily visible thanks to its decent peak brightness, ...
Outdoor: Easily visible thanks to its decent peak brightness, ...
...matte film ...
...matte film ...
... and very high contrast ratio.
... and very high contrast ratio.

Unsurprisingly, the viewing angle stability of the WQHD Carbon (2014) is much better than that of the HD+ X1 Carbon (2013) as can be seen below, with no color inversions occurring. The overexposure of the lower three images is due to the shooting - a user would see normal colors.

Viewing angles ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014 (QHD IPS)
Viewing angles ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014 (QHD IPS)
Viewing angles ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2013 (HD+ TN)
Viewing angles ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2013 (HD+ TN)

Performance

Our test device ships with an Intel Core i7-4600U (2.1 to 3.3 GHz) and thus also an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 GPU. In addition, a 240 GB SSD (approx. 160 GB remain available for the user) and 8 GB of (onboard) RAM have been included. Other configurations with an Intel Core i5-4200U, an i7-4550U or a 180 GB SSD do exist. The cheapest configuration can be had for 1635 Euros (~$2242), being equipped with the WQHD panel (2560x1440 pixels). While the HD+ version might be cheaper, it is not yet available in Germany.

System info CPU-Z CPU
System info CPU-Z Mainboard
System info CPU-Z Memory
System info GPU-Z
ASSSD 501 MB/s Seq. Read
CrystalDiskMark 496 MB/s Seq. Read
System information Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE

Processor

Cinebench R15 Multi CPU@ 2.4 GHz
Cinebench R15 Multi CPU@ 2.4 GHz
R15 OpenGL (battery) GPU@ 450-800 MHz
R15 OpenGL (battery) GPU@ 450-800 MHz
R15 OpenGL (outlet) GPU@ 750 MHz
R15 OpenGL (outlet) GPU@ 750 MHz

We are employing Cinebench R15 in order to determine the CPU and GPU clock speeds during normal loads (no stress test), checking how well the Turbo Boost works. A decent cooling system allows the CPU to at least keep its base clock speed of 2.1 GHz (i7-4600). And in an ideal world, the full Turbo clock speed of 3.3 GHz is upheld indefinitely.

The clock speed during our multi tests was close to a constant level of 2.4 GHz (including the Turbo range), but this leads to just 170 points, 26% less than those of the Fujitsu LifeBook U904 (same CPU, same slightly-turbo-y clock speeds). This strange difference is retained during Cinebench R11.5 multi (U904: +36%) as well as during the computation sub score of the PCMark 7 (as seen below) with a difference of 88% between the LifeBook U904 and the X1.

The (alternatively available) Core i5-4200U, as used in the ATIV Book 9 Plus and the ThinkPad T440s, fares a lot better (~ 30%), but this does not have much to say about how such a CPU would perform in the X1, as similar performance drops might occur.

While running on battery, even less performance can be had, with the R11.5 test results (including OpenGL via GPU) yielding 1.64 (multi, instead of 1.9) and 14.52 (OpenGL, instead of 15.93) points with the high-performance profile being active.

Cinebench R15
OpenGL 64Bit
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
18.27 fps ∼15%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
170 Points ∼11%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
231 Points ∼15% +36%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
291 Points ∼19% +71%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
215 Points ∼14% +26%
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
90 Points ∼59%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
101 Points ∼66% +12%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
113 Points ∼74% +26%
Cinebench R11.5
OpenGL 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
15.93 fps ∼15%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
16.43 fps ∼15% +3%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
20.55 fps ∼19% +29%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
14.19 fps ∼13% -11%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
13.16 fps ∼12% -17%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
12.04 fps ∼11% -24%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
1.9 Points ∼11%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
2.49 Points ∼14% +31%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
3.15 Points ∼18% +66%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
2.51 Points ∼14% +32%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
2.58 Points ∼15% +36%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
2.6 Points ∼15% +37%
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
1.01 Points ∼55%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
1.14 Points ∼62% +13%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
1.27 Points ∼69% +26%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
1.14 Points ∼62% +13%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
1.13 Points ∼61% +12%
Legend
      Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSCKHF240A4
      Dell Latitude E7440 FHD SSD256 Intel Core i5-4300U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
      Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Samsung MZNTD128HAGM
      Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10 Intel Core i5-4258U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Apple SSD SM0256F
      Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500 Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
      Fujitsu Lifebook U904 Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Toshiba HG5d THNSNH256GCST
      HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA Intel Core i5-3427U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.01 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
1.9 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
15.93 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
90 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
170 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
63.3 %
Help

System Performance

PCMark results are similar: Despite the great SSD of the X1 (see below) which takes the lead together with the LifeBook U904 and the MacBook Pro Retina 13, the PCMark 7 result of just 3015 points is quite a disappointment. Its competitors are up to 81% faster, including once again Fujitsu LifeBook U904 (+60%). The productivity sub score is just as bad. PCMark 8 is not really comparable as no v2 score is available for the older tests. Thus, here only the Dell Latitude E7440 (Full HD version) with its i5-4300U remains, which - without PCMark 7 scores - takes the lead by a mere 5%, much less than before.

A CAD tool test, SpecViewPerf 11.0, leads to another disappointment: An integrated GPU such as the HD 4400 is just not the right tool for these applications, even if it is running as smoothly as with the ProBook 430-G1.

But while the benchmark results appear mediocre, the actual user experience is just great, with boot times (up to entering one's password) of just 6 seconds, near-instantaneous wake-up times from standby, fast installations and quick app starts. Then again, this is exactly what we expect from a device with a price point of around 2000 Euros (~$2742).

PCMark 7
Score
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
3015 Points ∼46%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
2287 Points ∼35% -24%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
4168 Points ∼63% +38%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
4912 Points ∼74% +63%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
4825 Points ∼73% +60%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
5460 Points ∼82% +81%
Productivity
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
1220 Points ∼11%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
1642 Points ∼15% +35%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
3529 Points ∼32% +189%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
2365 Points ∼22% +94%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
2780 Points ∼26% +128%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
4657 Points ∼43% +282%
Computation
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
7363 Points ∼26%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
4743 Points ∼17% -36%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
10721 Points ∼38% +46%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
18424 Points ∼65% +150%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
13847 Points ∼49% +88%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
15931 Points ∼56% +116%
System Storage
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
5399 Points ∼76%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
1849 Points ∼26% -66%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
5281 Points ∼74% -2%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
5159 Points ∼72% -4%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
5518 Points ∼77% +2%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
5545 Points ∼78% +3%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
3139 Points ∼58%
Dell Latitude E7440 FHD SSD256
3309 Points ∼61% +5%
Storage Score
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
4930 Points ∼99%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
4898 Points ∼98% -1%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
4975 Points ∼100% +1%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
4983 Points ∼100% +1%
PC Mark
PCMark 73015 points
PCMark 8 Home v22264 points
PCMark 8 Creative v22672 points
PCMark 8 Work v23139 points
Help
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSCKHF240A4
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Toshiba HG5d THNSNH256GCST
HP ProBook 430-G1
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
HP ZBook 15
Intel Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Hitachi Travelstar 7K750 HTS727575A9E
SPECviewperf 11
-8%
25%
1252%
1920x1080 Catia AA:0x AF:0x42.11
1920x1080 Ensight AA:0x AF:0x1.581.29
-18%
1.94
23%
28.25
1688%
1920x1080 Lightwave AA:0x AF:0x10.819.88
-9%
12.52
16%
48.97
353%
1920x1080 Maya AA:0x AF:0x10.697.81
-27%
10.22
-4%
52.85
394%
1920x1080 Pro/ENGINEER AA:0x AF:0x1.391.72
24%
1.73
24%
17.6
1166%
1920x1080 SolidWorks AA:0x AF:0x6.776.04
-11%
9.11
35%
42.39
526%
1920x1080 Tcvis AA:0x AF:0x1.621.47
-9%
2.21
36%
34.27
2015%
1920x1080 Siemens NX AA:0x AF:0x1.151.06
-8%
1.68
46%
31.34
2625%

Mass Storage

The Intel SSD Pro 1500 SSDSCKHF240A4 with its 240 GB gross capacity offers superb read and write speeds during our 4K tests. Almost 40 MB/s? None of its competitors reach these levels. The SSD also takes the top spot in terms of Write 4K speeds of 106 MB/s. The less relevant Read Sequential test still yields above-average results, but in this regard, most high-end SSDs come to lie close to each other anyway.

CrystalDiskMark 3.0
Read Seq
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
492.9 MB/s ∼33%
Dell Latitude E7440 FHD SSD256
469.2 MB/s ∼32% -5%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
524.9 MB/s ∼36% +6%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
705 MB/s ∼48% +43%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
509.6 MB/s ∼35% +3%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
443.5 MB/s ∼30% -10%
Write Seq
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
220.7 MB/s ∼24%
Dell Latitude E7440 FHD SSD256
395 MB/s ∼42% +79%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
135 MB/s ∼15% -39%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
634 MB/s ∼68% +187%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
478 MB/s ∼51% +117%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
253.8 MB/s ∼27% +15%
Read 4k
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
39.4 MB/s ∼91%
Dell Latitude E7440 FHD SSD256
32.58 MB/s ∼75% -17%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
30.44 MB/s ∼70% -23%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
17.4 MB/s ∼40% -56%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
22.65 MB/s ∼52% -43%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
21.91 MB/s ∼51% -44%
Write 4k
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
106.5 MB/s ∼65%
Dell Latitude E7440 FHD SSD256
78.26 MB/s ∼48% -27%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
94.12 MB/s ∼58% -12%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
30.9 MB/s ∼19% -71%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
99.64 MB/s ∼61% -6%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
47.77 MB/s ∼29% -55%
Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSCKHF240A4
Sequential Read: 492.9 MB/s
Sequential Write: 220.7 MB/s
512K Read: 427 MB/s
512K Write: 225.5 MB/s
4K Read: 39.4 MB/s
4K Write: 106.5 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 207.1 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 174.7 MB/s

Graphics Card

Contrary to our pure CPU results, the OpenGL test of our GPU actually yielded above-average results, on par with the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (which is just 3% faster). The Fujitsu LifeBook U904 (all ship with an HD 4400) was weaker by 17% due to its Single Channel RAM (while the GPU of the X1 profits from its Dual Channel RAM). The variable GPU clock speed hovers around a relatively constant value of 750 MHz while the laptop is plugged in (still, in theory, an HD 4400 should be capable of up to 1100 MHz).

Gaming-oriented benchmarks corroborate these results, with the X1 in between the ATIV Book 9 Plus (+16%, 1000 MHz during the games) and the LifeBook U904 (-18%).

3DMark (2013)
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
3716 Points ∼15%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
5286 Points ∼22% +42%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
4314 Points ∼18% +16%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
3941 Points ∼16% +6%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
3032 Points ∼12% -18%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
4685 Points ∼6%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
6836 Points ∼9% +46%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
5659 Points ∼7% +21%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
4877 Points ∼6% +4%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
3292 Points ∼4% -30%
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
5136 points
3DMark Ice Storm31321 points
3DMark Cloud Gate3716 points
3DMark Fire Strike478 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Games are no topic of particular interest for the X1 Carbon, at least demanding 3D titles which have been released within the past four years. That being said: With low details, surprisingly many games remain playable (as our tests below show) - and thanks to the rather fast CPU, even some titles from 2013 can be enjoyed with medium details.

low med.high ultra
Dota 2 (2013) 56.337.819.4fps
Total War: Rome II (2013) 36.527.920.5fps
Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) 422812fps

Emissions

Loudness
Idle Minimum
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
29.6 dB * ∼59%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
29.6 dB * ∼59% -0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
29.8 dB * ∼60% -1%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
29.6 dB * ∼59% -0%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
29.6 dB * ∼59% -0%
Idle Average
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
29.6 dB * ∼59%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
29.6 dB * ∼59% -0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
29.8 dB * ∼60% -1%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
29.6 dB * ∼59% -0%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
33.3 dB * ∼67% -13%
Idle Maximum
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
29.6 dB * ∼59%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
29.6 dB * ∼59% -0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
29.8 dB * ∼60% -1%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
29.6 dB * ∼59% -0%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
33.4 dB * ∼67% -13%
Load Average
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
36.1 dB * ∼72%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
41.4 dB * ∼83% -15%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
34.8 dB * ∼70% +4%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
31.6 dB * ∼63% +12%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
38.2 dB * ∼76% -6%
Load Maximum
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
42.2 dB * ∼84%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
42.4 dB * ∼85% -0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
35.4 dB * ∼71% +16%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
34.8 dB * ∼70% +18%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
38.2 dB * ∼76% +9%
Legend
      Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSCKHF240A4
      Dell Latitude E7440 FHD SSD256 Intel Core i5-4300U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
      Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Samsung MZNTD128HAGM
      Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10 Intel Core i5-4258U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Apple SSD SM0256F
      Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500 Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
      Fujitsu Lifebook U904 Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Toshiba HG5d THNSNH256GCST
      HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA Intel Core i5-3427U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L

* ... smaller is better

System Noise

Fans and heatpipes have been rearranged
Fans and heatpipes have been rearranged
Two heatpipes next to the processor
Two heatpipes next to the processor

The X1 remains astonishingly quiet. While we do manage to measure up to 42 dB(A) during our stress tests, this is quite an unrealistic scenario. Actually, during the Specviewperf 11.0 CAD benchmarks, the fan remained turned off, and consistently so, even though the high-performance mode (CPU/GPU) had been activated (as well as the active system cooling mode). Generally, we rarely notice the active fan during real-life usage. Then again, the competitors offer pretty much the same experience, with the ATIV Book 9 PlusThinkPad T440s and the LifeBook U904 remaining completely silent while idle. Looking for the quietest 14-inch ultrabook under full load? The U904 never manages to exceed 32 dB(A).

Noise Level

Idle 29.6 / 29.6 / 29.6 dB(A)
Load 36.1 / 42.2 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Things are different when it comes to the heat emissions. Fifty degrees Celsius during our stress tests? None of the competitors get that hot, even though some come close, e.g., the ATIV Book 9 Plus (47 degrees Celsius; 116.6 Fahrenheit). The differences are not quite as pronounced while the device is idle, with a comfortably cool 24 degrees (75.2 Fahrenheit) being reached in the case of the X1 Carbon, just 2 degrees more than the room temperature of 22 degrees (71.6 Fahrenheit).

What happens to the innards during our demanding stress test? Both Prime95 (CPU) and FurMark (GPU) lead to a lot of excess heat within the device, resulting in a throttling of the CPU clock speed down to 1.0 GHz after just 10 seconds (when it reaches 65 degrees Celsius; 149 Fahrenheit). The GPU remains between 750 and 800 MHz for the duration of the test.

As soon as we deactivate the GPU part of this extreme scenario (FurMark), the CPU clock speed jumps back up to 2.2 GHzremaining there until the laptop is forced to run on battery, with the clock speed then oscillating between 800 MHz and 2.2 GHz, leading to the above-mentioned decrease in benchmark results while unplugged.

Stress test (beginning): CPU@ 1.0-1.1 GHz oscillating
Stress test (beginning): CPU@ 1.0-1.1 GHz oscillating
Stress test (beginning): GPU@ 750-800 MHz oscillating
Stress test (beginning): GPU@ 750-800 MHz oscillating
Prime95 Multi CPU@ 2.2 GHz stable
Prime95 Multi CPU@ 2.2 GHz stable
Prime95 Multi (battery) CPU@ 800 MHz to 2.2 GHz oscillating (10 sec)
Prime95 Multi (battery) CPU@ 800 MHz to 2.2 GHz oscillating (10 sec)
Max. Load
 34.8 °C49.4 °C44.8 °C 
 29 °C36.6 °C33.7 °C 
 27.3 °C26.8 °C28.8 °C 
Maximum: 49.4 °C
Average: 34.6 °C
43.1 °C43.6 °C36.2 °C
32.6 °C33.4 °C30.9 °C
28.7 °C29.2 °C28.8 °C
Maximum: 43.6 °C
Average: 34.1 °C
Power Supply (max.)  54.2 °C | Room Temperature 22.7 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

Small stereo speakers
Small stereo speakers
Rather balanced sound
Rather balanced sound

We have tested a number of different musical genres, but we were not too impressed by the speakers. While the speakers do offer rather high volume (without distortions!), everything sounds a bit tinny and artificial. As can be seen by taking a look at the pictures of the innards of the X1, the speakers have seen some changes, with a slightly larger (but still tiny) resonance cavity, leading to higher maximum volume than the 2013 version offered. Their orientation has stayed the same, still being aimed at the table which can lead to anything from an increase in perceived volume (due to the reflections) to a muffling of the sound (e.g., by one's own hands).

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The battery life has seen some improvements even though the capacity of 45 Wh has remained unchanged. Lenovo now uses the more common Lithium-Ion batteries instead of Lithium polymer type sheets, but the improved runtimes might have more to do with the very low power consumption than this change. "Thanks" to the massive throttling during our stress tests; a maximum power consumption of 27 Watts is never exceeded, even under full load. However, our tests have not been performed under full load, but with the help of the Classic "normal load" test with a load average of 26 Watts.

The power consumption while idle may actually be close to a new record for subnotebooks, although it also has something to do with the extremely low minimum brightness levels of the Carbon, making it completely impossible to recognize anything that is displayed on the screen. By the way, it takes 2:28 hours to recharge the batteries, a more-than-decent time given the X1's long stamina.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSCKHF240A4
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Samsung MZNTD128HAGM
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Toshiba HG5d THNSNH256GCST
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
Power Consumption
-36%
-27%
-21%
Idle Minimum *3.74.7
-27%
5
-35%
4.1
-11%
Idle Average *4.89.0
-88%
8.4
-75%
7.8
-63%
Idle Maximum *6.89.0
-32%
9.3
-37%
8.7
-28%
Load Average *26.230.9
-18%
25.2
4%
26.9
-3%
Load Maximum *27.331.8
-16%
24.7
10%
27.4
-0%

* ... smaller is better

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.1 Watt
Idle 3.7 / 4.8 / 6.8 Watt
Load 26.2 / 27.3 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 960

Battery Life

The real-life battery runtimes are best determined with our Wi-Fi browsing test (display set to almost 150 cd/m² at the second brightest setting, no adaptive brightness), where we measured a mediocre 7:44 hours - most competitors manage to reach 19 to 30% more. Things look equally grim when watching movies, with 5:40 hours being possible while watching the Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p clip. The touch version of the 2013 Carbon actually did not fare much worse (-18% under load, -11% during the Wi-Fi test, -5% during the Reader’s test).

Battery Runtime
Reader / Idle
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
561 min ∼37%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
668 min ∼45% +19%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
693 min ∼46% +24%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
730 min ∼49% +30%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch N3NAQGE
533 min ∼36% -5%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
694 min ∼46% +24%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
1535 min ∼102% +174%
Classic / Load
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
140 min ∼9%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
109 min ∼7% -22%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
126 min ∼8% -10%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
144 min ∼10% +3%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch N3NAQGE
115 min ∼8% -18%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
170 min ∼11% +21%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
99 min ∼7% -29%
WLAN
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
464 min ∼31%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
357 min ∼24% -23%
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
372 min ∼25% -20%
Fujitsu Lifebook U904
384 min ∼26% -17%
Dell Latitude E7440 FHD SSD256
407 min ∼27% -12%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch N3NAQGE
414 min ∼28% -11%
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m H4P04EA
459 min ∼31% -1%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
569 min ∼38% +23%
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
9h 21min
WiFi Surfing
7h 44min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
5h 40min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 20min

Verdict

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014 - not everybody is going to like the adaptive keyboard
ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014 - not everybody is going to like the adaptive keyboard

Lenovo has tried to put everything new and fancy into the revamped X1 Carbon, but it may have overshot some of its targets in the process. However, let us start with one of its greatest aspects: The IPS touch panel with its 2560x1440 pixels offers ultra-sharp image quality. Whether Full HD wouldn't have been sufficient is another topic for debate, but it remains obvious that the very high contrast ratio, great viewing angle stability, decent brightness (even while running on battery) and the matte coating of the display yield a screen that is just a joy to use. Unfortunately, scaling issues do still occur with some legacy software, but then again, all competitors with a similarly high screen resolution are plagued by the same issue.

Maintenance options have been streamlined, as has been the variety of ports. And finally, Lenovo has included a OneLink connector so that Lenovo's universal dock can be attached with just one cable, making everyday use even more of a breeze.

Some might be critical of the adaptive keyboard, and ThinkPad traditionalists will surely refrain from thinking about purchasing the Carbon (or buy one of the 2013 models), but the new Touch bar is just that: A new way of accessing the now missing F/Fn keys, while allowing personalization at the same time. Thus, we neither want to praise nor condemn Lenovo's decision here.

The X1 Carbon is on par with its numerous competitors - many of which ship with high-resolution displays, too - when it comes to its mobility (low weight, good battery life, outdoor-friendly panel). Still, an otherwise similar Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (1920x1080 pixels, i7-4600U) might be the better (cheaper) investment for those who are not interested in the extra pixels or the touchscreen. Samsung's ATIV Book 9 Plus 940X3G (13.3 inches, 3200x1800 pixels, i5-4200U) and Apple's MacBook Pro Retina 13 (13.3 inches, 2560x1440, i5-4258U) are more consumer-oriented devices with less security functionality (TPM, extended BIOS etc.) and might be a worthwhile alternative for those who do not care about these extra features. Other business competitors can be found in the intro section of this review and on the right hand side.

The original ThinkPad X1 Carbon is now available on Adorama for $1720

Comment this article:

In Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch (20A8-003UGE), provided by Lenovo Germany
In Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch (20A8-003UGE), provided by Lenovo Germany
The original ThinkPad X1 Carbon is now available on Adorama for $1720

Specifications

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel Lynx Point-LP
:: Memory
8192 MB, Dual Channel, onboard
:: Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 4400, Core: 200-900 MHz, DDR3, 10.18.10.3304
:: Display
14 inch 16:9, 2560x1440 pixel, 10 fingers, FlexView LP140QH1 SPA2, IPS, matte (anti-glare film), glossy: no
:: Harddisk
Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSCKHF240A4, 240 GB INTEL SSDSCKHF240A4L, 160 GB free
:: Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
2 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: combined Line In/Out, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Sensors: NFC, ambient light,
:: Networking
Intel I218-LM Gigabit (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Wireless-AC 7260 (a b g n ac), 4.0 Bluetooth, ThinkPad Ericsson N5321 Mobile Broadband HSPA+
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 20 x 331 x 226
:: Weight
1.411 kg Power Supply: 0.3 kg
:: Battery
45 Wh Lithium-Polymer, non-removable
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 1.3 MP, 1280x720, Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet style, Keyboard Light: yes, Ethernet Dongle (proprietary), QuickCast, Skitch Touch, Solution Center, QuickControl, User Guide, MS Office 365 Trial, 36 Months Warranty

 

One of the best mobile office replacements goes into round number two.
One of the best mobile office replacements goes into round number two.
In 2013, Lenovo's X1 Carbon was one of the most popular subnotebooks.
In 2013, Lenovo's X1 Carbon was one of the most popular subnotebooks.
A very thin lightweight chassis strengthened with carbon fibers ...
A very thin lightweight chassis strengthened with carbon fibers ...
...while retaining a number of ThinkPad characteristics (albeit not all of them, by a long shot) ...
...while retaining a number of ThinkPad characteristics (albeit not all of them, by a long shot) ...
...meant that this was destined to become a manager's toy ...
...meant that this was destined to become a manager's toy ...
...due to the hefty premium price point of at least 1300 Euros, which the simplest 2013 model still costs.
...due to the hefty premium price point of at least 1300 Euros, which the simplest 2013 model still costs.
So what's different in 2014? The F and Fn keys are gone!
So what's different in 2014? The F and Fn keys are gone!
The mechanical key row has been replaced by a highly flexible touch bar with four layers through which the user can cycle.
The mechanical key row has been replaced by a highly flexible touch bar with four layers through which the user can cycle.
Special keys may be displayed e.g. when opening the browser, turning on the webcam, the search function, SkyDrive, the Snipping tools and so on.
Special keys may be displayed e.g. when opening the browser, turning on the webcam, the search function, SkyDrive, the Snipping tools and so on.
The panel is both touch-sensitive and matte ...
The panel is both touch-sensitive and matte ...
...thanks to an anti-reflective film which has been applied to the surface (as can easily be seen here).
...thanks to an anti-reflective film which has been applied to the surface (as can easily be seen here).
This is the same as the one on the panel of the 2013 version.
This is the same as the one on the panel of the 2013 version.
However, the display itself has changed: QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels!) takes the place of ordinary HD+.
However, the display itself has changed: QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels!) takes the place of ordinary HD+.
Even better: Finally, Lenovo uses an IPS panel, yielding great viewing angle stability.
Even better: Finally, Lenovo uses an IPS panel, yielding great viewing angle stability.
Accessories: An Ethernet dongle instead the missing Ethernet port? Here it is.
Accessories: An Ethernet dongle instead the missing Ethernet port? Here it is.
The power adapter is still standard-sized.
The power adapter is still standard-sized.
It weighs 300 grams (including the cable), supplying the laptop with up to 45 Watts.
It weighs 300 grams (including the cable), supplying the laptop with up to 45 Watts.
The ThinkPad still ships with a fingerprint sensor.
The ThinkPad still ships with a fingerprint sensor.
The clickpad has become even larger: The mouse buttons are now located beneath it.
The clickpad has become even larger: The mouse buttons are now located beneath it.
The chassis has been changed quite a bit, as can be seen with these pictures of the X1 Carbon 2013 ...
The chassis has been changed quite a bit, as can be seen with these pictures of the X1 Carbon 2013 ...
... and the X1 Carbon 2014 (feet, air vents, speakers, ports).
... and the X1 Carbon 2014 (feet, air vents, speakers, ports).
Easy maintenance: Just a few screws of the bottom panel have to be loosened ...
Easy maintenance: Just a few screws of the bottom panel have to be loosened ...
...before the aluminium cover can be taken off.
...before the aluminium cover can be taken off.
A connector hook right in the center of the device, on top of the large-sized Lithium-ion battery pack.
A connector hook right in the center of the device, on top of the large-sized Lithium-ion battery pack.
The battery is fastened with the help of a number of screws, making it somewhat replaceable.
The battery is fastened with the help of a number of screws, making it somewhat replaceable.
It offers a capacity of 45 Wh.
It offers a capacity of 45 Wh.
Everything in the M.2 Edge slot: AC WLAN, LTE modem, 240 GB SSD
Everything in the M.2 Edge slot: AC WLAN, LTE modem, 240 GB SSD
A cavity beneath the ClickPad next to a part of the battery is filled with foam.
A cavity beneath the ClickPad next to a part of the battery is filled with foam.
The onboard RAM (no slots).
The onboard RAM (no slots).
The CPU has been soldered to the mainboard. The cooling system comes with two heatpipes.
The CPU has been soldered to the mainboard. The cooling system comes with two heatpipes.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014: Touch bar instead of real F and Fn keys? Not everybody will be happy about this decision.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014: Touch bar instead of real F and Fn keys? Not everybody will be happy about this decision.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014: Now with great viewing angles.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014: Now with great viewing angles.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014: Thanks to its high contrast ratio, the matte film and the decent brightness, the laptop remains easily useable even outdoors.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 2014: Thanks to its high contrast ratio, the matte film and the decent brightness, the laptop remains easily useable even outdoors.

Similar Laptops

Devices with the same GPU and/or Screen Size

» Review Dell Latitude E7440 Notebook
Core i5 4200U, 1.63 kg

Links

Price Check

Pro

+lightweight, sturdy chassis
+usually quiet
+very large clickpad
+integrated LTE modem
+backlit keyboard
+highly responsive input devices
+superb viewing angles (90°)
+great battery life
+battery charges quickly (compared to discharge)
+matte touch display (film)
+HDMI & Ethernet now available via dongle
 

Cons

-CPU exhibits some throttling
-bad webcam
-no real F keys

Shortcut

What surprises us

Matte and touch, our dream combination. We still don't get it why some customers of the 2013 edition wanted to remove the anti-reflective film.

What we'd like to see

A better webcam. A CPU without throttling issues.

What surprises us

Lenovo's bravery in trying out new innovations (which is a good thing) such as the (possibly annoying) adaptive keyboard on its flagship ThinkPad model which is usually purchased by its most demanding customers.

The competition

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus 940X3G (13.3" 3200x1800, i5 4200U)

Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 Zoll Late 2013 (13.3" 2560x1600, i5 4258U)

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (14" 1920x1080, i7 4600U)

Dell Latitude E7440 (14" 1920x1080, i5 4300U

Fujitsu Lifebook U904 Ultrabook (14" Touch, 3200x1800, i7 4600U)

HP EliteBook Folio 9470m (14" 1366x768 / HD+ optional, i5 3437U)

HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1 (14" 1600x900, Haswell), to be reviewed soon

Ratings

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE
04/17/2014 v4
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
86 / 98 → 88%
Keyboard
81%
Pointing Device
78%
Connectivity
75 / 95 → 79%
Weight
70 / 78 → 81%
Battery
88%
Display
87%
Games Performance
63 / 85 → 74%
Application Performance
66%
Temperature
80 / 91 → 88%
Noise
91%
Audio
73 / 91 → 80%
Camera
42 / 85 → 49%
Average
75%
83%
Subnotebook *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch 20A8-003UGE Ultrabook
Author: Sebastian Jentsch, 2014-02-20 (Update: 2014-03- 1)