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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020: The 4K display suffers from PWM flickering

2020 ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4K
2020 ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4K
The optional 4K display for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020 improves the picture quality, but it has massive problems with PWM flickering. The screen also reduces the battery runtime of the mobile business notebook.

Lenovo has cancelled the matte WQHD panel in the EMEA region, so you have to get the glossy 4K screen, if you are not satisfied with the standard 1080p screen. The additional price of 170 Euros is not too high, and the subjective picture impression is very good. Our test unit surpassed the advertised luminance of 500 nits, but there are still limitations outdoors due to the very glossy screen surface.

The panel is not very well calibrated out of the box. You should definitely calibrate it or use our calibrated profile (available for download in the review) if you want to edit pictures and videos. Lenovo targets the P3 color gamut with the 4K screen, even though this color space cannot be covered completely (~86%). There is unfortunately no way (like a tool or a color profile) to switch to the sRGB gamut.

The biggest issue, however, is the PWM regulation of the display brightness. We can already measure PWM flickering at a very low frequency of 200 Hz when the brightness drops to 99% or below. Depending on how sensitive you are towards this flickering, there will probably be problems (like headaches, etc.). We recommend you try test the panel before you purchase it, but this issue will disqualify the panel for many potential users.

Then there is the power consumption, which reduces the battery runtimes by a couple of hours. You can expect around 7 hours in practice, so you have to decide whether that is sufficient for you usage scenario or not. All in all, we believe the standard matte 1080p screen is a better fit for the very mobile ThinkPad X1 Carbon. More information about the 2020 ThinkPad X1 Carbon is available in our reviews:

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 07 > Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020: The 4K display suffers from PWM flickering
Andreas Osthoff, 2020-07-26 (Update: 2020-07-24)