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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018 (matte WQHD, i7) Laptop Review

Andreas Osthoff, 👁 Andreas Osthoff (translated by Mark Riege), 01/22/2019

The best display for the X1 Carbon? We already tested the sixth generation of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon several times, and now we also take a look at a model with the matte WQHD display. Is this possibly the best compromise?

At this year's CES, Lenovo already announced the 2019 model of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. However, the devices will only become available by the middle of the year. We have already evaluated the sixth generation of the X1 Carbon with the WQHD HDR panel, the regular FHD display, and the Full HD touchscreen, and now we are also taking a look at the matte WQHD panel. 

Our test unit is a Campus model (20KGS5DU00) with the Core i7-8550U, a 512 GB SSD, 16 GB of RAM, and an LTE module that costs 1899 Euros (~$2159). There is no corresponding (preconfigured) top model for regular customers, but you can configure a similar device in Lenovo's online shop. The price is ~2340 Euros (~$2660; a model with the i7-8650U but otherwise similarly equipped costs $1702 in the US).

We already looked at the device including the connections and input devices in detail and also tested the performance of the X1 Carbon with the Core i7, so in this article we will concentrate on the new display and its effects on the battery life. All the remaining information is available in the following two reviews, and a look into the review of the 2017 version with the matte WQHD panel might also be worthwhile:

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00 (ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018 Series)
Graphics adapter
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Core: 1100 MHz
Memory
16384 MB 
, LPDDR3-2133, dual-channel, soldered-in
Display
14 inch 16:9, 2560 x 1440 pixel 210 PPI, LP140QH2-SPB1, IPS, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Kaby Lake-U iHDCP 2.2 Premium PCH
Storage
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, 512 GB 
, 447 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Kaby Lake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
2 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 2 USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, 2 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm audio port, Card Reader: microSD (UHS-II), 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC
Networking
Intel Ethernet Connection I219-V (10/100/1000/2500/5000MBit/s), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 4.2, LTE
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 15.95 x 323.5 x 217.1 ( = 0.63 x 12.74 x 8.55 in)
Battery
57 Wh Lithium-Polymer, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 14.7 h
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p HD, ThinkShutter cover
Additional features
Speakers: 2x 1W stereo speaker, Dolby Audio Premium, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 65-Watt power supply, RJ45 LAN adapter, 36 Months Warranty
Weight
1.13 kg ( = 39.86 oz / 2.49 pounds), Power Supply: 356 g ( = 12.56 oz / 0.78 pounds)
Price
1899 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Display

Subpixel grid
Subpixel grid
Screen bleeding (shown amplified here)
Screen bleeding (shown amplified here)

Potential buyers of the current ThinkPad X1 Carbon have a choice between four different displays: 2x Full HD (1x touch, both matte), matte WQHD, and glossy WQHD HDR. In terms of brightness and color-space coverage, the optional WQHD-HDR model is definitely the best choice, but it also has a very reflective surface. Anyone who mainly wants to carry out work-related tasks on the laptop and also occasionally wants to take it on the road will probably prefer a matte display. 

The characteristics of the two 1080p screens are very similar, offering a decent brightness of about 300 cd/m², while there are naturally also some variations within the series. We already know the matte WQHD panel from the 2017 X1 Carbon, since it again comes from LG Philips (LP140QH2-SPB1). The average brightness is 311 cd/m² and thus slightly behind the device from 2017. Both share the elevated black value, causing the contrast ratio to reach only slightly above 900:1. However, subjectively the image is still very good, particularly for a business device. The image is also not grainy, which can be the case with some matte displays from time to time. You can see slight halos at the edges, but PWM is not used for brightness control. Another advantage compared to the glossy WQHD model is the significantly faster response times; there is no ghosting here.

301
cd/m²
298
cd/m²
297
cd/m²
326
cd/m²
316
cd/m²
294
cd/m²
352
cd/m²
315
cd/m²
302
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
LP140QH2-SPB1
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 352 cd/m² Average: 311.2 cd/m² Minimum: 10.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 84 %
Center on Battery: 320 cd/m²
Contrast: 903:1 (Black: 0.35 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.5 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6, calibrated: 1.6
ΔE Greyscale 7.7 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
97.9% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 68.6% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.2
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
LP140QH2-SPB1, IPS, 2560x1440, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
B140QAN02.0, IPS, 2560x1440, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03800
B140HAN03.1, , 1920x1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G6-20KG0025UK
Lenovo LEN40A9 / AUO B140HAK02.3, IPS, 1920x1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017-20HR006FGE
LEN40AA (LP140QH2-SPB1), IPS, 2560x1440, 14
Average of class Subnotebook
 
Screen
43%
9%
24%
9%
-27%
Brightness middle
316
578
83%
330
4%
298
-6%
342
8%
269 (111 - 768, n=645)
-15%
Brightness
311
533
71%
311
0%
287
-8%
337
8%
Brightness Distribution
84
84
0%
87
4%
91
8%
87
4%
Black Level *
0.35
0.38
-9%
0.21
40%
0.2
43%
0.37
-6%
0.76 (0.095 - 3.31, n=671)
-117%
Contrast
903
1521
68%
1571
74%
1490
65%
924
2%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.5
1.9
58%
4.7
-4%
2.19
51%
3.6
20%
5.53 (0.8 - 13.2, n=287)
-23%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
10.3
3.8
63%
9.3
10%
4.39
57%
7.7
25%
10.1 (1.4 - 31, n=186)
2%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
1.6
0.8
50%
2.4
-50%
1.67
-4%
2.31 (0.5 - 6, n=58)
-44%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
7.7
3
61%
4.5
42%
1.97
74%
5.8
25%
5.96 (0.8 - 14.5, n=288)
23%
Gamma
2.2 100%
2.14 103%
1.99 111%
2.43 91%
2.2 100%
2.32 95% (1.33 - 3.83, n=288)
CCT
6639 98%
6377 102%
6710 97%
6571 99%
6693 97%
8293 78% (5531 - 22973, n=288)
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
68.6
88.8
29%
58.2
-15%
62
-10%
68.8
0%
52.6 (34 - 85.1, n=264)
-23%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
97.9
100
2%
89.3
-9%
95
-3%
98.5
1%
83 (39 - 100, n=195)
-15%

* ... smaller is better

CalMAN Grayscale (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN Grayscale (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN Saturation (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN Saturation (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN ColorChecker (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN ColorChecker (sRGB target color space)

As delivered, the panel is not calibrated optimally, since in addition to the high DeltaE-2000 deviations (mainly in the grayscale) there is also a slight green tint. All the other panel choices with the X1 Carbon did slightly better in this regard. However, if you really only use the device for everyday office work and do not intend to do any image-processing, you do not necessarily need to calibrate the display.

CalMAN Grayscale calibrated (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN Grayscale calibrated (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN Saturation calibrated (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN Saturation calibrated (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN ColorChecker calibrated (sRGB target color space)
CalMAN ColorChecker calibrated (sRGB target color space)

Our calibration shows the full potential of the WQHD panel. The slight green tint has disappeared completely, and with an average deviation of barely 0.7, the grayscale reproduction is excellent. In terms of the colors, there is also a significant improvement with an average deviation of 1.6. Only the red color remains a significant outlier. Thanks to the sRGB coverage being almost complete, the color deviations do not increase even at higher saturation levels. This makes the panel quite suitable for image-processing. Only those who work in the AdobeRGB color space should either select the optional WQHD-HDR panel or use an external monitor. As always, our calibrated icm file is freely available for download.

sRGB color-space coverage: 97.9%
sRGB color-space coverage: 97.9%
AdobeRGB color-space coverage: 68.6%
AdobeRGB color-space coverage: 68.6%

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
26 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 14 ms rise
↘ 12 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 47 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (24.9 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
38 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 19.2 ms rise
↘ 18.8 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 37 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (39.6 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9266 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Outdoors, the matte surface is naturally a great advantage, and even in bright surroundings you can identify the image content reasonably well. The viewing-angle stability of the IPS panel does not offer any reason for complaint either.

In sunlight
In sunlight
Viewing-angle stability
Viewing-angle stability
Viewing-angle stability
Viewing-angle stability

Battery Life

We were a little surprised about the battery life, since it turns out slightly more than one hour shorter compared to last year's model. In our WLAN test with the brightness adjusted to 150 cd/m² (74% in our test unit), we measure a runtime of 8:57 hours, which is about 20 minutes more than with the glossy WQHD display. Thanks to their lower resolution, the two Full HD displays use less power, lasting about an hour longer.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 (Edge 42.17134.1.0)
8h 57min
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
57 Wh, 2560x1440
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
57 Wh, 2560x1440
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03800
 Wh, 1920x1080
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G6-20KG0025UK
57 Wh, 1920x1080
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017-20HR006FGE
57 Wh, 2560x1440
Battery Runtime
WiFi v1.3
537
519
-3%
601
12%
621
16%
604
12%

Pros

+ thin and light, high-quality case
+ good WQHD panel with matte surface
+ decent performance of the quad-core processor
+ modern connections including regular USB-A
+ good system performance
+ excellent keyboard
+ good battery life
+ three-year warranty
+ fast SD-card reader...

Cons

- ...but only microSD and hard to reach
- high surface temperatures under load
- fan revs up easily and has a high speed
- not WWAN-ready
- very limited maintainability
- LAN only via (included) adapter

Verdict

In review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Test unit provided by Campuspoint.
In review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Test unit provided by Campuspoint.

We have now tested all the displays that Lenovo offers for the current ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Compared to the standard 1080p IPS display, the additional costs are not too high (45 Euros/~$51 for FHD touch, 106 Euros/~$120 for matte WQHD, and 144 Euros/~$164 for WQHD HDR). Due to its glossy display, the very bright WQHD-HDR model tends to be more useful for multimedia. Those who use the ThinkPad X1 Carbon primarily for their office work and also occasionally on the road are surely better served by a matte display. 

For work, the standard 1080p panel is not a bad choice. Whether you need a touchscreen or not depends on how you plan to use it, but there are basically no differences in the quality (similar brightness, no PWM). We already know the optional matte WQHD panel and it also leaves a good impression this time around. The brightness is decent, the display has a lot of potential, and thanks to the higher resolution, the subjective impression is slightly better than those of the 1080p displays. However, the battery life is also slightly shorter.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is one of the best business notebooks with the matte WQHD panel as well. The matte displays are better suited for work than the very reflective WQHD HDR display. Subjectively, the matte WQHD panel from LG Philips offers a slightly better image, but on the other hand, the battery of the FHD models lasts slightly longer.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00 - 01/20/2019 v6(old)
Andreas Osthoff

Chassis
92 /  98 → 94%
Keyboard
95%
Pointing Device
91%
Connectivity
73 / 80 → 91%
Weight
73 / 35-78 → 89%
Battery
91%
Display
87%
Games Performance
67 / 68 → 98%
Application Performance
92 / 87 → 100%
Temperature
82 / 91 → 90%
Noise
84%
Audio
77 / 91 → 85%
Camera
50 / 85 → 59%
Average
81%
90%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018 (matte WQHD, i7) Laptop Review
Andreas Osthoff, 2019-01-22 (Update: 2019-04-30)